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A note from MDW

Lots of stories with cultivating trees. Here's one I like very much.

Reborn as a Demonic Tree

Reborn as a Demonic Tree

 

Ashlock awoke in the courtyard of a demonic sect... as a tree.

A tree that eats people.

And one that grows stronger over time due to a daily sign-in system and cultivation.

My daily Dungeon Mana turnover reached more than 300,000 points. That's how many points I earned and spent per day. And I had to be burning DM around the clock as my pool was too small compared to how much DM I earned. At least the points were spread throughout the day and not handed over in a lump sum all at once.

But I found I had unused Attribute Points. I used ten points to reach the next armor level. Then the other twenty points went into Clarity because I needed a bit more breathing room with a bigger DM pool. Which reached the five digits. Good.

I was earning some passive Exp. Livingstone Exploration Journal was giving me some Experience. I had almost sixteen hundred acres of plains terrain in my Dungeon. The farmland counted as plains too once I added a few trees. To cast Plant Growth on these trees, I had to fly under the farmland area in a tunnel underneath. "Tap for White Mana" gave me the same amount of base Dungeon Mana regeneration. Multiplied by my Willpower, that was 668 DM and 39 Exp every day just from having that area of plains inside my Dungeon.

Other sources of earning Exp peacefully included growing trees and the Knuth Check from debugging the software. I had zero births in Circle of Life's tally so far. The animals in the training grounds didn't give birth yet. Finally, every time a wolf or another predator killed some prey animal (it was pretty random) I gained 1 Experience point. I couldn't interfere with that. Even Dungeon Automation's control would stop me from earning that Exp. But the wolves had to eat something and I never went a day without earning some Exp. It all depended on how many wolves survived long enough to get hungry.

The issue with the wolves was simple. They were too damn popular.

People loved delving into the training tower. Most first-time visitors wept as they saw the grassy fields and the trees. I saw people hugging the wolves that were trying to bite their faces off. Some Tamers came from far away to get a wolf pet.

Taking live animals out of the training floors incurred a tax 100 times higher than the dead ones. People paid with a smile and some merchants even had bounties on females with a certain fur pattern. Lots and lots of rabbits were captured alive to be bred elsewhere.

First-time visitors were also challenged to try and damage the walls. It was a poorly-kept secret that they were reinforced by my Dungeon magic. So far, nobody managed to scratch the stone.

Pitsmouth became a massive travel destination in just a couple of months. Lord Marshall regularly brought his fifty people quota and released the slaves with a huge ceremony. From what I overheard in the city (no longer a town), people had a high approval rate. Most of the released slaves chose to remain in the city and not descend into the underground. I didn't blame them.

Hundreds of people moved in every day. Pitsmouth was a safe city to live in and the laws were fair. And each new person who moved in gave me another 4 Dungeon Mana per day.

 


MDW: I removed the Traits and Perks section, as these were getting too big. Refer to https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/chapter/1084203/ for the full description.

Name: Skip May Neming Species: Dungeon Core / Plant (Apple)
Level:  58 Exp/ Level: 1,247 / 8,000
Main Class: Electronic Apple Orchard (L) Effective Level (temporary): N/A
Sub-Classes: Architect of Destruction (V) Computer Engineer (E) Plains Master (V)
Attributes Base Score   Efficiency Modified Score

Intelligence (In)

588 (200%) 1176

Wisdom (Ws)

634 (200%) 1268

Willpower (Wp)

702 (230%) 1614

Clarity (Cl)

476 (220%) 1047

Hardness (Hd)

602 (240%) 1,444
Resources Base Current   Maximum
MP (Cl) - regen (Wp) 220 17 2523 (3770/day)
DM (Cl) 690+190 9706 10093
SP (Wp) 690 11826 11826
Stats Base Modifiers Current
Materialization (Ws) 305 ---- 4172
Armor sqrt(Hd):  38 ---- (23 / 75%)
Control (Wp) 68 ---- 1165
Skills Engineering V Implements of Demise VI Computer Sciences III
Plant Sorcery II Landscaping II
Grimoire Plant Growth Tree Explosion Empty Spell Slot

 

*


*

 

Daydream! Expand our minds! Or give me the MSDOS source code.

 

Spellcasting traditions are as varied as there are different cultures. To cast a spell is to shape Mana with the power of a sentient mind. Some do that through rigid formulas, the Wizards. Some do that by cajoling the elements and relying on their affinities, Mages. Others use their emotions and sympathetic connections, Sorcerers and Witches, respectively. Spiritualists enter contracts with fairies or elemental spirits to channel and shape their magic. Among a plethora of other traditions.

 

We became wiser! Still useless information, though. Can I have the LINUX kernel, please?

No? Fuck you, asshole aliens! Why does every single Apocalypse in known history need to have asshole aliens? Isn't the asshole people enough? Yes, enough assholes here already. Please think about that.

I got a ping from Dungeon Automation. Some ballistae and SPLINTER launchers were firing and reloading. I focused and saw a moderately-sized pack of Infernali charging the walls. A new type of Infernali. They were bipedal lizards with hooks in place of their front legs. They ran with a gait that wobbled their torsos sideways and the tail on the opposite side, clearly not well-adapted to running on two legs. But two legs were all they had.

I cast a beacon, dropped pebbles on the heads of the lazy guards, then pointed the cone of perception at the Infernali and Replicated a TNT bomb above and a bit ahead of them. Boom, problem solved.

 

> For killing level 48 Hookaraptor, you gained 13 Experience points.

[...] 27 similar messages were suppressed.

Mass Murder! 28 Extra Experience added.

 

The guards stared at the corpses and moved their hands to their crystal-harvesting knives. Then I absorbed the magic stones but left a blood smudge on the ground that formed a hand flipping the bird at them. Ah, the universal sign of not giving a fuck.

Where was I? Yes, trying to write a BIOS code from scratch. Killing those hooker raptors was almost not worth my time. I was definitely not worth the Dungeon Mana but I was drowning in it. I'll make an eleventh underground floor two miles wide, plant ten thousand banana trees, and fill it with poop-flinging monkeys. Because why the fuck not.

> You found a bug in your software. Donald Knuth gave you 8 Experience Points.

Life was good. Though I was an apple, not a sunflower.

 

*


*

 

In the third month after signing the treaty, two major events happened. First, I earned a level that was mostly from not killing stuff. Which was the good news. Little progress on the BIOS side. Mostly because I had no fucking idea how to write one. I was totally winging it and leaning on my Skill, which was also not growing. I was doing something wrong. Anyway, I gained a level.

 

> You gained a level! You gained +10 Intelligence, +8 Wisdom, +10 Willpower, +6 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

 

The bad news was that the city was having a money shortage. Using magic stones from the Infernali as both currency and power source for a plethora of magical stuff was a problem when the land was pacified and we had just killed tens of thousands of Infernali in that horde event. I don't like to remember the horde event. Anyway. This was the bad news. The sudden prosperity in the city boosted the consumption of magic stones but the supply wasn't meeting the demand. The fact Lord Marshall was raking in a killing from all the taxation going on didn't help either. The result was a massive inflationary spike.

People complained that the "monsters" in the training grounds didn't give magic stones. People complained about the taxes. Lord Marshall's utopia was almost reaching a breaking point where people would riot. They wouldn't overthrow the ruler, good luck fighting someone who was about nineteen times faster than Bruce Lee and hit at least eleven times harder than Evander Holyfield, with ten times the reflexes of Michael Schumacher. Who was also ten times tougher than David Goggins. I could go on.

The issue with a riot was the loss of property and productivity. Also, the loss of life. A lot of people would die in a riot when everyone could chop firewood with a kitchen knife.

Marshall came to me, asking for an answer. Sitting on a bench in the middle of his garden, he turned off the wards in that area of his castle grounds.

"Dungeon, can you make some magic stones?"

The straight answer was yes. The real answer was fucking no because magic stones were fucking expensive to make. A cheap stone like the one found in a Blistermouse's corpse cost me about sixty DM to Replicate. Also, what the fuck would he give me for them?

"Dungeon, are you there?"

I wrote "YES" in glowing letters on the wall facing him.

"Magic stones?"

<Hell, no. Stop using dumb money.> I wrote on the wall.

"What should I do?"

<Get a fucking degree in Economics. Google what "Fiat Money" means.>

Marshall laughed. Then he stared at the wall with glowing giant letters. "Amazing! You are from before the Apocalypse!"

I fucking hate smart people. Perhaps more than I hate dumb people.

"I know what the Google thing was. A machine that answered any question people might have. Look, I have the Economist Class unlocked. I promise it will be my next Sub-Class... I just need thirteen more levels. But I need money now."

<Make some money.>

"Do you want me to go hunt some Infernali?"

<Dude, you know what Google was but don't know about money? Real money, not this pretend money that's basically bartering you do now.>

Damn mad max post-Apocalyptic world.

"Oh. I remembered. You are talking about coins!"

<Yeah. Coins are a good starting point. Get some precious metals, and mint some coins. Tell people these coins are worth some arbitrary value in the currency they understand and set a law saying businesses need to accept coins. Better yet.> I ran out of space on the wall.

"Better yet what?"

<Make a law saying you only accept taxes in coins. Mint the coins, and put trading posts everywhere that exchange magic stones for coins. If people want to pay taxes and not go to jail, they need coins. Pay your employees, guardsmen, and for supplies in coins only.> Almost ran out of space again.

<Soon, people will forget about magic stones. You also guarantee that you will trade coins for magic stones if people want to go to other places. That will make them trust the value of the coins.>

"What if people start making their own coins?"

<How different is it from people going out and killing Infernali to harvest the stones?>

"It is easier to mint a coin than kill an Infernale."

<Make the coin complex. Hard to counterfeit.>

"Do you have any idea of the level of detail artisans can reach with high enough Skill ranks?"

I had a hint.

<Enchant the coins.>

"That costs magic stones."

<Make people stop using so many magic stones. Your society's reliance on them is dooming you to fail.>

"How will I maintain my wards without magic stones?"

<I don't know. The people down here are very happy and they don't have a single magic stone on them.>

"How will people cook food without magic stones? Keep themselves warm in the upcoming winter?"

<Use firewood.> I erased the sentence but it was too late.

"Burning wood from trees? I know of only one place that has trees."

<I'm gonna be rich. No, not really. I'll give you some good tree seeds. You plant and grow them. Then you have trees too. Sell the saplings, sell the seeds. Takes years of growth, though.>

Marshall stood up. "That might work. I have some Farmer Mages with the Plant Growth spell. Let's do it, then. It won't solve the immediate problem but it is a new business!"

 

*


*

 

I later had one of the Bad Bet bots deliver Marshall a sack with small bags with several tree seeds, most of them fruit-bearing. They cost me next to nothing to spawn and I didn't care about exclusivity. Actually, losing such exclusivity would make me less of a target.

Marshall was a businessman slash politician slash robber baron. Ruthless as all company CEOs and politicians and, well, robber barons were, the previous antagonism was borne of the fact he considered me an item he bought and was subsequently stolen. Only after he decided to cut his losses because he wasn't getting me back, he changed his stance and we became partners.

A fucked up leader for a fucked up world. That's what he was. I had no doubt he would seize my Core if he thought he had a chance. But our partnership was one of convenience. The 120-day notice period to end the deal was intentionally long to stop any surprises from either side.

I finished spawning my monkeys and growing the banana trees. Green palm leaves as far as the eye could see.

Then a monkey flung some poop at my Core. I made the poop vanish and exerted my control on the monkey. I stared at the monkey, feeling that odd uncanny valley as I noticed his very human-like features. Like opposable thumbs. I bet he could type on a keyboard.

If infinite monkeys bashed away at infinite keyboards...

I was pretty limited in how fast I could push buttons. Even with all my Attributes and Perks, a dozen pairs of hands... Why stop at a dozen?

Yeah. I left the monkeys to fling poo at one another and flew back to my Core room. From there, I dug another tunnel and then a larger room. And another even larger room with fruit trees and some forested area where my future typists could rest.

With my current Control, I could manage 45 Chimpanzees. I couldn't get more human than that. I spawned 90. I placed half of them under Dungeon Automation and gave them green wristbands. They were to stay in the forested area resting and doing monkey business until the red group with me grew tired.

With the workforce ready, I Replicated 45 desks with pencils and paper. The chimpanzees sat on the chairs and started writing different versions of the BIOS code I needed. I floated at the back of the room, watching them work.

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About the author

MDW

Bio: The author would like to reinforce for the umpteenth time that the characters' opinions are their own, may be intentionally wrong, do not reflect my (MDW's) personal viewpoints neither are included in this work to further any political agenda (I don't even live in the same hemisphere or country as you, whichever those are. I'm writing from the Earth-Sun L3 point for all I care). My works serve no purpose other than to tell stories with conflicting viewpoints. Use of the reader's critical sense is highly advised.

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