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Ascenders Rift 55 The Rift of Hell’s Swamp, An Unexpected Change?

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Evan and the others had only just arrived at the core regions of the fabled Hell's Swamp. At their front was a section filled with cypress and odd but colorful shrubs grown on the surfaces of the dark waters. Many tall trees grew about the area reaching dozens of meters in the sky as their branches act as a natural barrier, concealing the mystical sights at these depths.

A dazzling portal hovered above these ferns, its size many times larger than the rift Evan saw in Death's Fissure. However, if one were to observe it, they would see that rather than being of a glaring red hue, it was more of a yellowish red.

"So, this is what it looks like up close... so mystical," Layla said with wonderment in her eyes.

She started to observe it in more depth, falling into a slight daze, but soon her face changed. Her eyes flashed as a dark and sinister vision swept across her mind; she saw countless corpses and hell-like entities that bathed in a sea of blood. As if these corpses sensed something, they turned towards her in synchrony as they made a devilish smile.

Suddenly, Layla started to tremble as the corpse's arms stretched towards her as if they were trying to drag her towards their world.

As this happened, Layla grabbed her head and curled up like a ball while screaming, "Noo!"

Upon hearing this, everyone who was looking at the rift grew surprised, they turned and saw that Layla was in terror.

"Sister Layla, what's wrong?" Emilia said as she drew in closer to help her up.

Yet, as Emilia's palm touched Layla's shoulder, a reddish glow flowed from her body in Emilia's palms. As this happened, Emilia began to see the strange visions of Layla, causing her to retreat as she spat out blood.

Fatty Joe and Rick seeing this were alarmed as they shouted in unison, "Emmy, are you alright!"

Fatty Joe was a bit unsettled by Rick's shout, but this wasn't the time for personal conflict. He drew to Emilia's side and grabbed her as Rick similarly came closer with a look of worry on his face.

As Fatty Joe lifted Emilia, her mood started to recover as she weakly looked towards them and spoke, "I... I'm fine, but that rift, because of it, Sister Layla can see some awful things, you must wake her!"

"What?" Both Fatty Joe and Rick exclaimed as they didn't think such a thing would occur.

Breya also frowned as she spoke, "How could this happen? Are these rifts so dangerous to everyone? Why can't we feel it?"

Fatty Joe and the others were a bit puzzled by this, but they knew this wasn't the time to ponder. They turned to look at Layla, who had now settled down in Evan's arms as they saw that he had a perplexed look on his face while gently patting her head.

"How troublesome... she did tell me of her initial fears to Rifts back then, but I didn't think it would have been to such an extent. Could this be because of her talent? If it's so, then it must truly be both a gift and a curse, no wonder you changed so much when we met again in that world." Evan thought as he looked at Layla, who was somewhat trembling his arms.

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He sighed and spoke softly, "It's okay, Layla, don't be scared; my shoulders are here for you to rest on..."

Layla hearing this trembled as she spoke in fearfully, "P-Please, d-don't let me see it. I-I don't want to s-s-see it again!"

"I understand, you may rest easy..." Evan said as he gently patted Layla's head.

At this time, Evan then looked and saw that Fatty Joe and the others were looking at him. He looked at Emilia and spoke, "Is she okay?"

Fatty Joe nodded and replied, "She's doing better now,"

Breya, who had been silent, looked at Evan and questioned, "Evan, what was that just now? What kind of thing did they both see?"

Rick also looked while he pondered, "What could it have been to cause them to act as such?"

Evan looked at them and replied, "This was more than likely a product related to their talents, Layla is capable of sensing things of the divine or similar nature. As these rifts are the work of otherworldly beings, she must have most likely being able to perceive their intents."

"Hmm, then if it's such for Layla, what about Emilia?" Rick asked with concern on his face.

Emilia hearing his words felt a little better, but at this, she was a bit emotionally weakened and didn't want to say anything.

Evan looked at Emilia before glancing at Rick and the others as he replied with a somewhat complicated look on his face, "I am not fully certain, but I believe it should be related to her talent as well. Though she is primarily focused on another extremity, her inherent Spiritual Power is enough to be influenced by direct contact with the source of such things."

"I see... so that's how it is," Rick murmured as he showed a look of understanding.

Breya also nodded her head as she thought, "It makes sense; she only started to react after she had touched Layla's shoulder."

Fatty Joe looked at the tired Emilia before looking at Evan as he spoke, "Evan, then what do we do? Should we proceed to enter the rift with them in this state?"

Evan felt Layla trembled after those words, he shook his head and spoke, "No, it will have to wait, let's pitch camp here for a while longer. We still have the rest of the afternoon and night to enter, so right now, we should let them ease their minds."

Fatty Joe and the others nodded at these words, as Evan saw this, he wasted no time, he flipped his wrist causing a small mechanical cube to appear.

Fatty Joe seeing looked at Evan with a bit of surprise as he muttered, "A Camping Cube? It looks like he bought quite a few handy things for our trip."

Evan tossed the Camping Cube out in the open before commanding, "Activate."

Not long after, the cube had expanded itself into a large platform that was roughly fifteen square meters. A few small rooms were erected from it, creating a temporary lodging space in these dangerous waters.

As Evan saw this, he lifted Layla from the boat carrying her in a princess hold as he jumped on the metallic platform that floated on the lake. He walked towards one of the rooms and saw that there was a small bed, a small room that seemed like a restroom, and a sink.

After placing Layla down, he thought, "Though its only of low grade, it at least has a few decent facilities..."

Evan gently tucked Layla into the bed after spreading the sheet to cover her, he then prepared to leave the room, but before he could move, he felt that a hand had grasped him firmly.

Evan sighed as he asked, "Still worried?"

Layla nodded as she spoke, "I... I don't want to be alone; can you stay with me a little longer?"

Evan sat down and gently held her hand as he spoke, "Okay, I won't go anywhere, right now though, you should only focus on resting. I'll watch you until you fall asleep."

"...." Layla remained silent for a moment before she peeked from her sheet and asked, "Am I a burden?"

Evan looked at her lovely hazel eyes directly and saw that she was concealing a profound amount of fear, he smiled warmly and replied in a teasing tone, "No, you are still my precious princess,"

Layla blushed at this; she glared at him as if saying 'Who's your princess,' before she her closed eyes and pulled the sheet over her head and replied in a mosquito-like voice, "Thanks,"

After a good while of talking back and forth, Layla had only after a few hours fell into a deep sleep. Even then left the room and closed the door. When he arrived outside, he saw that the sun was now setting.

As Evan arrived out in the central area, he saw that only Fatty Joe and Rick were in the open sitting on some chairs. Their faces looked a little unwell, as Fatty Joe was glancing at Rick with a dark look, as Rick didn't dare to look back or say anything.

Evan smirked as he thought, "Ha, with a 'Sturdy Guardian' at its base, it won't be easy climbing Rapunzel's tower."

Rick seemed to have noticed Evan, he turned and quickly tried to open a topic, "Evan, how is Layla?"

Fatty Joe also looked at Evan with curiosity on his face, Evan gave them a thumbs-up as he spoke, "She's doing better as she's resting at this time. What's Breya doing?"

Both Fatty Joe and Rick sighed in relief as they looked at each other before Fatty Joe spoke, "That violent woman said she wanted to keep a watch over Emmy, I couldn't talk her out of it, so I let her do it."

Evan, hearing this saw that a red mark was on the back of Fatty Joe's neck, he made a non-believing look as he replied, "I see..."

Fatty Joe lowered his head, not saying anything further as he was a bit embarrassed, Rick. However, looked at Evan as he gestured towards the rift and spoke, "Since it's like this, when do we enter the Lesser Space?"

Evan thought for a bit and replied, "I possible, I'd like to enter it by tonight, but it will all depend on their abilities to adapt. This was a bit unexpected on my part; we need to allow for them to overcome this hurdle with their spirits."

Rick sighed as he spoke, "Won't this hinder our training results?"

Evan shook his head and replied, "It's better to be fully prepared than to rush in blindly, even if the results are a little bit inferior. In the end, we'll still be many times ahead of everyone else, for this Lesser Space is a bit different from those of the norm. The plus side is that if they can overcome these trials, there would be fewer drawbacks in the future, and their attainments will rise even further."

Fatty Joe and Rick hearing this now had a better understanding. Fatty Joe looked at Evan and spoke, "What kind of Lesser Space is it?"

Evan made a mysterious smile at these words, he was about to reply, but suddenly his face changed. He glanced at the dark waters around them and muttered, "Tsk! Layla's gift is truly on the line between a blessing and a curse. Now that's she's unconscious; it's lost its repellence effect."

Rick's face changed as well as he sensed some changes around them, Fatty Joe seeing both of their expression asked in curiosity, "Huh? Evan, what's going on?"

Evan's eyes stared at the dark waters seeing a few silhouettes with glaring red eyes, he smiled and replied, "It would seem that the mythical monsters have come to pay us a visit..."

Fatty Joe's face sunk, the waters shook as the world around them started to change, taking on a dark turn as the curtain of night descended on the dark swamplands.

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