Supreme Magus - Chapter 802 A New Field Part 2
Chapter 802 A New Field Part 2
“My guess is that Treantlings have no vitals at all. If a piece gets separated from its main body for too long, it dies due to the lack of nutrients while trying to regenerate its body.” Lith said while passing the sample to Friya.
“Great guess and almost correct.” Marth nodded. “A Treantling only vital organ are their feet, where once the roots were. It’s the only way they have to absorb their nourishment.”
Once they had all examined it, he gave them a second crystal. This one held a sample of the same size, but its color was much more vibrant, with the brown of the bark covered in bright green streaks that made it look like a precious gemstone.
“This is a fragment of the skin of an infected Treantling, instead.” Marth said.
“Really?” Quylla was once again the first to receive the sample. “Being an undead plague, I expected them to be rotting, gross, or at least show sign of…”
It was her turn of almost dropping the crystal in surprise and only Marth’s quick reflexes saved it.
“Be careful. Appearances can be beautiful on the outside as much as they are ugly on the inside.” He said.
Only when it was his turn to examine the sample did Lith understand the meaning of the Professor’s words. Each one of the green healthy cells had its cellulose walls surrounded by a second wall made of a grey substance that squirmed and twisted around them like a bundle of worms.
The grey wall pierced both the cell walls and membrane, establishing a symbiotic relationship with it. The undead tissue was somehow able to steal a little bit of Lith’s vitality even through the crystal.
The grey material fed the energy to the cells, making them grow stronger and multiply at an alarming rate. Each new cell was immediately coated by tendrils of the grey substance and the process started anew.
“We call it a plague only for simplicity’s sake but the truth is much more complex. This is not the work of a parasite, a fungus, or any microorganism we’ve studied in the past.
“The plague is actually made by undead tissues that somehow are capable of bonding with their host to create a symbiotic hybrid structure that can assimilate both nutrients and life force.
“It does no harm to its host, quite the contrary. The vibrant green streaks on the bark are due to the invigorating effect that the symbiote has on the living tissues, which allows them to reach their full potential.
“The infected all develop outstanding physical and magical prowess, allowing them to best their healthy peers. To make matters worse, infected have no need to feed like an undead.
“Sure, if the symbiote is not fed with life energy it preys on its host, but due to plant folk’s innate regenerative abilities, it only needs they need to eat more. To make matters worse, when the infected feed upon life force instead of nutrients, it gives them an intoxicating feeling that in the long term becomes addictive.”
“If the affliction isn’t so bad why are we here?” Quylla asked. “Honestly, I don’t understand why they even want our help. As you describe it, it seems some kind of legendary blessing with no downsides.
“If such a thing was possible, why no one ever did it before?”
Her words made Marth shook his head, sighing in frustration.
“What you say would be true for an individual, not a community. First, if everyone has powers, then it’s as if nobody has them. Second, undead abilities consume life energy that has to be replenished, forcing the infected to eat more.
“There is no way for the soil to be able to sustain that kind of consumption, hence sooner or later it will cause a famine. Also, those who start feeding on their kin soon lose themselves to the feeding frenzy and kill their victims.
“Plant folks aren’t murderers. They lack empathy because thanks to their regenerative abilities, killing them with conventional means is really hard, but everyone dies if their life force is drained. There have been countless killings since the epidemic started.
“Once the food starts to run out, no one could afford to remain neutral, turning a simple battle for power in an all-out war for survival that could spread outside Laruel’s walls.”
“Do you have a cure already?” Lith asked.
“Sadly, no. We have tried starving an infected patient, but they die along with the symbiote. Normal healing and darkness spells have no effect because the life force of the patients and the symbiote are linked.
“We have achieved partial success injecting small and constant amounts of darkness magic in an infected, resulting in a complete recovery. Unfortunately, it’s not something we can use for everyone.
“The process is slow and excruciating, plus the starvation almost made the patient go mad.”
“I need to see a patient.” Lith said. “My abilities as a diagnostician are ill-suited for small samples and lab analysis. My spells work at the best of their abilities when they are used on a full body.”
Marth nodded and called at their table one of his colleagues. It was a woman, wearing the uniform of the students of the White Griffon despite the fact that she was too old for that. No academy would take in as a student someone in their thirties.
She was 1.75 meters (5’9″) tall, with shoulder-length raven black hair and a lithe frame. Yet she moved slowly and clumsily as if she was afraid to destroy the expensive equipment simply by touching it.
She was pretty, but her stern expression and cold blue eyes gave her an eerie aura. Lith didn’t miss how she was working alone, nor that most researchers, even those from the White Griffon, seemed to be scared of her.
“It’s nice to meet you again, Scourge. Your strength grew remarkably since your last visit.” Her voice was warm, creating a deep contrast with her appearance.
“Kalla? What are you doing here?” Lith recognized her immediately from both her voice and smell.
Kalla nodded and gestured him to follow her.
“I’m the White Griffon’s resident expert in necromancy and I’m friends with Marth ever since Balkor’s attack. Also, I’ve a personal interest in this plague. If I could create its living equivalent, I could give Nyka a normal life until I find a proper cure for her condition.”
“Is this how they dragged you in this story?” Lith asked.
“Not really. It was Lyta asking me for help and I accepted only to avoid more senseless deaths. As you know, undead must feed on their own living kin to thrive. Feeding on another race barely gives them sustenance.
“The reason why Queen Leannan called humans for help is that their life essence tastes disgusting to both Erlik’s followers and the infected. Being partially undead, I’m in charge of the interactions with the patients since they can’t prey on my life force.”
“I’ve heard that both the ruler of Laruel and the pretender are evolved plants. Are they Awakened?” Lith enveloped them in a Hush spell as soon as they were too far for the others to notice it.
“No. Otherwise this would be a matter for the Council. Unfortunately, they are just born from Fae. It gives them great power and makes them desperate for more. They know about Awakening but have no idea how to achieve it.”