Year 76 Month 2 Week 3
“How long is this stupid blizzard going to last”
“Forever, until someone manages to disable or dispel the vortex”
“Not forever, such magics have a natural decay to them.
Over time it will go away, but we are talking about years…”
Troubling news, from Yvon’s informants and diplomats.
None, not Salah, not Nung, not Takde has claimed responsibility for using a blood sacrifice spell, and in fact, all of them are now not-so-secretly launching their own internal investigation into the cause of this catastrophe that brought severe blizzards to an area the size of a country.
All three nations are affected by this massive spell, and all three capitals within range, though, Salah, being the largest of the three nations, are least affected.
Well, to be honest, if that was all there is to it, its not really that troubling.
I mean, a hurricane is a country sized disaster, no Nobody jumps when a hurricane or a massive earthquake rattles the world, right (Though I may be wrong… a perpetual hurricane would be equally horrible).
The troubling thing, is some of the more sophisticated intelligence claims that it is a secret demon cult at work.
A cult that aims to summon, and to control the demon king.
They call themselves the Circlebreakers.
A demon cult, that, as the rumours start to emerge, manipulated the nations and took advantage of the massive battle to somehow sacrifice at least 25,000, to test out some kind of blood magic.
I mean, it sounds bonkers.
I mean, which nation would want to publicly admit it used such a drastic measure, one that involves blood sacrifice So naturally all of them will deny involvement, even if they did do it.
Besides, I presume everyone in that battlefield is dead, and any evidence they can gather by magic, is being corrupted and distorted by the presence of that blizzard magic vortex, and with each passing day, the evidence vanishes.
Perhaps if some of the souls and spirits can talk, I can find out a bit more, but until then, this theory sounds absurd.
I still think of the countries did it.
Or maybe a mix.
One of the countries collaborated with the cults to activate such a spell.
Anyway, those are distant affairs, that unfortunately affects me.
Goes to show that turtling strategy doesn’t work when there are large area of effect spells and abilities.
The merchants are quick to adapt, though.
Money really has ways of making the world go round, even in magical worlds.
This month we had the first visit of the “cold-resistant caravan”.
Essentially, they are a delegation of about a 100, with dedicated mages and special carriages that are magically reinforced to provide protection from the cold and snow weathers.
Of course, the goods are expensive.
They need a markup on such special services after all.
The Barooshians though, the wizard at least, came back to New Freeka.
With the agreed rewards, most of them the upgrade materials I need for the root system, and also for Horns, Paws.
Apparently, the wizard’s punishment, for exposing the princess to forbidden magics… is exile.
And the delivery to New Freeka is his last task by the King.
Surely, the wizard cannot take responsibility for the princess’s recklessness But such are feudal societies, you get your ass handed to you even if you don’t have anything to do with it.
“Surely we would welcome a wizard like yourself to our town…” Yvon is quick, to bring him over to her side.
He sighs, nods, reluctantly accepts Yvon’s offer of hospitality.
“I guess I will stay for a while.”
And they soon get him to work on some kind of anti-cold weather spell.
Meanwhile, I am expanding my territory towards the volcano that Horns surveyed.
Most of the beetles are inactive in this weather, and that's a weakness with having insects.
But as we approach the volcano, my subsidiary trees are slowly dying, so I could not extend them further.
This is despite my own heat resistance, but the death is not due heat alone.
The surroundings of the active volcano is filled with sulphur, and there are active lava flows, forming rivers in the area.
And, at every eruption, a blast of energy sweeps out from the caldera, and the shockwave creates a gust of wind.
All this, cumulatively, create a hostile environment for the trees.
One of the external biolabs (only one so far), next to inner ring, had a menu prompt.
Kind of like those alerts when I unlocked a secret mission.
[Biolab research option unlocked : Volcanic adaptation.
Estimated time required, 3 months.
Materials needed to start research, 100 pieces of sulphur]
Okay! Now I’d like to check all the other kinds of environmental adaptations...
That kind of put my plans to use trees to crawl into the volcank on hold.
Thankfully though, the area around the volcano is still relatively warm, such that I can still deploy my beetles, and task them to venture into the volcano area to harvest the sulphurous minerals.
At about the same time, I created two beetle research tree, to research winter adaptation.
It’s annoying to have so many of my beetles going into hibernation in this weather, and I was hoping to have some beetles which have ability to function in the cold.
It is really hard to do much when my beetles spend so much time hibernating in their cosy trees.
Year 76 Month 3
The nations are now starting their work on dispelling or weakening the blizzard vortex, with spring returning, the intensity of the blizzard is reducing slightly.
Because it is still snowing.
And that means crops are not growing.
Luckily for the New Freekans, their indoor farming experiments are working, so they now intensify their efforts to build additional indoor farms, in an effort to combat food shortages.
But, the cold also means my timber farms are not as productive, so they very quickly used up the entirety of the timber farm...
“We’ve got a problem.
Food supply is low, we probably have enough for another month, and the indoor farms are not producing enough food.”
We hunt for the foxes and winter creatures.”
Let's do that, but we are talking about almost 25,000 people in New Freeka, are there sufficient meat to feed that many”
“Maybe not, but better to have meat than not.”
“Some of our watchtowers spotted a large group of yaks, that spawned… that would be ideal for us, their furs can serve as warm clothing for the men.”
Yvon pauses, nods.
Take a 50 men and go hunt.”
The warrior nods.
“Still, we need other food sources, meat is good, and we still have storage… perhaps the truce is suspended”
The hell with the truce, Lady Yvon.
Salah won’t be able to retaliate in such circumstances.”
“Salah may well figure out how to dispel this magic.” Another of Yvon’s advisors chime in.
“Though, depending on how we word it, we can perhaps get some leeway…”
Yvon ponders that for a while, “Can you arrange someone to visit them to convey our intentions to suspend the truce requirements, given this… disaster”
“Back to topic.
Food and warm shelter.
We had 68 of us die of cold last month.
We need to get a solution, or something to stave this cold off until summer, hopefully we have some plants growing then.”
The discussion is held in one of the large halls in New Freeka, all the leaders are invited.
It comprises mostly of Yvon’s comrades back when they were with Salah, but they have also gradually brought in the refugees to join the leadership team.
After all, with 25,000, voices of rebellion and dissent will rise quickly, especially when it is cold and, people are hungry.
“Can we buy them”
“The merchants do sell food, but their prices are… extortionary.
They know we need it.”
“Still, if we have to…”
“Then we will.
But let that day come only when we have exhausted other means… our coin is our hard earned money.”
“We should set up our own merchant corps, get out there and buy food from the unaffected nations.”
Yvon nods, “That is a good idea, though the merchant guilds won’t like it that we bypass them, but they’ll come around.
Anyone willing to volunteer to lead this task”
A few men and women raise their hands, and Yvon nods.
This level of eavesdropping is partly facilitated by Trevor’s upgrade, which allows him to process the data coming from within the valley and New Freeka in greater detail.
“So, one group to hunt food, one group to buy food.
Anything else Magic”
“Would Baroosh be able to send help using that portal magic”
“Uh… that is worth exploring.” Yvon nods, and assigns Eriz to the task.
“Alternatively, is there no magic spell that create a warm barrier to keep out such cold”
“Hmmm… as far as I know, we don’t have wizards at the level of entire towns here.
We have been doing them at the building level… but the spells expire relatively quickly.” Indeed, there are mages, using their spells to create fire, or generally warm up certain places.
But spells like this last short periods, sustained by mana, and they do run out.
The warming effects of certain skills, such as [Comfortable house] or [Slow burning fire] that some of the refugees have, last abit longer, but that does not work on a large scale and cannot house everyone.
“Does… does the will of the forest have any way to aid us”
Ah yes, “Will of the Forest”.
It’s one of the ways the refugees have come to refer to me, after the recent assistance of the potatoes.
Apparently, those who visit the [Tree of Prayer] are those that would end up using this particular phrase.
They have been seeing my presence in their sleep, of a tree that somehow appears in their nightmares, and eats them.
Yvon did not respond.
“I mean, the Will of the Forest is the one that somehow manage to heal the princess, perhaps it has some way to aid us”
“As you all have known, and I said this that day… The Tree Spirit does not give its aid freely.
There is a cost to borrowing its aid, and is there anyone willing to sacrifice their souls for it”
“Ask the elves.
The will protects them, perhaps they can figure out a way to sway his views” One suggests, referring to Jura, Laufen and the elves.
“Or Miss Eriz Eriz was protected by it”
Eriz shakes her head then.
“The tree has punished me for bring all of you here, back then.
I doubt it would listen to me now.”
“If enough of us prayed to it, perhaps it might That is what the churches tell their believers to do in times of hardship.”
Ooooo… the religious kind.
To be honest, my ability to support the valley is also relatively limited.
First of all, there is just too many of them.
25,000 New Freekans, and even with my new [winter resistant crops], I can grow about 2,500 winter-resistant potatoes a day, and that is enough to make maybe 1,300 meals per day.
That still leaves a huge 23,700 guys without food.
I mean, I think I am already pretty awesome to produce 2,500 potatoes per day.
And add to that, fruits.
I have the warming fruits and the winter resistant healing fruits, which only my main tree can produce, and I can produce about 100 each for the two kinds of fruits.
That is maybe another 100.
If I had the entire valley’s trees, then yes, I can then tap on the normal trees to create food but now, the normal trees in the forest are consuming energy, not creating them.
This weather is horrible.
“Perhaps they can make use of the tunnels.” Trevor suggested.
“Maybe they can grow mushrooms in there.”
“If they have the right kind of mushrooms.
And don’t they need time”
Mushroom as fungi, they benefit less from your “bountiful growth” effect.”
Well, looks like the New Freekans are on their own.
Too bad for them.
Beetles near the volcano report they have collected sufficient sulphur to start the research into [volcanic adaptation], which, I do.
Thankfully research still functions under such cold.
Are there ways to research winter resistance”
“As your forest minds, we are able to perform research with the aid of [external biolabs].
Though, our research functions are relatively limited, and a dedicated research-focused artificial soul will be needed for high-tier research.”
“So if I assign you to do so, does it come at the expense of anything”
“Yes, if you assign us to perform research on any of the external biolabs, our ability to support the valley’s growth will be impaired by 10 to 20% per research topic.
As you have already selected [volcanic adaptation], I am already using 15% of my available energy.”
What other research options do you have
“Well… you’ll have to tell me.
There’s no list to choose from.”
Hey, that's not how I expect games to work.
There should be clear tech trees, not I think of something and the biolabs figure it out…
“Uh that's how it works in real life.
Inventors do that.” Meela chimes in.
“You want to volunteer Can I fuse you to a biolab” I actually know the answer already.
“Fine, why not you work on winter adaptation as well.”
My [ginseng tree] died from a pile of snow that somehow fell onto it and crushed it.
Beetle winter adaptation stage I - 2 months remain
Tree volcanic adaptation stage I - 3 months remain
Tree winter adaptation aura - 3 months remain
Year 76 Month 3 Week 4
I had a visitor.
An uninvited one.
“Hmm.” A strange man appeared in my inner courtyard one day, right in front of my original main tree.
How did this guy get here Right in front of me
“Strange.” He holds a strange stick in his hand, and it bends towards me in a certain way.
It looks like some kind of prospector’s stick, or a diviner’s item.
Perhaps similar to the compass that the Barooshians have.
He looks up, and I see he is alone, but he has a big cloak and hoody kind of set up, like an assassin.
Somehow, if I had skin, I would get goosebumps, something about his presence just… scares me.
I get a feeling that he is perhaps a Level 100 assassin or something of that nature.
I wake Jura, who’s asleep at the time, and he comes out, armed and ready.
The assassin dude glances at Jura, and shrugs.
I think I got lost.
Do you know where New Freeka is”
“No, you didn’t.” Jura says.
“No one stumbles into this inner courtyard from being ‘lost’.” This inner courtyard is actually specially guarded and protected, with the effect of my [illusion] and [camouflage] ability.
So, walking here from being lost is close to nil, so by way of elimination, that means he is deliberately here.
The inner courtyard has the [forge tree], the [root-brain complex] and the other large upgraded subsidiary trees, that is converted into housing.
He glances around, looking, his eyes trying to find something.
Perhaps someone other than Jura
The assassin dude smiles.
“Yes, you are right.
I happen to be looking for… heroes.
Do you know of any”
Jura laughs, and decide to joke to lighten up the mood.
They’re all dead.
You gotta wait till the gods summon them again.”
“Well, that's what the gods want the public to think.” The assassin looks at me, and the stick keeps bending in a strange way.
He keeps the stick into some kind of magic pouch and takes out a different kind of item, a metal divining ball.
“Eh” Jura exclaims, he is alert, but he too, can sense the tremendous pressure from the man before him.
The metal ball doesn’t react.
no heavenly blessing, so you certainly are not a hero…”
“Uh of course-”
The assassin turns, and suddenly Jura falls to the ground.
Alive, but it's as if his leg suddenly lost strength.
Two very tiny needles almost instantly pierced his legs, and it is laced with some kind of poison.
But before Jura could scream, or I could do anything, the assassin is right in front of him, and taps a strange golden metal rod into his head.
“Sorry, this won’t kill you, but it’ll make you forget all about me, and this entire thing.”
And Jura falls to the ground, unconscious, but I detect that he is still very much alive.
I calculate my chances, and speculate that my chances of killing this person is slim.
I feel this assassin probably could dodge my root strikes easily, so, even if I tried, I think it would take multiple shots for it to work.
I would need an AoE ability to get him, or some way of slowing him down, if I want to hit him on my very first strike.
The assassin then looks and walks around my main tree.
“Hmmm… The otherworlder locator points here though… meh.
Too many false positives with all the things the heroes leave behind.”
I continue watching, I suppose he might try something on Jura, but, my instincts tell me to wait.
Jura’s unconscious body shakes a bit, and the assassin walks over.
“Ah yes, it’s still freezing cold.” He covers Jura in a thick blanket that he pulls out from his pouch.
He looks around.
Then he gives a big sigh.
“Guess he did not come here then.
He lifts his fist against the sky and shakes it.
And the assassin vanishes.
Just like that.
Without a trace, and despite me and my roots covering this entire valley, I did not pick up his presence since then.
I still wonder how he just slipped in and out of the entire valley like that.
“Apologises master, I have no idea how he slipped past all our detection and patrols.” Trevor apologise, but I can’t blame him.
He could walk in a straight line at me and I still won’t see him coming.
That's just how absurdly powerful his ability is.
“A skill, obviously.
Very, very high leveled stealth and camouflage.
But add that to our list of weaknesses.” I somehow suspect my own [camouflage] and [illusions] also worked on him, so he didn’t suspect much.
“He feels like a friend, though.” Meela speaks.
Year 76 Month 4
“All good over here.” Dimitree reports explaining the status of trees in the Southwest Forest.
The cold is less severe there this month, benefiting from a strong warm current.
New Freeka managed to buy some food from neutral nations, so they staved off a bit of the hunger situation.
And as the seasons change, a bit of the cold and snow from the bloodspell is counteracted by the natural warmth of the spring.
Still snowing, so the crops are still not growing.
I also, learned that actually I overestimated the refugees dietary requirements, as they actually have skills which make them better able to withstand cold and hunger.
Some of them have skills like [Minimal Diet] or [High efficiency body] or [Endure hunger] which allowed them to make the most of what little food they have.
Their experience being on the move, frequently with little food as well, given the survivors these skills which made them tougher.
Some of the most impressive of such abilities, possessed by a refugee, [Ascetic diet], survives on one meal per week without looking worse than a normal person.
In fact, if the refugees possess such abilities, my potatoes actually would be able to feed a lot more than I initially calculated.
Perhaps by a multiple of 5 times.
“Its hard out there…” Belle sits, all snuggly in her bed.
“TreeTree, is there not much we can do to help them”
“Well, there is, but let them figure it out themselves.”
“I think some of the refugees are jealous.” Emile explains.
“They wonder how we can still be so comfortable here and not extend a hand to them.
They think we are being selfish…”
“Wahlen told me they have been getting weird stares, and some of the men actually cursed them openly…”
“Huh.” Well, I’ll let it slide, but if any of them make a move, I will not hesitate to punish them.
I mentally make a note to Trevor to put increased surveillance on Brislach and Wahlen, who now live in New Freeka.
“It is the way of the world.” Laufen sits with Lausanne, working on some cotton clothes.
“Our luck, that TreeTree watches over us.”
“Well, some of them were driven out of their homes too, so they feel that they have suffered much.” Belle responds, she’s really cozy with a thick blanket wrapped around her.
Its actually warm in the room, as the main hideout and the nearby subsidiary trees have temperature controlled spaces.
Lausanne then pouts.
“Treetree, maybe you should help them.
Give them potatoes I think they will like potatoes.”
I don’t want to assist them so easily.
Aid breeds complacency…”
“But they are in need.
Heroes help people, no”
Hmmm… Well, how do I tell Lausanne that I honestly do not care about the New Freekans all that much.
Sure, they are useful, but… thats about it.
“How is your practice coming, Lausanne” I try to change the topic, after all she has been receiving [dream tutor] from me for quite some time.
“Oh it's okay.
I have been learning a lot, and those dreams where I learn strange skills is really really cool.”
“Why can’t we get those dreams…” Emile and Belle complain.
“Because Lausanne’s young mind is surprisingly receptive to it.”
“We are not old!”
“Uh… I mean her mind is still growing, so the skill-dreams seem to work better.”
Then Lausanne nods, and she runs around for a while.
“TreeTree… are you going to help the refugees” Ah dammit.
I thought children easily forget the topic Why does she recall it so well.
“Uhmmm, Lausanne, I cannot use my powers so easily, and there is always a cost for any other ability that I use.
If the refugees ask for help, then, depends on what they offer, then I will consider it.”
Lausanne pauses, and somehow she nods.
She seems to accept that power is not something used so freely.
“Maybe you are right.
Uncle Jura likes to say that power needs to wait for the right time.”
Heh, that is surprisingly insightful from Jura.
Perhaps that new [diplomat] job has given him new mental perspectives.
“They must first, help themselves.”
A few days later,
“Tree spirit.” Meela speaks to me, her voice is serious.
The Wisp is next to her, and we are in the soul realm.
“I have a strange dream, or… well, maybe its not really a dream.
But like some kind of mental whisper.
But I think it means something.
Important What could be important.
Oh well, let's go with it.
“So tell me.”
“I… I saw Alexis.”
What about her”
“She’s not dead.”
That is good I suppose.
“She… somehow my prayers to the heroes reached her.”
Hmm, then again, that doesn’t sound good.
“Her body is currently consumed by demonfire, after she used [Fireform] to avoid the destruction of the demon king’s core… She is battling it every moment now.
It seems the demonfire, when there is sufficient amounts of it, it gains some kind of consciousness..
or some kind of innate instincts ”
“Oh okay.” Doesn’t sound good, but so She’s really far away right.
erm… I think the demonfire that consumes her body thinks that a hero is still around, and so… It thinks the source of the prayer is… a hero.”
I mean, I kind of figured that is what Meela meant.
It is just, just so typical of communications to lead to such actions.
“She’s headed this way.”
I mean, how does a demon know where to go, but I guess there are ways for that to happen.
“When will she get here”
“I don’t know.”
“What else did she say”
“Not much… She mumbled about how she is a fire elemental, since her she’s stuck in her fire-body form and that firebody is controlled by the will of the demonfire”
Hmm, lets see what measures can I take against a fire-crazy demon.