Recalling the hardship along the way, and how they’d made it safely, Aya felt like she was in a dream.
‘This is all due to Master Kukulkan!’ At this thought, she couldn’t help but grab the sacred crest in her hands, beginning to pray silently.
‘Mm, the imperial capital of the Sakartes Empire. If I can take that down and offer it to the master…’ An idea arose in Barbara’s mind, filling her thoughts. She wasn’t being greedy, everything was just happening too smoothly.
Although she’d brought less than ten thousand troops from Hope Stronghold, many natives suffering from sickness had requested to enter. Even those from the imperial army changed sides. On top of that, having obtained the news about the divine battle through some secret channels, even the nobles of the Sakartes Empire began to waver.
The consequence of this was that Barbara’s army expanded without effort, even getting close to the capital with easy victories. Along the way, many native refugees had taken on arduous jobs, to obtain the ‘holy water’ and the blessings of the Winged Serpent God. The secondary army also suppressed rebellions to express their loyalty.
Knowing that Hope Stronghold lacked people, Barbara accepted the offers of all the refugees and armies. In a short period of time, their army had expanded fivefold to reach 50,000 strong.
Tiff had originally been worried of spies sneaking in, but it seemed like the natives had no such intentions. Instead, it was the huge numbers that made command and logistics a headache. There had been a few times when things were extremely chaotic.
Unable to contend with such an oversized army, the Sakartes Empire seemed to be done for. The continuous successes had naturally raised Barbara’s ambitions.
‘As long as I take Dole City down, the imperial capital will lose all its protection…’ Barbara planned in her mind. But then she looked at the city in the distance and was stunned.
Thick black smoke rose into the sky, and screams could be heard in the distance. A knight darted over, looking like he had some urgent information. “Report!”
“Let him come!” Barbara waved her arms, and the guards that had held him back dispersed.
“Saintess, a few leaders of Dole City have joined hands in rebellion. They have control of the entire city now, and agree to worship the Winged Serpent God… But only if we give them holy water as soon as possible. They also hope that we can take the city’s people in now that there’s chaos…”
“Proceed!” Barbara sent down the order after a nod.
These scenarios had gotten her very excited at the start, but by now she was numb. There was even a feeling of disappointment, that these achievements weren’t her own. Still, there were important things to do at the moment.
The takeover of the city went smoothly. Under the threat of death, there were very rare cases of false surrender. With previous experience, Barbara sent a few people to help fight the fire before meeting the leaders. After she promised holy water, the entirety of Dole City was somewhat within her grasp.
The ‘somewhat’ arose from the continued existence of altars and priests. It was the last resistance Dole City had to offer. Battles involving faith were far more terrifying than the rest, so Barbara didn’t relent and instead headed to the altar.
“Saintess, the altar here is for two false gods. One is the giant flaming horse, Woods, and the other the founding emperor Akaban. Although the horse’s priests have lost all power, the clergy of Akaban still has the support of divine force. They’ve managed to get a group of soldiers to guard them…”
One of the leaders who were now on their side led the way, smiling slyly. After changing sides, their totem spirits had immediately become false gods. Were Leylin here, he would definitely lament the practical nature of humans.
“I understand. Leave the rest to the church!” Barbara watched the altar that was now a defensive structure, and her beautiful brows furrowed slightly. Although she was disgusted by the betrayal of these leaders, she had no choice but to take them in as examples for the rest.
Having lost two demigods, the priests could no longer meet the demand for healing. At this rate, death was certain. Barbara understood the betrayal for the sake of survival. Still, the remaining resistance made things a little troublesome.
“Bring the warriors of the church.” Having walked around the defensive structure, Barbara finally acknowledged that the enemy’s elite forces were truly powerful. Thus, she sent her own elites as well.
The natives had exemplary Professionals as well. There were hunters and amazon warriors that caused Isabel some trouble. Many of those guarding the altar were of the same type.
However, the Giant Serpent Church was a military church as well, and he now had a huge number of natives under him. A batch of half-naked native warriors with devil tattoos arrived in front of Barbara, each of them highly capable.
“Saintess! The warriors of our Lord shall heed your commands!”
“Good! Use your fury to expel the last remaining filth of these false gods!” Barbara commanded, standing in front.
Almost the instant the mobilisation order arrived, these natives changed greatly. They all began to grow, their muscles bulging bit by bit as they quickly became miniature giants. The lustre of divine spells lit up their bodies, carrying the unique radiance of the Winged Serpent God.
Under the illumination of this radiance, the devil tattoos on their bodies grew more vivid, and their eyes shone with a demonic glare. These warriors had been bestowed abilities reserved for devils!
“For our Lord!” The native warriors charged forward without hesitation, their attacks as powerful as a tsunami around the altar.
“The number of our Lord’s warriors has increased greatly…” Barbara now looked reassured, and she cast divine spells alongside the other priests to boost them.
Priests and military strength were extremely important to a church. Tyr, for instance, offered a distinct path for paladins. Combining his knowledge of Debanks Island with his own strength and the A.I. Chip’s calculations, Leylin had created a whole new path of strength for his own church. They were the devil hunters!
Like the name implied, devil hunters combined a sensitivity to devils with the tracking ability of the hunters. By activating their tattoos, they could even obtain abilities similar to the bloodline powers of devils!
This profession was a fusion of warriors and sorcerers. It was very powerful, but it also had a few flaws. Those who trained in it had to have an extremely powerful will. The pain during the branding of a devil tattoo was horrifying.
Thankfully, Leylin now had many subordinates. He had slowly selected beings from the 300,000 people, and it wasn’t difficult to raise a few thousand devil hunters.
Leylin had especially created something special for this strength system. If a hunter could capture a real devil and seal it in their own body, they would obtain a lot of the devil’s strength. It could even increase their rank! All true devil hunters had devils sealed within them.
Although Leylin did not have a blood feud with the devils yet, they were clearly mortal enemies. He’d created these hunters to strike all devils except Beelzebub’s own followers. This would begin to weaken the strength of the Nine Hells of Baator.
Nobody would complain about such acts. Devoting effort into attacking devils was the ‘right’ course of action on the continent.
Barbara naturally knew nothing of Leylin’s intentions. She was just sighing in shock at the astounding abilities of the devil hunters.
Those who had retreated into the church and guarded the altar were obviously fanatic followers of the false gods. There was no need to differentiate between them, it was enough to kill the whole lot.
Once the altar was purged, Barbara grimly stepped inside the hall. The green flooring was now dyed blood red, but she did not find anything wrong with it. To the natives, stealing everything from their opponents was something natural. This included their lives.
At the heart of the altar was an obsidian statue of a warrior riding a chariot. However, the horse leading the chariot had shattered a long time ago.
*Buzz! Buzz!* As if sensing the disrespect, a terrifying pressure arose from Akaban’s statue.
“Hmph! False god!” Barbara merely glanced at the emperor disdainfully, and gripped the holy crest in her hands.
“Our Lord, the Winged Serpent. Master Kukulkan, please give me strength!” Holy light that was characteristic of Leylin emanated from the holy crest. White light flashed, and the immense pressure disappeared to reveal cracks on the statue.
“Destroy the statue, and purify everything that has to do with it!” Barbara ordered solemnly.
Soon enough, statues, holy crests, books, and even drawings hung on the wall were torn down, turning into ashes from the flames.
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