Anthony has been reborn! Placed into the remarkable game-like world of Pangera. However, something seems a little off. What's with these skills? Bite? Dig? Wait.... I've been reborn as a WHAT?! Follow Anthony as he attempts to adjust to his new life, to survive and grow in his new Dungeon home!

RinoZ · Fantasy
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1239 Chs

Chapter 1230 - Travelling As Always Part 2

The interior of the temple was as austere and lavish as one would expect from the Colony. My dearest reader, the ants have made an artform out of taking the simple and the elaborate and mashing them together.

Inside the temple, the columns were enormous and perfectly round, the ceiling was calamitously high with interlocking arches holding up the vaulted roof. The scale was breathtaking, the engineering was magical, the simple elegance was moving. Yet, as was their way, the ants had constructed everything from only the simplest of materials. Plain stone, unenchanted woods, with nary a hint of gold or silver to be seen. 

Of course, the precision of the work elevated the final result to something incredible. The perfection of every line and curve was pleasing to the soul, and I have to admit, dear reader, that I teared up once I entered into the remarkable structure.

That was before we stepped a little deeper into the temple and, of course, the ants had covered each and every surface with their now familiar carvings. Beneath my feet, the stones became covered in tiny images of ants so lifelike I feared I crushed a living insect. When Emilia noticed me hopping from foot to foot, she was quick to assure me, bending down to touch the stone to show the carvings.

"The floor is covered in one giant carving," she explained, "depicting the battle for Roklu as seen from above. The further into the temple we go, the more we will see. Of course, it's hard to get a sense of the whole thing at once, since it's so large, and because the floor is covered with seating and people."

Indeed, the temple is busy. Very busy! People thronged throughout the building, moving from holy sight to holy sight, bowing and praying at various sconces and statues positioned around the walls of the temple. Busiest of all was the altar at the front. Thousands of pilgrims wearing robes with antennae poking from the hoods knelt there, pressing their heads to the stone floor and rising with their hands held in the air.

Behind the altar, a man stood, his back to the crowd as he stood with one hand extended towards a grand stained window that stretched a hundred metres from top to bottom.

"The glass window depicts the Great One," Emilia informed me in a hushed tone, "in combat with the demon leader of Roklu at the time they descended, Grokus. It was a difficult fight, a tier six monster against a tier seven, but the Eldest triumphed with their great power and unique magic. Since that time, the followers of the Great One have never doubted in their capacity to overcome a difference in tiers and fight against more powerful monsters."

"And who is that at the front of the temple?" I asked.

Emilia glanced towards the front and blanched before she ducked her head and looked down at the floor.

"What's wrong, dear?" I asked her before the young woman reached up with a shaking hand and snatched hold of my neck, forcing my head down.

"Ack!" I released a dignified and extremely ladylike note of disagreement.

Of course, as they say, when in the Silver city, don't touch any Gold! I will always follow local customs. Who am I to say that old ladies don't have to get their necks seized and heads forced down upon entering the temple?

"Is this a local custom?" I whispered.

"Don't speak," Emilia breathed back to me, leaning close to my ear so I could hear her. "Have you noticed how quiet it is in here?"

Now that she mentioned it, I noticed that nobody was speaking. Not to say there was silence. So many feet shuffling, so many people bowing and rising, was sure to create some noise, especially when so many people were doing it, but absolutely no one was speaking.

It is for this reason that mind magic exists, dear reader!

[Are we not allowed to speak within the temple?] I asked my guide, a little confused. We had been discussing openly, if quietly, earlier.

[No, it is because of the person at the front of the temple,] she replied. [We shouldn't even communicate like this. I will explain when we are outside. For now, we must visit each sconce in the sequence and then bow at the altar. After that, we can leave.]

Unwilling to be rude in a foreign land, I, of course, did as instructed, joining the slowly shuffling throng as they moved about the temple. A fascinating experience indeed! Not only were there humans here on pilgrimage, but also golgari, brathian and even demons! Such an eclectic gathering! 

Each of the various alcoves and sconces contained a heart-clenchingly rendered portrayal of the Colony during its time in the third stratum. Assaulting various cities, fighting various battles, often with demons by their sides. The raising of the great nest below us, conflict with the ka'armodo neighbours, the firing of the great mountain forge. Such stirring sights, dear reader!

Of course, everyone had their heads down respectfully and refrained from speaking as we completed our tour. Eventually, we made our way up to the altar, where Emilia silently guided us in bowing and raising our hands.

Now, don't blame me, reader. You know how I am! I have the utmost respect for local customs, the utmost! Was it not Travelling Tolly who dared traverse naked through the jungles of Witna Island? Was it not Travelling Tolly who ate nothing but snake eyeballs for two weeks when sailing with the Reptile Hunters of Parthax?

But I couldn't help myself! I HAD to take a peek, of course I did! My curiosity knows no bounds! And in my defence, Emilia hadn't specifically instructed me that one shouldn't glance at the robed figure. 

So I did.

There wasn't much to see, unfortunately. The figure wore a white robe with long antennae rising proudly from the hood, which was up. Since they had their back to me, there was precious little I could make out. One hand was held up, extended towards the great stained-glass window, the other… well, there wasn't another. It appeared that this person was missing an arm, which was rather unfortunate.

When we reached the outside, Emilia was more than happy to explain what had taken place inside.

"I do apologise for grabbing you like that," she said, almost tearfully. "I hope I didn't hurt you."

"Not at all, my dear!" I replied. "I'm as tough as tree roots. Don't you worry."

It's true, dear reader! Very true!

The person we had seen was, in fact, a very holy and respected figure amongst those who followed the Colony. A leader, both civically and spiritually, since the founding of Renewal.

My soul burned to speak with him! What stories could he tell, stories that none outside of these lands had ever heard?! Sadly, it was impossible, as Emilia explained.

"He has taken a vow of silence," she said, a downcast look on her face. "He does not speak, and will not, until the Great One emerges once again. Out of respect, it has become custom not to speak in his presence."