Indeed, it was a scene that was akin to hell itself, as the earth was dry, carrying a dull and lifeless air. At this moment, a bare-naked purple-haired beauty was wandering across the endless world of death and carnage. Her bare feet trod the surface of the blood-red waters as rather than sinking; she managed to leave ripples on the blood lakes.
After wandering for who knows how long, the beauty had arrived before a gigantic tree. It was a demonic tree, one that had sickening trunk made of flesh and bone as its branches and leaves carried a blood-red hue, each emanating a dark power.
If one stared at it from a distance, one would even realize that the tree had no end, it grew from the pools of blood reaching towards the limits of the heavens.
Thump! As if the tree had a heart, it had begun to pulsate as a loud beating sounded followed by a resonant voice.
"From one come's all, and from all come's unity... thus, is the equilibrium of all things. Be one with me and live for eternity, be one with all and exists beyond all things..."
The voice seemed to carry a dominant will, as it rumbled across the entire world. As this happened, the world around this tree seemed as if it was shrinking. All the endless blood rivers and corpses had begun to flow towards the tree from all directions.
Soon, the world had vanished, leaving only the tree and the purple-haired beauty that floated in an endless space. After an uncountable amount of time, the woman who stood before the tree then gently placed her palm onto its fleshy trunk. As she did this, her palm seemed to have touched a rippling lake as the tree soon swallowed her arm in entirety while it slowly began to absorb the rest of her body.
While this happened, the beauty seemed to have made a struggling expression as she had only now become aware of her predicament. Yet, it was a pity, for even though aware, she was unable to free herself from its constraints.
"Nooo!" Following her loud cry, many different hands had appeared from the trunk. They quickly wrapped around the rest of her body, covering her in entirety before dragging her into the tree in one swoop, leaving only silence in this void of perpetual emptiness.
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Rick, Fatty Joe, and the others who listened to Layla's story were terrified. However, other than them, only Evan and Emilia had strange expressions on their faces. Emilia had a pale look on her face as after hearing Layla's words, she seemed to have recalled something terrifying.
Fatty Joe seeing Emilia's look, asked, "Emmy? Are you okay?"
Emilia shook slightly before she replied, "B-Brother, I'm fine... I-I was only a bit scared..."
Fatty Joe looked at Emilia deeply, but as she remained silent, he didn't press her for any more details.
Evan made a look of recollection as he thought, "I've heard her mention this dream before, but back then, I thought nothing of it but a simple nightmare. Now that I hear it again, however, this dream is truly quite strange. I've heard that dreams are, in actuality, no different from visions of a certain possibility, but if that's the case, what then could this dream have been referring?"
At this time, Layla looked at everyone and spoke, "I'm sorry to have scared you all, I know it sounds strange, but... this dream has been nagging me for a while now. You see, the only way I can tune it out is whenever I sing, and the more I sing, the clearer my mind becomes, allowing me to forget the things that bind my heart..."
Breya shook her head and spoke, "Sister Layla, you don't have to apologize. It's like my sister always says, there are many things out there that can't be easily understood, just because we can't explain it doesn't mean that it's not real. I think your dream might be a sign of something quite dangerous, but as for what it is, we can only try to understand it over time."
Fatty Joe who was silent nodded as he spoke, "Yes, I think so as well, right now, things are a bit confusing, but I am sure that if we pool our minds together, we'll be able to solve it someday..."
"Mm," Rick added with a nod.
Layla felt a bit better as she heard them, she nodded and said with a smile, "I feel a lot better hearing you all say that, thank you..."
Evan nodded with a smile as he heard her words, he pondered, "This is at least better, having expressed it this time it should at least ease her psychological burden. Right now, I need to find a good solution with regards to dealing with their adaptability..."
As Evan though to here, his eyes couldn't but alternate between Layla and Emilia, as he placed his finger on his chin to think.
Fatty Joe was the first to reply to Layla's words, "Haha! It's nothing, with me here, there's nothing for you to..." He was about to say something, but it was at this time he felt a hand slapped the back of his head.
"Hmph! That's enough; you should finish your plate..." Breya said as she glanced at Fatty Joe.
"Ouch! You, couldn't you have said that without hitting me?" Fatty Joe cursed as he looked at her.
Breya frowned and glared at him as she spoke, "What are you saying? You didn't even flinch when you faced that bear, quit acting like all that fat isn't sturdy enough to resist a little pain.'
Everyone hearing this started to laugh, "Hahaha!"
However, while this happened, Rick, who was paying attention to Emilia, couldn't help but notice her silence. He made a curious expression as he spoke, "Emilia, is everything okay? You seem to be a little pale?"
Emilia was a bit startled as she heard this, her eyes looked downwards as she replied, "I... I'm fine,"
Rick looked at her deeply as he didn't buy her words, but as he saw that she wasn't willing to speak further, he no longer questioned.
Not long after, Rick's eyes shifted to the side as he saw that a familiar red-haired girl was walking towards them. Everyone soon noticed this girl, and their expressions changed.
Soon, she had arrived before everyone, with her eyes fixed directly on Rick. She had a slightly reddish face when she reached out her trembling hand with a small box as she spoke, "T-thank you for s-saving me... I will forever d-deeply appreciate your k-kindness..."
Rick was a bit surprised as he spoke while pushing back her box with a smile, "Classmate Susie, no need to thank me; it was what everyone would have done."
Susie seemed intent on giving him the box, she pushed it back and spoke while blushing, "P-Please accept this token... I can't take it back, knowing that you save me."
Rick seeing her intent, knew that he couldn't reject it, he took the box and smiled before making a bow as he spoke, "Since you insist, then I shall thank you for your precious gift."
"Hm." Susie blushed at this before turning around and quickly running off as she left the cafeteria.
Fatty Joe looked at Rick coldly as he saw that Emilia had crumpled her small, slender hands at this sight, Rick seemed to have sensed their change. He gulped as he no longer looked at Susie and didn't dare to meet Fatty Joe's gaze, he turned to Emilia and spoke, "I... I happened to save her before I saved you that time..."
Emilia was not in a good mood, but as she heard this, she looked at Rick cautiously before she replied, "I see..."
As an awkward mood had formed as both Breya and Layla looked at this scene quietly while sipping tea, it seemed as if a war would break loose at any time.
However, Evan, who was thinking, was first to break this mood as he spoke, "Everyone, we should wrap this up, we still have to attend the classes in a few minutes from now."
"Oh, that's right, I'd almost forgotten about it," Fatty Joe said as he stuffed his mouth full.
"Right," The others replied as they started to arrange themselves, Evan seeing this paused for a bit to conclude his thoughts, "The 1st Calamity will only occur a week after the Ascenders Rift descends. As things stand, Layla and Emilia are not ready. Now that I've fully given it some thoughts, the best way to deal with this is through a more controllable type of shock. I should take them to that place first to stimulate their sense of crisis..."
Upon thinking to here, Evan then looked at all of them before he spoke, "Everyone, there is somewhere I want to take you all later tonight. Are you willing to come with me?"
Everyone looked at Evan deeply, as they saw his serious look, they paused for a moment before they looked at each other.
Layla had a hint of hesitancy as she spoke, "Evan, where is this place? Is it dangerous?"
Everyone looked on in silence as they wanted to hear Evan's words, Evan then replied, "I can't explain here, but I can promise you it will be a real eye-opener..."
Fatty Joe and the others pondered for a moment before they each began to speak.
"I'm willing," Rick said.
"Count me in," Breya added.
"Just lead the way." Fatty Joe muttered.
"I... I want to come as well," Emilia said with a look of firmness in her eyes.
Layla paused for a bit before she looked at Evan and spoke, "Okay, I'll come too."
Evan seeing this then rose to his feet and spoke with a smile, "Good, we leave at dusk..."