Yuusha no furi
88: A matter of life and death for the elves (Lapisia levels up)
I and Lapisia were flying on the back of the dragon.
We're heading towards the setting sun in the west.
I was told that the World Tree would by dying.
--Although it received the power of three gods, that wasn't enough... -- What the hell?
No matter how much I thought about it, I couldn't understand it.

Then, Lapisia, who was sitting in front of me, started to flash.
The bewildered dragon turned her long neck around and spoke.
"What is this!? Is she about to explode!?"
"No, her next level-up condition is 'Know the sky'".
"The sky! The wind! This feels good!"
Lapisia looked as if she felt good and shouted while she was flashing.
"*Heh*", I was pondering.

"That's right... what do you think when looking at the clouds?"
"They look fun!"
"Do you see that tall cloud over there? That's called a cumulonimbus cloud. It's currently raining below it."
"Rain... feels good!"
"Yeah, the rain wets the earth. No matter how fertile the ground is, it will dry out without any rain."

"The warm wind blows into the direction where it's cold and the cold wind blows into the direction where it's warm."
"Clouds are born and it rains when the cold air of the continent and the warm air of the ocean collide-- The wind circulates around the earth and lets it rain everywhere."
"Then, is the sky a friend of the earth?"

"That's right. Also, the sky is there because of the mass of the earth. The earth is pulling the air to itself."
"It's gravity!"
"Ah, you know. As expected of a Mother Earth God. The earth would die without the sky that gives birth to the clouds. But without the earth, the sky couldn't exist. They are living hand-in-hand."
"The sky... is important! I became to love it more and more! -- I love it!"
Her twin tails fluttered and she made a broad smile.

At that moment, Lapisia's slender body shone brightly.
In addition, the "Proof of Hero" flashed as well.

"Member (Lapisia) has risen a level"
"Acquired a new skill"
Name: Lapisia
Gender: Female
Age: 257
Race: Half-God
Job: Earth Mother God Lv 5 (Know life)
Class: Healer, God Art User
Attributes: "Fertility" "Radiant Soil" "Sacred Ground"
Assignment: Hero Keika Party

Muscle strength: 110K (20K) (+0) max ∞
Agility: 60K (10K) (+0) max ∞
Magic strength: 180K (20K) (+0) max ∞
Wisdom: 80K (10K) (+0) max ∞
Luck: 999 (0) (+0) max ∞
Believers: 0

Vitality: 850K
Mental strength: 1.3 million

Attack strength: 110K
Defense strength: 120K
Magical strength: 180K
Magical Defense: 80K

Weapons: None
Protective Gear: [Silver Dress] A dress filled with motherly love Defense x 1.5 [Nullify All Abnormal States] [Recovery with Elapsed Time]
Accessories: Ring

[Earth Mother God Skills]
Earth Energy Collection: Gathers the energy of the earth in yourself or another god. Attack strength x Lv value.
Earth crust turn: Reforms the earth by pulling the surface and putting it back.
Terraforming: Can transform naturally occurring elements like soil, sand, rocks and minerals into other known naturally occurring elements.

Gravitational Pull: Lets you draw satellites and planets to you and unite them like a sun.
I only noticed it now, but Celica and Minya had also risen a level during the previous battle.

"But, you learned something dangerous again... will the moon drop if you used this? It might be possible to use it on meteorites and comets, but-- Listen well, Lapisia. Don't use the skill you've just learned under any circumstances, okay? "
"Understood. I'll do whatever you say, Keika!
Lapisia looked back at me and smiled.
Then she leaned against me.

I placed my chin on her head while I gently embraced her from behind.
"That's just right, huh"
"Meh...this is..."
She inflated her faintly blushing cheeks in dissatisfaction.
It's kinda cute.

Then the dragon turned around.
"You said that she learned something dangerous, will this really be okay?"
"There's no problem as long as she doesn't use it. It's called 'Gravitational Pull' and seems to draw satellites and planets to her."

"How nostalgic... The god used it to increase the volume of this star at the time of creation."
"Is that so? Or rather, are you already living that long?"
"Of course. I was already alive before any other living beings. I was summoned by the gods and put to work. The words where 'We'll give you a world that you can freely control in exchange'. That's how I became a dungeon master."
"It certainly is like a freely controllable world. It's close to fraud though..."
"Well, it's fun to manage and I also gained some valuable experiences, so its alright."

"By the way, what kind of person is the Creation God?"
"I don't know because I've never met her in person-- Ah, there it is!"

The dragon was flying above the desert.
Below us was the endless sand and the giant stump. Only around the stump was soil. Green grass had began to grow. I can also see the tents where the elves are living.
The sand that surrounded the stump was glittering white.

We get off at the stump.
I grab the soil. It's covered with white crystals.
"Isn't this... salt?"
The dragon speaks.
"Can I go home?"
"Please wait! I want you to take us back later."
"*Hmph*. I guess I don't have a choice."
The dragon flew to the top of the stump and and curled up.

The elven chieftain Jagd approached.
"Ke-Keika-sama! Please, lend your power to World Tree-sama!"
"Hmm, it'll only grow weaker if we don't do anything about the salt. Why is the salt here? Is this the work of the demons?"
"I don't know, but suddenly the salt gushed out to the surface."
"So it wasn't sprinkled from the sky by demons?"
"No... it seems to be the result of evaporation. Salt might have mixed into the groundwater."

"In other words, the water might flow through an area with rock salt... well, we'll deal with it somehow. Lapisia?"
"Whaaat's up , Keika?"
"Can you change this salt into sand?"
"Hm~, I'll try."
Lapisia crouched down and put her hands on the ground. She moaned with "*uuu*" and her body shone yellow.

However, after Lapisia had moaned for a while, she swiftly stood up and shook her head.
"This salt..., it's different from earth."
"Eh? Isn't rock salt a part of the earth?"
Lapisia's Mother Earth God skill "Terraforming" can only be used with materials that are part of the earth.

Lapisia tilts her neck while frowning with her cute wrinkles.
"It's probably... the ocean, isn't it?"
"Isn't that quite far away from the desert? --*Aah!*"
I had a very bad feeling.

I remembered a certain someone who had summoned a part of the ocean with magic.
I also remember her making an over-sized water column.
--No way!

I invoke telepathy.
"Lilille. Are you listening?"
"What is it, Keika-san?"
"Where are you?"

"I'm currently in the former Edelstein territory."
"Is that so. Well, that's fine. The truth is, the World Tree is dying."
"It can't be!? Although I gave it some magic power again!"
It's dying from salt damage. --That's why I want to ask you something."
"Wh-What is is!?"

"...When you summoned a part of the ocean, that was water from the ocean, right?"
"Eh? Yes, that's right-- *a*"
"You also made that column of millions of tons of water to suffocate Barrier Muuk. Was that fresh water? Or was that water taken directly from the ocean?"

"Eh, what did you say? I couldn't hear you!"
"I made it with ocean water...! What should we do!? Is the World Tree done for!?"
"...I'll do whatever I can. --It's mostly the fault of the Demon Lord after all, so it can't be helped... but really, isn't it enough already?"

"*Uu*... I'm sorryyy!"
"You should put it back where it belongs from now on if you use that Ocean God skill."
"Yeeeshhh... Really, I'm sorryyy"
"Well, I'll do something about it. Don't worry."
I quickly cut the telepathic connection when she started to cry.

I sighed with a "*haaa*".
"There's no choice but to wash the salt out of the sand... Jagd, how do the World Tree's roots go? "
"I think that they reach until below the bedrock and spread to the edges of he desert."
"Then I guess I'll have to submerge it, huh. Can you please bring me a cup or a plate?"
"Yes, understood!"
Jagd hurried back to the tent village.

I walked around the stump and went into its shade.
I'll take the gourd from my waist.

Lapisia's eyes sparkled with curiosity.
"What are you doing, Keika?"
"I'll call clouds and make it rain. Please make a large pond with the width, length and depth of about 100 meters a little further away. And harden the bank so it won't leak. And take care not to injure the roots."

Lapisia's twin tails are fluttering as she runs toward the east of the desert.
Jagd returned and gave me a plate.
"Everyone should evacuate to the stump since the tents will probably get submerged."
"Yes, Keika-sama"
Jagd rushed back.

After I had confirmed with "Clairvoyance" that the elves had evacuated, I placed the plate in the shadow and put some water inside.
Then I cast.
"Gentle breeze that obeys me, cold wind, warm wind, far and wide clouds, I call upon thee--'Rain Area'"

*googoo*, a rumbling sound can be heard from the sky. The wind is raging violently just like before a typhoon.
White clouds are appearing in the former cloud-less sky.
Cumulonimbus clouds were gathering as well as if they were gliding.
The sunlight was blocked and the surroundings became dim.
Lightning flashes inside the clouds.

Then, a raindrop hit my cheek.
And then there was a downpour like tipping over a bucket.
The surroundings of the World Tree begin to submerge.

Lapisia returns while she jumps up and down.
The white dress is drenched and clings to her, making her slender body shine through.

"Lapisia, please move the soil and sand and stir them.
She puts her hands on the muddy ground and moves it. It starts to eerily vibrate with *gogogo*.
--I hope that this'll wash the salt out...
The trees won't grow anymore should the World Tree die. The world would end.

Something like salt damage wouldn't have been an issue if the World Tree wouldn't have been weakened since it's a god.
It seems that it was about to die because the salt damage gave the finishing blow after it had been consecutively tormented.
--Really now, just how much of a klutz is Lilille...

I chanted when I felt that the salt had been dissolved.
"--Oh filled water, oh gentle flow-- 'Surging Stream'"
Following my chant, the mud that surrounded the stump like a lake began to flow in a stream.
Of course the water that had penetrated the deep underground is sucked to the surface as well.
Then it poured into the huge pool that Lapisia had made.

I repeated the same procedure three times and then let the rain stop.
The World Tree's surroundings have considerably degraded and Lapisia piled up earth to cover the roots.

The clouds cleared up.
The wet ground will dry under the hot sun.
"Well, that should do it, probably..."
"Is it over?"
"Well done, Lapisia."
"*ehehe*... I worked hard."
I got slightly wet when I stroked her head.

For the time being we climbed the stump that was as wide as a plateau and went to look at the sprout that we had given power before.
Previously it was just a sprout but it had grown. It was now thick like the torso of a human and about the height of a human. Leaves have appeared.

Then I and Lapisia shared our power with it.
But even though it received the power from two gods, the reaction was weak.
I was curious and looked at it with "Truth Sight".
Name: Mundis
Age: ?
Race: World Tree
Job: Illusion Tree
Attributes: "Holy Tree"

[Data] Former World Tree. Couldn't exist as a god due to piled up damage.
"...the world is done for..."
"Is it dead?"
Lapisia looked sad while she frowned.
"Let's ask the elves."
We returned with heavy steps.

The elves had put up tents on top of the stump. The dragon was curled up and was sleeping not far away from them.
Everyone looked gloomy.

Jagd went ahead and stepped forward.
"Thank you very much, Keika-sama... World Tree-sama has been saved from death."
"But, it's not a god anymore, right? Is there anything we can do? Can't it be resurrected somehow with something like seeds or by grafting?"
"We don't have any seeds. And even if grafting would work, it'll just be an ordinary big tree."

"Then, how about planting a new one?"
"The tree was planted by Creation God-sama... it would just be wishful thinking that it would revive as a god if planted."
The Creation God again? Well, myths are often getting out of hand before you know it.

"So that won't be good enough, huh. I guess there's no choice but to bring some seeds from some different world."
I should be able to find at least one if I could just visit some worlds.

But Jagd shook his head with a sad look.
"Only World Tree-sama can open paths that lead to different worlds. It seems it can stretch its branches to exterior worlds."
--Huh? Suddenly I had a premonition.

I sprinkle some water a slightly apart.
"O one who connects heavens and time, Heaven Bird Ship God. Comply to my calling and open the road to the beyond! -- 'Spirit World Gate'"
Nothing happened.

"O one who gives birth to and raises the oceans far and wide, Ocean God Lilille. In my name of Keika Hiko-no-Mikoto, comply to my calling and open the road to the beyond! -- 'Spirit World Gate'"
Nothing happened.
A chill ran down my spine.
--I can't return home anymore, huh...!

Then Lilille telepathically talked to me.
"Did you, do something weird just now? *sniff*"
"Well, a little. Are you crying again? The World Tree is saved... I washed the salt out with fresh water."
"Is that true? Thank you very much!! *uu...u*"
"But since it lost its divinity, I tried to open the path to my former world in your name."
"I don't know where your former world is, so I can't open it even if you'd asked me..."
"That's true as well... the one who knew it was the World Tree, huh."
"Ah, Mundis. We got along so well and it was such a cute child..."
I cut the telepathic connection again when her voice began to sob again.

I catch my breath.
"--hm, it can't be. A tree, that can open Spirit World Gates, summon people and has a will -- I know"
Jagd raised his voice in surprise.

The big divine-class tree that I first met when I came to this world.
I thought that I drifted to this world by chance. I thought that I had met Celica by chance. I thought that I had defeated Greyhades by chance.
I thought that it was a coincidence that there were almost no gods and that I could do whatever I wanted to do.

Might the World Tree have summoned me?

If thinking about it thoroughly, no matter how much of a fantasy-world this is, isn't it strange that a tree answers by swinging his branches when it's spoken to?

"By any chance, did the World Tree fall into the eastern direction when it was cut down?
"That's right. I'm surprised you know."
"Would the World Tree be able to create countless boundaries by making use of the trees in a forest?"
"Yes, it can make you lose your way or guide you. I can do various things."

I guess it spread seeds when it was cut down which then took root in the Daphnes Kingdom.
And when Leo's party entered the forest and they got scattered, might the World Tree have wanted to call for the elves when Tilt was in its area of effect?
However, Tilt had left the village at a young age and probably has hardly trained as en elf and wasn't able to notice the presence of the World Tree.

"So that decides it, huh. The World Tree isn't dead. It only switched places."
"Wh-Where is it!?"
"In exchange for telling you, can you listen to a request?"
"Of course, Hero-sama!"

"There's a large forest to the north of my village in the north of the Daphnes Kingdom. There once was a road that led further to the north, but it has disappeared. The World Tree might have used his power. Actually, the World Tree at this place might just be a diversion against the demons."
The World Tree can't move. It'll be done for if it is found. That's why it concealed itself within young trees.
--No way, might Greyhades have been looking for the real World Tree?
And then the World Tree felt the crisis and pulled me to itself when I was floating in hyperspace to defeat Greyhades?

Jagd braced himself and spoke.
"We should investigate it at once!"
"Hm, I guess that would be for the best. We'll head home now, so we could take two elves with us --Dragon, please get up."
"Ah, are we returning? --You can get on"
The dragon showed her mouth with its lined-up fangs as she yawned and crouched down to make it easy to get on.

I and Lapisia mounted the dragon and Jagd brought a male and a female elf along.
"These are the two strongest persons in our village. Please take them with you."
"Very well. --Dragon. It's for the sake of the World Tree, so can you let these elves get on with us?"
"At the end they'd get on even if I was against it, right? Well, get on."
"I'm really sorry, Dragon-sama" "We're grateful that we're permitted to ride on your back"
The elves waved their short linen clothing and sat down behind me.

"Well then, let's go."
The dragon spread her wings and flew high up to the sky.
We flew westward under the calm flapping of her wings.