Book 8, Chapter 84

Choice

As the elven girl marvelled at her restored body, Richard turned her around and pointed into the distance, “Run that way for ten days, you’ll enter the territory of the Golden World Tree. Its call will strengthen as you approach, and you will be able to go to it yourself.”

“Golden… World Tree?” Lora struggled, “Are there elves living below it?”

“Mm. This is the same tree that supported the Silvermoon Palace. Only the noblest of high elves had the right to bathe in its glory once, but you will join those ranks. Go, this is a rare opportunity.”

“Silvermoon… Palace…” Perhaps it was an ancient bloodline, or perhaps it was a memory in her soul, but the girl seemed to understand the meaning behind those words. However, suspicion quickly flashed in her eyes, “Why would a world tree that can support the Silvermoon Palace be here?”

“I planted it.”

“Oh…” She bowed low before jumping up and running away. Two elven archers screamed and rushed towards her, but Richard merely snapped his fingers and brought the trees all around to life. A human face appeared on an ancient trunk nearby as it tied up the surprised elves, not sparing even the druid.

“W-Who are you?” the panther stammered, “How can you…”

“Awaken a treant? It’s pretty easy, you leaf-servants just don’t understand it. Maybe you should change your world tree, that thing’s been useless to you.”

“You’re one of the demons!”

“Demon this, devil that, do you people even know what devils and demons are? How do you know about things you’ve never seen?” Richard grew a little more interested as he asked this question, mainly because he saw the druid hesitating. It seemed like he was different from the other narrow-minded elves he had seen in the past, or maybe it was just that Lora’s words had worked on him.

“Anyway, take me to your tree of life.”

“W-What? Why?”

“I’m going to help you make your choice.”

……

A while later, a strange group of treants ambled into a clearing in the forest. A small number of archers were walking next to them, but many more and a druid were grappled by branches and held in mid-air.

Richard was seated on the largest tree at the very front, chatting with an aged druid. The sallow man just stared ahead blankly; he hadn’t even bothered to try fighting once Richard showed the treants, knowing fully well that summoning full-faced treants was something a grand druid like him took hours at a time to accomplish. Even the legendary druid Jadering could only keep three active at a time after minutes of a chant, but the youth had done it all with a snap.

While the druid had been shocked by this accomplishment, Richard had no plans of explaining. His mana was likely even weaker than Jadering’s— this plane was limited to level 23, not 22— but his comprehension of the laws of life was clearly the most advanced. He could just mobilise the breath of life all around to animate batches of treants with ease.

Lora had actually managed to escape more than 3,000 kilometres from her tribe before getting caught, a full ten-day chase. The sheer wariness of the World Tree to do such a thing had surprised him, but thankfully his trees were almost a hundred metres tall each. They might look clumsy, but with the boost of his laws and their large strides they covered the distance in only three days.

When he saw the tree of life, Richard couldn’t help but frown. Its aura was very weak and the leaves showed signs of yellowing; it was clearly exhausted for some reason. Under the tree, a group of elven warriors were waving their swords repeatedly as they escorted commoners to some temporary treehouses. What looked to be elders were arguing with some of the warriors.

“The Jadeleaf Tribe?” the druid sat up in shock, “What are they doing here?”

“Weren’t they here for Lora?”

“No, that is only a group of emissaries. There shouldn’t have been so many people, they sent an army!” The old man looked terrified.

The moment the treants walked into the clearing, a number of the Jadeleaf warriors were alarmed. They drew their weapons and entered battle stance, the archers amongst them jumping onto the tree of life to use its branches as shields.

“Which tribe are you from?” a saint-level warrior shouted loudly.

The druid jumped off, “I am the grand druid of this tribe, what is the meaning of this?”

“Your tribe has fallen elves, Grand Elder Jadering does not trust your elders any longer. He has sent us to ensure that your tree of life distances itself from the devil tree further; he has already chosen a new location that is 5,000 kilometres away.”

“Move the Tree?! It hasn’t been a decade since the last time, how can it last through one more? Especially such a distance, what is to happen to our people? Half of my tribe will die!”

The warrior suddenly struck the old druid’s stomach with the pommel of his sword, knocking the wind out of him to the point that he nearly went unconscious, “A tribe tempted by the demons must be killed off! A way for you to survive is already benevolent, and you still defy us?”

“But… Even if the Tree survives… It won’t be able to ascend…”

“That is what you deserve. No need to worry, the Jadeleaf Tribe will take you in.”

“You…” the druid shook in rage, but he suddenly coughed up blood from the injury. The tree of life was everything to a tribe, and inability to advance meant they would no longer be able to expand themselves. Even half the tribe dying off could be recovered from, but that was a death sentence. Entering the Jadeleaf Tribe wasn’t any better either; the offer came as one of assimilation, not equality. Only a handful from the tribe would be able to retain any semblance of freedom. With two potential children of the forest having appeared in recent years, the Jadeleafs likely had their eyes on the tribe’s bloodline.

“Such a great performance!” Richard suddenly applauded. The warrior immediately turned around to lock gazes, but he suddenly felt an aura that left him shivering in fright, “The aura of the demons! You’re working for the demon tree, how dare you appear here!”

Richard smiled, “I don’t work for your so-called demon tree. That tree works for me.”

The warrior was so startled he almost fell, but even while glaring he didn’t dare give the order to attack. Behind Richard were a dozen ancient treants; regardless of how strong he actually was, they alone would be difficult to handle.

Richard himself couldn’t care less about the struggle of the Jadeleafs, instead staring at the tree of life as he lifted up a young branch, “I’m giving you a chance to change allegiance. I’m sure you know what it is, so make your choice. It’s best you don’t disappoint me.”

He had taken out a young branch which was exuding a faint gold aura, a mysterious energy flowing within that caused all of the leaves nearby to sway. Many of the elves felt the urge to kneel and bow, while the tree of life started radiating both fear and delight. Richard read all kinds of thoughts from its aura, but he calmly waited for it to make its choice.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA