V2 Episode 153: The Lodging Tree

As far as the eye could see, stretched a desolate expanse of rock and soil.

In the midst of this, stood a single towering oak tree, majestic and proud.

And nestled protectively beneath the oak, like a small mountain, crouched a massive beast.

Wrapped in scales as black as the night, the creature was a dragon, the mightiest among mythical beings in this world.

Its name was Soul Eater. The first of its kind created by a dragon that manifested a thousand years ago. Bestowed with the power to devour all, it eventually turned against the dragon that created it.

Normally, creatures such as Soul Eater cannot harm their creator dragons. It’s not a matter of morality, ethics, or even strength and emotion. It’s simply an immutable fact that they cannot harm them, as dictated by the relationship between creator and creation.

However, Soul Eater alone was not bound by such constraints. This was because the dragon itself granted it the power to devour all. “All” meaning everything in this world, including even the celestial spirits known as dragons, which were not exempt from the category of “all”.

Why the dragon bestowed such power upon Soul Eater remains a mystery even to Soul Eater itself.

Was it out of a dreamlike belief that it would never be betrayed, and thus granted its firstborn the strongest power?

Or perhaps blinded by hatred towards the humans who greedily devour the stars themselves, it bestowed power that should never have been given?

Or maybe… foreseeing its own imminent fall from grace, it entrusted Soul Eater with the power to kill itself in order to stop its own rampage?

Puffing out a heavy breath from its nostrils, Soul Eater shook its long neck and leaned its nose against the oak tree it had been protecting. More precisely, it wasn’t the tree itself that Soul Eater leaned against, but the lodgings clinging to the branches of the oak tree.

Also known as Mistletoe, the lodging tree was a parasitic plant that sucked up half of the nutrients necessary for its host’s growth. In that sense, it could be considered a nuisance to the oak tree.

However, humans revered the lodging tree. Trees parasitized by lodgings maintain their green appearance even during the leafless winter months. Therefore, humans regarded lodging trees as symbols of life and eternity.

Opening its mouth and baring its teeth like swords, Soul Eater skillfully hooked the lodging tree with its sword-like teeth and peeled it off the branches of the oak tree. And then, it lifted its head.

“The time has come.”

The lodging tree also appears in the legend of Baldur, the god of light.

Baldur, among the gods, was distinguished for his wisdom, beauty, and kindness.

However, Baldur began to have dreams of his own death. Concerned, Baldur’s mother goddess made a promise to all living beings and inanimate objects in the world, ensuring that they would not harm Baldur. Thus, Baldur became a god immune to any attack.

However, there was one entity that Baldur’s mother goddess did not make this promise to: the lodging tree.

As a parasitic species that cannot survive without a host, and moreover, as a newly born shoot, it was inconceivable that this shoot would kill its own parent. The mother goddess thought this way and did not make a promise with the lodging tree.

Later, the lodging tree would be used as a tool by an evil god, piercing Baldur, the god of light, with an arrow.

Thus, the invincible god Baldur, supposed to be beyond defeat, was killed, and the great war that began in the wake of his death engulfed the gods, giants, and the world itself in flames. This tale weaves the end of Ragnarok, the fate of the gods.

In this story, the lodging tree did not actively seek to do anything. It did not refuse the promise of the mother goddess. Nor did it consent to the plans of the evil god. Of course, it did not attempt to kill Baldur, the god of light.

The lodging tree did nothing. More accurately, it could do nothing. Yet, it resulted in the killing of the god of light, Baldur.

This was the godslaying achieved due to its extreme weakness and fragility.

And now, the child who sought to surpass the father who housed the god of light is trying to manifest the lodging tree that killed Baldur, the god of light.

“Soul Eater,” whose power devours everything, is specialized solely in killing gods. It can’t be defeated by dragons, demons, or giants. Neither humans, kijin, nor elves can harm it.

But it’s not a blade that kills gods; rather, it’s a blade that even gods cannot kill. That’s why once this blade is unleashed toward a god, it will undoubtedly reach the divine and pierce through it

The child, who was once nothing, loaded all the power into their empty self to surpass their father, resulting in this twisted and distorted power.

Humanity is truly mysterious. A short and insignificant life that cannot live for a hundred years can destroy stars, slay dragons, and kill gods. Neither fully embracing goodness nor fully becoming evil, it is deeply entrenched in moderation.

Once, Soul Eater was astonished, bewildered, and scornful of this fact, and followed the dragon’s desire to the fullest extent, bringing destruction and slaughter. It crushed the desperate resistance of humans, sweeping them towards the brink of extinction, as easily as one would crush eggs.

Yet, humans never stopped fighting, never gave up. If their cities were reduced to rubble, they would gather the rubble and build fortresses; if the surface was scorched, they would burrow underground and stubbornly survive.

Their stubborn refusal to acknowledge their own sins of greedily devouring the stars, their refusal to seek redemption, their continued resistance, is a testament to their filthiness of existence.

Soul Eater harbored intense disgust and deep frustration towards such humans, along with a hint of pity.

Pity could also be seen as curiosity. It was at this moment that Soul Eater, who had previously trampled on tiny lives like ants, first turned its gaze towards these small lives.

Without even dreaming that it would be the first step towards rebellion against the dragon, Soul Eater clenched the lodging tree in its mouth, and the corner of its black dragon’s mouth twisted slightly. It was an expression that, if it were human, would be akin to a wry smile.

Raising its head as if lifting its neck, Soul Eater then shook its massive body and stood up, fluttering its wings on its back.

Then, the mountain-like body floated up into the air as if weightless. Soul Eater began to soar towards the zenith as if it had no weight at all.

As Soul Eater soared like a solitary arrow, a voice of a young man, Anima, echoed in its ears.

In response to the voice, Soul Eater opened its own mouth, still holding the lodging tree in its teeth.

“I, henceforth, shall don the Void Armor and pierce the gods, becoming the lodging tree,” Soul Eater proclaimed.

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