Reborn as a Demonic Tree-Chapter 275: Rapid Expansion

If audio player doesn't work, press Reset or reload the page.

Chapter 275: Rapid Expansion

A few more days passed since Jasmine rejected the sword and embraced the path of the fist. She was here again at sunrise, fighting an illusion Ashlock couldn't see.

Stella intently watched Jasmine's punching form while sitting on the bench and shouting pointers every few tries.

"Lift your hands a bit higheryeah, there we go. Keep your head straight. Only twist your upper body here. Yes!"

Idletree Daily Sign-In System

Day: 3605

Daily Credit: 42

Sacrifice Credit: 3288

[Sign in?]

Ashlock shrugged off his sleep with a yawn. The sun rose later, and the winter winds made him sleepier than usual. Days seemed so short now, and as fun as watching Jasmine's progress was, he had work to do. It wasn't easy keeping tabs on the area within his domain when he rapidly expanded in all directions, especially overnight when he had faster growth under the nine moons.

"I should reach the Tainted Cloud Sect later today," Ashlock mused as his consciousness spread throughout his trunk and roots that sprawled out for a thousand miles. Briefly glancing to the East, he confirmed it would still be a few hours, so he checked up on the rest.

Down below, he was yet to encounter a leyline. Still, the Qi density was increasing the further he delved, which boosted his system-given cultivation technique {Transpiration of Heaven and Chaos} as he had to draw Qi up his roots to expel it out of his leaves. There were also sizable spirit stone deposits down here, so he had hollowed out some of his ethereal roots so Mudcloaks could reach these deposits and mine them for the Ashfallen Sect.

"I'm starting to wonder if the leyline is even a physical thing like a powerline or if it's closer to an ocean in how the pressure increases the closer you get to the bottom, but it never solidifies."

Ashlock would keep delving deeper until he broke through to hell to find out. He also intended to verify if the realms were round or flat. Most things pointed to the layers of creation being flat by how they were described to him by Diana, which raised some questions and concerns.

Structure of the realms aside, digging down was overall the least exciting of his expansions. It was just a lot of rocks and dirt. However, he encountered the odd worm-type monster, which he killed and then consumed.

The more exciting direction to expand was into the Blood Lotus Sect.

Previously, he had avoided growing toward the West, where he suspected the other mountain peaks of the Blood Lotus Sect resided for the simple reason of wishing to remain hidden. Sprawling roots that emitted a large amount of spatial Qi were bound to attract the attention of cultivators, and following his roots to their source would be easy. Exploring was great, and he wanted to see what the other peaks looked like, but he also liked living.

However, with his sect's explosive growth in power and Larry's recent ascension to Nascent Soul Realm, he finally began expanding into the Blood Lotus Sect. His days of hiding away on Red Vine Peak were drawing to a close with the involvement of the Eternal Pursuit Pavilion, whether he liked it or not, so it would be best to grow under his future enemies.

Ashlock cast his vision westward to the newest area he had discovered. Floating above the land with {Eye of the Tree God}, he saw the shadow of the grandest mountain he had ever seen dominate the skyline.

"It seems the peaks are sprawled out in a sort of banana shape curving upwards to the Northwest. When I went straight West, there wasn't much there except more endless forests."

Ashlock suspected the strange layout was so that all the cities of the Blood Lotus Sect were built within the width of the giant leyline that ran from the spiritual spring to the North all the way to the Celestial Empire in the South.

So far, of the nine cities under the control of the Blood Lotus Sect, Ashlock had encountered three of them. Darklight City, which he now ruled, and Slymere, which was very nearby, were the closest. The mountain in the distance was his latest discovery.

It was around five times the distance as Slymere was to Red Vine Peak, and from some snooping around and listening in to the locals, he suspected this place was Thunderhold Peakthe home of the Skyrend family.

Thunderhold Peak was a place that inspired awe, even in Ashlock. The mountain was relatively flat but kept ascending until it reached the clouds. A vast city built from marble and gold encircled the summit, and every street led to paved squares that were lorded over by towering statues of the Skyrend family members.

"Egotistical bastards," Ashlock muttered at the insanity of how many statues littered the city. It was an obscene personification of pride.

Ashlock had a relatively low opinion of the Skyrend family after his run-in with the now-dead scions Kassandra and Theron during the Alchemy tournament. But he now understood where the arrogance had stemmed from if this was the absurdity of wealth their family could put on display, having settled in this area for less than a century.

"I suppose being able to guarantee the survival of an Elder as they attempt to ascend realms is a lucrative business," Ashlock mused as he floated just below the clouds overhead. He didn't have his roots grow too close to the peak where a palace that might as well be its own city resided as it was decked out in enough defensive runic arrays that he feared they could summon the heavens itself to smite him out of existence if he even looked in their direction.

This made the fact Maple had apparently wiped out enough Skyrend family members here that they felt justified in a war with the Voidmind family even more impressive. Just how powerful was that darn squirrel?

"If only Maple was my summon and as obedient as Larry," Ashlock sighed. They were in a mutual pact that stopped them from killing each other so they could coexist peacefully, but that was it. Maple was not obligated to help Ashlock or do as he asked, and he was free to attack families if he so wished.

Ashlock's gaze went down the sloping mountain of Thunderhold. Like the much smaller Slymere, the architecture became more crude and dense further down the slope until the industrial sector resided at the bottom.

"I wonder which city I will hit next? I know Darklight City is the Easternmost city. I remember there being twelve noble families and only nine cities. Since the Ravenborne, Winterwrath, and Evergreen families are gone from the Blood Lotus Sect, that leaves the remaining nine families. I assume Nightrose City, home of the Patriarch, will be closer to the middle of the sect, so maybe I will hit the cities controlled by the Silverspire, Azurecrest, or even Starweaver families next?"

If you stumble upon this narrative on Amazon, it's taken without the author's consent. Report it.

Either way, expansion into the Blood Lotus Sect was progressing smoothly. After a few more hours of snooping around Thunderhold Peak and carefully directing his ethereal roots around any defensive arrays he spotted to make sure he covered as much of this city as he could, the sun reached its zenith, which meant the Tainted Cloud Sect should be close.

"Before arriving, I should probably ask Nox if she remembers any details about the city," Ashlock muttered as he headed back. "There were multiple Nascent Soul individuals there, right? It would be bad if I immediately alerted them to my presence and invited their wrath. As fun as talking about killing the Blood Lotus Patriarch and turning him into an Ent was, Nascent Soul Realm cultivators are best not to be messed with. Larry has only just ascended, so he is getting accustomed to his new strength, and he is the only one capable of fighting them as of now."

Speaking of Larry, the spider was out hunting. He needed to decay corpses to ash and absorb the ash to increase his size and strength, so he wasn't even around to protect Ashlock if he earned a Nascent Soul Realm cultivator's ire.

Arriving at Ashfallen City, Ashlock passed the area being cleared out for the construction of a grand building that would serve as the headquarters for the mortal branch of the Ashfallen Trading Company. Progress on it had been slow thus far as Sebastian wanted to make a structure a tad more complex than the simple buildings Douglas and the Mudcloaks used to make.

A little further up the mountain, he found Nox growing in her field of white flowers. She had grown in size, now looming over the surroundings, and her canopy of black leaves rustled in the breeze.

Last time, Ashlock had used {Progeny Dominion} to restrain and communicate with Nox because of a misunderstanding. This time, he wanted to go with a gentler approach and try to speak without forcing their souls to merge.

"Nox, can you hear me?" Ashlock had to use {Abyssal Whispers} as Nox had split her soul with her family's Shadow Soul technique to create a dryad out of shadows. This way, he could speak to both halves of her soul at the same time.

"Ah, yes!" Nox replied as the shadow dryad looked toward Red Vine Peak. "How can I assist the great tree?"

"Just call me Ashlock, and I have some questions for you. Are you free?"

"Yes, I have all the time in the world... few mortals visit here besides that one family," Nox said with a hint of loneliness. "Whenever someone comes close, I try to offer them a fruit, but they run in fear instead. Catherine doesn't seem keen on cultivating, Julian is too busy with work, and Jasmine says hello to me in the morning before using the ethereal root to go to Red Vine Peak. She doesn't even show interest in my fruit or cultivating here..."

Ashlock saw the shadow dryad's shoulders sag and felt bad. But who could blame mortals for being scared of a shadow spirit appearing from behind a tree and trying to offer them suspicious fruit while being incapable of speaking?

"Huh, I just realized how crazy Stella is to have trusted me so much," Ashlock muttered to himself in disbelief. At least he had Stella to keep him company, but Nox seemed alone in her field of white flowers.

"Sorry, Ashlock, you didn't come here to listen to me ramble on. I will try to answer anything you ask."

"Thank you. How much do you remember about the Tainted Cloud Sect and the Eternal Pursuit Pavilion?" Ashlock hadn't interrogated her regarding this yet, as Nox had seemed somewhat disorientated since becoming a tree, and he hadn't reached the Tainted Cloud Sect yet. But now he needed information.

"I spent most of my life before becoming a merchant living in the Tainted Cloud Sect, so it's a significant part of who I am," Nox replied, "So I do remember quite a lot, especially from my younger years."

"Okay, good. What can you tell me about Tainted Cloud Sect East of here? Is that your home?"

"Yes, the Tainted Cloud Sect consists of five very spread out cities, and the city to the East of here is called Nightshade, my home. All cities have a branch of the Eternal Pursuit Pavilion, but Nightshade's claim to fame is that it's home to the Celestial Warden who governs it. Oh, another fun fact is that the city's name, Nightshade, came from combining the names of the two most powerful families, Duskwalker and Lunarshade."

"Duskwalker is your family name, right? How powerful are you in comparison to the Lunarshade family, and how strong is the Celestial Warden?"

The shadow dryad looked down at the ground, "The Celestial Warden is at the 6th layer of the Nascent Soul Realm, but he is far more powerful than his cultivation suggests, having lived a long life of battle rather than sitting in a cave for centuries. As for my family, I believe we used to be equal to the Lunarshades, but that seems to have changed recently."

"How so?" Ashlock asked and vowed in his mind to avoid earning the Celestial Warden's attention. He sounded dangerous beyond his comprehension.

Nox let out a long sigh, "I fucked it up. I ran away for selfish reasons, and my Father was killed in an ambush, leaving my mother, sister, and cousins to run the family. The last time I spoke to my sister Evelyn, she said the family had absorbed a few smaller families to stay afloat. However, if she stops being the Lunarshade scion plaything, the Duskwalker family could be eradicated overnight."

"That's terrible. Did you like your sister?"

"Nowell, yes. It's complicated. There was a time when we were close siblings, but once our Father started assigning us roles and as the more talented one, I was told to marry into the Lunarshade family like some sort of sacrifice to keep the peace between the families made me resent her. I then ran away and forced that role onto her, so she now resents me."

"What about the rest of your family?"

"I don't remember much about them, to be honest. Once my Father died, my mother was hardly seen. Which is about as present as she was throughout my childhood. A few of my cousins were cool, such as the one you likely killed. I heard he was an up-and-coming talent supposed to revive my family."

"Oh... sorry about that."

Nox laughed, "Don't be. I am the one who sent him to his death to buy time for my escape. As I said, I was the one who brought the downfall to my family. A sin I will bear, I suppose, for eternity now. Though becoming a tree and losing half my memories does lessen it."

"Doesn't that defeat the point of bearing a sin?"

Nox fell silent for a while. "Maybe? I do feel bad for Evelyn. I really do. She didn't really deserve the life I forced on her." Nox's shadow looked to the sky as if reminiscing, and another silence drew between them as they both got lost in thought.

After a while, Ashlock decided to switch topics, "I had Diana register for the Eternal Pursuit Pavilion"

"You did?! No way."

"What's with that reaction?"

"I overheard a Jade Informant registering someone called Diana, which I found strange at the time but passed off as a coincidence. Anyway, sorry, continue."

"Right... I want her and possibly Stella to sell pills and take on bounties through the pavilion. Since the Celestial Warden is present there, would you advise against that?"

"Mhm, he doesn't usually get involved in matters, but he knows Stella's name because of me. Though the Lotus Informants are secretive, they wouldn't hide anything from the Celestial Warden if he asked. So, I would advise against Stella doing anything that would earn attention."

"I see. Maybe I should have Stella work in a different city to avoid issues?"

"You could do that, but the Celestial Warden oversees all cities. If it's an issue in one city, then it will be in another," Nox explained, "A better solution is using proxies to sell pills. Even if Diana sells your pills, she will earn unwanted attention, you know. It's why I didn't want to sell pills for you guys in the first place and went after Stella's earrings instead."

"A proxy? I heard about those before. But we don't know anyone we could use as one?"

"Just use my sister. She is ranked as a Crimson Tracker within the pavilion and from a powerful house. Nobody would raise a brow if she started selling pills, including the Celestial Warden."

"Nox, in case you forgot, we have never met your sister, and you are stuck here as a tree. There's no way she would trust or work with us."

"Don't be so sure," Nox replied as her shadow pulled off one of its fingers. It then bent the finger into the shape of a ring. "Show this ring made from my Qi to Evelyn, and she is bound to at least hear you out. Once you get her attention, offer her a cut of the sales to the pavilion, and she would be more than happy to comply... I think."

Ashlock took the ring with telekensis. "Doesn't your sister hate you? Surely if Stella or Diana showed up to the Duskwalker residence with this ring, they would be killed on sight?"

"That's a good point..." Nox replied and fell into thought, "Oh! Take that big spider. Evelyn is terrified of spiders."

Ashlock sighed. How the hell did that solve anything?

Updat𝒆d fr𝑜m fr𝒆ewebnove(l).com

☞ will soon set up pop-up ads, please visit to read! ☜