Book 4, Chapter 74

Gift(2)

He’d actually meditated under the Tree of Life for five days! Richard was shocked that he had lost control of himself like that, but when he checked his sea of consciousness a smile crept up on his face. He had blitzed through most of the path to level 15, now sitting at 1900 units of mana. He had gained almost a hundred units a day over the past five days, dozens of times faster than regular mages and even six or sevenfold his own normal speed. Now, it would take him only one month to get to level 15 and become able to cast powerful grade 8 spells.

The materialisation of the elemental affinity had given him another bloodline ability: Elemental Augment. Any spell or ability that used elemental energies would now be about 10% more powerful than before. This synergised well with the boost from his truename, the total amplification rising to about 15% with the added properties of abyssal flames.

Richard stood up, stretching his slightly stiff body as he started to ponder over the strange process of meditation this time. This life energy that was nearly corporeal couldn’t have been natural, so the Tree of Life likely had something to do with it.

He patted the natural walls of the treehouse, just about to call Jubu so he could talk to the Tree again, but all of a sudden motes of green light floated out from the trunk and started flying around him. “We may communicate directly now, visitor from a foreign plane.”

Richard felt the weight of the Tree’s soul rest on his own as the voice sounded out, but the only effect was a slight heaviness to his head. The only effect of the powerful will of the tree was a strange tiredness like he hadn’t slept well at night.

“The strength of your soul astounds me!” the Tree immediately said in surprise, “I have no way to describe it. There are no barriers between us now.”

“What was with all that life energy when I was meditating?” Richard asked.

“I normally dispel any extra life energy I gather to prevent myself from advancing. This energy can be absorbed by any life form, and your own power evidently did not reject it. I thus focused the life energy I emitted into your surroundings to increase your efficiency.

“However, your rate of absorption truly is too high for me to sustain. I had no choice but to use a portion of my life origin to maintain this concentration.”

“Hmm… If I continued to meditate as I did just now, how much strength would you use up?”

The Tree of Life went silent for a while as it calculated the answer, “Based on your rate of absorption, I would need to slow down the rate at which I dispel life energy in the future. My output will already have to be halved for the next two months.”

“This doesn’t seem to pose any benefit for you. You’re only helping me,” Richard stated.

The Tree let out a chuckle, almost sounding human, “You are mistaken. My primary objective in releasing my life energy is to strengthen my guardian elves and raise their strength as soon as possible. Once they have the power to repel my enemies, I will be able to advance. However, your troops have already replaced the elven tribe as my protectors. In that sense, growing your strength is thus the greatest of benefits.”

The intelligence of this tree continued to astound Richard, so much so that it left him feeling slightly uneasy. He was starting to worry about the control Flowsand’s contract had on it. He didn’t like the fact that he had lost control of his meditation, regardless of the results. There had been no warning signs as he lost himself to the pleasure of that growth.

This incident was in stark contrast to what had happened in the Archeron tombs. The intense power there was scorching and violent, but there was a sense of familiarity within. This life energy that was pure and concentrated should have left him feeling more comfortable, but there was also a hint of danger within. The density of the life energy the Tree of Life emitted was very important to the elves that depended on it, and a halved output was already the limit. Anything lower and the elves would begin to fall sick and grow weak.

“I sense that you have wonderful compatibility with the life energy I release, more than any other elf I have ever seen. Even the children of the forest cannot compare. Meditating next to me will be of great help to you,” the Tree suddenly spoke up.

Richard shelved his scattered thoughts and considered its words, having to admit that this was the truth. The life vortices he had sensed in Emerald City were an entire grade weaker than those he had found during this session and were much more difficult to absorb. The energy here had basically adhered to his mind and followed obediently as he led it into his body. Be it in quality or quantity, this energy was better. He guessed the ease of absorbing it likely had something to do with his elven bloodline.

Whatever it was, this one point alone would make the Tree of Life far more valuable than a mere core. At the very least, he didn’t want to sacrifice it until it showed any real signs of rebellion.

“Can you maintain that energy concentration for some more time?” he asked.

“Of course. However, the duration of my rest will be longer as well.”

“That’s fine. Let’s continue, I need another five days or so.” It had taken Richard only a few seconds to come to this decision. However it was achieved, a growth in power was tangible. Since he was now aware of losing himself in that deep meditative state, he was fairly confident in being able to control it.

He headed out of the treehouse and entrusted the guards nearby to relay some commands before returning, sitting down to continue meditating.

……

Surrounded by the life energy, Richard’s mana pool grew rapidly. On the fifth day of this second session, he finally crossed the threshold of level 15. This qualified him as a great mage even in Norland!

He was in no hurry to leave the treehouse, instead filtering through all of the grade 8 spells he knew of. Lightning Storm was the first one that came to mind; as demonstrated by Pamir in earlier battles, it had greater power in this plane. The variant Firestorm spell was quite similar, but focused more on burning the enemies for a long time instead. There were spells like Wither, a powerful necromantic spell that could instantly kill many enemies and Sunburst that was the bane of all undead and darkness creatures. There were new protective spells as well, like Mind Shield which worked similar to a cleric’s Soul Guard.

His summoning spells had changed quite a bit. Nature’s Beckon could now summon tyrannosaurs, and he had access to extraplanar summons that could bind foreign creatures to his will for some time. However, there was one specific spell in this category that he hesitated over— Call Shadows.

Call Shadows was no different from any other summoning spell, and mages normally chose which type of summon they used based on the enemy, but there was an enormous problem with it. Countless nightmare creatures already treated him like a beacon, and summoning one himself would be akin to igniting the torch of a lighthouse. Would he summon just one, or would an entire horde come rushing through? Whichever it was, before he had more information on the nature of these creatures, this was a spell he could never use.

As he walked out of the treehouse, he was surprised to find Flowsand standing on a platform while preaching the mythos and doctrine of the Eternal Dragon to a crowd of forest elves nearby. Everyone was listening with full concentration, many even filled with yearning and curiosity about the beautiful world she was describing. These natives had never known bright sunlight, nor did they have any concept of dryness or warmth. Grasslands spanning large plains was entirely outside of their imagination.

Prairies were not a known concept in the Forest Plane. The most open land they ever saw was the small meadows around the trees of life, a place elves liked greatly. When they heard that these meadows could extend as far as the eye could see, all of them were shocked.

Watching the expressions of these locals, Richard couldn’t help but start thinking of how all lifeforms sought good things. It was just the standards of what was beautiful that differed. Generally, the less there was of something the more precious it seemed.

Flowsand stood up when she saw him walk out, “Alright, we’ll end it here. I’m going to be leaving for now, but you can attempt to talk to the Eternal Dragon as I have taught you. His faith does not conflict with your relationship with the Tree of Life.

“The next time I’m here, I will know which amongst you is the most devout of worshippers. Three such followers will be chosen, brought across the shores of time and space to reach the beautiful dreamland I described.”

The elves erupted into a cheer. Watching Flowsand leave with Richard, their eyes were filled with unwillingness.

In a high treehouse that overlooked the platform, the grand elder and Jubu were speechlessly watching the scene unfold. A moment later, the grand elder sighed deeply and moved away from the window.

“Grand Elder, will we just sit and watch as these invaders corrupt the spirits of our people!” The young druid’s soft speech could not hide the hatred in his voice.

The grand elder seemed very calm, pacing back and forth for a while before asking, “Do you really believe our tradition, the faith we have always followed, is definitely right?”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA