The decision to sell the treant fortress was a mutual one. Nyris and Agamemnon had expanded way too fast in recent times and racked up their own debts, even if their numbers couldn’t compare to Richard’s. In addition to the fortress itself, they decided to split the income from the three tribes as per their prior agreements; the two would get a third of the total profits.
A rough calculation told Richard that each of the elven tribes had about a top-tier offering’s worth of loot alongside twice the amount from their trees of life. This resolved about half of his debts, which was an enormous amount, but such profits didn’t come by often. In fact, he was still losing out— he stood to gain far more from allowing the trees of life to grow under his care than slaughtering them for immediate profit. If these trees and their tribes weren’t thorns to his eye, he never would have done such a thing.
With this final bit done, the battle at the Forest Plane had officially drawn to a close. Richard had already destroyed the main forces of the elves and wiped out all trees of life nearby, with the nearest one now more than 6,000 kilometres away. At this distance, there was no incentive to pursue the fight at all. It would be difficult to track the smaller armies anyway.
He decided to take the majority of his forces away, leaving behind only a moderate force that would build up over time. With both the world tree and the broodmother’s clone here, time was certainly on his side. In a few years he could overrun the entire plane without issue. He was continuing to collect resources from this place, and it could earn him to the tune of 3 million gold every year even without doing anything.
There were other things he could do here, like improving his production lines for the more extraordinary materials of the plane, but his presence was much more important elsewhere; there were still other planes where the situation wasn’t as stable.
Richard had turned a net profit during his war in the Forest Plane, but he wasn’t happy with it at all. The one person he wanted to call kin had disappeared just as quickly as he’d found her, and it still hurt. He had also failed to protect the Evernight tree of life, and less than half of the elves themselves had survived. Melia, someone Tzu considered a daughter, was still missing. Even if she had come close to killing him, he understood that it wasn’t of her own volition. Finding her would be easy with Noelene’s assistance, but he couldn’t even bring himself to do that.
The troops were reorganised and sent to withdraw to Norland. With the new fuel proved to be effective, he shipped off the mountains of stonewood to Faust as well. There were only six thousand residents left in Emerald City in total, divided into two shifts taking turns to go out woodcutting. The edge of the forest was slowly pushed back; he didn’t know how long it would take to cut down the entire forest, but every explosion sounded like the jingle of gold coins.
A lone elf was walking in the depths of the forest, her hair a complete mess and the gashes in her tight leather outfit revealing blood. Her beautiful face was almost entirely stained crimson, a single wound cutting from the left temple to the chin. Stumbling at a big tree, she fell down with her back to the ground and started gasping for air.
Melia had been wandering the forest ever since the night of the attempted assassination, now so weak that she couldn’t even be called a daughter of the forest anymore. Her eyes were constantly shifting in and out of focus, and deep within the iris one could see two forces fighting for the upper hand. A grey energy gradually gained the advantage, making her head feel heavier even as her eyelids drooped uncontrollably.
“ARGH!” she screamed to stop the drowsiness, pulling a dagger from her waist and cutting a notch on her left arm. Her face distorted in the severe pain, but it managed to keep her awake. Gulping down air for a few seconds longer, she stood back up and ambled forwards.
She grabbed a few grasses along the way, mashing them together and applying the juice to the new wound and the scabs of the dozens before it. The specific grasses she chose were known for being extremely painful to ingest— most beasts and many elves would faint from the sheer agony— but she relied on the torment to push herself on. The moment she gave in to sleep, her body would be taken over and cause her to do something she would hate herself for again.
Like trying to assassinate Richard.
She didn’t know where she was now, but what she did know was that Richard had once pointed her in this direction when she asked where his city was. She couldn’t figure out why she was going this way, feared it even, but there was a single thought that drove her forward: she wanted to see Richard again!
Elsewhere, the treant camp had almost dispersed entirely. There were only two ancient treants and a dozen younger ones left, dragging along the remains of the camp to the Duskword Tribe. The Grand Elder and another elder were in the broken treehouse at the top, while the three other surviving elders of the alliance had dispersed for home.
The Grand Elder was currently in front of an altar, pouring nature energy into it without stop. On the altar was an image of Melia who was struggling endlessly, her footsteps slowing down with every pulse. However, she suddenly drew out her dagger and cut herself again, regaining clarity. The backlash left the Grand Elder pale as a sheet, but he slowly recovered. Glancing at the unyielding girl in the image, his eyes flashed with anger and greed before he returned to a solemn look, turning to an elf standing in the corner, “Get over here!”
The elf came over to the altar and glanced at Melia, his expression complicated. This was Kael of the Evernight Tribe, someone who had escaped in the midst of the war.
The Grand Elder looked at Kael coldly, “There isn’t a problem with what you offer?”
Kael felt his heart almost stop, blurting out immediately, “No problem at all! It’s hard to find Melia’s hair and blood, why would I dare to lie about something like this?”
The Grand Elder nodded, looking back at the image, “I hope that is true. She is difficult to control so long as she’s awake, I can only continue to consume her will. But she’s going towards the devil’s gate, I’ll lose that ability soon.”
Kael’s face warped with disgust as he saw Melia pour the mashed grasses onto her arm, “This bitch would rather die with Richard!”
“So long as she lands in my hands, she’ll be yours for three days. Now, you two grew up together; tell me about her habits.”
A few days later, a groggy Melia finally stepped out of the forest. She stopped for a few moments, staring in awe at the sprawling city before her eyes. She was finally there!
Back in the treant camp, the Duskword Grand Elder stared at the city that appeared in the image with his face blue and eyes constantly twitching. Despite several days and nights spent solely on this effort, he had still lost. Melia’s will was just too strong, the seemingly weak girl possessing a monstrous soul. Kael and the other elder stood silently; having witnessed the entire process, their hearts had frozen over. If she survived this, she would likely destroy the entire Duskword Tribe in the future.
“Fine, let it be!” the Grand Elder suddenly smiled, “Since she wants to see Richard, let her! I’ll give him a big surprise!”
“The war just came to an end,” the other elder interjected, “It might not be wise to antagonise Richard again.”
The elder still remembered Richard’s ambush more than a week ago. A god of destruction had descended upon them, raining fire and lightning down on his kin and killing so many of the people he knew. He himself had only survived because he was a coward, having escaped the moment the ambush began. Even so, he had lost one of his eyes forever to Richard’s vicious flames.
The Grand Elder’s face twitched and he gritted his teeth, “We are so far away from Richard, what are you afraid of?”
The one-eyed elder nodded slowly. According to the devils’ standards, the Duskword Tribe was 9,000 kilometres away from Richard’s base. With the protection of the will of the forest, this distance was the best defence. However, he still felt uneasy and repeated, “I still think we should let this war end.”
The Grand Elder stared at him coldly, shutting him up.
Back at the forest, Melia had made it a few kilometres closer to Emerald City. She had felt the will fighting her relax the moment she left the woods, but the enormous fatigue and pain still left her wincing with every step.
As she continued to crawl forward, she saw a team of mounted riders galloping towards her. Recalling that these extraordinary warriors were what Richard called his rune knights, she sighed in relief and lost consciousness.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA