Book 4, Chapter 49

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A few elven archers gathered around the corpse of the death knight, crouching down and examining it for a while, “It has been eliminated.”

A few druids walked over from the tree of life, one of them asking, “Can you confirm that it saw the Tree of Life?”

“I am certain,” a tall warrior answered, “I can also confirm that it had an obvious reaction at the sight. However, I cannot be certain whether it was able to transmit the location back to the invaders.”

The druid elder nodded, asking an older druid next to him, “Elder Greenwind, you once did battle with these invaders. What is your opinion?”

Having barely escaped Richard the last time, Greenwind’s radicalism had only been strengthened. He gazed at the death knight, “These invaders are extremely sly, possessing many tricks we have never heard of. Since they dispatched a large number of undead beings to explore the forest, they must have a way of seeing through these vile eyes. This is just like how we entrust our own souls to the holy eagles. I believe it is best we proceed according to plan.”

“That would be best!” the oldest of the lot exclaimed, “If the invaders dare to come here, the child of the forest will ensure they never leave. That is the price one must pay for desecrating the forest!”

Greenwind was delighted at this response, asking with haste, “A child of the forest is coming? Which one?”

“The Tree of Life just sent word that the Spear of Vengeance will reach us tomorrow morning.”

A trace of viciousness flashed across Greenwind’s face, “Perfect! Since a child of the forest is willing to intervene, the invaders definitely will not make it back home. When the time comes, I’ll plant a row of devil-eating trees and hang them all! That should teach them the cost of destroying the trees!”

At the mention of these devil-eating trees, even a few of the forest elf archers showed a tinge of fear.

……

Richard made his way to the summoning formation outside Emerald City, watching Zendrall sweat as he strove to maintain control. His body trembled every once in a while, a sign of the undead being destroyed. The same soul link that allowed him to use these creatures as his eyes and ears also transmitted the pain of their deaths to him.

The undead creatures were rapidly being destroyed with the death knight at the centre, leaving the necromancer in constant shock. However, he gritted his teeth and persevered, simply unwilling to give up control over the summoning formation. Every moment he persisted allowed him to gather more intel regarding the forest elves.

Soon, even Agamemnon’s expression changed greatly. There was just no way to doubt the power of Zendrall’s mind and soul. Every one of Richard’s followers seemed to be extremely talented in that regard, but this one was just extreme. The mind and soul were two sides of a coin, each affecting the other greatly. Were Zendrall’s soul too weak to bear the consequences of his persistence, he would have been destroyed.

“Zendrall!” Richard eventually had enough. The necromancer was already sweating profusely, eyes bloodshot, but his hands were glued to the formation as he tried his best to stabilise the mana output.

“I can still hold on, Master!” his voice was already completely hoarse.

Richard frowned, right about to order the necromancer to stop, but Flowsand who was next to him suddenly lifted her hand. A ray of divine light landed on him, scaring everyone witless!

Necromancers were the one profession most fearful of divine spells. Divinity was a great supplement for mortal beings, but to the undead it was a lethal toxin. However, after his momentary shock Zendrall found that Flowsand’s power did not burn his soul as he had expected. In fact, her energy was completely isolated from his soul, instead creating a barrier around it that flickered with amber light. This shield started to block off the shock from the soul ripples flying towards him, allowing him to relax.

Soul Guard was a common divine spell meant for one primary purpose. It could protect one against instant death spells like Finger of Death, Death Order, and Wail of the Banshee. To use it on a necromancer who was most adept at such spells was a spit in the face. However, everyone was now looking at Flowsand with shock. She could even help a necromancer? Was there anything she couldn’t do?

Still, even with such powerful intervention Zendrall eventually ran out of mana. Deep within the forest, the undead creatures that had been moving in straight lines suddenly paused, wandering around aimlessly according to their instincts.

The necromancer took some time to recover before standing up, casting another spell. A large projection appeared in front of him, showing the huge tree of life. A few specks of green could be seen rapidly flying towards the screen, after which the image jolted violently and went dark.

“Again!” Nyris cried out.

Zendrall complied, resetting the projection and this time freezing the image when it showed the tree of life. The Prince looked at it for a short while before nodding with certainty, “Yes, that’s it! Where is it, do you know?!”

The necromancer nodded, changing the projection to a map of the forest upon which he marked a striking red spot. “I can confirm that the death knight saw the tree of life here, 240 kilometres away from Emerald City.”

Richard sighed deeply, “They’re definitely on their guard, there’s no point in a sudden attack. Let’s rest tonight and set off early in the morning; we can camp in the forest and still make it to the tree the day after.”

Nyris frowned, “Those elves already lost a tree. Now that they know we found another one, they’ll definitely do something.”

Richard grinned and waved his fist around with force, “Which is why we’re using our elite forces to crush them! Even if the forest elves want to ambush us, they’ll still be destroyed!”

Nyris’ eyes lit up, “That will be a tough battle.”

“Afraid?”

“If a loser like you isn’t, why would I be?” Nyris’ little mouth pursed.

Richard burst into laughter, “I won the last round!”

“If I could use my energy at will, your defeat is guaranteed!”

Richard grinned but chose not to respond. However, Agamemnon spoke up in his place, “Fifty-fifty.”

The prince practically jumped up at that assessment, “How’s that possible?”

“That duel,” Agamemnon said out of nowhere. Nyris immediately recalled the duel between Richard and the Mensa youth, and that immeasurably powerful bolt of blood lightning. It was an impossible spell to dodge, and although it wouldn’t kill him he would be gravely injured. That would leave him at the edge of death, forcing him to use the secret swords of the royal family as he fought for his life.

Agamemnon was right in stating that the duel could go both ways. If Richard was willing to pay the price to boost a grade 7 spell like Chain Lightning, in addition to his spell penetration rune and the Twin of Destiny even a saint would be left on the verge of death. As he was now, he was a headache for any opponent. However, Nyris just snorted and returned to his residence, starting to prepare for the next battle. He wouldn’t care who could win anymore.

……

Early morning the next day, a rather sizeable army set off from Emerald City in the direction of the tree of life they had discovered. 500 soldiers, all elites above level 10, marched through the forest while armed to the teeth, their reserve rations so plentiful it was terrifying. They had left a few dozen low-levelled mages behind to protect the city itself; with the help of the three magic towers, the natives would not be able to succeed in a siege.

Still, Richard didn’t believe the elves would actually dare to attack his base. He had consistently outmanoeuvred them in combat every time, even capturing one of the trees of life. Who knew if he had another trap set up.

The 500 soldiers advanced through the forest for the entire day before setting up camp at night. This time was starkly in contrast to their previous outings, with many natives trying to attack them. However, the elves gained nothing except a reduction of their population; many of Richard’s own followers were well-versed in nighttime or jungle battles, and so was Nyris’ saint Scherr.

However, there was one person who outdid everyone more powerful than her. Richard had originally wanted to catch a few elves to interrogate, but because of Phaser’s performance they only managed to grab one that was heavily injured. Phaser rarely left any of her targets alive, and that was only amplified with these forest elves.

These natives had extremely powerful wills, their souls protected by some mysterious power. When Zendrall tried to search through the captive’s memories, the elf just screamed in pain as his soul shattered, dying instantly. Richard didn’t manage to obtain any information whatsoever.

Seeing that response, everyone knew that the results would be the same regardless of how many they caught. The enemy was well-prepared this time, so it didn’t manage how many ambushes they met up ahead. However, Richard was equally prepared. His 500-man army was filled with elites that had no reason to fear ambushes. It was extremely unlikely for a trap large enough to kill all of them would escape notice.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA