"Go and take care." The voice on the altar spoke as if entrusting a task to its child. "No need to worry about me."
That monster still seemed somewhat unwilling to leave. It was like a small child completely attached to its parents. It nuzzled the stone stairs around the altar. Suddenly, the voice on the altar made a sound of surprise. "Wood Parasite, go quickly. Someone seems to have broken into your territory." The voice on the altar seemed a little worried. "Go, go now. Watch over the Requiem Wood. Don't let anyone touch it! If I'm to reconstruct my body, I need the Requiem Wood. Otherwise, even if I manage to break out of these constraints, I'll always be flawed."
"Uwuwuwu." When that monster heard its master's instructions, it seemed to realize that things were urgent. Although it was still reluctant, it resolved itself to turn around.
Sealed within the altar, the spirit of King Woodbranch was filled with anxiety. This piece of Requiem Wood was the key for him to recover his soul after breaking free. If he lost the Requiem Wood, his soul would never recover to the peak of its power. The thought of his servant, the wood demon parasite, abated his emotions a little. There are thousands upon thousands of parasites protecting the Requiem Wood. Anyone who trespasses will surely die.
Furthermore, the parasites were not the only line of defense. A number of poison formations, the specialty of Wood Demons, had been carefully laid about the tree as well. The death of would-be explorers was assured.
Jiang Chen's eyes stared straight ahead, his attention caught by a tree seedling. It was as delicate as coral and shimmered a vibrant green hue. From a distance, it looked like a wonder of nature. Any observer would be awestruck by the sight.
"Brother Chen, is that the Requiem Wood?" Huang'er was dazzled by the tree's beauty.
"Yes, that's what we're looking for." This Requiem Wood is pretty large. "It only grows one ring every ten thousand years, so this one should be at least a hundred thousand-some-odd years old. It's still fairly young when compared to other members of its species, though."
He was no stranger to the Requiem Wood. It was common to see Requiem Woods that were millions of years old back in his previous life, within the heavenly planes. Of course, a hundred-thousand-year-old wood was enough for Huang'er's Generation Binding Curse. Carefully examining the tree, Jiang Chen didn't rush into things. There were several oddities in its vicinity. A casual glance didn't seem to reveal anything peculiar, but someone with his experience knew better. Every kind of plant near the tree was deadly, and they were placed in such a way as to form an enormous poison formation. The entire setup was very complicated.
Most importantly, the Requiem Wood was in the middle of a deep pool. If Jiang Chen wanted the spirit herb, he'd have to wade in. The muddied waters looked peaceful on the surface, but countless wood demon parasites swirled beneath. A casual estimate numbered them in the millions. The parasites were everywhere. There were even some near their feet, though Jiang Chen had no intentions to tell Huang'er about them. They were scared of the scent on their bodies anyways, and wouldn't attack them.
Jiang Chen looked at the wood for a few more moments, then tossed his hesitation aside. "Huang'er, step back a little and wait for me outside. I'm going in to get it."
"How're you going to get it, Brother Chen? Are you going to take a branch from its body?"
"No," Jiang Chen shook his head. "Why leave nice things behind since we've finally arrived? We'll uproot the entire tree, of course." He smiled strangely. Jiang Chen knew all about the properties of the Requiem Wood. It was very useful for demons to use in refining their own souls. Cutting off a branch inflicted minimal damage. Completely uprooting the tree was much more devastating.
He wasted no time and glided towards the Requiem Wood with his Cicada Wings. As he did so, he summoned his new spirit creature. Its tentacles could do the heavy lifting that was needed to actually uproot the tree. As a plant creature, the mint ginseng wasn't necessarily scared of wood demon parasites. Nevertheless, Jiang Chen took precautions to bathe it in Dragonwhisker Water. This way, it would be completely unhindered by the wood demon parasites teeming in the pool below. Meanwhile, Jiang Chen hovered in the air as backup.
The ginseng's countless appendages grabbed at the Requiem Wood's roots. The tentacles surged with power, their green muscles popping forth like countless arms. They pulled upwards with a mighty strength, brimming with endless vigor. Up! It took several hundred of them only a few pulls to uproot the spirit herb in its entirety. Water pooled in to fill the empty space.
Rumble! Now that the Requiem Wood had been touched, the poison formations about it began to fiercely attack. However, they had very little effect on a plant creature like the mint ginseng. Jiang Chen's added help was only icing on the cake. In the wildlands, poison formations were only really useful against human cultivators. On the outskirts of the wildlands, if the average cultivator were to even slightly brush against one, they would die several times over.
"We did it!" Jiang Chen was overjoyed at the sight of the uprooted tree. He had the lotus take over carrying the Requiem Wood, and placed the huge tree directly into his storage ring, dirt, roots, and all. "Let's go!"
Recalling the ginseng without delay, Jiang Chen turned to leave. Suddenly, jets of air streamed out from beneath the bottom of the pool. Formed by innumerable parasites, they swept towards every part of Jiang Chen's body. In the next moment, a terrifying creature bit at his feet. He was greatly shocked by the attack. He slowed the monster's offense with a sweep of the mirror, then shook his body to call upon his Pentecolor Divine Swords. Drawn simultaneously, the five blades sliced towards the monster's body in five streaks of divine radiance.
Clang! Savage streams of sparks flew as the swords were stopped short by the monster's carapace. Like metal on metal, neither could damage the other.
"What?!" Jiang Chen was shocked yet again. The Pentecolor Divine Swords had been personally given to him by Emperor Peafowl! And yet they couldn't even scratch this monster, much less break through its armor. He hadn't used any special sword techniques, but it was difficult to believe that weapons of the Pentecolor Divine Swords' caliber couldn't even leave a mark on the monster's body. Just how hard could its carapace be?
Still astonished, Jiang Chen had no desire to keep fighting. He pointed several times at the jets of parasites with vehemence. Air streams of Galaxy Slashes divided and disintegrated the bugs within. The monster looked bewildered that Jiang Chen was able to cease the flood of parasites. Roaring loudly, it made a mad dash for the human. Without the Featherflight Mirror's intervention, the monster would have long reached Jiang Chen already.
With another wave of the mirror, Jiang Chen retreated out of the pool's boundaries. "We're leaving, now." He said to Huang'er in a low voice. She didn't miss a beat at Jiang Chen's panic. She instantly gathered that the monster was a difficult adversary. Placing Jiang Chen's hand in her own, she crushed an escape glyph, and the two of them disappeared on the spot with a flash of light.
The monster roared again and again when it saw the humans depart. They'd taken the Requiem Wood! Its cries shook the very heavens, and its fierce eyes radiated a horrific light. Rather than the Requiem Wood, it was as if the monster's own child had been taken. After a few seconds of observation, its body halted, then completely disappeared.
The escape glyph's light subsided, and Jiang Chen and Huang'er landed in a different place. The glyph had taken them more than a hundred miles out, which was hopefully enough to evade the monster's pursuit. However, the air beside them began to ripple before they could even catch their breaths. The monster tunneled out from nothingness, as if moving directly through time and space. Its eyes welled up with blood, and it thrust towards Jiang Chen with another angry roar. The monster had an almost frightening ferocity. There wasn't much that Jiang Chen could do. He had to continuously shine the Featherflight Mirror on the monster to curb its advance. His continual points towards the monster yielded no results. Try as he might, the power of his Galaxy Slash left not a single scar, whether he cut against its head or body. All his efforts went down the drain.
"What an abomination," Jiang Chen cursed under his breath. He summoned the lotus, which sent out hundreds of ground-creeping vines towards the monster.
Pfft pftt pfft! The vines wrapped around the monster tightly, plant whipping against scale. It coiled around the monster, attempting to constrict it to death. No matter how much force the lotus used, however, the monster didn't seem to feel a thing. Noticing this, the lotus switched to fighting with fire. Incalculable lotuses shot out witchfire in an attempt to scorch the monster. The monster was unimpressed. The witchfire was hot enough to melt metal and stone instantly, but it barely tickled the monster.
Since fire didn't work, Jiang Chen swapped to ice. A frost colder than primordial glaciers enclosed the monster within. With a wild shake of its body, the monster struggled free of its icy prison. It resumed its charge towards Jiang Chen, howling in rage. Given the situation, Jiang Chen wasn't entirely sure what to do. Swords didn't hurt it, and neither did the elements.
Beckoning to his magnetic golden mountain, Jiang Chen smashed it into the monster dozens of times. Like an iron hammer against a tortoiseshell, the creature beneath the carapace remained undamaged despite the numerous blows crashing into it.
"What kind of vile creature is this?!" The youth couldn't understand it. It was quite possible that only great emperor realm cultivators' attacks could pierce the creature's armor. Weaker techniques were helpless against its thick, meaty hide. Jiang Chen was entirely lost on what to do next. However, the mountain did exert a certain amount of pressure on the beast, which struggled beneath its weight. Because of this, Jiang Chen had some time to observe it more closely.
The monster's entire body was covered with scales, and it had pores as small as needles. A glittering crystalline substance exuded out of those pores. Upon closer inspection, the substance was actually a mass of wood demon parasites bunched together.
A new possibility materialized in Jiang Chen's head. "Wood demon parasites, huh… is this monster actually their progenitor?!"