Reborn as a Demonic Tree

Chapter 26: Ascension

A dense mist blanketed the courtyard as over ten water clones of Diana emerged with sinister smiles.

Mike reacted instantly, creating an area around him that froze the mist—transforming it into snow that swirled around him, eventually forming a blizzard. White flames drifted from his hands and joined the torrent, creating a seemingly impenetrable wall around him of snow and flames. His eyes darted around, and he held his sword in a ready position across his chest.

Haunted laughter echoed through the mist as shadows encircled Mike. They waited patiently, just outside his strike range, as they laughed, mocking the man as if he were a goldfish trapped in a bowl.

"Crazy bitch." Mike clearly felt the insult—and decided to go on the offensive as the laughing shadows were grating on his nerves. A javelin of ice that looked sharp enough to impale steel formed overhead, hovering ominously like a waiting warhead with the blizzard still raging.

"Take this!" Bringing his hand down that held the runic shield as if he was throwing something, the javelin of ice shot forth, slicing through the flames and ice with a horrifying speed at one of the shadows.

From his viewpoint above, Ashlock could see everything—the mist was child's play before his A-grade skill. The shadow that Mike had attacked was just a shadow in the fog. The clones had dissolved into puddles and traveled along the floor in streams toward Mike.

Ashlock didn't plan to take a backseat to this. Even if Diana was strong, it was still a bad matchup. She relied on water-based techniques, whereas the Winterwrath family employed ice-based ones. A natural counter. Ashlock waited for the perfect time to strike as his roots remained patiently under the thin soil cover.

Conveniently, Mike didn't seem to want to move and was standing on a patch of grass rather than the runic formation, so Ashlock could cast {Devour} without issue.

Seeing the shadow die from his attack, Mike grinned and shot out ten more miniature icicles, each the length of an arm. They carved through the mist, and the shadows fell one by one.

"What a waste of Qi." Ashlock couldn't hold back his critique as, from his perspective, Mike looked irrational, wasting Qi on attacking shadows in the mist that would never harm him.

"I don't know who you are—" Mike began, but he seemed to catch something in the corner of his eye that silenced him. A stream of water like a snake was meandering across the floor coated in a thin layer of dark blue flames to resist the freezing temperates of the blizzard encircling Mike.

He slashed down at the threat with his sword, the blade coated in some kind of frost Qi that instantly froze the water stream, and a second slash made it shatter like glass. "Sneaky bitch, from house Ravenborne, heh?" He saw another stream approaching his left foot and obliterated it in short form, "Must be lonely knowing all your family is dead? Are you a lost little lamb—Agh!"

A jet of water slashed at his tendon, causing him to stumble forward. More and more streams crawled toward him like vipers. There were too many for Mike's one sword and shield, so after reflecting another water blade, he consumed a healing pill and roared. "Land of eternal ice!"

The ground trembled as he lit up like a lightbulb with white flames—that poured out of him like mercury in all directions, and the second the liquid flames touched the ground, the fire morphed into solid ice, coating the soil in a deep freeze that stopped Diana's attack in its tracks.

Mike sneered at the flash-frozen ground surrounding him for a few meters. The injury on the back of his leg had also healed—not even a scar remained.

Some might think Mike had the upper hand, but it was evident from above that Diana was whittling him down. The blizzard surrounding Mike dissipated as the mist retreated and the laughing shadows reappeared.

Mike brought his sword and shield up and hit them together, "Come on, stop hiding and come fight."

Diana was actually standing on the wall, directly behind Mike. A dagger lay lazily in her hand as she looked down at him with dull grey eyes. Diana didn't say a word to counter his taunting; only a thin smile emerged. Then, like an orchestra conductor, she channeled Qi into the surroundings, and the mist began to morph and move.

Mike spun around, detecting the source of the Qi. "Found you!" He threw his sword at Diana, but it passed through. The illusion rippled with the frost-covered blade lodged firmly inside it. Within a second, the water illusion froze into a statue of ice and tumbled forward, shattering on the grass below.

Ashlock was as surprised as Mike. Even he had thought the illusion was real.

A figure flickered through the fog, and Mike barely raised his shield in time to block a savage slash of blue flames from behind—the real Diana had gone for a killing blow, but Mike had just about survived by the skin of his teeth.

Mike grinned as Diana found her blade frozen to his shield. "Gotcha now."

There was a brief flash of panic on Diana's calm face, and Ashlock decided it was time to make his explosive entrance.

Casting {Devour} with all his stored-up Qi, the ground cracked. His inner lake rippled as stored Qi was funneled into the skill.

Black vines as thick as one's forearm erupted from the ground with such force it was like a dormant Kraken had awakened and decided to swallow its foolish prey.

Mike's eyes bulged from shock as black vines came up all around him in a shower of cracked ice. He cast aside the shield with Diana's dagger frozen to it, summoned two blades from his spatial ring, and with a twirl, he cut all the vines in one go. They were severed easily and fell to the ground. But little did Mike know, the skill didn't end until the target was dead or Ashlock ran out of Qi.

More came.

He cut them with increased vigor while deflecting Diana's second attack from his blindspot—the angle was awkward, so he stumbled, and a luckily placed root coiled around his foot—causing him to faceplant into the frozen grass with a groan.

He tried to push himself up, but it was futile.

Vines sprung from below and coiled around his waist and limbs, dragging him down. He screamed, white flames burning the vines, but with his ice gone, Diana could move freely.

"No, stop! Wait, I came for Stella, not you"

Diana bent down before him, and with a broad smile, she cleanly decapitated Mike in one swift strike.

As Ashlock's vines tightened around the corpse, the bones snapping made Diana lose her composure for a second. "Oi, you gluttonous tree, can't you wait a darn secondI need to loot the corpse!" She tried to pull Ashlock's vines away, but they kept coming and practically mummified Mike.

Ashlock could only chuckle to himself as he watched the squatter struggle. If he could cancel the skill, he might have thought about it, but it was uncancelable once it started.

"At least let me grab the spatial ring!"

Diana fished through the coiling vines, and her eyes lit up when she saw a hint of gold. Using all her strength, she pulled two vines apart and yanked the golden ring from Mike's still-warm finger. She fell back on her butt with a grunt. She then lay on her back and looked at the evening sky while holding the ring up. "Got it."

Only the sound of shifting vines and Diana's heavy breathing filled the empty courtyard.

[+10 SC]

Ashlock metaphorically frowned at the notification. Why was it only ten credits? He gained at least a hundred when he killed cultivators of a lower level than this guy. "Did the system break?"

[Requirements for the Soul Forge Realm have been met: 9th Qi Realm (100%)]


[Suitable White Soul Core (Element Ice) Absorbed - Placed into storage as cultivation stage is at 100%]

"Hold on... White Soul Core? Was that from the body I just consumed? Is that why I gained no SC? Because I didn't absorb the cultivator's Soul Core?"

[Commencing upgrade to Soul Forge Realm: 0%]

[Use {Free} White Soul Core? Or random draw with {134} credits?]

Was that even a question? What kind of tree used ice abilities? Frost and fire were the natural enemies of all trees! Just the thought of the winter was enough to make Ashlock feel sleepy and want to hibernate. "Random draw!" Ashlock shouted to his system, and the screen flickered away.

[White Soul Core consumed: +200 SC]

[324 credits used, forming new Soul Core...]

Ashlock waited with immense anxiety. Truthfully, he could think of some worse options than frost but trying to combine his vines that moved with sap, and frost Qi would be a hard combo to pull off.

[Amethyst(Spatial) Soul Core created]


[Entering Sleep Mode]

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