Treeckets, Please
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Year 211

These days, I feel like I’ve been moving from one demon king battle to another demon king battle. After the parasite demon king, we moved on to the demon king of the Mountain Worlds, Akkila, or Sabnoc-lite. Now, we’re waiting for the demon king to come to our world. 

All the preparations have been made, and there’s not much I can do beyond what we’ve done. Not in that short a time. 

Now, we had to hope that what we did was enough. I hope it was, but reality had a tendency of surprising us, just as how I was surprised by their anti-mana nature. This was essentially the grind. We keep fighting demons, and hoping that it gives us an edge for the next one. 

It even felt... boring to me. 

Strangely, the heroes and my domain holders didn’t feel that way. Their normal sense of time meant there really was a long gap between the demon kings, and those ten years were filled with normal life stuff. 

Ah well. 

We already had our conventional weapons prepared, and Stella got better at sensing the riftgates. As a result, she was roughly able to estimate the location of the demon king’s movement.

With that, we quickly worked with the Aivan temples to evacuate the location, and prepare for war. 

It wasn’t easy, because of Aiva’s hold on the continent was weak. The warnings were quickly dismissed, and the political ruling parties that had valuable establishments in that area were quick to suspect a greater ploy at play. They suspected that the Aiva wanted the place evacuated and claim it for themselves, 

Honestly, from my own assessment of the Aivan temples, I am not surprised. Corruption and power-grabbing behavior permeated their structure to a far greater degree than ours. Two thirds of all priests of the Aivan temples were in someone’s pockets, and the Triumvirs themselves were compromised to some degree. 

They had their biases, each favoring their home nation, or their own original backers. So when the Aivan temples made decrees, which they did often, resistance was naturally much higher. 

A riot broke out, clearly instigated by the nobles. The heroes were away fighting, trying to level against the demon champions and also trying out their anti-mana glass weapons against the demon champions.

So, for now, we watched as the Aivan temple’s guys tried to quell the riot.

“This is stupid.” Stella smacked her head. “Aeon should just march the Valthorns here and they’ll just shut up.”

They were safe, away from the riots in the cities around them. Edna shrugged. “To some extent, this is an internal matter for the Aivan temples. ”

“What good is Aeon’s forces if they are not projected at this time? The Aivans clearly need our help, and they can’t get them to agree, we need to put our foot down and force them to. This is one of the times where a forced evacuation makes all the sense in the world.”

“The heroes should be here to evacuate them. That’s what the Aivan temples prefer. Declaring our presence so overtly would make it difficult for the Aivan temple to maintain cordial relations with the other three temples.”

Our relationship with the other temples have mostly calmed down, with them ‘tolerating’ our presence, and my Valthorns trying their best not to mount an invasion. It’s a common line of thought among the nobles and Valthorns, who believe the Central continent is significantly better than the unruly nations of the other four continents. 

The worst kinds are those who truly believe how good we have it, and they take the quality of life differences as the reason for us to invade them. As if it is our ‘duty’ to uplift these other folks.

My believers would definitely prefer to impose Central-Continent style federal rule on the others, and while I understand why, it’s something I don’t really want to do. 

I dislike that sort of thought, as hypocritical as it sounds. Yes, I secured the security of Freshka through a massive military and economic expansion, defeating and killing my way to power. But I think at some point, one must acknowledge that further expansion of the Valthorns is just pure greed. 

The central continent produces enough, and why do I want to impose my way on the others? There is space for coexistence. For diversity. Dominance does not have to equal annihilation for the other side. 

It’s tempting, when in positions of power, to always apply force to get our way. That works, but ultimately, if the general masses perceive the ruling party as one that only gets things done by force, it also restricts the ruling party to a path of only using force. 

In short, if the other parties think you have a hammer, and will only use a hammer to hammer down everything, they will act and prepare themselves in response. A ruling party must be able to do all things, in order to maximise it’s policy choices, because the hammer is not always the best choice. 

An olive branch or a stern warning may sometimes be all that’s needed. 

Anyway, I have the privilege of being distanced from these issues, because I have other lands where I don’t have to deal with such things.  

“A mob listens to no one. Even the nobles that started it.” The Aivan temples tried their best to suppress the riots. 

One of my undercover priests nodded. “They seem to be exceptionally angry.”

The spies sent to support my small Valthorn delegations agreed. “There must be some spies or instigators working for the nobles. With some [leadership] and [rebel] type abilities, it’s not hard to convince regular villages to take up arms.” 

“Come on. We can’t be waiting for the heroes to get things done.”

The heroes were busy. They fought a few demon champions for practice throughout the continents. 

***

 

In the sandworld, Lumoof waited in the tunnels. We had already destroyed the riftgate structures back at the entrance to the pits, and we were pretty sure those things regenerated after a while, because it was the fourth time we destroyed them.

We made regular trips down into the pits, to check on the status of the dormant demon king, and each time, we took in the magical changes down below. 

We noticed the strength of the mana drain from the depths below increased over time, but it wasn’t getting bigger. Perhaps this was already the maximum size of the demon king. 

For now, we only made a few probing attacks and mostly remained outside it’s senses, the demon ‘mother’ formed a strong demonic bubble that acted as it’s means to sense intruders. 

The demon seemed to be particularly sensitive to my roots, and every one of my roots triggered the ‘demon mother’ to respond with a huge blast of acid. The acid wasn’t explosive, but they were heavily corrosive and seemed to suck mana out of everything. 

I had wanted to gather some of that acid for my own research, but it was really hard to collect samples since it’s heavily corrosive and seemed to eat through my vines and roots rather easily. 

As we monitored, we began noticing the rate of mana drain began to plateau. Was the demon king finally mature? “Is it happening?” 

“I think so.” The ground shook, and Lumoof sprung into action. My roots surged out from our tiny cave and smashed into the demon king’s ‘bubble’, but this time, I pushed harder. 

The demon mother roared in defiance, and attacked with it’s corrosive acid blast. A wall of wood temporarily redirected the acid blast, buying time for Lumoof to move out of the way. More roots, and this time, we attacked both the demon mother and the dormant demon king. 

The earth shook some more, and the weird bubble around the dormant demon started to show wavy lines that seemed a bit like symbols. They were similar to the ones we saw on the riftgates, but different. 

“Remember what we see.” My artificial minds tried their best to record the signages and lines, but we were moving quickly, and my wooden shields blocked our sights. In any case, we were not getting a good view of the whole thing.

The lines began to glow, and then, that bubble of magic around the demon king started to wobble and swirl, like a blob of water floating in space. It wobbled, and swirled, and then, it started to move upward. 

At that moment, I felt a strong void mana presence above us. 

The dormant demon king twisted, and turned. It began to unfurl it’s body, and now I saw it for what it seemed to be. 

A gigantic stony lizard with two heads, one on each side. It looked deformed, there were streaks of glowing green in parts of it’s sand-colored body, and those glowing green parts emitted a strangely familiar energy. 

But we had no time to dwell on it, we moved upwards, and my roots blasted out like a machine gun. I caused the walls of the pit to collapse and hoped that the rocks would slow down the demon king. 

The rocks that collapsed just melted into that blob. It was some kind of ‘liquid-mana-mixture’, and some of my vines drained some of its energy. It was demonic mana and core mana, plus something I wasn’t sure about. Like the remnants of the physical components of the demon king that it didn’t need. 

Thankfully it was relatively slow, and Lumoof was able to shoot up the pits faster than the demon king. We needed to get to the void tower before the demon king did, and hopefully hack it. 

“Now’s the time to send more people over-”

“I can’t.” Stella said. “There’s something that’s over the demon’s world and it’s interfering with it.”

“What.”

I couldn’t see it, but Stella could, and she said that the demon world at this moment was covered in a cloud of void mana. 

Was it the doorway to that ‘black sun’ I saw on the Parasiteworld?

In any case, as we approached the exit of the pits, I saw the previously destroyed riftgates had been somehow magically reconstructed. No matter, my roots smashed into them, and this time, they were charged with so much void mana that they blocked my roots. 

Initially. 

I tried again with more force, more power, and borrowed some star mana. I took out a few of the towers, and they exploded, releasing the void mana with it. 

“Aeon, the astral path is wobbling.” 

We looked up. The sky was dark, and Lumoof shot out of the pit like a fighter jet, and at that moment, there were a ring around the pit, filled with void mana. It kept pulling void mana from that black sun, and I felt it’s void mana grow. 

Patreeck had to step in once again, as I felt a strong mental attack coming from the black sun. But I am stronger now, and we stared at the black void. It wasn’t a voice, just a really irritating background hum. It would turn anyone else insane, and Lumoof looked very uncomfortable even with my mind’s shielding.

The black sun filled the world with void mana.

So, I pulled star mana from the heroes, and charged my anti-demon magical spears. 

And I threw them at the oversized ring around the pit. It exploded violently, and some of the void mana leaked out.

“Aeon, what’s happening? The astral path is wobbling a lot.”

Mana surged out of the pit, and then destroyed riftgate towers magically reappeared. I pulled out more of my spears, and threw them at the rift gates. They regenerated even after my attacks, but I sensed it’s energy level dipped slightly. “Which causes it to wobble more?”

“Uh... it’s not wobbling as much now.”

I charged another spear with star mana, and flung it at the ring again. Another huge explosion as the void mana reacted violently to the star mana. 

At that point, the black sun pulsed, and the sky was suddenly flooded with void mana. I attempted to charge one more spear, and the spear exploded immediately, even before I threw the spear. 

“Smart.” I cursed as Lumoof emerged from a shell of charred wood. I used normal mana to charge up the spears, but they didn’t do as much damage. 

The riftgates were charged, in a similar alternating pattern of void mana and core mana. The two-headed lizard emerged from the depths. 

“If I can’t hit the gates, why not the demon king.” Lumoof smashed into the demon king, and landed on top of it. Immediately, my roots pierced the demon king’s sandy top. 

I wasn’t sure whether this demon king awakened or not, but there was no harm trying. Lumoof mentally agreed. “Well, to hell with it. Let’s hit it.” My mana surged through Lumoof, and I knew it wouldn’t work. 

But I wanted to weaken it, and see whether I could mess with it. If star mana reacted badly with void mana, injecting star mana into a demon king should cause it to ‘fail’ to travel through the astral path, or at least, disrupt it. 

I injected the demon king with star mana again, this time, I wanted the void mana in the ambient surroundings to trigger an explosion. 

“Aeon, what the flying fuck is happening?” Stella cursed as she watched the astral path wobble like someone was shaking a string from the other end. 

“Lumoof’s trying to attack the demon king.” 

“What?!”

“We planned for this. We’ll see how it goes.” 

Stella couldn’t send someone over, but I could constantly pull things through the vine ropeway. More spears smashed into the demon king, as a large rift cracked open in the skies above us, revealing a massive multicolored blob. 

Another black droplet emerged from the blob and it flew towards the demon king at incredibly high speed. “Stop that thing!” 

My roots surged outwards and smashed into the black droplet. It was incredibly tough, and I barely chipped a bit off. 

But I did. 

So I tried again. I managed to land two hits, and then placed multiple wooden shields along its path. It smashed through them easily. 

I wrapped vines around it, but it burned through my vines like I was a level 1 tree. 

I smashed it repeatedly, each time a little chip off. I attempted to trigger it with star mana, and the explosions didn’t hurt it at all. 

The black droplet touched the demon king, and it merged seamlessly. The demon king, previously without a will, now opened all of its eyes. It shook its body midair, then both the black sun and the formless blob vanished abruptly. 

I felt magic around us shift, and concentrated itself around the demon king. At that very moment, Lumoof could even taste it in the air, and feel it on his skin. Even in my avatar form, the void and core mana was thick in the air. 

How? The whole place was meant to be an anti-mana world, and the demon king itself is meant to be an anti-magic demon king. The mana was drawn into the demon king at that moment, and then, that same runic swirls appeared around us. 

“Aeon, it’s wobbling.” Stella said back on Treehome. “-and the rift’s moving! It’s going somewhere else.”

The gate to our world opened,d and the demon king was immediately wrapped in a huge bubble of magic. It was going to warp to our world, with Lumoof still on the demon king’s back. 

My roots pierced the demon king’s outer shells, and strapped in for the ride. 

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