Ashlock knew he had to be fast.

Over time, Ashlock enhanced his resistance to hunger during his life as a tree. However, once he activated his {Devour} skill on a monster, the skill would persist until either he depleted his Qi or the target perished.

Having used {Devour} on hundreds of demonic chickens simultaneously, he would need to rapidly interact with his system if he intended to experiment with his new idea of claiming low-grade rewards.

[+3 SC]

Ashlock shouted, "System!" Before the notification of three new sacrificial credits had even faded from his mind.

Idletree Daily Sign-In System

Day: 3501

Daily Credit: 0

Sacrifice Credit: 3

[Sign in?]


[Sign in successful, 3 credits consumed…]

[Unlocked an F-grade Summon: Infant Grass Snake]

Ashlock was momentarily startled as he sensed a faint tether of black Qi between him and a tiny black-scaled snake, no larger than a finger, slumbering peacefully among the lush purple grass near his root.

"Why didn't the snake come through a rift? Hey, system! Did you scam me?" Ashlock cursed as Larry and Maple had arrived through rifts, and he had received a system prompt inquiring if he wanted to summon the creature. However, this time, the system connected him with a random creature in the vicinity.

Could it be that he hadn't supplied the system with enough credits for it to bother summoning a creature from another dimension? "To be fair, I only offered a meager three credits, so I should be grateful it's not a worm," Ashlock mused as he observed the little grass snake.

The snake appeared rather endearing now that he could easily focus on it through the tether. There was an abundance of wildlife within the courtyard, particularly in the mushroom garden, which included bugs, worms, and small snakes like this one. However, he hadn't paid much attention to them before, as they possessed little to no Qi and were too insignificant to be selected as a {Devour} target.

[Name Summon: ???]

"System, let's be frank, labeling it a summon is a bit of an overstatement... you merely enslaved a random grass snake that was minding its own business!" Ashlock didn't have the luxury of time to contemplate the ideal name for his new snake companion, as the next batch of sacrificial credits arrived. He settled on Kaida, which meant little dragon.

"Your name will be Kaida, but I'll call you Little Kai," Ashlock chuckled before returning to his tasks. He had more sign-ins to complete. Unfortunately, his next sign-in amounted to forty credits due to his distraction with Little Kai.

[Sign in successful, 40 credits consumed…]

[Unlocked an E-grade Item: Sun and Moon Amulet]

Ashlock's interest was piked but then died a fiery death as he learned the amulet's capabilities, "A basic amulet that provides minor resistance against light and dark attacks? How minor are we talking system?"

Sure, the amulet did have some use, but for forty points? Seemed rather lacking.

[+5 SC]

"Sign in!"

[Sign in successful, 5 credits consumed…]

[Unlocked an F-grade Item: Unhatchable Spirit Beast Egg]

"Huh?" Ashlock thought the name was peculiar, so he read the description while metaphorically scratching his head, "An egg that will never hatch, as the spirit beast embryo inside has perished. What on earth is the point of it, then?"

Undeterred, Ashlock decided to continue signing in, drawing more F-grade items...

[Unlocked an F-grade Item: Energy Depleting Tea]

"A tea that actually drains a small amount of Qi when consumed, rather than restoring it," Ashlock grumbled. "Alright, I can see a potential situation where this might be useful. I'm definitely going to serve this to Senior Lee as payback."

[Unlocked an F-grade Item: Leaky Water Pouch]

"What on earth is the purpose of a container with holes that can't hold water or other liquids for extended periods? To play a practical joke on someone?"

[Unlocked an F-grade Item: Ordinary Pebble]

Ashlock checked his inventory, and indeed, there was a single pebble. Despite the system's assertion that it was a plain, ordinary rock with no special properties or uses, its appearance—resembling an RPG rock icon—made it stand out conspicuously when compared to any regular pebble.

"I can't use any of these draws as rewards for my subordinates or for the upcoming alchemy tournament," Ashlock grumbled but decided to attempt just a few more times.

[Unlocked an F-grade Item: Oversized Sword]

"An impractically large and heavy sword, impossible to wield effectively... Okay, this one could be amusing but still useless."

[Unlocked an F-grade Item: Fake Spirit Stone]

Another peculiar item. Ashlock examined his inventory and confirmed it looked exactly like an ordinary spirit stone he had seen mortals hauling from the mines.

"An imitation stone that contains no spiritual energy, serving no purpose in cultivation or crafting." Fighting the urge to groan in frustration, Ashlock decided that F-grade draws were a waste of credits.

Sure, they had some very niche uses, but he opted to concentrate on E-grade and above for the subsequent few draws, as the E-grade Sun and Moon Amulet was at least more than a novelty item he could give to Stella or Diana for protection.

[Sign in successful, 55 credits consumed…]

[Unlocked a D-grade Item: Wind Walking Boots]

A pair of stylish black boots with golden wing embroidery materialized in his inventory. "Mhm, so they slightly boost the wearer's speed. Not the most useful effect, but at least they look nice."

With plenty of corpses remaining, he continued.

"Sign in! Sign in! Sign in!" He shouted until he swore his mental voice would go hoarse, and a migraine was festering at the corner of his mind.

Rapidly, the pocket dimension within himself that the system used to store his items filled with random objects like a bamboo sword, weighted training gear, low-grade detoxification pill, low-level barrier token, meditation mat, cloak of minor concealment, and more.

Apart from the initial summon, he noticed that the system favored giving him items when he conducted low credit draws.

[Inventory is full]

A message Ashlock hadn't expected suddenly appeared in his vision. "What happens if I sign in even when my inventory is full? Will it be forced to give me something other than items?"

[Sign in successful, 24 credits consumed…]

[Unlocked an E-grade Item: Body Strengthening Elixir]

As it turned out, the system would still provide him with items. The Body Strengthening Elixir suddenly materialized right next to his trunk and began to fall. It was a golden brown liquid reminiscent of rum, contained in a simple-looking glass bottle.

As the elixir descended toward the grass, Ashlock instinctively caught it with telekinesis, relieved that he did, as Kaida would have been crushed.

"I wonder if Kaida would like to drink some of this?" Ashlock pondered. He knew that dogs on Earth couldn't consume certain human foods. Was the same true for an infant grass snake in a cultivation world?

"Look, Kaida, if you can't even handle a little body-strengthening elixir, your path to godhood will be nothing more than a pipe dream!" Ashlock communicated through the tether, and the little snake opened its tiny eyes, glancing around as if puzzled.

Kaida then looked up and saw a glass bottle many times his size looming over him, which appeared to frighten the poor snake. Ashlock carefully used telekinesis to unscrew the cap and drizzle a small amount of the elixir onto the snake's head and decided to save the rest for the girls.

Nothing happened for a long while.

Kaida now had sticky elixir all over his serpentine body and furiously flicked his tongue at Ashlock. "Sorry, buddy, that's my bad," Ashlock apologized and lifted the snake with telekinesis.

He then moved Kaida over the courtyard wall to dip him into the pond to wash off the sticky elixir. Finally, after dunking the snake a few times, he brought the tiny reptile back to the lush purple grass and set him down.

"Better?" Ashlock asked, worried he had hurt the snake somehow.

Kaida, meanwhile, just seemed bewildered.

"Little guy must not be used to flying." Finally, Ashlock realized the problem and decided the best thing to do was to leave the snake alone. He clearly sucked at taking care of baby snakes. "Maybe one of the girls can raise Kaida up into a strong snake."

Ashlock left the poor snake alone and focused on the small pile of demonic chicken corpses slowly being digested by his black vines. Since he couldn't store any more items, he consumed them all at once, did one more draw, and hoped for a new skill.


[Sign in successful, 103 credits consumed…]

[Unlocked a C-grade Mutation: Blood Sap]

Suddenly, Ashlock felt as if his body was boiling hot; his bark crackled and swelled, and the air surrounding his trunk instantly turned to steam. "Ahhhhh!" Ashlock screamed and attempted to violently thrash around. The mountain trembled, and his leaves rustled as his branches swayed slightly. Eventually, the pain became so intense that he lost consciousness, and everything faded to black.


The horrific pain was replaced with the soulless feeling of great melancholy that Ashlock had once felt in a fleeting dream. He looked down at his vast body that spread throughout all of creation with a sense of impending doom.

He was dying. Golden sap as pure as the heavens gushed out of his body and into the guts of greedy cultivators littering his branches throughout the vast cosmos. They carved into his flesh with weapons crafted from his very skin, and with joyous laughter that spread through eons, they wined and dined on his blood.

Sap of immortality, they called it. Thought to be in endless supply by their puny minds, but anything so miraculous should be treasured rather than devoured. As they would soon learn.

The Qi in the lower realms diminished, transforming the area into a desolate wasteland teeming with hideous creatures that survived solely on the lingering demonic Qi. Ashlock sensed the aridity and decay through his roots, and his body soon succumbed to the desolation.

Ashlock experienced no pain as he observed his radiant golden bark shed away, unveiling the blackness of death and decay that hid beneath the dazzling facade.

The immortals seethed, their golden syrup torn from their grasp as they succumbed to the curse of death.

If only the great tree could recall the consequences of its kindness toward humanity.

All Ashlock desired was to flee from this nightmare...


Ashlock awoke an hour later, and though the excruciating pain had subsided, he spent the next hour merely observing the sun's movement across the sky as he tried to mentally recover from such a harrowing ordeal. He noticed dark clouds forming on the horizon, perfectly mirroring his somber mood.

Never before had he felt so confined within his body as during that mutation. He had not only yearned to run and leap into the nearby pond to alleviate the pain but also found himself deeply unnerved by the dream.

Over the course of eons, the sensation of being devoured alive by thousands of ant-like humans instilled a profound terror within him.

He felt wretched, but now that the agony had subsided and he'd had time to recuperate, he resolved to understand his latest mutation. Perhaps its effects would bring him some solace.

"Alright, let's see." Ashlock pondered as he examined the details. A blend of dread and reprieve swept over him. "So my sap has transformed into a fluid akin to blood."

He inspected his trunk and roots, and there it was—his sap, which had once been as viscous as glue and had made it nearly impossible to transport anything through his root tunnels, was now a black liquid darker than the abyss.

Rather than offering benefits like the golden blood from his dream, it carried a horrifying affliction. If someone were to consume his blood, they would gradually metamorphose into a tree.

Ashlock was well aware that he was a demonic tree, and some of his abilities bore rather sinister consequences, such as Devour or Root Puppet. However, most of his abilities possessed relatively neutral effects, and it was largely up to him how vicious they appeared... but this?

His blood gradually corrupting people until they spent eternity as a tree, atoning for their sins? Now he truly began to feel wicked.

He would have loved a moment to reflect and play with Kaida, but the darkening clouds on the horizon were becoming increasingly menacing. He hadn't paid much attention to it before, but those demonic chickens must have been fleeing from something.

Could an approaching storm have driven them here?

Ashlock took to the skies and, through the {Eye of the Tree God}, he discovered a disconcerting truth from his vast vantage point. This was no ordinary storm; after all, what sort of storm possessed eyes?

"A Dao storm is coming!" Ashlock heard a Redclaw elder shout from the walls. "Everyone evacuate underground if you don't want to die! Children first! Someone inform the immortal!"

Ashlock hadn't realized the severity of this storm, but the elder's subsequent words made him freeze in place.

"I will notify the Patriarch! Darklight City and maybe even the entire Blood Lotus Sect is doomed!"