LTBE - Chapter 474.1: Ancestral Memories (1)
In the fog, Roel Ascart quietly stared at the black-robed priest kneeling on the ground.
The latter’s body was undergoing a complete change. His legs were thickening into sharp roots that plunged into the earth. His body was expanding beyond the restraints of his own clothes. His sagging skin no longer just bore a resemblance to tree barks.
These changes occurring to the High Priest cleared up the doubts in Roel’s mind.
That explains his ghastly appearance and how he’s able to survive through the ages. It turns out that he isn’t a human but a treant.
Before the Savior’s descent into depravity, one of his personas was the Sun God. This might not hold much significance to the other races, but for the treants that were reliant on the sun’s energy for survival, it was almost an instinct for them to worship the sun.
Now that he thought about it, there was no way a human could have possibly become a High Priest of the Savior in the ancient era. After all, it was a very different world back then. It would have been inconceivable for a human to rise above all of those inherently powerful legendary races like the angels and the dragons.
As surprising as the revelation of the enemy’s true identity was, Roel wasn’t too fazed by it. What truly shocked him was the dissonant item embedded in the core of the swiftly growing tree.
It likely belonged to a human judging from its size and shape.
The massive treant howled out an eerie cry that grated at one’s ears. Countless branches intertwined with one another, significantly bulking up the treant’s size. It was clear that the enemy was currently recovering from his injuries, which didn’t bode well for Roel.
Despite this, Roel chose to stay put.
It was not because he was underestimating his enemy or that he was overwhelmed by shock. Rather, an indescribable mystical feeling had taken over him. His eyes were drawn to the heart embedded in the treant’s body, and he found himself gripped by an inexplicable sense of intimacy. It was almost as if an invisible thread had connected him to that bizarre heart.
He wondered if he had come under a spell, but there was no other anomaly with his body. The inexplicable sense of intimacy also quickly faded as the enemy concealed the bizarre heart.
A human heart placed inside a treant body; this was an uncanny combination worth pondering over. Roel gave the matter some thought while channeling his mana, and he was soon able to come up with some deductions.
“I see. That heart is the reason you’re able to disguise yourself as a human,” Roel murmured to himself with narrowed eyes.
The Treant High Priest’s earlier human disguise had been so perfect that Roel hadn’t sensed anything wrong with it. It was to the extent that he wouldn’t be surprised that such a disguise would require human parts to serve as a catalyst.
Treants were bulky and highly immobile; this was common knowledge on the Sia Continent. However, Roel had learned from an ancient treant that was currently residing in the forest of the Ascart Fiefdom that there were fallen treants in the ancient era who were capable of traveling around freely using some sort of spell.
It was unfortunate that Kayde had been too intoxicated to share more about this piece of intelligence it had spoken on a whim, but again, it probably couldn’t have imagined that Roel would actually stumble upon a fallen treant in this age.
To be honest, Roel wasn’t particularly bothered by the ancient spell that likely required some sort of vile ritual. He was more concerned about another problem.
The origin of the heart.
He looked at the fallen treant, who had mostly recovered by now, with a livid expression. He already had a good guess about the origin of the heart—it likely belonged to a member of the Ardes.
It was not a baseless guess.
Both Lilian and Roel had their own encounters with the High Priest, but the latter had never cast the highly effective disappearance spell on either of them. Lilian proposed the possibility that their Kingmaker Bloodline granted them immunity toward that spell, but from the looks of it, there was another likelier possibility.
The disappearance spell was derived from the Kingmaker Bloodline, possibly lingering traces of an ability that an awakener of the Kingmaker Bloodline had obtained from an ancient god.
In other words, Roel and Lilian weren’t truly ‘immune’ to the disappearance spell; they were simply unaffected by it because the fundamental nature of that ability was synonymous to the Kingmaker Bloodline. It was similar to how the sun wouldn’t be burned by its own flames.
The thought of that ignited a spark in Roel’s mind, which swiftly grew into a raging inferno of fury.
It meant that the Treant High Priest had murdered an Arde and defiled his corpse in order to create a human body for itself. It was a wretched act of vileness that made Roel quiver with anger even when a thousand years had passed since then.
Roel could accept his ancestors dying in combat, but he couldn’t tolerate the defiling of their corpses. Just the thought of people like Astrid, who had devoted their lives to protecting humankind, being disrespected after death was enough to induce irrepressible anger in him.
Within moments, the huge treant reconstructed itself and let loose a screech suffused with madness and killing intent. Having restored its original body, it was finally able to draw out the full extent of its abilities.
Several layers of light formed around the body of the massive treant, then the surroundings started to wither. It was as if the treant was absorbing nearby life force; the ground dried up and cracked, the nearby buildings crumbled and collapsed, and flowers and trees visibly wasted away.
A blight was swiftly forming and expanding around the treant.
An arid gale blew across this piece of dead land, tugging Roel’s hair with it. For a moment, Roel thought that he had seen the silhouette of the death god in the gale.
The treant should have been a symbol of life force, but the one before him was cloaked in such a dense death aura that it was nauseating. This was the true nature of fallen treants.
Under the Treant High Priest’s command, the blight that greedily devoured everything within reach finally bared its fangs at Roel and pounced at him.
Unexpectedly, Roel didn’t back down against the dense congregation of death aura. Instead, he stood his ground and calmly stared at the foul Fallen, as if he was a grim reaper awaiting the toll of death.
Then the world changed.
Right as the blight was about to encroach on Roel, a loud explosion suddenly drowned out everything. Flames burst through the earth and gushed into the sky, transforming the entire stretch of land before Roel into a blazing inferno.
Plots of land were blasted into the sky while rocks and dirt alike melted under the searing heat. The fallen treant’s body was blown into pieces by the explosion, but that wasn’t the end of it yet.
Following the rattling explosions, the golden World Serpent suddenly rose from the burning lava and charged at the shrieking fallen treant. The Primordial Earth Goddess opened her gigantic mouth to bring an end to the depraved sinner who had clung on to life through the millennia.
She clamped her jaws down on the fallen treant to hold it in place while summoning a pillar of lava from the ground to reduce it to cinders. The fallen treant frantically fought back with all its might, but its struggle was meaningless before the very embodiment of the earth.
Crisp crackles and guttural shrieks were the death throes of this sinner.
The intense flames dispersed the surrounding fog, and the tremors shook all nearby mountains. The burning fallen treant looked almost like a torch signaling the fate of those who dared to sin.
“Are you watching this, the Collector?”
Sensing a gaze on him from a gleaming light in the sky, Roel began to speak aloud. His voice was calm as if what had happened here was no big deal.
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“I’m disappointed. For someone who has lived through the eras, I thought that you could do better than this. I thought wrong. I guess I was too optimistic to think that trash can become something useful with time. You don’t have to worry though; I happen to be good at garbage disposal.
“Just like how I’ve disposed of this rotting tree… you’re next.”