Book 4, Chapter 148

Essence Of The Grove

The fifth law was similarly cryptic. Richard tried a few times, but had to give up on it in the end. On the other hand, the sixth was rather easy to comprehend and he got through it quickly. Time thus slowly passed as he went through all of the laws he had identified. Sometimes he comprehended things smoothly, but a majority of his attempts were failures.

Half a month later when the Tree of Life started to glow a bright white and spilt out life energy everywhere, many people exclaimed in surprise. Its evolution had come to an end, and the next few days would be used for its fresh bark to harden. Everyone surrounding the tree was suddenly cut off from the source of the Forest Plane, forced to wait for the next opportunity to grasp its laws.

Nyris jumped up immediately and started shouting with joy. Judging from his expression, he had likely touched upon those laws and understood more than one himself. Agamemnon who was sitting beside him was rather calm in contrast, but a soft smile crept up onto his face as well.

Flowsand, Io, and Nyra all seemed to be deep in thought while Phaser and Waterflower stood still in a daze. Gangdor’s head was buried into his hands as he muttered under his breath, while Tiramisu’s heads were whispering to one another. It seemed like all of his followers had benefitted somewhat from this process.

Richard felt a moment of pity for Zendrall missing out on this chance. Sadly, such powerful life energy would have seriously injured the necromancer. Zangru was a similar story. If even healing spells could cause him immense pain, it was hard to imagine what his reaction would be to such potent life energy.

As he sighed and allowed his consciousness to return from that emerald ocean, the voice of the Tree of Life rang in his head, “Noble visitor, destined ruler of this world, I apologise deeply for my incompetence. I am appalled that the World Tree would break the covenant and attack me in such great numbers, but because of my alliance with you I cannot galvanise the rest of my kin to dethrone it. This incident invalidates all of the memories imprinted into me by the plane’s will. I cannot accurately predict the power of the enemies I will attract with my next evolution.”

“What kind of enemies are they supposed to be? What number?” Richard asked. 

“I apologise, I do not know. This information I can only obtain on the eve of my evolution.”

“And that’ll take how long?”

“With the ability to absorb the breath of life without worry, my growth will be faster than I originally anticipated. I will possess the ability to advance once more in five years.”

“Five years, huh. That’s good.” This was an excellent piece of news. Five years in the Forest Plane was only a few months in Norland.

“Destined ruler, I have a gift in appreciation of your protection. Come.” A green vine descended from the crown of the tree, coiling itself into a platform that Richard could stand on. It pulled him up to a fissure in the trunk near the crown, letting him step into a dark tunnel that spiralled down into a mysterious space.

This was a rather spacious circular area that was about a dozen metres in circumference and twenty metres tall. Jagged crystals were embedded into the wooden walls, giving out a soft white light with a greenish hue. They lit up the room perfectly.

A sparkling green heart around ten metres wide hung down from above, covered in numerous thick vines that throbbed slowly. “This is my core, and that is my heart,” the Tree’s voice rang in Richard’s head, but he had already guessed this quite some time ago.

The heart shook slightly, a viscous green liquid oozing out from within and coagulating into a single large globule at the tip of the heart. This globule slowly solidified into a crystal that was about the size of a child’s fist before falling at Richard’s feet. Bending down to pick it up, Richard saw a bright green fluid swirling within the solid shell. The sheer radiance of the life energy within could be felt despite the protective cover.

“This is the essence of the grove, life energy that has been condensed during my evolution. It can extend your youth, fill you with energy, and strengthen any powers related to your soul. I can only create one during every evolution.”

“How do I use it?”

“It can be swallowed.”

“Mm… Speaking of, do you have any other ways to maintain one’s youth? Outside of the fruit of life, I mean.” The mention of youth reminded Richard of a book he’d read on the trees of life.

The Tree answered in the affirmative. It could grow a certain type of leaf that galvanised one’s skin, keeping them looking youthful for ten years. However, it could only produce eight to ten such leaves and they did nothing for one’s internal organs. With the fruit of life brought up, it also mentioned that the production of the fruit would be a year late because of the damage it sustained during evolution. Although there wouldn’t be any need to recuperate for a decade or some such thing, it still needed time to recover.

The one immediate bonus was that the range at which the Tree could negate the will of the forest had increased, everything else would have to wait until it recuperated. However, Richard was fine with waiting for some time.

When Richard and company tallied the results of the battle, they found their losses were significant. Nobody important had died, but half the warriors had died while Nyris had lost two of his rune knights. Thankfully, Flowsand, Io, and Nyra ensured that most of those who had sustained serious injuries could keep their lives. Many would even be able to return to the battlefield eventually.

The corpses of the woodpecking crows and bird-eating spiders were separated into two piles. The astral chrysalis devoured all of the spiders without a trace; other drones were perfectly valid food for it and it could store so much food a single meal would sustain it for months. On the other hand, the woodpecking crows were harvested for intact beaks and other useful materials before suffering the same treatment. Richard then had a team of knights escort the chrysalis back to Faelor, where the broodmother would be able to finish her analysis of the woodpecking crows.

When everything was taken care of, Richard, Flowsand, Nyris, and Agamemnon gathered in one of the newly-rebuilt treehouses and stared at the essence of the grove in a daze.

“What do you think?” Richard asked eventually.

“It’s a top-notch offering,” Flowsand commented.

“Worth at least ten million!” Agamemnon estimated.

“Very enchanting!” Nyris added nothing to the conversation.

Richard ultimately priced it at ten million gold, and using the convenience of the monetary value acquired it by offering three rune sets each to Nyris and Agamemnon. A quick mental count reminded him that he now had three top-tier offerings to use.

“No!” Flowsand immediately saw through him, “You’re not offering this to the old dragon.”

Nyris nodded in agreement, “Few things can unlock the power of the soul. Don’t sacrifice this.”

“Well…” Richard was stumped. A chosen priestess and a prince of the Alliance should have been the last two people to stop him from offering sacrifices.

“Use it yourself,” Agamemnon concurred with the two.

“What even is the power of the soul?” Richard asked.

This time, Nyris was the one to answer, “Some souls have hidden abilities that they can unlock as time passes. The stronger the soul, the higher the possibility of it hiding a great ability. If this essence really can unlock a soul’s power, then it is invaluable to the right people.”

“Then why only ten million?” Richard turned to Agamemnon.

“To the right people,” Agamemnon reiterated Nyris’ point.

The prince nodded as well, “Very few souls actually have any powers to unlock. If the soul itself isn’t strong enough, one might end up using this for nothing. My own soul isn’t all that powerful, nor is Ag’s. It would be a risk to use this essence.”

“Then what makes you think mine is strong enough?”

““The will of the forest!”” “The troll’s spirit lance!”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Gem

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA