TL: Edited 2 Jan 2018. If there are any further mistakes you spotted, please leave a comment.
Chapter 35 – The illusion of the past
The sun was at its brightest under the clear sky in this spring.
During April, the viridescent grass extended itself to the end of Bruglas’s river. Verdant and luxuriant trees grew in the forest, and one could find a watermill or sawmill at the golden currents of the river’s turn.
The crystal clear water flowed along the pebbles in the stream, crossing over the pine mountains and then continued to the Vieiro area in the north. To the natives who lived there, this river was like an endless song that carried the wisdom of the ages.
The past Brendel believed in that story and he traveled along the river to listen to the sounds in the forest. There were bears residing in it, but it was difficult to spot them. In his memories, this was the place where his grandfather loved to bring him in the past.
And in the current Brendel’s memory, this was a newbie’s region that he was instantly familiar. Most of the creatures were low leveled while the bears were the Bosses of this area, and dropped quality hides.
The two memories had meshed together and sprang up in his mind here.
Just a few minutes ago where he recalled the strategy to fight against the Golden Demonic Tree —
“Freya, Romaine. I’ll keep things short. Both of you might have realized that the Golden Demonic Tree’s real power is the Soul Energy within it. This is the reason why it is able to control so many Rotten Beasts and Demonic Trees.”
“Soul Energy?” Romaine asked.
“Don’t interrupt Brendel,” Freya said.
“Yes, Soul Energy. The ability to spy on thoughts and gain control of people’s hearts. The Golden Demonic Tree is able to create grand illusions and detain the souls in there.” Brendel replied: “The truth is when we fought against the Demonic Trees, the Golden Demonic Tree has already started to affect our thoughts. It is always dreaming, and its dream shall merge with us very soon.”
“Dream? What does that mean?”
“Very soon we will enter our own dreams, and you will see something unbelievable in it. Before that happens there are crucial points that I need to tell you……”
Brendel pointed to the center of the valley. The Golden Demonic Tree was becoming more beautiful in their eyes. The branches extended everywhere, seemingly unleashing a vibrant life towards the world. It was a sign that it was spreading the dream world towards reality.
In the game, the Tree Shepherd bestowed the Golden Tree a drop of blood from the Gods to awaken the powers within it, but the Elven tree also slumbered into an eternal dream. The contents of the dream was a world of darkness and ghastly whispers, and any normal mortals would sink into madness just by catching a glimpse of the world.
This world was considerably fatal to the players in the game. Once they entered into it they were prone to death anytime. But in order to defeat the Golden Demonic Tree, they had to enter this dream.
This was the first stage of fighting against the Golden Demonic Tree, named Phantasmagoria.
This stage was once considered to be the hardest battle in the game, but the guild ‘Freedom’ solved this problem by using a trick. It was a rarely known secret early on, and Brendel returned to this area once again when the secret was distributed widely. It was also a coincidence that his resources at hand allowed him to complete the first stage, but it was probably insufficient for the second stage.
When the first stage ended, he would have to seek victory by using their real abilities, and he thought it was difficult for their current strength.
[The players who attempt this dungeon have an average level of 25. I’m only at level 10, and the girls’ levels are definitely below me. Even with all our rare equipment, it would be difficult to finish the boss battle in 15 minutes, and after that period of time, the Rotten Beasts will arrive.
The Holy Sword would be my trump card. If I make every strike count, then it might just be possible to take down the Golden Demonic Tree within that time frame, barely.]
“Crucial points?” Freya’s voice brought him back to reality.
Brendel took a moment to recall what Freya said, then nodded: “The Golden Demonic Tree’s dream will invade our own, but you must remember you are the ones who control the dream. Regardless of how it constructs your dream, or create the most fearsome of beasts, they would never go past your limits.”
[Back in the game, the Golden Demonic Tree will create the strongest monsters that a player has met and recreate that dream. In addition, there were several other negative attributes added to the mix,. With every injury and mistake made, the negative attributes would increase while the enemies become even stronger. This ends up as a loop where the enemies become stronger while the player becomes weaker and finally gets defeated as a result.]
Brendel did not know how these negative attributes would present itself here. But there is only one answer. They had to be brimming with confidence and ensure that they are in their best conditions to secure victory.
He pointed at his temple and looked gravely at the girls: “Gather your concentration and keep your determination up to fight. The human’s ‘Will’ attribute.”
“Don’t interrupt, Romaine!” Brendel snapped in exasperation: “I’m talking about willpower. A human’s willpower can be unstable, and it will fluctuate based on your conditions. Gather your concentration and hold on to your determination to keep on fighting. That way, your willpower will always remain at its peak. As long as your willpower holds steady, the Golden Demonic Tree will find it difficult to bring about your negative emotions. Don’t get controlled by that negative emotion, otherwise, there would be dire consequences.”
“How dire?” The merchant girl looked at him with bright eyes.
He did not reply. He was afraid his answer will make them tense, and that was also a negative emotion. In the game’s lore, defeat would mean that their souls would be detained eternally in the Golden Demonic Tree, until it was purified by flames into ashes, where the souls would finally be released. But their bodies would not have survived the loss of the souls.
The surroundings were starting to become foggy.
Brendel still had one more rule that he did not manage to finish explaining. The first person who woke up had the ability to enter another person’s dream and signal to the person, boosting their confidence and faith to allow them to defeat the dream more easily.
Each person had only one chance to do something like that, so there was a tactical placement; The strongest individual will enter the dream first, then the second strongest, the third strongest and so forth. That way the strongest person will be in time to aid the next person. This allowed for fewer members to be defeated in the game, which was the trick that ‘Freedom’ discovered.
Brendel quickly decided the order.
“I’ll be first to enter the dream state. Next is Freya, and the last is Romaine.”
“How do you enter the dream state?” Freya asked.
“Just close your eyes for a while and you will be pht—” Brendel bit his tongue when he saw the merchant girl actually closing her eyes to try it out. He immediately used his forefingers to pull the corners of her eyes to bring up her eyelids.
“Ah!” She uttered a short yelp as Brendel flicked her forehead.
“My esteemed lady! Curiosity kills the cat!”
“The dream world that’s filled with magic and spiritual powers is very dangerous. You must be cautious. I’m closing my eyes now.”
He sighed. Since he had the most experience amongst them, he should naturally be the first one to enter the dream.
Freya had many mental barriers right now and she was in greater danger, so he had to quickly aid her without any errors. On the other hand, Romaine should have the easiest time escaping from the Golden Demonic Tree’s control, and with Freya’s help, she should have no problems at all.
The first stage was five minutes in reality. In the dream world, it extended to half an hour. If they were not able to free themselves in the dream world, they would be lost forever and detained eternally.
This looked like a very strong plan to him, and at the very least he did not spot any problems on the surface. If he succeeded there would be a generous reward from it, and they would have sufficient time to move within the fortress.
There was no one who knew better than Brendel about the fortress’s situation and how the future would turn out. Every bit of extra time meant additional hope in finding Romaine’s aunt and successfully escaping from there.
He patted on the ‘Thorn of Light’ on his waist and breathed deeply. The dream world was incredibly realistic. The scent of the river’s wet earth filled his nose, a taste that belonged to the Bruglas’s April grasses and forest trees.
But what did it mean for the Golden Demonic Tree to throw him here? Did it think that the strongest creature he met was the old brown bear in this forest?
If that was the case, it was merely a rare level 16 elite, and he could easily defeat it.
But in his memories, it was never easy with the Golden Demonic Tree. If anything, the creatures that were corrupted by the ‘Blood of Gods’ were the most malevolent creatures in this world. There was no reasoning to how evil they were.
[If I counted the time correctly, I should be entering a plot event right about now right?]
Even though he had been in this world for a few days, he was still using terms unique to his previous world subconsciously.
At that moment, he heard a series of sounds where metal struck each other. His ears moved. At his current level 3 Military Swordsmanship, he was able to discern from his ears that two people were fighting.
[But it doesn’t sound like a duel, but mere practice.]
He did not choose to evade this event as he knew that it was pointless to do so. Furthermore, avoiding danger meant that he was fleeing and counted as a negative emotion, which might be used by the Golden Demonic Tree. He followed the source of the sound and discovered they came from the nearby watermill and logging mill. When he drew in a little closer and looked across the water wheel, he saw two surprising figures.
It was an old man full of silvery-greyish hair with long sideburns. He wore a deep blue colored uniform with a familiar emblem, and there was a sword in his hand. His figure gave an indomitable impression, as though he was an immovable mountain. But what made Brendel’s heart skip a beat was his expression, and his eyes displayed an unassailable will behind them. If anyone with a guilty bone in his body saw him, they would immediately avert their eyes away in contrition.
The other person was a boy holding a wooden sword. He looked no different from other boys, but the meaning was different in his eyes.
This boy was… Brendel.
More accurately, it was a young Brendel.
He raised his head in shock as he realized who the old man was. That was definitely his grandfather, a veteran of the November’s war and one who had received the Candlelight Emblem–
[Holy shit! The Candlelight Emblem from the Holy Cathedral of flames isn’t something that can be gotten easily—]
His heart quickened as he realized that the dream world was a little different from the game. But with that hesitation, he realized the aura from his grandfather was becoming stronger, even affecting his mind.
“I’m being hit with negative emotions!” He immediately realized he was affected subconsciously.
It was completely different in the game since there was no way a game could affect the mind, but right here in this real world…!
[This is going to be much more difficult compared to the game with this…]
Brendel gritted his teeth as he checked the bag on his belt. Fortunately, he still had a trump card. Even though this was utterly unexpected, it was still in his control.
He calmed down as he realized this.
The old man’s eyes stopped on him. He stared at him for a moment before speaking.
“Lad, are you qualified to inherit everything from my grandson?”
This sentence made Brendel’s body tremble.