Book 6, Chapter 127

A Road Of Death(2)

During one instance where the tree of life came to a halt, Richard got dressed and opened the door to his treehouse. This was the first time he had left his bed after suffering his injuries, and his pale face showed just how bad they still were. Still, he easily sidestepped the instinctive sword thrust from a nearby hunter and grabbed an arrow from her quiver, stabbing her in the throat.

As the hunter fell from the tree of life, Richard looked around him only to find battles raging everywhere. This hunter wasn’t the only one trying to attack those in the houses, and there were occasional cries as combatants fell off.

Had the situation already grown so bad? He caught an arrow out of mid-air and thrust it into the heart of another nearby hunter, sending the elf tumbling down the tree. All this while, he was still focused on the grey energy within him; the power of law it held was far beyond expected, allowing it to hold on tenaciously and prevent him from healing quickly.

He ambled around the tree, aiding any fights that he passed by. Even without much speed or strength, his technique and comprehension of laws was enough to defeat most elites of the alliance in one blow. Forest elves fell off the tree of life one after the other, but just as many were charging out of the forest. Not too far away, the rune knights were split into ten-man squads and battling a group of treants led by a particularly large old tree. The ancient treant was nearing the legendary realm, and with the aid of the forest’s will it could hold off fifty rune knights at once. The worst part was that it raised many other inanimate trees as it passed, giving it an advantage in a battle of attrition.

Richard knew that about five of his rune knights would have to give their lives to topple the tree, and gazing into the distance he found many similar auras not far behind. The treant camp was about to catch up.

*Snap!* His attention was suddenly drawn above, where an elf was busy cutting into the tree of life. One of the branches had just been broken off completely and fell to the ground. Frowning, he hastened in the direction as he grabbed a dagger along the way, activating Mana Armament for a split second to toss it at full strength. The dagger flew through the air and buried itself in the back of the man’s head.

The hunters finally noticed Richard’s presence, but anyone who tried to attack was left a corpse falling off the tree. Richard looked weak, but every melee fight was won in a single blow and the weapons thus salvaged were used to kill off any ranged attackers. The movements were concise, but they occasionally produced afterimages from the burst activation of Mana Armament. However, Richard couldn’t cast any spells to kill multiple opponents at once nor even activate Disintegrator— his killing speed was laughable compared to his peak.

Eventually, a thunderous bellow rang out in the distance as the treant finally crumbled to its wounds. With it dead, the others it animated would follow in only a matter of time. An urgent chirp rang out from deep within the forest, and the attacking elves retreated like the tide. The tree of life began moving once more.

Richard didn’t return to his house to rest, instead frowning as he surveyed the tree’s injuries. More than a hundred small branches had been cut off its main body, each one a minor wound but summing up into a major one. The next attack could cause a hundred more, and soon it would add up to thousands. There would come a point where the damage was irreversible.

The alliance wasn’t sending many saints or high-level druids, and those it did send remained very cautious. They knew that Richard’s knights could kill saints in only a second if they attacked together, but time was on their side. Every battle weakened both Richard’s army and the tree of life itself; mistakes would grow more frequent and the tree’s range of influence would start to drop. Once the tree of life couldn’t defy the will of the forest any longer, the elders and saint hunters would show themselves.

Alice leapt onto the tree of life and darted over to Richard’s side, her crimson hair now a deeper shade of red from the blood staining it. Richard could see the worry in her eyes at a single glance and whispered, “We have no way to stop them from attacking the tree.”

“Can’t we contact Emerald City and get reinforcements?” she bit her lip.

Richard smiled wryly, “Only if we can survive to within 300 kilometres. I still can’t feel anyone.”

Alice’s expression darkened as she stated coldly, “It doesn’t matter if there’s one less tree of life. The alliance has eight tribes in total, which means eight trees of life and a world tree that will be ours sooner or later. If it wasn’t for that bitch, we’d have been safe long ago!”

Alice’s last words were forced between her teeth. She knew things would have been fine if they had left even a day or two earlier, with Richard forcing the migration instead of giving the Duskword Tribe advance information due to the negotiations. At the same time, if he hadn’t been injured he could have returned to Emerald City alone and summoned an army to their aid. Outside of the unicorn which they needed to direct them right now, he was the only one who wouldn’t get lost in the forest right now. Tiramisu and the others were strong, but their comprehension of laws wasn’t nearly vast enough to overcome the natural blockade. Melia’s attack had basically killed this tree of life and many rune knights on top.

Richard could understand the hatred, but he patted her on the shoulder, “There’s nothing we can do about it now. I still think there was something wrong with that situation, but now you should consider a contingency plan. Once the treants catch up, we’ll have no choice but to give up on the tree of life. The unicorn will be able to get us back to Emerald City.”

Alice nodded, leaping off the tree to begin reorganising the rune knights. Another five had died in battle today, four of whom had been taken down by the ancient treant. Watching her back, Richard wanted to say something but stopped himself and sighed. He understood what she was most infuriated by: the unicorn could only help a few hundred people deal with the will of the forest. Despite their large size, the mounts could only carry a limited number of people as well; half of the tribe could not be taken. Given her personality, she would definitely ensure all of the rune knights made it home first.

He returned to his treehouse and sat on the bed, but just couldn’t bring himself to meditate. Every decision he had made since entering the Evernight Tribe came to mind, among which were many hot-blooded mistakes.

‘Have I grown too soft?’ he couldn’t help but wonder.

……

The tree of life pressed forward with difficulty. It grew closer and closer to Emerald City, but at the same time it also slowed down. One day, those underneath felt the earth shaking fiercely as the treants charged over at full speed. Every evernight elf fell silent, knowing the terror that was about to come.

Destruction was upon them.

Many elves poured themselves into the battle, trying all they could to avoid thoughts of their impending fate. It was at this point that Richard finally made the only choice he could—

He gave up on the tree of life.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA