Reborn as a Demonic Tree

Chapter 296: Broken Mind



Chapter 296: Broken Mind

Ashlock was utterly astounded by what he had just witnessed.

"Did I mess up?" Ashlock wondered as he saw the world on its side due to the Bastion being thrown off by the Lunarshade Grand Elder.

The group of Lunarsahde Elders had been far too strong for the Redclaws and the girls to defeat as they outnumbered them two to one while empowered by the moon. There had also been the pressing matter of the swarm of bounty hunters on the horizon that he didn't want to get too close.

"I thought the Lunarshade Elders were less of a threat as they were more focused on freeing their Grand Elder than outright attacking. I hadn't expected them to drop their progress and go after Geb."

Some remnants of the lunar formation remained as whisps of moonlight hanging in the air, but the whole thing collapsed the moment the Elders went after Geb—not that it mattered. The Lunarshade Grand Elder had taken advantage of the friendly fire, briefly knocking out Willow's spatial shield, and successfully escaped.

"Magnus? Is that you?" The Lunarshade Grand Elder shouted to the sky as he rose to his full height. "Has the Blood Lotus Sect finally decided to make a move and send your old face after me?"

The many frozen vines that had once been coiled around the avatar crumbled and rained to the ground in large chunks of ice. Silver ash sprinkled the fallen ice as the many spider corpses corrupting his form were expelled. Larry kept up his assault by reforming into a dense spider form of equal size and mounting the Lunarshade Grand Elder's back.

Ashlock readjusted his spiritual sight and glanced up at Magnus. The man floated overhead on his sword, wreathed in crimson flame with a stoic expression—seemingly unfazed by the taunts of a Nascent Soul Realm cultivator. His hands were clasped behind his back, and he stared down his nose at the bald and round avatar made of lunar Qi.

"I wield my sword for a new master," Magnus replied simply, "Though it seems an era of peace has treated you well. Not only has your cultivation soared to unimaginable heights, but so has your waistline."

The colossal man grinned with a twisted smile as he tried to wrestle off Larry, "Cultivation is surprisingly easy when all you have to do is sit around eating good food and enjoying the company of jade beauties. Not that you would know if your lack of cultivation is anything to go by."

"Even in an era of peace, some of us still had to fight for our place." Magnus sneered, "Not all of us title holders from the war era gave into the sins of sloth and greed, Dorian Lunarshade, the Phantom Moon's Heir."

"Now that's a name I haven't heard in a while." The man laughed as he fell onto his back, attempting to crush Larry. A bad move, as the spider dispersed to either side and then quickly reformed on top of the man and continued trying to decay the avatar.

Ashlock hadn't remained idle while listening to the conversation between two Grand Elders who seemed to know each other from a previous era. Having restored the shield around Willow, he looked at the projectile shot from Geb that had managed to ruin his plans. It was sticking in the ground beside the Bastion like a flag pole after losing its momentum from destroying the Bastion's shield.

"It's got a heavily Qi-filled stone core wrapped in a metal casing that is heavily runically enchanted. Ah, I see what happened. Spatial Qi is especially unstable when interacting with other Qi types, which is why I can't redirect attacks with portals as the moment another Qi type hits it, the portal becomes unstable," Ashlock mused. "Though Willow's shield isn't a portal, it's still made of spatial Qi, which has this weakness. This metal rod had too much concentrated piercing power for the spatial shield to remain stable no matter how much Qi I forced into the Bastion's Core."

With his faith somewhat resorted to the shield's ability to defend, he got to work on getting those from the Duskwalker Residence to come as reinforcements. Splitting his attention between multiple things, he spoke directly into Elysia's mind while using telekinesis to pick up the metal rod to pull the two dead Lunarshade Grand Elders from it.

The still-alive Lunarshade Elders were almost finished breaching Geb's shields, so it was time to make some Ents and fight back with everything he had.

***

Elysia lay on the ground, staring up at the stars. She felt drunk as the world spun in and out of focus. Her soul and mind felt disconnected as she wondered who she was. She tried to follow a trail of thought, but it would get lost in the cracks of her utterly destroyed and fractured consciousness.

"I could drift here forever," Elysia giggled as she turned to meet the gaze of the giant green eye that belonged to her summon, the Old One. Never before had they been so close, her mind's defenses gone during the initiation to the All-Seeing Eye. Compared to its power, the Old One seemed like a cute pet.

"The spirit tree did well," The Old One mused as it floated closer, consuming her vision. "Your consciousness is well and truly broken. It's like taking a pleasant walk in the park. I feel so unrestrained and free in here."

Her summon expanded in size within her consciousness, and unlike before, when her mind would fight back to contain the madness, the shattered remains of her defenses were knocked aside by hundreds of incomprehensible tendrils.

Inhuman laughter echoed as the Old One poked a tendril past the boundaries of her mind. It appeared in the real world, emerging from her forehead and blocking out her spinning view of the stars.

"Yes, this is perfect," The monster continued, slowly emerging and forcing its way out of her mouth. Elysia felt a tug on her Star Core as mystic Qi was drawn to form a bubble around the tendrils. She was being used to allow the Old One to take form in the realm world.

Rather than stop her summon, she felt ecstatic.

I have become one with the beyond! Now, there is truly nothing to limit my power! Her eyes widened manically as blood trickled from the corners of her mouth and eyes. Her head pounded with a terrible headache that furthered the spinning, and her ears rang terribly, but she laughed all the same.

"Come forth, Old One!" Elysia yelled to the stars as she felt her broken soul lose its grip on reality, sending her falling through the floor—but then she felt something fluffy land on her forehead.

It was a bit fatter than a squirrel should be, but it definitely had the form of one. It was breathtakingly beautiful, with white fur as fresh as snow and golden eyes glimmering like liquid honey. The mystical creature raised a paw and slapped at the tendril emerging from her head, forcing it back into her consciousness with immense force.

Stolen content alert: this content belongs on Royal Road. Report any occurrences.

The Old One howled in rage, "Who dares deny my escape from the void?!"

"Pluto, what are you doing?"

The squirrel hissed, and the Old One fell silent.

"Brother Maple..." The Old One eventually wheezed out, "It's not what it looks like."

Maple, the mythical squirrel, raised a brow. "You know Stella and Ashlock have taken an interest in this human. No matter how broken she is, I won't allow you to kill her. Understand?"

A flash of pure rage overwhelmed Elysia's unguarded mind, involuntarily making her gnash her teeth. Her nails dug lines into the dirt, and she snarled like a rabid dog. None of these emotions were her own. They came from the Old One, and without the ego to resist, she was at his mercy.

Maple shook his head, "What a sorry state you have found yourself in, human. Power comes at a cost, and heart demons are one thing, but to destroy your own sense of self to such a point to welcome in the power of another will only lead to your death." The squirrel placed a claw on her forehead and carved a symbol into her flesh. Warm blood streaked down her face alongside terrible pain that made her howl out and arch her back in agony.

"Stop! Please Stop, Agh!" Elysia begged as every muscle in her body spasmed. "What are you doing to me?" The process seemed to last forever, and she was about to pass out when the squirrel finally answered her.

"Creating a third eye," Maple withdrew his bloodstained claw. "A doorway to the outside that you can open and close at will to let my dear brother here emerge into the real world. I rerouted your spirit roots to this passageway, so if Pluto tries to force his way out through your broken mind, he will perish to reality without the protection of your mystic Qi."

Elysia's body relaxed as the strange power swirling around her body was withdrawn. She sat up and coughed a mixture of blood and bile a few times onto the dirt beside her before collapsing onto her back. Her lungs burned from a lack of breath, and her throat was in agony, but she couldn't help but grin at the squirrel that had taken perch on her stomach.

"Are you another one of the All-Seeing Eye's heralds?"

Maple tilted his head at her words as if contemplating them. "I suppose?"

Elysia wiped away the drool at the mythical squirrel's answer. "Then this eye is a gift from the All-Seeing Eye himself!" She reached up and tried to pry it open with her nails, "If I can get a better look at you, maybe I can summon a monster of your grace."

Maple's fluffy tail swished in apparent amusement, "You are quite insane, even for a human."

"Agh," Elysia hissed in pain, "Why isn't it working."

"Close your eyes and focus on your third eye," Maple replied as he curled his tail around his plump body and rested his chin on it.

Following his instructions, Elysia closed her eyes and meditated. It took a while, but eventually, she managed to locate the passage and found it had been burned into her very soul. No mystic Qi could flow out except through this eye. To open it, she shifted her cracked soul apart and felt mystic Qi flow out unrestrained through the hole.

The Old One, who Elysia now knew was called Pluto, surged toward the opening and stuck his green eye through. The force of the action caused Elysia's neck to almost snap as she was jolted upwards.

"Brother! How can you mess with the vessel that I spent so long nurturing? She had finally reached the state of perfection! So broken in every way that I was unrestrained!"

Maple strode up Elysia's stomach and chest before perching on her chin.

Elysia's breath quickened as she felt both of Maple's claws plunge into her third eye and hold Pluto in a terrifying grip.

"I mess with it because your fun and games with this broken toy will cause problems for Ashlock if I do not intervene. Elysia is an important pawn in his upcoming plans, and her demise would spell his ruin."

Pluto seethed with rage, but Elysia didn't feel it as strongly this time. "Why do you care about that spirit tree, Brother? You are bound by a pact of co-existence. You are not his slave! Let it die and roam this world freely with me!"

"Oh, foolish brother of mine, you are shortsighted."

Maple effortlessly hurled Pluto deeper into Elysia's consciousness, which bordered on the void itself. "I assist Ashlock not because I am bound by the heavens but of my own free will. I see his vast potential to tear down this god-forsaken reality that has resisted our existence since its inception."

"Then why are you here?" Pluto howled from the depths, "Shouldn't you guard Ashlock until he realizes this potential you are hallucinating?"

Elysia felt blood leaking from her ears as the two mythical monsters used her mind to conduct their argument.

"Your ignorance shows your youth," Maple sneered as he stepped back and sealed her third eye, "If I intervene in his affairs, it will only weaken him. One can only grow stronger through trials of the mind and body. To deprive him of such experiences would curse his fate."

Elysia shivered as a sudden pressure overcame them, which she was growing familiar with. Looking up, she saw a rift tear open and shivered as the All-Seeing Eye gazed down upon her.

A twisted tree of black bark and crimson leaves bloomed in her mind alongside a haunted white fog that seemed to unnerve Pluto as he floated further away.

"Cultists of the All-Seeing Eye! Wake up and gather for a grand crusade in my name! We are at war with the Lunarshade family."

The chorus of voices from the All-Seeing Eye rang in her mind as Elysia staggered to her feet. Her family members scattered around the forest also slowly woke up and groaned as they nursed their heads. The experience in that bubble of dense mystic Qi had been intense for them all. Only Elysia had managed to maintain her consciousness.

A portal rippled into existence near the tree that was still ablaze with lilac flames, but the intense presence had moved elsewhere.

Elysia gathered her family like a good vice cult leader and led them through the portal after a quick prayer to the All-Seeing Eye, after which they downed pills and fruits to try to get into fighting condition.

"What in the nine realms happened to you?"

Evelyn turned to see Grand Elder Blightbane standing next to Evelyn Duskwalker. The other Grand Elders were filtering in through another portal and looked at her strangely.

"What are you talking about?" Elysia gave the Blightbane Grand Elder a blank stare.

"You're beyond fucked up," The Grand Elder said gruffly as his piercing gaze peered through the curtains of his hair. "Blood and bile stains your clothes and skin, your eyes are unsettling, and that mark on your forehead is no mere tattoo. It's as if an evil god carved its existence into you—"

"You can tell?!" Elysia wanted to squeal with glee, "Yes, I pledged my very soul and being to the All-Seeing Eye. His herald even carved this mark into me as proof of my belief."

Grand Elder Blightbane turned away as if disturbed while the other Grand Elders looked on at her with a mixture of concern and pity.

"You just don't understand his greatness." Elysia clenched her hand so hard her knuckles went white as she restrained herself from kotowing and singing the eye's praises. "Just you all wait. Soon, you will bear witness to powers beyond our grasp."

Elysia turned away from the judgmental stares and looked around. They were standing on a tilted slab or rock with a blazing spirit tree growing from it. A lilac shield surrounded them, and in the distance, she could see a group of bald men and women wearing white robes attacking some city.

"Everyone gathered here. You have one task." The chorus of voices spoke once more, making Elysia shudder with excitement, "Eliminate the ten remaining Lunarshade Elders."

"Impossible," Evelyn muttered, "There are ten of them, and they are empowered by the moon."

"Don't worry, you won't be fighting alone."

Two corpses floated to the shield's edge with telekinesis and were made to kneel before the spirit tree. Two thin black roots then emerged from the stone and snaked across the floor before going through the shield and down the corpse's throat.

"Those of the Blightbane family should step through the shield and surround the two corpses."

The Blightbane Grand Elder exchanged glances with those from his family before the group of withered people with hair as dark as rotting wood and eyes like fading embers trudged through the shield.

What is about to happen? What miracle is the eye about to honor us with?

A sudden wave of death Qi smashed into the lilac shield, and the Blightbane family dropped to their knees in reverence as the two Lunarshade corpses began to twist into new monstrous forms of wood.

.𝗰𝗼𝐦


Tip: You can use left, right, A and D keyboard keys to browse between chapters.