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Chapter 815 Life Poisoning Part 1
‘Undead using light magic spells is beyond odd. It’s utterly dangerous. I must quickly inform the others!’ Kalla rushed downstairs, where everyone but Lith was done with their own research.
“I made an amazing discovery.” Friya said. “The mold is indeed negatively affecting the tree, but the tree’s life force has been unaffected by the infestation thanks to an external life flow that helps it to heal and adapt.
“It’s just a matter of time before the tree develops an immunity and the parasite gets destroyed. It explains why no one bothered killing it.”
“Yet I think the mold played an important role in weakening the tree-house.” Phloria pointed at the still lingering silver ghosts. “They have been placed on purpose between patches of mold, but I have no idea why.”
“If only my amulet worked, I could take scans of the devices they used and ask Dad or the army about their runes.
Lith ignored both of them and kept following the flow of life force inside the tree-house. It took it a long time to do a complete round of the house and on top of that, he had found several odd spots.
The ones in the bas.e.m.e.nt where exactly where Phloria had conjured the echoes of the magical devices, but since Lith was too busy with his work, Solus collected all the information and started to make sense of it.
“I don’t know what I’ve just seen.” Lith said once he lost his focus. It happened the moment the treehouse’s life force interacted with an unknown source from below. It was a presence so powerful that it scrambled his spell.
To avoid sensory overload, Lith had been forced to cancel Scanner. He had withstood the ma.s.sive source of information as long as he could, discovering that its energy signature was similar to the treehouse’s and yet different.
“I’m no expert in plants, but my guess is that this wasn’t a hideout at all. This was their lab.” Lith said.
“If it was a lab, my spell would pick up more than a few magical devices.” Phloria said.
“I think you are both right.” Kalla explained her findings to them and had Phloria cast her Forgemaster spell on every floor of the treehouse, just like the Wight had done.
“What the f.u.c.k?” Phloria blurted out in surprise. The higher they got, the more the magical devices she managed to track. Moreover, they got bigger and more powerful, to the point that she managed to read and recognize some of their runes.
“What use can undead possibly have for medical equipment?” She asked. “More importantly, why did they apply life support machines to the tree, and if I’m right how the heck is this poor thing in such poor shape?”
Lith cast Scanner again, to make sure that Solus’s explanations were correct. She believed that the places where the tree’s life force was still twisted and turned matched the position of the magical devices spotted by Phloria, but it was just a guess.
The tree was too big and its life flow too alien for her to properly mentally visualize what was where.
“This is bad.” Lith said every time he checked the bark underlying one of the ghosts, his voice becoming grimmer with each result.
“This was indeed a lab, but its purpose escapes my understanding.” Lith said. “The only thing I know is that those machines altered the tree’s life force, forcing whatever fuels its magical and self-repair properties to fight their influence.
“The tree is in such a bad shape not because of the mold, but because the alterations the tree underwent make it unable to properly process the light energy. It’s literally bursting with vitality and it needs darkness magic to remove the alien source that’s bloating it.
“If I’m right, this is the life force equivalent of mana poisoning.”
“That’s impossible.” All the women said in unison.
Life forces could be altered or exchanged with the use of tier five light magic and different sources of life forces naturally blended together, no matter even if the donor and the recipient belonged to different races.
Life poisoning wasn’t even a myth or a joke. To any proper mage is was the equivalent of theorizing the existence of dry water.
“I would have said the same until an hour ago, but based on my readings, the alterations are so deep that they created sacks of life force that are not recognizes by the tree which perceives them as a disease.
“It causes the tree to mobilize its life force in the attempt to get rid of the sacks, but it only ends up strengthening them. To add insult to injury, even though the results of this experiment are horrifying for its victim, they don’t seem to have any practical use.
“There are countless more effective and less expensive ways to torture someone. I think we need Quylla, Marth, or anyone that can make heads or tails of this contraption.” Lith said.
By the time the group left the building, the sun was about to set. They were all tired, hungry, and confused. Friya had even double-checked the treehouse’s life force, refusing to believe that life poisoning really existed until she saw it with her own eyes.
Back in Marth’s lab, the enthusiasm from the earlier discovery had been drowned in hard work and failed experiments. Quylla was struggling to find a way to separate the host from the symbiote without killing them both.
The patient was her priority, but a live specimen would allow her to grasp the true intentions of the enemy. Being it a man-made disease, finding a cure without understanding its underlying principles would mean that if Erlik had more strands of the parasite, they would have to start from scratch every time.
The main problem, even for a keen expert of tier five magic like Professor Marth, was that the lifestream of the plant folk host and of the parasite were fused together on a cellular level.
It was the reason why they had missed the second life force up to that point. The parasite was devised so that it would grow following its host so that both his life force and mana flow would remain undetectable.
Its only weak point was Solus’s mana sense, which had allowed her to perceive the pseudo core since unlike what happened with the bugbears, the parasite was already fully developed.
It covered its host like a second skin, creating a perfect double that granted its victim part of the powers of a Draugr with none of its downsides except for their hunger and their greed.
It was the greed that actually made it hard for plant folks to resist the corruption of their mind. The more powerful they became, the more things they wanted and the Draugr nature would easily turn desire into compulsion.
“I’m sorry, Professor. I’ve no clue how to proceed. All of my experiments failed and all my theories turned out to be wrong.” Quylla’s eyes were bloodshot from the strain of constantly looking through vision-enhancing devices under a strong light.
“Good G.o.ds, Quylla. If you’re useless, then what about us? You’re here from less than a day and you already want a solution? If you keep beating yourself like that, you’ll get bald. Ask Vastor.” Mart laughed, patting her back in consolation.
“But Professor, people are dying right now and if we don’t stop it, the plague will pave the way for war.”
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