Richard had spent the last few weeks haunted by memories of the battle with the will of the forest. His retaliation against the troll spirit back in Faelor had been purely instinctual, but here he had been forced to actively look for the tiniest of threads to hang his existence on. His blessings had been pushed to the extreme, and as far as he knew there were few even amongst legendary mages that could have withstood such an assault.
It had been a long time since he walked the edge of life and death, but there was no fear in his heart. Without the perfect confluence of events during that battle he would have died, but all he could think of was that there were many aspects to his soul that he still didn’t have control of. He would use what he learned from this fight to grow for the future.
All his life he had thought of his elven and Archeron bloodlines as conflicting, as fire and ice that constantly pulled him between lunatic might and cold calculation. For the first time, the two had combined and worked in tandem to save him from his situation. Pure rage had fuelled him for what felt like hours on end, but his blessings had still been operating to chart out the best path at any given point in time.
He was trying to achieve this perfect balance once more. His current belief was that his bloodlines would only complement each other when he was completely focused, so much so that the rage and pride would only affect his heart and not his mind. Thinking of this, his right hand turned blood-red as he stabbed a lafite dagger into a practice dummy he’d set up. Space seemed to distort around the blade due to the extreme strength, and despite only a nick in the plate the entire dummy exploded at once. The blade had a twelvefold reinforcement with all five Lifesbanes active, which would be enough to tear a centaur apart with a single touch.
Feeling the trace of laws within that stab, he smiled despite the fatigue; he had finally truly achieved the same realm as Beye. He thought that such a strike deserved a suitable name, and decided to simply call it Decapitate.
The cloned broodmother would still take some time to get to level 4, after which she would still need to create some drones, so Richard decided to go deeper into the forest to explore. The will of the forest no longer posed any obstacle to him, and with his nature affinity he was more often the hunter than the prey in this environment.
This time, he left all of his followers behind. Waterflower and Phaser were the only ones capable of hiding themselves, but they were still foreign bodies to this plane. They did not have the understanding of laws that allowed them to integrate themselves and pass off as locals in terms of aura. Many sensitive creatures could still sense them from kilometres away. In fact, he could feel the terror of the trees as Phaser moved around.
It turned out to be Mountainsea who was actually most suited to this environment, her temperament and background making her identical to the local elves, but the girl was just far too lazy to do so. She had just gone back to continue her three-day sleep when Richard mentioned that there was almost no chance of death. The best way for her to grow was still just to get as much sleep as she could, so he just bottled up his envy and left.
Deep in the forest, every place looked the exact same. The will of the forest was ubiquitous, interfering with the perception of any outsiders. Even saints would quickly lose themselves without a powerful will, and the natives actually relied on this will for navigation.
Equipped with the elven longsword and a simple leather bag, Richard was strolling through the woods at leisure. Having experienced a battle with the will not long ago, he could actually faintly sense the stream of power flowing everywhere. Using the laws of life, he could surround himself with the aura of the trees nearby regardless of their own willingness.
The forest was never bright, with ordinary people needing darkvision to see even past ten metres. The humidity also left his hair and clothes uncomfortably damp, making him feel miserable, but he shrugged it off and continued inwards.
He was ten kilometres deep when he had his first encounter, a dark green panther. The big cat squatted on a branch as it looked at him with suspicion, constantly sniffing, but he had surrounded himself with a tree’s aura so it started thinking he was a treant. The difference between its sight and other senses was jarring, but it had grown accustomed to relying very little on vision in the dark woods.
Richard looked at the creature with great interest. Panthers were very keen animals, and if this one couldn’t see through his cloaking then most elves wouldn’t either. Only the brightest of hunters would be able to realise the strangeness of his aura.
The panther suddenly jumped over and tried to perch itself on his shoulder, but it was too large and slipped off immediately. Richard smiled at the sight and tuned his aura once more, now simulating a tree of life. The creature immediately turned around and squatted at his feet, indicating its subservience immediately.
‘Not bad at all!’ As his analysis of the laws of life continued, Richard came to realise just how important they could be. Immense power was one thing, but the most important use of the power of laws was that it allowed one to borrow power directly from the environment. Just like his thunderclouds when he had been poisoned back in Klandor, anything formed with the power of laws as a basis would not depend on one’s energy reserves and could be used no matter what happened to one’s foundation. An individual’s strength was limited, but a master who could use the energy of the world could fight tirelessly for days without issue.
Now in high spirits, he continued towards the depths of the forest; if he could find a tree of life, it would be a huge bonus. In only a day he had travelled two hundred kilometres, but he still found nothing. The plane was far larger than he had expected, which certainly enhanced its value, but it also allowed the trees of life to run very far.
Richard, who had been running for hours, suddenly came to a dead stop and bounded towards a large tree, hiding in the sparse undergrowth and merging his aura with the bark. He had barely finished when a slight breeze blew through the woods, revealing a quiet figure running across the earth with greater speed than him.
Just as the figure passed the tree Richard was hiding under, it suddenly sensed something and stopped, turning its head. Richard looked at the elven girl that was now staring at him awkwardly, one hand reaching for his sword case as he prepared to kill her in an instant.
However, the girl continued to stare in shock. She hadn’t felt any strange presence here at all, and only stopped to look because she had seen the flash of emerald eyes. She seemed far more refined than the rest of her kin, with a familiar aura around her that he could never forget. This was a daughter of the forest, and even without using the powers that came with that she seemed to be level 18. However, for some reason, he could feel a vague sense of intimacy from her that he could not understand.
Looking at the girl’s pale face, his hesitations grew. It didn’t take time for him to notice that her paleness was not due to the shock of seeing him, but because of injuries all over her body.
Before the elf could recover from her daze, a number of sharp whistles rang out nearby. Richard pulled his hand back from the sword case, now starting to grow curious. How was a child of the forest being chased down by the local elves?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo