Chapter 20 The Red Jade Fruit
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As Alex was chased by the Blood python, his mind kept turning. If he escaped, there would be no risk, but there will be no reward either.

On the other hand, if Alex entered the burst state, half of his mana will be consumed in three seconds, and there was a chance to land a critical hit.  But, if he can't land a critical hit, the situation would be miserable.

Alex noticed the three fruits and decided to take risks. He quickly came up with a plan.

Alex slowed down his pace to aim accurately and shot the python using his gun. Although the bullets did not cause any substantial damage, they did irritate the python. The python hissed as it tried to bite him.

Alex dodged the reckless and simple attacks as he equipped the bow and arrow.

Just as one of the python's attacks missed, he precisely shot a  Power arrow. The irritated python could not dodge the surprise attack.

The arrow zipped through the air while leaving a blue blur in the dark chamber and stuck the blood python's neck. The arrow penetrated a few inches deep. The python hissed madly and ceased chasing.

Alex saw the snake twist to remove the arrow from its neck. Alex did not waste time.

Alex swiftly reversed his direction, running towards the snake, and took out his machete from the back.

Sensing the changes, the python hissed. Warning the human not to approach. Alex ignored it.

Just as the snake was in his attack range, Alex entered the burst state. A blue aura covered his body and blade.  For the next three seconds, his speed and strength increased by three times.

Sensing the danger, the python attacked first. It opened its mouth wide and tried to bite his torso.

Alex effortlessly sidestepped the incoming attack. He then chopped the python's neck precisely on the wound from the earlier arrow.

The blade smoothly entered the python's body and cut off 70% of the neck. Its head was hanging by a ligament. Alex immediately gave it another blow and removed the head off.

He quickly backed off few meters away from the head, which was still trying to bite.

Soon, the burst state was over, and he was aching all over. Alex quickly ate few Yellow fruits to restore the mana while waiting for Varis.

***

Shortly Varis entered the hall and saw the situation.

[Alex, are you alright?] asked Varis.

"Yeah, I am fine. See if that fruit is edible," said Alex.

Varis saw the scarlet fruit and was dazed. He could not stop looking at it.

"Can we eat it?" Alex asked again.

However, Varis just flew to the palm tree and ate a fruit whole. Then the little guy perched on the tree branch and closed his eyes.

"Ok. Looks like it's safe to eat," said Alex grumpily.

Alex also took the fruit and ate it unceremoniously. He closed his eyes and started to meditate. Soon cool energy raged in his body.

Previously, Alex had to actively exercise even if he eats a common yellow fruit. That does not mean the energy contained in the fruit was huge. But his body was devoid of energy. So after he gained enough strength and got proficient in the mana, he no longer had to exercise.

Yet, this time, it was different. Massive energy, which was multiple times his current level, started spreading to every cell of his body. Alex started to sweat.

Soon the ocean-like energy entered his blood vessels and started to stretch them. Alex screamed in agony as pain seared through his blood vessels.  Alex felt he was about to burst.

In the end, Alex persisted with his strong willpower.

After an agonizing hour, Alex opened his eyes. He stretched his hand to grab his bag for some Blueberries, but a series of crackling sounds came.

'What the heck?'

Alex was startled and immediately was wide awake.

Alex saw that his body had changed. He was now a few inches taller, and his body also got muscular.

Was I bitten by a spider? No, I ate a fruit.

His new body also gave him extra strength. Now he can easily lift a 600Kg (1300 lbs) boulder. His mana quantity also doubled. Alex was very satisfied with his improvements.

As Alex was admiring his new look, all of a sudden, he heard a terrible chirp. Alex was startled and looked at the palm tree.

A sky blue light emanated from the top of the palm tree, lighting up the dark hall. Alex was a little worried about Varis.

Although the scarlet fruit gave him a huge benefit, the process was also severe.

Soon the light dimmed, and Alex saw a graceful bluebird sat on the branch. If Alex did not see the transformation with his own eyes, he would not believe that was Varis.

The ugly chick with an odd mix of red and blue colors now became a graceful bird.

Varis's size had increased, and its hook beak had changed to a straight beak. Two blue feathers were erect on his head. Its head was a mix of an eagle and a sparrow. It sure looked exotic.

'He got the sky blue color from his mother and the exotic looks from his father!?' Alex analyzed.

Varis opened his long wings and flew towards him. It merrily flew around him, trying to land on his shoulders but sadly found out he could not fit.

In the end, Varis landed near Alex's legs. He was taller than his knees. Alex half kneeled and petted him on his head, stroking the two feathers on his head.

"Varis, look at you, All grown up."

Varis also chirped in excitement. After playing with him for a while.

"Ok. What is the scarlet fruit that we ate? Why did we both change so much?"

[It's called Red jade fruit. It's a legendary fruit that can improve the bloodline.]

"Cool, then looks like your father's bloodline improved?"

[Yes.] said Varis and stopped speaking, a little downhearted.

Alex also remained silent, not talking about the other guy's father. Then he heard a chirp and heard:

[You smell bad.]

"It must be due to the sweat. Ok, let's go to the river after we eat. I am starving."

[Me too]

They both devoured a huge portion of Redhog's meat which was prepared earlier. But he was not much worried now that he had the python's meat.

After eating, Alex skinned the beast, he heard the Varis communicate through his mind:

[Do not forget to take the gallbladder and the heart.]

"Ok."

Alex packed the raw meat in a plastic bag and looked at the palm tree. A scarlet fruit AKA, the Red jade fruit, was hanging on the tree.

"Do you or your mother want this?" asked Alex. Ms. Aretha helped him a lot.

[Nope. It is only useful for juvenile beasts. I don't want those stupid eagles to get them.] said Varis haughtily.

"Got it," said Alex while stuffing the Red jade fruit in the plastic bag.

Then they moved forward and soon came out of the passage. Alex was slightly relieved.

"Don't forget the tactics. Our current destination is the river. It's due East." said Alex.

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