In hindsight, he knew that telling them would surprise them.
The matter of him being half-fey plus him owning a realm fragment of the El-Realm and the El-Tree Seed are all huge matters. So their reactions were to be expected.
Gaia and Acacia have yet to close their mouths from shock though, making him feel a little weirded out. While he knew that they were going to be surprised, he didn't expect it to this extent.
"...it came with the Realm Fragment. I figured that it'd be nice to nurture it since it might help our situation." He said.
"No, because...you know what forget it. Just hurry up and plant it already. Do what you must." Gaia said, sighing and sitting down on a nearby chair to calm her emotions down.
"Is it the real deal? Like, the real El-Tree? It's not a replica?" Acacia asked, somehow still unable to believe it.
"It should be the real deal." Ashton replied, "It gave me visions when I received it."
The spirits were unable to say anything to that. Instead, they just sent him off with their gazes. He assumed that they were too stunned to speak. He really doesn't get it but since they gave him the go signal, he might as well do it now.
He bid farewell to them and appeared in the same pocket dimension where the Dragon Vein slumbers. This place is somewhere deep within the Grotto Heaven.
Acacia didn't follow him here, and neither did Gaia. He assumed that they both stayed behind and let him do this alone.
Once he was there, he took out the jar containing the Realm Fragment. The shard was emitting a soft brilliance in his grasp. He carefully unsealed the jar to release the shard and fuse it with the Blue Marble Grotto Heaven.
After he unsealed the jar, the shard jumped out of it like a playful dolphin landing on his hands.
He could feel it humming in delight while it was in his hands as if it was a child saying hello to him. A soft smile appeared on his face as he gently touched the shard.
The shard trembled in his touch like it was ticklish or something. Then, Ashton said:
"Do your thing, I guess."
And as if it was responding to his words, the Realm Fragment disappeared from his hands. Turning into specks of light that floated up in the air before completely disappearing from the naked eye.
Although he couldn't see it anymore, Ashton could still feel its presence. In fact, he could even sense it better like this.
He attuned to his surroundings, observing the changes around him through his senses. He could feel the movement of mana and the surge of unfamiliar laws baptizing him and his surroundings.
Around him, nature hummed in glee. They danced as if celebrating the changes that are happening around them. For some reason, it seems like they're gaining some form of consciousness because of the fusion. But it's too early to tell so Ashton decided to pay attention to it later.
The fusion unexpectedly took three hours before it settled down.
The changes weren't that obvious at first glance, it's subtle just impactful at the same time.
Ashton discovered that the rate at which Aether formed around him increased at an alarming rate.
The Spiritual Energy of this place is already very rich because of his arrangements. The formations, the runes, and so on. Due to those, Aether naturally formed here and nurtured it even further but it's slow, really slow. And it made sense since Aether is both Raw Mana and Spiritual Energy combined.
Yet with the fusion of the El-Realm Fragment, the density of energies here increased tremendously, and the rate at which Aether formed increased as well.
What's even more shocking was that this doesn't just apply here. It applies to the entirety of the Grotto Heaven. Meaning that the Guild will experience an environment that has rich energies they can use to further improve their cultivation.
"...there's also these mysterious Law Insights." Ashton hummed as he gently released his perception.
He could sense the elusive and unfamiliar laws that are now appearing around him thanks to the fusion. These must be the Laws El-Realm had before its destruction.
Ashton could feel that these laws are somewhat evading him even though he's half-fey. He wasn't bothered though since Laws were a fickle thing, to begin with.
He retracted his perception and took a deep breath. Now that the fusion was done, it should be safe enough for him to start planting the El-Tree Seed.
Unlike the Realm Fragment, the El-Tree Seed was encased in a see-through crystal ball.
This crystal ball isn't some ordinary crystal either. It's an Aether Crystal — something that's only formed when Aether reaches an astounding degree of concentration, forcing it to solidify.
Not only that, this Aether Crystal is enchanted with Time Laws. It's faint but it's there and it's enough to put the seed into suspended animation. This Aether Crystal is in fact, food for the El-Tree Seed so that it won't wither.
With a wave of his hand, the earth in front of him parted. A hole was formed, one that was big enough to fit this whole thing in. According to the System's instructions, the moment this thing was burrowed, the Aether Crystal will dissolve and turn into nutrition so that the seed germinates.
After settling it to its proper place, Ashton wave his hand again and the seed was not burrowed under the ground. He gave it a few minutes to react and then...
Ashton felt the winds swirling around him, and shortly after a strong suction could be felt coming from where he planted the seed. Mana, Spiritual Energies and Laws were all being sucked by the El-Tree Seed to catalyze its germination.
He didn't do anything to prevent this from happening. He just watched and waited until it was over.
'If the accumulated energy here isn't enough, I'll throw in some Spirit Stones. I just hope that it works.' He mused to himself.
What he wasn't expecting at all was that the Dragon Vein was roused from its deep slumber.
He didn't think that it'd matter if he planted the seed here since as far as he knows, the Dragon Vein only wakes up when it's going to baptize new geniuses. But as it turns out, that wasn't the case.
The illusory head of the Dragon Vein slithered out from its dense network of veins, staring at him and then looking at the commotion in front of it.
Its ancient and wizened eyes gazed at the seed for quite some time before it opened its maws and spat out a cloud of golden light that the seed unhesitatingly devoured. The visage of the Dragon Vein looked at him intently and that's when Acacia's voice sounded in his mind:
"It's asking you to hold our your hand forward."
Ashton was surprised but he did as he was told anyways. He held out a hand and suddenly, he felt restricted.
A wide magic circle erupted beneath his feet, shocking him. The magical circle clearly reflected his Mageroot — it has the mark of a tree, and book and it's dominated with the color of a rainbow. There were a singular formation circle at its edge and a total of eight orbs that represented his Virtues.
Once that magical circle appeared, Ashton felt a tightness in his core, making him heave deep breaths. Then, he noticed that fog started forming around him. This fog was rainbow-colored as well.
The moment that the fog reached a certain level of thickness, the El-Tree Seed devoured it all in a blink of an eye.
Ashton felt weak all of a sudden, his mind was still reeling in shock but he was cognizant enough to watch what happened after that.
The Dragon Vein went back to its slumber as if nothing happened. The El-Tree Seed's suction weakened to a drain, it looks like it was almost over.
Then, as he slowly caught his breath, recovering from an unexpected episode of weakness, he saw a slight change in the seed.
It wasn't much, in fact, it's so tiny that it's almost negligible. But it's there.
A single strand of grass that is a cut above the rest. It is an inch high but it was extremely noticeable because its color was the brightest yet also the deepest shade of verdant covered in a pale golden sheen.
It's beautiful. Extremely eye-catching and mesmerizing as well.
Then, out of nowhere, this strand of grass shook. It then released a clear buzzing sound so loud that it was heard by everyone and echoed to the skies. i𝒏𝘯𝙧𝐞𝒂𝗱. c𝚘𝓂
He felt its jubilance and elation for being born, which put a wide smile on his face despite his knowledge.
That was when numerous System Prompts showed up in front of him...
[Through the assistance of the El-Realm Fragment, dense Aether, Mana, and Spiritual Energy, plus the baptism of the Dragon Vein and Auspicious Rainbow Cloud. The El-Tree Seed sprouted into a sapling!]
[Its successful rebirth was largely thanks to your preparations. For that, a ×10,000 Benefactor's Return was triggered!]
[Congratulations, you received: Fairy Queen Natasha, as your loyal subject and advisor. You also received the Verdant Veil of Discord and 1000 Skill Points and Spell Points.]
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