TL: Edited 30 Oct 2017
Chapter 32 – Forbidden Garden
============== Undead’s POV ==============
As the fog in the forest dissipated, the battle that took place in it ended. The young guards’ sudden attack did bring about an unexpected effect on the Madara’s vanguard, but the situation quickly became clear when Kabias gathered the high-level undead.
The forest turned silent.
“Lord Kabias.” The pale undead acolyte brought his hand to his chest and bowed respectfully to the giant skeleton.
“I had thought that you maggots wouldn’t bother to greet me, Rothko.”
The skeleton general who wore a bronze armor sat on top of a pile of corpses. Its legs were crossed, and the flames in its eyes burned intensely. It gripped its double-edged ax, while the other hand was placed on its knee, and looked down on the weak acolyte with full of contempt.
The Dark Lords and the undead wizards hated each other. They had gathered together under the call from the Mercury Staff, but they did not choose to work together by choice. As for the Blood Lords, they had kept amongst themselves and rarely interfered with Madara’s politics. They had stayed in this fragmented environment for several centuries before emerging from their stable cocoon.
The prophecy from the witches overlapped with the Goddess Helene’s own revelation.
‘The Darkness shall rise from the east’,
Regardless of the Dark Lords, undead wizards or the Blood Lords, everyone believed that this era was indeed going to end, and a new era would be ushered in by Madara.
Rothko smiled. Kabias was a general under Tarkus, while he was merely a small leader of a company, so there was no argument in their ranks. He drew the ire of the skeleton before him because their vanguard stole the thunder amongst the other undead generals.
Three hundred skeletons and twenty necromancers won against the Bucce guards and utterly routed the Green village’s militia to allow Kabias unfettered access. Lastly, they emerged victorious Bucce’s guards. His results could even be described as glorious.
In Madara’s tradition, the undead’s vanguard was used as cannon fodder to sap the enemy’s strength, and under the worst circumstances, they were used as a delaying tactic or buffer. It was typical for one-third of a squadron of Aouine’s guards defeat such Madara’s vanguard comprising of skeletons and necromancers with ease.
In Tarkus plans, Rothko was nothing more to a chess pawn used for disruption, while the real hammers to strike the nail in Aouine’s coffins were Kabias and Wesker. It was unexpected of this undead acolyte named Rothko to defeat the enemies instead, and it surprised Tarkus.
Tarkus was similarly surprised that his right-wing Wesker had committed a huge error in the battlefield. The battlefield was always changing, and even outstanding commanders were unable to be ahead of every step. It was true even if Tarkus was famed for being reliable.
Since the acolyte was from a lowly birthright and did not know his future in Madara, he naturally did not speak back to Kabias. On the contrary, the Skeleton Lord’s words were like glory to him. Kabias was biased against all the necromancers, but showing so much contempt for him raised his status.
He looked at the Black Warriors lined up behind Kabias and felt a little envious. He might have gotten a fair amount of loot from the battles, but the majority of them had to be given to the superiors, and what remained behind was not enough to summon even one Black warrior. He heard that there was a Paladin’s tomb in the Green Village, which would certainly be the best body to be converted, but the Green village was under Kabias’s territory now.
[Although it’s a pity, there would be plenty of chances in the future. All the leaders are aiming to get something useful out of this war now.]
He thought for a while before replying: “Lord Kabias, there are a few rats who escaped to the north. We had not seen the refugees since yesterday’s afternoon, and I suspect that the attack here was a diversion, and the remainder of their forces moved towards the north and entered the River of Daggers.”
It was enough for him to stop there. Wesker was in charge of the northern area. If he wanted to capture live specimens or get a share of the loot, he had to get the skeleton’s approval. A small leader like himself could not shoulder this responsibility.
But Kabias was no fool either. It glanced at the little acolyte and realized the little worm’s scheme. It adjusted its lower jaw, creating a clacking sound.
“You want me to go against that bald-headed Wesker? What do I get out of this, little maggot.”
“You would be able to increase your strength, isn’t this advantage good enough, my lord?”
“Hmph. They are merely a bunch of weak humans. I have no interest in creating weak skeletons.
“I heard that there’s a veteran soldier amongst the guards who survived the November war. He’s the leader of the guards.”
Kabias flaming eyes pulsed: “Looks like that fellow Wesker is lucky today.”
Rothko sighed. His persuasion had failed, so he raised his head to take his leave. He and Kabias were from different units, and as a member of the undead wizard’s faction, his vanguard did not need to listen to Kabias. If it were not for this matter, he would not have sought out Kabias.
But at this moment, he suddenly felt a tremor in his heart, and he looked to the south.
The giant skeleton also looked in the same direction, bypassing the forest and looked at the mountains covered in ominous shadows.
[[A terrifying Mana response.]]
“The Zevail mountain pathway.” Kabias sniffed the air as if it could sense the magic coming from the pine river. (TL: It’s one thing to pretend that Kabias can talk even though it’s a skeleton, it’s another to pretend he has lungs to suck the air in.)
Rothko did not answer because he immediately felt an even more powerful mana ripple from that direction.
[What is that damned Golden Demonic Tree doing?]
Any wizard within dozens of miles would be able to feel that response. He was suddenly a little worried and wondered if the magicians from the White-mane Legion within Fortress Riedon discovered something.
“We had best send out some people in advance, Lord Kabias.”
“Hmph, I know what to do even without you telling me. We undead have a stronger reaction to magic. When you become a Lich, you are permitted to teach me.”
Rothko smiled again.
============ Brendel’s POV ==============
Brendel brought Freya and Romaine out from a wall’s fissure. He gestured for them to stop, and he looked outside to take everything within the valley into his eyes. A huge golden tree with healthy leaves stood quietly in the center of the valley in the depressed grounds that were filled with gray boulders.
[The Forbidden Garden.]
The Golden Demonic Tree absorbed the nutrients from the land and the surrounding mana, causing the earth to become barren and lose the Earth Element. Brendel raised his head; the sky was gloomy and dark as if black clouds were gathering above them. This was also due to the unnatural balance of the elements.
As the Earth Element has been completely stripped, other elements gathered here in huge amounts, causing the order of the Elements to be chaotic. The law of the Elements was set when Mother Marsha created the world and governed by the Elven-kings, but there could be various reasons for it to be unstable, like the Golden Demonic Tree which disrupted the law.
In the game, an Elementalist’s strength would be sealed by 30%. It was the reason why teams hardly accepted Elementalists. The Elementalists even described this bit of history as ‘History of the three years with bloody tears’.
Romaine and Freya stared at the strange Golden Demonic Tree. They had heard of a creature like this only in bedtime stories and even wondered if they were dreaming when they saw it in front of them.
The beauty of the Golden Demonic Tree contrasted deeply with the dystopic background.
“W-what is that?” Freya stammered.
“It’s so pretty. Brendel, is that the Golden Apple Tree in the mythical tales? Are the monsters the guards of this tree? I can’t believe there’s a living thing in this environment that’s so beautiful!”
“That’s an oak tree, Romaine.” Freya sighed.
“I-I know that, so it’s an oak tree!” Romaine’s eyebrows darted up to her hair while she corrected herself quickly.
“Don’t get trapped by its beauty. This is probably the most dangerous creature—-, no, it should be called as a monster.” Brendel’s eyes scanned the entire mountain and quickly discovered another batch of Demonic Tree patrolling the area. The creatures wrapped with whips slowly moved towards the pathway filled with boulders,
[It matches my memories in the game.]
“Yes. The creatures that we met earlier are born from this tree.”
“How?” Freya’s eyes went wild with shock.
They were not as tense as before when they saw the patrolling Demonic Trees. The three of them had fought against the servants of the Golden Demonic Tree during their journey to the Forbidden Garden, and Brendel took in another 65 XP. He even managed to get a Tree Crystal from a Mature Demonic Tree.
It was a crafting material in the game, but Brendel did not know how the production stats were calculated, so he just put it into his bag as it might benefit them later on.
He also realized that Freya and Romaine’s apparent growth. Especially the future Goddes of War. Her strength and agility had risen sharply from the battles, and she was almost at the level of a guard. The only thing that Brendel did not understand was how they received XP, but from the looks of it, their progress was much slower than him.
Freya as a pure militia should have increased her level repeatedly from killing a high-level monster like the Demonic Tree, but he felt that his Mercenary profession’s level rose much faster. It was all very puzzling.
But he quickly put away these idle thoughts because he had more important things to do. If the Golden Demonic Tree discovered them, then it would summon the Rotten Beasts from the outside to its aid, and leave them with little time.
He had estimated in the game before, the first batch of Rotten Beast would reach in fifteen minutes, and if they were still unable to finish off the Golden Demonic Tree, they had to consider running away.
But Brendel did not immediately seek to initiate a fight. He had another issue that needed an answer even before he thought of defeating the Demonic Tree patrol. He looked up at the steep slope.
“Wait for me here, don’t get discovered.” He turned back and replied.