An army passes by, again
Year 72 month 10 last few days.
A delegation approaches from the distance.
It’s the beginning of winter, and yet it is warmer than usual, so warm that I could feel something is in the air.
My leaves, the warmth confuses them, and so they shrivel up a little.
Somehow, this warm air is ‘rough’, and my trunk and bark feels a bit rougher as a result.
A delegation of soldiers, a hundred strong, carrying all sorts of materials and goods.
An expeditionary force
Friend, or foe
“Tree spirit.” A voice calls out, one I vaguely recognise, but once he got closer, I soon identify the voice as Lord Rajjiv Nung.
is it still asleep….Jura Jura”
He seems to be better condition than the last time we met, maybe he gained some levels.
The elves are hiding, a little intimidated by the presence of so many men.
I too somehow share that emotion, and am on my guard as well.
“Should I go out, tree spirit” Jura asks, while that Rajjiv calls for him.
It is best I respond.
Perhaps letting Jura hide is a better idea, but then I turn to Hendry and Alexis, “Do you guys want to go out Its a bunch of humans, maybe they can help you.”
Hendry shakes his head, “We don’t know them, so we’ll watch how this plays out, but we will help if needed.
Our priority is still Meela, and by extension, your ability to continue to support Meela.”
Seems quite reasonable.
“Yes What brings you here with a small army” I telepathically speak to Rajjiv.
Lord Rajjiv smiles, “Ah you are awake! Great! We have much to discuss.” He dismounts from his warhorse and walks closer, gesturing to my roots.
“Yes.” He sits on the flat surface of the few protruding roots.
“So, since our last battle, the defeat of the demon champion at our hands greatly improved our King’s opinion of natural spirits are a means to fight demons.”
“And so, we are wondering whether you are open to relocating yourself outside of our capital city.”
“No.” I hate moving, I have to be decisive in rejecting this.
“Ah… I suspected as much.
Well, are tree spirits able to produce offsprings or saplings which we can cultivate into a tree spirit Would a branch of yours grow into a split version of yourself”
That, is a good question.
I recall producing fruits and they do have seeds, but they only seem to grow into normal plants.
If they did somehow grow into their own tree spirits I sure did not detect their presence.
“Rest assured we will take good care of your offspring or saplings, we only ask it comes to our aid in battle.”
But Rajjiv is asking a very good point.
Could I “procreate” in a sense that allows me to create other tree spirits Or my “offsprings” do not inherit any of my abilities or qualities
“I am afraid I am unable to produce any spirit-offspring.
So far my offsprings and seeds are just normal… trees..”
Yet Or maybe I do not yet know how
“Ah… that would be a disappointment.
But not unexpected.”
Rajjiv stands and looks around the area.
“But that is not why I came all this way...”
Rajjiv takes out a small map, and points.
I can’t actually see the map, though.
“The demon champions, three of them.
They seem to be gathering somewhere in the region near here.
We will set up a base of operations here, and then attack the demons.”
Huh “No.” A large army, here That would be bad.
“Not a choice, tree spirit.
I am just informing you.
The King has decreed this land and its surroundings to be the staging ground for the military operations against the demonic champions.
We have the heroes themselves, and they are on their way.
We, are just the advance party, to prepare this place for the upcoming campaign.”
This, news is unpleasant, but then again, what choice do I have If indeed a large army will be here, what chance do I have to protect the elves Can I fight off an army I feel the answer to that is no, so it looks like I have to put up with it.
“Heroes” Ah, the reincarnators!
“Yes, the ones with gods’ gifts.
Not sure when they will get here as the King said, as they are visiting all the kingdoms along the way, but they are headed here and then towards to demon champions.
Slay them, heroes gain power and levels, and weaken the demon king.”
I would like to see what sort of cheat like abilities they have.
That means the days ahead will be a whole lot of death and war.
Well, from what I learnt about this world, its always been filled with death and war, so I should not complain.
The elves too shake their head.
From within the hideout, they can actually eavesdrop on any conversation next to me.
Hendry peers out through a small peephole.
“That man is from the Kingdom”
“Yes, Rajjiv Nung of the Kingdom of Nung.”
Hendry shakes his head, “Don’t know him.
Do you, Alexis” Alexis shakes her head too.
“Ah, I guess we will keep hiding.
No need to draw attention unnecessarily.”
Laufen gives Lausanne a hug, and she looks at the rest.
it sounds like there will be a lot of fighting.
This place is going to be a battlefield again.
It’s just not too long ago we had so much… death.”
“If I can keep you elves safe, I will.” I assure her, even if I do know what's going to happen is going to be very unpleasant.
Rajjiv, oblivious to the conversation within the hideout, then motions his men to start work.
“Tree spirit, may we meet again under far better circumstances.
Some of my men will remain to start setting up the area for the coming battles.” After the men rest for an hour or so, about 70 men follow Rajjiv’s lead, and ride towards the demonic rifts.
The plan is to spread out, monitor the demons’ movements, setup magical markers, and be on the lookout for any large demon armies.
The remaining 30 or so men start to build a campsite, featuring multiple large tents.
Further out, they build a low fence, making where this future army is going to be.
These men, appear to be builders and mages.
A few of them use magic, mainly to manipulate the ground and dirt into a makeshift dirt wall and trench.
Alexis and Hendry looks out of the peephole.
“Heroes are coming”
"Yes, that's what he said."
I can’t wait to meet the heroes.
I wonder what they are like” Emile and Belle both seem quite excited to meet heroes, and that excitement cause both Alexis and Hendry sigh.
“Have you guys met them” Emile ask.
Alexis and Hendry glance at each other.
yes we have.”
“They must be handsome and dashing… oh wait don't tell me don’t tell me.” Emile seems somewhat infatuated with the concept of heroes.
Hendry and Alexis smiles.
“I think fairy tales and reality usually differ quite a bit.”
Meanwhile, I activate my [summon insect warriors] skill, and a few beetles appears on my branch, hidden from the soldiers.
They seem rather tough, and they are mostly mind-less creatures mentally linked to me.
Will need to test them in actual combat to know how they fare in reality.
[Customisable branches] A popup appears, you currently have 3 slots for customisable branches.
The branches can be customised for specific functions, such as producing certain materials or essences, host certain insects or animals, or become some kind of accommodation (if the branch if sufficiently large).
There’s actually a long list of materials extracted and essences harvested, hidden inside a separate notification menu.
I think I recall asking to hide those notifications, else I’d be overwhelmed by them all the time.
Hendry chooses to mostly stay inside, wondering when his friends will return.
Meela’s still surviving, her body in a constant battle with the demonic rot within.
Alexis spends time talking to Meela and playing with the younger elves, Brislach, Wahlen and Lausanne.
The older elves are still apprehensive of the humans, but the younger ones do not hold such prejudices.
Perhaps, not yet.
A week later, Year 72 Month 11 Week 1
Twenty thousand strong, an army passes by.
Half of them set up camp here, but from the chatter it seems they are meant to leave very soon.
The other half march on, nearer to the rift where they will set up smaller camps closer to the rift.
With the numbers, comes traffic.
The traffic in this area is much higher now, as messengers are needed for certain types of communication.
There is also a small group of dedicated mages, and it seems their role is to facilitate long distance secure communication spells.
And winter is delayed this year.
It's still warm.
Something strange is happening to the weather.
Alexis suspects its the demons.
And refugees start popping up, an outcome of more demon raids, destroying villages that are closer to the rift. The rift, as Alexis elaborates, is a flux, a rip in “space”, and it joins our world with that of the demons, and it expands and moves, usually slowly but under certain circumstances, quickly.
The longer the demon king remains in the world, the rifts will remain open and expand, and after their death, the rifts will shrink and eventually close. So, a world cannot wait forever for the heroes to slay the demon king, else the rift would expand so large and appear all over the world.
Year 72 Month 11 Week 3
From the bits and pieces of information I gather via eavesdropping the refugees and the soldiers, it seems no one knows I am a tree spirit.
They presumed I am a normal tree that somehow survived this location, and that is… interesting.
At this point I realise perhaps Lord Rajjiv has reasons not to share that information, and my assessment of him in my mind change accordingly.
Him and his platoon took credit for the demon champion defeat earlier, ignoring my contribution.
Well, though I do feel slighted, after dwelling on the idea for a while, I think keeping myself unknown is better.
“Should I reveal my presence to the soldiers” I ask this of the elves and the three adventurers.
“Hmm, but what would revealing your presence achieve, TreeTree” Belle asks, still peering outside.
Emile’s been talking about the heroes for some time now, and she is wondering where in the world are they.
I stand to lose more than gain.” Given that I can’t really move… I can’t exactly run away, can I
“If you have powers, its best to keep it a secret.” Alexis said, holding Meela’s hand.
“People will seek you for your power, and you become a tool, not a person.
Your power will define who you are to the masses.”
“Fair point.” She sounds really sad when she said that.
“Sounds like personal experience.”
“It is.” Alexis holds Meela’s hand a little longer.
Year 72 Month 11 Week 4
Another ten thousand or so soldiers arrive, they do not stop here for long, and they continue marching towards the rift.
At this point this surrounding area is pretty much a makeshift fort.
The humans with earth magic mold a two layer wall complete with towers and ramparts, and staff them with soldiers.
Traffic is still high, and refugees seem to be constantly streaming in.
The refugees don’t stay for long, as the food available is meant for the army, and is barely sufficient, so they move on to safer, and hopefully more prosperous lands.
There are minor demon attacks, small packs of hellhounds easily disposed by the army encamped in this place.
From the chatter, I gather new types of demons are appearing near the rift.
Larger, more earthlike versions of hellhounds, and a half-golem, half-demon variant.
Perhaps the demon king has some earth-elemental powers, since his minions does display earth-like features.
I wonder whether this has something to do with the mild shakes and tremors we have been feeling occasionally.
“Where are they” Hendry is frustrated, though Meela is stable.
It seems he is raring to get a shot of the demons, but is also torn with Meela’s present condition.
“Our friends will come back for us.” Alexis assures him, “Its..
It's fine like this.
A bit of a break from all this… killing.
And maybe the hero’s power can help Meela.”
Hendry scowls, but then he pauses to think.
“You might be right, Alexis.
The hero’s sem-divine holy powers may be able to counteract the demonic rot.”