Book 6, Chapter 84
“What about a larger scale, like with armies?” Richard asked. There was no dearth of stonewood in the Forest Plane, and while teleportation had been expensive before he could just send the astral chrysalis to transport thousands of tonnes in one go. An army wouldn’t mind using more of the catalyst to burn through their stonewood warmer and faster. After all, they needed it only for a few nights and not the entire year.
“It does burn faster with more, and there’s even another amazing property he found,” Blackgold said anxiously, “The stonewood contains a lot of energy, and when crushed with the proper mix of catalyst and goblin fuel it can produce a powder that explodes violently. The old elf is saying it could be three to five times as powerful as our dwarven gunpowder.”
“Did you say three to five?” Richard asked to be sure.
“I’m worried that old fellow will send himself back to his world tree a few decades earlier at this rate. The thing is very dangerous, but he’s willing to perform the research for the right price. He wants 300,000 gold! I swear, he’s turned from an elf into one of my kin!”
“500,000,” Richard said immediately. He already had a number of uses for enhanced gunpowder in mind.
“500,000? Even 300,000 is way too much!”
“500,000. Just be sure to tell him I don’t have all that much patience.”
“Grr… That lucky old man.”
After some small talk, Richard cut off communications and confirmed with Senma that the troops had been assembled at Blackrose, heading to the Church of the Eternal Dragon to make some offerings. He sacrificed the two top-tier offerings and a multitude of lesser ones.
Perhaps out of pity, the old dragon was extremely favourable today. From the two top-tier offerings, he was given a total of three passage-enhancements. Standing in front of the altar, he found it a little difficult to decide where he would put it. Normally he would give all three to Faelor, it was after all his foundation, but with the Doomsday Imprint having appeared that didn’t seem like the wisest of choices.
He hesitated for a long while, but eventually he bit his teeth and poured all three blessings into Faelor. He decided he wanted to see just what would destroy his plane; ten years were more than enough to bring about a miracle!
The lesser sacrifices behaved strangely as well. They broke down into timeforce the moment he put them on the altar, forming an hourglass with a quasi-divine weapon within, but just as he was about to reach out for it the hourglass shattered back into golden grains of sand once more. The sand danced around in mid-air for a while before shooting into the back of his hand, forming the imprint of an hourglass upon it.
A new message appeared in his mind: Divine Gift: Lighthouse of the Soul.
This was actually an ability that allowed him to mark the soul of an enemy, sensing their position anywhere within the same plane. Such tracking was unparalleled, and even with only one target it was certainly very handy. He didn’t quite understand why the change happened, but that was quickly solved when another message was sent to him mentally: because he was a Planewalker, the Eternal Dragon would occasionally interfere in the ceremony and change something to better suit his needs.
The message stated that most blessings would be improved a level when this intervention of fate came into play, capable of improving on even the things he wanted most. The last line of the information read: There is no best, only better; such is the privilege of a title.
Even without the need for further explanation, he could understand just how useful this was. He could already think of many people he would want to track: one of the children of the forest in the Forest Plane to get to the world tree, Voidbones to hunt him down and eliminate the threat, perhaps even Flowsand when he entered the Darkness to see if she was on the plane he headed to. He stroked the mark with great emotion, but at the same time he understood just what this scheme was. The old dragon was only doing this to tempt him into more offerings so he could raise his title further; he was starting to understand the warnings he was given about it.
Still, it was all he could do to smile. He might be playing on the Eternal Dragon’s palm, but that was the only way for him to gain power as quickly as he needed. He would have to be content with playing puppet for a while longer.
With the sacrifice out of the way, he met Noelene at the door to the hall. Her expression showed just how great of a mood she was in, both because of the divine grace just now and the fact that he had fulfilled his promise and brought her a grade 4 rune: Empowered Divinity. The rune enhanced her already-terrifying spells in terms of both effect and duration, and although the enhancement depended on one’s individual power she was a grand priestess of the Eternal Dragon. The boost to her strength was unimaginable.
She accompanied him all the way out of the Church before whispering, “I’ve got everything you wanted, it literally wiped me clean. 5,000 sets of superior-grade equipment… Are you sure you have so many high-levelled knights?”
Richard just smiled as he walked off, “My knights are endless.”
This was a famous saying left by Charles the Great right before he led his troops to the abyss. The millions of cavalrymen flooding in truly felt endless. Looking at Richard’s back, Noelene couldn’t bring herself to think he was joking.
Richard had no knowledge of Noelene’s thoughts. He was far from an endless cavalry when he reached the Forest Plane, but he still took an entire platoon of rune knights alongside 400 shadowspears. Most importantly, he also brought along the broodmother’s avatar. Once it grew to a high enough level, it would spell the doom of this infinite forest!
He flashed out of range of the portal as he exited, and having been given orders already the guards of the portal immediately cleared the space as well. A pitch-black conical head slowly emerged from within, and like an enormous snake the astral chrysalis started floating out. One could see rows of black image diamonds on both sides of its body, the source of its evolution. The creature had already grown more than fifty metres long with a diameter of several metres as well! Although it didn’t have any power in combat, it could still shock the guards witless every time they saw it.
Richard called the guarding general and made some arrangements before leaving the base city with his followers and the astral chrysalis. He had to hatch the broodmother’s avatar in the presence of the will of the forest; that was the only way to eliminate any need to adapt in the future.
Emerald City had advanced greatly over the past few years, now accommodating tens of thousands of regular residents with a burgeoning lumber industry. The will of the forest was constantly retreating, and although it didn’t feel like a dent had been made the city was now clear of the will of the forest for 200 kilometres. That was 200 kilometres of land any enemies had to pass through without the natural boosts to their power. More than a dozen piles of stonewood had been piled up on the outskirts, amounting to millions of kilograms if not more. There were far too many to burn, and even far too many to transport out of the plane.
Richard had brought a tonne of the catalyst, enough for a thousand tonnes of stonewood, but even that could barely make a dent into the amount that had been cut down. It seemed like it would take forever to cut through the entire plane.
“Great Master, you have returned!” As they approached the Tree of Life, a spirited voice suddenly resounded in Richard’s consciousness. It felt almost like a young gnome instead of a wizened old tree.