Book 6, Chapter 40

Acquaintances

Klandor was a vast continent with numerous tribes scattered all over, a cornucopia of faith that encompassed numerous beast gods, lesser deities, and even demigods that were worshipped by the various tribes. The tribes were nominally led by the four councils of the north, south, east, and west, with the central council led by the Azuresnow Shrine being a higher authority over the four.

The councils rarely interfered with the internal affairs of individual tribes, not intervening even in the case of large conflicts. They were responsible for decisions that affected all of Klandor as a whole, or at least a major section of it. Most of the elders were the most powerful beings in all of Klandor, so even the most powerful tribes thought twice before rejecting one of their rulings.

The tribal system of Klandor seemed rather primitive from the eyes of Norland, even the largest tribes here smaller than a mere duchy on the mainland. The barbarians valued honour and freedom over unity, so many of them didn’t listen to the words of their rulers at all. Even if the council decided to send an army to capture Richard, Yori would likely have been able to rile up the soldiers against the council. The decision to treat him as a warrior was simply the smartest course of action.

While they had proclaimed that Richard would be treated with honour, the council didn’t particularly assign anyone to take on the task. There was no lack of powerful youths who would go looking for Richard of their own accord, especially since the holy ceremony determining Mountainsea’s husband would be held sooner than expected.

……

Far away in the desolate plains, Richard didn’t know of the Azuresnow Shrine’s resolution. He actually had no information about Klandor’s reaction to his second coming, but he knew that he could get the news soon. Sure enough, it didn’t take many days for a cloud of dust to cover the horizon, a powerful tyrannosaur charging over with a barbarian youth on top.

Richard stopped for a moment, smiling at the realisation of just who it was that had arrived. The tyrannosaur stopped ten metres away, the barbarian on top flipping down to land stably on the ground, but despite the earth shaking a little from the impact he chuckled at the new arrival, “You’ve grown stronger.”

Balibali stared at Richard for a long time, “You’ve changed too. Have you been fighting in other planes?”

“Yes.”

“Good! I was worried you wouldn’t be strong enough. I want to take the Tooth of the Beast God, but I also want to wipe away the shame of my defeat. Now we should be closer to each other; no matter how badly I beat you nobody will call me a bully.”

Richard smiled, “At the same level, people will think I’m bullying you.”

“Nonsense! Let’s fight!” Balibali slammed a foot into the ground, rock-hard muscles popping out all over his upper body. It was only after he was fully prepared that he remembered something, “Wait, do you need a break?”

“No, this will be quick.”

“Richard!” Balibali grunted in a low voice, his aura strengthening.

“Answer a question when you lose,” Richard ignored the barbarian youth’s anger.

“IF I lose!” Balibali snorted, slamming down once more. This time, a violent shockwave spread in all directions. This shockwave followed the same principles of an enclave centaur’s stomp, aimed to disorient a weaker opponent, but Richard remained in place as though it was just a breeze. Even a true enclave centaur’s stomp couldn’t move him now, and Balibali’s was weaker.

Shocked to see that the quake had no effect, Balibali leaned forward and rushed out to attack. However, an arm suddenly reached out and patted him on the shoulder before returning to its place. The barbarian youth immediately paled, knowing that a blade just then could have cut off his head.

“Can’t accept it? Come again.”

Balibali’s face reddened, “I… I was just negl—”

“Doesn’t matter, come again.”

The barbarian took a deep breath, stepping forward to punch Richard head-on. However, Richard’s own hand stretched out to grab Balibali’s wrist, twisting his own momentum around to slam him onto the ground. The earth in the plains was quite compact, but a crater was still formed in the ground.

Balibali swayed as he got up, shaking his head from the dizziness. His eyes went round as he stared at Richard like he was a ghost, simply unable to know why he had been thrown out.

The last time Richard came to Klandor, he had only started to learn the Church of the Eternal Dragon’s martial arts. Now, he had spent half a decade where his second consciousness was constantly analysing fighting techniques and integrating them into his own style. He was already far beyond Io, and able to keep pace with Flowsand. This martial arts system that embodied laws that transcended planes was endlessly mysterious and could be improved upon indefinitely.

“Again?” Richard asked.

Balibali growled like a beast, but his aura suddenly vanished as he shook his head, “No, I’m not your match at all. What do you want to know?”

A few minutes later, Richard had been given a basic update on Klandor’s situation. Balibali didn’t know exactly why the sacred ceremony had been advanced, only that a very important person had been the cause. There were rumours that this person would participate in the ceremony and become Mountainsea’s husband, with the elders of the Azuresnow Shrine being quite optimistic about him. Even Urazadzu hadn’t expressed any opposition.

“You mean the beast god has already decided on a husband for her?” Richard’s face was starting to fill with fury.

“The Beast God does not make such choices. Only a brave warrior who can defeat everyone else in the sacred ceremony will be able to win His favour. However, it is very likely that the ceremony being held in advance is His bidding.”

Richard nodded and went mute for a moment, thinking things over. A short while later, he looked back up and asked, “Where’s the Azuresnow Shrine?”

“You’re going to the Shrine? You… You lunatic!”

“You think I would even be here if I wasn’t one? Just tell me where the Shrine is, I need to go.”

Balibali stared at Richard for a while before shaking his head, “You’re the warrior who defeated me, I should respect your request. But if you want to participate in the sacred ceremony, that will be impossible.”

“Where. Is. The. Azuresnow. Shrine?”

“Sigh. Follow this path for about a month, crossing through the frozen canyon and the crocodile river…” Balibali explained the route as he drew a simple map into the dirt. Although the map wasn’t perfectly accurate, it was enough to give one a general idea of the place.

“Alright,” Richard nodded, “Will you be going to the ceremony as well?”

“What’s the point? I’ve already lost. People like me only participate in the ceremony to gain experience anyway, we don’t have any hope of becoming the holy father.”

“Okay then, I’m leaving.”

“Wait a minute!” Balibali called him from behind, “You can’t participate in the sacred ceremony! That is reserved for the candidates recognised by the Beast God!”

“Oh?” Richard smiled, ”Don’t worry, the beast god will recognise me.”

There was another sentence in his heart: If it doesn’t, I’ll just kill everyone it does.

“There’s no need for you to go to the ceremony,” a deep voice suddenly sounded from the distance, tone far more sincere than the arrogance of its contents. This was another person Richard was familiar with, Umur.

Richard’s eyes narrowed, “What, you want to beat me here?”

“Of course!” Umur scratched his head in embarrassment, “When you lose to me, just return the Tooth of the Beast God and go back. If you meet Zawu or his men, you might end up in trouble. Those people do not take kindly to Norlanders.”

Richard sighed at Umur’s words, staring him in the eye, “Can we fight before you say all these useless things?”

“Then let us begin.” Umur immediately flew forward, sending a fist towards Richard’s face. Just the air displaced by the attack sent a gust in Richard’s direction, but despite some misgivings he dodged the strike and grabbed the youth’s wrist.

It was at this point that his plan completely failed. It felt like Umur’s body was nailed to the ground, refusing to budge an inch. It felt like he was pulling on a mountain instead of a mortal body. Richard was almost left dumbstruck at the weight, but keeping his wits about him he barely managed to get a barrier up before the second strike hit him. He was barely in time, the force from the barbarian’s arm shattering the barrier apart and sending him flying more than ten metres away.

Flipping over in the air, Richard adjusted his posture so that he would land on his feet. Umur was already chasing behind, his leg swinging through the air to crash down at his location. *BANG!* it was almost as though a meteor had bombarded the earth, leaving a crater that was more than five metres deep.

“Oh?” Umur raised an eyebrow in surprise, not having expected to miss, “Who told me that it was easy to deal with a mage up close?”

A dozen metres away, Richard stared at Umur as Carnage popped out of the sword case and into his hands, “Sorry, I’ll have to use my blade for this.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo