What Is War
Noelene immediately flew over from the distance, “A golden world tree?!”
Richard stood up, looking at the sapling with a single leaf, “Yes.”
“How did you get it?”
This answer left her silent for a while, her eyes glittering with golden light. It took a few moments for her to snap out of it and speak, “This plane seems strong enough to have a world tree already, why plant it here?”
“Oh, I know. That tree should understand that there is no compromise in this war; I’m going to reduce it to ashes by the time I’m through.” Richard waved a team of fifty shadowspears and ten elites over, ordering them to guard the sapling before walking away.
Noelene followed behind, but she turned to look at the knights, “Can we just leave it here?”
The golden world tree was a precious item that even all ten thousand warriors would be insufficient to guard. Back in the days of the elven empire, these things would be guarded by legendary beings until they reached a certain age. For Richard to leave a few dozen knights guarding it was risky at the least and stupid at worst.
“There’s enough people,” Richard smiled mysteriously.
How could fifty be enough? They had to all be saints for that! Noelene really wanted to retort, but she sighed and followed Richard to their next destination.
When the two left, a few worker drones quietly crept out from the forest and gathered around the closest tree. In minutes the entire tree was eaten and dragged away, in which time even more drones had appeared. All of the trees nearby were starting to be eaten up and pulled into the distance, the drones so thorough that even the roots weren’t left behind. Drone after drone dug into the earth, fertilising the land nearby as they cleared it out.
A thousand drones were here in less than ten minutes, and even more were streaming in. Twenty kilometres away, the astral chrysalis was floating silently in the air and had shrunk down to about fifty metres, the lower half of its body emitting a warm light as the empty ground cleared below was filled with thousands of green egg sacs. One could see the creatures morphing under the chrysalis's light, growing limbs and trying to break out.
It didn’t take long for the first tiny spider crawled out of its shell. The egg was no larger than a fist and the spider itself was thus of a normal size, but despite its soft white shell anyone who had been at the previous battle of the tree of life would recognise this bird-eating spider for what it was. Under the instruction of the chrysalis, it quickly finished off its shell and passed through the empty ground to start feasting on the first tree it met. A second young spider appeared beside it, followed by a third and then a hundredth. Soon enough, the entire tree was covered in white.
The astral chrysalis floated quietly in the air, shining light down on the wave of spiders below. These rays gave the spiders crucial energy that accelerated their growth, a result of the broodmother’s analysis of the previous battle. These things were initially smaller and weaker, needing the assistance of the chrysalis and time to eat and grow as they underwent seven stages of moulting in total, but despite these drawbacks there were clear advantages as well. She could make as many as five hundred of the eggs in a single day, and with the long period to maturity each spider would end up much stronger than with the last set. This second generation was half a fold more powerful yet twice as numerous as the first, and the Forest Plane had no lack of food for them to grow off.
The astral chrysalis had brought a total of ten thousand eggs on this trip. Within ten days, they would turn into a battalion with good battle capabilities. In thirty, they would be a force to be reckoned with. Their webs, lethal venom, and sharp fangs were all deadly weapons against the woodpecking crows and other denizens of this forest. They were an excellent guard force for the golden world tree.
The broodmother’s clone was approaching level 6 at this point, now a giant creature over fifty metres in length alone. She didn’t have the hardy carapace of the original broodmother, and she was still producing workers, but every time she could upgrade something she had boosted her production capabilities. She could now produce five level 9 drones every day, with two more for every lower level on average. She was even better than the original at making new designs if Richard wanted it, and could create a total of 28 workers in one go!
A square kilometre of the forest had been emptied out all around her, a small drop in the vast ocean, but nearly two thousand workers were eating away constantly. The wax they produced was now the size of a small hill; she could barely even keep up.
Richard had approved her tactics; for the next month, she could continue to focus purely on producing workers. These drones had jaws that could bite through rocks, and just as easily they could bite through armour. They weren’t dexterous or hardy enough for battle on their own, but once the swarm rampaged through a place there was nothing that could stop their advance.
However, he didn’t plan to use the broodmother’s strength for this counterattack. An advance party from the first army travelled at lightning speed as they smeared the new gunpowder from the Deepblue on the trees in the vicinity to blow them up. Now every explosion felled a tree, but the sturdier ones could be brought down with a few chops right after. The astral chrysalis was following behind with ten tonnes of material, so they had no need to be thrifty. The most time-consuming task, by far, was actually pushing the fallen trees to the side.
By the time Richard caught up with the second batch of soldiers in tow, the army had already made it ten kilometres deep. His men were only opening up a path that was a few dozen metres wide, which was nowhere near enough to actually curb the will of the forest but certainly a boost for the unicorn’s ability to suppress it. Alongside spells from Noelene and her clerics, the army would be able to withstand the suppression of the forest.
Once both armies joined together, their speed increased greatly. Now they could carve out passages for fifty or sixty kilometres in a day; with such a speed, they would reach their first target in less than two months.
Of course, nearly ten thousand soldiers advancing with constant explosions was a loud warning that didn’t go unnoticed. Richard discovered a troop of elven hunters on the third day of the expedition, and despite his soldiers being mobilised quickly a few of the smartest ones managed to get away. However, he had no worries about this; he planned to openly crush everything in his path!
The forest elves were a proud race as well. They might be afraid of his army, but this act of mowing through the forest was an act of war against the trees of life and world tree. On the fifth day of travel, as they crossed the 300-kilometre mark, the will of the forest gathered together in a dense attack. Tens of thousands of mutant elves flooded out with more than a thousand regular hunters in tow.
However, this time Richard had Noelene in his group.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA