(Patreon) Wizard! Chapter 184

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William sat and stared at the arrangement of plants in front of him. Several of them were in pots, but there was also a tree firmly rooted in the ground, and a bush next to it. A furrow of concentration appeared on William’s forehead, before he finally let out a breath, slowly. “I don’t think plants have souls.”

Lorelei nodded. “That’s right, they don’t. Why, though?”

“Maybe they don’t need them. Or maybe they do have souls, but they’re different enough that I can’t sense them at all.” He stood up from where he had been sitting to concentrate, and then walked over to a small flower, only to strike out at it. His fist stopped short of the flower itself, but a ripple of energy continued further. It didn’t pass around the flower, but rather through it. As for effects on the flower itself, William didn’t see any but the slightest movement from the air he had disturbed with his punch. “If it has a soul, it is nothing like the souls of animals. It is either so weak to be nonexistent, containing no energy, or it does not exist. At least, not in the same way as the souls we know about. I suppose it could be the former, in which case this flower should be dead now. We’d see the effects within a few days.”

“I see. So if it dies, that will confirm plants have souls? No, it might be a coincidence. In that case, we would have to try a larger scale experiment.”

—–

After a few days, the only visible change in the flower was that it was slightly larger. Obviously it had not died, but was still growing. It didn’t seem to be growing faster, though. William set up an experiment where he tested the growth rates of dozens of flowers of the same and different kinds simultaneously. The result was… flowers. There wasn’t any noticeable difference between those William sent a soul attack toward and the others of the same kinds. They didn’t grow faster, nor did they die or grow more slowly. “Do you think there are plants with souls?”

Lorelei thought for a few moments. “Maybe. There are some plants that are… less like plants we would normally see. In some places, there are plants that entrap insects, and digest them in fluids inside them. Then, there are larger ones of those, that live in places frequented by magical beasts. I hear that some of those are big enough to capture rodents and other small animals. I’m not sure if those plants would have a soul, but they are enough different from what is expected that they might. It is worth looking into, except they would not survive long outside of their expected environs, and studying them where they are is… risky.”

William nodded. He had heard of carnivorous plants on Earth, such as pitcher plants and the Venus fly trap. They certainly seemed different enough that there was a possibility, but they didn’t really have any volition of their own, which William thought might be what merited a soul. William could imagine animals moving without a soul, but it was also clear that when the soul died or was disconnected the body died, though perhaps it was from shock. William didn’t plan to experiment with that to find out if there was a way to keep an animal alive afterwards. As for plants, even if they suddenly had a soul, it wasn’t like they would be able to think or move without a body that supported it. They would need a brain, and neural pathways. They wouldn’t have to be like animals, but it would have to exist in some capacity. However, normal plants didn’t have such features. “I would love to go see those plants… but going on a journey and taking such a risk for no reason would be irresponsible.”

Lorelei nodded. “I agree. I wish it were otherwise, though. It would be fun.”

—–

William sighed. He wasn’t sure what he should be doing. He had some ideas, but besides training, especially to perfect Shattering the Soul, he wasn’t sure what was best. Though it was very useful to know about the Demon King’s return in advance, it also meant that there was a lot of waiting. It was hard to continuously anticipate a big event- especially a war. William supposed that normally people didn’t have to feel this way. There might be the threat of a war looming for a few years, but a dozen and a half years was a long time to know in advance that a war was certainly coming. William actually wondered where those numbers came from, so he went to find Lorelei. “How do you know when the Demon King will return?”

“That? Quite simply… divination magic. Now, normally it’s not that useful, but he leaves a rather big mark when he shows up. In addition to that, it’s a fairly regular schedule for when he returns after dying. Though, as for how I know when the war will be happening, that is based on the past. The Demon King almost always starts the war within a half dozen years of his body returning to adulthood. He’s not really that patient.”

“Wait… that means… the Demon King is alive right now?”

Lorelei nodded. “That is correct. That’s why I can’t stay around here forever, and have to return occasionally.”

“Can’t we just… go kill him now?”

Lorelei sighed. “I wish we could. If I thought you could defeat him in a one-on-one… or a two-on-one, or three-on-one… I would have already suggested it. However, even with a smaller, weaker body, the Demon King is still a very powerful wizard… and has long since passed the sixth major breakthrough in his cultivation method. If we could get a dozen… or perhaps a few dozen of the best people, he could be defeated. Assuming you take down the defenses on his castle, and actually manage to get that far into our territory alive.”

“I bet you could disable the defenses on the castle.”

“I could. But I only would if we would be assured of his destruction afterwards. After all, I like my soul where it is… or if I die, I at least want my soul to be in one piece. It would be pretty easy to figure out how all of the castle’s defenses failed. In addition to do that, it’s not like he is alone. Leading an army to attack would be… much worse. While the human have a reasonable chance of winning a defensive war, attacking would be suicide. Your supply lines would be longer, and the terrain would be a huge disadvantage… and you would have to face more troops. The Demon King won’t be much more dangerous in a dozen and a half years, and fighting him on your territory is much safer.”

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