Chapter 831 Opening Move Part 1
Gremlik was forced to agree with Erlik.
The Grendel Dryad started yelling orders while inwardly cursing the human race for the umpteenth time.
If it wasn\'t for them, he would have never left Jiera and he would still retain the role in the local undead society he had fought so long to achieve.
After the fall of the human race, there was no more strength in numbers, only weakness.
More people meant more mouths to feed, making the damages on the local flora too extensive and without even someone to use as a scapegoat.
No more afraid of the humans\' interference, plant folks and Fae had started to band together, hunting down the undead that had no place to hide.
To add insult to injury, the undead couldn\'t even run away from their oppressors since they were also their main source of food.
Nonsentient vegetation provided them with so little nourishment that, to feed properly, undead plants caused too much devastation, allowing beasts to follow their trail and kill them as soon as the sun was up.
Back before the plague, it had been so easy to use the Courts\' riches and connections to leave all the dirty work to humans.
They would capture and grow herds of plant folk for their masters to feast upon, working happily just in exchange of the hope of receiving the gift of undeath.
With their disappearance, basic food had become a luxury, and each time a member of their herd died it was almost impossible to replace them.
Powerful people like Gremlik or Erlik didn\'t hunt in decades, so they had no idea where to even start.
For creatures of their age, only power and status mattered, yet they had gone from being rulers to scavengers overnight.
Gremlik had lost most of his thralls during his escape from Jiera.
Some because he had overfed upon them, others simply due to the constant struggle for survival.
He had joined Erlik because his plan was the only way they had left to make sure that the horrors of the past would not repeat themselves.
Contrary to Erlik\'s paranoia, it took Jirni days to extract information from the members of the Night Court of Othre and even longer to decipher the acquired intel before she could share it with the team in Laruel.
Kaelan is dead Lith still couldn\'t believe his own ears.
Yes, and so are most of the undead residing inside Othre. Jirni said through Leannan\'s communication amulet that was set to conference call mode.
The old bat told us about the position of all the dimensional gateways he knew, so most of those who managed to escape from our tactical teams just walked into an ambush.
Some of them had self-destructing dimensional items, others didn\'t, so we had quite the haul.
Deciphering codes and dead languages required a bit of time, so I\'m afraid that I\'ve got only old news for you.
They had retrieved Erlik\'s last known address, but by the time Leannan and her guards stormed the place, the undead were long gone.
Before leaving, the Draugr had made sure to perform a proper clean up.
There was no mold nor did the treehouse show signs of suffering.
The only evidence of the passage of the invaders was that the plant folk who were supposed to live there seemed to have disappeared into thin air.
The Healers identified another bundle of Erlik\'s tissues below the tree and several sacks of the plague ready to burst placed along the lymph-stream.
\'The energy signature of the tissues is the same as the other tree.
It also matches that of the infected.\' Solus thought.
\'What worries me is the number of sacks they have left.
They are enough to spread and cover the whole tree in a matter of minutes.\'
Do you want us to cleanse the infection Lith asked to Leannan.
He could think only of a few reasons to explain the setup and none of them was a good one.
I don\'t want to alert Erlik.
Unlike what happens for the infect, I can feel part of his essence still dwelling here.
If we remove the tissues, he\'ll discover that we know about his plan and we\'ll lose the element of surprise. She replied.
Lith was almost sure that ship had long sailed, but repeating it for the umpteenth time was pointless.
Everyone was brimming with confidence ever since Marth had found a cure for the plague and Lith didn\'t want to spoil the mood.
Rather than wasting his breath, he preferred to prepare himself for the worse with the help of Kalla and his friends.
In the end, the solution to their problem had been surprisingly simple, once they knew where to look.
The cure for the plague had turned out to be the plague itself.
Plant folk were capable of fusing together and with other forms of vegetation.
It was one of the means that allowed healthy individuals to recognize those affected by the plague.
When two infected merged, however, the respective symbiotes would react with extreme prejudice.
They belonged to Erlik, after all, so they shared his greed and envy.
They wouldn\'t join forces, but rather fight to possess the stronger host.
It not only caused the weaker of the two plant folks to get rid of their symbiote, but would also force the second entity to detach from its host to fight the invader.
Once symbiote\'s life forces were distinguishable from the patient, it was easy for the Healers to destroy them with darkness magic.
The only issue left was that the plant folk couldn\'t be released until Erlik\'s threat wasn\'t over.
The patients had gladly accepted to be detained to not give in to temptation and ask to be turned into undead, but now that their condition had been treated, they wanted to go back to a normal life.
Leannan was forced to keep them prisoners, to prevent Erlik\'s spies from discovering that his master plan was now an utter failure.
The Sovereign of Laruel spent her days communing with the Sapling, trying to find any trace of the Draugr meddling and to locate his position.
She even attempted to awaken the ancient being from its slumber, but to no avail.
Lith was still hoping to hear from Faluel or at least be relieved from his duty and be able to go back home, but he knew they were both pipe dreams.
If the Council was truly interested, they would have already made a move.
Back in Othre, he had found Inxialot waiting for him, so having yet to receive an answer after days meant they couldn\'t care less.
As for his duty, leaving would have ruined everything.
Dismissing the Healers was like declaring that the plague had been cured, so all of Faluel\'s traps would be for nothing.
It also meant removing one of the two biggest monkey wrenches in Erlik\'s plan: the presence of an Awakened.
No matter how old the Draugr was, his ignorance about true magic wasn\'t something that could be filled just by reading books.
There were weak Awakened like Tista, but also monsters like Inxialot or Faluel.
Lith remembered all too well the fear that the Lich first and himself later had struck into the undead Courts.
Inxialot by showing unlimited power, Lith by killing Kaelan\'s champion without so much as a scratch.
Based on what Jirni had discovered, Erlik was connected with the Night Court, so they had likely warned him about Lith\'s powers.
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