A group of 5 mages came, selling some kind of service.
For payment, they would help create spell formations around and on city walls, for use against monsters, and demons.
They were all quite high leveled, around level 50-60, and they quickly met the Freshkan leaders.
In their mind, every new town or city must have protective enchantments.
They all are well dressed, and clearly made good money making these enchantments for many towns, but they came to the wrong place.
The new ruling body told them they are not interested, and they soon left to the rest of the smaller towns to ply their wares.
I was actually quite interested in defensive spell formations, and so when one of the new smaller villages actually coughed up a bit of money for a spell formation, my trees watched it intently.
Simply put, I was trying to learn their defensive spell formations by observation.
Clearly, if I could augment my defensive formations with magical spells, that’ll make me even more tanky.
Though, from what I could see using my [spirit vision], the defensive spell formation is essentially a 5 part process.
The first part is the power source, in the case of the small village, this is a set of mana stones they embed in the village head’s home.
The second, is a set of runes or spells meant to extract power from that mana stone, and also an activation keystone.
The third, is the actual defensive spell, written into a formation of runes or stored in crystals matrices.
Unlike the ones used by Harris, these crystals have the spell written into the crystal itself via physical carving of runes into the crystal, so that the spell memorised doesn’t get forgotten.
The fourth, is the projection and casing of the crystals, such that they don’t get accidentally knocked out, or trigger unnecessarily.
So, there’s a smaller set of items, usually metallic or wood, with some more runes, to protect the crystals from other triggers.
There is also an item, in the case of the village, a wooden holder that points the crystal outwards, so that it projects the spell in the right direction.
The fifth is a coherence and synchronisation process, such that all the crystal matrices trigger at the same time, and respond to the same activation key.
Of course, the mages were more than happy to explain the mumbo jumbo to the clueless villagers, because they knew the villagers probably wouldn’t remember it anyway, nor would they be able to reproduce it.
One of the mages is more than happy to show off how smart he is as he explained the process of creating defensive formations to a bunch of young ladies.
Maybe he would get laid that night, but I didn’t care.
Essentially, if I were to think about it for me, it’s entirely possible for me to use a magical leyline, or the volcano, or even myself, as the centerpiece of a magical defense formation.
Or, use a vast field of [tuberous storage], which stores mana, as a massive battery array.
Then, using the mana from the tuberous storage, to power a huge set of magical runes, which super-charges a my various [shield generators], to create far stronger wooden shields.
Or if I could create star mana storage arrays, that would greatly work too, but from what I overheard, the ‘extraction’ method from the storage would need to be compatible with the spell.
Runes are sensitive things, and need to be written to the right size, and with the right types of mana.
I should learn runic enchantments, no A magical tree with runes! What could go wrong
Later, I spoke of this idea to Yvon and Jura.
Strangely, Yvon was quite supportive.
Then it hit me.
“It’s a good idea, but I don’t recall runes working on living beings.
Runic carvings and symbols are usually on inanimate objects.”
We did some research, Jura spoke to some surviving mages, and it seemed that runes needed to be fixed, in the sense that the shape, material and all need to be fixed.
So, because living things grow and move, the runes on living skin or bark will change shape.
In short, runes are like a language that somehow mana can understand, and interact with, but it has to be fixed.
This concept was quite easy to understand.
I imagine it as an integrated chipboard, where the shape and layout helped to produce a certain result.
There’s an energy source, and that energy source passes through a set of logic gates, and then out comes a result, as designed.
These runes are quite similar to wifi or wireless emitters, and their specific shape, design and material allows it to absorb or release these mana-waves.
A specific runic shape therefore triggers an interaction with mana, which causes it to do certain things.
So, now that the communication channels have returned, I insisted that we gather all the known runes from the world.
If I could understand and use runes to make myself even stronger, I must do so.
“Aren’t you concerned that your mana may interfere with the runes” Yvon asked.
“True, but mana can be manipulated, and certainly I can shape it in such a way, so as to not interfere with each other.” Taking the logic circuit concept a step further, surely there must be a way to isolate each runes’ inputs and outputs such that they do not clash with each other.
Jura and the Freshkan council soon put out a request for rune-related books.
A young mage was nominated to read the book to me, in Lausanne’s place.
Eriz levelled up quite quickly, and she’s now level 20, and she now had the ability to create a split-body of herself, which I placed in the largest new town outside Freshka.
Her service as a full-time babysitter is invaluable for parents who want to work the farm and all that.
That’s the angle we worked with, though she did have to hire some of the older folks to work with her in her [Nursery Subsidiary Tree].
Unlike me, her limit is very low, and right now at level 20 she can only create one subsidiary.
In a way it makes sense, since I did get my subsidiary tree level at maybe around level 80, so mine can make more parts.
Now I can make tens of thousands! If she could make that many nursery trees she could definitely flood the market and put nannies out of business.
Still, children are few, but at least people are giving birth to kids.
Laufen, now that her daughter is not around, has more time to dedicate herself to the charity arm of the new Valtrian Order.
Again, to help support and provide social services, which are so formally lacking in this world.
“You never give up on that idea of orphan children as weapons of war, do you” Yvon rebuked me one day as I discussed the idea with Laufen.
“That’s why you’re always out gathering young children, again.”
“They have little attachments, and nothing to lose.
They have everything to prove to the world, and they need protection.
Training them to fight is only natural, and giving that path of serving as potential fighters is a benefit.”
“I still think that isn’t the best way forward.
Fighters and mages are best when they have motivation and drive from deep within them.
Some of these kids will get that, but most of them won’t.
Don’t force them to fight if they don’t really want to.” Yvon disagreed.
“I can tell from how they swing their weapons that they’re here because its’ the way to get fed.”
“Then what system do you propose, to replace this Unless parents are willing to subject their children to extensive training, the odds of creating the Lausanne-class warrior battlegroup is next to none.”
“A recruitment event.
Promise them things.
Find those with a passion for what you do.
In this world, it is often better to have one Level 90 man than one hundred level 50s.
Everyone loves heroes, and aspire to be like them.”
“So you want me to sell a dream, instead of training all these children who can’t fend for themselves”
“Just give them basic training, but whether they want to move on to the next level, that depends on their passion, talent, and whether they really want it or not! They’re children, I wouldn’t force Roma to learn what he doesn’t want to learn.
What you are doing, even if these young impressionable children seem eager and willing, is forcing something on them, but they don’t really know what they want.”
“Wouldn’t that postpone their growth”
“Why do you think so, Aeon Levelling is not limited by age.
A teenager that goes through hardship in his teens can gain as many levels as a young child under 10.
Starting late is in no way a bigger impediment.
A big part of levelling is about our own understanding and comprehension, and is in no way slowed by starting late.”
“Wouldn’t a person who learned how to swordfight younger than an older man who just started be more skilled”
“Yes, but the older man’s intellect and wisdom would have grown, and if he was the same level, he would catch up in time.
Life experience contributes to level growth, not just starting from young.”
That makes no sense.
Lausanne clearly gained and reached levels far faster
That was when Jura and one of the migrant scholars came into the training room.
“Lady Yvon’s explanation of the late-bloomer levelling effect is fascinating, but it’s still unclear which idea is right.”
“Oh, pardon me, Aeon.
The idea of whether to start levelling young or levelling older is something that’s quite contentious, though most still prefer to start levelling from a younger age.
In Lady Yvon’s defense, her argument can be modified that it is better for a young child to level in a wider variety of levels, or in generic levels, and only specialise in a later age.”
“True.” Yvon nodded.
“That’s a good point, it’s really about specialisation, not whether a child should learn and level.
But back to our earlier conversation, Aeon.
What I’m trying to say is that a child may not know where his passions lie.
I agree with training from young, but they should be exposed to a wider set of skills, and let them see where their heart takes them.
Passion for a cause and a set of skills is important, and people are more likely to find it in their later ages, as their life experiences tell them where they fit best.
Passion contributes to levelling speed, not just age.”
“I’m confused, but I take it that I will continue to train children, but only at a base level for a wider skillset, and then let them choose their own focus or specialisation.”
I’m not actually attempting to reinvent the wheel here, this is just a rehash of our common primary school education system, where the kids go shallow on a broad number of subjects and then go deep when they find something they like
Only, well, the curricular is more combat and survival focused, like, combat training, basic magic assessment, farming, basic businesses.
But Yvon, now a [Training Tree], quickly renamed herself, with a big signboard outside her tree.
“Quite full of yourself to name it after...
yourself.” I teased her.
But at the same time, I’m pretty sure my poor naming sense infected her.
Or is it just a Tree thing that trees aren’t good with names
I’m now a tree that focuses on training.
The big training schools in the world all have big, well known names, so I should have a name too.” Naming aside, her job is to produce the future Lausanne-class warriors, and part of this is to recruit from the growing countryside.
Because of that earlier discussion over late and young-bloomers, she decided to accept disciples from all ages, though the training is age-segregated for now.
Jura, deciding that he didn’t want to do much politicking, converted his role to an advisory, Chairperson role in the Freshkan council, and he introduced a centaur migrant to me later that day.
“You stand before Aeon, our true guardian of the valley and the refresher of the Rottedlands.
Introduce yourself, Kavio.”
That’s the next name if Freshka falls again.
“Wow.” The centaur Kavio had never entered the sunken valley before, referred to now, as the Valley of the Unrotten.
“So there really is a giant tree that survived the valley.”
“Why do people even think we invented that story...
in spite of all the evidence despite it.”
“I mean, well, rumors.” Kavio nodded.
“They tend to be massive, and because rumors are so common, the truth, if strange, becomes difficult to believe.’
“Anyway, introduce yourself.” Jura pointed to me.
“I’m supposed to shout”
I can hear you just fine.” I spoke.
He instantly stumbled, and for a centaur with 4 legs, well, he wasn’t expecting it.
I’m Kavio, the newly elected leader of the Freshkan council.
I migrated here last year and I was told that the council is in need of new people to help.
I’ve been told that all incoming leaders of the council should meet you...
I just wasn’t expecting it to be so..
Jura smacked his head.
I know he tried, and anyone with a half-decent intelligence network knows I exist.
But still, there’s a lot of ignorant people in the world.
I mean, in a world of demons, you don’t believe a giant tree exists
“The intent of such a meeting is simple.” I said.
“The valley exists because I do.
My powers hold the demonic sludge at bay.
It’s important that any leader who enters the Freshkan council is made fully aware of that my will is law, here.”
I think he did say I needed to be more...
aggressive in what I say.
Being too tree-like and passive meant everyone’s going to try and get their way.
“The Freshkan Council’s ability to govern is a delegation of authority.
Is that clear, Council Leader Kavio”
Your audience was well noted.
You may leave.
There are more lands I must reclaim.”
Jura nodded, and they both left.
But I listened to their conversation as they walked out of the Sunken Valley’s tunnel.
“I’m not really a leader, isn’t it” Kavio asked Jura.
“Well, there’s a reason why no one wanted the job and you got it.
Your new job requires you to regularly meet Aeon and advise him on what is happening.
Key diplomatic and military decisions must be approved by Aeon personally.”
Kavio smacked himself.
“No wonder none of the original survivors put themselves up for election...”
Jura had the unfortunate task of being my spokesperson, and it’s something few others actually want to do.
“So, do you still want the job”
He paused, and sighed.
Aeon’s not that bad once you get to know him.”
“Really ...I need to get myself some [fear] charms.”
Meanwhile, the expansion of the lands continued.
With my improving control of mana and the increasing effectiveness of [Natural mana overwhelming], we’ve reclaimed more land.
I estimate by now, I’ve reclaimed about 5% of the entire Rottedlands, and that makes my domain far larger than Harris’s country which is 4% of the Rottedlands.
Of that land, some 200,000 migrants in total have begun resettling in the 10 segments, and slowly they are forming up into new towns.
There’s still no city proper yet, but I observed the presence of new guilds, new adventurers.
The new villages and towns are given a choice, that if they contribute a certain number of bodies to the Valtrian Order, which I will train into a proper military force, warbeetles will be stationed near the villages and protect them from monster attacks.
But, if the citizens were to stray, on their own volition, into the Protected Forests, the monsters there will not hesitate to attack them.
And there are no beetles to stop them.
The protected forests are essentially my ‘national parks’, and the beetles only serve to mark the barrier.
What happens inside, is at their own risk.
If they lose anyone, or if anyone is lost in the protected forests, they have to mount their own search party.
For those villages who did not contribute headcount to the Valtrian Order Militia, a levy is instead imposed, a tax on all income or produce, in exchange for protection.
For newly setup villages that are still trying to get their industry growing, I gave them a one-year to two-year tax-free incentive period.
Also, as I expanded, I eventually managed to breach past the southern part of the Rottedlands, and I found that my subsidiary trees that are outside the Rottedlands are all in hibernation mode.
They’re all sleeping, resembling ordinary trees.
Once I reconnected them, I felt the entirety of my southern network return to life.
Including my Titan Walker that’s still covered in vines and leaves.
< Lilies, are you there > I asked, using it’s way of communication.
We are glad to see you live.
But before that, you have a shard from the hero A fragment of the old tree > I referred to the item that Gerrard gave.
He said one fragment was with Lilies, and in my mind, I imagined myself that it’ll be difficult to get it, and wondered what I could give to entice her.
A memento of the tree that was, a time when we were few and tiny.
< Can I have it I just need to borrow it for a while.
Is Lilies going to reject me
Where should we send it to A memento’s value is a memory shared.
Let us share them.
< Send them to my main body Do you know where >
At that moment, I felt a root make contact with one of my subsidiary trees.
In an instant, right in front of my main body, a small flower bulb emerged, and it gradually unfolded itself, revealing a wooden fragment.
What kind of magic is that Wait.
It’s like that teleporting ability that I have with my star mana! Lilies can do it too!
< Thank you.
It didn’t reply.
But my focus turned back on the fragment.
Such a small fragment, but I knew it’s history there.
So old, old.
I greedily took it and started analysing it.
There’s now two pieces.
Then, I saw the vision again.
It’s the same.
Dragons soared, and they fought...
demons They fought, and then a large demon appeared.
It was massive, it resembled a demon king.
The dragons fought the demons.
Then the vision shifts.
Giants of other kinds.
Krakens They fought the demons-
And that’s it.
I felt that greedy feeling again.
I want more.
I need that third piece.
The two pieces floated in my biolab.
[You have gained a level.
You are now level 155.]
[Skill : Psychedelic Dreams and Therapeutic Dreams upgraded.]
[Skill : Hibernation significantly upgraded.]
[Skill : Dream Tutor upgraded]
Me going on a vision trip upgraded my dreaming and sleeping ability And wait, is that 4 skill upgrades with one level How does that work