Miracle Card Shop: All My Cards Can Be ActualizeChapter 91 [Bonus ]The Sylvan Tree
Daniel stepped onto the bridge, its luminescent path supporting his weight with ethereal resilience. With each step, the bridge carried him closer to the heart of the chamber.
"Here, I've brought you here. Now, can you release me?" Edgar nervously asked, his voice trembling.
Daniel remained silent, his focus fixed on the island-like platform in the middle of the moat. He continued his deliberate stride towards it.
And there it stood, bathed in artificial sunlight—the legendary Sylvan tree. Its branches nearly reached the ceiling, stretching towards the 10-meter height of the basement. Its lustrous leaves, unlike those of any ordinary tree, bore a vivid red hue reminiscent of blood. Adorning its branches were luscious fruits, delicately shaped like women, their features serene and captivating.
The Sylvan tree, a cherished possession of the Willow clan, held immense value and enticed even the Alchemont clan, the primary house that yearned to harness its power. Its significance and mystical allure pervaded the air, evoking a sense of reverence and anticipation.
Observing the platform he stood upon, Daniel couldn't help but feel a peculiar sense of unease. It seemed to be an artificial island, purposefully constructed to accommodate the solitary Sylvan tree. The small gap between the floor and the platform struck him as odd. Though primarily a security measure, Daniel sensed there was more to it—a hidden motive behind this carefully crafted design.
Gazing from the platform to the moat below, Daniel's eyes widened in terror.
As the metal sheet protecting the glass panel beneath the moat slid open, a horrifying sight emerged before him. Countless human corpses, like discarded fish in a bucket or merchandise in a fish market, lay piled below the glass. Men, women, and even children—all naked, their lifeless forms frozen in eerie stillness.
These were the "nourishment" for the Sylvan tree. Daniel recognized some of the faces, remnants of the people deemed enemies by the royal family. Reporters, teachers, writers, politicians—anyone who dared question or oppose the ruling powers, along with their loved ones.
This macabre pool bore witness to the twisted sense of justice prevailing within the royal family, the mages, and the royal family loyalists who hunted down those with differing thoughts. Daniel noticed that some of these victims had vanished decades ago. If they were truly dead and merely preserved in formalin, their bodies should have shown signs of decay. Yet, they appeared as if slumbering peacefully.
"Michaela, are they dead, or are they just sleeping?" Daniel queried, turning to the archangel by his side. As an entity connected to the realm of souls, Michaela possessed knowledge of their state.
"My lord... they are long dead. However, their souls remain trapped within their bodies. Judging by the flow of mana I sense, it seems they are kept in this perpetual state to provide their mana as sustenance for the tree... indefinitely," Michaela replied, her voice laden with sorrow. The depths of human cruelty sometimes left her terrified, for at times, it surpassed even the wickedness found among the demons themselves.
Upon hearing Michaela's revelation, something within Daniel shattered. His gaze hardened as he fixated on Edgar, who stood nearby, seemingly unperturbed by the grotesque scene surrounding them.
Edgar, sensing the waves of animosity emanating from Daniel, was taken aback. He instinctively attempted to retreat, but his movements were futile against Daniel's peak human physical prowess.
"You don't seem surprised," Daniel remarked, locking his eyes with Edgar's.
"Why... Why would you seek to avenge these people? You've targeted the wrong man! If you want justice, go after the former king! Or Victor! And Lucien! These people were their enemies! We merely bought their lives from their hands, giving their deaths some semblance of meaning. It's merely recycling, a decree of nature! When someone dies, they turn to ash and nourish the earth!" Edgar explained matter-of-factly, but panic tainted his voice.
The majority of mages were pragmatists, viewing anything outside their societies as resources to be exploited or taken advantage of.
Whether it was finding cost-effective methods to enhance their golem functionality, increasing productivity, or seeking mana supplements, they regarded ordinary humans as the easiest available resources. They saw value in bones, bodies, blood, sinew, souls, and even the emotions of grief and hatred, all of which could be utilized in dark rituals to create abominable constructs.
However, dissenting voices, led by figures like Envy, who headed the "Magic Harmony faction," and the Vatican, which branded all mages as heretics, arose as a direct response to the potentially catastrophic repercussions of unchecked research conducted by mages aligned with the "Path of Knowledge" faction.
Fearing the outbreak of a full-scale war within the Curtained World, the mage community as a whole implemented stringent laws to prohibit the majority of experiments involving human lives, aiming to quell escalating conflicts. Nevertheless, a glaring hypocrisy persisted, as mages could exploit a loophole in the system by redeeming Contribution Points, granting them temporary immunity to engage in limited experimentation on human subjects.
These thought patterns were emblematic of the prevailing mindset among most mages in the Curtained World, particularly those aligned with the "Path of Knowledge" faction. In contrast, the "Magic Harmony" faction aimed to preserve the delicate balance between magic and the lives of ordinary people, while the "Golden Scale" faction focused on maintaining equilibrium in all aspects of existence.
The "Path of Knowledge" faction boasted the largest membership, comprising nearly 60% of the mage population. Its members willingly delved into forbidden territories and relentlessly pursued power. The significant numbers they commanded testified to the prevailing mindset within mage society as a whole.
"Do I look like I give a shit about who actually did it!?" Daniel spat, his punch landing squarely on Edgar's face, shattering his nose and teeth in a single blow. Daniel's unparalleled strength, honed to the pinnacle of human capability, was on full display as Edgar stumbled backward, clutching his nose and mouth in misery.
"You! You!" Edgar tried to protest, his mind rationalizing that he hadn't done anything truly wrong. At most, he had paid off the Tessia royal family and others to procure the lives of these people, handing them over to his subordinates for processing into Sylvan tree fertilizer.
But before he could finish his sentence, another punch struck his cheekbone, fracturing it, causing him to collapse onto the ground. Then came a forceful kick to his stomach, contorting his body in agonizing pain. The fragile mage body, unaided by magic enhancements, was no match for the relentless strength of Daniel, who possessed the might of a peak human.
"Arrrggghh!" Daniel roared, unleashing his frustration by repeatedly stomping on Edgar, venting his anger and sorrow.
He had made a promise to Yuki, vowing to grant her and Victor a chance at life, and he would not waver in fulfilling that promise. Edmon, whom he did not know had already met his demise, was off the list of retribution. The previous king was long gone, and Lucien remained elusive. The overwhelming emotions of sorrow, anger, and frustration surged within Daniel upon witnessing the horrors inflicted upon these people.
If he hadn't witnessed the extent to which they even sacrificed children to serve as tree supplements, his frustration may not have reached such a boiling point, compelling him to unleash it upon Edgar.
"Arrghh! I'm sorry, please stop! It's broken! It's broken!" Edgar cried out in agony as his body endured the full force of Daniel's frustration, his bones shattering under the onslaught.
"My lord..." Michaela's angelic voice pulled Daniel out of his remorse and anger. Panting heavily, he stumbled backward, his gaze fixed on Edgar lying before him, moaning in agony. Edgar's body bore the marks of his wrath—cracked and broken bones, internal bleeding. Immediate medical attention was crucial if Edgar were to have any chance of survival.
"Save him! Take him into custody at the base," Daniel commanded.
A swift-moving Atlantean soldier approached and administered a healing potion, a diluted version of Daniel's longevity potion that he had distributed among all the soldiers to save their lives. The potion worked swiftly, mending most of the critical wounds and injuries on Edgar's body. However, there were still lingering medical needs, such as his broken nose and arm. Despite this, Edgar's condition had significantly improved from its critical state.
The soldiers then hoisted Edgar's limp form like a sack of potatoes, making their way out of the room to transport him to the awaiting aircraft sent to retrieve the prisoner.
"I'm sorry, Michaela... for showing this unsavory side of me," Daniel said weakly as he slumped to the ground.
After taking a moment to calm his remorseful mind, Daniel looked up at the imposing Sylvan tree, its blood-red leaves causing his stomach to churn with disgust at the lives it had consumed.
Slowly, he rose to his feet and walked to the edge of the moat, peering down at the multitude of people caught in a state between life and death. Technically, he possessed the "Angelic Essence card," which could be used to resurrect them, but the sheer number made it impossible to do so practically. He knew he had to retreat once everything was settled to avoid further complications.
Though he had strength on his side and his private forces, Daniel didn't delude himself into thinking he was invincible in the face of the entire Curtained World. Therefore, he made the decision to release the trapped souls and reduce this place to ashes, ensuring that no one could ever use this facility again.
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