Darkness enveloped me like a fine satin sheet. A familiar feeling. It felt like heaviness tinted in red, the darkness behind closed eyelids in a dim lit room. Yet, I felt like the world smelled wrong.
The odor of fresh wet earth filled my nostrils. I wanted to stretch my arms to escape the darkness but noticed that nothing moved. I tried my legs, but the result was the same. Strange. I remember talking with Wei Min about where his loyalties lay. Afterwards, I went to bed, pretty sure with all limbs intact. If they had been severed by a Zarian Assassin, then I certainly would have noticed.
Remembering the principles of cultivation, I took a deep breath to focus my energy on moving my right arm. After a long minute of concentration, it worked! I regained the feeling, but it felt like I was moving through thick water. Every movement felt sluggish, and it left me exhausted. Weird. I didn't remember being out of shape.
A short break later I repeated these steps until I regained control over all of my four limbs. Finally! Time to remove this annoying darkness and breath some sunlight. I labored through much resistance until I finally escaped. The light didn't show me my luxurious bed though, no. I was among giant plants. Only through the grace of the sun was I able to determine what I escaped were not layers of sheets but loose earth. Well, that explained the smell at least.
Wondering how bad my nails must look, I checked my hands only to notice they were gone. In their stead were thick roots. What the hell!? Luckily, a puddle of water was to the left of me.
This must be a dream. Yes, this could not be real.
I took a careful look in the reflecting water.
My previous silky blonde hair turned to a green-ish stubble. The long pale legs of mine, that every girl of the empire envied, morphed into purple hairy prongs of bulbous veg. Sword-wielding heroes would have cut them down if they would see them on any person, but I was no longer a person. My jade-like skin changed into a yellow taint with the occasional brown-black markings that were typical for a potato. Yes, there was no doubt. I was reborn as a tater.
This is impossible! I thought I finally found my destiny. I thought my time on earth was only a soul journey. I thought it was my final life. But no, I was reborn again. But this time, not as a cultivating beautiful princess, no. This time, it was I who was being cultivated.
No, wait! Being cultivated does not mean automatically that I cannot cultivate. I mean, a sentient root vegetable should defy all reason anyway, so there shouldn't be an issue. Yes! My life was not doomed, yet!
With new hope in mind, I planted my behind on the cold ground and started to meditate. On my previous body, only the intricate blood vessels and my Dantian were glowing with power, but this time, literally all of me was glowing with life force. That made sense. I was, after all, a bundle of carbohydrates. Nutritious and full of energy. Well, I already sprouted, so I couldn't say I was particularly healthy anymore, but that was beside the point. I had to focus my qi.
After concentrating for a while, I sensed another change. This time, no new limb sprouted, but I got bigger. While I had nothing nearby to compare my size to, I was sure that I nearly doubled my size.
That was not exactly what I wanted to do, but it was nice to know that I still had some form of agency. I couldn't imagine being peeled alive. But, even worse were the thoughts of being cut into pieces and then being fried in high-temperature vegetable oil. Death would untether me from this existence, but I still preferred not to end up like a freedom fry. I shuddered.
A voice awoke me from my day-mare. "You're back!"
Wait, what? A voice? Could it be one of the humans working the fields?
I looked around. All I saw were presumably potato plants. Their green leaves stretched all across the horizon in whatever direction I looked. The puddle to the left of me reflected only my poor visage. Or something I interpreted as a human-like face. Funnily enough, two potato eyes appeared to work like real eyes, but I couldn’t say for sure.
"Down here!" The voice sounded again. This time, I looked toward my feet--pardon, towards my roots, and I spotted another potato wriggling itself out of the ground. I would have jumped or at least startled, but being a potato robbed me of all my facial expressions, so I was forced to fall over to communicate my displeasure.
"What are you doing, Your Highness? Don't you remember where you are?"
Wait, ‘Your Highness?’ Wait, what? I hesitated for a moment. But, they obviously knew something, and trying to bluff would be useless. “No.”
The strange potato shook. “Do you remember who you are?”
I scratched my starchy skin. “Yes, but I shouldn’t be here …” I trailed off. Did I really know who I was, waking up in a strange vegetable?
Then, I bolted upright. What language are we even speaking? I didn’t know. At least, I could clearly understand and even speak it, but I didn’t know its name. It wasn’t any I’d heard before. I didn't even know that plants could speak!
“Weirdo,” said the potato from below. “Follow me, Your Highness! We don’t have much time!”
“Why? What is happening? And where are we going?” I asked, but the stern-looking stranger was busily churning the earth with eerie speed. No matter. It appeared I was royalty in this world as well, so things should proceed smoothly from here on.
I followed the tuber deep into the earth until we arrived at an underground sanctum. It was rather spacious. At least six potatoes high and a dozen potatoes wide. In the middle stood a throne made out of mice hides. On every corner stood a bulky sweet potato equipped with a toothpick as a weapon and a bottle cap as a buckler.
Never did I imagine that I ever would be scared of root vegetables, but here I was. Even those handsome fellas paid respect to the bright violet potato who occupied the macabre throne. At first, I thought it wore a crown, but no, its roots grew in the shape of a crown which gave it the appearance of authority.
"Welcome back, my child," said the ruler of roots magnanimously, but I couldn't say for sure because it had neither facial expressions nor gestures I could interpret.
"Welcome back?" I repeated.
"I see confusion in your spots, my child."
No shit. Turning into a potato without any warning would confuse anyone.
"Y-yes!" I stuttered, "I went to bed as a human and woke up--well, in this form. This couldn't be a dream either, for I have the ability to manipulate the dream world. So, tell me, who are you? And most importantly, who am I?"
The monarch of carbs giggled in delight. Even the four thick guards joined in a low baritone chuckle.
"I'm the empress of the Potato Empire and you, my child, are the princess and the heir to it!"
I knew it! Yes, at least princess again!
The excited empress continued, "I would love to take the time to explain everything to you. Like the soul journey you did, but alas, there is no time. We are currently under attack."
"Attack!? Who would dare to go against the Potato Empire?" I asked in shock.
I imagined she would have squinted if she could. "The Carrot Kingdom."
"Why would these lesser vegetables use their forces to go against us? Wouldn't it be smarter for us to unite against shared enemies? Like humans, bugs, mice, and birds?" I asked with sincere interest.
"We do not have the power to go against the humans, sadly. All we can do is to hurt them in small ways. Make them slip if they try to peel us or sprout faster than they expect to slowly but surely poison them." The Empress sighed. "The other demonic beasts pose no danger. Concerning the birds, do not mention them. The birds are our friends. No, the birds are everybody's friend. Remember that."
I nodded while remembering all the chicken I ever ate.
"I'd love to chat more with you, my child, but it is time for war!" she yelled while wielding her own toothpick. She then unceremoniously rolled down her throne and started to wiggle towards the surface. Her guards and I followed her.
On the surface, a diverse army of potatoes awaited us. Most had the typical yellow hue but some were brown, less were violet. A few gigantic sweet potatoes were among them. Even a yam somehow was part of this army. While most of the forces already had sprouting roots, proof that they were of fighting age, I saw some young and very fresh potatoes without any blemishes at all. Children shouldn't have to fight.
"My dearest people. For too long the evil Carrot Kingdom bullied us. Raiding our border villages, raping our women, but enough is enough. They think they can bully us because we are starch, but we will show them the power of carbohydrates!"
The soldiers’ battle cries filled the whole potato patch.
The carrots already took up formations at the border which turned out to be only about fifty potatoes from the throne room. The vicious-looking carrots had some humongous radishes among them, ready to squash any resistance. As soon as they spotted us, they awkwardly rolled towards us on their sides. It seemed awkward at first, but there was a slight decline and they started to gain momentum.
The horde of carrots supported by the radishes crashed into us. The brittle young potatoes were the first to be smashed. No! Not the younglings!
Hot starch ran through my veins, and my bulbous veg legs quaked with anticipation. All I could think about was surviving. I picked up a toothpick and shouted, "defensive formations!"
Three baby carrots were approaching me from two O'clock, ends sharpened to serve as a natural weapon. They jumped me, but I dodged easily and cut through all three at once, serving the first Carrot Kebab.
The fight between the radishes and sweet potatoes was gridlocked. Both sides were nearly equal in strength. I knew if we could eliminate those white harbingers of death, we could win the war.
An idea sprouted in me when I saw the idle yam, literally. A fifth limb was perfect to climb this giant root veggie. I took its reins from the incompetent potato who just sat there bathing in the sun and spurred it to move towards the enemy headquarters.
As expected, the enemy directed the radishes to stop my advance, but retreating from the sweet potatoes was costly. They lost two radishes that way.
Excellent! Now, let’s go for the win!
I changed direction. The enemy headquarters were never my target. All I wanted was to corner the radishes. My yam rolled toward them, surrounding them from both sides. Yehaaaw! We are going to win this!
Right when the battle turned in our favor, I suddenly lost my footing-- pardon, rooting. I no longer looked at the vegetable on vegetable massacre from the height of the yam, instead seeing it from a bird’s viewpoint. Literally. Because a frigging bird swiped me up in its beak and flew away.
'The birds are everybody's friend' my ass!
I awoke, sweating in my familiar bed. Nostalgic hands touched the golden hair I missed. Remembering the pain of being eaten was more than unpleasant. I knew it couldn't have been a dream because I had control over them. What was that then? Another soul journey? I felt exhausted.
There was a light knock on the door. "Come in."
"Your Highness, would you like a bowl of potato soup for breakfast?" asked a timid maid.
"No, thanks. Say, do you have any chicken in the kitchen?"
Support "Reverse Reincarnation"
I'm a reader and writer, mostly of science fiction and fantasy. Trying my hand at writing a webnovel for the first time, although I've finished several novels offline.
Also, English isn't my native language. I like to think I'm pretty good, but maybe I'm just deluding myself. Pointing out my mistakes is always appreciated.