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In Leylin’s opinion, the famed big shots whether in his past life or the current one all had something in common. Once they determined their target, they would advance with fortitude, possessing absolute faith in their path. Since they’d long since marked their path, they feared nothing, and would be unscrupulous.
In his pursuit of eternity and freedom, Leylin cared not for the lives of the natives.
‘All I pursue in this life is eternity. Even if I collapse halfway through and face the backlash from my actions, I’ll have no regrets…’ A tough glint flashed in Leylin’s eyes, proof of his staunch resolution. With such motivation, killing humans, burning cities, and wiping out hundreds of people was a mere sacrifice on his higher path.
The battle between the tribes grew increasingly intense. It had been a long time since anyone came to care for the chief that Leylin had captive. The two sides were blinded by battle, their primary goal to take out their opponent.
People who started battles did not normally know how to end them. During the war, they would slowly forget their initial goals, leading to tragedy.
The Sakartes Empire seemed to have found out about the situation, dispatching a ten thousand strong army to interfere alongside a large group of clerics. It was likely that mediating wasn’t their only goal. Precautionary measures or wiping outsiders like Leylin out would be high on their list.
Sadly, the empire’s interference ended quickly, having accomplished nothing much. There was no battle, but the grim reaper had descended on them.
En route to the warring tribes, a plague broke out without warning amongst their ranks. It was infectious, and the rate of death was terrifying. In a few days’ time, it had spread across the whole army.
With how crowded their army was, and the lack of hygiene amongst the natives, it was difficult to survive the disease without divine healing. The members of the clergy were hard-pressed and overworked, only able to save some of the officers and elites. They had no choice but to watch the ordinary soldiers fester and die. With their limited number of divine spells, what they’d been able to do was already amazing.
In an era of cold weapons, a casualty rate of over 30% was terrifying. This time, the plague had brought an additional psychological pressure with it. Under the threat of death, the army soon forgot its goal. Some even tried to desert!
With more than half the soldiers dead, the army could do little about the runaways. The officers shouted themselves hoarse trying to bring the defectors back and behead them. Truth be told, even a few officers themselves had fled in fear of the plague.
Soon enough, the army completely broke down. The soldiers spread everywhere, bringing the bacteria in their bodies to even further places and spreading the plague more. The natives died in batches, leaving fields overgrown with weeds. The fowl had wandered off.
The plague had reduced the entirety of Debanks Island to tears. It worried the upper class of the empire out of their minds. Still, there was nothing they could do to stop the spread of the plague. As for the intruders, they weren’t a priority.
Taking care of the external interferences, Leylin began completely annihilating the two tribes that had fought each other. Many of them had been infected by the plague in the chaos of war. 60% of them had died out, including almost all of the healthy young men.
Small as the two tribes were, their totem spirits were merely divine beings. They were greatly weakened by the loss of worshippers, and weren’t able to obstruct Leylin’s attacks anymore. Absorbing their divine force, Leylin sensed the massacre divinity in his body greatly increasing in strength. He was getting ever closer to the threshold of being able to ignite his godfire.
After he got rid of what the two tribes believed in, it was natural for Leylin to take them over. The remaining members were gathered to establish a whole new town, complete with a large new Targaryen statue.
The natives abandoned their old faith. Being baptised by prayer and holy water in front of the statue— in actuality just potions and vaccines— they sensed their suffering and ailments vanish without a trace. It immediately triggered a zealous wave of faith.
The infectious power of faith generated by providing those who were on the verge of death help was something even Leylin hadn’t expected. Many who had been at their last breaths, their bodies decaying, became fervent worshippers of the Winged Serpent God after being ‘saved’. It allowed his strength to increase.
Soon enough, the surrounding tribes got word of a god’s abilities to heal the disease. Getting blessed, they brought their entire families over with their wealth, requesting to join the town.
While the priests of the totem spirits could use divine spells to remove the sickness, they had a limited amount of divine force and spell slots. They could only save those of status, able to do nothing about the commoners who fled for their lives. Even if they couldn’t get a single divine spell from the Winged Serpent God, it was already enough to wipe out faith in the rest.
Knowing this well, Leylin dispatched his own priests everywhere, bringing holy water and the like to surrounding tribes and displaying his abilities and achievements. It had a very favourable response.
In the face of death, the authorities could do little to stop them. Groups of natives came and prayed for blessings from Leylin, soon enough filling the town up.
Leylin named the town that had been built upon the two tribes Hope Stronghold, denoting new hope. It was the beginning of his conquest of Debanks Island. Making use of his ability to heal the plague, Leylin had acquired the faith of the natives as well as an army. With the method of the carrot and stick, his organisation began to expand rapidly…
A year had passed, this winter especially chilly. Snow fell even on the southern seas, coating the islands in white.
This applied to Debanks Island as well. The gods seemed to be lamenting the loss of lives, showing their sorrow. The snow on the continent was extremely thick, the older generations unable to remember something so terrifying. Many of the natives that hadn’t prepared for this froze to death.
Though the cold weather somewhat curbed the spread of the plague, it could not halt the footsteps of the reaper. Debanks Island had become a hell for the natives in the past year, the horrifying plague spreading unceasingly around the island.
Whole populations were wiped out. There was even a dead city now, one that was completely empty. The corpses of natives filled it, and many rats and crows roamed about the houses and the streets, gnawing at everything. The eyes of the wild dogs on the road had grown bloodshot from eating too much human flesh.
In this land swarming with starved people, Hope Stronghold and the rumoured Winged Serpent God by the sea were their hopes, able to do anything.
Information had spread that this god possessed the powers of massacre and healing. All faith would be treated with kindness, and even if someone was infected by the plague they could still be healed.
Now that these ‘rumours’ had spread, huge batches of natives fled towards Hope Stronghold. No matter what the bigwigs did to stop them, it was pointless…
East of Hope Stronghold, near a mountain of the Sakartes Empire.
A surge of natives wearing thick fur coats trudged on in the snow with much difficulty. One of them was a young girl, who was encouraging her little brother. “Hah… push ahead. We’ll reach the area near Hope Stronghold soon…”
“Will we be saved once we get there, Sister Aya?” The young boy next to this Aya looked about fourteen or fifteen years of age, and he wore a thick fur coat as well. However, his face was almost purple from the cold, and he was cringing as he spoke.
“Yes… The totem spirit there is a huge serpent that governs all life. It can remove the sickness…” Aya kept encouraging her little brother and helped him along, afraid that he would slip in the midst of the crowd. However, as she mindlessly followed the procession up ahead, she sank deep into thought.
The events a year ago had been like a nightmare; a plague had appeared without any warning whatsoever. The infected first saw greenish-black spots on their bodies, like sesame seeds. They were followed by low fevers, and eventually devolved into comas where even divine spells could not help.
At the end, the flesh of the infected would rot and fall off bit by bit. Aya had seen this once, and it had left her unable to eat for quite a few days.
The plague had arrived fiercely. At the beginning, it had just been rumours at the borders of the empire, but in a few sunsets’ time, it had spread to the larger cities. The high-ranking priests and nobles hid at the altars and prayed hard with blood sacrifices, but it seemed to have no effect.
The other shamans could do nothing, and soon enough the plague had affected their city. She lost all her relatives to them, the only one left alive her little brother. She followed the stream of people escaping the town to head south. Unsure of what to do, she rushed towards Hope Stronghold.
Although this rumour could be a lie, it was her last hope!
“I’ll definitely bring my brother there safely…” Aya kept telling herself as she prayed, “Oh Winged Serpent God in Hope Stronghold. If you truly can cure the plague, then please descend and help us! I am willing to give up everything…”
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