Book 7, Chapter 13

Nasia

Once he was acquainted with the blessing itself, Richard was given a number of choices for his heavenly guardian. Essentially being formed by timeforce, they could be formed based purely on the desires of their new master. In fact, for a single intermediate offering one would be allowed to adjust the guardian’s appearance, skin tone, gender, physique, and a million other tiny details. If he wanted, he could create a guardian that looked exactly like Sharon.

Of course, that would most certainly cause problems for the legendary mage herself. He definitely didn’t want to bear the consequences of such foolishness, and he sincerely doubted whether anyone in all of Norland would. There was no specific order to the information he had received, however, so as he started sifting through for more tangible options he also found out that one could use an intermediate offering whenever they wanted to effect changes on the guardian’s appearance. If tired of the legendary mage, one could change the appearance to that of Bloodthirsty Philip instead.

He didn’t see much significance to such options, but the Eternal Dragon was certainly a practical merchant. If the choice was present to this day, then it meant it had been used a number of times in the past. Shaking his head, he continued to look at the choices that mattered; broadly he could get a priest, paladin, warrior, assassin, or holy mage, but each one of these choices had a number of specialisations that made for hundreds of options. He would need some time to digest it all and make a choice.

Every time he thought of a choice, Richard was sent detailed information about the class. Some of the options felt rather ancient and esoteric, almost alive; these seemed to be calling out to him, asking him to choose them. Every one of these options seemed to be pulsing with timeforce, making it clear that they were the souls from the Lightless Void. Choosing such an option could result in a special guardian, but it wasn’t as simple either; one also needed to accurately select the attributes of the guardian so it matched with the existing soul; even with Noelene helping from behind the scenes, he would need to be careful with his decisions.

With his current biggest shortcoming in battle being the lack of a powerful cleric, he started comparing the various options for priests without any eagerness to make a decision. The more he analysed the characteristics of the special guardians that were available, the more detailed his vision of them and the lower the chance of making a mistake. Noelene had warned him repeatedly that he had to try his best to get someone from the Lightless Void, and that the tiniest of errors would destroy that possibility.

This was a test of perception, patience, and analytical ability. At the same time, it was also a test of luck; one had to have a certain affinity for the corresponding guardians or they wouldn’t call out as strongly. These were old souls with their own pride; they wouldn’t like to serve just anyone.

As he was going through the options one by one, something suddenly changed. Many of the options started greying out rapidly, information flowing across him like a waterfall. Hundreds of priests rolled across and were followed by dozens of mages and tens of warriors. In the blink of an eye he was at paladins, and just as he thought they would be skipped through as well everything came to a halt and the remaining choices darkened and disappeared.

Richard’s mouth opened in shock; the choice had been made. But this wasn’t his decision! How could it be?!

Before he could figure out what was happening, he felt a dozen different wills in the void around him. Some were ancient, others cold or hot, but the one thing in common was that each of them dwarfed his own soul in presence. It felt like comparing himself to these wills was like comparing a rock to an entire mountain; the sheer rage they were emitting across an unknown stretch of spacetime threatened to break his mind.

And yet, no matter how the wills declared their power, there was no way for them to hinder what was happening. The other options continued to fade away, and even for the chosen class the attributes, abilities, and other characteristics were chosen in the blink of an eye. Richard couldn’t intervene no matter how he directed his thoughts, unable to even comprehend the information that was gushing through his mind. An invisible hand was manipulating everything, and was being extremely overbearing in its choices.

The wills grew even angrier, but just as they were about to assault him a brand new existence appeared amongst their midst. It didn’t seem particularly more powerful than the rest, but its arrogance was evidenced by a threatening low roar. The powerful wills hesitated for a while before some of them reluctantly faded away.

Once the rest eventually left, the new will stopped concealing itself as it instead formed a hand covered in castiron gloves, flipping incorporeal pages in front of Richard as it continued making choices. Richard was shocked and angry at the lack of agency, but the timeforce continued to flow as it condensed into a female form that wasn’t particularly large. This caused him to frown further; one generally needed large bodies to house great strength, and this one seemed no different from the average. That was fine for those like Io and Nyra, but this was clearly a paladin!

As more than a full top-tier offering’s worth of grace had flown into the forming silhouette, Richard felt himself blanking out for a moment. However, the golden glow continued to condense into a translucent figure whose entire body was made of golden light with white patterns on the surface.

The moment she opened her eyes, it was as though two new suns had risen within this sealed space. Richard was instantly blinded, forced to block his eyesight as he waited for the emerald in his pupils to be overcome by lava. Only once his bloodline was activated could he look back, only to see the woman reaching out to grab at the remaining timeforce up above. The timeforce bundled together in her hands, forming pieces of armour and equipment. Breastplate, gauntlets, longsword, buckler, dagger… piece by piece her body was draped over, soon covered from head to foot. To finish it all off, she made a golden mask and put it on, blocking her face.

The moment the mask was worn, the strong light filling the altar disappeared. The transparent woman seemed to fill up with flesh and blood, a strong heartbeat resounding from her body like a thunderstorm. Richard felt his chest heave with every beat, as though an ancient titan was slamming into wardrums; for a moment, he couldn’t believe even a dragon would have such a powerful heart.

However, the powerful beat only lasted a few moments before going silent. The woman slowly moved her arms and feet, putting her gauntleted right hand in front of her eyes and examining it. She then walked over and focused on him, her penetrating gaze seemingly seeing through him inside out.

“Richard?” she asked, her hoarse voice making him a little uncomfortable. The sound was jarring, like ants were crawling in his bones.

Richard didn't answer, just staring at the top of the altar in dumbfounded shock; there was no timeforce there at all! More than two top-tier offerings' worth of divine grace had been used up, half of it condensing the form of this paladin and the rest turning into her equipment.

This was all completely beyond his expectations, not following the blessing he was supposed to have received at all. A heavenly guardian needing a full top-tier offering was one thing, but this one had just used another's worth to form equipment for herself. However, this paladin had just scared away many powerful wills from the Lightless Void, and broken the entire creation process to craft weapons with divine grace like she had full control of it. He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down, “Who are you?”

The paladin laughed, “Call me Nasia, the name vaguely translates to The Faceless. You've summoned me to this world, and I can fight for your side, but don't think you are my master or that I will obey your orders unconditionally. I'd barely be willing to consider you my equal, if even that; annoy me and you're dead."

“You... Aren't you a heavenly guardian?”

“Of course I am.”

“The Eternal Dragon mentions that heavenly guardians are completely loyal to their masters.”

“And you trust it?” Nasia sneered

He opened his mouth to respond, but couldn't bring himself to speak for a while. This would the first time the old dragon hadn’t followed through completely on the information he was given about a blessing. Unable to refute her but still unwilling to believe, he decided to try and test it out for himself, “Nasia, kneel!”

This was supposed to be an absolute order that would compel the guardian using the power of the Eternal Dragon himself, but Nasia just smirked in response.

“Bind!”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA