The next to meet the dark figure were the pair of twins, Kaylen and Kayde, with Richard in between them. Kaylen was on his right, and the dark figure stood right in her way. However, she was the same as Gaton, seemingly unaware of the existence before her as she continued to ride at an unhurried pace. Her mount’s metal hooves were raised in the next moment, preparing to stomp the ground. A flicker of flames unusually appeared at the bottom when the front two hooves were raised. It seemed like Kaylen had a strength rune attached to the hooves, and if this stomp hit its target they would suffer the equivalent of an all out attack from her!
The black figure did not dare act recklessly, but this knight under Gaton did not fear anything in her path! The figure hesitated for a moment, but chose to duck in a lightning-quick manner when the hooves stomped down before disappearing into the darkness. He had not dared to strike after all, and could only choose to retreat. After the dark figure left, Richard suddenly felt that the forestry on the sides of the road seemed much quieter.
The party advanced for another hundred metres, before rapid thuds of hooves were heard. A squad of imperial knights approached them, and when their leader saw Gaton from afar, he immediately raised his voice, “Marquess Gaton! By decree of His Imperial Majesty, we are to escort you to the Church of the Eternal Dragon for the sacrificial ceremony!”
When the imperial knights appeared, Richard knew that he was now safe. However, he knew that he could not have avoided walking through the stretch of road earlier. If they hadn’t relied on their own strength to make it this far, they would never have seen this squad of knights.
Both parties exchanged greetings, before getting off horseback. They chose to walk the remaining distance, in a show of their reverence for the Dragon of Eternity and Light.
Two rows of young and beautiful girls from the church were stood before the gates. The faint gold high-collared robes added an elegant and pure look to them, making them all the more captivating. These were members of the Church of the Eternal Dragon. As they gained more blessings from the Dragon, they would become clerics, then shamans, then priestesses, before eventually becoming high priestesses in charge of their own church. It was no secret that the Eternal Dragon favoured girls.
The imperial knights stopped in front of the gate, while the Archeron party continued moving forward. In this party of armour-clad knights, Richard who wore mage robes and carried two boxes of differing sizes was extremely catching to the eye.
The gates of the church were a towering twenty metres tall, and when they entered Richard’s vision suddenly blurred before he found himself in a desert. This was an endless desert plain, as if the concept of a horizon did not exist. The skies seemed to connect to the earth, yet some mysterious powers had grounded the sand into powder which littered the air. Several sand dunes close by had broken stone pillars, evidence of the passage of time. From the outside, the Church of the Eternal Dragon was just a square kilometre in size, but within it Richard couldn’t tell the area of this desert even with Precision.
At the centre of his vision were traces of the church, only that half of it had already crumbled. The tall granite walls and few remaining pillars could allow one to guess the magnificent glory of the church in its heyday.
At the centre of all this was a broken stone platform. It was where the sacrifice would be offered, and the ceremony would take place.
Several threads of light were flowing in from the corners of the desert, forming a huge hourglass in front of the party. Once fully formed the hourglass shattered, to reveal a woman that exuded a divine and dignified aura. She was wearing sacred white robes, with a triple crown resting on her head. In her hands was a faint golden sceptre, while mysterious golden runes that evoked an archaic feeling filled the robes and crown.
Gaton stepped forward, bowing as he paid his greetings, “Exalted High Priestess Ferlyn, this is my son Richard. He will be the one performing the sacrifice this time.
Ferlyn smiled and nodded her head. This smile of hers was beautiful and gentle, yet it was also distant and faint, surpassing the existence of humans, overlooking on all life.
The high priestess looked at Richard and smiled, “Fortunate child, I hope that your sincerity will allow the Supreme Dragon of Eternity and Light to be satisfied with your offerings. The sacrificial ceremony has been prepared, I will wait for you at the altar. After you have made your preparations, you can come by my side and begin the ceremony.” After finishing, the high priestess walked on a faint golden road made of light towards the altar.
“Preparations?” Although Richard had tried his best to understand the process of a sacrificial ceremony, he did not know what he needed apart from the offerings.
Gaton chuckled and patted him on the shoulder with vigour. “There’s nothing much to prepare. Even if it’s the same offerings, different people will receive different blessings. So kiddo, everything depends on your luck. Ah right! There is something I’d forgotten to tell you. Because the Archerons have our own floating island, the Eternal Dragon will ask how you want to allocate the blessings between your family and yourself. Remember to keep it all. Alright then, go on kiddo! Good luck!”
And thus, albeit with some difficulty, Richard dragged the two boxes towards the altar in the middle of the desert. Although he’d used a floating spell on them, these organs weren’t light at all.
Finding his spot, Richard couldn’t help but look around. Only standing right in front of the altar could one truly feel the archaic grandeur that had withstood the erosion of time. There seemed to be no beginning nor end, and no matter how extravagant something was, it would perish with time passing by, turning it into something for future generations to lament. But why did they not want to rebuild this place?
As if reading Richard’s doubts, Ferlyn said gently, “Child, any true church of the Eternal Dragon is rubble like this, and can never be repaired. Even if we built a magnificent church here with the greatest of spell formations, when a ceremony begins it will all be reduced to rubble in the river of time. Not even gods can withstand the sands of time, so the scene you see before you is the same one that has existed throughout the eons.”
“Thank you for your teachings.” Richard’s heart skipped a beat, as if comprehending something from her words. He bowed slightly, like he would towards the teachers in the Deepblue, before asking, “What should I do now?”
“Firstly, prepare your offerings.” Ferlyn ordered. After watching Richard open the two boxes, even she with her indifference was still slightly moved, “The head of a greater devil? What a rare offering. This… it’s actually the heart of a lesser demon lord! What a lucky child! Let us begin the ceremony, then, the heart cannot be out here much longer.”
Ferlyn clasped her hands before her chest, as she lowered her head towards the altar. She began to chant a mysterious and obscure incantation with varying notes. As she spoke each syllable, the endless skies began to be filled with traces of golden scriptures, like a rain of gold. A mysterious and ancient aura emerged from the void and began spreading through the area. Very soon the skies turned dark, and finally they were devoid of all colour.
Transcending the voidless sands of time, a new universe gradually appeared, with light and life of its own. Countless brilliant stars began to travel their paths, sucking Richard’s soul in. He’d been trying to decipher the meaning behind all the runes, but now he felt his bloodline racing quickly. This was not the fervour and rage he felt during the awakening of his bloodline, but a thirst for the source of life and belonging.
As the incantation reached its climax, Ferlyn’s voice had grown extremely shrill, as if she was a dragon singing in the sky. She touched the altar with the sceptre in her hands, causing the broken stone platform to radiate golden light, forming a pillar of light that penetrated the skies. The pillar began to expand, beginning to cover the entirety of the ruins, with undecipherable scriptures glowing and fading seamlessly on its surface. As for the skies, they were filled with the cries of a dragon, as well as the whistling of the desert wind.
An incomparably mighty aura descended, and high priestess Ferlyn retreated from the borders of the light pillar. Richard was left alone on the altar, and from that moment on the people outside would not be able to look within.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Theo: Housekeeping: Anyone interested in editing for CoS? Just shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] and I'll send you guys a test.
Translated/TLC'ed By: OMA
Edited By: Theo