The Price Of A Bloodline
Compared to when Richard only had ten thousand soldiers and had to use them for battle, Nyris had the broodmother’s constant output of drones helping her greatly. The Forest Plane needed manpower instead of battle ability right now, and the level 8 avatar had maximised her production of combat units which was already boosted by the abundant life energy in this plane. Her ability to produce standard combat units had actually caught up to the main body, giving Nyris tens of thousands of drones to command as she saw fit.
The biggest disadvantage of the broodmother’s drones was that their lack of soul made them especially vulnerable to the will of the forest. Outside of the avatar herself, even her level 12 knights couldn’t move about very freely. They were an enormous asset within the control of the Golden World Tree, but outside of that Nyris had to rely on her regular soldiers.
Thinking of this, Richard turned a little solemn and warned her, “Careful, the Jadeleaf Tribe still has a legendary druid.”
“Hmph, I’m just scared he won’t show himself,” she snorted. Having spent years in the Forest Plane now, she had managed to stabilise in the saint realm and also coordinated well with the twenty rune knights following her. Half her equipment was legendary while the rest was sub-legendary, and she always carried a special leaf from the Golden World Tree that could absorb a third of most incoming nature attacks.
With all of these boosts, she certainly had the confidence to battle a legendary druid. On the other hand, Jadering and Wildrage, the druid and hunter that were the pillar of support for the resistance in the Forest Plane, couldn’t afford to take the risk. Even if they weren’t afraid of losing, just a draw would be a huge blow to their reputations, destroying elven morale.
According to Nyris’s report, the situation in the Forest Plane was very stable and the elves hadn’t appeared in a long while. The problem was with scale; the forest was just far too large and the elves constantly ran away. It was near impossible to find them unless they wanted to show themselves. With the trees of life having run away, there were no tribes within a thousand kilometres.
“Is there anything you need to help speed things up?” Richard asked.
“Hmm… Your unicorn! 30 more rune knights would be good, too,” Nyris answered.
“What? You plan to attack?” Richard was surprised. The unicorn could create a moving sanctuary that fought the will of the forest, keeping the drone army effective in battle.
She smiled slyly, “Not necessarily, I can use it to create a path, too.”
“Hmm… Give me two days, I’ll be visiting with you.”
“You’re finally uprooting that world tree?” she chuckled.
“Heh, if only. I still don’t think I’ll be able to find it. But I won’t be bringing too many people this time; just a handful. The army will be on standby in case we manage to find anything.”
Nyris nodded vigorously and left like the wind. Richard only managed to relax when she was gone, heaving a sigh of relief as his sweat pores finally opened up. No matter as a man or woman, this royal felt like she was on the verge of pouncing on him at any time.
Richard spent some time on more urgent tasks before walking into Coco’s room, looking at the young lady who was watching the beautiful territory of Azan in silence before sitting next to her, “How do you feel?”
Coco turned to face him and touched her belly, pale little face smiling with joy, “I can feel the child now. It’s leaving me tired, but I’m fine.”
“Phew… Don’t move, let me take a good look.” Richard’s eyes glowed as his vision pierced through her body, but he didn’t see any foetus within. Instead, what he saw resembled the core of a demon surrounded by a layer of meat, pulsing with a regular rhythm.
This revelation shocked him a little. Most Archeron children had slight displays of their demonic bloodline within them, but it took an extremely pure manifestation for a core to appear. With a core formed even before birth, this child would have at least the same talent as Goliath or Sauron, if not greater. He hadn’t expected a child with Coco to have such talent; with the proper grooming, it could even reach the legendary realm.
However, as he retracted the Field of Truth, his gaze at Coco was far more complicated than anything else. Powerful bloodlines came at a price. Even demon lords grew from small cores, but those cores absorbed an enormous amount of energy that no common mother could provide. Coco, who was still a level 4 illusionist, definitely didn’t have the strength within her own body to support this growth. She was already pallid, and he could tell that her life force was draining away even with a core no larger than a fingernail. She would die within the next month.
The lady herself clearly had no idea about this, pride being the dominant emotion on her face, “Your Grace, I’ve finally fulfilled my duty as your partner.”
“Yes… Yes you have,” he forced a smile, but seeing her face he stood up and started walking around the room, “Coco… You need to know this, having this baby won’t be easy. Be careful and follow the steward’s advice; priests can’t help either you or the child, so there won’t be a chance to save you if something happens. No need to worry about your family from now, I’ll send people to take care of them.”
He hesitated before continuing, “You know that the family is in a complicated situation, there are a lot of people who wouldn’t like to see my child being born. I don’t have much time to spend in Norland, so you need to be careful and avoid trusting people so easily. If anything happens, just look for the steward; in the meanwhile, I’ll send for some knights to protect you.”
“Thank you, Your Grace,” she stood up and bowed in gratitude, knowing that Richard would never have cared this much for her safety before.
“Alright, get some rest. I have to leave.”
Once he was out of Coco’s quarters, Richard frowned and walked to his study. Activating the maps of his various planes, he stared at them silently. Normal potions would be useless on Coco, and most kinds of divinity would kill the unprotected child. Even a blessing of time from the Eternal Dragon would be of no help; those blessings served to freeze one’s life force for a certain amount of time instead of boosting it directly.
From the choices he had right now, the best method to increase Coco’s vitality would be a fruit of life. However, the Golden World Tree was still too young to bear fruit and the tree of life that had surrendered to him only had a single fruit that would only help for a year. Even with the different scales of time, it would take more than a year for the next fruit to appear.
Even he couldn’t just source ten fruits of life out of nowhere. He could perhaps find one or two trees, but ten was near impossible. As he stared at the map of the Forest Plane, his gaze turned cold and he thought of another idea; fruits of life might not be good enough, but there was another part of these trees that was: their hearts.
As long as he managed to catch one tree of life quickly, he could chop it down for its heart and ensure his child’s safety. However, the will of the forest was still quite strong and Nyris couldn’t move about freely. He would have to do this alone.