This chapter was brought to you by AnmesicCat, Grisia, Lei, and ThunderHamster. Special thanks to BeatJumper.
Sculptor of Hell
The place Weed and Smith arrived at after passing through a black gate was a jet-black stone mountain without a single growing tree .
It was definitely not going to be a normal stone mountain.
The stone was jet black with holes all over, and a river flowed through the area.
- Save us. Save us.
- Let me escape from this pain.
The river cried out. It was wailing like a ghost.
‘Is this the River of Lamentation?’
There were quite a number of sculptures on the stone mountain.
Like evil, murderous antagonists, they were sculptures creepy enough to make demons tremble!
The neck of a mother embracing her child was cut off. The mother and daughter were not Human, but Orcs. The Trolls were stabbing each other with spears. Humans were waging war en masse. Even a scene of a village being plundered and burned down was expressed through sculptures.
Following the flow of the river, groups of sculptures were lined up, and continued on endlessly.
It was enough to make even the likes of Weed grimace.
Some sculptures only depicted negative scenes that weren’t positive at all. For a normal person, it was at a level where one couldn’t help but feel repulsed.
But the one sculpture Weed liked and could understand was provokingly depicting a slaver. The sculpture of the man was ignoring the scrawny kids and enjoying a steak by himself. The kids, who looked like slaves, were eating barley bread at most.
“If you don’t have money then you will starve! They must be treating them well to give them barley bread…”
It was a sculpture evoking 100% of Weed’s sympathy!
Those kids might be considered lucky to be enslaved under the wicked trader. Because if it was Weed, he might not have even given them a single bowl of porridge!
The procession of sculptures continued endlessly down the River of Lamentation. The river made more rough and raspy groaning noises as it flowed downstream.
- Kill me. Kill me.
When Weed looked after approaching the river, he saw it wasn’t normal water. Deep inside the river, ghosts of all kinds of monsters and humans were intactly flowing down the river. They had expressions of distress difficult to see even in the chilling horror of a haunted house.
Smith approached and said, “Maybe it’s the influence of the sculptures?”
“I’m talking ‘bout the artwork. The basics of artwork is to move emotions. These sculptures are making the river wail.”
They were words Weed could relate to.
The sculptor’s feelings were buried into a sculpture. They all looked like the same sculptures, but they were actually very different.
A person who keeps waking up at night will definitely look haggard. But there’s no reason for a girl who receives a confession from someone she really loves to appear haggard.
Hopes and aspirations. Feelings full of affection!
Even if the subject was the same, a sculpture will convey a completely different mood depending on the feeling it was sculpted with. It was something as natural as a poem written by a poet or an author’s writing conveying a different mood depending on their feelings.
A work of art can move the emotions.
If a person’s house was filled with gloomy drawings or sculptures, of course they would also feel depressed and wouldn’t be motivated, either. If their house was filled with negative sculptures, they wouldn’t even want to get up in the morning. It might be a momentary impulse or simply a feeling, but after several years, several decades, it could definitely change a person.
“It’s the topography.”
“Shall I say it’s similar to how an apartment overlooking the Han River is more expensive?”
“What do you mean?”
“The better the view, the more expensive the apartment gets. Well, it’s something like that.”
Weed thought he could understand.
If artwork could convey emotion, it was hard to see sculptures made with evil intent, could have given the river a good influence.
Sculptures created by the topography!
Weed was experiencing just about everything as he lived.
“Traditionally, there’s nothing as accurate as an apartment’s price. Besides, we should find out where this place is.”
It was at that time.
– The Entrance to Hell.
You have entered the River of Lamentation.
The end of the continent where living beings can breathe.
Smith shrugged his shoulders.
“So this is the end of the human continent. I’ve never been here even while working as a mercenary… At least gimme a bottle of liquor. With this, the boasts you can make to your friends at drinking parties have grown. Haw-haw!”
Smith was delighted as he drank.
Weed exhaled a deep sigh.
After wandering here and there, he was now at the entrance of hell. And with a drunk, no less.
‘No wonder the surroundings looked so strange…’
The eerie atmosphere was slightly similar to when he went to Todeum!
He couldn’t feel any traces of humans, and it was incomparably desolate and bleak.
Weed tried pulling out a compass, but the needle just spun around and around without settling. He couldn’t even discern the position of the stars in the sky.
‘I won’t even be able to return like this…’
Weed walked along the River of Lamentation with Smith.
At least a thousand sculptures were grouped thematically along the river.
He couldn’t find any positive sculpture no matter how hard he looked. When he approached a sculpture of a beautiful and adorable lady, the moment he took a closer look, he was able to confirm a shocking scene.
That cute lady was spitting! She was also clutching a frog in her hand. It was an indescribable scene, plunging him into an emotional shock.
There was also a grotesque scene of muscular women playing soccer. Of course, the soccer ball was an Ogre’s head!
Weed identified to check the information of the sculptures.
Sculpture of Shameful Ogres
The work of a little known Sculptor. Ogres were Kings of the forests and mountains. With the pride they hold for their territory, they will show a savage attitude towards invaders.
However, because of a commission from the Matallost Church, they were sculpted in this manner instead.
If Ogres were to see this, it would make them seethe with rage and resentment.
Artistic Value: None at all
The groaning sound of the River of Lamentations only amplified as they continued down the river.
On the second day at the River of Lamentations, Weed found some ruins. The temple of the Matallost Church!
The temple of the church which was thought to have completely disappeared from the face of the continent was here.
The building, which he estimated to be made out of marble, was completely no more than a ruin. It was hazardously built like it was going to collapse at any moment, so it made him worry about entering.
“Summon Death Knight!”
Death Knight appeared with a puff of smoke and raised his sword.
“You called. Master.”
“You, go in there. If there are any living humans or monsters, come out immediately and report.”
It might lower his Intimacy with Death Knight a little, but seeing they had spent a long time in each other’s company, they were connected through sticky and tough situations.
After searching the temple interior thoroughly, Death Knight came out.
“There is no one inside. Master.”
Weed went inside the temple.
Inside, there were only stone statues worshipping the God who put the enormous temple’s entrance to shame.
“The temple remains but all of the Priests are gone.”
Weed soon came out of the Matallost temple.
There was not a single item left in the Priests’ quarters. His clothes only got smudged with a ton of dust inside the temple.
* * *
The third day on the River of Lamentation!
In a place not very far from the temple, Weed found over 100 Priests and Dark Knights.
“The Embinyu Church!”
A groan escaped Weed’s mouth.
Even in the region where the Bone Dragon had been, he had found traces of the Embinyu Church. He remembered getting rid of them, with the help of the expedition, Seoyoon, and Alveron.
Weed’s face hardened with seriousness.
“So the Embinyu Church is involved again!”
For him to find the Embinyu Church who had influenced the fall of the Niflheim Empire here, the situation was serious.
For now, Weed hid himself.
There had been over 1,000 Demonic Spirits gathered near the Priests and Knights of the Embinyu Church. Mighty power indeed!
Moreover, they were performing a grave ritual.
“Kehhh. Do not leave. Take revenge on those who made you like this!”
“Painful and agonizing feelings. Awaken the meaning of despair!”
“Return once more to take your revenge.”
They were performing a Ritual of Slaughter downstream the River of Lamentation.
The river sloshed every time a lamb or deer was offered as a sacrifice. The water spurted high like a fountain and surged like it was going to swallow them. Every time it happened, the Priests of the Embinyu Church hurried to escape the river.
“Erupt the bitter feelings, endless sorrow, and boiling anger!”
It was when the Ritualists offered the heart of a lamb.
The river’s waters sloshed like they were going to reverse direction, and gushed up 10 meters high. The dirty and murky waste water!
Ghosts made groaning noises while making extremely distorted expressions in the river.
“Looks like they’re doing something… Death Knight.”
“Defend Smith here.”
He planned on leaving Smith and Death Knight to try infiltrating alone.
Smith came forward.
“Woah, no. I’ll help. It’s ridiculous to leave recon to a fledgling Sculptor like you.”
“Where do you think you’re going without me, a first-class mercenary. Trust me.”
Weed threw him the remaining whiskey, about half of what he’d had.
“Ahh! Luxury whiskey! Sure enough, it tastes real good.”
Drinking the liquor thoroughly erased Smith’s thoughts of following the recon. Weed solved the luggage lump problem and infiltrated the Embinyu Church area alone.
‘Infiltrating’ was an exaggeration. In reality, he was just climbing the rock mountain while slowly approaching them!
Every time he crawled, stone debris fell down. When the Priests and Dark Knights of the Embinyu looked like they were going to turn their eyes, he quickly crouched and hid.
The wind blew through the holes in the rock, letting out an eerie ghostly sounding wails. Weed climbed as near as he could towards the Embinyu Church at the top of the rocky mountain. It wasn’t enough to eavesdrop on the conversation or activities of the Priests, but he was able to hear what the Dark Knights on guard were saying.
“… Did what?”
“Today… seems like… reported they did that many.”
“To utilize the sculptures… It’s an excellent plan.”
“The Versailles Continent into misery… our goal.”
The words he heard in fragments! Bits and pieces were cut off because of the wind.
Weed tried putting the pieces together to get the meaning of the conversation.
He’d survived thanks to his senses. By simply seeing the boss’ expression, he could tell if his wage was going to come safely or be withheld.
‘They did that many. Dunno know what that is, but seems like it was about they what were doing with the ghosts in the River of Lamentations… Utilize the sculptures. They’re probably using them to give evil power to the ghosts in the River of Lamentations.’
There could be no other reason for them to be using the sculptures.
The River of Lamentations was becoming increasingly filthy downstream and the spirits were suffering. He had to assume they were interfering with the negative power the sculptures gave off.
“.. Time is like this.”
“Replacement… get a break.”
“Fresh sheep’s blood…”
The Dark Knights’ guard duty was rotated.
Weed silently waited as the next Dark Knights stood guard.
“The wind is strong.”
“The weather is bad… Caltrops emerged…”
They only spoke one or two words in an hour! And they were only talking about things unrelated to the ritual the Priests were performing.
Weed withdrew to the place where Death Knight and Smith were hiding. And when he took out the figure of Death, he saw it was shedding tears.
“No way… Identify!”
Horse-like in appearance, the relic of the Matallost church opened its mouth. The voice of an old man could be heard.
This is the history of the Matallost Church that guides the dead.
The Matallost Church lost its influence to the other churches. Then, it formed an alliance with the Embinyu Church while dreaming of revenge.
The Embinyu Church is a cult that worshipped demons knowing nothing but hatred.
“Use the power you have. Keke!”
“Make it so the Versailles Continent cannot help but worship the Matallost Church.”
“Our sole desire is destruction. We will help.”
The Matallost Church became corrupted.
They neglected their duty to guide the dead and became the eleventh sect of the Embinyu Church.
They trained Demonic Spirits, becoming an evil army that would trample the Versailles Continent.
Cleanse the River of Lamentation, the source of their power.
If the River of Lamentation is purified, the Demonic Spirits will lose their power.<