Year 83 Month 4
I am so glad they are gone.
The heroes headed south, and I think they passed by some other cities.
I think they will probably reach the demon walker in the next month, or maybe the month after, depending on which route they take.
I felt like I was on edge whenever they are doing something in the city.
Or maybe it’s that subtle ‘presence’ they have, the ‘heroes’ aura or whatever.
I got a sense that it’s a subtle aura the gods gave them albeit bundled up in the [blessing] that they have.
So, with them gone, I focused my attention back on New Freeka and those under my care.
“TreeTree, do you have any special powers you can give me” Lausanne sat.
She’s done with another round of practice with the rest of the Valthorns.
Still, even though the heroes left, the heroes left a mark on her mind.
She’s too young the last time the heroes came, but this time, she’s old enough to even spar with them.
“You already have some, no” Well, the [possession of the devoted] is a special skill, no It gives her that weird whip like ability, and she’s already got exceptional resonance to my own abilities.
Hmm, but what would I have to do Let’s say if the heroes survive and they start having political ideas, like Alexis, what would I do Clearly not everyone will agree with them, and the divine moratorium on their death is lifted.
A super-condensed version of [dream tutor] and a whole bunch of level and skill seeds What else Physical enhancements Soul modification
I could probably do some physical enhancements, and give her a super strong does of [dream tutor], but skill seeds...
does she want some special class [Dark Knight], perhaps Would that be enough to even stand up to a hero
“Lausanne, what’s your class at this point”
“Main class, [Elven Swordfighter], secondary class, [Villager].
I’m Level 31 at my main class, Level 8 villager.
Total level 47.”
I thought you broke level 50” This ‘segregated’ and ‘accumulated’ class level system that humanoids have still feel a bit like a cheat, but on the flipside, ‘creatures’ like myself have way higher base stats and gain more of such stats per level than humanoids.
“Not yet.” Lausanne sulked.
“Is that why I lost” But before I could answer, she answered herself.
They improved so fast.
Higher levels doesn’t change that.
It would be a matter of time, unless I could improve just as fast as them.”
Hmm, I would need to have some kind of ‘anti-hero’ countermeasures.
do you have any kind of fruit that can make me smarter So that I can level up faster Or just as fast as the heroes”
How would I do that, Lausanne Maybe not make you smarter...
but the process of gaining levels is essentially these ‘experience’ are absorbed via the soul.
Experience is in the ‘outer soul’, and the blessings act as a modifier on the...
The soulspring is the ‘gatekeeper’ of levels.
It would make sense, therefore, that any ‘experience’ multipliers, such as the [divine blessings], to exist as a layer outside the soul.
So, if I were to make a super-leveling follower, I would have to somehow influence the soulspring.
“Might be possible, Lausanne, but not something I can do now.” If I can create the effects of [training room], [dream tutor], [powerlevelling], [learning aura] or even my very own [hero fragments], as a part of Lausanne’s soul spring, then she could level up faster.
But would the soul spring affect natural ability It seems quite pre-deterministic if that’s the case, that the fate of these young infants has been decided at the start of their lives I feel that must not be true, because there are tales in this world of young men and women of modest upbringings and station rising into greatness.
One would then argue that perhaps these young men already had the seed in them.
Those who never had the seed would never do something like it.
“You may have to wait.”
“They would get so much better than me already!” Lausanne sulked, but she sighed.
“But then again, they are blessed by the gods to be heroes.
I’m just an ordinary girl.”
“Still on that subject” Jura walked in.
He smiled at some of the young Valthorns and motioned for them to spar with him.
He’s careful with his new hand, even though its been months.
He is gradually testing it out more, though.
Like, using skills to parry with his repaired hand, and test the strength of the bones, joints.
“Yea, Uncle Jura.
I’m asking TreeTree whether he can help me cheat the level system, like the heroes.”
would I be able to modify the familiar to create this effect, if I am unable to alter the soul directly Perhaps this is a ‘stopgap’ measure
[Learned Familiar type : Studious Spirits]
[Studious Spirits loses almost all familiar abilities except Wood Shield.
In exchange, the host’s experience gain is doubled.
Skills and levels gained since acquiring Studious Spirit are more likely to be transferred to the grantor on death of host]
Okay! That works too.
But clearly Lausanne won’t benefit from this, since she already has one familiar spirit contract, and strangely, although one can get multiple familiars, each from a different ‘givers’, you can’t get multiple from the same ‘giver’.
I wonder why.
Could Meela give a familiar as she’s a ‘tree’ like me Even if she is a hospitality-focused one.
My thoughts strayed abit, then Jura, Lausanne started to spar again.
Yvon’s playing the role of a ‘teacher’ for some more ‘Valthorns’, but my 20 [Minder-Familiar] slots are full.
It’s a half-yearly thing where I select new ‘students’ to receive the ‘Minders’, but now that I have this ‘leveling familiar’, I wonder how I should organise the Valthorns
Should the Minders be a lower tier
Lausanne ducked and went close to all out, stopping short of using her special familiar.
Jura outclassed her, of course.
Even Yvon outclassed Lausanne, though the gap between them is a lot smaller.
But the Studious Spirits clearly has no limitation.
Is it because I allocate a portion of my ‘mind’ to oversee the [Minder-Familiars], so the 20 minders are essentially a limitation of my ability to simultaneously track my young Valthorns
In such case, wouldn’t the Minders be inferior
Curious, I had the Valthorns spar with one of the Captains who possessed a regular familiar, and fight entirely using the familiar’s abilities.
I wanted to hear from them, on what they thought.
“Isn’t it about the same” The Valthorns and Captain asked.
Turns out they have no ‘insight’ that the Minder-Familiars are ‘different’.
They fought, and the abilities are similar, and the regular familiar is no weaker than the minder-familiar, though the minder-familiar is more in-tune with the host, so it’s response time isn’t that different.
Fair, I suppose if the Minder’s task is to observe, doesn’t make sense for those being watched to know they are being watched.
Alright then, at least I can easily swap them for a ‘regular’ familiar, since they don’t know any better.
“Are you planning to give us better familiars Like Lady Lausanne’s” The Valthorns sound quite excited.
I have ‘druidic aspects’, and Jura has Bamboo, the Artificial Soul-Eidolon.
And now this [Studious Spirit].
Only the Artificial Soul and the [Possession Of the Devoted] is a clear upgrade.
The rest are just a question of what’s being traded off.
“I have a familiar type that increases your levelling, but you lose almost all familiar abilities.”
“OH I wouldn’t want that!” One of the Valthorns shook her head vigorously.
“I like eating fruits from the familiar.
I’ll never go hungry ever again!” Ah, this young girl was one of those who suffered through a period of starvation during the refugee-runs, so the concept of having a magical companion who made food is like...
“If you have a familiar type that focuses on producing food and water, we’d have to worry a lot less about supply chains.” Jura casually just remarked.
“Just one-or-two guys focused on making food, and we’ll be able to send a small squad anywhere around the region quickly.”
“What if they die or get targeted”
“It’s an alternative, and it is a compromise for speed and range.
Hauling food using conventional [holding bags] is possible too, but more ‘expensive’.
Doesn’t help that [holding bags] food feels kind of stale, even if its mostly preserved.”
Jura and Lausanne spar again.
Lausanne’s using a stick this time.
She said she had to try something different.
I think she even asked Madeus to give her magic lessons.
Though I can give her a [mage] class seeds if she ever needs it, I wonder if multi-classing too much is a good idea.
I recall some game designs intentionally ‘hinders’ or ‘scales’ multiclassing such that they become ‘jack-of-all-trades’, and the gains of multi-classing are often less than the benefits of a focused class.
“I didn’t feel any drawbacks from multi-classing I think.” Alexis wondered.
“But then, I don’t do Player, not I mean, People-versus-People, so I really don’t know how I stack up against another person at the same level, but with a more focused class.
Demon-hunting heroes are essentially a People-versus-Environment setup.” Alexis intentionally avoided the word player.
Before my diplomat and fighter class merged into warlord, I do feel weaker.
A consolidated class is easily better, with benefits from both.”
“If the multi-classing is within the same category of classes, it’s usually not a problem.
Mages are known to take multiple related magic types, with little to no drawback versus a focused mage.
In fact,as our magic levels are ‘gated’, where we need to perform certain feats to progress, taking multiple classes is how we make progress.” Ah yes, Madeus and magic’s weird requirement for ‘feats’ or ‘accomplishments’ to pass a certain level barrier.
“I don’t have that.” Alexis retorted to me.
“I was an [archmage] and a [pyromancer], which later merged into [arch-firemage].
I still kept a few other classes!”
I sort of mentally rolled my eyes.
I don’t have actual eyes to roll, of course.
Even my [tree-eyes] can’t physically ‘roll’.
I mean, we all know heroes work differently.
It’s quite clear by now.
"Which class should I take, TreeTree" Lausanne asked.
She wanted to add more learning into her time, so she wants the [dream tutor] to be something new.
Yet, she is unsure of what other class she should take.
As it is, she's a combat, melee focused unit.
Should she get some range, or maybe she should head for the spell-sword kind of route Enchanted blades & Magical Sword Attacks
Year 83 Month 5
"I hope they remember what I told them." Meela sat and enjoyed a cup of wine.
Alexis sat next to her.
I think they both are quite high leveled by now, Meela’s in the level 60s or so, and she’s waiting to get some kind of [branch-hotel] ability.
In here, Alexis can somehow take up a form that can enjoy a wine.
"Well, you did what you could." Alexis sighed.
"If only some of us survived to fight with them."
"Heroes don't get summoned until all the previous ones die."
"Is that really a rule, or just a heavenly preference" Alexis sipped on the wine.
For Meela, wine tastes kind of funny, because she’s also a tree like me.
Drinking wine doesn’t give her the same effects.
So, her preferred drink is strangely, a grape-flavoured cordial made of condensed nutrient-stuff.
Meela shrugged at the question.
“Well, if they are careful, they’ll be able to hide from the demon king for a while...”
One of the key lessons Alexis wanted Meela to share, was that the demon king can sense their presence, and the stronger they get, the easier it is for the demon king to find them.
It’s like a fire in the darkness.
A stronger fire burns brighter.
And easier to see.
“Think they’ll come back”
“Honestly” Meela paused, and sipped on her nutrient cordial.
“They will.” Alexis sighed.
“I see us in them.
We were just as desperate and lost as they were, the burdens on them so heavy that they will look for anyone, anything to help them, and if they could find a safe harbor like TreeTree, they will.”
“That’s why I didn’t tell them anything about TreeTree.” Meela stopped.
“You know TreeTree won’t agree to help them.”
“They’re stuck in between a rock and a hard place.
And TreeTree’s just concerned with this...
But then, I like only paying attention to my things, and things related to my things.
The Demon King, is one of my top 3 threats.
Other kingdoms, Other Monsters, and Demons.
All of them are threats, because they threaten the existence of this valley, and they are often destructive to me, the trees, and the valley around me.
“You know he’s listening, right” Meela shrugged, and she sipped on her cordial again.
“But then again, he’s not exactly bothered by what we say about him.
Look at the New Freekans.
So many of them say weird stuff about Aeon all the time.
“As someone who’s mostly tree, I think he’s still thinking whether he should do anything.” Meela finished the cordial and she walked over to the sink.
“I mean, I sort-of can understand his slow-response, now that I am a tree-hotel.
We get assaulted with so much ‘sensory’ information from all over our tree, and in his case, his network of trees, that we need a lot of time to just take it all in.”
“But he fights battles surprisingly well for someone that lives life on a different time scale.”
“It’s probably an emergency reaction.
It’s like how some of us can enter into ‘bullet-time’, and fight things differently.”
Alexis frowned, “Hmm, that implies that if TreeTree fights too long, he’ll need to ‘rest’ like the rest of us.”
“Why not A tree is still a living being, and energy fluctuates.
But what’s long to him, is probably extremely long to us.”
“Shouldn’t it be the other way round, that someone who lives on a ‘longer’ time scale should consume more energy to focus on a ‘short’ battle But then again, he does have a ‘mind’ now, maybe that helps.”
I wonder what they are on about.
“Mission accomplished, Supreme Leader.”
Stratreegy managed to capture a [demon rod]! But Supreme Leader makes me feel like some hermit kingdom’s dictator.
The ‘luring’ tactic worked, we located a force of demons headed for the [ThreeTrees of Mana], and after we have confirmed the existence of the demon rod, Stratreegy led the fight.
It was a fairly easy battle.
The demons were only 5,000 strong, and the South Forest has more than that in beetles alone.
Added to it, it’s a defensive battle, so we crushed them easily, and took a rod.
Another one week to convert it into [Forest Rod], and now I have a ‘tree-creating’ item.
Now, I need to think about where to use it.
With winter over, and the snake-dungeon now spitting out more demons, I gather the beetles from across my valley.
I probably won’t use the demon rod on the snake dungeon though, I don’t quite fancy having snakes, and I recall the residual mana in that location is quite weak.
So, I would rather save it for something that is more likely able to unlock the next [Soul Forge] color.
Time to crush the annoying nest of ‘demon-insects’ in my neighbourhood.
The battle was relatively brief.
Lausanne, Horns and Jura, accompanied by 8,000 beetles, led the charge into the snake-hole-turned-demon-base.
Unlike the dungeon, this demonic base didn’t block my [subsidiary trees], and as such, I could still use the beetles even within the dungeon.
It was one of my concerns, that the [demon rods] could possibly enhance the effects of the demon king’s magical interference.
But happy to see this is not the case.
Anyway, Lausanne spoke of two demon ‘generals’ defending the demon rod after the battle, she gained a level after Jura and Lausanne defeated them.
The rod itself apparently transformed into a large nest-like structure, which crumbled under the attack of giant beetles.
Year 83 Month 6
While no actual news arrived on our shores, I have a sense there’s been a lot of fighting.
My [soul realm] collected a whole load of souls, and they seemed to come from all directions.
Even my wandering [soul harvesters], seem to bring back souls from far away.
I’ve not heard of the heroes, nor do I care all that much, but I wonder whether this is linked to them.
And then refugees.
By the thousands, they came from north and south.
Trevor and Stratreegy detected them as they approached the outer ring of [subsidiary trees].
Curious, I had my assistants zoom in and try to pick out what’s the cause.
“There’s two walkers.” That was the gist of the chatter amongst the escaped refugees, many of whom soldiers themselves.
It seemed the walkers aren’t headed my way, so that’s a relief.
It seemed that two walkers had somehow managed to move into position together, the 2nd one being from the south.
It landed on some poor unsuspecting village and then started to wreck chaos.
The other one came from the north, headed south.
Are they planning to ‘meet’ with the third immovable demon-walker What’s the point of two walkers in the same place
Still, it’s amusing, and I would like to see a battle of walkers and heroes.
“Would you have problems with two walkers” I asked Alexis and Meela.
“When we were in our level 100s I can probably take on one single-handedly, but when I was level 90 and our heavenly forms needed channeling That’s a bit harder.
But then, it’s hard to say...
there’s so many things to consider.
For example, I think ‘piercing’ magic works better than ‘explosive’ ones with the walkers, so there may be an issue of compatibility.” Sometimes Alexis gets really long winded, and I’m quite certain it’s her [laboratory spirit] doing the talking.
I thought we handled the walker quite easily, but then again, I do have anti-demon boosts.
Apparently, not all the heroes’s conventional abilities include an anti-demon boost.
This meant a [paladin] hero with “anti-demon abilities” far stronger than a generic archmage with no specific “anti-demon ability”.
Except their [star mana], which star mana by nature are especially effective against demons.
“I recall all of you struggled against 3 champions and had to come to me.” 10 years ago is but a short while ago, though ancient to them.
“That doesn’t make sense.”
Meela looked awkwardly, and it was Alexis who responded.
“We were in our level 90s, and uh...
we were just coming to grasp with our [star mana] and [heavenly form]...
Unlike you, somehow the gods didn’t give all of us anti-demon blessings.
Only paladins, healers, and some of the sword-mages.
Regular mages like me get supersized mana pools, high tier spells, multi-elemental enchantments and that sort of stuff.
And supersized [star mana].”
“Why wouldn’t they” Again, another nonsensical idea.
If the heroes are created to fight demons, why wouldn’t the gods give them anti-demon blessings, such a thing does after all exist.
“How would I know Maybe they thought it wouldn’t be necessary since the [star mana] was so damned good at killing demons Besides, those anti-demon blessings don’t work against the demon king itself that much.”
“They don’t” I thought they did.
I survived a demon king thanks to them! Do the ‘fragments’ manifest differently from blessings I pull out my [Tree Heart]’s status again, just to reread the narration.
[The Tree’s Heart and Spirit-Lantern]
[this is the heart of the tree, adorned with the fragments of 67 heroes, it gives the tree 3350% increase in experience gain, 670% extra damage against midtier demons, 335% extra damage against elder demons, significant demon armor-negation, immunity to lesser demons, significant damage reduction against elder demons and immunity from all lesser forms of fire, and significantly reduced damage from higher form of fires.]
“Meela, Alexis, when your friend died.
Did you get a...
fragment Or a ‘blessing’”
All of us received a fragment.
It’s called [Baton of the Fallen].
It boosts our experience gain, blessings against lesser and mid-tier demons, some demonic resistance and other stuff like that.
I lost it though.
We lost it.”
Was it not effective Or do they not ‘know’ whether it’s effective or not because they’ve not seen it’s effects.
When they fought the demon king, that fragment has always been with them, and...
they probably have one fragment Maybe the effects were too miniscule for them to realise
Or is it because the demon king is perhaps...
an otherworldly ‘divine’ being, perhaps something of a...
demonic-half god Therefore [star mana] is the only ‘true’ counter for the demon king All these stat boosts negate only an ‘aspect’ of it’s power
“Why did you ask, and uh...
how did you know there’s a fragment” Alexis suddenly probed.
“That’s not something anyone knows, except for heroes.”
a hero told me once But I didn’t know what it did.”
Alexis paused, thought for a while, and I witnessed her eyes change, as if something dawned on her.
“TreeTree, how did you get those...
heroic fragments You know...
the ones in your [treeheart], the ones you showed us so many years ago.”
Did she figure it out
What should I say “I don’t know.
I just get them.”
“Who” Alexis asked, her voice seemed almost angry.
Meela seem puzzled.
“Alexis, what’s happening”
“It’s so painfully obvious now.
I cannot believe how I have been so blind.
You, TreeTree, have heroic fragments.
You clearly don’t like heroes.
Hero fragments are the shattered remains of a soul.
TreeTree, has a [soul forge].
Did you steal fragments from us through your [soul forge] You ‘cut’ into our souls and take it out of us, a bit of us, didn’t you Or a [familiar].”
“That time when Meela’s in your [biopod], you took a ‘fragment’ from her, did you And the same when I was here.
Or that [familiar] of yours! That’s a thing to steal hero [fragments], right That’s why you insisted on all of us taking a [familiar]!”
Meela rubbed her chin.
“I don’t think so though...
I don’t feel a thing.”
“Of course you don’t feel a thing! It probably happened after we died.”
“Timeline doesn’t line up.
TreeTree didn’t have a [soul forge] until later” Meela retorted.
“Then it must be the [familiars].” Alexis mused.
“The [familiars] are scavengers, like vultures that wait for us to die and then pick on our soul fragments!”
“That’s not true.”
“I don’t believe it! It all makes sense now!” Alexis shouted.
“That’s why you asked Meela to offer your familiars to the three new heroes!” Which all of them accepted.
“You’ve planned this all along!”
You’re a smart girl, think about it for a moment.It’s not as if you actually lost anything.
Your attachment to your body and whatever fragments stop there.
It’s like your corpse, after it’s buried in the ground, some worms come and eat your dead body.
It’s just nature, naturally consuming and assimilating the deceased! Do you curse the worms for eating the bodies buried in the ground I am a [soul tree].
My job is to recycle the souls and spirits of the world, and reality is, you, as a person who died, are part of that cycle.”
Did I just make it worse
“Ugh! Oh my god I cannot believe that I am soul-contracted with someone who’s been collecting our fragments! I want out.
I want to break this contra-” And Alexis screamed in pain, as the [soul contract] acted on her mind.
Meela sighed, Alexis’s screaming slowly faded into the background.
She seems calm, but she’s thinking, and she asked.
“TreeTree, did you steal or take fragments from us...
I can assure you I did not steal them via familiars or any other methods.” I want to keep my presence as also a re-incarnator a secret.
No one should know.
“I received them, only after your death, as part of my duties as a [soul tree].
But I did not ‘steal’ or ‘take’ them.”
Meela paused and sat on a chair.
The screaming stopped, as the [soul contract] put Alexis’s mind to ‘sleep’.
“I don’t believe you are malicious.
.” Meela sat.
“Alexis might be right, that the kind of magic you have, this...
[soul magic] isn’t something we can comprehend.”
I’ll talk to Alexis.” Meela sighed.
“I need to think about this.
I guess, I guess both of us has never really come to terms about how different you are as a soul tree...
Alexis, and myself...
there are concepts about this world that we still have not accepted.”
It’s probably like I died and somebody took over my online identity and sold it.
Sure, I didn’t ‘lose’ anything, but a part of me doesn’t feel right.
Like the ‘dead’ has been desecrated.”
There is reincarnation You have a new body, and if you always hold onto your previous bodies, then eventually you will need to care for so many ‘previous’ bodies.
There’s a time to move on.
give me some time.
I need to check on Alexis.” Alexis is in deep slumber.
She’ll probably wake up in a day or two.
Looks like I must revisit my assessment of Alexis and Meela.
Should I still keep them around Perhaps not.
How do I split without making them enemies They are former heroes, and they know a lot about me.
If they want to harm me, a stationary tree, there is a lot they can do.
Should I just...
I don’t think I can keep one and kill the other, and Alexis’s value to me is clearly not there anymore.
I mentally sighed.
I could probably banish Alexis as she is [soul contracted] to me, but Meela as an ‘independent’ soul, even if I destroy her present body, she can still manifest in this world as another entity, find another body.
If I were to kill both of them now, Meela would find another body, and I would just make her an enemy.
If I could just ‘wipe’ their minds, or send both of them into the reincarnation cycle on another world, that would be great.
There are no ‘clean’ divorces...