“Many of you have no idea who I am or why my voice has suddenly appeared in your minds… My name is Michael, and I’m the reason why any of you are still alive. This entire continent was on the brink of destruction, but I, and a few others you may or may not know, stopped the cataclysm from killing you all. From now on, this entire continent is under the control of Alfirin, the country. If you’re already part of Alfirin, then good for you. It means that you already understand the rules: Thou shalt not rape, thou shalt not enslave! And a few other obvious ones, like not murdering each other or stealing, but what constitutes murder and theft probably isn’t exactly the same as it was in your previous nations. Regardless, the punishment for rape and slavery will always be death. So don’t do it. We’ll be watching… Always waiting for you to fuck up, so don’t.”
No matter how powerful you become or how much knowledge you remember from your innumerable past lives… The most important talent you can have is networking. It’s kind of sad, but still true. Even so-called ‘Gods’ usually need an army of minions to do their bidding and control their territories. That’s why corruption usually comes so quickly and in so many ways.
I knew from the very moment I was born into this world, that I would probably get dragged into all kinds of messy bullshit. I can’t stand idly by and watch as women, children, even men got raped, tortured, butchered, for no goddamn reason.
If you’re powerless, then so be it, sit idle and watch everything you love be destroyed by your own pathetic weakness. But the funny thing about power, is that it’s always in flux. A baby might be powerless to determine where they’re born, who their parents are, what happens to them in the first few years of their life… Yet more often than not, people carry that mentality with them as they grow older and claim to be wiser for it.
The truth is that you have way more power than you think you do, because you’re not alone. You’re connected to other people, who may be just as useless as you are, but it adds up eventually. Put enough links together and you get a really fucking long chain. Even if it’s made out of paper, you can still make it strong if you make it wider. It’s all about how you distribute that power. To know where to place those tiny chainlinks, in order to make them into an indestructible net.
And nets are usually a lot more efficient at catching fish, than just some hooks and bait. The bigger the net, the more people you need to wield it though. It’s a never ending cycle. Why Gods and Devils care so much about the insignificant lives of mere mortals. Aside from wanting to devour their souls or feast on their faith, but that’s a whole other bag of philosophical bullshit and really not where I want to go with this metaphor right now.
It took me three months to finish ‘fixing’ the world-tree situation… I say it took ‘me’ three months, because Amber quit after the first few weeks. She didn’t want to be a tree, and I didn’t blame her… But it meant that I had to be two different trees. Fortunately, Abaddon didn’t take that chance to try and end the world or anything. He was surprisingly quiet. I knew it was the quiet before the next storm though. Just had no idea when that storm would be and whether I would be able to weather it.
Amber was bored, so she wandered off into the Forest of Corruption. Normal food couldn’t satisfy her appetite anymore. Hell, I would’ve been in the same position if I hadn’t been eating and drinking from the world trees in order to sustain myself. While the sap quenched my thirst and the fruits filled my stomach, they also made me stronger. The fiery tigress would’ve been the same, but she needed a lot more meat in her diet to make her happy.
Honestly, even if she had annihilated all the creatures in the Forest of Corruption, it wouldn’t have been a bad thing. She obviously couldn’t do that, but my point is pretty clear. That ring of Lorthon was a threat to the safety of Alfirin. More specifically, the demonic creatures that lurked there.
Every so many years, there would be so many beasts in the Fourth Ring, that they’d be pushed out into the Third. That would start another wave of migrations, which ultimately caused the whole forest to be in a constant state of flux. There needed to be barriers between the rings… Something a bit sturdier than just a difference in mana-density.
Normally I wouldn’t have even considered trying to do something so tedious and difficult but, I was controlling ‘two’ fucking World Trees after all. Even if they were only stumps on the surface, the true power of those plants were the innumerable and seemingly endless roots that covered the entire Lorthon Forest. All I had to do was make a few of them lift upwards a bit and the whole terrain changed dramatically.
The first barrier I erected was around the entire northwestern ring. I didn’t bother with the eastern side, since there was no imminent threat coming from the desert, while the whole southern side was devoid of living roots anyway. All the roots that were there had been lost while I was putting out the fires and quelling the imminent supervolcanic eruption. Both of which required me to drain a lot of power from Hithu and Lum, but the most extravagant thing I did was to ‘revive’ Agar.
World Trees don’t really die that easily. It was left without a sentient controller, but the seemingly dead husk was hiding a very healthy core, along with some big roots that stretched deep into the earth. Wrapping around the mana-veins, like tiny muscle fibers. Yeah, the size difference was enormous, regardless of how huge those trees were.
Anyway, once the fires were doused and the volcano was forced into dormancy, the tree was able to grow some more roots out. In the end, the southern half of Lorthon Forest wasn’t much of a forest anymore. It looked more like a volcanic wasteland. The land was covered in newly formed mountains and valleys, which were mostly just pitch black. It wasn’t long before new plants and animals started cropping up all over the place though. With that much mana, even inside of a volcano, creatures could still find a way to survive and thrive. Much less, on extremely fertile soil that wasn’t even on fire.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… How many times have I fought, killed and died for a nation that promised freedom, only to have my descendants become slavers or slaves?
Too fucking many times.
The reason for my many failures? I was usually dead by the time the nation was officially founded. I tried being a king, even an emperor, but it never works out. Empires always fall, corrupt and riddled with diseases, rotten from the inside and fires burning on the outside.
Hell, I’ve personally destroyed whole worlds… Entire solar systems, because it was much easier than the alternative. Ignorance and apathy were never my cup of tea, so I usually have to do a lot more work, just to make a universe my ‘home’.
I know I’ve said this a thousand times before, but I’ll say it again: I hate politics, politicians and especially governments. The problem is that they’re like a virus, you can never quite get rid of, no matter how hard you try.
You’d think the simplest solution would be to rule as some kind of Godking, but that never works out either. Ruling, always fails, because people generally don’t like to be controlled or manipulated. What they want is a ‘leader’, someone who shows them the way. A guide and a guardian, but never a ruler.
Lorelei was their leader while I was away and she did a pretty good job. Beatrix was their guardian, protecting and expanding Alfirin with every passing day. While even though I wasn’t there, I had sealed my incarnations within Ethir, Raelin, Lorelei and Beatrix before leaving: Lilith, Anael, Leviathan and Ares. Each of them were specialized in a certain area of expertise that I thought would help and guide them in my place.
My plan succeeded, for the most part… But there were a few things I didn’t expect would happen so soon. Ethir was a child when I left and Rae was childish to the extreme. I knew that they had a thing for each other, but figured they’d be too shy to act on it and even then… Blood Elves weren’t supposed to be able to reproduce that way. The two of them actually had two children, both of which ‘hatched’ during the three months that I was a tree… Two trees, actually.
Anyway, Iris and Raijin escaped their seals, gaining freedom and two bodies with a lot of potential. A very ominous occurrence, but not as suspicious as the two of them being neighbors to Lucy. I could see everything that was happening down below through my control over Hithu and Lum. Even though I obviously couldn’t keep track of every single thing, much less remember it all or act upon it, the important shit was possible.
For example, the way I separated all the rings of Lorthon with the roots. I even separated the forest itself, from the Formerly Human Lands to the west. The separation wasn’t complete though, there were gateways in a sense. Large swaths of land that I didn’t block off, so that travel between the rings wouldn’t be too difficult for ‘my’ people. While random animals and strangers would need to pass through those checkpoints if they wanted to enter or leave a zone.
There were roots that reached out into the ground beneath huge eastern desert, so I could see the situation over there to a certain extent. There were some towns within a couple hundred miles, but mostly ancient ruins. The culture was as you might expect, really fucked up. Not quite as bad as the Hithu and Lum elves, but the Sand Elves, along with the various other races, had no qualms about slavery. Women were treated as little more than property of their husbands or fathers, while the men were still mostly peasants or serfs.
It was definitely something to put on the agenda, just, not something I could deal with at the time. The more powerful you become, the more people tend to grow apathetic… I’m the opposite though. The stronger I get, the more easily I can hear their cries for help. Their screams of pain and anguish. The indignity in their voices as they cursed the ones raping or torturing them. Even if those voices were in languages I couldn’t understand, I could still feel it in my gut.
Killing is easy. I could have wiped out every one of those little villages or towns if I wanted. I could have reached up my tendrils from below the bedrock, causing the whole area to sink beneath the sands. It might have saved some people from being raped, sure, but maybe they would’ve preferred to endure some suffering if it meant keeping their lives, and the lives of their loved ones.
That’s the endless conundrum I’m forced to deal with. And why instead of indiscriminately annihilating entire worlds, I tend to try a more exhausting approach: Conquest.
If you want to truly change things, you can’t just liberate some slaves and hope for the best. You need to conquer them, ironically enough. The trick is to free them of their mental and physical shackles, while also preventing them from enslaving others. And trust me, if there’s one thing that liberated people love to do, it’s put others in chains.
Have to change their culture, burn it down and build your own. Don’t let them make the same mistakes their ancestors did. And if they do, then they need to understand the consequences. People need to fear a higher power of some sort, or nothing will stop them from doing all kinds of horrible shit. But at the same time, you can’t trust a government to do the job either. Governments are just messy cobwebs made out of the souls of evil assholes most of the time, so it’s best to avoid trusting them with any power over the lives of others.
The best method I discovered was actually… Empathy. If people can understand and relate to each other, they’ll have less of an incentive to do truly terrible things. And if that can’t stop them, then the invisible shackles I placed in their DNA will. If they become strong enough, then I wouldn’t be able to hold them down or prevent them from breaking any laws.
That’s why the whole empathy thing is so important. It’s what keeps us ‘sane’… And what drives us insane, when we see those we care about being tormented and abused. What allows us to break past our own needs and desires, to let us help others who probably will never return the favor. Altruism is often seen in a negative light, but Karma is real. I know her… I helped create her… Even if things didn’t quite go as originally planned, it turned out for the best.
We have order to balance out the chaos. A system in place to reward or punish those who deserve it. Even if most people think it’s just a fantasy, there are still a lot of us old bastards who remember the consequences of dipping down into the negative. Even Belial and Ariel are afraid of going too far now… Or is that something they’ll find out in the future?
Maybe both. When it comes to different universes and realities, chronology is really hard to figure out. Best to stay the fuck away from that rabbit hole altogether.
Once the World-Root Network was set up, it possible to travel across all of Northern Lorthon with ease. There was obviously a high mana-cost, but that was only relative to the ridiculous amount of mana those trees were devouring. However, I couldn’t just have millions of people constantly teleporting across Lorthon through those roots. Hell, if more than a dozen different teleportations happened at the same time, it might have caused some accidents. There needed to be limits.
An army of fifty thousand people could use it easily to travel from Black Mithril to White Mithril instantly, but only if they were all together in the same batch. It wasn’t instant either. The bigger the group, or the more powerful the individual, the longer it would take to charge up. The solution was pretty simple: Money. Transportation fees, and high ones.
In the case of emergencies, it was possible to use the network for free. Urgent matters could get a discount too. And if the person’s status was high enough, high-ranking officers for example, would be able to have free transportation, along with que-priority. Simple benefits like that are often the difference between someone working for you, or against you.
Even with all those restrictions, there was a flood of people going to and from Salvation over the course of that last month of me being a tree… Two trees.
Alright, I’ll stop rambling on about stupid shit and get to the important part. The reunion.
I had just finished unfusing my body from the crown of Hithu, when I heard a familiar voice whispering into my mind.
“Fuckin finally! Goddamn, you took forever!”
Okay, he didn’t whisper at all.
“Ya promised to help me like two months ago!”
Rapture-727, also known as ‘Slutty Mike’. The problem he wanted me to help him with?
“Maybe you’re fine with being a stupid tree for months on end, but I can’t do this shit! Fuck! Even though I’m not a tree stump, I’m still a fucking robo-eunuch! Dude, you can help me now, right? We don’t even gotta find my original body or anything fancy like that… Just, okay, I know this will sound weird but… Can’t I just borrow your dick?”
I sighed dramatically, as I finally saw the sky again with my own eyes. It was slightly cloudy, but I could still see the stars and the moon shining brightly.
“Fucking hell, it’s not like you can’t just grow a new one okay?! Actually, Yuri might be able to help me… Right? I’ve never met her before, but I’ve heard good things… I’m just kinda nervous when meeting new people though. Do you think you can introduce me to her? Maybe put in a good word or some such bullshit?”
“Stop.” I finally landed my gaze on the three-meter tall silver ‘knight’ that was standing in front of me. He was actually a robot underneath that heavy metal armor. Hence why he wanted me to help him get a biological body or recover his original form, which was probably destroyed eons ago.
After taking a few more breaths of fresh, mana-rich air, I asked “Are you sure you want me to introduce you to Yuri? She’ll most likely turn you into some kind of crazy tentacle monster.”
“I’m fine with that.” His response was way too fast. Especially for someone so notoriously indecisive.
“I’ve had a lot of time to think it over and yeah, I’m definitely willing to become a tentacle-monster, if it means having actual sensations again! Even being a tree was slightly better than being this hunk of metal, just way more boring. Then again, time passes super fast when you’re an ancient uber-tree stump like that… Anyway, the moral of the story is that I can’t take this shit any longer!”
Slutty Mike was a version of ‘Rapture’ that I had never actually met before then, or at least, I didn’t remember him. That’s normal though. There are 777 variations of Rapture that I know about and I can only recall interacting with a handful of them. As you can imagine, they aren’t all exactly the same.
Michael Cinagra was based off my own personality… A ‘Michael’ from so long ago that I barely even consider him ‘me’ anymore. A young man, less than a decade into adulthood, who was thrown into hell… Literally and figuratively.
“Mikey!” A high-pitched and feminine voice rang out in the night sky, as a huge dryad charged towards me from the left. It was just as big as the metal knight, but dark-green for the most part. However, size doesn’t always equal strength.
I reached out my right, black-carapace arm and grabbed the unfamiliar creature by the throat. Of course, Dryads don’t really have the same vitals as humans most of the time, it was just the easiest thing for me to grip. The neck was surprisingly slender and as it got closer, I noticed that its appearance wasn’t that of a typical humanoid Dryad.
“Mikey it’s me! Your long-lost girlfriend, ack, Lore-Lorei!”