In the distance, a demon king
Year 70 Month 2
There is great unrest in the human cities, and the elves too.
They look up into the sky every night, and Casshern, the old lady explains that it is an ominous sign.
Six stars align in a hexagonal shape, is the mark of the warp.
The warp, signifies a weakening, a breach in the rift that separates us and the demon world. In other words, the demon king, is returning.
If I could sigh, I would, but all I could is sway my branches.
It probably looks like a shake.
“Worry not, the gods will look after us.” Casshern nods, sipping a hot cup of tea.
It’s still cold this time of the year, and I get a new menu.
It’s a temperature bar, and it reminds me of weather widgets on my android phone.
“How do you know for sure”
“They always have, tree spirit.
Legends have it that we have been invaded by demon kings since time immemorial, and every time our world triumphed.”
“...” As a financial advisor once said, past performance is not indicative of future returns, but I let Casshern continue.
Despite the warp, in the distance there is hope.”
I wonder how the stars look in this world.
Year 70 Month 3
Baby Lausanne tries to crawl around and over my roots, and I get nervous every time she looks like she is going to have a fall.
This feeling really reminds me of my babysitting days.
I wonder how my nephew is, maybe he has grandkids by now.
After all 70 years has passed.
On a more serious note, the men fought a few lesser demons while hunting, and the presence of demons so near their home worries them, so they made some changes to their hunting practices.
“The summit of the elves will not be long from now.”
“Summit of the elves”
“When the demon king is about to descend, the elven nations summon warriors from all over to take up arms, and defend the elvish lands from the demon.”
“We are not in the elven nation, are we” I vaguely remember not being in the elven nation, but since being relocated to Freeka, I have no idea whether that statement is still valid.
“We are not, tree spirit.
But some of the men still feel a desire to answer the calling, to test whether they can be the shield of the elves.”
But while we are happy with our sons and daughters who answer the call, the village has to figure out its defenses without their best fighters.”
That is indeed a problem.
When demons roam about, villages are without their best defense.”
“Yes, yes.” She sips her tea, and her wrinkly arms touch my protuding roots.
I can vaguely feel her touch, but my sense of touch is hardly accurate.
“How old are you, Casshern” I suddenly realised I do not know her age, but then again, age is just a number.
In fact, I ask that question, then realise how disconnected that question is with the previous topic.
I am old, tree spirit, I do not remember the exact year anymore.
But elves live up to 500 years.
Humans, if they have magic in them, can live similarly long.
“So magic extends one's lives.” Our conversations tend to drift, I would ask about things that I spot along the way, and Casshern generally lets me go off tangent.
Perhaps she just thinks it is how spirits think and talk.
Or maybe my mind is jumbled up by being a tree.
It is a blessing, and a curse.
Live long enough to see so many demon kings come and go, and they are as natural to this world as a typhoon, or a massive earthquake.
Long enough, to see tree spirits die."
“Have you ever met other… tree spirits”
Casshern looks up to the night sky again, looking at stars I cannot see.
But when demon king Astaroth descends on my town then, the tree spirit died.”
“Tree spirits play an important role in a proper elven society.
An elven village or town without a tree spirit within is nothing more than a temporary gathering of elves.”
“Can you explain more”
“The elves, we believe that the tree spirit is the guide after death.
A birth under the tree spirits blessing is stronger than one without, and on our death we believe that our souls would be guided by the tree spirit, and through it, return back to our nameless mother.
Our warriors are stronger, our druids wiser, our walls sturdier.
Our inbuilt potential is best expressed when a tree spirit is present to channel and guide us.”
If I could gulp, I would.
In fact I feel like going for a nap then.
I do not think I can play such an important role that elves demand of me.
“How are other tree spirits”
“The one I met is imposing.
Its presence dominates the town, and its protection allows the town to resist years of human attacks.
A powerful tree spirit, like a strong fortress, its roots seep into the walls, healing it from damage.”
“Still it fell.”
But not to any threat.
It fell to a powerful demon lord of Astaroth.
A monstrous being shaped like a corrupted demonic dragon.
It burned the tree and the entire town…”
“Oh.” I survived demon king Baal, does that make me super impressive Or maybe I got lucky I think I got lucky because the demon king did not press its attack and left with one strike.
It just figured cutting me off and leaving that fire on me is sufficient to kill me.
So, any high level demon should actually be able to kill me fairly easily.
After all I am immobile so dodging is out of the question.
It is either I have a powerful offense, a powerful defense, or at best, both.
Or if I am lucky, I won’t have to fight demons.
Year 70 Month 4
Humans come around again.
This time a smaller group of four, led by one captain.
“The King decrees that each village is to despatch 5 able bodied man to join the King's Royal Demon Slaying Army.”
“We cannot spare 5 men.
5 men means we will lose our ability to defend ourselves or hunt for food.”
“This is not open for negotiation, villager.
The King commands, and its people answer.” The Captain is stern, his face looks like he has heard this a thousand times.
“We cannot give 5 men.”
“Then I shall mark your village as disobeying the King’s orders.”
“How about 2.”
“No negotiations, villager.” The captain turns to leave.
“Let me discuss with my people.”
The Captain nods.
That is all you have.”
The villagers huddle and words fly.
They speak and argue, but eventually Ricola meets the captain again.
“We will send 5 men.” Ricola answers.
“But not today.”
“Not today, villager.
Send your 5 men to report at Hammerhold Fort in two month.” The captain nods, pass them a letter, and the small group leaves on horses.
"Bring that letter along, without it, your village is deemed not to have provided your men."
After the captain leaves, Ricola and the men kneel before me.
It seems the decision bothers them greatly, and now they seek my counsel.
“Oh wise tree spirit, do you some words for us”
I am no wise great tree spirit, I do not know what to do at this time! Uh wait, so what should I do
“I don’t know, Ricola.
When do the men need to leave”
“Hammerhold Fort is a month away, so a month from today”
I took a nap.
And I had a dream.
A nightmare, actually.
I rarely get that in this world.
A large demon.
Lots of them.
In my dreams I could see them in color, in detail, and they remind me of monsters out of Diablo.
Huge, I see dead people all around them.
Their path, one of destruction.
Dead bodies, all scattered all over the floor, burning forests, and a tree.
A tree on fire, with corpses pinned on its branches.
A large monstrous demon walks through the corpses, it's steps crush every corpse in its way into pulp.
I feel afraid.
Is it coming for me
It's head turns, it's red eyes look at me.
And a notification pop out.
[Demon King Andras awakes.]
A thousand and one screams.
It's as if the world screamed as one, and it's deafening.
I feel my ears hurt, even though a tree should not have ears.
And then I snap out of it.
I snap out of my dream and I see Casshern touching my trunk, looking worried.
“You were shaking, tree spirit, after you went to the dreamworld the past few days.
What ill news you bring”
“Demon King is here.”
oh…” Casshern’s old wrinkly hands shake, and she shouts a call.
The villagers all react in shock, and they rush out of their houses and surround me.
Ricola looks at me and leans in.
“Is there something you wish to tell us, tree spirit”
“Demon King is here.”
Ricola sat, he then asks the children to go back home, and only the adults remain.
He then faces the rest of the villagers, explaning what I told him. The villagers look at each other.
Jura is the first to speak.
“Then we should join the King’s army, crush the demon king before it gets too strong.”
Another man shakes his head.
“Only heroes can kill the demon king.
The best the army can do is clear a path, and take out the rest of the demon king’s champions.”
But… but all the heroes died in their battle against Demon King Baal.
Until the gods summon new heroes to this world, there is no way of defeating the demon king.”
“So this army is doomed.”
So we should not join the army...”
“Would you rather face demons, or what's left of a destroyed army If we stay at our village, maybe a hero might emerge before we are attacked.
The villagers stand and start to argue, but a decision comes out of it soon enough.
“Thank you for your guidance tree spirit.
I didn’t really say anything, but hey, it seems that is what they wanted anyway.
Year 70 Month 5
The men are hard at work, creating fortifications around the village.
Hunting will soon be difficult, as the demons will spawn more regularly.
The demon king's presence is always accompanied by a surge in demons entering the world.
It is just the way demon kings are, with their corrupting powers.
“Many will die.”
“Every demon king has led to death.
“Because it is so.”
“Why is there no angel king” I sometimes wonder why the enemies are always demon kings.
“That would be… heroes” Casshern looks at me, thinking I probably asked a stupid question.
Year 70 Month 6
An injured group of adventurers arrives at the village.
The group of four fighters are all bleeding heavily, and two lost their arm to what appears to be a huge monster bite.
Ricola immediately brings them to me.
“Ugh…” Their spirit is weak, what is normally a white spirit fades on and off, like a flickering light bulb.
[Healing Fruit] I create four fruits, Ricola and another elf assists to feed them.
Their wounds stabilise somewhat, but the lost arm cannot be undone.
“What did this” Ricola sits next to one of the adventurers, helping him eat the fruit.
It looks like peace is going away very, very soon.