Death and reincarnation
I am Matt, an indie game developer. I died in a bus accident on my way home.
“You died.” An old man says. He reminds me a little of Santa Claus.
“Oh, I did.” It is a plain white space. Reminds me of the scene where Morgan Freeman plays a god, so I look at him and ask. “Are you God, and is this the pearly gates?”
“Yes I am a god.. My name is Mozart, and I’m the administrator of the soul transmission system.”
Mozart. What a name.
“Uh soul transmission? Wait. Reincarnation?”
“Yes. Like all the isekai stories you’ve been reading.” Oh that’s a good way to explain it. Thinking about all the other reincarnation stories I could not help but feel a little excited. Would I get to build a harem?
“Oh nice. So, what am I reincarnated as? What special powers do I get?”
“Roll this.” A big disc appears with weird characters on them. It is like a giant wheel of fortune, complete with colors.
“Huh? What is this?”
“This is the race wheel. The result of your roll woll tells you what you get to be in your next life. You can be a mosquito, or a dragon, or maybe even a minor deity.”
“Hmm, why not a human? That’s how it normally is for isekai stories.”
“You did not qualify.”
“What do you mean?”
“Based on the kind of life you led, you do not qualify to be reincarnated as a human.”
“So….” Oh that sucks. “But why?”
“That's just how the rules are. Roll the wheel. You will be randomly allocated a race to reincarnate as.”
I could not comprehend what are the words on the wheel, so I look at Mozart. More accurately, I stare at him “Seriously? Is this a trick?”
“Just roll. Or you can be a mosquito. That’s permissible. Or a small gecko.”
“Fuck that. I will roll the wheel then.”
I am just about to roll the wheel, then I stare at him again. I do recall having died in a bus accident, so there’s quite a few other guys on the bus. Am I being singled out here?
“Erm.. how are the other guys in the bus?”
“Dead. They are going to be reincarnated as well. After you.”
“Oh. So, do they need to roll the wheel as well, like me?”
“Nope. They will be reincarnated as humans or elves.”
Hey, I am being singled out! That’s quite unfair! “What. How come?”
“They have been chosen by the gods, and those who pray for heroes. Selected as champions of the world they are going into, so they get special powers and stuff, to fight a big bad guy.”
“How about me?”
“You are not a champion. You just happen to get on the same bus as the kids.”
Wait. I am collateral damage? That reminds me that there are quite a few teenagers on that bus. It’s a route that passes by a mall, and it's late so they probably are on their way home after an outing.
“Why them? Why do they get to be champions?”
“Because they are young, courageous, good hearted and have a desire to do good. Not yet tainted by the evils of society.”
“Wait. So you chose kids to bear the burdens of the world?”
“That's the criteria the gods and the people look for, so that's what they get.”
“Damn.” I roll the wheel.
And it stops at some random word that I did not understand… Wait. The word transforms now.
“A tree.” I understood what it said.
“What?!?!” Hey this is not going the way I thought it would. I am supposed to get super powers and get reincarnated.
“Yeah, trees have souls too.” Mozart seems rather nonchalant about it. “Trees are not bad, actually.”
“How about grass?”
“Oh grasses of a critical mass have souls. Before that they don’t. For trees it is their age. Once the trees reach about a certain size they get a soul. There are world or species specific exceptions of course.”
“Anyway. Tree. Goodbye-”
Blackness. Darkness. Kind of like a TV screen gets turned off in the old CRT days.
And then a menu. What is a reincarnation story without a menu, right? It shines against the dark backdrop, and reminds me of old DOS interfaces.
Oh a clock.
Year 1 Month 0
[Skills : [Hibernate], [Germinate], [Autopilot]]
[Species : Normal Tree]
[Level : 1]
Oh wait. Skills and levels. Ah yes I get to do awesome shit!
At first I thought it would take some loading time. Maybe this dark space is like a loading screen. But then a good two hours later I am still in this darkness. And I do not feel a damn thing. No sensation, no vision, no sound either.
It's still dark. Am I supposed to do something? I try to open my eyes but it is still dark.
I kept waiting. I don’t seem to tire physically, but I felt mentally exhausted.
An Hour. A day. Two days. Three days. Four days. Five days. Six days. A week. The clock just keeps ticking and nothing freaking happens.
Frustrated I tried using my skills. [Germinate]
*Not the right season.* A pop up appears.
What is the season then? Once I had that thought, next to the clock a seasonal calendar appears. Another DOS like menu, but with a slowly moving indicator that says “winter”.
Curious, I click [autopilot], and suddenly a popup appears.
[Autopilot engaged. You have activated [hibernate].
And I recall falling into a sleep like state.
And when I woke up, a good four months passed on the clock. But still darkness. At least the season menu says [spring].
[Autopilot has activated [germinate]].
Nothing happens. It is still darkness to me.
And with autopilot active, time passes quickly. At first I thought I misunderstood the clock, but it soon became quite obvious that 1 second is actually 1 hour.
Which is really convenient because there is absolutely nothing to do. And so time passes.
A year passes.
Another year passes.
And another year.
In the fourth year, a string of notification appears, instantly kicking me out of autopilot.
[Amber Lee has died. You received a fragment.]
[Samantha Chandran has died. You received a fragment.]
[Peter Varoufakis has died. You received a fragment.]
[Hyuna Park has died. You received a fragment.]
[Reed Constance has died. You received a fragment.]
[Shah Rasul has died. You received a fragment.]
[Mai has died. You received a fragment.]
[Lee Kang Ho has died. You received a fragment.]
[Shane Andrew Fillon has died. You received a fragment.]
[Pink Fong has died. You received a fragment.]
[The Demon King Asmodai has been defeated and sealed back to the demonic realm]
Oh wow. At first, I do not recognise these names at all. But when the demon king’s notification popped up, that is when I realise that the kids won.
And nothing. Again.
Darkness. I thought something would happen, perhaps it would prompt me that our mission is complete and we would move on to the next reincarnation, but nothing.
A year passed.
And another year.
A notification appeared. Similar to the others previously, it just says Saita Maru died.
Mark Antoinette died.
Samantha Charleston died.
Kim Possibru died.
A demon king appeared. [Demon King Astaroth has spawned.]
Frankly I think I should panic, but somehow being trapped in this darkness I can do absolutely nothing.
A string of notifications again. Azares Fox, Sarah Cole, Pamela Seis, Lucy Braveheart, Winston Chow, Donald Stump all died. Cumulatively, a total of twenty fragments now.
It seems to suggest that they have been defeated by the Demon King.
An interesting message appeared.
[The Gods has summoned twenty new heroes from beyond to answer to the threat of Demon King Astaroth.]
Oh god. More kids?
Indeed, 5 years after they were summoned, Demon King Astaroth is defeated. But in the process, another eleven kids died, and now I have all these 31 fragments with their names sitting in my menu.
I get the feeling that this circle never quite ends. Demon Kings appear, and the gods summon heroes from beyond to answer them.
In the next 10 years, another five died, and their death seems to be spread out, suggesting either they somehow fought and killed each other, or someone or something killed them.
Another demon king appeared. Demon King Dantalion. Somewhat predictably, on the 47th year, another four names died, and that brings my total to 40 fragments.
The gods summoned another fifteen heroes to this world.
Demon King Dantalion, and of the fifteen, ten of them died. And I have a total of 50 fragments. Thankfully it seems my menu has changed such that the fragments now have their own dedicated menu.
It seems like if the world had another demon king attack, the gods will always summon heroes to answer them.
I am jolted out of the darkness by a spirit. A spirit that I can actually see. It is like he is a light in a sea of darkness.
“Hello.” A young boy, no older than ten.
“Oh my god, did you just talk?!!!!” He shouts and then runs in circles for a while. “Wait I think everyone else will think I am crazy if I say a tree can talk.”
“Yes of course.”
Frankly I can only see his spirit, shining against the dark background.
“Erm.. do you have a name, o tree spirit?”
At that point I wonder whether he sees me as a tree or as a person. “My name is Matt. What is yours?”
“Indra. I am ten this year, and I am a druid.”
“Hello Indra.” He seems quite willing to talk.
“I see. How come you can see me?”
“Hmm… I think that is because I have a unique skill. It is called [Soul Communion].”
“Sounds really special.”
“It does not do much actually. Just allows me to see and talk to ghosts and stuff. Oh my, I think I better go back.” Looking at the time it is quite late at night.
“Well, drop by if you feel like it. It is nice to talk to someone.”
“Okay.” Indra nods, and walks off.
Indra would later come by every week, and we would talk.
“Can I ask for a favor?” He asks one day, after a few months talking.
“Would you mind being my magical companion?”
“How does that work?”
“I get to summon you to aid me in battle.”
“I would love to, but I think I do not do much. I am not sure if I have any combat powers.”
“Its okay, nobody I know have a tree familiar. I think it should be quite cool.”
Indra starts mumbling some things, and that is when I have a popup.
[Indra has requests to enter into a familiar contract. Do you accept?]
A menu to click yes or no appears, and I mentally choose yes.
Indra smiles. “Yay! I have a tree familiar. This is so awesome. I bet nobody else has a nature-aspect familiar.”
Later that week he returns, and sits next to me. “My teachers took a look at my tree familiar form and so I might be going away for a long time. It seems the druid council wants to see more of my tree familiar abilities, as it is fairly rare in the world.”
“Oh. Good luck then. Is it that special?”
“Yes. It is quite different from other forms as it has mostly defensive and healing skills.”
Hmm I didn't even realise he use my skills. Seems like once I agree to the familiar contract, I don’t really need to do anything. At which point I wonder whether I could see what my tree familiar skills look like.
A menu appears.
[Skills : Ironbark skin, Healing fruit, Minor Regeneration]
Seems my familiar contracts skills are quite different from my own, or maybe the familiar form has its own skill tree?
“It is my first time going so far away from home.”
“Are you scared?”
“Yes. But I think it is also an adventure! My mom tells me not to worry though. I will be going with the town’s lead druid to the capitol.”
“Sounds like fun. Spend more time with your parents before you go, okay? Never know when you will see them again.” Since the day I died, the people I miss the most are my parents, and then followed by my friends.
“You’re right, I should spend more time with my family. I should go.” Indra nods, and gives me a small bow.
“Bye. Good luck with your trip. Stay safe.”
Unfortunately, that is the last time I ever saw Indra.
About three years later (Year 55), I got a notification.
[Indra Sinahalia has died. All the experience accumulated by Indra when using your familiar form. You have gained 13 levels. A fragment of Indra’s unique skill has been bequeathed to you in accordance with the familiar contract. You have obtained unique skill : Lesser Spirit Vision]
You have also received the skill [Limited Telepathic Communication]
For the first time in forever, I can see.
It is not the kind of sight that humans normally have, but I can now see spirits of people if they are really nearby, and the pitch black background is now replaced with a black background with faint outlines.
So that’s how I come to the realisation that I am in some kind of park. Or a garden.
They are all a distance away but every now and then they would pass me by. At a distance, they are all a blob, kind of like a wisp, but as they walk nearer, the details improve. It’s kind of like shortsightedness, but for spirits.
I attempt to communicate, but so far all just run away. It felt like they all thought they are being disturbed by ghosts. Disappointed at how the people around refuse to communicate, I went back and examine my levels.
A tree with a skills, As a result of those levels, I gained skills that upgrade the effects of my familiars, boosting my telepathic powers, gaining some other skills and some healing skills.
I should have used my skills first before attempting to communicate but hey, its hard to hide my excitement when I suddenly receive the ability to see and talk. But thanks to the higher levels in skills my visual range improved.
Sadly, very few people actually walk near enough for me to communicate with them. It seems I’m placed quite deep in the park or garden so everyone seems to be quite a distance away. Even with some additional skills, they pretty much need to be next to me to hear anything.
So…. nothing happens for quite some time again.
A fight breaks out. I could vaguely see lots of spirits in the distance fighting some soulless creatures (they appear as a rough moving shadow). The battle seems intense, as many of the spirits get extinguished, and the battle spills over into the park as well.
One of the human fighters stands next to me, and excited, I took the chance to communicate. Maybe he needs help, and I can get him to agree to a familiar contract.
“Ugh damned demons…” At this distance, I could hear what he says, and I could tell from my [inspect] skill that he is wounded.
“Need some help?”
“Huh?” He looks around, one hand still clutching his wounds. He then looks at the tree. “Talking tree?”
“You need help?”
[Healing fruit] As a result of my skills I now have the skill to create a small fruit that gives some healing affect.
[Familiar Contract]. The battle is still ongoing, so i figure that they do not have much time.
“Oh.” He accepts, and munches down the fruit. His wound heals somewhat, and he nods. “Thanks. I should go and help the rest now.”
I did not see that guy again after that, and ten days later I got a notification
[Semara Falk has died. You gained 1 level] [Level 15]
Oh that's it eh.
The soulless monsters appear every now and then since that day, and the people repeatedly try to fight them off. Some days I could see those monsters everywhere, even around me.
Thankfully they did not indiscriminately destroy everything, so they did not attack me. I wonder what happens if they attacked me then, perhaps I would die.
Then a few days later the humans or whatever would come back and chase them away. This lasted for a good two months, as the battles ebb and flow, and then eventually the humans won.
And then a person approaches me.
“Is this the tree?”
“Ah. It is! I am Starric, Semara’s squad leader, and he asks me on his death to thank you. Thanks to the power of your familiar he became quite the hero.”
“I don’t have much, but he also asks me to bury his trusty sword next to you.”
Starric digs a hole and then places the sword inside.
“Would you like a familiar?” I ask.
“It is okay. I already have a familiar spirit of my own.”
After he leaves, a few days later, a spirit appears next to me.
“Hi.” It’s that Semara guy.
“Huh? Why are you here?”
“Oh. I am just a part of Semara that is embedded in the sword. The real me died and passed on.”
“It’s complicated, but the sword has been by my side since my youth for the past thirty years. So a fragment of me is in it.”
“So… how long will you be here?”
“Maybe a few more months. I will eventually fade away with time..”
With Semara next to me, we end up talking. A lot. Semara is a lot more knowledgeable about the world compared to Indra, so he had more to share. That is how I learn a bit more about the world I am in.
This world has many gods and religions, and magic is commonplace. Demons and monsters appear frequently, as a result of the world’s proximity to the demonic realm. And due to stellar movements and astronomical forces, the barrier that protects the world from the demons occasionally weakens, and that results in stronger demons entering the world. That sometimes leads to the entrance of Demon Kings.
Gods and kings of the world, respond to this by summoning heroes from another world. The heroes rise to defeat the demons, and usually they do succeed, at great cost.
The world today has five remaining heroes. Arsene Emir, Valerian, Roana, Ashley Cole, and David Becks, and it seems after the defeat of Demon King Dantalion 5 years ago, they have since fallen out with each other, and are now fighting to be the most powerful ruler in the world.
Demons and monsters still appear frequently, even if the demon king has fallen, demons and monsters are still a huge threat to the world. And demon kings are not the sole threat, though they are extremely powerful and seek to destroy the world and remake it in their homeworld, so in a way they are the most dangerous of them.
Those 6 months pass a little easier with Semara to share his knowledge, but good times do not last very long, and so Semara fades away after those 6 months, disappearing back into his sword.
Year 57, Month 1
On the first day of the year, a young elf kneels before me.
“Oh tree, I, Salada Stoppu of the elvish tribe, humbly request for the blessing of the tree spirit.”
How did this random elf know of my existence? And his name is Salad?
“How did you know about me?”
“Oh… erm..” He seems a little embarrassed, but then kneels. “You have been listed in the register of benign spirits by the local council, following the reports of Captain Starric to the town council.”
I am in a register of the town council. Seriously. I feel like a botanic garden exhibit.
“Fine. Familiar contract?”
Thinking about how Semara’s spirit accompanied me for 6 months, I add a condition.
“You must leave an item with strong personal connection to yourself with me, and on your death, your weapon should be buried near me.”
He nods, and buries a small wooden chain next to my roots. “This is a small chain I made when I was a kid. Is this fine?”
“Yes.” I frankly do not know what is the criteria to recreate Semara’s case but I say yes. And then, I offer him the familiar contract. Maybe I’ll gain a skill that lets me tell someday.
He kneels and he leaves, feeling happy.
I sigh, and I go back into my autopilot mode.
Year 57, Month 8
Another elf comes to find me. Another boy by the name Croissanta Fillings. Same deal with Salada I offer a familiar contract and he buries a small metal ring. Happy, he then walks away.
I wonder how long do I have to live as a tree. Would I live longer than them?
A popup appears. *Trees are eternal if they do not get killed.*
Year 57, Month 11.
I gain a level [Level 16]. But nobody died. Strange.
Year 57, Month 12
Somebody visits. He does not respond to me but he seems to be trimming some of my branches. But since I do not feel any damage I let him be. He also then collects the trimmed branches, and leaves.
Year 58, Month 1
I gain one level [Level 17]. And I acquire a skill called [self awareness]. Unlike what it says, for a tree, it means being able to look at myself.
That is the first time I can see all my branches and my roots. I am actually pretty big, about the size of a small house. Being able to see myself, I also realise that guy trimming my branches are crushing them to make some kind of tea.
Maybe that is why I am gaining levels?
Year 58 Month 2
Another elf named Corna Corrola comes and ask to be my familiar. Turns out elves have a thing for tree spirits (which is quite rare) and on discovery of a tree spirit in the town of Moton, quite a few migrate to live near me.
Anyway, I agree to let Corna Corrola have a familiar, so I give her the usual terms, but I also made a special request, which is I want her to come back every 6 months and tell me what happens.
Year 58 month 6
I gained another level. Nothing in particular happened. [Level 18]
Year 58 Month 7
A human kneels. He asks for blessing to heal his child of his disease.
“I am not sure whether I can, but I can try. Bring him to me.”
A small baby, probably 8 months. He looks really sick. I create a magical healing fruit with all the nutrients I can gather.
The man feeds it to his child. The child still is sick, and the man leaves with the child.
Three days later he comes back with the child. The child’s spirit looks better. Turns out due to the war against the demons, there are no more healers in this small town. Most of them died some time ago, and those that survive now serve in the royal army, on the King’s army.
Child is actually just having a very bad fever.
I gain a level. [Level 19]
The man returns a few days later again with poop. Cow poop, and he mixes it into the dirt. Fertiliser? I feel nothing, and I thank my lucky stars I cannot smell cow poop.
Year 58 Month 12
Winter. During this time I cannot create fruits. A man kneels and begs for help for his wife, but I cannot do it no matter how much I want to.
I tell him to hang in there and return when spring comes around.
Year 59 Month 1
The man returns and curses me. I guess she did not make it, so I do not respond.
And after the exchange, I gain a level and a skill.
Yeah, that man is going to hate me.
Year 59 Month 2
A young lady drops by, and begs me to protect her husband. Her husband will be going to war soon, to defend the country from a demonic rift that appeared somewhere. Her voice sounds like she wants to cry, but I am a tree, so in my mind I can only empathise, and explain that I am not a god, I do not have the power to provide blessings. I am just a tree living here.
“Is there really nothing you can do?”
“Does he want a familiar?”
“Oh. I’ll ask him.”
The next day a young man comes, along with the young lady. “Is this the tree you’ve been visiting?” He glances up, and shrugs. “Doesn’t look very impressive.”
“Please Andy, a familiar might protect you.”
He shakes his head. “Do you have no confidence in me?”
“It’s not that, but if something can give you a bit more protection, will you not take it?”
Andy sighs, and walks really near to me. “This is so weird, talking to a tree, but hey, if you hear me, can I get a familiar? Just so that my wife feels safer?”
I wonder whether having a familiar would offer any protection, as they might overestimate their own abilities and end up taking more risk, but I offer a familiar contract anyway.
Andy seems a bit surprised, “Oh wow. There really is a spirit here.”
The wife smiles, “Please come back to me, Andy.”
“Yes yes.” He accepts, and the couple leaves.
Year 59 Month 3
The man with the sick wife returns. With something in his hand.
He scolds and shouts for a while, and starts hacking at me. I don’t feel any pain however, and it is then I realise that my trunk is really really hard. After some time, he gives up and leaves.
It is about that time I wonder how did that other guy manage to trim my branches.
Year 59 Month 4
Corna Corolla returns, and when she touches me I actually get the experience accumulated so far on the familiar.
[I gain 3 levels. I am now level 23.]
She tells me that there is some heavy fighting going on at the moment, and that the town of Moton may not last for very long, as the town is located near the border with the wastelands.
Year 59 Month 9
A bad month, really. The month started with 3 deaths, the 3 elves all died within days of each other.
[Corna Corolla has died]
[Salada Stoppu has died]
[Croissonta Fillings has died]
I gained 12 levels. I am now level 35, and my species transform from normal tree to spiritual tree.
At this point my skills are still mostly things like healing, and defense, but I also gained a skill that is a sort of “insurance”, called, [tree-rebirth].
Year 59 Month 10.
Death comes to the town of Moton.
I see monsters attacking the town every day, and as much as I want to help, nobody got near enough for me to grant a familiar contract.
I see some fighting in the distance, but it looks like the defenders are losing. On the last day of the month, it seems the war is getting really bad. [Arsene Emir has died. You gain a fragment.]
Oh. One of the reincarnators has fallen.
Year 59 Month 11.
[Demon King Baal has entered the world!]
9 years after the fall of Demon King Dantalion, another Demon King enters the battlefield. Is it me, or it seems to be getting more frequent?
Moton at this point is deserted. There’s absolutely not a single soul that I can see from my [spirit vision]. I hope it’s more of a case of people fleeing, rather than killed, but the past month’s battle makes that seem rather unlikely.
Year 60 Month 2.
My surrounding is absolutely barren. Monsters now wander everywhere, and a few tried to cut me down, but thankfully my bark is really strong, and these monsters give up once they realise it’s pointless.
Year 60 Month 9.
The town of Moton is no more. The destruction of the past few days has been massive.
And I think I see the Demon King. Oh shit.
He’s huge. A massive, massive presence, he looks like he is the height of a 3 story building. Even at a distance I could see his burning presence, and I could see a soul, but unlike human souls which normally appear faint white in color, the demon king’s presence is a bright red one, and is surrounded by a reddish fire.
[The Demon King Baal]
A red name hovers right above his soul. Oh damn it really is him.
He turns, notices me, and he walks towards me.
“Tree?!” He roars, and the earth shakes.
Oh shit. I felt myself shiver and tingle, and I do not even know how I can feel the tingle when I got no sense other than vision!
He raises his arm, and slashes.
“Ughhhhhhh!” I yelp in pain.
For someone who is a tree, I am amazed and frightened that I can feel pain. It felt like I got hit by a car, or a truck.
The top has been chopped off. For a brief moment, I thought I see his burning soul smile, and then he walks off.
I am in immense pain, feeling like I a. being pulled in multiple directions, but a short while later, I am just thankful that I live.
I live! I am just a tree stump now, but trees do not die so easily!
He disappears into the distance, and once he is out of sight, I fall into some kind of sleep.
Year 65 Month 2
Oh shit I’ve been sleeping for the past 4 years?! I am still mostly a stump, but now a few small shoots emerge from the sides.
There’s a notification menu that thankfully records all the string of messages I missed. The four remaining reincarnators has been killed, but amazingly, they manage to slay the Demon King Baal as well.
Also, I gain a level [Level 36]. And an achievement.
[Demon King Survivor]