Reborn as a Demonic Tree

Chapter 205: Fire Titan
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Despite the battle occurring up ahead between what Ashlock assumed were the Redclaws and some strange fire titan, a feeling of relief washed over him.

This was partly because he knew the Qi level of this pocket realm was at the 2nd stage of the Star Core Realm, meaning with the Grand Elder there, that fire titan shouldn't stand a chance. But it was also because they had escaped the Azure Clan due to his {Dimensional Overlap} skill... for now.

"I hope the Azure Clan cultivators don't have the capabilities of dimension travel." Ashlock desperately wished that being able to seamlessly overlap dimensions like he was with his system was something impossible for others... otherwise, he was about to be hunted all the way to the lower layer of creation.

"Luckily {Dimensional Overlap} worked as I expected with the Bastion." Ashlock had taken a gamble, and thankfully, it paid off. If Willow swapped realms and left everyone else stranded on a rock plummeting into the monster-infested expanse, he wouldn't know what to do.

But it seemed that the {Dimensional Overlap} skill would move the Bastion and anyone or anything on it to wherever he wanted to go. Which made the fact they pushed those Azure Clan cultivators off at the last second even more important.

Speaking of dimension shifting, Ashlock noticed that the Qi consumption for the Bastion had increased exponentially since leaving the spatial Qi realm. Since the Bastion's core was spatial type, and they were in a pocket realm filled with nothing but fire Qi, all of the Qi required to power the ship was drawn solely from his main body rather than the surroundings.

"I should make a fleet of these bastions out of the various groves I have back at home, so I have one specialized for every type of pocket realm," Ashlock mused as he turned off the shield and powered down the flower artillery. The purple bubble that had surrounded the Bastion faded away, and the flowers retreated back into the crevasses of the black stone ship. He would reactivate them when they got closer to the titan.

Larry's ash cloud casually rolled off the sides of the Bastion and sprinkled on the volcanic land below. Sol's light dimmed again, having used up all the Qi Ashlock had charged him up with on the way to the building owned by the Azure Clan.

In hindsight, it should have been somewhat obvious that a clan of cultivators would take notice if all the monsters were slaughtered in their sealed training realm, and then their very fancy-looking library guarded with runic formations got broken into.

"I don't know why, but I just assumed all of the pocket realms offered to me by the Mystic Realm skill would be abandoned like ancient temples with nothing but monsters, traps, and inheritances waiting to be claimed."

Ashlock sighed. It would seem the Mystic Realm was far more dangerous than he first thought.

"A good thing we decided not to let the youngsters of the Redclaw family in this time. If we ever let them in, I might guard them with a Bastion or send them to a peaceful pocket realm that doesn't have a suspicious name."

A moment passed as everyone on the ship calmed down and suffered under the sudden intense heat of this pocket realm. The lowered shield would've helped, but everyone here was strong enough to protect themselves, so it wasn't worth the Qi waste.

"Are we safe?" Stella asked as she sheathed her sword at her waist and rested her palm on its hilt. Purple flames flickered lazily across her body to ward off the heat.

"I believe so," Ashlock replied, "For now at least. If one of the Azure Clan Elders chases us, we would likely be doomed anyway without the help of Maple or one of his siblings."

Stella's eyes widened as she reached up and carefully grabbed the passed-out Maple from her head. The poor thing looked like he was skin and bones now compared to his previously bloated and happy form.

"Psst, Maple." Stella rubbed his fluffy head and tried to softly wake the squirrel. Eventually, Maple was awoken from his slumber and looked at Stella lethargically from within her palm. His head kept rolling to the side, so Stella propped it up with her fingers.

"Are you okay, Maple?" Stella said in a hushed whisper to not scare him, "You look... terrible."

"I feel terrible," Maple replied, "That Elder was in the Monarch Realm and most certainly from an upper layer of creation. If I didn't go all out and surprise him, you would be dead."

"So the Azure Clan is from the 2nd layer of creation, then?" Ashlock concluded, and his mind shivered. How had they accidentally made an enemy out of such a group?

To him, a Nascent Soul cultivator was a profound being that could lord over an entire demonic sect, but to the Azure Clan, they were just disciples; meanwhile, an Elder was on the same level as the World Tree at the center of the Celestial Empire.

Maple wheezed, "I'm not strong enough yet to take such an existence on in a fair fight. If that Elder's artifact didn't activate and drag him away after I devoured his arm, none of us would be talking right now."

"Thank you so much, Maple. I didn't even have time to react before I stared death in the face," Stella gave the little guy a hug against her cheek, "Is there anything I can do for you? Sol could heal you..."

"I used up all the energy I gathered from eating those tasty snakes earlier to unleash that attack," Maple licked his lips, "That's why I look like this. If you got me a tasty snack, I would feel much better." freew(e)bnovel.com

"Acorns?" Stella asked while tilting her head.

"I need something with a bit more substance than an acorn, you silly human," Maple snorted and slothfully pointed at the titan in the distance whose fire lit up the entire area. "I want to eat that."

"Okay, you just sit tight," Stella reached up and placed Maple carefully on her head, "I will go hunt a titan for you."

"Thank you..." Maple yawned and fell back asleep in the comfort of Stella's hair.

"What a glutton," Stella snorted as she plopped down against Willow, "But he deserves it, so if he wants to eat a titan as a reward, that's fine. Say, Ash, how long till we get there?"

"To the titan in the distance? Maybe an hour?" Ashlock guessed based on the distance. Of course, once they got close, Stella could fly down on her sword if she wished.

"Alright, I guess I will read until then since cultivating here is impossible." Stella summoned a stack of books she had likely stolen from the library and began reading one of them.

"Reading? Who are you, and where is Stella?" Ashlock joked.

Stella looked up at Willows canopy with annoyance, "What are you implying?"

"Since when did you willingly read? That's very uncharacteristic of you. The Stella I know would look at the book for a minute before chucking it to the side in favor of swinging her sword around."

"Funny." Stella snorted and returned to her book with a pout. "Keep that up, and I won't share them with you."

"Oh, don't be like that," Ashlock said as he used telekinesis to float the books and look through them. Finding one was titled 'Spatial Lock - A detailed guide,' he grew excited and flipped through the pages.

Sure enough, there was an entire section regarding Qi Resonance, which he skimmed over and gained some vague new insights into perfecting it. What really drew his focus was chapter two, titled 'Qi Disruption.'

"Let's see what it says here... Once a bond is formed through Qi Resonance, the cultivator can disrupt the spatial Qi flow of the target. By doing this, they effectively "lock" the spatial dimensions around the target."

Ashlock flicked through some diagrams and other stuff, but that was essentially all the book was willing to tell him.

"Why do these cultivators absolutely suck at just writing down concise instructions?" Ashlock grumbled as he tried to read the book upside down as if he would decipher some hidden meaning, "They make me appreciate those overpriced textbooks on Earth so much more. Stop speaking in riddles, and just tell me a step-by-step guide. God darn it."

Deciding to skip to the third and final chapter of the book to see if it would shed some more light, he read the content aloud, "Chapter Three: Binding the Space. The space around the target is confined, making it rigid and unyielding. This prevents the target from manipulating it, much like how a bird can't fly if trapped in a cage, even though it can do so."

Ashlock put the book down and mulled over the words. He had noticed that spatial Qi often moved in ripples and that reality was ever-changing around him. So, would making space rigid allow him to stop someone from forming portals and escaping?

"Hey Stella," Ashlock whispered in her mind.

"Yeah?" She replied absentmindedly.

"I can see you staring blankly at the content's page. There's no need to pretend you're reading."

Stella clicked her tongue and closed the book shut, "It's just a load of nonsense. How can anyone learn anything from these."

"I find myself asking the same thing... If you aren't going to read them, can I take all the books with me back to Red Vine Peak?"

Stella sighed and chucked the book she had been reading onto the pile, "Take them. I can't understand a word anyway, and they give me a headache."

"Thank you kindly," Ashlock chuckled as he opened a portal that led back to Red Vine Peak and floated the books through. He would read those later once his time ran out here in the Mystic Realm.

"Actually, how long do I have..."

[Time till sundown 5:30]

"Oh... only five hours left, so around a full day here." Ashlock sighed. It had been a fun time so far. "Should be long enough to go kill that titan and maybe hop over to give Kaida or someone a visit before I head home."

He had always been a shut-in, willing to stay home for weeks at a time back on Earth, but seeing the same scenery every day in this world had worn him down more than he thought. He must have been the first spirit tree to experience the thrill of adventure, and he enjoyed it.

"Hey, Ash," Stella said while gazing through the portal at Red Vine Peak.

"Mhm?"

"Couldn't I go through that portal and then reenter the Mystic Realm and select a new pocket realm to cultivate in since the last one was full of those Azure Clan bastards? I still want to cultivate and practice some new techniques this round, so I don't fall behind the others."

That was an interesting observation and something he hadn't thought about. He had planned to get Stella to another pocket realm suitable for her after he had made sure the Azure Clan couldn't follow, but he got sidetracked by the books.

"Yeah, you should be able to do that," Ashlock replied, "Or I can spend some of my energy and send you to a more specific pocket realm of your choosing?"

He did have 2300 sacrificial credits he hadn't spent yet, and he felt terrible that Stella had basically been forced from hers and was now spending Qi to stay in this pocket realm of hellfire.

Stella shook her head and closed her eyes, "No, it's okay, Tree. Just wake me up when we get closer to the titan, and then after getting Maple his snack, I will go back into the Mystic Realm. Any shard that calls to me will be a good one."

"Well, the offer is always there if you want it," Ashlock replied, "Enjoy your rest, though."

Stella yawned, "Reading books makes me so sleepy..."

***

"Grand Elder, this thing just won't die!" Elder Mo shouted as he leaped from the titan's shoulder and landed on the Grand Elder's flying sword. "I have slashed at its head multiple times with my spirit fire, but I meet nothing but charred meat and flames."

"I believe it's pulling in Qi from somewhere else," The Grand Elder replied as he casually directed his flying sword to dip under the titan's hand that was attempting to smack them out of the sky. "We have been attacking it in shifts all day, and no matter what we do, it heals and never moves from that spot. Perhaps a formation lies below, and this is a guardian for some inheritance or tomb."

Elder Mo grumbled behind him, "I sure hope so. We have wasted what... two days now on trying to down this thing?"

"Let's try for one more day and then leave if it remains standing," The Grand Elder said as he flew out of the known range of the monster and over to a grey outcrop. Behind it, he spotted the rest of his family cultivating in silence.

As the only one at the Star Core Realm here, only he could fly up to the titan and try attacking its weak points—assuming it had any. Assault from the ground had been called off after the first round as the titan had almost stamped Amber to death as if she were a fly.

"Elder Margret, it's your turn," The Grand Elder said calmly with his hands behind his back as the sword hovered a meter off the ground, and Elder Mo jumped down to rest and recover his Qi.

"I just broke through to the 9th stage," Elder Margret said as she stood up, "But I don't know how much help I will be... huh?"

The Grand Elder followed Elder Margret's confused gaze and saw something in the sky. Riding on a storm of rippling space was a strange black rock surrounded by a shield of spatial Qi.

A roar shook the land as the strange object entered the titan's attack range and was engulfed by a fireball the size of a sun. The spatial shield surrounding the rock rippled and easily shrugged off the flames, and to the Grand Elder's surprise, the floating rock returned fire with balls of condensed spatial Qi ripping through the air and smashing the titan in the torso. Giant holes formed in the titan as the mini black holes sucked away its flames, leaving only the charred flesh with nothing to heal it.

"What in the nine realms is that rock thing?" Elder Mo shouted as the titan fell to one knee. "That firepower is insane."

"Only the gods know..." The Grand Elder muttered as he squinted and saw plants along the ship's side ablaze with spatial Qi before they all recoiled, and another barrage of black holes ripped through reality and smashed into the titan, finishing it off.

The ground trembled as the titan faceplanted the molten land. A being that had seemed immortal and that they had been fighting for two days straight was wiped out by an unknown entity within a minute.

"Wait, is that Mistress Stella?" Elder Margret said as she pointed to the floating black rock.

Following her finger, the Grand Elder saw a blonde-haired girl standing on a sword of purple flames descending toward the titan. She was traveling fast and soon went behind the rock outcrop they were hiding behind.

"Elder Margret, let's go check it out," The Grand Elder said as he moved his flying sword toward the titan. Sure enough, once they arrived, he saw Stella standing there beside the corpse with someone else.

Is that Maple in his human form?

The white fluffy tail that curled around his body and the squirrel ears on his head gave him clues, but he swore Maple was shorter than he remembered.

"Oh, Grand Elder," Stella said casually as he landed beside them. "Apologies for stealing your kill, but Maple here wanted a snack."

"Errr, no worries, this guy is just some small fry," The Grand Elder laughed it off, "But I must say this titan doesn't look very tasty as a snack..."

A snack? This thing would be enough to feed a city, and we fought it for two days, but it's just a snack to Maple? How did they even get here, and what the hell is that floating rock?!

Maple walked forward barefoot on the molten ground and touched the titan. His hand exploded into a mass of wiggling tendrils that devoured the titan like a pack of starved snakes, and after a minute, Maple let out a burp, and the titan was gone. He had somehow eaten it all and even grown a little taller!

"Feeling better?" Stella asked as she patted Maple on the head and played with his ear.

"Yes, much better,"Maple replied, but the Grand Elder heard Maple's words directly in his mind, which made him shiver.

"Great!" Stella smiled and grabbed his hand, "We will be on our way then, Grand Elder. I wish you good luck."

"Sure..." The Grand Elder said absentmindedly as he watched the pair fly back up to the floating rock. Moments later, reality twisted as if the rock collapsed into a single point and vanished. They were gone, just like that.

The Grand Elder let out a defeated sigh as he turned to survey the landscape, but then his interest was piqued when he noticed a staircase heading underground where the titan's foot had been.

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