Book 6, Chapter 135

Breaking Through The Centre

The destruction of three trees of life would have an adverse effect on the strength of the forest’s will. Normally, the elders of the alliance would look to the black-robed man for advice on dealing with bad news. This time, however, even the grand elder of the Duskword Tribe just hung his head low in silence. The death of three trees of life was beyond bad, it was catastrophic. There was no way to respond; one could only assign blame after the fact.

The entire hall fell silent, both the elders and the black-robed man not moving a single muscle. The messengers stared hazily at the guides of their race that had turned to stone, realising something mid-way and doing the same.

Only when the morning light dimmed into night did the black-robed man raise his head, movements sluggish and crackly like a rusted blade being pulled out of its sheath. His voice was sinister and slow, as though nothing had changed, but all the elders could feel the sheer rage within, “We retreat.”

A moment later, all the treants of the camp slowly stirred. The ancient trees uneasily pulled out their thick roots from the ground, moving in unison as they carried the buildings along the way. The entire process was sluggish, like an aged beast raising itself off the ground; by the time the buildings were a few kilometres away, one of the oldest trees still hadn’t uprooted itself.

The sky in the forest was always gloomy, something the elves and treants were accustomed to. However, many of the elves felt trouble breathing for the first time in their lives; this familiar environment felt painfully stifling. Both the treants and the rank and file of the elves moved along mechanically, dreading their destination; it felt like they had been moving pointlessly all their lives.

An elven hunter felt his heart beating uncontrollably as he leapt up a tree, begrudgingly looking at the sky ahead. He was to act as a sentry on the wings, but he felt rather battered by it all. Sitting kilometres away from the camp itself, he would have more than enough time to react even if he didn’t spot something instantly.

“Wha…” His jaw fell open the moment he poked his head through the crown. Unable to believe his sight, he rubbed his eyes once before looking once more. However, the black worm-like creature he had seen speeding over from afar did not disappear.

The elf was dumbfounded and paralysed. He had already heard that three trees of life had been destroyed, and now he was seeing an enormous creature floating through the sky.

……

While the elf was stuck in confusion, Richard’s eyes went wide as he looked to his left and found the canopy moving at a brisk pace. It didn’t take long for him to realise what it was— the treant camp had been chasing him for quite a while— but it left him rather alarmed. He knew that the camp had an enormous number of powerful treants that all intertwined to support the natural fortress structure, its strength only growing after the trees could take root over a few days. However, that also meant the opposite: moving as it was now, the camp wasn’t at full strength.

He paused for five seconds, considering hundreds of factors to come to a decision. However, the conclusion was not something he liked; he didn’t know enough about the treant camp yet, and if the elves had planned to use it to ambush the entirety of his forces it had to be strong. His small force certainly would not be powerful enough.

But within this camp was likely the person who cursed Tzu with Iskara’s mark. This was the person who had coordinated the assault on the Evernight Tribe, the one who had killed the Evernight tree in cold blood…

“Turn left, fly right over it!” he barked out, eyes pulsing with a hint of crimson. The astral chrysalis obeyed its orders just as normal, immediately turning in a graceful arc and making a beeline for the treant camp.

Richard didn’t say a word, just moving to the front of the astral chrysalis. The wind blew his hair and sleeves, but despite his mind screaming about the risk he was taking a smile crawled up his face. Even without orders his followers stretched lazily, preparing their weapons for battle. The rune knights slowly mounted their horses, almost completely at leisure, but by the time the chrysalis got close they were prepared.

Looking over it all, Noelene just nodded softly.

By the time the elves sounded the alarm, the astral chrysalis was almost at the treant camp. They were caught completely out of place as javelins rained down from the sky, impaling dozens of them in an instant. Richard crouched forward, shooting himself down with so much strength that the enormous astral chrysalis was actually paused mid-flight. His blood seethed with rage and power at the coming battle, the smile now a full-face grin.

The camp seemed to magnify before his eyes, a dozen elves in the upper platform rushing around anxiously while the archers made their way to the shooting platform. Some were so panicked they even forgot their shortswords for close combat, while others were still gaping at the enormous chrysalis with no idea what to do. A dozen elves in lavish clothing rushed out of a decorated treehouse near the top, doing no better than the rest of their kin.

He only spread out his arms when he was ten metres from the wooden platform, a starlit barrier popping up around him even as his fall slowed to a halt. In the eyes of the elves, it was like a deity had descended from the heavens.

However, this was a god of destruction. The barrier flew down at Richard’s command, shooting into the platform and lighting it ablaze. Countless small bolts of lightning threw the elven archers down to the earth below, injuring and even paralysing them. The druids were left busy protecting themselves, messing up the already-chaotic defence.

Still floating in the sky, Richard opened the Book of Holding and summoned dark red flames at the centre of the camp, bursting out from one point to cover nearly ten square kilometres of area. Every elf in range started burning up, but their screams were eerily silent.

The pages of the Book of Holding continued to turn, raining death down atop a number of the elves. With most of the first wave of guardians killed, the upper echelon of the elves immediately looked drained. Richard’s eyes then locked onto them as well, the book flipping to its last two pages to summon two shamans on either side of the platform. The shamans summoned a wave of thorny vines, blocking those below from assisting.

The stars surrounding Richard suddenly withdrew and he flew towards the platform, the impact so heavy that a dozen elves all around him were knocked back. He raised his head and looked at the elders he had landed right next to.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA