Chapter 8: Village Hero Meets Dryad
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Three days had passed since the fight against the demon; the villagers were beginning to fully rebuild houses damaged and destroyed with heavy assistance from Zeruna. Without any outwards pressure, the Untamed had decided to disband after being spared by the villagers and Zeruna. The paths they had chosen was the strangest thing.

Two of them gave up their weapons and decided to now live an honest life in the city of Rigis. Rorlau said she'd now start studying healing magic and become a doctor instead of using magic to hurt people. Glutton decided he'd become a baker in the village and make an honest living. Klaw and Heragheist became the village protectors after returning all stolen items and are now working as labourers in the village. Vergheist simply left silently without saying another word. All of this because Zeruna spared their lives and saved their leader from certain death. They also all gained the title, 'Reformed' when appraised. Such a status change didn't appear for Veragheist.

Zeruna still had no idea what to do with SP. What did it do? Why did she get it? How did she get it? She first got SP when destroying the golems and now when killing the nameless demon. She couldn't go a few minutes without the nature of SP pestering her. She didn't know why she was so concerned, whether it was because it was the first thing that was completely new. Was it her Omniscient Intuition warning her of something important? The skill wasn't as powerful as it suggested; in the game, it merely showed you your opponent's possible next move, but here, it allows you to borderline read minds — she already has that ability thanks to Psionics. However, with Omniscient Intuition and Parallel Thinking, its effects are amplified.

All these thoughts about what has happened and what will happen are suddenly cut off as she is walking through the village. The two kids she'd saved approach her while she is observing a sparring match between Klaw and Heragheist. She won't be around forever, and, from what she's heard, the Untamed weren't the biggest bandit group in the area.

"Miss Shi," the girl says. "Can we talk to you in private?"

"Please, village hero!" begs the boy.

"Sure," replies Zeruna. "Klaw, Hera, you two are finished for now with sparring. I'm sure there is work to be done around the village."

"Yeah, yeah we're on it," responds Heragheist half-assedly.

Zeruna follows the two kids to a secluded area behind the village and over a small crest. Not many people went around this area so they'd be fine to talk. What they want to talk about? A mystery.

"First and foremost, we'd like to sincerely thank you for saving our lives three days ago. Not only that but no one was hurt because of you," the girl states.

"You're Zeruna Black, aren't you," the male replies. "Don't deny it, we already know."

Those words felt like an actual freight train hitting her, what had she done to give these surprisingly smart kids the answer? The way the boy suddenly said it too, so blunt and unrestrained.

'Do these kids plan on blackmailing me? Hah! I'd like to see them try.'

"You have a sharp eye and mind, may I ask how you came to that conclusion?" admits Zeruna.

"You see..." the girl says. "Actually, it would be better to show you."

The girl abruptly begins to morph, her form changing into something outlandish. Green skin, yellow eyes, twig-like hair — she's not a human girl, she's a dryad, a tree spirit. The boy seems to be your average village kid from the fact he is just standing by idly. But something about him too is puzzling.

"A Dryad living amongst villagers as a little girl? That's new!" comments Zeruna. "I guess you have a special skill that allows you to see through my status concealment spell."

"Indeed, when I first saw you come to this village I was concerned. You see, my father would often tell me stories of you; they'd say you were a ruthless monster, but not to me."

"You must've been born recently, like 200 years ago maybe?" Zeruna mutters. "Your father, I met the man myself. If I'm right, he built the small library here. That Dryad man was very timid, I'm surprised he got a wife."

"Yes, he did, he impregnated a woman who lived at this village, then died."

"I'm curious," says Zeruna. "Who is this boy, exactly?"

"Our history is a bit convoluted, so I won't go into detail: this boy is the reincarnation of a powerful human who saved my forest more than a century ago, and I fell in love. Once this man died, I scrambled to find a way to bring him back to life without resorting to Lichdom. I travelled far, maybe too far, to bring him to life via an Elven nation abroad. They worshipped a ancient tree spirit called the Soul Tree. In exchange for half my soul, I brought his back. The only reason I lived through the procedure was because I'm a tree spirit. And thus, he was reborn as a child. So I went undercover, using Hypnotic Eye, I altered the memories of a the entire village. I inserted myself here as the child of a family."

"An interesting tale," Zeruna comments, half paying attention. "Why are telling me this?"

"First, you knew my father who said, on the words of my mother, you were a vital part of his life, despite you being an extremely chaotic and violent person. Second, you saved this village, so you have my trust."

"I guess, our secrets are safe with each other."


"I feel left out!" Timothy adds.

"Silence, boy," the Dryad snaps as she begins to shapeshift back into a human girl.

"Boy? Remember, I saved you in my past life! At least that's what you keep telling me," replies Timothy, unsure. 

"Don't worry, your memories will soon return to you."

"I'll leave you two lovebirds alone, I have something to do," Zeruna taunts.

"Before you go, I have something interesting to tell you, but you, Timothy, are not allowed to hear," the Dryad in the body of the girl flows over to Timothy and taps in on the forehead, knocking him out. "There has been word that the Orc King was killed by his son, who seems to be outrageously more powerful than he used to be. He also has an equally strong 'advisor' who seemingly appeared out of nowhere. He has become the next Orc King and it's clear they want war."

"Why tell me?"

"I don't know, it felt like I should."

"I guess news really travels fast through trees and animals."

"Yes, we Dryads can talk with anything that is alive. Trees make a good talking buddy you know."

"Good to know," giggles Zeruna. "Yeah I heard about this too from some merchants.