Su Jin looked up at the sky and found the dark clouds very strange for some reason. After observing them for a while, he realized what the problem was. These dark clouds didn’t move at all. It was as if they were permanently suspended in that position.
“The fruits of the Tree are in the sky,” said Su Jin as he pointed at the dark clouds.
Chu Yi looked up but couldn’t understand. If the entire world was the Tree itself, why would the fruits be above them?
“Those aren’t clouds at all. Those are the leaves of the tree. But because they’re huge, they end up casting a shadow on everything below it and so they resemble dark clouds,” explained Su Jin.
Chu Yi blinked in disbelief. He rubbed his eyes and realized that these dark clouds didn’t behave like clouds at all. But it still sounded crazy to him. How big did the tree have to be in order to have leaves as large as clouds?
“If the fruits are really up there, how are we going to get there? I can’t fly,” said Chu Yi dejectedly.
Su Jin was also thinking of a way around this problem. Even if Kano Mai were here, her Soul Whisperer couldn’t possibly shoot this far up. They had to find the tree trunk or at least a branch to climb.
He looked around and quickly noticed that a mountain in the distance looked somewhat odd. It was very dim where they were, so he couldn’t see the peak of that mountain. But it was also possible that he couldn’t see the peak because it was actually a branch of the tree, so the top part extended beyond the clouds.
“Come with me!” said Su Jin before he started running at full speed. He was very strong now, so he could run at a speed that was even faster than the world’s fastest sprinter. Even the best runners in the animal kingdom would lose to Su Jin now. Not only did Su Jin have a lot of stamina, but his muscles did not produce any lactic acid, which enabled him to run at the fastest speed possible for a long time without feeling any muscle aches.
Chu Yi’s situation was slightly different. His body wasn’t as strong, but his Spirit Power helped him to overcome various physical limitations. So, even if his muscles produced lactic acid, his Spirit Power would be able to break it down instantly, thus his movements would not be affected either.
The two of them ran as quickly as lightning, but the mountain was much further from them than they realized. They ended up running for three whole days. Su Jin couldn’t even estimate the distance they must have covered during this time.
“I was right!” Thankfully, Su Jin’s guess had turned out to be right. This mountain wasn’t a mountain at all. It was one of the Tree’s branches.
The two of them couldn’t help but stare in awe at the Tree. This Tree was practically a miracle in itself. The Tree was the world and the world was the Tree. They couldn’t imagine how incredible this was.
“Come along, we’ve got a long way more!” Su Jin snapped himself back to reality and hopped onto the branch.
The branch was huge and the bark wasn’t slippery, so they could move upwards very easily.
One full day later, the two of them had finally reached a point where they could touch the dark clouds.
Su Jin reached out to touch the leaves and found that these leaves were as tough as steel. He tried to cut one of them with his Boning Knife, but was only able to make a small cut in the leaf.
A green sap flowed out of the leaf and just a whiff of the sap made both of them feel refreshed immediately. The exhaustion they had accumulated over the past four days of running and climbing had disappeared completely. Even the mental stress they were under had been lifted significantly.
“This is really good stuff! This could definitely count as a treasure of sorts!” Su Jin and Chu Yi were both very impressed. There was always a chance to take back all kinds of treasures found in the Handbook Challenges. Su Jin’s Boning Knife, Demon Lord’s Longbow and Triton’s Cloak were all amazing items he had picked up along the way.
“Brother Su, why don’t we collect some of these leaves?” Chu Yi was very interested in these leaves.
Su Jin nodded in agreement. It was definitely worth collecting some of these leaves. Unfortunately, the only thing that could cut through the stems was Su Jin’s Boning Knife. Chu Yi even tried his Triple Qi Thrust to no avail.
There was no other choice but for Su Jin to use his Boning Knife to cut the leaves one by one. Several hours later, he had only managed to collect 30 leaves. They didn’t have time to spare anymore, so once they had collected 30 leaves, they continued making their journey upwards.
Moving through the leaves was actually very difficult. The gigantic tree leaves were very solid and overlapped each other. The Boning Knife was sharp enough to cut through them, but Su Jin would probably die from exhaustion if he had to cut through them all, so they chose to go through any gap they could find.
After they finally got through a thick layer of leaves, they were almost blinded by a light in front of them. The bright orbs in front of them made them feel like they were looking at a galaxy.
“Are these…the fruits of the Tree of Life?” Chu Yi stared in shock. But he soon felt that he must have guessed wrongly, because each orb was as large as a knoll. If these were the fruits they were looking for, then plucking them was a problem in itself.
“I’m afraid they are.” Su Jin’s lips twitched. The Tree of Life was so ridiculously huge, even its fruit was humongous. Besides, even if they managed to pluck the fruits and bring them back, how were they supposed to feed it to Kano Mai and Yang Mo?
Su Jin used the Demon Lord’s Eye skill on one of the bright orbs and got information on it immediately. Just as Chu Yi had guessed, these bright orbs were the fruit of the Tree of Life.
“Fruit of the Tree of Life. It contains the essence of vitality and can be used in a million and one ways! Status: Unripe”
“Oh?” Su Jin raised an eyebrow at the word ‘unripe’. If these orbs were unripe fruit, that meant that there were ripe ones somewhere else.
They started walking around to observe the various fruits they could see and finally found the difference. Even though every fruit gave off light, the light was a different color, and each color corresponded to a different size of fruit.
“There are green ones, yellow ones and purple ones. The green ones are the largest, followed by the yellow ones, and the purple ones are only as big as an earthen pot. In short, the smaller the fruit, the riper it is!” said Su Jin after checking all three types he could see. The smallest purple one was almost ripe.
“In that case, a fully ripened fruit would probably be around the same size as a normal fruit,” said Chu Yi.
Su Jin nodded. “The riper the fruit, the higher up it is. We have to keep going up.”
“Let’s go then!” Chu Yi swung his arms like he was warming up, then he exerted force into his legs and shot upwards like a rocket to hop from one fruit to the next. He was treating the fruits like a trampoline.
Su Jin followed his example and they used the fruits to move upwards. They quickly reached another thick layer of leaves and had to find gaps between the leaves to continue upwards again.
“This has got to be the highest point of the tree, right?” blurted Chu Yi immediately after they made it out of the leaves. He went into a daze as he stared at the view around him because it was simply too shocking.
“Are we in…outer space?” Su Jin was equally lost for words. It was rather cold up here and they could see the stars. The orbs they could see in the distance weren’t fruits but actual planets.
“But if we’re in outer space, why aren’t we having any difficulty breathing?” asked Chu Yi quizzically. He didn’t know much about outer space but he had some basic general knowledge.
Su Jin pondered this question for a while, then said, “Perhaps the Tree of Life makes a difference. Trees give off oxygen, after all! We’re surrounded by the Tree of Life, so it makes sense for us to still have sufficient oxygen to breathe.”
Chu Yi nodded, then looked around. His eyes suddenly lit up and he tugged at Su Jin. “Brother Su! Those things over there…those must be the ripe fruits, right?!”
Su Jin turned to see several red orbs floating in the distance and immediately checked on them with his skill. Chu Yi was right. Those were indeed the ripe fruits of the Tree of Life.
“Bingo!” Su Jin nodded and they immediately dashed towards the fruits. But the moment they came near to one, the fruit floated away from them.
“Why are they able to move?” Su Jin didn’t expect that to happen. But unlike the unripe fruits they saw earlier, these ripe ones weren’t attached to the tree by a much longer and thinner stem, so they looked as though they were just floating about randomly and were thus able to move away with ease.
“Let me try!” said Chu Yi. He got himself into a half-squat position and adjusted his breathing pattern. Su Jin watched as a gust of wind formed around Chu Yi’s body.
“Go!” Chu Yi gave a low shout as he thrust his hands out, sending the gust of wind towards one of the fruits.
But just before the wind could reach the fruit, Chu Yi heard something shooting towards him, so he quickly moved aside. He turned back and saw that the place where he was standing earlier was filled with several large wooden splinters.
“Watch out!” Su Jin saw those splinters and immediately became wary of his surroundings, but couldn’t find where this sudden attack had come from.
“Was it…the Tree itself?” Chu Yi was the victim, so he had a better idea of what happened.
Su Jin narrowed his eyes as he traced the splinters’ trajectory based on the angle at which they had stabbed into the ground. He soon found the source of the splinters. Some thorns were sticking out of the Tree of Life’s branch.
“It’s really the Tree of Life protecting its own fruit!” Su Jin sighed. He had guessed as much, since it made sense for such a majestic source of life to be sentient to a certain extent.
Just then, Su Jin noticed something from the corner of his eye. It looked like a human’s face, but it was covered by the tree bark.
Su Jin used his Boning Knife to cut some of the bark away and froze when he saw that face clearly. That face belonged to Prince Charming!
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