There were no anomalies in Saleen’s injuries. Even though the Crystal Finger had damaged his body, his mental strength did not sustain any huge damage. As long as he had the magic chords, he could still cast magic. The Crystal Finger was not a lousy spell. It had tremendous power and its aftereffects were not fatal. There would not be any adverse effect to Saleen’s magic training in the future.
This time around, Saleen was clear on it; the Crystal Finger was not invincible. If Black William’s protective holy prose was as mighty as Lex’s God’s Ring, then the power of the backlash could kill him.
This made Saleen wake up. If he ran into the three leaders from the inquisition, the Crystal Finger would be useless. Even if he could kill one of them, he would pay with his life and die along with the enemy.
Raphael was definitely a genius, creating such a brutal and unavoidable spell. If he was still alive, he might have already surpassed the limits of grade-10.
A grade-11 mage? It seemed like there was not one known in history yet.
Lex had sent people to deliver another half a bottle of magic liquid. Saleen had very little magic liquid, while Lex obviously had a bank of it. She was also very anxious for Saleen to get better. If Saleen could not move, she would not be able to leave this place. It was no small hatchet killing a disciple of the head inquisitor. Up until now, the three old guys had only groomed six people.
The next day, Saleen could already move about, but it was still quite cumbersome for him to fight. Lex actually planned for the convoy to move out at noon, but the weather was sweltering, so she decided to move at night. She set up a temporary teleportation portal, as she attempted to make contact with Metatrin City.
For any kind of temporary teleportation portal, only some noises or images could be transmitted. To send a tangible item, a fixed teleportation portal was still needed in order for it to be safe. The transmitted substance could possibly be disintegrated by the turbulence in space otherwise.
What made Lex surprised was that Metatrin City had replied with the coordinates of the main temple. At the same time, another piece of news was received. The army from Holy Rock City had besieged Lianyun City, while the eastern sea allied army in other locations had been extirpated or driven into Lianyun City.
The war would end at the end of the year. Holy Rock City and the local nobles had issued a tax-exempt order. Any citizen living in the lands which had been afflicted by the war would not need to pay tax for three years.
As the tax-exempt order was disseminated by Holy Rock City and the local nobles, it meant that the civilians who were inflicted with the venom need not to pay a single cent for the next three years.
Lex discovered more clues. If Holy Rock City wanted to counterattack Loulan, then they would not deploy the armies belonging to the northern nobles. They instead would deploy troops in the south. Holy Rock City was very confident of their own main force. Even if troops from the south could not be dispatched in time, Holy Rock City’s army could still deal with the knights from the Tanggulasi Empire on their own.
Lex felt that this was a little inadequate, unless… unless Holy Rock City had formed an alliance with the Sikeqinya Empire. In this case, Laiyin Duchy would participate in the war. The deadlock in Loulan would be resolved immediately.
Lex’s intelligence agency was not stationed in Metatrin City, so Lex had to make contact with Bitter Water Prefecture as well. Upon contact, she learned that the Holy See had released a new code of laws. There were fifteen new laws, and several hundred more rules. The main message was that the Holy See wanted to allow the glory of god to shine upon the whole mainland.
The Holy See was actually trying to ignite a holy war!
The phrase “holy war” had only surfaced in the last one-thousand years. When the Goddess of Myers was around, the mainland did not have any religious wars. The Goddess of Myers had never forced anyone to believe in a religion.
The appearance of a holy war was related to the Holy See. Back when the Holy See wanted to spread its teachings on the mainland, it was obstructed in the Qin Empire. Qin people would rather seek help from a magic disciple than a holy master and the nobles were unusually vigilant towards the influence of the Holy See.
The Holy See could own lands, but it did not need to pay any taxes. It was actually depriving the nobles’ interests. The Holy See even had its own army and financial institutions. The war between the four empires was in fact a holy war.
After the holy war, each empire made a compromise with the exception of Phoenix. The other four duchies acted as buffer zones, while the power of the Holy See was absorbed by the Tanggulasi Empire. In order to establish the Holy See and to preach, they would have to obtain permission from the local nobles first. The emperors of the four big empires would have no say in this matter.
It seemed like the Holy See had achieved its objective. In actual fact, other than Qin, even the local nobles in Sikeqinya did not really care for the Holy See. The Cloudflow people were even more conservative. As a result, the Holy See only managed to expand its power in the God Grace Duchy, but it barely made any progress in the other three empires.
In Qin, no churches could be developed. Even if a noble in a certain area had been bribed, they would immediately be oppressed by the surrounding nobles. That way the church would also be torn down eventually.
In the previous holy war, the Holy See got the shorter end of the stick. After accumulating power for the last one-thousand years, it tried to ignite a large-scale holy war again. Lex was astounded as the issues she had ran into might not be a coincidence at all. From when she was ambushed while on the way to Holy Rock City, to the conflict in Holy Rock City, the shadow of the Holy See was always present.
“Black William might not have been talking nonsense when he said he wanted to cooperate with me. He was actually trying to tap into my status to allow the Holy See’s preaching be accepted by Qin’s nobles. If I got captured, it would be scarier than death. The Holy See will never let me die, it will transform me into a puppet, and extend its feelers into Qin by controlling me. This risk, is not that worthwhile anymore.”
As Lex’s heart of vigilance got stimulated, she instructed the rest of the people to prepare for the journey without any hesitation. “If the Holy See had a plot long ago, then every minute here is dangerous.”
As Saleen was injured and had not fully recovered, Lex still rode in the same chariot as Saleen while her mages sat in the other chariot. Lex had made up her mind. If it was difficult to obtain the seeds of the divine trees and the situation was perilous, she would immediately activate the power of the God’s Ring and flee with Saleen.
“Once I get back to Metatrin City, I will immediately construct a magical tower. With a magical tower, a few grand swordmasters, Bain, and Nailisi’s four demons, even a sorcerer will be defeated. Worst case I will empty my savings to recruit a few mages from Alchemy City. By then, I don’t believe the Holy See will be able to deploy an army to invade Metatrin City”.
Lex never discussed these things with Saleen, and Saleen never asked why the journey was continued. The coordinates to the temple had been calculated, Saleen would not want to delay any further either.
After the convoy entered the Purgatory Desert, it immediately slowed down. The black sand was not as soft as the normal yellow sand and the magic war chariots could not advance quickly despite having their wheels changed. The swordmasters were all on high alert. As it was midday, the sun was toxic, so the magic arrays on everyone’s armor was activated. Even holding a conversation would deplete the magic nuclei.
The team advanced stealthily. The person leading the pack was Wild Bear. Even though he was bulky, his mental strength was extremely intricate, his perception to danger even exceeded that of Jola’s.
As suggested by his name, Wild Bear was like a powerful magic beast. A spider, the size of a fist, laid atop his skeletal warhorse. This spider was Saleen’s witcher spider. Saleen was fond of this big fellow too. If Wild Bear got attacked by any magic beast, the spider could team up with him. It was more synergistic than when the spider cooperated with Saleen.
No one would ever expect a ferocious person like Wild Bear to possess an insidious technique like the witcher spider.
Lex had left at an opportune time. Half a day after she left the camp compound, two holy masters clad in identical black robes arrived. These two holy masters were around the same age as Black William, they were also dressed in the same manner. They were followed by hundreds of warriors. The warriors donned ferocious-looking black armor, and wore fully sealed helmets inlaid with brown crystals.
The inquisition did not have many soldiers, the most renowned troops were these hundreds of wardens.
The Crystal Finger had reduced Black William to shreds, and Saleen did not bother cleaning up the battlefield. After the two holy masters inspected the area, their faces turned ghastly.
“Fifth Brother is dead.”
“Lex has entered the desert. She has been gone for about twelve hours now, her scent cannot be tracked.”
“What do we do now?”
“Teacher will arrive in two days, but in two days’ time, we will totally lose Lex.”
The Purgatory Desert did not only have a harsh environment, the elements there were not very stable either. Very soon after a person passed by a certain area, their scent would be completely erased. If three days had passed, even a grade-9 sorcerer would be helpless.
Neither of the holy masters wanted to shoulder this responsibility, it was very perilous to just enter the Purgatory Desert like that.
“Second Brother, we didn’t bring a lot of water.”
“Fourth Brother, if Lex managed to escape, then it will mean that we have lost to the pope’s men. Our teachers will also be embarrassed, and our future will be doomed.”
The two people kept arguing, but Black William was not mentioned at all. They were afraid that Lex had employed some skill which killed their fifth brother instantaneously, neither his soul nor body was left behind. Even though Black William was not as powerful as either of them, he still possessed a partially godly weapon. He had died just like that, in such a thorough fashion.
When Lex left, she did not put away the tents, she simply left them as they were. Black William had died outside the camp compound. Judging by the marks on the battlefield, Black William seemed to have been monitoring the camp compound. Eventually, the people in the camp emerged and killed him.
Black William’s speed was faster than the both of them. If Lex had such an expert working for her, how could they go after her recklessly? It was not so bad with five-hundred wardens around, but the wardens had a low speed. If they did not bring the wardens along, then they would face the risk of getting killed though.
“Fourth Brother, since we are students from the same teacher, should we be more candid with each other?” The killer did not want to waste any more time. With every word spoken, it meant that Lex would be slightly further away.
“Candid? Then I will say it. The person who killed Fifth Brother can also kill us.”
“Then we will bring along the wardens and chase them slowly, what do think?”
“This idea sounds good. Even though we cannot leave behind our scents, we can leave behind physical objects. When teacher gets here, he will be able to catch up.”
Both of them looked at each other and smiled, understanding that they were both afraid of death. After acknowledging each other’s choices, the two led five-hundred wardens into the Purgatory Desert, following the trail left behind by Lex.