The nest was spherical in shape, with a round hole at the center of it. Usually, such a nest would be made out of grass and twigs, but this one was constructed from the branches of the great tree, each at least as thick as a man's arm. These branches were twisted and interwoven together in a chaotic pattern, creating gapless, onyx-black walls.
Sunny had never seen anything like it. Birds were a rare sight in the real world, let alone giant ones. The size of the entrance into the nest was large enough for a small truck to pass through. The nest itself was several times bigger.
For a second, he felt a sense of fear, afraid that the giant bird was somewhere near. But then his fears disappeared.
The nest looked… abandoned. It was ancient and empty, some of its parts already on the verge of collapse. It was as though thousands of years had passed since anyone had been in this hidden, secretive place. The air was filled with the feeling of lonesomeness and desolation.
'Makes sense. If I barely managed to pass through the leaves, how would a giant monster do it without leaving a giant hole in the barrier?'
Sunny hesitated, caution and curiosity wrestling against each other inside his heart. On one hand, exploring ancient nests was not the best of ideas anywhere, let alone inside the Dream Realm. It posed great risks.
On the other hand, it also could lead to a great reward. Plus… wasn't it just too damn interesting?
In the end, Sunny decided to climb inside the nest to satiate his curiosity. He had convinced himself that it was safe following an unexpected train of thought. In his warped state of mind, Sunny was convinced that the Soul Tree was a great and benevolent being, one that protected them from the terrible threats hiding in the outside world.
If so, how could anything having to do with the great tree be unsafe?
Moving closer to the entrance of the nest, he balanced on the edge of the branch and tried to look inside. However, he wasn't tall enough to see anything except for the inner side of the nest's roof. Since his position was pretty precarious, Sunny decided not to delay the inevitable and jumped, throwing himself up and over the lip of the entrance.
A moment later, he landed on a soft surface. The lower part of the nest was covered in a thick cushion of white, silky spiderwebs. Time had made them brittle and pliable like sand. There was so much spiderweb around that, for a moment, Sunny thought that he had fallen into a giant white cocoon.
- Visit ʟɪɢʜᴛɴᴏᴠᴇʟᴘᴜʙ.ᴄᴏᴍ, for the best no_vel_read_ing experience
But no, it was just a nest.
And there, in the center of it, was a…
At the center of the nest, there was an egg. A giant, ancient egg that was as tall as he was, grey and seemingly lifeless, as though turned to stone by the passage of time.
Forgetting to breathe, Sunny looked around, making sure that there was nothing… and no one… else around. But no, the giant nest was empty and silent, with not even a stray shadow hiding anywhere in sight.
Sunny felt strangely excited. The feeling of discovering something incredible, something that no one except for him had ever seen, filled him with a deep sense of wonder and satisfaction. He had never known that there was such a side to him, one full of an explorer's passion.
'Let's check this thing out.'
Walking on the soft silk, Sunny slowly circled the massive egg and studied it. At a first glance, it seemed to be made of stone. The surface of the egg was colored in various shades of grey, which were overlaid over each other like moving clouds. This pattern was strangely beautiful, giving the egg a mysterious aura. But overall, it was just big and smooth.
Sunny scratched the back of his head, then stepped closer and put his hand on the surface of the egg. Immediately, he felt a strong sense of astonishment.
The egg was warm to the touch.
'Is it… still alive?'
- Visit ʟɪɢʜᴛɴᴏᴠᴇʟᴘᴜʙ.ᴄᴏᴍ, for the best no_vel_read_ing experience
In the next second, Sunny felt a strange pull affecting his core. It was as though the egg was… was trying to steal his life force!
He jerked his hand away and looked at the egg with dark apprehension. The damned thing was not only alive, but also capable of sucking the life out of anything that touched it. It only failed to eat his soul because of one reason.
As far as Sunny knew, he was the only existence in two worlds without an actual soul core. He had the mysterious Shadow Core instead. That's why his life force had not been affected.
'Phew. That was close.'
Looking at the giant egg, Sunny thought about how to get back at it.
The nest, without a doubt, once belonged to an extremely powerful Nightmare Creature. Therefore, its spawn was also a being of considerable strength. However, due to some unknown reason, that being had not been able to hatch and was left behind by its parent, destined to remain trapped within the egg for all eternity.
…Or at least until some unfortunate fool came close enough to feed it with soul essence and give it enough power to break free.
'Luckily, I'm not a fool. Wait… uh… maybe I am…'
His decisions have been very strange lately. He couldn't quite explain some of them, including this latest one. It was as though his thinking ability had been reduced…
'Whatever. I'm still smarter than a damn egg!'
Like a true explorer, he went where no one had gone before and made an incredible discovery. He found an unbelievably mysterious, rare being, one that not a single human had ever heard of.
Naturally, he had to kill it.
- The latest_epi_sodes are on_the ʟɪɢʜᴛɴᴏᴠᴇʟᴘᴜʙ.ᴄᴏᴍ website.
That's what the spirit of exploration was all about, wasn't it?
Summoning the Midnight Shard, Sunny thrust it into the stone surface of the egg, causing a rain of sparks to fall on the spiderwebs. The sharp blade slid harmlessly across the stone, leaving only a shallow scratch on it.
The egg was sturdy enough to withstand a strike from an Awakened weapon. If it was that resilient, Sunny was scared to imagine how powerful the adult monster would be. It was definitely not an average Nightmare Creature.
But then, he was not an average Sleeper.
His shadow flowed from his hands onto the Midnight Shard, turning the polished metal of the blade black and lusterless. Immediately, a cold aura radiated from the sword, making it feel sharp enough to cut the world apart.
Stepping forward, Sunny raised the Shard above his head and sliced down, delivering a crushing blow. Enhanced by the shadow, the dark blade bit into the stone surface of the egg and split it apart.
Cracks ran through the giant stone egg as Sunny's sword plunged into it. A flash of sinister crimson light shined through the cracks, then disappeared, leaving behind nothing but darkness. A torrent of viscous, black liquid flowed onto the white spiderwebs.
In the ensuing silence, Sunny heard the Spell's bewitching voice:
[You have slain a Great Devil, Vile Thieving Bird's Spawn.]
[Your shadow grows stronger.]
[You have received a Memory…]
- Visit ʟɪɢʜᴛɴᴏᴠᴇʟᴘᴜʙ.ᴄᴏᴍ for a better_user experience