“…Ritualist?” Annan frowned slightly, his expression turning serious.
He didn’t doubt Citalopram with questions like “did you really hear that name” or “are you sure”. If a veteran ritualist was actually there, she had already done a fantastic job of coming back alive.
The path of ritual… That’s another way to attain extraordinary power in this world.
There was no doubt that ritualists could be far more dangerous than Transcendeds.
There was only one end goal to the transcendent path—that was, mastering the Truth and attaining ascendancy into immortality.
Instead of seeking immortality, Truth, and authority, some Transcendeds overindulge with the mortal elements in this world. They were addicted to the extravagant life of the mortal world and the benefits that were visible to the naked eye and within reach.
For them, transcended power was just a handy tool for getting rich and prosperous.
Since it was a tool, they would naturally think of the efficacy and efficiency.
The foundational rule of this world was that if one desired power, they had to bear the corresponding curse.
However, since the power was only rented briefly, that would reduce the cost significantly.
Indeed, the ritualist was unlike the Transcended’s approach of sublimating one’s own soul and improving one’s lifeform level. They wouldn’t even embark on the path to transcendence at all so the Gray Mists couldn’t hinder their movement.
They just applied occult knowledge to satisfy their endless desires.
In this case, the ritualists borrowed Trascended power using taboos, the real names of the deities, the rituals, and the relationship with the deities.
During the whole process, the curse wouldn’t flow into their bodies. The residues of the ritual could be used as the raw material for other rituals.
Therefore, their lifespan was unaffected. They wouldn’t fall into nightmares and they wouldn’t mutate. They might even know how to use the Deities’ Influence to eradicate the corruption on their soul… and even corrupt others’ minds to drive targets into insanity while being unnoticed.
They were still mortals, but they had great power in their hands — a power that was beyond their control.
Transcended was well aware of the price that must be paid to obtain power. In their perception, those unworthy couldn’t get their hands on the taboo knowledge or a more potent curse.
For the soul ascendancy process, the Transcended often had a probability of failing in their respective ritual. But, that wasn’t the case for ritualists.
As they held powers beyond their levels, they became fearless.
To them, the difference between different levels of rituals was like “an explosion that could destroy a building” versus “an explosion that could destroy a city.”
If there were a mishap, they would be dead anyway. It wouldn’t make any difference.
The only difference was how much trouble it would bring to others after their death.
Those who had taken the path of ritual would never have cared about this in the first place.
If one desired to be a ritualist, they must first have the awareness to pay any price and take advantage of anyone. There was often the possibility of offending the upright deities.
The ritualist had no reverence for power at all.
Therefore, all ritualists were wanted criminals.
Even if they did not commit any crime previously, they were constantly monitored, arrested, and even assassinated. Everyone knew that once the ritualist had a mishap, they couldn’t stop nor suppress the ritual, unlike the ranked Transcended.
No one knew how profound the occult knowledge stored in ritualists’ minds was. Similarly, no one knew how the ritualists became who they were and when they collected those occult knowledge.
Perhaps when they were young, they read the forbidden books collected by their parents;
Perhaps when they were young, they obtained a secret book that recorded a certain ritual from the belongings of the deceased teacher;
Perhaps even in middle age and old age, they were lucky enough to be involved with the occult circle.
Those with no attachments had nothing to hold them back. In the case of a false deity’s church, they didn’t have a fixed base and wouldn’t be afraid of the danger coming from the ritualist, contrary to the officials’ attitude.
Hence, they would often hire ritualists to help them hold the ritual.
Unlike the transcendent and ritual paths, the path of faith was the fairest path.
There wasn’t any special requirement on talent, capability, and morality. Of course, their nature wasn’t as dangerous. As long as they contributed, they would attain gains. Those who worked would be rewarded.
However, it came at a price — loyalty.
It wasn’t like the loyalty to the lords in the mortal world. They weren’t as easy as mere promises, but the condition to be aligned with the deity.
For example, the Silver Sire’s priests made the oath when joining the church.
“I swear to do my best to continue the Silver Sire’s symbol – silver coins;”
“I swear to do my best to follow the way of trade, the way the Silver Sire has walked;”
“I swear never to betray and not to come close to other Eternals.”
The first two oaths required the priests to put in their “best efforts”, only the third condition was mandatory. They could utilize their own created ritual and the rituals which the upright deity and subordinate deities they put their faith in, but they shan’t utilize rituals of other deities.
As for the reason, Annan hadn’t figured it out yet.
It wasn’t a harsh condition. Also, it wasn’t a condition set for “believers”, but an oath that the “priests” had to follow.
It felt like a “Non-Disclosure and Non-Competition Agreement”.
Annan’s previous plans would need to drastically change if there was a ritualist in Roseburg.
This meant that there might be no Rotten Man’s believers in Roseburg. The summoner of the “Ritual: Roaring Heart” and the creatures could be the same person.
He was just employed by the Rotten Man.
Then, the Rotten Man forces in Roseburg weren’t as robust as Annan imagined — they might have evacuated already.
“Things are starting to get complicated…”
It isn’t just a beginner test for Suuankou and Citalopram anymore.
We might have gotten involved with the safety of the entire Roseburg, the Geraint family’s continuation in the capital, and even the throne of the Noah Kingdom.
“I’ll have to trouble you to run an errand… Quickly summon Jiu Er over, and get Suuankou to install the traps. After the installation is completed, retreat directly and use the trap to delay their departure time.”
Annan narrowed his eyes slightly, “I’m going back to get some items. You all shall wait for me here… I will try to be back within 40 minutes. You and Suuankou will tail the ritualist and ignore the rest if they leave.
“Your test has come to an end for the time being. I will assess it another time. But, to give you the bravery to tail the ritualist and tail him effectively, I will first grant you the ability to communicate with each other and respawn.”
Following Annan’s words, two hints floated before Citalopram: Respawn and forum are unlocked.
Annan planned to intervene personally—he wanted to seize them alive.
At the same time, he would gather the online players, issue a time-limited mission, and grant temporary unlimited respawn privileges.
At the very least, these players would thin out the enemies’ assault.
These two new players capable of assassination were a pleasant surprise for Annan.
Credits to MindMatrix for editing this chapter and improving the readability.
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