The main doors of the golden court flew open, revealing an enormous hall devoid of a single soul. Spotless white fleece was laid down on the floor, as delicate as a snowflake, while bright red curtains embroidered in gold hung at the corners of the huge french windows.
This was the empire’s hall of government. Normally there were learned sages, treacherous bureaucrats and those with dreams struggling here, criticising each other. All manners of plots and massacres were borne of those moments, a normal scene unable to convey any of that atmosphere.
A delicate and unique fragrance hung in the air, but the incense was not thick enough to be intoxicating. Xena seemed to grow nostalgic, and she once again transformed into a naive 19-year-old young lady.
Leylin had not been in possession of this place for a long time, but this palace still seemed to have some unique historical charm. It seemed like the very air had accumulated hundreds of thousands of years of the vicissitudes of life.
Even a gold priest like Xena was left in a trance when shrouded in this atmosphere. Just as a gap appeared in her spirits, the sound of steady footsteps drifted into her ears. It sounded like the walls were heavily besieged as several deep cracks appeared.
She saw a young man walking unhurriedly into the palace hall. He wore white robes, tailored precisely to fit his body. His even pace and bearing revealed his extraordinary confidence.
Since the young man walked with his back towards the light, Xena could not see his face clearly. All she could sense was a brilliant radiance shining continuously from his body.
“I am Gold Priest Xena, an emissary from the mainland’s church of wealth. I request an audience with you, Your Majesty the Almighty Conqueror…” Xena had already inwardly confirmed the man’s status. She bowed deeply to show her great respect.
“No need for pleasantries. After all, we’ve met several times in the past.” The voice was far younger than she’d expected, and also one she could never forget. Xena raised her head, finally able to see Leylin before her.
“So it’s you!” Xena’s tone revealed her confidence in her own hypothesis, as well as unconcealed shock. Although she knew him to be a legendary wizard, Xena had never expected him to conquer the entire native empire with a pirate crew. Still, that wasn’t the most pressing matter…
‘This aura… A divine being, no, a demigod! Only a demigod can put me under this much pressure! A legendary wizard who’s just over 20? Hah, he’s already a demigod! How could this be possible?’
Although she was stupefied, Xena recovered her composure fairly quickly. After all, she’d dealt with many churches in the past, and had plentiful experience.
It wasn’t unheard of for ordinary people to meet with unexpected success in the World of Gods, ascending into the heavens with a single leap. Cyric had only been an ordinary thief as a mortal, and now he wielded formidable divine power as the God of Murder. He’d had the luck of obtaining a fallen god’s godhood, along with their divine weapon. This had instantly made him a powerful deity himself.
Compared to that, even if Leylin’s progress was universally shocking it was still acceptable.
Leylin himself didn’t dwell much on Cyric. The God of Murder had obtained his strength by pure luck, and his powers were nothing if not for his divine boosts. As a result, he would easily suffer the control of his own powers. He was already halfway insane, so he couldn’t be considered a formidable enemy.
Furthermore, Leylin had grievously offended Cyric already. He had even killed a legendary of his church, and their hatred and desire for revenge was boundless. This was the main reason why Leylin had chosen the path of massacres. Although compatibility was one consideration, he wasn’t afraid of slighting Cyric again.
It would have been a little short-sighted to ignore him, stirring up trouble instead with a mid-ranked god like the Mistress of Plagues who he had no grudge against. Besides, a godly role in plagues was more limited in scope and application than one in massacre, without much room for development.
A god could process all these thoughts in a split second. To Xena it seemed like Leylin asked his next question without hesitation, “Xena, why have you come all this way?”
Leylin currently had a formidable divine aura, and in her reverence Xena almost knelt down before him. Still, she was still a gold priest of Lady Waukeen. A trickle of power surfaced from the holy crest on her chest, lending her its strength.
“I am here to pass on my master’s sincerity.”
“Lady Waukeen’s sincerity?” Leylin looked at the bishop standing before him, a trace of playfulness flickering across his transformed golden eyes.
Not so long ago, a youngster like him had needed to cautiously weigh up the disadvantages and advantages of his schemes in front of a bishop of her rank. He’d even had no choice but to let a part of his profits go in order to rope her in. Now however, Xena could only crawl and pray for his benevolence. This gap between gods and men was so clear one could get drunk on the power.
The momentary silence caused Xena to assume that Leylin was put off. She immediately continued, “I’ve noticed Debanks Island has ample reserves of gold and silver. Your people luxuriously use pure gold for ornaments, and if these things were transported to the continent just a tenth of them would win you unimaginable profits. The accumulated wealth would allow you to build ten cities as large as Faulen…”
It had to be said: when Waukeen’s priests saw enormous profit their expressions changed completely. They would discard their cowardice, daring to deal with even devils and demons. Now, an inferno raged in Xena’s eyes as she faced a demigod. Her pretty little cherry lips spouted devilish words of enticement.
“Trade? Well, I can consider it…” Leylin seemed to be considering Xena’s deal on the surface, but there was a different story in his mind.
‘Is it a trap? But Waukeen has always been strictly neutral. Is she just attracted to Debanks Island, or maybe its my potential?’ The fight against false gods was Helm’s job. Leylin had never heard of the priests of the church of wealth actively taking such jobs.
On the contrary, the priests of wealth were often dazzled by the sight of gold. There were occasional rumours of secret deals with the devils even. Although most were groundless rumours, Leylin was keen enough to notice an inkling of truth in them.
Unlike demons and devils, false gods weren’t considered particularly evil. Furthermore, even if Debanks Island had enough resources to satisfy him for now if it received the support of trade with the mainland it would recover much faster. This would also supply Leylin with a greater amount of faith.
“I can accept the trade, but you need to talk concrete details with Tiff and Isabel,” Leylin no longer hid his association with the Giant Serpent Church.
Or perhaps he didn’t particularly care if other gods discovered that he was the serpent Kukulkan. Too many gods had been known to assume false identities, using avatars in the prime material plane.
“Apart from this, my master has several very, very small requests. If your Majesty can help her, my Lady will absolutely be willing to provide many things that will leave you satisfied…”
“Oh? How interesting, do continue,” Leylin stroked his chin, a smile blooming on his face.
After a short while, Xena quietly left with a self-satisfied expression on her face. Leylin was left alone in the great hall. A divine glow flashed across his eyes as he watched Xena’s departing back, his gaze filled with pity.
Even the Goddess of Wealth had to comply with the oaths and unwritten rules of the gods. There were many things that she had to do despite her reluctance. Business with a false god, for example, was prohibited.
This was why Waukeen hadn’t shown her true self. She’d sent one of her priests here, to serve as her shield at critical times. If Xena did not manage to see the truth, she wasn’t likely to have a good future.
As for Waukeen’s commission itself, Leylin was rather interested.
‘So she wants me to help her find several items, using them as an exchange? How interesting… First is the Sceptre of Savras?’ The image of a magic staff appeared before Leylin’s eyes, before quickly shattering into pieces.
‘This divine artifact is rumoured to be able to guard against prophecies and tracking by gods. That much is true, but the main part of the sceptre could be in any corner of the prime material plane. It could even be down in Baator or the abyss. Despite all that, she still covets this the most…’ Leylin furrowed his brows rather distrustfully, ‘This woman, what on earth is she thinking?’
It was a shame that she was an intermediate god, equivalent to a rank 8 Magus of laws. Leylin could not pry apart her thoughts.
‘One thing’s for sure. Be it for the trade or to hunt these items, I’ll have to leave Debanks Island. I need to go to the mainland or the outer planes, is that what she wants?’ Leylin couldn’t help but guess. They weren’t close in any way, so he wouldn’t believe that Waukeen could so generously come over and help him so suddenly.
‘If what I guess is true…’ Leylin’s drooping eyelids obscured the dim light in his eyes.
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