Moat of Trees
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Year 206 (continued, Part 4)

I had questions. If the demon king possessed the core, then why did the parasite world spawn normal monsters and animals once we reclaimed some of the land and populated them with trees? How did this system mechanic work? Did the demon king's hold on the world fluctuate? Things that were speculation now, but as I looked at the demon king and it’s 

“Aeon, what’s our plan?” Lumoof asked. “I mean... what if that thing attacks us? Wait. Let me clarify that. I’m actually quite sure it will attack us.”

“Teleport out if it gets really bad. I’ll get you guys out if anything goes south.” 

At that same time, I got Patreeck to make the necessary preparations, and the entire Central Continent hummed with activity. We added additional artificial minds, and made sure that all the mana batteries were fully charged. I remembered that time when the demon king attempted to possess me, and I somehow used that kind of soul blast, and I wanted to see if I could repeat it.

I wanted to see if I could weaponise that sort of defensive mechanism with my clone seed by using it against the demon king’s body, and then, forcing the gestating demon king to a ‘battle-of-wills’. The odds were low, generally speaking, and I had very little to lose. Not with this kind of encounter. 

If I lose the close seed, I lost time. If I succeeded, I would definitely level. If it’s somewhere in the middle, that was still a success.

Looking at the clock, we didn’t have much time left, as in a few years this demon king would be headed to our world. If I intercepted it before that happened, I also wanted to know if I could mess up the entire sequence of events by triggering an event before it was meant to happen. In a way, I essentially wanted to cause the process behind the demonic invasions to either ‘fail’ or encounter some kind of ‘jam’. 

Best case scenario, we successfully stopped the demon king from invading our world forever. Worst, well, the demon king somehow takes over my clone, and also somehow, through that system, it could take over my body. 

I think that’s unlikely. I could also cut off my connection with my clones if needed. It’s also possible that handling a demon king could somehow send me into a coma. But I felt it won’t actually happen. With my domain now, it’s very unlikely I would get a coma. 

“Aeon, I think we’re more concerned with what happens if you go through a long sleep.” Lumoof answered frankly. “We believe you would survive, but if you were to be weakened for long periods, our central continent would suffer from it.” 

“There are the four of you, and the entirety of the Valtrian Order. If the Valtrian Order cannot survive without me sleeping for certain periods of time, then I’ve clearly not done enough to nurture the strength of the order.”

There was never a ‘good’ time to cut the umbilical cord, and I suppose I would have to watch the institutions weather their test. In history, that first transition of power from a ‘founder’ to its successor institutions was critical. Would it be good enough?

I looked at the demon king, it grew slowly, and the unstable energies of the world. 

There were some interrupted voices in the energies in the air. Whispers, broken and shredded by the harsh powers of the demons. 

“Let’s just freaking do it.” I declared, and everyone braced. Lumoof entered full avatar mode, and I felt the violent magic of the depths batter our body. It’s a sensation quite similar to opening the windows when moving at high speed. 

I wrapped my seed in a multilayered massive wooden spear, and attached it to a vine just as thick for control. Then, I thrust the spear towards the demon king, through the demon’s tendrils and the gaps in the shell. 

Through the vines and the spear I could feel the biting cold outside, and also felt the environment draining mana from the spear.

The layers of wood crumbled and withered away, like the peels of an onion, swept away by the strong magical current of the core and the demons. 

We pushed on. The strength of that magical wave was manageable, this was inferior to a demon king. A sign that it was not fully formed. Perhaps the true ‘will’ of the demon king lay within that black mass we saw earlier. 

No matter, I would investigate this layer. If I could capture the shell of a demon king, that was sufficient. 

The unfocused wave of energy from the demons suddenly tried to concentrate on my wooden spear. It gathered clumsily, and attempted to resist and push back against my spear. Yet it was clearly not designed to do so. My focused strike pierced through the layers of demonic energy, even if each step forward seemed to just eat away at the layers of my spear.

Eventually, the spear smashed into the cocoon of the incomplete demon king. It was a relatively ‘slow’ smash, like trying to punch underwater, but the spear still rattled the cocoon momentarily, and then I was hit with a wave of demonic energy again, rousing from within the cocoon. We persisted, and the entire cocoon rumbled. 

Awoken by the sudden rumbling, the mass of demonic flesh, spires and tentacles that surrounded the cocoon started to move. 

“Aeon?” Lumoof asked, shaken by the kind of power flowing through his flesh. 

The core continued to shake violently, and some of the magical energies in the core became even more pronounced. Some of the dried lattice of rocks started to glow. The demonic flesh, or  the ‘host/mother’ demon moved towards us. 

“We have been spotted.” Edna commented, as everyone quickly equipped themselves for combat. 

This felt like one of those battles in games, in a glowing cavern in the depths of the planet, facing off against the demon king to decide the fate of the world.

The lattice of dried, crystallised rocks around us glowed and pulsed in a rhythm that seemed somehow linked to the energies released by my spear of wood. The spear pushed further into the cocoon of the incomplete demon king, and each movement seemed to release magical energies into our surroundings.

The flesh that formed the tentacles and spires around the cocoon moved, crawled and agglomerated, like a mass of nanomachines reforming into a greater, larger whole. This mass of demonic flesh now began to look more like a giant lizard, and once it largely took shape, it immediately spat acid. 

The acid smashed into one of Edna’s hastily conjured magical shields. The acid vaporised the shield almost instantly. 

“No magic!” Roon reminded, as he switched to a loadout of anti-demonic spears. Hundreds of spears appeared from his pocket. Those spears all flew and stabbed the mother-demon-lizard through its body. But this creature was large, and it was like trying to kill a land whale with harpoons. It moved towards us, as Roon activated some kind of charged spear ability. One of the spears glowed, not with magic, but with his skill. The small spear smashed into the sides of the giant-mother lizard. 

It visibly caused the giant-mother-lizard-demon-king to stagger. 

At that moment, the entire world around us shook. 

Yet it didn’t do much damage. 

“Aeon. Can we teleport the star-mana bomb here?” Johann suggested.

“Wait.” That was a good idea too, but I wanted to try using my seed and reach the demon king. Star mana was a bad thing to expose the demons to. If the core was in this incomplete demon king, then this could be the best time to get it. 

I felt more of the incomplete energies of the demon king through the spear that now was halfway into the cocoon. It was an odd mix of core mana and demonic mana. It’s on top of the strange powers that ‘twisted’ this entire area, almost like a skill. It even felt like it was a clash of wills, as I felt something like a soul attempting to exert it’s way on the world, and my seed pushing my own will into this space. 

The mother-lizard roared, and the core shook violently. The rocks started to fall towards us, and we weren’t sure why. The gravity here was unusual, almost entirely driven by some kind of unknown magic. The chamber shook violently, and some parts around us started to collapse. 

We were pulled towards the cocoon, essentially, and yet these rocks flew towards us. Lumoof attempted to support the cavern from collapsing, as we extended my vines and roots against the collapsing walls of the cavern. 

“Is it trying to crush us?” Lumoof mentally said. “But wouldn’t that destroy the demon king too?”

“It probably has a way not to get crushed.” I injected the incomplete demon king with my mana, and it felt like I was throwing mana into the void.

Yet, that very action triggered the giant mother-lizard. The mother demon king charged at us, somehow walking quickly on the surface of the giant cocoon of the incomplete demon king. It looked like it wanted to smash us into the walls of the chamber. My vines and roots expanded outward from Lumoof, and I attempted to use my vines to hold it back by forming a large web and wall of roots and vines. It wasn’t of much use, since it was so large. 

It was the equivalent of trying to hold back a raging bull with cloth. It merely slowed it down and made it even more angry. It smashed through the wall of roots and vines.

It bought enough time for us to reposition ourselves as the massive lizard smashed into the walls of the chamber, creating a new open area.  

My clone seed was already inside the cocoon, but it had not reached the body of the incomplete demon king. A bit further. 

Large columns of rock fell down, again, they felt like they were pulled and manipulated by the mother-demon’s abilities. Did that mother-demon have gravity power of some sort, as it once again bulldozed through Edna’s shields. Roon and Johann attempted to dodge where they could, but they were clearly not suited to fighting in this environment, even if it was possible to manipulate the giant lizard demon to destroy and widen the area for us. 

This was the kind of battlefield that demanded the tank and barbarian types. Big, raw, Hercules-type physical force, and invulnerability. 

In any case, Edna and Lumoof tried to hold back the mother lizard, while a part of me pushed towards the incomplete demon king. I kept pumping mana into the cocoon, and at the same time, attempted to push my will into it. 

In short, I was trying to first change and ‘convert’ the area where my mana first touched. Maybe capture the cocoon itself, if I couldn’t get to the body. 

As this happened, I felt things smash into my mind.

Or, more accurately, smash into the helmet around my mind. It still shook me a little, but it didn’t get through. 

Raw anger and hunger. 

A craving. To consume and to create more, for further consumption. It came from the cocoon, it came from the incomplete demon king.


Through my spear of wood, I had attempted to overwhelm the demon king with my mana. 

Now, after I’ve pumped so much mana into the demon king, I realised that-

I was a fool.

I had overestimated myself, and now I realised how hungry the demon king was. I was pouring salt into an olympic sized swimming pool. Not the ocean, because it’s not that vast, but it was bigger than me. It had desired mana, a whole lot more than I have to give.

A demon king was formed from the mana of a world, formed from anti-mana and mana-draining materials, and I was deluded enough to try overwhelming it myself. 

It was a bad matchup and I was outmatched. This thing could eat all of my mana and some. I knew then that even my clone seed would not do much, and now I suddenly didn’t have much confidence against the residual . So I pulled my clone seed back to Treehome.

The rocks around us glowed, and it began to get warmer. I sent Edna back next through the teleport ability of the [Court of the Deitree]. 

It was just Lumoof left, and we looked around. I detonated my spear within the cocoon, and as expected, it didn’t do much damage. 

“The bomb.” Lumoof reminded me, and I had it ready. But then, I saw the core of the world, it had shrunk much smaller than it was once. It was probably a lot larger a long, long time ago.

“No. The core.” I couldn’t capture the demon king, but the core was there. It was still a very large thing, but maybe I could just take a chunk. Or maybe this was just a portion. I wasn’t sure, so, rather than attempt to fight the demon king and failing, getting a core, or a sufficiently large chunk was still helpful for my purposes. 

Lumoof moved towards the core, as the mother demon chased after us. That was fine, because once Lumoof crash landed next to what looked to be the core, my vines exploded outwards, and wrapped the core. What I could, at least. 

Lumoof entered Avatar once more, and I sent a fragment of the core home. I couldn’t send all of it. It was too large, and I didn’t have that much mana left. 

The mother demon charged towards us, and a wall of vines merely delayed it briefly. I knew this was a pointless fight and so pulled Lumoof home through my [Court of the Deitree], just as I did with Edna, Roon and Johann. 




Lumoof landed back in the valley, surrounded by a battalion of aids and helpers. “That didn’t go well.” 

But we had a core. Or a fragment of it. We took a chunk the size of a small house out of that entire thing, and I learned how high the mountain was. In many ways, I gained from that exchange. 

Lumoof collapsed as his body finally gave in to the exhaustion. Edna, Roon and Johann were already back in a biolab pod for immediate treatment. They were just mildl injured, but the magical exhaustion really kicked them. The constant state of alertness since we went into that pit was exhausting mentally, even if we rotated rest times. 

First, I sent the core into a lab. It was so large that I needed to get one of the bigger labs to look at it, and I immediately felt two presence within. There was also a strong demonic presence within the fragment, one that I felt fighting with the small, tiny presence within.

I decided to quickly drain the demonic energies out, and this was relatively easier, because it was no longer connected to the demon king. Once the chunk was ‘cleaned’ of demonic energies, I could feel the other presence within stabilise. 

It was rousing, and I felt a bit of something gathering within, something that felt like fragments of a will. It’s scattered, and then, I began sensing a small buildup of core mana within the house-sized fragment. 

Perhaps I only got a chunk of it, so that presence was only a fragment? 

Still, the core mana was clearly, clearly there. It’s not much, but better something than nothing.




What have we learned? The visit to the depths hadn’t been entirely fruitless. We now know that there is a demon king in every core, and that’s their win condition. They must capture the core in some way or form, perfectly or imperfectly. 

That explained the gap of time where they defeated the ‘defenders’, but yet the world didn’t immediately collapse. Heroes were, as the gods put it, medicine to stop the viruses. But in the absence of the ‘medicine’, the virus didn’t immediately win. They have to ‘control’ the body in order to ‘win’.

With this knowledge, could we prevent a world from ever ‘losing’? 

Not by defeating the demon king, but by making a world ‘uncapturable’. For example, if the core of the planet was suddenly moved elsewhere, or perhaps located behind some kind of magical portal such that the demon king could not reach it?

Thinking back to my ‘Will of the World’, essentially if I was one with the planet, did that mean the World cannot be captured as long as I lived?

On a larger scale, if we could somehow ‘protect’ each core from falling to the demon kings, could we, by building a wall of uncapturable ‘worlds’, eventually block off the demons? 

A kind of ‘moat’ strategy on a larger scale. 

Because if they could not capture worlds, they would not be able to continue producing demon kings, and the demon kings on that planet are stuck there. We could eventually drive them to extinction by cutting off the demon king’s ability to reproduce.

“That’s a very lofty strategy, when we didn’t even know how to do it...” Roon commented when he recovered.

I knew that Will of the World’s narration that I could fuse with a world, meant it must be possible to protect a world from the demon kings. At least it wasn’t a question whether it was a possibility, more of a question of technical capability.

“Aeon’s plans really seem to get more and more wild with each visit to the demon worlds.” My ranger commented. 

“I suppose when you travel worlds, it is quite an eye-opening and mind-broadening experience.”

I thought back to the nature of the demon king, being made of demonic mana, void mana and core mana. 

What if there was a way to fuse star mana and core mana, or inject the core with vast quantities of star mana. Essentially, exploit the reaction of void mana to star mana during the ‘capturing’ process. This would essentially create a stored ‘defensive’ mechanism within the core? At least, sufficient to prevent one capture?

How does core mana and star mana interact?

“I don’t think we should experiment on our world with that. What if we blow up the planet?”

“Also! It’s like saying the Core has a mind that could store star mana and use it as a defensive ‘item’.”

“The core does have a will.” The shard of the Cometworld told me that. Of course, I would ask the core of the world before actually conducting such experiments. It’s only logical. 

Alka was amused by the idea, naturally. Storing a star mana bomb in the core was his immediate suggestion. Nuke the demon king from within. No, more appropriately, make the core of the world a minefield of star-mana bombs, that would trigger once the demon king came. Stella was fairly horrified at the thought of experimenting on planetary cores, commenting that such things rarely go well.

I was actually fascinated by the idea. It made sense. Making the core a minefield of star mana bombs was a pragmatic solution, because only the demon king would come here. There was no risk of accidental triggers since no one went there but the demon, and if the demon king reached the core, it meant the surface was mostly lost anyway, so letting the core have bombs as a failsafe was a good one.