[Edited by: LemonFly]
Greem was awoken with a start by a noisy clamor.
Outside of the cave, a commotion had broken out. Even the Rock Snake, who was supposed to guard the cave entrance, had poked half of its body out and was ferociously attacking something, only blocking off the entrance with its thick tail.
When Greem packed everything and walked out from the cave, the battle outside had ended.
Within the not so spacious cave, seven broken Lava Hound bodies were scattered on the ground and red-hot half-molten lava was running freely everywhere. For the Lava Hounds, if rocks were their body, then the molten lava would be their blood.
Since there was so much of their 'blood' flowing everywhere, the chances of their survival were rather slim!
Why were there so many Lava Hounds? Could the small cave Greem occupied be their nest?
A bunch of questions appeared in Greem's mind, but very soon, he rejected them.
Yesterday, when he was looking for a place as his temporary shelter, Greem had put in quite a lot of effort. He had avoided most of the areas of activity for Fire element creatures. Under such circumstances, why was he still attacked by this pack of Lava Hounds? Also, the order he gave the Rock Snake was to defend and fight back only when it was under attack. This meant that it was the pack of Lava Hounds who had initiated the attack!
The more he thought about it, the tighter Greem's brows became. He had a feeling, this was not an accident, but…
Indeed, after the Chip performed a quick search, from the description of Molten Giants, Greem saw their ability to summon and command Fire element creatures.
And just as he made up his mind, the noisy howls of Lava Hounds could be heard coming from a few lava tunnels. Judging from the volume of noise, there was a large pack of Lava Hounds sprinting towards him.
Damn it, the enemy had come to him! He just wondered if there was a Molten Giant in this group of approaching enemies.
With no time to ponder further, Greem turned around and jumped into the large mouth of the Rock Snake, quickly squeezing into the tunnel that led to the upper level of the volcano. No matter where the enemy came from, the further he distanced himself from the lava ocean, which was the claimed home of the Molten Giants, the better!
Moving its thick and long body, the Rock Snake forcefully squeezed into a rather narrow lava tunnel. The protruding rocky scales on its body brushed across the rock wall and produced a lot of sparks, sending broken stones flying in all directions. After its entire body squeezed into the tunnel, the Rock Snake swung its tail with a tremendous force. In an instant, the entrance of the lava tunnel collapsed and the falling rocks quickly sealed off the entire entrance.
At the same time, tens of Lava Hounds leaped out from nearby tunnels, yet they were blocked from going any further by the falling rocks. Like a bear with a sore head, the Lava Hounds immediately let out furious roars. While arduously digging at the piles of broken rocks, they sent out a warning to their master, who was at a far distance.
A moment later, an adult and two juvenile Molten Giants came to the scene with heavy steps. What could they do? As their bodies were overly huge, they just couldn't squeeze through the ordinary and narrow tunnels. Most of the time they could only travel through the large tunnels produced by the erosion of underground lava. As for enemies who hid in narrow spaces, the Molten Giants could only rely on their Fire element creatures to chase them out.
Upon seeing the collapsed tunnels, a sudden comprehension struck them.
Under the orders of the adult Molten Giant, Alexios, the remaining Lava Hounds gave up the decision of digging a path, turned around, and leapt into a few nearby lava tunnels which were still in a good condition with the intention of intercepting the enemy by taking a circuitous route.
Alexios turned around and gave its order to the two juveniles of its clan. "There is only one enemy, and he is a mere human Apprentice Adept, so there is no danger ahead. Bring my message to Arghol: he needn't belabor our people. I'll hunt him down myself."
Having finished saying that, it turned around and walked towards the tunnel that had been completely sealed off. Following its striding, a scorching hot flame of extreme temperature burst out from its body. And, right in front of it, the once rock solid piles of broken rocks started to soften and melt, and eventually, turned into boiling lava that flowed all over the place.
Unobstructed, using the fearful flame, Alexios had melted a human-shaped tunnel in front of it, allowing it to keep striding forward at high-speed. Yet, it left a path full of lava behind, so no outsider could follow.
However, at that time, Greem had fled to some five miles away.
Nevertheless, in this underground world filled with twisting and winding tunnels, although he had fled for five miles, if it was measured in a straight line, it might just be a distance of four to five hundred meters. Also, the Fire Elementium contained in the rock strata here was extremely high. If the Rock Snake wished to travel through the ground like it did in the Underground Cave, it would have to consume a jaw-dropping amount of Earth Elementium.
Therefore, before reaching the most critical moment, Greem didn't want to waste the Rock Snake's energy.
The pursuit lasted only an hour before it ended, and it was the Molten Giant who gave up the hunt. It was as if there was a clear-cut line in their mind; once the fleeing enemy crossed that line, they wouldn't take the risk and continue the pursuit beyond that boundary.
Sensing the intense source of Fire chasing behind him was departing, Greem finally breathed out a long sigh of relief. He was pretty sure that it must have been an adult Molten Giant of Adept level. If he was forced to fight with a big fellow like this, even if he summoned all his golems, he would end up with a miserable defeat.
He lacked a big guy of Earth element that could stand up against this Molten Giant, and he didn't own any element golems that could provide maximum power in this volcanic environment. It looked like there was still a huge gap before he could construct a fully fledged golem army.
Moreover, he could tell the Molten Giants showed great care for the younger generations of their clan. With his senses, he discovered that two little Pseudo-Adept fellows hadn't participated in the hunt and they didn't travel alone. Undoubtedly, this increased the difficulty of capturing one of them.
After all, with Greem's current overall strength, he didn't have the courage to plan anything against adult Molten Giant of Adept level. Yet, there was some hope for the little guys of the Pseudo-Adept level!
Since he had been driven off from the core region of the lava ocean, Greem had nothing else could do but wander around the upper region. While waiting for the full recovery of his body, he was searching for a new route that led to the lava ocean. After all, for years, this enormous volcano had been corroded by the underground lava and hundreds of thousands of lava tunnels had been formed and interconnected like a complicated spiderweb. Thus, nearly all of the tunnels would point to the miraculous and profound world of lava. It was impossible for the Molten Giants to block off every single route.
Without wasting any more time, when his body had fully restored to its best condition, Greem once again snuck into the lava ocean. This round, he doubled the time he spent soaking in it and the progress he achieved surprised him.
The modification progress of his Inferno Body had skyrocketed to 37%, from the previous 23%. Yet, Greem's body had once again gone through great torture, as 1/7 of his flesh was burned off. But his booming Physique had stimulated the quick regeneration of new flesh and blood.
His body was like a factory that kept being pushed down and rebuilt. Every time, the delicate balance constructed by the regeneration of his flesh would be broken by the strengthening of his Fire element innate talent. And when everything was pushed down, new internal organs and flesh would regrow slowly, so that they could match the latest state of his Inferno Body.
And, within the progress of this seemingly endless loop, those modifications, that perfectly matched with his Inferno Body constitution, remained. And yet, the temporary unfitted modifications would be placed in line, waiting to be modified again.
Initially, Greem wanted to let the Chip to participate in this process of body modification and reconstruction. But after a few small scale experiments, he had no choice but to give up the idea. Due to the constraint of his experience and vision, it was impossible for the Chip to predictively leave appropriate room for the future strengthening of his Fire element innate element. Yet, it was marvelously achieved by the instincts of his own body, amidst obscurity and out of chaos.
Also, under the instruction from the instinct of his body, many tiny changes made to his organs were determined as useless or redundant by the Chip. However, after going through another couple rounds of body modification, to Greem's surprise, the portions which had been deemed useless and redundant actually turned into the flawless foundations for the latest modification.
If such discovery only happened once in awhile, Greem wouldn't be so surprised. But, following the Chip's overall monitoring of his entire body, a similar discovery could be found in almost every modified part of his body.
At this point, Greem was forced to stop the Chip from meddling in the process and let the instinct of the body lead the entire process. The Chip would be a general observer, recording the entire process with detailed and accurate data.
The more he observed the process, the deeper he pondered it. And that brought Greem more understanding about the 'Will of the World' he always heard from Adepts.
The world Greem was staying in right now was just a large-scale plane inside of the enormous multi-verse. Yet, a boundless world with abundant resources like this was merely a tiny grain of sand within the depths of the vast ocean of stars.
If Earth, and the universe where Earth was located in Greem's previous life, was referred as a world of low-magic, then in this life of his, the Plane of Adepts and the multi-verse would be referred to as a world of advanced-magic. Countless energy tidal waves fully filled every inch of space in this world.
Influenced by the copious energy tidal waves, Occultism itself had transformed into a frightening force. Any world, any plane, any human, could unleash fearful power far beyond the limit of their own ability. And all this could be put together under the scope of mighty Occultism!
Back on Earth in his previous life, if someone claimed that the Earth had its own conscious and possessed its own will, it would simply be a joke that made people laugh their heads off! Because the mass of the Earth was too huge; for a massive object like this to produce its own will, it was far from enough just to rely on the materials and energy contained within itself.
Therefore, in the world of low-magic, it was impossible for a planet to produce its own will!
But… but Greem was living in a world of advanced-magic. The mighty energy tidal wave was everywhere. And this had given a solid foundation for the planet to give birth to its self-conscious. Of course, in this multi-verse, there weren't any planets, only planes!
At all times, one after another, floating continents covering the insides of plane barriers were soaking in immense energy. Using their own body of boundless land, they carried massive amounts of dirt, sand, rocks, trees, woods, forests, mountains, lakes, oceans, metal, mines, minerals, and last but not least, hundreds of thousands of living creatures of different species. No matter if it was just an ordinary rock or a mighty Adept who stood at the pinnacle of the world, they were all part of the plane.
Innumerable materials, millions upon millions of living beings of different species, together with the immense energy tidal wave; all of these had provided a solid foundation for the birth of the collective consciousness. Perhaps the prime form of the Will of the World was this collective consciousness, as it was the grand fusion of the countless living beings and elementary materials found within its body. But, as time went on, the plane became stronger, and a vague, incorporeal conscious of the plane was born, virtually.