11 Chapter 239: Gryphon
Caesar moved through the vast plains at an astonishing rate, even faster than horseback. His hair whipped behind him, shrouding most of his countenance. Since he was alone, there was no need to take detours and camp out for the night. Instead, he beelined for the Northern Forest, where his legacy had first taken shape. Conflicted emotions could be seen in his eyes as he passed the old goblin encampment, and peered down below, at the burnt forest.
Unlike before, when thousands of animals chittered about and loitered around the pine blanketed ground, the area was relatively desolate. Not many birds could be seen in the sky, nor were there squirrels resting on the trees. Only ash and a few powerful trees were present, standing strong amongst the war-torn landscape.
Unlike when he had first departed from Rahvin Kingdom, Caesar was not nearly as frantic, nor as swift. After his initial bout of indescribable rage, he cooled off along the lonesome journey. Upon deliberation, he realized that it was highly unlikely for Ahri and Elizabeth to be put in any danger. At least, it was doubtful that they would be physically harmed or killed.
The main reason for this was Elizabeth's very appealing "holy magic" talent, alongside her absolute love for her mother. No matter who it was, not many people would be capable of resisting her charm, nor the church's wrath. Additionally, even with the abstract organization name given to him, Caesar determined that it was most likely the church at work. After all, there were very few people who could accurately gauge Elizabeth's worth.
With this mind, Caesar shuffled through the burnt forest in search of the towering gryphon. It was the very same scenery he had achieved his first evolution, but the circumstances were vastly different. A strange light irradiated from his eyes as he thought about evolving. Not even he knew what he would become after today.
Caesar's conjectures had been somewhat correct, and both Ahri and Elizabeth were relatively safe. The two ladies stood together, in a hug, surrounded by golden pillars and magnificent murals. Lutes and symphonic singers were busy relaying their tunes in some kind of religious prayer, while at the forefront, an old man sat atop a pearl-coated throne. He carried an amiable smile, peering down at both Ahri and Elizabeth below him as if he were a member of the respected older generation.
To be honest, the old man was beginning to feel tons of headaches come his way. Surrounding the two girls were a multitude of men and women, armored up in the fanciest of gear. Most prominently, two middle-aged men, paladins, stared at Ahri with vigilance. Contrary to expectations, on the way to the church, she had burned a few inquisitors and even harmed a paladin. It was with much difficulty that they had finally calmed her down, just a little bit.
"Young ladies, we have brought you here with no ill intentions," the old man stated, "your talents would be wasted in other places, so we wish to extend a hand toward you two. In hopes of betterment for both you and the world!"
Ahri scoffed, "not only did you forcefully take my daughter, but you also attempted to blindfold us on the way and even used some kind of clones to replace us back in our home. Whatever point you are trying to get across has already been dragged through the mud and buried six kilometers deep!"
Elizabeth nodded her head, unable to really comprehend what was going on. She just cutely agreed with her mother and growled toward the men around her.
"Ahem," the old man cleared his throat, "our actions may have shrouded our intentions, but my words remain intact. We hope to form a bond with you. And, as a token of gratitude, we will even betroth the young lass with one of the strongest heroes!"
Once again, Ahri jeered. This time, she held her tongue. It was painfully obvious that no one in the church would listen to reason, so she felt as though it would be pointless to waste any more of her breath. She grabbed Elizabeth by the waist and held her tight, hoping that Caesar would come and save them eventually.
The old man sighed, "send them to their rooms. Oh, and make sure that they are well guarded," he finished, looking deflated.
The warriors down below nodded with absolute loyalty and carefully dragged the two girls out of the halls, to where their rooms were located. Although they weren't exactly respectful, they made sure that not a single hair was harmed on two ladies. This pleased the old man as he slouched back down in his chair.
He was not a high figure, nor did he sit on the lofty position known as a pope. In fact, he was a mere branch of the main church. If one looked closely, they would realize that instead of holy energy, he actually irradiated evil magic. His face warped into a smile as observed the door both Ahri and Elizabeth exited out of. "Madam, Mistress, my apologies for being so hamhanded. However, it is essential that hatred for the church is born!" he whispered to himself while walking over to a strange cauldron.
Mysteriously, an image was reflected with the steam floating above the pot. It showcased a beautiful, white-haired man streaking across a burnt forest. Fealty gleamed inside of the old man's eyes as he held his head back and laugh uproariously. "The Lord shall return, and everything that is rightfully his shall be taken back!"
Caesar was unaware of the happenings in the church, nor was he aware of the fact that a strange cult was forming behind him. Nonetheless, Caesar finally reached the heart of the forest, where dozens of evergreen trees stood tall. It was a stark contrast in comparison to the rest of the forest. Naturally, a powerful aura emanated from the middle of the densely packed greenery. It was energy familiar to Caesar, something that he had felt before.
A slender scythe suddenly appeared in his right hand, while an icy mist emerged from his left hand. Furthermore, a black aura began to flash inside of his eyes as he took a few steps forward. Everything was on the line at this exact moment, and Caesar was going all out. Something he hadn't done since facing Musashi.
Whether he lived or died would rock the world at its core. Either he would die a loser, one who challenged the gods and lost. Or, he would arise a victor, someone with the right to challenge the world and become the heavens itself. Everything was at stake!