Wang Shu hasn't expected the priestess' move. It was so sudden that beyond barricading his body with superimposed layers of spiritual energy, he could do nothing more. She must've been truly desperate to disregard all witnesses and kidnap him so openly. Most worryingly is what she could do in the time it took to locate them. Though he knew she was not a threat to him, he couldn't say for sure she was alone in this. He wasn't strong enough. If an enemy proved stronger, he was sure a goner.
Despite his whirling thoughts, Wang Shu remained alert. The teleportation method wasn't familiar to him, but since his divine sense couldn't be deployed on such a journey, he couldn't decipher its mechanism. All he knew is that it was especially crude in comparison to the ones used in the Azure Cloud Continent, for even with his spiritual energy protecting him, a slight discomfort remained unavoidable. He could only imagine what it would do to a regular human. Though he doubted the Priestess cared much for his comfort in the first place.
It didn't take long for them to reach their destination.
Blinking his eyes to adjust to the new surroundings, Wang Shu was in awe of place he found himself in. It was a huge church hall with a high arched ceiling made entirely of a pure white color. Its walls, columns and marble flooring all in a spotless, untainted white with slightly darker runes exuding unparalleled holiness. This must be the main Nearynian church, he thought. Up ahead, at the very end of the hall, he spotted an erected altar on which stood an intricate carving of three connected leaves bathed in the afternoon light that filtered through the huge windows set up afar. From his memories, Wang Shu recognized that the sculpture represented nature which the Nearynian belief system was based upon. It wasn't very surprising considering that the Buryaqi race originated from a primal, foresteal environment.
"You really are special, huh" Wang Shu turned to the side and looked at the constipated appearance of the Priestess looking at him with envy and curiosity. He appeared every bit as tranquil and relaxed as he did before the teleportation whereas she was short of wheezing for breath, struggling hard to contain her dry-heaving.
"Why did you bring me here?" he asked. She's been pulling out all the stops to bring him to the church, there must be a reason. His interrogative tone was full of momentum that she felt compelled to answer.
"I was ordered to." Her subservient reply came readily that even she felt shocked.
Valdis didn't answer. How could she when she didn't know herself. The pregnant silence was unsettling for both. Wang Shu sighed in frustration at his ignorance of what's to come. He was self-aware enough to doubt that his weak cultivation base might prove insufficient to defend him against this fiend that the Priestess answers to.
He was seriously entertaining the idea of wringing her neck and then leaving when the sound of faint laughter echoed in the hall alerting both of its occupants. It was hair-raising and full of creepy mirth. An intense pressure erupted all of a sudden and like huge crashing waves threatened to drown the two with the endless streams of its suffocating might. Wang Shu's eyes went cold in an instant. This was spiritual pressure! This person can cultivate and is more powerful than he is!
Wang Shu circulated his spiritual energy through his meridians to fight off the smothering pressure exerted on his body. The barely defensive measure kept him at least standing. Compared to ground-bound Priestess whose eyes were bleeding, he fared much better. He remembered feeling restrictions on her and now he knew who applied them. It seems like she had no choice either.
There was no way he could beat this person so all he could do now is attempt to flee. The idea barely surfaced his mind when an echoing click was heard. He snapped his head up only to see a short door opening through the alter. Its squeak sounded more like a screech from hell. The darkness beyond did nothing in quelling one's fear of what might be lurking in the yawning void.
The pressure eased up as if inviting them in. As soon as Wang Shu took a step back, it came back with vengeance, with a stronger force that brought him straight to his knees. He gritted his teeth and regained his previous position heaving a sigh at the relieved pressure.
The Priestess who was finally able to stand up, coarsely wiped her bloodied eyes with her sleeves and hatefully stared up ahead. With shaking knees, she started walking forward, her destination obvious.
Wang Shu silently looked at her moving figure then followed. Their steps were heavy.
When they reached the opened door, they halted. There was nothing ahead. It wasn't for the lack of light that their eyes failed to see what was beyond but truly a dark void looking ready to swallow whatever dared to venture in. It was akin to a chasm of nothingness, an end to all that was known. Pitch black with no speck of light whatsoever. A gap of emptiness they knew it was anything but.
Valdis' fear spiked. She couldn't see but could distinctly feel it reaching out to them and the thought of what might await ahead made her flesh erupt in goosebumps.
"I, I d-don't want to go in," She pleaded unknown to exactly who. Her chattering teeth betrayed her horror.
"You should've thought of that before bringing us here." Wang Shu replied in a quiet whisper. He looked at her shaking figure coldly and in a swift motion raised his hand and pushed her in without hesitation.
Valdis didn't have the time to react before she fell right in. Wang Shu observed the entire process with his divine sense, his focused appearance morphed into one of surprise. He then stepped through the door, slightly less apprehensive.
Back at the Eldridge's manor, Gustave's soul almost flew out of his body in fright. He couldn't believe what had happened. Dread settled in the pit of his stomach and his world grew dizzy. Wasn't this why he was brought back in time? Just to prevent Oliver from reaching the Light Tree and to save their world? And yet, at the moment of truth, he did nothing.
If everything progressed as he feared, then all of his people's sacrifices were for naught.
He failed them.
He failed himself.
The only difference is; this time around, the world's destruction would be on him.
He knew that bitch was treacherous, why hadn't he guarded Oliver better? Oliver… will he die as well? He has to save him! Oliver is so small and weak; he could be hurt!
Gustave got ahold of his feelings of self-loathing in favor of trying to salvage the situation. Right, he could prevent the tragedy still. Nothing happened yet. There was still time.
Looking at the messy hall and the furious Mikel questioning the high priest, Gustave said loudly: "She must've taken him to the church."
Hearing that everyone quieted down instantly remembering how adamant the Priestess was in wanting to get Oliver there.
The high priest, as if clutching to a lifeline desperately followed: "Yes, yes! They must be there! Let's all head out to check! Lord Mikel, I promise you she won't go unpunished for this." He has had enough of this tactless ingrate! He thought she was trying to please him but it turns out she's gone insane! He cannot cover for her now that everyone witnessed the whole thing.
"Taking a carriage will take a longer time, we should teleport as well," Gustave uttered grimly.
"NO! no, the tablets are highly unstable, it might do us harm if we used them" the High Priest informed in alarm, "They could only be used as a last resort, Lord Mikel you should be well aware of this right?"
"Yes, a harm that my son had to go through because of your demented student!" Mikel bellowed, fear creeping in at the thought of his son's state.
"Lord…I'm sure you've realized your son's peculiarity by now…he should be fine," the priest reminded reluctantly.
Hearing that, Gustave narrowed his eyes at him in dismay. Of course, that's probably the reason the church is going against Oliver, but now is not the time to fixate on that, they needed to find them first.
"Hand me your tablet," Gustave ordered.
"I said we can't…"
"I heard what you said and I don't care. Give me the tablet."
High priest Phlios gritted his teeth at the teenager's disrespectful, commanding tone but complied nonetheless. Because of his apprentice's mistake, he has to suffer humiliations even from a juvenile! His anger was short of bursting at this moment.
Gustave snatched the palm-sized silver wood tablet with no regard to the fuming elder in front of him. He carefully studied the carved runes but failed to recognize them. It wasn't surprising considering that his magical knowledge wasn't that extensive in the first place. He started injecting small streams of magical energy and surprisingly perceived the flaws in the maze-like lines of the tablet. He sent in wisps of concentrated energy to support the faulty cuts and then called out: "it's ready."
Mikel ordered head butler Arlo to carry on questioning the servants and deal with the aftermath. With the already present estate guards and an anxious-looking butler Walter, they flocked around Gustave forming a connected formation. As their figures were flickering in preparation for the journey, he could faintly hear the Priest promising to follow them on the carriage and assist them as soon as possible.
I'm sorry, I know it's been a while but you know, life happens sometimes. I'll try to write more, I promise.
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