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“The only things that alarmed the continent were the matter with the north and west desert. The rest are just small issues…” Xena stopped at this point, her beautiful eyes turning to gaze up at Leylin, “But of course, if news about you were to be leaked, my Lord, that would create a whole new storm…”
‘Those two things actually have something to do with me!’ Leylin thought as he rubbed his nose, but he had no plans of coming clean.
Xena lowered her voice, speaking by Leylin’s ear, “The birth of a new demigod and the conquest of over a million natives with just five thousand pirates… Either one of these events could stun the mainland, even affecting the outer planes…”
“I’d rather not for now. I don’t want to attract the attention of Helm’s church.” Leylin sternly stopped her, but this only caused a sly look in Xena’s eyes.
“Please don’t worry, my Lord. Our church has worked with those like you before, and both sides have returned satisfied…”
“Hm? I think we should discuss this in more detail tonight.” Hearing Xena seemingly hint that she could help him solve the problem with the God of Protection, Leylin’s eyes darted around. While he was unsure if everything she said was the truth, it was always better to have more knowledge…
They reached the little village Xena had spoken of without issue. Soon, however, Leylin found something strange about the place.
“There aren’t any commoners here? They’re all Professionals.” The radiance of a Professional’s soul was vastly different from that of a normal human. If the former were like a grain of sand, the latter was a firefly. Although they were both minuscule to Leylin, there was still a difference.
“Once we discovered this valley, our church bought the surrounding regions and stationed our knights to patrol and guard the area.” Xena clapped, and four dark figures charged over from the village ahead. Their agility showed that they were high-ranked knights.
“Priestess! My Lord!” The four high-ranked knights seemed extremely humble as they led the two’s horses along like servants.
The scene left Leylin speechless. He sighed after a long while, then said, “As expected of the church of wealth. They’re overbearing…”
Xena didn’t immediately respond to this, but her eyes showed her pride.
“Who’s defending the valley now?” she asked a black-armoured knight in front of her.
“It’s the Spear Crusader, Lord Jeffries!” The knight unknowingly showed a look of worship, “We beat down a few waves of werejackals recently. A group of adventurers from the kingdom were attracted to this place as well, but none of them were powerful.”
The churches of the World of Gods possessed divine spells and limitless wealth. They also had large numbers of zealous followers, as well as true and eternal gods backing them. They could be called the most powerful organisations in the prime material plane. Even the human kingdoms had to yield to them, giving their people the right to worship.
Given the situation, about half the powerful beings of the world were undoubtedly affiliated to churches. Unlike soldiers and adventurers, paladins had better equipment, more guidance, and overall better lives. If not for this advantage, they would consider changing gods.
“We’ll rest here tonight, and enter the mountains to meet with Lord Jeffries tomorrow. What do you think of it?” Xena now acted like the master here.
“Yes, that sounds good.” Leylin had no objections, although a dark hint flickered in his eyes.
‘There don’t seem to be any traps, or they might be buried too deep…’ Night soon fell. Leylin gazed up at the starry skies and then at Xena and other knights who knew so little. His eyes showed how indifferent he felt.
“They’re all dispensable… The gods are that heartless, huh,” he muttered, his voice so low nobody heard his words.
“This is the valley where the strange events took place. Lord Jeffries is waiting for you up ahead!” Xena had unknowingly become a guide. She was even attempting to rope Leylin into her church, although all she did was fated to be in vain.
“Ah, Lord Jeffries!” Xena jogged forward, bowing towards the legendary that Leylin had met before, “My apologies that you had to come all the way here to meet us…”
“Lord Leylin! It’s only been a few years since we last met, and you’ve already attained so much!” Jeffries didn’t pay attention to Xena. To legendaries, those below their rank were ants unworthy of attention.
However, Leylin was different! An intense bloodlust and threads of envy arose from Jeffries’ eyes.
All legendaries desired to become gods. While Jeffries had glory that most could not even begin to imagine, as long as he remained in Waukeen’s church he would never be able to rid himself of the shackles that bound him. Seeing Leylin having taken that important step and left him far in the dust, Jeffries had a strange expression.
‘What a pity… No matter how powerful you are, or how talented, you won’t be able to fight off fate and the gods…’ Jeffries sighed inside, steadying his faith that was on the verge of crumbling as he carried an amiable smile on his face.
“You gave me a very good impression during the ceremony, Lord Jeffries.” Leylin answered easily and conversed for a while longer. They soon entered the valley shrouded with mist.
“The elemental aura here is strange, and the mist seems to have a powerful sealing strength. Be careful!” Jeffries led the way ahead. There were more and more black vines about even as the area turned more sandy, and the grey mist around them became increasingly thicker.
‘Such great sealing strength… Even a large-scale spell formation can’t be maintained for long; it would take up too much energy. It makes sense for this to be the radiation of a divine weapon, since the Sceptre of Savras is rumoured to have powerful sealing abilities…’
“Werejackals, human soldiers, and adventurers seem to have been corroded by the mist. They’ve morphed into a different life form, so they’re difficult to deal with.” Just after Jeffries spoke, the winds howled and strange sounds echoed as a werejackal darted out of the mist. The strong smell on its body caused Xena to frown.
“What a joke!” Jeffries brandished his spear and a milky-white light hacked the werejackal into two, revealing black innards and bones.
“Once they’re corroded these things gain great vitality. It’ll take ages to kill them…” Jeffries explained. He then saw Leylin crouch on the ground in seeming interest, observing the flesh where the werejackal had been sliced apart.
“This is the contamination in the outermost regions. It’s even worse inside. If not for there being traces of a divine weapon here, I’d be prepared to tell the druids’ association and let them know of this natural pollution…” Jeffries’ annoyance could be heard from his voice.
“Oh, I’m sorry. It’s my first time seeing beings like this!” Leylin got up and apologised, and the group continued to advance amidst the mist.
“We’ve already tested this place. Even high-ranked legendaries can’t get through half of the valley…” All of a sudden, Jeffries stopped. He looked at the normal-seeming Leylin and Xena who was straining already, a strange expression on his face.
“Fight me,” Jeffries suddenly requested.
“Lord Jeffries, Lord Leylin is an esteemed guest of the church! How could you do this?” Xena exclaimed loudly before Leylin could respond.
“Hmm… You’re attacking now? I’m curious, why didn’t you bring me further in and surround me?” Leylin raised his eyebrows in doubt.
“What? Attacking now?” Xena took several steps back, suddenly realising that she knew nothing. She’d been played like a puppet.
“There’s no fun in attacking you with others. A proud legendary should never fall just like this! I’ve also wanted to battle with you for a long while now.” A milky-white spear suddenly appeared in his hands, its sharp barbed tip emitting a terrifying chill. “Besides, you’d noticed it before I even told you, no?”
“Mm,” Leylin did not deny it. “I just wanted to confirm my suspicions and see how evil you are.”
Golden rays emanated from Leylin’s body, as if giving him golden armour. The dark red massacre domain abruptly extended, causing Jeffries to breathe roughly.
“There’s no need to hide anymore. Get out here!” As Jeffries’ enraged roars sounded out, powerful energy undulations rumbled out before a few figures appeared around Leylin. The grey fog slowly condensed into a cage-like structure, revealing a barren area.
“So it’s you, Benedict. Are you done with the matters at the north?” Leylin had never expected that he’d see an acquaintance.
“Leylin! You almost wrecked the plans of our master back then, and turned into a sinner of the north!” The bishop of Tyr was standing right in front of him. This fellow had attacked Leylin once before. Behind him was a group of paladins, and next to them were priests and wizards that worshipped Mystra.
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