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  1. #241
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 3 – The Official Elite Tryouts Start





    Everyone in the crowd froze in a various array of postures. Moments after they got to their seats the group battle ended, and in both ghastly and bloody manner, at that.


    “Is… is that it?” Someone asked in a barely audible voice.


    “In just a few seconds he took out five of the eight of them, killing three of them, not less…” Another person mentioned waveringly.


    “How terrible, he even didn’t spare the woman…”


    “Dad, dad, what Martial school this expert belongs to? Please sign me in!” Among the crowd, several of the most invigorated voices were of children, either crying in fear or full of admiration.


    “You wish to learn this expert’s method, boy? Do you wish to die?”


    The common people shared mix emotions as the group battle appeared to reach its conclusion. The Elite Tryouts occurred in the same location every couple of centuries, so of course they could not remember and compose themselves to the ferociousness and slaughter that were regulated in the fighting matches of the entertainment industry.


    “Anyway, if this is just a quick skirmish for a new addition to tomorrow’s finals, then it was worth the trouble of getting early to save seats”.


    Slowly more people were influenced by the hype. As horrifying as this group battle was, in the past year of the preliminaries there were many matches that ended gruesomely and then talked about in details in newspapers and all sort of establishment around the city, even in some of the congregations, and no matter how scary were the participants, the common people always felt secure due to the presence of the church and The Almighty in their hearts.





    “I…” Funwa gritted his teeth. “Surrender”.


    “I, too, give up“. The pink Two Headed Sparrow lowered both his heads in resignation, as well as discontent.


    “Then leave the arena”. Sister Mafita’s voice rang in the ears of everyone within encompassing square. With a wave of hand she disintegrated the three bodies on the arena, sending four spatial rings to Zax.


    Disgruntled, Funwas and the pink Two Headed Sparrow left in a walk and flight.


    “What’s your name, contender?” Sister Mafita asked Zax.


    “Karim, no last name, from everywhere in the Western Continent”. Zax answered, assuming the identity of a vagabond since it was easier to reply when being asked specific questions.


    “Karim the wonderer, than. You are a bodily cultivator…. Not many appeared up till now in the preliminaries, and you also combine assassination techniques to your style”. She loudly assessed as if describing him to someone far away.


    Zax stretched his lips to his hideous smile as means of confirmation.


    “Go to the registration booth. If you registered as a ‘Later Arrival’ change it to ‘Participant’ and make sure to get a number”. Sister Mafita instructed and averted her attention to the crowd below. “All you, late Martial Mortals, who were patient for your turn and wish to join the Holy Palace, must first join Luminous Church and accumulate enough merit. Though Elite Tryouts are for Core Masters, during this time’s tryouts, staying with us as an esteemed guest is Cardinal Northstar. In his benevolence, Cardinal Northstar agreed to receive and take with him to the Holy Palace Martial Mortals who will prove their skills by either hunting the Pure Core of a Deformed Being comparable to fourth level Martial Mortal or ten Pure Cores of a Deformed Being comparable to third level Martial Mortal. These conditions also extend to Core Masters who may dare to accept them, be only sure to remember that The Almighty does not aid the foolish“.


    Letting her words sink in everybody’s attentive ears, Sister Mafita held her hands in a praying gesture. “May The Almighty bless you”.


    “May The Almighty bless you”. The common people, residents of the great Onzengvas city, repeated in union.





    The registration booths closed in the evening, though after Zax, Els and Sioul no late arrivals, tested or not, could register.


    The three that made it to the finals vanished from the Grand Abode’s zone quickly after registering. A large number of people desired moment of their time for interviews and signing signatures, but for the three the Elite Tryouts was not that type of event. If someone wants to capitalize on it, it had nothing to do with them.


    Back at the base of the city, inside a two rooms unit in a cordial inn, Zax sat on his bed with the four rings lying on the white sheets. He rented the unit because he had to lay low, Onzengvas city had a curfew between ten at night to six in the morning and only people with permit, mostly business owners, could stay out late or leave their homes early.


    ‘All together two hundred and ten thousand Splinters, two second realm Pure Cores useful for cultivating to the third Core Master level, useless scrolls and weapons’. Zax viewed the items in the four spatial rings. Other than the Splinter even the Pure Cores were not worth giving to others or going through the trouble of selling. He stored them the spatial rings in his pocket, the spaces inside them were reasonable in size, so they might be useful in the future.


    Lying with his hands behind his head, deliberating and his eyes gazing at the wooden ceiling of the room, Zax recounted the zone of the Grand Abode. ‘It’s extremely large, but the structure is actually accessible to the public. I assume through specific corridors and rooms…’ It was helpful to know that if he would change his appearance he will be able to enter the Grand Abode inconspicuously. ‘Tomorrow the finals start and will continue for a seven days. Eight hundred contenders who passed with the best marks the preliminaries’ initial tests of ability and combat and two hundred who seeds of the church‘.


    From what he was told in the registration booth, the preliminaries will hold three advanced tests of ability and will officially end after an inevitable Martial competition, which afterwards the top hundred participants will be selected.


    ‘A test of understanding the attribute, a test of soul, a test of Martial art and a fight’. Zax counted them, closing his eyes. It had been a long time since he allowed himself just a regular rest, not cultivation of the body or the soul, not pursuing the sixth bottleneck of insight. Leaning on his left side, his last thought before falling asleep was halfway discarded. There was no point overthinking what tomorrow would bring.





    The ascension to the Grand Abode was as pecked as the day before the finals. Zax did not mingle with the masses, which forty percent of came from the base of the city, residents, travelers of all statuses. The remaining thirty percent were the aristocrats’ circle of Onzengvas city, whose seats nobody could touch.


    The one thousand and three participants had a designated open area, which consisted of a spacious resting place, a varied catering and prayer corner, should they seek The Almighty’s favor in their endeavors. Only they and members of the church could enter, while those who came to spectate could cheer and shouts whatever they wanted from outside. The church did not invest in a muting formation for the designated area, any one of the participant could erect it on their own for intimate peace of mind.


    ‘Neyrar!’ Zax caught a glimpse of the extremely handsome twenty looking fellow, which was half a head shorter than his real appearance, had long black hair and green eyes. ‘Back then, after I’d broken thought the sixth gate of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, senior Ariel said that we are fairly equal in strength. Senior Gid also holds him with much regard. However I’m much stronger than three and a half years ago. If you are still able to match me, then I wonder what sort of lucky encounters you had…’ Zax did not disparage Neyrar’s talent. From his perspective if Neyrar had found the Black Core, then he would have just as better chance as he has to inherit Legacy Of The One’s Path.


    ‘He noticed me’. Zax turned his head.


    Neyrar’s senses alerted him to his gaze not because only he looked at him. During the preliminaries his performance drew a lot of attention and many of the contenders viewed as a threat. The eyes which Neyrar sought back were those whose glare ticked him off.


    ‘Eh! They are also here!’ Zax was surprised when his line of sight intersected with the familiar figures of Benni, Shila, Nirik Je, Hason, and Bin Bin. ‘These guys also here’. He thought of the other four member of the group, Liminton, Vals, Enderta, Zenkai but ended up not looking for them, assuming the four Martial Mortals are in the crowd somewhere.


    He also recognized the nine lucky contenders of the Martial competition of back than in Kingdom Earth, those who joined the five powers with Neyrar, however they were at least a grade or two lower than the latter and other than seeing them as compatriots there was not a more intimate connection left between them and Zax.


    The spectators filled their seats, and even the centralized seating stages for members of the church were nearly at full capacity.


    A figure, first level Martial Mortal priest, seemingly thirty years old, stepped into the arena and an amplified voice rang in a customary opening, welcoming the crowd, sharing with them a prayer of gratitude to The Almighty, recapping notable displays during the preliminaries, describing the phases of the official tryouts and mentioning some do and don’t for the spectators before finally calling the contenders to the arena.


    “All participants asked to enter the arena; the first trial is soon to begin!” The priest announcer’s voice boomed with excitement as a white, semi transparent dome shaped mantle surrounded the arena.


    Zax and the thousand and two contenders entered the arena, the beasts among them in either human or humanoid form. Some of them responded to the cheering, most were busy examining the mantle. Other than the noticeably light attribute energy making it, it gave no indication of its purpose.


    “Please allow me to welcome”, the priest ecstatically directed the crowd’s attention to the highest stage and the two highest rows of empty seats. “Our Luminous Church’s holy Bishops, The Almighty’s blessed shields and swords!” Following his announcement those in the crowd who were residents of the city or members of great families in some of the other cities belonging to the church burst in applause as six figure flew from the Grand Abode, four women and two men, the fourth level Martial Mortals of the church, and took the second highest row of seats.


    All six had cordial auras radiating from them, like warm rays of light after a storm. They were beautiful and enchanting, had the kind of appearance that others will keep evoking in their minds for many days.


    ‘Sinister Chain has two members comparable to fourth level and Luminous Church alone has six…’ Zax ruminated.


    The priest announcer continued. “Next I want to welcome the two prominent figure we all been waiting for! Our Luminous Church’s holy Archbishop Silternjan and Cardinal Northstar!” His tongue halted as he did not dare presume himself knowing Archbishop Silternjan’s and Cardinal Northstar’s echelon as servants of The Almighty.


    Two figures flew from the Grand Abode, two elderly men. Archbishop Silternjan had a bald head, a long white beard and mustache. He looked as old as a ninety years old man, but his blue eyes and expression on his face were brimming with vigor. Cardinal Northstar resembled a man in his sixties whose white hair still retained dark areas. His resting expression was stringent but the lightest twitch of his lips gave the impression of a forming heartfelt smile.


    Behind the Archbishop and Cardinal flew two more figures, a young nun and a young man in clerical clothing.


    Zax recognized them immediately as the postulant, Sister Iaura and the Ascended Elite, His Young Eminence. His eyes skimmed the seating stage they headed to together with Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar and at the third row he discovered Sister Beatriz.


    Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence joined Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar standing next to the four highest seats.


    Archbishop Silternja opened with amplified voice. “May The Almighty guide us through our path”. His words resonated as if they actually had the powers to direct the poor through the ups and downs of life; although only second level Core Master and below were influenced. “Thank you, participants, spectating guests, for sharing your presence with us in the first official day of the Elite Tryouts”. He smiled and countless faces involuntarily did the same. “You all heard the rules repeatedly during the past year and priest Armin, in his kindness, helped us remember them again, so I won’t bore you with further discussing them. May we have prosperous tryouts and good luck to everyone!”

  2. #242
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 4 – Shelter Of Heroes






    After wishing good luck to the participants, Archbishop Silternja sat in his middle seat, at the left end seat sat Cardinal Northstar, His Young Eminence sat in the other middle seat and Sister Iaura at the right end seat.


    Priest announcer Armin exited the arena, leaving only the one thousand and three participants inside. “Thank you, Archbishop Silternja”, he said with no hint of intention to address the two youngsters sitting together with the holy Archbishop and Cardinal, as if he was asked to from the start to be reserved about them.


    The crowd was a bit confused. An unknown youth sat not only at the highest level of the most central church’s seating stage, he actually sat in a middle seat, pushing the holy Cardinal himself to the edge!


    A bright light shone from the mantle covering the arena. Armin held a small crest with the word “Light” on it, which resonated with the mantle and apparently could control it.


    “Everyone, as I explained earlier, the official tryouts commence with a test of understanding the attribute. As those excelled expert among you know, in our planet, Ercas Mir, there is a number of danger zones where the attribute energy of the world is very unbridled and oppressive, even experts of the third realm could easily encounter perilous situations there”. He described and pointed at the white mantle. “This covering you see around the arena is called ‘Shelter Of Heroes’ and is a replica of a minor danger zone, our Luminous Church uses to enrich the worldly attribute understanding of young prospects. It has seven levels of tempering, in which the first five are within the understanding’s range of a Peak Core Master, the sixth level require the understanding of a Peak first level Martial Mortal and the seventh level require the understanding of a Peak second level Martial Mortal. To pass the attribute test, our brave participants will have to withstand the challenge of the Shelter Of Hero by proving their level of understanding. The trial will start in the first level of the shelter and every hour will rise to another level. If a participant feels that he or she cannot bear anymore the pressure, they can leave the arena and forfeit their place in the Elite Tryouts. However, be very thoughtful of your decision, only the two hundred participants who will last longest will proceed to the next day’s trial!”


    “What? Eliminating a fifty of the participant in the first day?”


    “Too harsh, too harsh!”


    “The tryouts will only submit the top hundred participants to the church, top ten to the Holy Palace, there are enough days to meticulously evaluate each participant, why the rush?”


    Armin gave a breath of time to the crowd and contenders to ready themselves, especially those of esteemed background who had better idea than most about the church and Holy Palace. “Begin!” He shouted, the crest in his hand glowed and from the dome shaped Shelter Of Heroes, human size monstrous looking constructs of light were conjured.


    The thousand and three constructs pounced separately at each contender, rousing the crowd cries of fear and amazement.


    Zax stared at the construct targeting him. It had a humanoid figure and was actually smaller than him by two heads. It had bulging big, round, pupils less eyes and no other facial features, a horn at the back of its head, four arms with razor sharp claws, two legs with long talons and two tails.


    “Humph!” Zax snorted, raised his hand and slapped the construct, which spiraled in the air and exploded. His understanding of the worldly attribute energy is superior to Gid Chu’s, just a bit of it is needed to ruin the seventh level of the Shelter Of Heroes. ‘Still, I can’t draw too much attention to myself. Who knows if they will suspect that something amiss because of me…’ He glanced from the corner of his eyes at Sister Beatriz, Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence. ‘The first four levels, I suppose, meant to separate the wheat from the chaff. If I’ll solve them all with brute strength I will still be safe and make a reasonable impression’.


    Zax was right. The first level of the Shelter Of Heroes had been solved quite quickly by ninety percent of the contenders. The remaining ten percent put a little effort before solving it and the crowd watching their mesmerizing, flashy techniques sure enjoyed the spectacles.


    By the end of the first hours only seven contenders left the arena. They all could continue to the second level, but did not want to embarrass themselves by leaving shortly after it begin.


    “You did good withstanding the first level, as expected, brave participants!” Armin declared. “Now, as promised, let’s push it to the second level!” The crest glowed again and the Shelter Of Heroes conjured those same familiar light constructs.


    ‘A bit bigger and with a mouth…’ Zax clenched his fist. The poor thing coming at him did not seem to have an ounce of intelligence, so there was no need to put much thought in the manner of getting rid of it.


    BOOM!


    It exploded to countless sparkling fragments that dissipated and were absorbed by the shelter.


    ‘The mist energy of a typical third level Core Master will barely suffice to destroy it…’ Zax assessed by the feeling in his hand. ‘Maybe the fourth level will already require utilization of dark attribute energy, otherwise I might really stand out…’


    Cheers and conversation slowly developed in the crowd. Non cultivators were continuously shouting for more gripping displays while the experts sitting in their midst and those from the great families and aristocrats’ circle in the reserved seating were eyeing specific figures that aroused their interest during the preliminaries.


    Only the high levels of the church’s seating stage, where the second level Martial Masters and above were situated, maintained a placid view on the arena.


    The second hour nearly passed. Zax stood with arms crossed and eyes closed, presenting a disinterested front to work with his facade. He could feel eyes browsing him. The identities of him, Sioul and Els were known to the other contenders and the crowd as the three “underdogs” of the tryouts, but up until now there was a deeper concentration on the other two who dared to accept a blow from Sister Mafita, a third level Core Master!


    Before entering the third hour thirty seven contenders left the arena, all with the ability to stay, but not long enough to save face when forfeiting first.


    Time continue to elapse.


    At the third hours the monstrous light construct were a size bigger than Zax’s true appearance, they were muscular, had an additional pair of arms, a second horn, a third tail and slightly ugly definition to their face.


    Zax punched the living out of the third construct. Like him, who could beat it with one strike, were about five hundred of the nine hundred and fifty nine contenders. When the hour passed a hundred and two contenders left the arena, most beaten in no way to sustain a second of the fourth hour.





    “I’m confused, You Young Eminence”, Sister Iaura said. “How is that a way to test or temper one’s understanding of the worldly attribute?”


    His Young Eminence laughed upon hearing her innocent inquiry. “You haven’t figured it out because you never experienced the Shelter Of Heroes. Other than being a test and means to temper the understanding it is also a challenge of various degrees. The first four level of the shelter can be counted as easy, hence having more than one method to go about them. See that participant over there, the humanoid beast with the spotted red fur and wings?”


    “Yes”.


    “And can you see the blue haired woman several meters of him?”


    “Yes, Your Young Eminence”.


    “Both of them are examples of the two methods of solving the first four levels. When the fourth level will release the light construct watch these two and you will get the answer to your question”.


    Nodding obediently, Sister Iaura resumed her attention on the arena, her eyes deeply concentrated on the red furred, winged humanoid beast and the blue haired woman.





    When the Shelter Of Heroes conjured the fourth wave of light construct, the mood in the arena became solemn.


    The constructs descended at the eight hundred and fifty seven contenders in new form, a lower body of a snake and a humanoid upper body. They retained the three sets of arms, but now held chains of light in each hand. Their round, bulging eyes were clearer with a trace of sentience. Their horns were larger, their faces long, their mouths spewing inscrutable words in husky voices.


    In the arena at least seven hundred contenders released their auras. Some revealed their weapons, others, beasts, transformed.


    ‘It’s as strong as a Peak Core Master. To take it out in one hit will be an exaggeration, if I want just a measure of attention’.


    Dragging this time’s confrontation for almost ten seconds, Zax eventually destroyed the light construct with a few tens punches and even frowned for a fraction of a second in the process, since the construct had no vital spot he could exploit. From top to bottom it was fully conjured from light attribute energy.





    “I get it, Your Young Eminence. The blue haired woman overpowered the construct with mist energy alone, while the red furred humanoid beast uses his understanding of the fiery attribute worldly energy to match the profound making of the construct”.


    “Even if a puzzle is easy, it is still a good mind exercise”. His Young Eminence remarked in affirmation.





    “You finished quickly”. Ten minutes into the fourth hour a tanned youth approached Zax.


    “You, too”. Zax told Bin Bin. ‘And he hadn’t even exposed his understanding of the worldly attribute… what mist cultivation technique does he practice to generate such strength?’ Zax was really amazed, not even his sister Zetsa’s Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi Refining Technique could compare to Bin Bin’s cultivation technique, and he had not reached yet to the Peak of the Core Master realm!


    “Say, what’s your name? Although your killing techniques are useless against the constructs, your brute strength deal with them even better”. Bin Bin, like many others, found Zax as one of the intriguing contenders due to how quickly they destroyed the fourth construct.


    Benni, Shila, Nirik Je and Hason also beat their construct sooner than most, within the first twenty minutes. Neyrar was even faster. He defeated the construct in a little over four minutes.


    “Karim”. Zax replied.


    “Oh… what a strange name. To me you look more like ‘Gorth’ or ‘Morlord’, something with ‘O’ sound. By the way, mine is ‘Bin Bin’”.


    ‘This guy really doesn’t know how to restrain himself…’ Zax inwardly sighed. “Leave me alone”. He said and closed his eyes as if in meditation. He was not in the tryout to make friends or reacquaint himself.


    “Hey”, Bin Bin scowled. “That’s rude. I was just sharing my opinion. If you didn’t like it you can say. Hey, Karim, are you listening?” He pestered Zax until Benni and Nirik Je dragged him to their group in fear of him crating a scene.


    The fourth hour reached its conclusion after six hundred and eighty contenders were forced to use their attribute with either their physique or mist. Four hundred and fifty departed from the arena in the end.





    “Everyone, a recess of thirty minutes will take place before the fifth hour will start. Participants are permitted to leave the arena to their designated area”. Armin announced.


    Gradually the crowd of almost hundred thousand people got up and dispersed to restroom breaks, stretching their legs and buying food and drinks.


    ...


    ‘Leaving to the designated area?’ Zax skimmed the arena, gouging the condition of more than two thirds of the contenders still in the trial. Of the four hundred and seven, about three hundred were in need of rest by meditation that could perfectly be accomplished and the arena. Why should the waste a second by changing location?


    Keeping to himself, he pretended to rest. ‘The fifth hour will probably be the last’.

  3. #243
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 5 – Earlier Than Expected





    “After the fifth level’s hour everything will be determined”. Archbishop Silternja said.


    “Yes”. Cardinal Northstar affirmed. “Understanding of the attribute might be the first trial, but of all the four, soul can be cultivated, Martial art can be taught and battle experience can be acquired over time. Although there are celestial supplements, in the end, to perceive and comprehend the six bottlenecks of insight and understand the worldly attribute energy one can only rely on himself…” He had a desolate expression when stating that. Sighing, he shifted his gaze to the four hundred and seven contenders preparing themselves in the arena. “Soon we will know who has the potential to become an Ascended Elite and if; perhaps, among them there is already a hidden gem”.


    “Don’t expect too much from a group of cultivators stuck on a mud ball in practically nowhere, Cardinal Northstar”. His Young Eminence scoffed.


    Although he paid a measure of attention to the tryouts, he frankly was not interested in them at all, much less in the supposed young prospects of Ercas Mir. He preferred to return to the Holy Palace. If it was not Sister Iaura who asked to stay for sightseeing, which eventually resulted in holding prematurely the Elite Tryouts, than even Cardinal Northstar would have been forced to arrange their departure at a moment notice.


    “Your Young Eminence has truth in his words”. Cardinal Northstar concurred. “But it is in remote and undiscovered places that there are treasures still to unearth”.


    “That’s correct, Cardinal Northstar, His Holiness said the same thing!” Sister Iaura happily reminded. The person she held the greatest respect toward, even as much as she had for her parents, was the religious leader of the Holy Palace, His Holiness.


    “That is His Holiness’s direct quote, and indeed, its truth surpasses mine”. His Young Eminence admitted. In the mentioning of His Holiness he could be nothing but servile.





    Thirty minutes recess ended. The crowd returned to their seats and the contenders finished their rest.


    “Four hundred and seven participants are left. The fifth level’s hour is soon to commence, so let me help you all to remember…” Armin announced, smiling at the spectators, gesturing with appreciation at the contenders. “Regardless how many participants will sustain in the upcoming fifth hour or the remaining two, with no discrimination over your performance, the top two hundred will progress to the succeeding trial’s day”. He presented his Light embroidered crest and the Shelter Of Heroes emanated a blinding hue as it conjured the new wave of constructs.


    “Raow!” The constructs descended roaring. Their size was four meters tall and two meters wide. They huge bat wings and absurdly muscular. The appearance of their lower and upper body had not changed, but from the neck up their faces were a bit refined, less coarse – each will interpret in their own way – and between their round big eyes there was a slit that opened to reveal a third eye with two pupils.


    Zax’s body exploded forth with force. His hands darkened as he cupped them to the shape of two dark attribute energy’s sickles. This battle he intended to drag for the better part of the hours, pretend as if he put his all to the defeat the construct.


    CLANG!


    His brandished his hands against the chains of light the construct was holding. ‘Incredible!’ He was stunned from its strength. ‘A Core Master who could beat this thing should be the cream of the crop of the second realm!’ Zax was more and more at awe as once in a while he caught glimpse at the contenders fighting the other constructs.


    What their struggle represented that shocked him, was that this time no one could hold back the utilization of attribute, and that exposed how profound the understanding of many of them was, despite their low cultivation, and how many bottlenecks of insight they supposedly comprehended.


    ‘In Kingdom Earth, as one comprehends the bottlenecks of insight, they gain enlightenment into what they refer to as “worldly energy”, which they learn to taste, hear, touch, smell and see, not bound by this order’. Zax mused while feigning exertion.


    ‘In Ercas Mir, wherever there is at least a third level Martial Mortal to guide, than cultivators can become aware that the “worldly energy” is actually an “attribute energy”, similar to the one they might have added to their mist, soul, bodily cultivation by consumption of attribute’s essence, but harder to recognize…’ Two chains wrapped around his arms, separately, another around his right leg and three more were about to whip him. He howled, dislocated his joints, executed his foot technique and escaped before being hit.


    ‘The more bottlenecks comprehended, the more of the worldly attribute energy can be understood. However, the bottlenecks are not enough; there must be a pinch of enlightenment to correlate the two. I made the connection quickly with the help of God Demirva’s attribute’s essence. Those who have teachers to guide them take longer and those who have only themselves, take much, much, much longer!‘


    By the display of attribute energy attacks at the light constructs, it appeared that roughly hundred contenders were enlightened to the connection between worldly energy and worldly attribute energy, and by their proficiency using it around forty clearly comprehended four bottlenecks of insight that help their understanding make large strides.





    “Look”, Archbishop Silternja told those sitting next to him with complicated expression. ‘That boy Neyrar who came from Golden Desert Fort brigade, this level of understanding… I don’t know what fortuitous encounters did he have or what they spent to cultivate him in the fort, but he should have comprehended five bottlenecks of insight’.


    “He did, but the understanding her gained from them is still negligible”. His Young Eminence remarked. “If he’ll stay on this planet he will need a miracle to advance his understanding in a short period of time”.


    “Indeed”. Cardinal Northstar creased his brows. “They probably sent him for the Diluted Element. Does General Beking think that he could use it to perceive the last bottleneck and reach Evolutionary Ascension?”


    “That’s too difficult”. Sister Iaura quietly said to herself.


    “He is already qualifies as an Ascended Elite, but she aims for even greater merit…” Archbishop Silternja shook his head. “Anyway, we can’t help nurture the Planetary Battalion’s young ones and we can’t bluntly deny him the first place, should he deserve it”.


    “This should not be a problem. There are three more trials. Among the participants there are good seeds of the church, which comprehended four bottlenecks and understanding of the worldly attribute is at the Peak of their insight. We will give them a little help before the next trials and all will be fine”. Cardinal Northstar had it all planed, most likely since Sister Iaura generously offered the Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element.





    “Eighteen minutes are left of the hour, two hundred and seven brave participants are still in the arena, should seven more forfeit before the hour’s end, out top two hundred of the first trial will be determined and their evaluation will be publicized along with their results in the following trials!” Armin explained in great elation.


    “Come on, Enji, you can do it!”


    “Don’t give up, Saber!”


    “Show them what you’re made off, El Tikon!”


    The cheering of the crowd intensified. A scarce number of them had tickets for the rest of the tryouts, most, for various reasons, had only purchased the first day’s tickets. Now was the optimal time to wholeheartedly encourage their favorite contenders.


    “Eleven minutes left and we are three eliminations from the top two hundred!” Armin continued to stir the crowd.


    When there were eight minutes to the end of the hours, Armin held the crest up and raised his head, on his face a jubilant countenance. The crest shone and the Shelter Of heroes suddenly began to collapse and dissipate together with the remaining constructs. “Everyone, please congratulate our top two hindered participants!”


    Zax watched as the construct he fought against vanished and pretended to finally catch his breath. Of the top two hundred, twenty one beat their constructs, eighty had the upper hand, among them Zax, and a hundred struggled or were on the verge of defeat, looking pretty miserable despite making the cut.


    ‘Neyrar defeated the fifth construct. Bin Bin, that nuisance actually won, too! Did he comprehend the fifth bottleneck?’ Zax started to suspect the background of the tanned looking youth as well as that of his eight companions.


    Benni, Shila, Nirik Je and Hason also were among the top two hundred. Four of the nine representative of Kingdom Earth, besides Neyrar, who joined the five powers also made it as part of those who barely sustained.


    Armin let the crowd a few minutes of clapping and more cheerful shouting before opening his mouth in order to finish the day.


    “Thank you, everyone, for being with us in this blessed day. May The Almighty bless you all!”


    “May The Almighty bless you!” The crowd answered back.


    “Participants, if you will”, Armin turned to them. “The day after tomorrow will be the second trial day of the Elite Tryouts. Until then, you are all invited, by his grace Archbishop Silternja, to stay and rest in the Grand Abode”.


    ‘Invited to the Holy Palace, so soon?!’ Zax composed himself from showing signs of over excitement. The information about the Grand Abode’s layout instinctively resurfaced in his head.


    The Grand Abode had a total of nine floors, a hundred and eighty one rooms and a hundred and twelve hallways. Among them, the first four floor, seventy two rooms and thirty six hallways were open to the public on specific days and hours.


    ‘The communication room should be at the fifth floor’. Although it was only one upper floor to infiltrate, it was uncertain whether the contenders would be allowed to wonder within the first four. ‘Well… it should not be my only chance. The trials take place every other day. If we are invited after today’s trial, the Archbishop will probably repeat the invitation after the following trials to draw the contenders to the church’.


    “Brave participants, my name is Sister Juliet, please come with me if you are willing to accept the Archbishop’s invitation”. A nun with the cultivation of a second level Martial Mortal flew from the church’s seating stages and landed outside the arena. She smiled cordially, waiting to get the acknowledgment of all the contenders who wish to follow, turned and showed them the way.


    ‘There are participants who aren’t interested in staying in the Grand Abode?’ Zax noted when he saw Neyrar, Bin Bin and his group and a few others leaving to someplace else.


    “Hey you, Karim, what’s the name of your bodily refinement technique?” A humanoid beast with a tortoise’s shell, golden eyes and rough gray skin walked next to Zax.


    Unlike the gray tortoise, Zax did not know the other side’s name, only that he is a bodily cultivator from his performance in the arena. “What benefits are there in telling you?” He snorted. His pretense was that of someone taciturn who is hard to get along with, so giving a response that was out of his real character did not bother him.


    “Humans…” The gray tortoise muttered to himself. “Your dantian is crippled or something similar, correct?” He brusquely guessed. Most bodily cultivators used this arduous path because of inability to cultivate mist, for one reason or another. “My Borvornd clan specializes in bodily refinement; I dare say is even the most verse in the subject, northern of the continent. When I saw you fight I wasn’t able to discern the principles of your refinement technique. If you are willing to have a short discussion with me I don’t mind compensating with Splinters. You might also gain some good ideas…”


    “I’ll think about it”. Zax said, genuinely interested, but of course not showing it.


    “Think. By the way, my name is ‘Bogon’ If not today or tomorrow we’ll probably be invited a few times more to the Grand Abode. After that we’ll have a chance to talk only in the Holy Palace or back in my clan”. Bogon said, openly admitting that he will rather return home than be one of the ninety losers joining Luminous Church.

  4. #244
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 6 – Stelero Mars





    The Grand Abode was sanctification of anything related to Luminous Church in Ercas Mir and a bit of stuff connecting to the Holy Palace. Its rooms and halls held in glorious exhibition pictures, sculptures and scriptures of important figure to the church, holy places, interpretation, even of The Almighty. There were quotes, hymns, sayings and more to bask the spirit in. It had libraries of all sorts of literature, prayer rooms and absolution cells for the wicked who seek salvation.


    Zax, as well as a hundred and sixty four contenders, was accommodated on the second floor of the Grand Abode. Since every room in the huge structure was practically a giant hall, for the period of the Elite Tryouts, each hall was split into several private chambers that were quite decent, also preserving the consecrated ambiance of the church.


    “You may stroll freely within the first three storeys of the Grand Abode. If you need anything, there are postulants everywhere who will gladly attend any of your requests”. Sister Juliet explained. “Also, his grace the Archbishop and Cardinal Northstar have decided to put on display, at the third floor, the second and first prizes, Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element, to encourage the competitive spirit of your, brave participants”.


    When they heard it, a silent vibe passed through the hundred and sixty five contenders.


    ‘They are kept at the third floor?!’ Zax wanted to very much go and see them right now. ‘They must be guarded by formations or\ and members of the church…’ His mind reeled, not by imagination the conditions they are presented in, but if he should try to steal them, anyway, after the Galactic Communicator. The Solar Basil Leaf was completely useless to him, at best it could be counted as a gift. The Diluted Element, on the other hand… if he is just a bit lucky, it may not contribute to his bottlenecks of insight, by maybe it will allow him to compensate for some of the hundred tons dark attribute’s essence he is in need for. ‘I’ll best know what I can do after getting the Galactic Communicator’.


    “Everyone”, Sister Juliet drew the attention back to her. “At seven o’clock Archbishop Silternja has invented all of you to a gala dinner. Attendance isn’t mandatory, but it will make his grace very happy if you could all come”. Sister Juliet finished the guiding tour of the first and second floors and left.


    The contenders dispersed as they got the freedom back. Some went directly to the third floor, to get a sense of the two prizes, others left to pick chambers. Zax was with the latters.


    The chambers were not divided by the church. The contenders could pick whichever they wanted by simply taking the key out of the door of the chamber they selected.


    Zax, naturally, picked a place at the second floor, not far from the stairway to the third floor.


    There were formations everywhere in the Grand Abode which he did not dare to openly examine. Only those in his chamber he inspected with his Soul Sense, relieve to find out that their purpose is just to maintain the contenders’ privacy.


    “There are three hours before dinner. I should go check the prizes”. Leaving his chamber, Zax crossed along the way contenders who either came down the third floor or had the same idea as him.


    The Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element were on display at the end of a hall on the third floor. Zax found them with directions from a young postulant. They were both under the same transparent, square casing. An elderly, green mustached third level Martial Moral priest stood next to the casing, giving some explanations about the two prizes to viewing contenders, seemingly intend to never leave the post.


    The Solar Basil Leaf was in the shape of regular basil’s leaf, but had a brimming texture and hue like the sun in high noon. The Diluted Element was a mere drop of gray liquid, kept inside a clear, crystal bead.


    ‘Formations embedded to the casing probably block the fluctuations from spreading’. Zax suspected. Without being able to feel the fluctuations of the two prizes, he could only gouge their appearance, which told him nothing of their worth, unless treated as decoration. ‘A third level Martial Mortal…’ He stared at the priest, pretended to listen to his narrating the origin and other details of the prizes. His light of sight shifted to the wall behind the casing. ‘Behind is the outside. If I’ll use my full strength, beating the priest will not be a problem, but breaking the casing’s and the walls’ formations…’ It posed a risk unrelated to stealing the Galactic Communicator. He could afford giving it a try only if it would be on his escape route.


    In averaged each contender spent five to ten minutes looking at the two prizes, listening to the priest and contemplating in his or her heart.


    With more than two hours of nothing particular to do, Zax closed his eyes, enters his Inner Panorama and began to review today’s experience. Although it was not much of a hurdle, the Shelter Of Heroes was, in the end, a utilization of light attribute energy and its application, the conjuring of near sentient constructs, was both complex and profound method he could learn from. ‘Even if it’s a property of the light attribute, I might still gain something from it…’





    The Grand Abode’s dining hall was reserved for the high level members of the church, third level Martial Mortals and above, and the guests contenders.


    Three long tables were arranged for the contenders, a table in front of them was prepared for the third level Martial Mortals priests and nuns and a meter tall platform had one table, reserved saved for the church’s highest echelon.


    When Zax and the other contenders arrived, they were welcomed by postulants and showed to their seats. Shortly after them came the third level Martial Mortals priests and nuns, twenty five in number. Next enters a small group of four women and two men, who waited in standing beside the seats of the platform’s table. Last to arrive were Archbishop Silternja, Cardinal Northstar and the young priest and nun who sat with them during the attribute understanding trial, Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence.


    “Participants of our Luminous Church’s nineteenth Elite Tryouts, as your host, I thank you for sharing your presence with us this evening”. Archbishop Silternja opened with a joyous smile. “I assume that most of you accepted the invitations of myself just to give this old man some face, and already been told and exposed to the holiness of our church. Therefore, cease your concern, I will not wantonly run my mouth and bore you, too much”. He laughed and exuded a pleasant atmosphere that was difficult to disregard. “For this evening I’ll only say a simple grace before we eat and make a small introduction that a few of you might find beneficial in the future”.


    Postulants entered the dining hall holding trays filled with delicious aroma of a variety of dishes. The tables already had glasses, plates and cutlery in front of every contender’s seat, so diners only needed to reach out and carry to their plate or pour to their glass what they wanted to eat or drink, after Archbishop Silternja’s grace.


    As food and drinks were placed on the tables, Archbishop Silternja got up from his seat in a manner that attracted everyone’s attention and turned to His Young Eminence, who retained the seat right to him. “Everyone, this young man names is ‘Stelero Mars’, an Ascended Elite of the Holy Palace, otherwise and more appropriately referred to by ‘His’ or ‘Your’, ‘Young Eminence’, a future Immortal”.


    There was no sound in the dining hall other than Archbishop Silternja’s voice and the dishes being put on the tables, but still there was a feel of something clamorous burying in the air. Nearly all the contenders were deeply shocked by His Young Eminence’s identity and even some of the church members were surprised by learning his name.


    “The top ten participants in the Elite Tryouts, should they choose to accept, will receive the opportunity to follow back with His Young Eminence to the Holy Palace, a trip of eight years from Ercas Mir”. Archbishop Silternja stated on purpose.


    Even if they had the potential, accompanying an already Ascended Elite, a future Immortal, for eight years… if they will be able to befriend him, no! Just have him acknowledge their existence their Martial path would definitely prosper!


    The contenders were all Core Masters at the Peak of the second level or higher. If Zax was the sole one among them with his path already paved, than the rest could not be blamed for being goaded by the notion of a backer.


    “In the Holy Palace things such as Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf are still rare, but in comparison to their availability in Ercas Mir”, Archbishop Silternja. If there was any level of availability of them in Ercas Mir and it was all in his hands, would Luminous Church have to treat the other four powers as equals? “In the Holy Palace they, and many other treasures, are at least attainable. You can obtain them by taking on assignments, but it will be easier if you’ll early on know a prominent figure”. He raised his head to the contenders and chuckled. “I know, I’m not exactly being subtle, but let me tell you this… In all of the Elite Tryouts the five powers held through the years, this is the first time an Ascended Elite has attended and even dined with the participants”. He lowered his voice, letting his word sink and the meaning behind them be clear.


    Promising a “small introduction”, Archbishop Silternja countenance turned solemn. Suddenly all members of the church and Holy Palace stood on their feet and the postulants, who finished serving, mimicked their straight posture.


    “We thank The Almighty for blessing us with this meal and company for young and adult, Mortals and future Immortals”.


    “We thank The Almighty”. Everyone answered.


    The contenders were not force to partake in the grace, but among them were members of the church who naturally followed suit.


    Archbishop Silternja sat and the dinner began.





    Though they were rivals, friendly interaction during dinner was unavoidable, especially when thirteen of the diners were members of the church who were smart enough to collaborate with Archbishop Silternja. Few were those like Zax that stayed mostly occupied on their plate and glass. By the end of the evening, though, even they, for one reason or another, memorized two or three names.


    “You are willing?” Bogon asked with apparent delight. During dinner, the gray tortoise was not idle. He sought all the bodily cultivators among the contender and extended the same offer he made to Zax.


    As he was leaving the dining hall, Zax approached him and accepted the exchange.


    “Yes, but tomorrow evening”. Zax nodded with the grim look of his fake semblance.


    “Right. It’s a bit late, but fine”. Bogon said. “Tonight I can’t anyway and tomorrow morning I’m actually also not sure…” Of the seven other contenders who exclusively cultivated their body or doubled with mist cultivation, two agreed to his offer and eventually decided on a triple exchange. Bogon was uncertain if Zax would like to join them. He did not suggest since he could not predict how Zax will react and he already agreed to his offer.


    Zax parted ways with Bogon, returning to his chamber.


    ‘I can’t tell him about Grandmaster’s refinement technique or senior Gid’s Bone And Muscle Transformation, but I accumulated enough knowledge over the years from Master and Grandmaster, practicing the bodily maneuvers and cultivating the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement. Coming up with something that will not fell short of the best Ercas Mir has to offer in field should not be that much of a challenge. Perhaps by adding Bogon’s insights and what I can keep figuring from the experience in the Shelter Of Heroes, I’ll be able to improve my dark maneuver, if not my understanding of the worldly dark attribute energy…?’

  5. #245
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    Book 9 – Eruption



    Chapter 6 – Stelero Mars





    The Grand Abode was sanctification of anything related to Luminous Church in Ercas Mir and a bit of stuff connecting to the Holy Palace. Its rooms and halls held in glorious exhibition pictures, sculptures and scriptures of important figure to the church, holy places, interpretation, even of The Almighty. There were quotes, hymns, sayings and more to bask the spirit in. It had libraries of all sorts of literature, prayer rooms and absolution cells for the wicked who seek salvation.


    Zax, as well as a hundred and sixty four contenders, was accommodated on the second floor of the Grand Abode. Since every room in the huge structure was practically a giant hall, for the period of the Elite Tryouts, each hall was split into several private chambers that were quite decent, also preserving the consecrated ambiance of the church.


    “You may stroll freely within the first three storeys of the Grand Abode. If you need anything, there are postulants everywhere who will gladly attend any of your requests”. Sister Juliet explained. “Also, his grace the Archbishop and Cardinal Northstar have decided to put on display, at the third floor, the second and first prizes, Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element, to encourage the competitive spirit of your, brave participants”.


    When they heard it, a silent vibe passed through the hundred and sixty five contenders.


    ‘They are kept at the third floor?!’ Zax wanted to very much go and see them right now. ‘They must be guarded by formations or\ and members of the church…’ His mind reeled, not by imagination the conditions they are presented in, but if he should try to steal them, anyway, after the Galactic Communicator. The Solar Basil Leaf was completely useless to him, at best it could be counted as a gift. The Diluted Element, on the other hand… if he is just a bit lucky, it may not contribute to his bottlenecks of insight, by maybe it will allow him to compensate for some of the hundred tons dark attribute’s essence he is in need for. ‘I’ll best know what I can do after getting the Galactic Communicator’.


    “Everyone”, Sister Juliet drew the attention back to her. “At seven o’clock Archbishop Silternja has invented all of you to a gala dinner. Attendance isn’t mandatory, but it will make his grace very happy if you could all come”. Sister Juliet finished the guiding tour of the first and second floors and left.


    The contenders dispersed as they got the freedom back. Some went directly to the third floor, to get a sense of the two prizes, others left to pick chambers. Zax was with the latters.


    The chambers were not divided by the church. The contenders could pick whichever they wanted by simply taking the key out of the door of the chamber they selected.


    Zax, naturally, picked a place at the second floor, not far from the stairway to the third floor.


    There were formations everywhere in the Grand Abode which he did not dare to openly examine. Only those in his chamber he inspected with his Soul Sense, relieve to find out that their purpose is just to maintain the contenders’ privacy.


    “There are three hours before dinner. I should go check the prizes”. Leaving his chamber, Zax crossed along the way contenders who either came down the third floor or had the same idea as him.


    The Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element were on display at the end of a hall on the third floor. Zax found them with directions from a young postulant. They were both under the same transparent, square casing. An elderly, green mustached third level Martial Moral priest stood next to the casing, giving some explanations about the two prizes to viewing contenders, seemingly intend to never leave the post.


    The Solar Basil Leaf was in the shape of regular basil’s leaf, but had a brimming texture and hue like the sun in high noon. The Diluted Element was a mere drop of gray liquid, kept inside a clear, crystal bead.


    ‘Formations embedded to the casing probably block the fluctuations from spreading’. Zax suspected. Without being able to feel the fluctuations of the two prizes, he could only gouge their appearance, which told him nothing of their worth, unless treated as decoration. ‘A third level Martial Mortal…’ He stared at the priest, pretended to listen to his narrating the origin and other details of the prizes. His light of sight shifted to the wall behind the casing. ‘Behind is the outside. If I’ll use my full strength, beating the priest will not be a problem, but breaking the casing’s and the walls’ formations…’ It posed a risk unrelated to stealing the Galactic Communicator. He could afford giving it a try only if it would be on his escape route.


    In averaged each contender spent five to ten minutes looking at the two prizes, listening to the priest and contemplating in his or her heart.


    With more than two hours of nothing particular to do, Zax closed his eyes, enters his Inner Panorama and began to review today’s experience. Although it was not much of a hurdle, the Shelter Of Heroes was, in the end, a utilization of light attribute energy and its application, the conjuring of near sentient constructs, was both complex and profound method he could learn from. ‘Even if it’s a property of the light attribute, I might still gain something from it…’





    The Grand Abode’s dining hall was reserved for the high level members of the church, third level Martial Mortals and above, and the guests contenders.


    Three long tables were arranged for the contenders, a table in front of them was prepared for the third level Martial Mortals priests and nuns and a meter tall platform had one table, reserved saved for the church’s highest echelon.


    When Zax and the other contenders arrived, they were welcomed by postulants and showed to their seats. Shortly after them came the third level Martial Mortals priests and nuns, twenty five in number. Next enters a small group of four women and two men, who waited in standing beside the seats of the platform’s table. Last to arrive were Archbishop Silternja, Cardinal Northstar and the young priest and nun who sat with them during the attribute understanding trial, Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence.


    “Participants of our Luminous Church’s nineteenth Elite Tryouts, as your host, I thank you for sharing your presence with us this evening”. Archbishop Silternja opened with a joyous smile. “I assume that most of you accepted the invitations of myself just to give this old man some face, and already been told and exposed to the holiness of our church. Therefore, cease your concern, I will not wantonly run my mouth and bore you, too much”. He laughed and exuded a pleasant atmosphere that was difficult to disregard. “For this evening I’ll only say a simple grace before we eat and make a small introduction that a few of you might find beneficial in the future”.


    Postulants entered the dining hall holding trays filled with delicious aroma of a variety of dishes. The tables already had glasses, plates and cutlery in front of every contender’s seat, so diners only needed to reach out and carry to their plate or pour to their glass what they wanted to eat or drink, after Archbishop Silternja’s grace.


    As food and drinks were placed on the tables, Archbishop Silternja got up from his seat in a manner that attracted everyone’s attention and turned to His Young Eminence, who retained the seat right to him. “Everyone, this young man names is ‘Stelero Mars’, an Ascended Elite of the Holy Palace, otherwise and more appropriately referred to by ‘His’ or ‘Your’, ‘Young Eminence’, a future Immortal”.


    There was no sound in the dining hall other than Archbishop Silternja’s voice and the dishes being put on the tables, but still there was a feel of something clamorous burying in the air. Nearly all the contenders were deeply shocked by His Young Eminence’s identity and even some of the church members were surprised by learning his name.


    “The top ten participants in the Elite Tryouts, should they choose to accept, will receive the opportunity to follow back with His Young Eminence to the Holy Palace, a trip of eight years from Ercas Mir”. Archbishop Silternja stated on purpose.


    Even if they had the potential, accompanying an already Ascended Elite, a future Immortal, for eight years… if they will be able to befriend him, no! Just have him acknowledge their existence their Martial path would definitely prosper!


    The contenders were all Core Masters at the Peak of the second level or higher. If Zax was the sole one among them with his path already paved, than the rest could not be blamed for being goaded by the notion of a backer.


    “In the Holy Palace things such as Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf are still rare, but in comparison to their availability in Ercas Mir”, Archbishop Silternja. If there was any level of availability of them in Ercas Mir and it was all in his hands, would Luminous Church have to treat the other four powers as equals? “In the Holy Palace they, and many other treasures, are at least attainable. You can obtain them by taking on assignments, but it will be easier if you’ll early on know a prominent figure”. He raised his head to the contenders and chuckled. “I know, I’m not exactly being subtle, but let me tell you this… In all of the Elite Tryouts the five powers held through the years, this is the first time an Ascended Elite has attended and even dined with the participants”. He lowered his voice, letting his word sink and the meaning behind them be clear.


    Promising a “small introduction”, Archbishop Silternja countenance turned solemn. Suddenly all members of the church and Holy Palace stood on their feet and the postulants, who finished serving, mimicked their straight posture.


    “We thank The Almighty for blessing us with this meal and company for young and adult, Mortals and future Immortals”.


    “We thank The Almighty”. Everyone answered.


    The contenders were not force to partake in the grace, but among them were members of the church who naturally followed suit.


    Archbishop Silternja sat and the dinner began.





    Though they were rivals, friendly interaction during dinner was unavoidable, especially when thirteen of the diners were members of the church who were smart enough to collaborate with Archbishop Silternja. Few were those like Zax that stayed mostly occupied on their plate and glass. By the end of the evening, though, even they, for one reason or another, memorized two or three names.


    “You are willing?” Bogon asked with apparent delight. During dinner, the gray tortoise was not idle. He sought all the bodily cultivators among the contender and extended the same offer he made to Zax.


    As he was leaving the dining hall, Zax approached him and accepted the exchange.


    “Yes, but tomorrow evening”. Zax nodded with the grim look of his fake semblance.


    “Right. It’s a bit late, but fine”. Bogon said. “Tonight I can’t anyway and tomorrow morning I’m actually also not sure…” Of the seven other contenders who exclusively cultivated their body or doubled with mist cultivation, two agreed to his offer and eventually decided on a triple exchange. Bogon was uncertain if Zax would like to join them. He did not suggest since he could not predict how Zax will react and he already agreed to his offer.


    Zax parted ways with Bogon, returning to his chamber.


    ‘I can’t tell him about Grandmaster’s refinement technique or senior Gid’s Bone And Muscle Transformation, but I accumulated enough knowledge over the years from Master and Grandmaster, practicing the bodily maneuvers and cultivating the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement. Coming up with something that will not fell short of the best Ercas Mir has to offer in field should not be that much of a challenge. Perhaps by adding Bogon’s insights and what I can keep figuring from the experience in the Shelter Of Heroes, I’ll be able to improve my dark maneuver, if not my understanding of the worldly dark attribute energy…?’

  6. #246
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 7 – Incarnation Scouring





    ‘This should suffice’. Zax determined after analyzing the crude template of the bodily refinement technique he devised. ‘It’s not at the top of Ercas Mir’s bodily refinement techniques and very much in its diapers, but it’s not like neither of us willing to trade a final product’. It had several of the insights he made on his own, in addition to theories he could sell as probable, overall good enough for twenty hours work.





    “Bogon”, Zax waited for after the second evening’s dinner to approach him again.


    “Karim, you seemed prepared”. Bogon scrutinized him. “Let’s go to my chamber. We can discuss until dawn. I want to meditate before tomorrow’s trial”.





    Four o’clock in the morning. Zax left Bogon’s chamber to his own with quite a lot on his mind. Bogon’s clan came up with very interesting perspectives regarding bodily cultivation, which stemmed from trying to harmonize this type of cultivation with the innate talent of their beast’s species, “Dry Shell Tortoise”, as well as their incompatibility with most mist cultivation techniques in Ercas Mir.


    ‘It’s kind of a riddle’. Zax mused. ‘The Borvornd clan bodily refinement technique is fairly ordinary, but since it compliments their nature and innate talent, they get thrice the results than others. How can I attain similar harmonization with the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique? The bodily maneuvers are a form of a personalized technique; however it was Master who tailored them for me. Can I find the solution in my dark attribute maneuvers?’


    It was near impossible to deduce, at the moment, since the closer he got to complete the dark maneuvers’ first set, the harder it was figuring the next movement in the sequence and unlike his Master, he did not have a template from Grandmaster Kartion to guide him.


    ‘I’m biting more than I could chew’. He sighed inwardly. ‘Even with this boggling question I’m still in a more favorable position than others…’ It was a fact he could not deny.


    He already had all he needs for two out of his three paths of cultivation, himself… to continue developing the dark maneuvers and perceiving the sixth bottleneck of insight. Only for the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique could he shorten time, with the help of external sources. Simultaneously cultivating in all three was more than enough on his plate, and that is without mentioning the matter of his task…. exploring the ways to go from the third to the fifth floor undetected, from encountering members of the church at almost every corner, Zax eventually got the sense that the exploration in itself was a risk that would force him to either commence the operation or abort it. Hence, he chose to delay further action until a later date, during the tryouts, when Archbishop Silternja will invite the contenders again and perhaps will permit entry to the fourth floor.





    Nine o’clock in the morning a postulant knocked on the door of Zax’s chamber, informing him that in one hour the second trial day will officially start in the big square.


    Zax received the reminder and spent the last fifty five minutes in his chamber, before leaving the Grand Abode together with a cluster of contenders.


    The crowd was already seated on the seating stages and priest announcer Armin just finished his opening segment. “Brave Participants, today I ask you to join us once more atop the grand arena!” His amplified voice reverberated, alerting the spectators to the presence of the arriving contenders, those who stayed at the Grand Abode and those who did not, a total of two hundred men and women, humans and beasts.


    Soon after Zax and the one hundred ninety nine, the high echelon of the church filled their seats with Archbishop Silternja, Cardinal Northstar, His Young Eminence Stelero Mars and Sister Iaura arriving last.


    Archbishop Silternja said his customary peace, before Armin opened up in narration.


    “Today’s trial is a test for the most mysterious of the three aspects, the soul!” He left the arena in flight and halted midair. “As you all know, the path for Martial cultivation start with the soul and end with the soul. It is the keeper of balance and neglecting it in favor of the body or dantian is a recipe for disaster”.


    Many in the crowd could not help but nod in acknowledgment, especially the common people who were only truly versed in the basics of Martial cultivation.


    “Your grace Archbishop Silternja…” Armin caught everyone by surprise when he suddenly to Archbishop Silternja as if asking for support.


    Archbishop Silternja smiled and got up from his seat flew and hovered above the arena.


    Armin turned to the wondering crowd and contenders in explanation. “To determine the quality of the soul of a large group of people with high cultivation is an intricate task. Moreover, it is an intimate test that takes place in the sea of consciousness. To test so many people at once, the church certainly has the means, but to allow you, dear guests of today, to have view at the waging challenge in our brave participants’ sanctum, his grace Archbishop Silternja has agreed to giving us an helping hand”.


    “Don’t worry, everyone”, Archbishop Silternja said the contenders from above as his hands glowed in white and released a flood of thousands bizarre shapes and symbols that encompassed the arena in a dome like formation. Ending his odd execution with a clap, the white shapes and symbols turned invisible. “Priest Armin, please proceed”.


    “Thank you, Archbishop Silternja”. Armin said, returning to the crowd and contenders. “Everyone, the quick formation erection you witnessed and his grace continue to maintain, is of a unique and extremely difficult soul formation to master, called ‘Incarnation Scouring’. This formation will transmit soul attacks to the sea of consciousness of our participants, and manifest an image of the attacks’ incarnation above each participant, as well as the method he and she will choose to counter the soul attacks. Similarly to the first day of the tryouts, our participants will be tested on five different levels, however since we are meddling with the soul, each level will only be ten minutes of unceasing soul attacks, after which the participants will receive fifty minutes break, while you, dear crowd, will be able to keep watching the test in a moderated progress till the end of every hour”.


    The explanation time was over. Armin landed on the ground, looking at Archbishop Silternja.


    “Eh?” Zax and the contenders on the arena detected a hostile surge of soul energy breaching their sea of consciousness out of nowhere.


    A white cloud of light invaded the black sky of Zax’s Inner Panorama.


    RUMBLE!


    An ensuing sound of thunder reverberated.


    BANG!


    A straight beam of light, far from lightning, struck the land of his Inner Panorama and scorched it.


    ‘It’s the first level and it can already harm my Inner Panorama’. Zax manifested naked body watched from a distance, though it did not really matter if he was at the spot of the strike when the beam landed. ‘Ten minutes of that and my Inner Panorama my truly sustain an injury, and there are more levels to follow…’


    BANG!


    Another beam struck, however, this time Zax blocked it with a stream of soul energy, whilst engulfing the white cloud in a black sphere of more soul energy.


    ‘Shrink’. He ordered and the sphere shrank, eradicating the white cloud inside it. ‘Mm?’ The instant the white cloud was destroyed and the black sphere collapsed, another cloud appeared. ‘So it won’t end until ten minutes will pass or Archbishop Silternja ceases the formation, in this case…’ He trapped the new cloud, too, only did not order the new sphere to shrink, just stay there. The beam of light could not do it any harm, anyway.





    Outside the arena, the spectacle of soul techniques was even more varied than the methods used during the Shelter Of Heroes’ trial.


    Each of the two hundred had a personal way of dealing with assaults on the soul. Around ninety percent of them had consumed and combined an attribute to their techniques.


    To watch all of them dealing with the same challenge differently had caused many of the spectators, regardless of age or level of cultivation, to either gained enlightenment or get a step away from comprehending an important insight.


    In contrast to the first day of the tryouts, today everyone in the crowd sat in absolute silence. They might had missed the underdogs’ challenge of Sioul, Zax and Els and the elimination of eight hundred and three contenders, but all those things paled in comparison to such opportunity.





    Ten minutes were over and almost all of the contenders effortlessly passed them. After a fifty minutes rest, Armin announced the start of the second hour.


    ‘What will it be now?’ Zax waited, carefree. The white cloud had the might of a Peak second level Core Master, but had boundless energy that could easily tire a Beginner third level Core Master. ‘Again?’ He doubted as a cloud resembling that of the first level emerged.


    The white cloud floated under the black sky for couple of second, without discharging beams. It halted when he got above Zax’s soul and began to quiver. A head arose from the cloud, connected to a small body. It was a creature the size of a four years old child, white in every of its features. It gripped a piece of the cloud, pulled and a light lance formed in its hand.


    ‘Ha!’ The creature yelled and casted to lance at Zax’s soul. “Ha! Ha! Ha...!” Lance, after lance, after lance, were thrown in quick succession, so rapidly they looked like a downpour of stronger light beams than the previous ones.


    BANG!


    BANG!


    BANG!





    Zax engulfed the cloud and the creature as he did in the first level, blocking all the light beams.


    The creature confusedly stopped the assault. ‘Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!’ He resumed it, after realizing its circumstance, and cleverly changed its aim to one small spot in the black sphere.


    ‘It has even more awareness than the Shelter Of Heroes’ constructs!’ Zax puckered his brows. The torrent could not shatter, at its current level, the black sphere. It was something else that intrigued him to the point of pensiveness. ‘Shelter Of Heroes and Incarnation Scouring are both light attribute based formations and they both function in a close manner, producing near sentience constructs, even assembling them flawlessly. “Creation” and “Sentience”, if these are fixed variables, what in here is the nature of the light attribute what is a property of it?’





    With the passage of the second hour, forty three contenders were eliminated.


    The second level was comparable in might to repeated assault from a Beginner third level Core Master. Among the contenders, more than sixty percent were in the Beginner or Intermediate phase of the third Core Master level, due to not giving up on the last two bottlenecks of insight. The other thirty percent five were at the Peak of the third level, on the verge of resigning themselves to four bottlenecks. Very few among them had particular souls, not as Zax’s, but better than most, while only a mediocre portion of the rest possessed techniques that could enable them in skipping a phase or a level in soul skirmishes. Hence, for those who experienced or were versed with the Incarnation Scouring formation, the elimination of almost a quarter of the contenders was reasonable, and the end of the trial not later than in the fourth hour was exceedingly probable.

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 8 – Commencing The Operation





    In the third level’s hour of the Incarnation Scouring formation soul’s trial, an additional child like creature appeared atop the white cloud.


    The might of the third level was equivalent to a Peak Core Master with endless soul energy. To keep his facade, Zax had to relinquish the black sphere he used in the previous two levels and come up with an actual defensive soul formation.


    Of the remaining one hundred and fifty seven contenders, around fifty were eliminated.





    In the fourth level’s hour not a cloud, but a storm emerged in the sea of consciousness of every contenders, and atop the array of white clouds was a legion of the child like creature. Individually they were not as strong as in the second and third levels, but as a large unit even a typical Beginner first level Martial Mortal would find it straining to resist them.


    When the fourth hour came to a close, sixty six contenders got eliminated, remaining forty one.


    “Everyone, please congratulate the forty one brave participants who will accompany us to the third trial day of the Elite Tryouts!” Armin enthusiastically called for the crowd’s applause.


    The number of eliminations for the second trial day was undefined since it was already estimated that between fifty and forty contenders will pass, an ideal amount to proceed with to the third trial day, and there were no planning to initiate the fifth level of the Incarnation Scouring formation.


    The crowd rose to their feet, exploding with the cheers they kept inside in the duration of the enlightening trial.


    “Everyone, please thank his grace, Archbishop Silternja, for the erection and preservation of the Incarnation Scouring formation!”


    “Thank you, your grace!”


    “Thank you, Archbishop Silternja!”


    “Thank you!”


    “Thank you!”





    Even some of the members of the church who were first level Martial Mortals had profited from the trial, and so could not restrain the tears flowing down their eyes when they express gratitude to their Archbishop, without him the would have lost on a great opportunity.


    Armin finished with a prayer to The Almighty, following with inviting the forty one contenders to the Grand Abode, until the third trial the day after tomorrow.


    Zax, naturally, accepted the invitation, and as he headed to the largest structure in all of Onzengvas city, he skimmed the group of contenders that remained.


    ‘Neyrar passed’. He was not surprised. In fact, he had the feeling that this compatriot had much hidden beneath his sleeves. ‘Bogon somehow managed’. The Dry Shell Tortoise’s expertise was in bodily cultivation. In terms of soul, he had to strive several times harder than others, just so he could manage his enhanced physique. ‘Bin Bin, that girl Benni and Nirik Je also made it’. Hason and Shila forfeited at the fifth and seventh minutes of the fourth level. ‘These two are from Kingdom Earth… besides Neyrar they are the only ones to pass’. He remembered their faces from the Martial competition, but did not pay attention to their names. ‘Luminous Church has seven members still in the tryouts’. It was not unexpected if they even had been drilled in the testing methods of the tryouts. ‘They passed, too’. Sioul and Els, the two other underdogs… if one will bother to look at Sister Mafita’s face; he or she will find satisfaction reflecting back from her black eyes.





    “His grace Archbishop Silternja was really impressed by your performance and sees you all as honorary members of the church, if not official members”. Sister Juliet said with a proud smile for being Archbishop Silternja’s messenger. “Therefore he would like to host you yet again in his Grand Abode, this time in the fourth floor, so you could immerse yourselves more in the splendor of the church”.


    Zax, as well as the other twenty nine contenders, including those of the church, who accepted the invitation were led to their new and grander chambers.


    ‘I don’t feel comfortable with senior Gid’s date of commencing the operation… the cleansing day may sound optimal, but the church will probably change its conduct and I can’t predict the changes in its security. Tomorrow night’. Zax lay on his bed, disregarding the holy scriptures on the cabinet beside it and the overall religious atmosphere that was instilled in the chamber, just from being part of the Grand Abode. ’Tonight I’ll wonder on the floor, pretend to be interested in the church’s formation portraits’. The fourth floor had unique formation portraits that worked like Screens, enabled to view recordings of pivotal congregation in the church’s history. ‘If I won’t locate a timely passage to the fifth floor, then I’ll just make a go for it. I’m also not sure what level of attention will be on us after the third trial…’ He decided.


    There were several hours before dinner. He closed his eyes, concentrating on one topic in his mind.


    ‘The dark devours and the light birth…?’





    After dinner Zax refused Bogon, and a few other contenders who were not part of the church, to insight exchange. The third trial was of Martial art and his path was with the dark maneuvers, a road he could only rely on himself to formulate, and he also had plans for the late evening.


    There were four stairways from the fourth to the fifth floor. Zax walked across them all as he examined the formation portraits and acted as if he contemplated over some of them.


    ‘The stairways aren’t guarded by formation, but every time I walked by one of them, I feel a pair of eyes watching me’.


    Since members of the church, of all ranks, walked up and down often through all the storeys of the Grand Abode using identification measures would have been cumbersome on the daily operation. Furthermore, though members that work in the above floors were kidnapped in the past, there never was the event of someone infiltrating the abode. Still, Archbishop Silternja could not take the risk of a contender, even if by ludicrous mistake, climbing to the fifth or above floors, so he ordered for surveillance to be stationed at every stairway.


    ‘I can’t use Soul Sense to determine the cultivation of the expert hiding or locate them, but the chance of them being fourth level Martial Mortals is zero and even third level Martial Mortal is too much of a stretch. The church thinks that it’s accommodating, at best, Peak Core Master who can rival weak first level Martial Mortals. The guards in the stairways are, most likely, maximum second level Martial Mortals’. In other words, a threat he could get rid of quickly. ‘No matter what, I have to assume that the instant I’m detected, the whole church is aware of my presence and its strongest experts are on the move. To avoid getting caught I’ll have to come up with a diversion’. For a fraction of second he thought that it will be a problem, but then his pupils fell down in a deep stare, as if penetration the tiles of the fourth floor to the third…


    Zax smiled.





    Night before the third trial day, after dinner.


    Zax want up to the fourth floor of the Grand Abode, walking the direction to his chamber. His expression was hideous as usual and his heart beat regularly.


    The feeling of being watched accompanied through his stairway to the fifth floor he crossed. Going past the last stairway, the placidness in his eyes changed to firm resolve.


    ‘Dark Titan Storm – Second Stage!’ After a year his transformation has become much swifter, a process of mere instant. Restraining the dark attribute energy fluctuation, on the other hand…


    BOOM!


    Before he could get detected, and explosion occurred in the third floor, a corner away from where the tryouts’ two prizes were exhibited.


    Earlier that day Zax left a tiny, inconspicuous Dark Orb at the third floor, devising it in a manner that others will not discover unless they will purposely examine the dark attribute worldly energy in the area. The Dark Orb was meant to agitate, at a specific time, the dark attribute worldly energy in its surrounding, ensuing wild undulation that will spread and mask his transformation in the fourth floor.


    ‘There!’ Finding the second level Martial Mortal, concealed somewhere at the nearby stairway, was simple once Zax senses heightened along the transformation.


    He was a middle aged priest before Zax’s swept with his hand and he became a headless corpse.


    ‘From here, right and left in the next corridor to the communication room!’ Before proceeding Zax arrived to a stairway to the sixth floor, shooting a ray of dark attribute energy up the stairs.


    BOOM!


    If the Dark Orb will not fool them, he could only hope on this attack at the sixth floor to divert the forces of the church.


    The communication room was made of some sort of metal and sealed when he got to it.


    “Open to me!”


    BOOM!


    Zax unleashed his utmost strength and punched the door. His greatest fear when he saw it was that it is made of a special metal, and apparently it was.


    The door budged inward but still hung on the hinges.


    BOOM!


    A second fist followed and the door budged a little more, allowing him a passage.


    ‘It’s still hanging!’ Zax was shook. ‘I must hurry; if I’ll get stuck in this room there is no way I’ll manage to break free through the hall!’ He suspected that it was part of the vessel Luminous Church used to traverse space, who knew from what it was made of?!


    The communication room had only two personal and they both were second level Core Masters. Everything happened so fast since the first explosion, neither had yet managed to fully react.


    The Galactic Communicator was connected to a large computer. ‘I can’t waste time hacking it; I must disconnect it manually and leave!’ Gid Chu left him a file with all that he had to know about computing and the Galactic Communicator, but he did not assess the difficulty of forcefully opening the room’s door, much less if its walls are as durable, and Zax was not willing to bet after barely getting in.


    He pulled the cords connecting the communicator to the computer, the only instance in this operation he gnashed his teeth as he performed delicately to prevent a discharge that will reset the communicator’s frequency.


    Freeing the communicator, he stored it in his spatial ring and just as he exited the room his pupils constricted. Two terrifying aura tried to lock on him from somewhere in the Grand Abode. Since the structure was impervious, in and out, to Soul Sense and Sublime Soul Sense, whoever looked for the cause of the disturbance had to do so by getting a feel of the turbulent energies.


    Zax shot two beams of dark attribute energy through two corridors and stamped the tiles of the fifth floor. ‘It broke!’ He shouted inwardly in delight. The formation on the floor cracked quite easily. ‘How dumb am I?!’ He exclaimed and without reservation unleashed a torrent of beams to every direction. If only selected rooms were made of the same metal as the communication room, then why not take a chance finding out which part of the structure was not and make himself an exit!





    Moments after the resounding booms of Zax breaching the door of the communication room…


    “Your Young Eminence, let us handle it!” Sister Beatriz along with five third level Martial Mortals chased after Stelero Mars.


    “They dare make an attempt at Sister Iaura’s benevolence! Whoever it is, if it’s a participant, a member of the church or an intruder, I’ll make them regret!” His eyes were red with fury and his speed increased, moving as a streak of white light from the first to the third floor, where the wild dark energy undulation spread from.


    Resigning themselves to Stelero Mars’s will, the six ceased arguing him to reconsider.


    “Sister Beatriz, the young postulant… are you certain that there is someone protecting her?” A red haired priest, seemingly at his early thirties, asked. He and two others converged with Stelero Mars, Sister Beatriz and the two more Martial Mortals when they dashed to the third floor. Knowing that Sister Iaura is always together with Stelero Mars, her absence concerned the three.


    “Bishop Ninient and Bishop Kristin are with her, besides Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar, we could not have left her in better hands”. Sister Beatriz was one of the three strongest third level Martial Mortals of the church. As she elaborated to the trio who joined them, her tone was strict and irrefutable. “Worry about keeping up with His Young Eminence!”

  8. #248
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    Missed last week due to being sick. Also, sorry if I rarely comment anymore. Too busy and tired in recent couple of months...

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 9 – Fame And Riches



    “Your Young Eminence!” The elderly, green mustached third level Martial Moral priest, overseeing the safety of the Solar Basil Leaf and the Diluted Element, blurted.

    At the instance of the nearby disturbance in the dark attribute worldly energy, he raised his guard, awaiting a culprit to appear in an attempt to steal the two treasures. When he saw a silhouette approaching fast, he prepared himself to attack; only, before he followed through with his countermeasures he discovered that the owner of the silhouette is Stelero Masr. Furthermore, he was not alone, accompanying him were six third level Martial Mortals, Sister Beatriz among them!

    “Sister Iaura’s treasures, where are they?!” Stelero Mars demanded.

    “Still in the casing, Your Young Eminence, no one came to stealing them, yet”. The green mustached priest said.

    “Take them and hand them to me!” Stelero Mars barked. His fury skyrocketed. For the belonging of Sister Iaura to get stolen unacceptable and he was not willing to trust them being in anyone’s hands but his own, Archbishop Silternja’s, Cardinal Northstar’s or the original owner, Sister Iaura.

    “Your young-” The green mustached priest tried to persuade him otherwise. Right now the formation on the casing was a safety measure not even he could break.

    “Now!” Stelero Mars roared, his white aura whipped, ensuing a threat for disobedience. Unlike Sister Iaura, his patience had only been extended to a select few of this remote mud ball’s experts.

    “Y-yes!” The green mustached priest answered and rushed to remove the formation on the casing.

    Behind Stelero Mars, Sister Beatriz and the other five third level Martial Mortals had complicated looks on their faces, which they hurried to conceal. Stelero Mars has disparaged them, and one of the best formations the church had in Ercas Mir, a little too much.

    The casing’s formation was one of the most difficult to erect and break, hence dismantling it was a rigorous task on its own. The green mustached priest had to prevent the slightest err, else the formation will reassemble itself and His Young Eminence’s patience will grow thinner, which he rather avoid at all cost.

    “Well?” Stelero Mars stepped forward, inquiring. The casing’s formation had a dark golden color when it was complete. As it is being dismantled or getting broken its hue becomes paler.

    “Three seconds, Your Young Eminence, then I will be able to break it without worrying”. The green mustached priest’s only shortcut into pacifying Stelero Mars was to collapse the formation by force once its hue became light gold.

    BANG!

    The ceiling of the third floor quaked and then crumbled. A pitch black figure descended from above.

    Zax scanned the third floor, seeing whether there are enemies. ‘Right, here is where the prizes are exhibited. Eh? Aren’t they that Sister and Ascended Elite, Stelero Mars?’ He did not expect to encounter them.

    Actually, Zax did not even plan to steal the Solar Basil Leaf and the Diluted Element, in fear that he will not be able to break the formation on their casing and waste his life for nothing increasing the risk to them. Additionally, after descending to the fourth floor from the fifth he tried to break the walls to the outside of the Grand Abode, but the formation embedded to them required the span of time to break a blink will pass in, in other words, enough time for the church dangerous experts to catch up with him.

    ‘What are they doing?’ Zax wondered as he kept falling, awaiting contact with the third floor’s tiles, to crush and proceed to the second floor and down.

    “Him?!” Stelero Mars’s reaction surprisingly was a bit faster than Sister Beatriz. He did not know Zax but he saw the faces of all the contenders and could recognize Zax’s fake one even though it was the second stage of the Dark Titan Storm form.

    Sister Beatriz was in the midst of uttering something when her eyes met Zax. Something in them, the darkness, seemed familiar, but before she could figure what it is, his pupils moved to His Young Eminence.

    ‘Third level Martial Mortal?! An intermediate one, at that?!’ Zax was confused. ‘How did his cultivation improve so fast?! A little over a year ago he was just at the Peak of the Core Master realm! Did he use a third realm Pure Core to break through?’

    His guess was correct. After nearly incidentally dying in Demirva Ridge and recovering due to the innocent mercy of Sister Iaura, Stelero Mars had an epiphany. His proud self who perceived and comprehended five bottlenecks of insight in less than a century, had realized that his pursuit for the sixth and last bottleneck is in vain and will remain unsuccessful even if we will leave the full fifteen hundred years life span of a Core Master. As such, he decided to finally break through to the third realm. Using three types of third realm Pure Cores, each separately sufficient for either the first, second and third Martial Mortal levels, to accelerate the process, he managed in about a year and couple of months to reach his current cultivation. His goal, as the goal of any in his shoes, was to reach as early as possibly to the Peak of the Martial Mortal realm and seek for Nature’s graciousness for Evolutionary Ascension.

    Stelero Mars’s line of sight and Zax’s intersected. Stelero Mars might have been in a lower phase than Sister Beatriz, but his understanding of the light attribute was far superior to her own in the windy attribute. As a matter of a fact, even a Beginner fourth level Martial Mortal could not kill him in a simple strike.

    His eyes followed Zax’s trajectory. Aware that he cannot beat him but the fluctuation of dark attribute energy, he still mustered as much light attribute energy as he could, intending to obstruct the obvious intruder to this Luminous Church of the Holy Palace.

    Zax’s noticed Stelero Mars’s actions and his eyes radiated killing intent. ‘Did he forgot the fear of death?!’ His mind roared as he was ready to remind him by giving him a taste of past’s events.

    The dark attribute energy in his right arm transformed it to a black Dark Lance.

    “This is…” Seeing the peculiar shape of the Dark Lance provoked ominous feelings in Stelero Mars’s heart. He was sure that he had seen something like this before, but could not connect it to any battle or dark attribute energy technique in his recollection. Only when the intruder thrust did an image of a bitter memory resurfaced in his mind. “No”, the tip of the Dark Lance was a two meters away. “It”, it got closer, fast, already touching the golden ornaments of his white cleric robe. “Can’t”, it pierced the layer of protective light attribute energy. “Be!”

    BANG!

    Forget “Beginner”, even an Intermediate fourth level Martial Mortal will think twice before not putting everything into blocking the second stage of Zax’s Dark Titan Strom form. The Dark Lance impaled Stelero Mars and continued to go forward, following the course of the yet to be complete motion.

    The poor, elderly green mustached priest stood right behind Stelero Mars. Due to his cultivation he could perceive the tip of the Dark Lance piercing through His Young Eminence, advancing toward him. Simultaneously, due to his cultivation, he could not escape the tip of the Dark Lance when it reached his garments and stabbed; only utter a word of regret… “No!”

    BANG!

    Lastly, the unstoppable Dark Lance skewered the almost dismantled casing’s formation. The light golden hue of the formation flickered and disappeared is if it was turned off while the casing shattered to pieces.

    As all of this happened , from the moment Zax’s arm turned to a Dark Lance, to the destruction of the two prizes’ casing, Sister Beatriz and the five third level Martial Mortals beside her had only accomplished one step toward Stelero Mars with the intention of assisting him, or rather prevent him getting killed.

    As the following scene registered in the mind, they got even slower by the shock of Stelero Mars being dispatched and the two treasures free for the taking.

    ‘The protective formation broke?!’ Zax was just as much shocked. ‘I must obtain them!’ Greed instantly consumed him.

    After struggling inside the Grand Abode, he started doubting his ability to break the defensive formation within the huge structure and for all he knew, when he got to the third floor, Stelero Mars could have ordered the reinforcement of the casing, not the opposite. The two prizes were treasures with the potential to change his Martial path, perhaps lighten the burden of its current predicaments… Even the Solar Basil Leaf, if not gifting it, he could trade it for something not necessarily of the same worth, but more useful for his present needs.

    Snatching the two treasures, with but a thought he sent them to his spatial ring.

    TUMP!

    Zax’s heart pounded in his chest from elation. All the hairs on his body perked up. He was hyped more than ever before in his life!

    BANG!

    He stamped, breaking the floor, not yet did he find a wall which protective formation he could casually break. Descending to the second floor, his lips stretched and their edges curved up.

    Still conscious and channeling all his light attribute energy to the hole in his stomach, to preserve just enough seconds for Archbishop Silternja or Cardinal Northstar to show up an save him, Stelero Mars saw the smile forming on Zax’s face and for a single breath that smile did not look as hideous as it formerly was, but attractive, as if it belonged to a different person.

    Sister Beatriz also caught glimpse of that smile, and it actually sent shivers down her back even more than the ugly one. Her soul and Stelero Mars’s reeled as the both of them cried in their sea of consciousness. ‘Impossible!’

    With all the clues, at last they identified who the intruder is. Sadly, his growth was too astonishing, so much that by the time they shout for help, he will already be gone.

    ‘Dammit! After going all out again, again I can’t sustain this form for long, not for a chase!’ Zax constantly weighed the possibility of the fourth and fifth level Martial Mortal experts of the church locating and pursuing him, and he knew that if it will happen, there would be a handful of places he could escape to, only if his transformation will not fail from exhaustion.

    BANG!

    In the end, he could only hope to leave the Grand Abode through the main entrance.

    BANG!

    BANG!

    BANG!



    A series of breaking resounded.

    ‘They are coming!’ Since he did not meet them, yet, Zax assumed that the fifth level experts of the church, Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar were really keeping guard and searching for the intruder, him, in the upper storeys of the Grand Abode, the most crucial areas in the monumental structure.

    The two indeed dashed there, and with good reason, the seventh and the eighth floors had the Core of the vessel that carried the church, all those years ago, in space! It was a unique source of energy that, should it be tempered with, could wipe a quarter of the planet! Even Immortals will find it dangerous being in its blast radius.

    ‘The exit!’ Sweat trickled from his black forehead.

    “Stop!” Two voices commanded and a pair of violet and crimson auras flared, blocking his escape route. They were two of the church six fourth level Martial Mortals Bishops, the men of the bunch.

    Sparks of electric attribute energy popped around one man; flames of fiery attribute energy covered the other. They were in a tricky situation. The intruder gave the impression of a weak fourth level Martial Mortal, which together they could stop with not a lot of difficulty. However, they were inside the Grand Abode and therefore had no way of acting unbridled without damaging it. The only solution was to scare Zax into hesitation so Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar could arrive before he exit the abode and then who let’s see what means of quick escape could he pull out from under his sleeve.

    It was a solid plan, truly the best one could come up with in the same situation, and it would have worked if Zax was less aware of Archbishop Silternja’s and Cardinal Northstar’s imminent arrival, otherwise, how could a pair of fourth level Martial Mortals be a more frightening alternative?

    They do not going all out, does not mean that he will show the same courtesy… “**** off!”

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 10 – Wishing One Could Pay With Limbs





    “**** off!” Zax roared. Dark attribute energy swirling around him. He clenched both his fist and straightened his arms as he rocketed on a collision course with the two fourth level Martial Mortals.


    “Insolent!”


    “Heretic!”


    The two Bishops cursed resentfully. They knew that Zax is a bodily cultivator, which meant that his strongest attacks were not when he projected outwardly dark attribute energy, but when it was channeled to his limbs. In contrast to him, not only did their strongest attacks were projections, but they also could not execute them, so long as they remained in the Grand Abode.


    “Block!” The shouted together.


    Rods of violet lightning and a wall of crimson flames rose between the two Bishops and Zax.


    BOOM!


    Zax’s fists slammed against the rods. Thought they seemed fine, Zax felt currents of electricity cracking the shell of his Dark Titan Storm’s second stage, plaguing his insides, rupturing them and popping his blood vessels. It was a ridiculous pain to bear that a low level Martial Mortal would lose his mind over. Fortunately for Zax, he was accustomed to even greater pain and the electric rods were a defensive measure, which main purpose was to startle into buying time.


    Next, Zax plunged to the crimson wall of flames. His black skin lit up as if it was covered by oil, rather than fused with dark attribute energy. It crackled and peeled off, in mere instant the immense heat spread and boiled his internals, further damaging those hurt by the violet rods.


    “Bough!” Zax spewed mouthfuls of blood, but he did not halt for a heartbeat.


    Whatever his fists encountered was obliterated soon after contact since neither of the two’s attacks meant for assault and neither electric attribute and fiery attribute were suitable for defense in settings such as this.


    Battered from head to toe, Zax’s fists blasted a passageway through the daunting hurdles with a grim look on his face. ‘This is bad. I’ll not be able to escape like this’. Even though the exit was right in front of him and going past it was definite, Zax had a bitter taste in his mouth that exceeded the taste of blood. ‘If I’ll have to do it, senior Gid, no matter the treasures the chain obtained over the years, you will owe and give me anything I want as compensation!’


    The Bishops stared with dismay and cleared the exit from the Grand Abode, instead of dragging Zax’s into a hand to hand combat. Without utilizing their best techniques, they were uncertain of their ability to postpone his advancement for Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar to arrive and were wary of both meeting failure and risking their life for nothing. Besides, it was not like the pursuit will end when Zax will leave the abode. Quite the opposite, if any of them will come across him outside, he will be done for.


    WHOOSH!


    Zax exited the Grand Abode, a black streak that scooted underneath the night sky. While his body went forward, his head constantly looked over his shoulder. ‘The church has six Bishops…’


    Despite getting outside, Zax was not complacent with himself in the least. In the Grand Abode he might have been trapped, but he did not need to worry from Sublime Soul Sense or the unbridled assault of the church’s experts. Now that the playfield had changed, although he gained freedom, so did his adversaries as they no longer had to be restrained.


    The instant his figure departed the Grand Abode, the two men Bishops burst with vigorous auras and got on his tail. A breath of time after, two more figures joined, women, another pair of Bishops. They were outside from the beginning, guarding the locations where the defensive formation of the abode was the weakest, spots which would be easy for an intruder to make an exit from the inside.


    Their Sublime Soul Senses detected Zax the moment he left the abode and shot after him immediately, second only to the two men.


    “Despicable villain”, a bellow that shook the sky and earth reverberated from the entrance to Grand Abode and an elderly figure of a man with angelic white skin and eight wings flew out in an alarming speed.


    Archbishop Silternja showed up in a form similar to Zax’s Dark Titan Strom and Gid Chu’s Lightening Marvel, only more stable than the latter and a bit less cohesive than the former, a physique of light attribute technique.


    He came alone since after finding Stelero Mars on the brink of death, even though he was livid by the stupidity of the casing’s formation dismantling and the theft of Sister Iaura’s benevolence, Cardinal Northstar had no choice but to stay back and save His Young Eminence’s life.


    “Your grace!” The four Bishops shouted in salute. It took less than ten seconds for Archbishop Silternja to catch up with them.


    ‘A fifth level Martial Mortal!’ Zax’s heart sank. The four Bishops had not achieved an attribute’s physique, so he could cross great distances, maybe reaching somewhere he could lose them, but Archbishop Silternja… not only did he possess a higher level of cultivation, his attribute’s physique was faintly inferior to his.


    ‘I’ll have to use it…’ Zax gritted his teeth. He was not out of options, not yet. There was one that stood out more than the rest, but to use it was a price he was dejecting from paying. ‘It would have been better to even trade two thirds of my body, but this…’ Unwilling to resort to that solution, he weighed his estimated chance of survival in any of the optimal places to ran away to. ‘The Earthly Crater is too far and who knows if that eel is more territorial than miser. I’ll have to go past the second ring, getting myself between the hammer and the anvil, to set them against each other. The Northern Icecaps also have an Overlord, but are just as far. The Down Ocean is closer, but I’m not familiar with the risks there, which supposedly even Peak Martial Mortal will prefer to avoid. Last place to go to is the Golden Desert Fort…’


    Perhaps, by knowing that Admiral Hamumni is situated in General Beking’s Golden Desert Fort, Archbishop Silternja will rather retreat than trespass and give them a reason to gang up on him.


    “The four of you, return to the Grand Abode. I don’t need you to catch him. Go explain Cardinal Northstar the situation”. Archbishop Silternja and accelerated ahead.


    The four did not argue, aware that the Archbishop will not send them back if that state of affairs in the abode was not serious, requiring indigenous care, which the Cardinal could not provide.


    Pursuing Zax, for every kilometer crossed, Archbishop Silternja shortened the gap between them by a hundred to a hundred and fifty meters.


    “You can’t run away, surrender to me now, ask forgiveness for desecrating the house of The Almighty and your spirit will be spared!” With only four kilometers separating them, Archbishop Silternja was bound to overtake Zax, but as a man of the church, regardless how furious he was, he had to give him leeway. As four taking his life anyway, will, not every death has to be absolute.


    “Old man”, Zax snorted. “Being a fifth level Martial Mortal doesn’t give you the ability to slaughter fourth level Martial Mortals as you see fit. First you have to catch me. If you’ll succeed, good for you, but if you’ll fail then I’ll be the one chasing every member of you Luminous Church across the planet. In that case, do you think that you and a mere six bishops will be able to prevent me from making this threat a reality?!”


    “Will you make an enemy of one of the five powers?!” Archbishop Silternja sullenly retorted, clearly unaware yet that Zax had stolen the Galactic Communicator, otherwise there would not have been the slightest room for talking.


    “Aren’t I already?” Zax ceased the Bone And Muscle Transformation, revealing his true appearance, figuring that sooner than later the church will identify him from the clues he left in the heat of the moment.


    “You are…” Archbishop Silternja recognized the face Sister Beatriz drawn for him and a trace of astonishment flickered in his eyes. ‘How did he become so strong?! During the Event in Demirva Ridge he was barely equal to Beatriz, now he is about as strong as a Beginner fourth level Martial Mortal. And this dark attribute’s physique… it doesn’t look like what Beatriz described and makes me feel uncomfortable. Is his understanding of the attribute higher than mine?’


    Inwardly he felt conflicted. After the occurrence in Demirva Ridge, though the church labeled Zax as a hazard, they did not pursue him nor were in a hurry to investigated his origin because salvaging the perfect dark attribute’s essence was impossible, Stelero Mars submitted to Sister Iaura’s ingenuous excursions to encourage him, and someone as capable as Advanced third level Martial Mortal as an enemy for vengeance not entirely was worth the trouble.


    “You twice assaulted His Young Eminence, you pretended to be a participant of the Elite Tryouts and learnt of his statues. Even if I’ll let you go, this won’t be the end. Cardinal Northstar will be less merciful!”


    “I’ll have to be first apprehended!”


    Getting nowhere, Archbishop Silternja had nothing more to say. Sparing Zax’s spirit was an honest benevolence on his side, even if it was still killing him. Nevertheless, it was not appreciated and so why Cardinal Northstar should receive the credit of offering Zax’s spirit and not him?


    Mountains, deserts, rivers, forests, when there no more than hundred meters separating the pair, they had already traverse a sizeable portion of the Eastern Continent.


    ‘I’ll have to use it!’ Zax indignantly thought. ‘Afterwards, no matter where I’ll escape to, I’ll be completely spent’. He made countless contemplation on where he should go. ‘The Overlords are too unpredictable’. Ultimately he rejected the Northern Icecaps and Earthly Crater. ‘Golden Desert Fort’s and Blue Sea’s relationship with Luminous Church might be adverse, but eventually they are nothing more than tools of greater powers. It’s possible that Silternja will convince them to help for the sake of discarding of potential future threat. The Down Ocean…’ He ruminated with heavy heart the gambles of the unknown he was all too familiar with. “Had I known in the begging that it will come to a fifth level Martial Mortal on my tail, I would have demanded assistance from the chain!”


    Originally the plan was to wait for the cleansing day, generally a harmonic date for the church. However, in this year’s Elite Tryouts the church added new variables – Cardinal Northstar, His Young Eminence and Sister Iaura – which required reorganization. Typically on this date, to the outside world the church gives the impression of lowering their guard in respect to His Holiness and devotion to The Almighty, which was accurate assessment. This time, though, for the sake of its three guests, the church had already prepared severe precautions for every scenario that will jeopardize its reputation in front of the Holy Palace’s envoys.


    Whether by intuition or a chance, Zax calculation of when to execute his task was indeed better to do early than later.


    “Archbishop Silternja, this is an oath for The Almighty, unless you’ll retreat, should you fail to catch me, your church and life, I’ll decimate them all!” Zax shouted, his voice resonating with booming echoes. “Bough!” His blood surged and he coughed yet another mouthful.


    “Fool”. Archbishop Silternja chided. “You take The Almighty’s name in vain!”


    Zax felt a sudden weakness in his entire body, soul and even dantian. His speed reduced, allowing Archbishop Silternja to be trifling two meter away from grasping him.


    ‘Why?!’ He wondered. In his sea of consciousness the dark sky, sea and land were trembling as if an invisible force oppressed them. ‘Not good!’ He realize that he is about to get caught.


    Resolute to meet the worse only after giving his all, Zax drew all the dark attribute energy accumulated in the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique’s pond and then some from what little nourished his physique, he boosted his speed by a bit more than sevenfold for the duration of three to five minutes, enough time to reach Down Ocean.

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 11 – Down Ocean





    Seeing Zax drastically accelerating and getting away, Archbishop Silternja’s assured expression turned ghastly as he racked his brain for explanation. ‘This technique is why he negotiated, it probably cost him dearly’. He quickly realized the cause for the odd phenomenon, yet his countenance remained abysmal despite guessing that this speed could not be sustained indefinitely. ‘He made an oath to a God and, because of his understanding of the dark attribute, it actually reverberated through the shackles of Nature. Even if now he doesn’t know the implication, soon he will... I must not lose sight of him! No matter what, he must die!’





    ‘What the hell happened?!’ Zax coughed the last drops of blood stuck in his throat. After making the oath he felt like a powerless blade of grass encompassed by a storm of magnitude he could not fathom. It persisted for a single breath and when he came to his senses, he put aside the fearful incident and hastily utilized his last resort to escape from Archbishop Silternja’s clutches…


    Spending the dark attribute energy he accumulated over the past year and plunging the development of his body, it was only a matter of time before Zax will arrive to Down Ocean.


    Where the seawater was the shallowest, in contact with the eastern periphery of the Eastern Continent, there was the Down Ocean.


    In that periphery of the Eastern Continent the earth was gray with ashen flora. Ravenous, solitary, one scale and two scales Deformed Beings loitered the vicinity, seemingly struggling to survive yet by some invisible attraction cannot bring themselves to leave to a more prosperous area.


    This side of the Eastern Continent, for kilometers upon kilometers, from north to south, was void of all types of beasts’ and humans’ societies.


    An ominous cloudiness covered the sky and cold winds blew from the ocean, as waves surged in a disquieting manner.


    In a first glance, it looked to Zax as nothing more than a gloomy day at the beach, when in fact it was the perpetual state of the region bordering the Down Ocean.


    ‘This ocean is giving me a bad feeling’. Zax grimaced, sensing a minute coercion infiltrated his soul. ‘Do I have to enter it?’ He looked over his shoulder, spotting a persistent white dot at the distance.


    Even if Archbishop Silternja was wary of the Down Ocean’s dangers, he was bent on eradicating Zax.


    WHOOSH!


    His outburst of speed was diminishing faster than it boosted him. With no other choice than to strive forward in order to survive, Zax entered the domain of the Down Ocean. ‘No Overlords showing up in territorial pursuit?’ He glanced around, perking his ears but did not see nor hear anything approaching other than Archbishop Silternja. He continued to fly above the waves in complete alertness. ‘Being in the open will keep giving him my position’. He lowered his gaze to the seawater, but seeing through them, to the dire mysteries below, was akin to staring at mercury. ‘My Soul Sense is going haywire’. It was still influential, but barely, able to distinguish unstable shapes that could either be creatures that live underwater or the restless currents of the ocean.


    In a graduate fast pace, his skin lightened and muscles shrank fifth a size. The Dark Titan Storm form’s second stage reached its limit and Zax no longer had the energy to support it. ‘Oh no!’ The weakening in dark attribute energy lowered the defense of his soul and for a brief moment Zax hovered between clouds and waves muddleheaded.


    Gathering his resolve, Zax plumped into the silver gray ocean. ‘In this turbid water Archbishop Silternja won’t be able to rely on his eyes to detect me. I don’t need to go too far or deep, just find a safe place to recuperate’.





    When Archbishop Silternja entered the domain of the Down Ocean, Zax dived into the depths.


    ‘His dark attribute physique dispersed. He is now weaker than a third level Martial Mortal’. He said to himself to stimulate the drive to plunge after Zax to the mercury like seawater, he would rather avoid.


    ‘Fifteen minutes, that’s the longest I’ll be able to sustain the Angelic Emissary light physique, afterwards the risk factor will multiply exponentially!’





    ‘The water is poisonous… I can’t control the worldly dark attribute energy, fighter’. Zax discovered in the eight hundred meters mark to his dive. Luckily he was not complacent as he was when he entered the Seer Don Ocean. He sealed his pores and used what little dark attribute energy left in his reservoir to shield his soul. A bit after the nine hundred mark he could also not expend his Soul Sense past his body, not that it did him any good. ‘There are undulations not of the oceans currents’. He still could use his sense of touch to determine.


    The undulation shifted from the bottom of the ocean, sometimes ensuing from south, sometimes from north of his position. They came from too far for his eyes to see through the turbid water.


    ‘Whatever is the source of the undulations, I didn’t arrive for exploration’.


    Carefully diving deeper, Zax looked for a grove, a cavern or even just a place to dig into in order to hide. ‘Oh? There are undulations coming from above, Archbishop Silternja?’ Zax was incredulous.


    Before he entered the seawater he assumed that he will have to venture for a long, perilous period of time before losing the Archbishop, after diving he found out that not only Soul Sense was useless underwater, even his excellent eyesight as a bodily cultivator can hardly make up the surrounding in a hundred or so meter radios.


    Looking up, toward the direction of the undulations, his pupils constricted as a flicker of light shot like a bullet, hitting his right shoulder and exited through the armpit, before he could react.


    The light attribute bullet did not leave residues of attribute energy, but the bone and muscle it damaged failed to regenerate instantly, due to his shortage of dark attribute energy. Furthermore, the poisonous seawater permeated through the wound and began to slowly corrode it.


    Another light bullet shot, grazing Zax’s left cheek. ‘How does he know where I am?!’ He fled, before a third light bullet could hit him. ‘Can Sublime Soul Sense work in these waters?’


    Even if it could, there still had to be limitations for it. After all, his Soul Sense was equivalent in range to a fourth level Martial Mortal’s, minus the unique telekinetic and telepathic abilities. How much better could a fifth level Martial Mortal’s Sublime Soule Sense be in comparison? Thinking about the answer was too distracting as he also had to continually evade light bullets.


    Finding a place to hide when he could only look so far was vert difficult. Moreover, light bullets were constantly shot at his general direction and although not all of them were pinpointed at him, those who were hit the mark.


    ‘I’m less than a kilometer from the Eastern Continent, how come the ocean is already this deep?!’ Zax sank roughly thirty four thousand meters and yet could not see the bottom of the ocean. As he got hit by more and more light bullets and had his wounds worsening be seawater, he felt powerless in the open. ‘How? How? How? Can he know where I am?! In this depth it should be impossible for any Sublime Soul Sense to function, how?!’ His teeth bit in frustration.


    He could go farther and deeper in the Down Ocean, but was reluctance to risk himself if he could make use of the turbid seawater to lose Archbishop Silternja.


    ‘I… I can’t anymore! I must give it a try!’ He persisted thus far and ignored his physical condition because he had means to recover, or at least attempt a recovery, but it was a wager and so he wanted to first find a place he would have some peace and quiet in, to moderately give it a go. ‘Wait a minute!’ A flash of realization emerged in his mind. ‘Is it possible?!’ He gestured with his hand and retrieved from his spatial ring a small bead.


    The clear crystal bead containing the drop of Diluted Element was illuminated by a minuscule formation, engraved on its surface.


    ‘That is how!’ Zax was furious at himself for not noticing earlier. If he was a little late… if a light bullet hit his finger and he would have lost the precious Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf… all because of idiotic negligence… than he might as well should had let the ocean to take him.


    Skimming the content of the spatial ring, checking the Galactic Communicator and Solar Basil Leaf for similar formations, Zax was relived not to find any. Archbishop Silternja only knew that he stole the two prizes and unlike the Diluted Element, the Solar Basil Leaf did not have a container.


    CRACK!


    Zax threw the crystal bead to his mouth and bit. The gray drop of liquid sipped to his oral cavity and tasted like lukewarm water. He spat the fragments of the crystal beads and waited to see if the light bullets would stop.





    ‘Damned infidel! Of all the places, he chose the Down Ocean!’ Archbishop Silternja held in his palm a flat piece of glass with a compass shaped formation glowing in it. Wherever the shining gold needle pointed he aimed a long barrel gun a pulled the trigger.


    Without a sound or an impact, a light bullet shot and disappeared in the turbid water.


    ‘He hasn’t gotten far. He is probably vigilant of what farther in the Down Ocean. As long as he doesn’t reach the bottom, it is safe for me to pursue him’.


    Suddenly the golden hue of the formation compass faded, causing Archbishop Silternja to change countenance. “He broke the crystal bead!” That was the thing he most hoped that will not happen. Without the formation compass to guide him, deducing Zax’s location in the Down Ocean, or even knowing if he resurfaced back to the Eastern Continent’s shores, was extremely problematic, not to mention that he had less of the previous estimated to for sustaining the Angelic Emissary form.


    ‘By breaking the crystal bead he forwent the only container on this planet capable of holding the Diluted Element. This thief’s soul should already break through the third realm; hence, consuming the Diluted Element will not help his insights’. Archbishop Silternja’s hand squeezed in anger, shattering the formation compass that lost its purpose. ‘The Diluted Element was bestowed to Sister Iaura by her revered mother. A precious treasure that Immortals has to assiduously labor in order to refine just went to waste!’ His white eyes released beams of light that got swallowed in the seawater.


    Shooting a barrage of light bullets over the last location the formation compass’s needle pointed, Archbishop Silternja lowered his long barrel after five minutes.


    WHOOSH!


    He canceled his Angelic Emissary form and flew up and out of the ocean, halting midair a few hundred meters from the Eastern Continent, intending to wait, as long as he needs to, for Zax to come up.


    ‘By the undulations of the water, I’m sure I hit him couple of times. Severely injured he won’t be able to recover in the corrosive water of the Down Ocean. Even as a bodily cultivator there is nothing for him to absorb there…’


    In other words, Zax had to choices… dying in the ocean or returning and dying in Archbishop Silternja’s hands.

  11. #251
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 12 – Diluted Element, Blessing Or A Curse





    ‘He stopped following me?’ After the short barrage of flickering light bullets ended, Zax managed to catch a break and gaze up to confirm. Slowly, while riddled with seven bullet holes, grazed by twenty something strays and suffering the corrosiveness of the seawater, a smile of relief stretched across his face. ‘This was probably the most dangerous situation I’ve ever got myself into’. He had to admit. ‘Although the Horned Eel and Four Wings Stork were the same as fifth level Martial Mortal, at least they stopped chasing outside of their territories. If he could, this geezer would have continued to pursue me to the end of the world. Luckily, luckily there are places like the Down Ocean on our planet to run to, where even Peak experts have to be cautious’.


    Still, Zax was not naïve enough to think he was in the clear. ‘He is probably waiting outside… He said nothing about the Galactic Communicator when we talked. If he had known that I stole it, he would not have sent back the four Bishops. I have a short window before of most likely minutes before someone will inform him, and then, imagining the consequences of the connection to the three Immortal powerhouses being jeopardized, all five powers might unite to hunt me’.


    He made the calculation in his mind, the most probable scenarios that could unfold every minute now.


    “Argh!” He suddenly uttered as all the muscles in his body convulsed. His condition was worsening while he did not have the energy to heal or shelter himself from the seawater.


    ‘Oh no!’ His eyes widened in shock. As he was thinking the drop of Diluted Element in his mouth slid the direction of his throat. As it happened he unconsciously shifted his tongue to hold it at bay, since he was not ready to absorb it, however the drop, almost like it had a life of its own and a purpose that could not be obstructed, still slid down from his mouth.


    Afraid of what might happen, should he consume the drop, without finding a secluded place for safety from interruptions, like the elderly green mustached guard of the two prizes recommended in his explanation, with madness in his eyes Zax dashed down and back the direction of the Eastern Continent in search for somewhere solid he could dig a hideout in.


    ‘Why can’t I block it?!’ He contracted his throat muscles to halt the drop of Diluted Element, but the thing just slipped through in the same relaxed pace.


    ‘Dammit! I’m should be already forty five hundred meters deep, the Eastern Continent isn’t that far, and I still can’t reach the bottom!’ Worse than that, the deeper he got, the harder it was to see in the turbid water, the more corrosive they were, too.


    ‘Right, I can do that…!’


    Drawing his arms back in the initial motion of a punch, he threw them forward and discharged long range Kinetic Force rays.


    Kinetic Orb could not withstand the seawater and pressure.


    Unlike dark attribute energy, his body could generate kinetic energy and, even injured, Kinetic Force was no longer something that could hurt him whether used correctly or not.


    BANG!


    One of the rays hit something tough and the undulation in the water indicated the direction.


    Zax hastened toward where the undulation ensued, simultaneously keeping track on the drop that was about to enter his stomach.


    ‘It’s dispersing’. When the drop landed in his stomach and made contact with the gastric juices it finally responded to a bodily function, though not in the way Zax had hoped.


    The drop turned to gas that channeled, again by itself, up his body.


    ‘It’s heading for my sea of consciousness!’ Zax scowled. He already comprehended five bottlenecks of insight; the drop could not assist him with the sixth. Using it for its common purpose was a waste of rare resource he might never encounter again, unless he will achieve Evolutionary Ascension, and by then it will be useless to him.


    ‘Move!’ He commanded as he tried to redirect it while proceeding downwards. ‘Move!’ He concentrated on each particle separately, since as a whole despite being gaseous they felt heavier than the entire planet!


    Gradually, one particle after another started moving in accordance of Zax will. ‘Go!’ He pushed them into the vortexes of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique.


    BANG!


    His head rang from the collision. He finally reached solid something. A rock, perhaps, since it was flat but there was no sand but it was simply too hard, so much that he nearly got concussions and barely could dig through with his cultivated physique that on its own was as strong as an Advanced or Peak second level Martial Mortal.


    The particles were sucked by the vortexes to the creeks, which then carried them to the almost dried pond physique he had, where merely scarce drops of dark attribute’s essence worth of energy were left.


    CRACK!


    CRACK!


    Zax ignored the two broken fingers, not even wondering how come the rock is so hard, or if it is actually the bottom of the Down Ocean. Once a cavity large enough to accommodate him was forged he entered inside and began to seal it while expelling the seawater with veils of Kinetic Force that by a whisker did the job.


    ‘The first particle enters the pond’. The long awaited moment has arrived.


    He did not want to do it like this. In fact, despite weighing the Diluted Element’s suitability for cultivating the first stage of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique from when he initially heard about it, he still deliberated on what he would do if he will really get it. He had a lover, Master, Grandmaster, sister and others he cared for who strode the path of Martial cultivation and could better use it, especially those whose souls had yet broken through the third realm and had bottlenecks of insight still to perceive.


    “I have to think about myself and the bigger picture”. He said outloud to himself, resolutely and then mused. ‘Even if my life wasn’t in risk, in order to accelerate the progression of my Martial path, there are no other methods left for me’. He felt selfish phrasing it so, but considering that he obtained the Diluted Element on his own, it was fair. ‘Then there is the hard fact that the stronger I get the more likely I will be able to take the remaining two Black Core without worrying about their owners. I’m a bottleneck of insight from Evolutionary Ascension and my understanding of the attribute is even superior to fifth level Martial Mortals’.


    The Dark Titan Storm form’s second stage was more profound than Archbishop Silternja’s Angelic Emissary. Otherwise he would not have gotten away. The only reason the Archbishop gained speed on him was because his mist cultivation was much higher than Zax’s bodily cultivation.


    ‘With the complete Legacy Of The One’s Path who knows how strong and close will I become to Evolutionary Ascension, to assuring the safety of my family, friends and all denizens of New Earth!’ It sounded in his mind like ego speaking, but in his heart he knew it as the honest truth of their situation.


    Even the Solar Basil Leaf, although it can immensely contribute to someone among those he cares for, trading for dark attribute’s essence, enough to push his cultivation even just one step forward, might help change the confinement status of New Earth’s citizens. After all, he is not far for comparing to the apex of the planet.


    Bit by bit the particle sank to the bottom of the pond. Zax followed it attentively. Should it be rejected or will not do much than dark attribute’s essence, then he really did nothing but wrong his loved ones.


    The drop dispersed to ninety eight particles. As the first was about to reach to the bottom of the pond, the second was already hovering above.


    BLUP!


    The particle fell on the remnants of dark attribute essence and merged with them.


    RUMBLE!


    Zax felt the pond, his body, trembling.


    ‘Well?!’ He waited with anticipation. Will it be the din of disaster or celebration?


    The portion of dark attribute’s essence merged with the first particle began to swell and pale in coloration.


    Seeing the quantity of dark attribute’s increase did not make Zax happy. On the contrary, dark attribute’s essence was black and now it was changing to the original gray of the Diluted Element. By building his pond by dark attribute’s essence and energy, it improved his absorption rate of the attribute and, maybe in the future, his understanding. If his pond will turn into a source of Diluted Element he will severe all connection to the dark attribute.


    ‘I can’t allow it to happen!’ He ground his teeth. ‘Transform!’ He beseeched the last remnants of dark attribute’s essence to service him and initiated the transformation to his Dark Titan Storm form’s first stage. ‘Why the Black Core can’t send streams of its energy now?!’ It did so in the past, it only meant to instill the dark attribute in him. It did all it could and today his ability exceeded the practicality of the streams.


    The space inside the cavity instantly turned cramped, but the moment the transformation was done, the gray matter in the pond changed back to black and moreover, did not decrease in quantity!


    “It expanded! It expanded!” Zax shouted in ecstasy, meaning not the amount of dark attribute’s essence, but the pond itself!


    With a fuller pond than before, dealing with the rest of the particles was stress free.


    Step by step Zax approached the total capacity of dark attribute’s essence the pond could storage in the first stage of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique.


    One percent… four percent… nine percent…


    The rise was steady, not as rapid as it could be if he had absorbed dark attribute’s essence, but in short minutes Zax skipped decades of tedious absorption of dark attribute energy.


    Twenty percent… thirty percent … forty percent …


    By this point around half of the particles were in the pond and Zax struggled to keep calm from excitement.


    Sixty six percent… seventy percent… seventy nine percent…


    ‘Ninety eight point nine percent!’ The sum caused the black sea and sky around and above his Inner Panorama, and even the massive land itself, to shake as expression to his euphoric state of mind.


    That left him with only eleven hundred kilograms of dark attribute’s essence to complete the first stage, zilch compared to the primary one hundred thousand!


    ‘This power!’ With the pond expanding, its nourishment evolved and Zax sensed his body strengthening. ‘And it’s merely a piecemeal. As close to completion as it is, the bit more that I need is the catalyst for the pond’s evolution. When the first stage will reach perfection, I should be able to defend myself against Advanced fourth level Martial Mortals!‘


    Immersing in the intoxicating feeling of new strength, Zax sat in the cavity with a smile on his face, familiarizing himself with the changes in his body for soon he will come out.

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 13 – Assistance





    Between gloomy sky and dreary, gray earth, a closed eyes bald old man stroked his long white beard while sitting on a throne of light attribute energy.


    Archbishop Silternja spread his Sublime Soul Sense across the eastern coastline of the Eastern Continent. As a fifth level Martial Mortal he could cover a radius of four hundred kilometers to every direction, and when narrowing the shape of his Sublime Soul Sense to an oval and thinner, its length could go as far as one thousand kilometers.


    ‘Your grace’, an anxious voice rang in his mind, its tone coupled with the identity of the person behind it aroused a presentiment of disaster.


    ‘Report, Bishop Kristin’. Archbishop Silternja opened his eyes and tried to keep a straight face, speculating whether the matter related to Stelero Mars or worse, the young lass, Sister Iaura?


    ‘Your grace, the Galactic Communicator was stolen’. Bishop Kristin, who guarded Sister Iaura alongside Ninient, cut to the chase.


    On his luminous thrones, Archbishop Silternja’s hands grabbed the armrest as his body experienced a spasm. In a blink of an eye he recounted the beginning and end of the commotion inside the Grand Abode. An enemy surprised them in their own nest! It came out naturally for him and Cardinal Northstar, the strongest powerhouses of the church in Ercas Mir, to first and foremost consider the security of the sixth and above storeys, so much that they were easily hoodwinked by Zax’s scheme.


    The tension in his hands lessened as he composed himself and the fretful glint in his pupils was dispelled.


    ‘Send out two thirds of the forces, priests and sisters of the third level and higher, come immediately to the Down Ocean’s coastline. Send word to the other four powers; inform them of the theft alone. This issue might disrupt His Holiness’s plans; however, if we have to smear our face with feces to prevent it, we would do that, too!’


    After ordering, Archbishop Silternja took a standing stance and his light attribute throne vanished. ‘Overwhelming numbers, with this you are certain to get caught!’





    Exiting the cavity, Zax raised his head with a smile on his face. ‘Even in this poisonous water my body still feels great’. The sensation of rejuvenation invigorated him mood. Glancing at the far reaches of the Down Ocean, his field of sight was limited by the turbid, mercury seawater. ‘I should explore the mystery of this ocean’. He was interested in what else could the previous owner of the Black Cores had left, what was so alluring that three Immortal powerhouses longed to find. ‘Another day. I must bring senior Gid the communicator and right now, probably even after I’ll break through to the second stage; I would still not be sufficiently strong to brave the dangers of this ocean’.


    In the Down Ocean even fifth level Martial Mortals and Overlords Deformed Being had to be cautious, much less Zax who was weaker than both.


    ‘It’s time to leave’. He contemplated hard on how to escape. ‘The Archbishop must have been informed that I stole the Galactic Communicator. I doubt that he is not aware of the repercussions. If Senior Gid could come up with the idea to sabotage the connection of the five powers with their Immortal powerhouses, then they also should have known that it is possible’.


    Minutes passed as Zax deliberated over all the aspects of his current situation. Getting back to the Eastern Continent was inevitable, but “How” was the problem.


    Skimming the environment of the Down Ocean without making particular findings, a sudden realization struck Zax like a bolt of lightning in the dark.


    “Hahahaha, that’s right! I should do that and even if the five powers come at me in full capacity they won’t be able to catch me!” He was so gratified with himself and even more so, impatient to see the response of Archbishop Silternja that he burst laughing outloud.





    “Your grace!”


    “Archbishop!”


    “Silternja!”


    Forty three figures arrived to the eastern coastline of the continent. Among them were four of the church’s fourth level Martial Mortals, as well as twenty seven of its third level Martial Mortals, Cardinal Northstar and eleven experts of which five were in Golden Desert Fort’s uniforms, two were in Blessed Army’s uniforms, two Blue Sea’s aquatic beasts and two Violet Scaled Troops beasts.


    Eight of the experts not of the church were the other four powers’ envoys for the Elite Tryouts. The remaining three Golden Desert Fort’s experts were stationed in Onzengvas. All eleven were third level Martial Mortals and they all were ordered to aid Luminous Church.


    As for additional support? Archbishop Silternja could not leave the Grand Abode vulnerable by summoning everyone and the nearest of the other four powers was Golden Desert Fort. Even if General Beking will come in person it will probably be too late.


    “Archbishop, the eleven of us were ordered to help catch the culprit who desecrated your Grand Abode”. A muscular woman with dark brown complexion and light brown spots on her skin, one of the five from the Golden Desert Fort, spoke in a civil tone. “Please tell us everything there is to know about the culprit as well as what we can do for you”.


    ‘How is His Young Eminence?’ Before replying to the muscular woman, Archbishop Silternja interacted with Cardinal Northstar via Sublime Soul Sense.


    ‘This is twice that he nearly lost his life on this planet. After this matter is concluded, I won’t postpone anymore our return to the Holy Palace, regardless of anyone’s opinion. So go ahead and do as you will with the tryouts, Silternja. If you manage to recruit good seeding you are free to ask for someone else to come and take them’.


    “Do you all know the Ground Pool formation?” Receiving Cardinal Northstar’s aggrieved and bitter answer, Archbishop Silternja accepted his temper in understanding and proceeded to ask the eleven. The member of the church that arrived knew the formation, which is why he did not direct the question to them, too.


    The six of the other four powers gave a positive response through a grunt or a nod.


    “Good. The third level Martial Mortals are to split into teams of two. We will erect the formation along the coastline. Cardinal Northstar and I will each take an edge, the Bishops will guard the rear and the rest of you will be positioned between us. Remember to activate the formation by my signal and if you encounter the perpetrator, although he should be severely wounded, be cautious against him!”


    “Archbishop, how strong is that person? Is he a beast or a human?” A green furred python of the pair from Violet Scaled Troops asked in a hissing tongue.


    “He is a human, a bodily cultivator, the one, in fact, who caused the earlier commotion during the Event in Demirva Ridge. His understanding of the dark attribute is better than mine in the light attribute. However, he spent all his energy in the poisonous water of the Down Ocean and his cultivated physique is about as strong as a Peak second level Martial Mortal”.


    “The one who killed Rijok…” The muscular woman said in a low voice.


    “The person Lieutenant General Debuk Jin pursued”. A man from the Blessed army mentioned in a slightly louder voice.


    “Together with Feather Ulvil”. A white woman with white feathers for hair, a beast in human form from Violet Scaled Troops, shared a glance with the green furred python.


    With a little prior knowledge about Zax, the company of third level Martial Mortals got a rough idea of Zax’s strength.


    “If there are no more questions, go!” Archbishop Silternja instructed. ”I suspect that he will soon make his move”.


    The forty four of them spread, making the pre activation arraignment for the Ground Pool formation.


    The eastern coastline stretched for several thousand kilometers. The largest form of the formation the forty four could erect was a few tens kilometers long. It was nothing in comparison, but Archbishop Silternja was not worried of missing Zax. If the latter will choose to take a detour he will waste valuable time, enough for the Golden Desert Fort to send more people. Also, if Archbishop Silternja’s assumption of what would be Zax escape plan is correct, then it is of no use to him to seek other location to execute it…


    As they took their positions, each member of the forty four drew azure shapes below them with their feet, which disappeared into the ground, and stood in silence and anticipation to the execution order.


    The waves of the Down Ocean were tall as ten storey buildings, even those near the coast, between them and the eerie sky strong winds blew in speeds that could carry relatively small Deformed Beings.


    Due to their highly acute perception, time passed slowly to the experts of the church and their assistants, and another the pressure of waiting to capture Zax, one minute was as an entire day and longer.


    “Fres, for a while now the waves appear to gradually subside”. The feathered head woman said to the green furred python who sustained his animalistic form.


    “Yes. This gives me a bad feeling, Nurkit, I think I know why Archbishop Silternja chose the Ground Pool formation…” Fres whispered.


    “You think you know…?” Nurkit repeated. Gazing back at the ocean, she was about to ask him what he knows when her mouth closed, presumably because there was no need to question what she also figured.


    They were not the only ones to understand Archbishop Silternja’s motive, not even how can he be sure that Zax will try to escape through this location.


    ‘Silternja, three seconds are enough to foil that method, but he can still retreat back to the ocean. When he will show up, we will activate the formation together, but for the last second, you will support it on your own while I seize him’. Cardinal Northstar sent through his Sublime Soul Sense.


    ‘Fine, Northstar, but be fast. He cannot have the chance to ruin the Galactic Communicator out of desperation; otherwise we will still have to give His Holiness an explanation’.





    Floating two hundred meters form the surface of the water, undulation of mixed dark attribute energy and Kinetic Force were emanated from Zax’s body.


    Utilizing his dark domain, although there was not worldly dark attribute energy to control, the one he exuded could still be used in a wider range. Adding the pull of the swallowing property and his escape plan was halfway through its motion.


    ‘Waves, I need towering, vast waves’. Zax repeated with mind concentrated on the energies and forces in play. ‘Tsunami’. Was what he wanted, what he, with great difficulty, attempted to excite from the ocean.


    ‘There it is!’ Finally, a wave two kilometers tall was built and surged toward the coastline.


    Zax ceased releasing dark attribute energy and Kinetic Force and shot like a torpedo into the center of the tsunami wave.


    ‘Forty four, the Cardinal came with four of the Bishops and a bunch of other experts, probably third level Martial Mortals’. They were in plain sight since there was no difference whether he saw them or not.


    ‘They realized what I was doing’. He sort of expected that. A bit of attention on the movement of the seawater and anyone could tell what he was instigating.


    His line of sight intersected with the Archbishop but he could read nothing from it. He retreated into the turbid water of the wave.


    ‘Two fifth level Martial Mortals and four fourth level Martial Mortals’. He only considered them as adversaries. ‘By how they spread they probably formed a formation. To stop the wave won’t take much effort even to a second level Martial Mortal. The formation… did they also predict what I’m about to do next?’ His heart tightened. ‘I have no other means to return to the continent. There are no fluctuations from the arrangement of their formation, if I’ll act now I’ll have a window for retreat’.


    The tsunami wave surged in terrifying speed toward the continent, prepared to wash the ashen earth. When it reached two hundred meters distance from land, a black luster reflected from Zax’s skin.


    Dark Titan Storm form’s second stage.


    “Go!” He shouted, kicking his feet, throwing his arms back.


    BOOM!


    Inverting the pulling of the swallowing property, Zax caused them wave to expand from inside and explode into countless mercury droplets that poured down on the eastern coastline and far back.


    In an instant a portion of the land for tens of kilometers turned veiled by nonstop raining and a blockade for all types of Soul Senses.


    If Zax had the fiery attribute, than he could evaporate the seawater, causing it to reach much farther.


    “Now!” Archbishop Silternja’s voice roared. The moment he was waiting for has arrived!


    The ground where the azure shapes were drawn on quaked and began to glow in clear azure that absorbed the gray muddiness.


    WHOOSH!


    Zax noticed the activation of the formation, but did not wait to see its function. He dashed away, using the rain to conceal himself.


    ‘Suction?!’ He suddenly felt the droplets hitting his face, being hauled back.


    The Ground Pool formation in mere second amassed a quarter of the droplets that made the tsunami.


    ‘Not good!’ Zax extract will the strength of his muscles to accelerate. In one more second even if they still will not chase him, perhaps they will be able to see or sense the fluctuations of his Dark Titan Strom form.


    “Silternja, I’m going!” As the third second reached a fraction from passing, Cardinal Northstar’s voice echoed. To the others Zax was maybe too far to detect, but when he will leave the cover of raining seawater, with his Sublime Soul Sense it will be child paly tracing the target.


    ‘This is bad!’ Zax gritted his teeth upon also hearing Cardinal Northstar. ‘I just recuperated, improved my physique and already pushing myself to the limits!’ He wanted to pull the droplets toward him with the swallowing property, but was concerned of losing speed by multitasking.


    “Go, Northstar-”


    BOOM!


    BOOM!


    BOOM!


    Three deafening explosions muffled Archbishop Silternja’s voice.


    Three colossal spheres of pure, berserk energy bloomed like moon flowers.


    The three moons emerged between Zax and the members of the five powers.


    Feeling his back being burnt despite using his strongest transformation, Zax did not care in the least. With the obstruction and destructiveness of the three spheres, the Ground Pool formation was interjected, and though the droplets were evaporated completely, losing their effectiveness, the berserk energy of the moons that appeared out of nowhere was more than sufficient to impede fifth level Martial Mortals.

  13. #253
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 14 – Meeting Second Leader Yurnal





    Cold sweat running down his neck to his scorched back, Zax racked his brain in an attempt to make up what happened, who was helping him in the shadows?


    ‘Hurry, Zax, accept this map and follow its directions!’ An unfamiliar sounded through the communicator he received from Gid Chu.


    ‘Someone from the chain?’ Zax thought, not asked. The answer was obvious but still unexpected. ‘What the heck did he use to create these extravagant explosions?!’ Glancing sideways, the three moons, which from afar were now the size of marbles, remained prominent and without a hint of dissipation.


    Opening the file, it was actually an encrypted formation Zax had to assemble in his Inner Panorama to reveal the map.


    ‘That’s too far!’ Zax exclaimed. The converging location, whether it was a base of the chain or a temporary meeting place, was at an undersea cave in the Seer Don Ocean, basically the other side of the continent. ‘Hey, did you even consider who pursuing me?’ He sent to member of the chain who contacted him.


    ‘Yes, don’t worry. I can’t help you get there faster so I rather not expose myself, but those explosions were generated from detonating three Pure Cores of three scales Deformed Beings, comparable to fourth level Martial Mortal. Elder Master guaranteed that with your speed you’ll manage to escape. I, however, not as fast, so yeah… Just follow the directions and don’t simply head straight to the cave. Though Elder Master did not have more of those Pure Cores, he did had countermeasures for Sublime Soul Sense that other members of the chai-‘


    ‘Enough talking!’ A new, feminine and impatient voice interrupted. ‘Follow the map, Zax. I’m Lusiana, my companion is Eviatar. We are leaving. Good luck!’


    ‘Lusiana? Eviatar?’ Zax called via his communicator but the two no longer responded. ‘Perhaps the fluctuations from the blast zone influencing the long range communication’. He assessed, disgruntled. Memorizing the road on the map, he erased it from his Inner Panorama. ‘If Senior Gid had Pure Cores of such caliber, why did he not give me one for emergency?!’





    “Nooo!”


    “Archbishop, help!”


    “Cardinal, save me!”


    The bloodcurdling screams were suppressed by the still resonating roar of the three explosions. These were the voices of seventeen third level Martial Mortals of the original thirty eight who accompanied Cardinal Northstar and the four Bishops.


    The seventeen, among them three were envoys of the other four powers, were caught by the nearest explosion’s radius and were set ablaze by the pure energy, which demonstrated fiery characteristic. Besides them, not one of the leftover, Martial Mortals came out scratch free. While the lightest of injuries were superficial burns, the most severe were limbs and internal that burnt to crisp.


    “Tend to them! Tend to them!” Archbishop Silternja shouted furiously at his four Bishops and sought after Cardinal Northstar, who with great difficulty, due to caution, tried to bypass the three moons.


    “Northstar!” Finding the Cardinal still in the radius of the first moon, Archbishop Silternja called his name in incensed confusion. “Why haven’t you gone after him, yet?! If we’ll lose the Galactic Communicator, we won’t be able to communicate with His Holiness and you won’t be able to return to the Holy Palace!”


    “Don’t lecture me, Silternja!” Cardinal Northstar snapped. In a form quite similar to the Archbishop’s Angelic Emissary and hands stretched forward he was resisting the closest explosion while going across it. “Not only these detonations were of three scales Deformed Beings’ Pure Cores, they were condensed to maximize their intensity and spare the planet”.


    Transforming to his Angelic Emissary, Archbishop Silternja rocketed as he circled the three moons via a wider circumference in hope of being faster than the Cardinal and to not lose sight of Zax.


    Eventually, the two reached past the third moon simultaneously, but by then there was no more trace of Zax that they could follow with their eyes. With no target they could only float aimlessly while contemplating what to do. Some time passed before the four Bishops rejoined them.


    “Silternja”, Cardinal Northstar opened dejectedly. Upon hearing him, a shiver ran from the top to the bottom of the Archbishop’s spine, as if he could tell the consequence of the forthcoming words. “The chase has failed”.


    “Cardinal”, one of the Bishops, a golden eyes woman whose only her white face shown, restlessly. “Without the Galactic Communicator how are we suppose-”


    “Return to the Grand Abode”. Archbishop Silternja cut her mid speech. Signs of lassitude were prominent on his face and the manner he carried himself once he returned to his old man form. He turned to the direction of Onzengvas city and when his eyes concentrated on the horizon, the expression in them emitted menacing intent, a reflection of the devil behind the saint.





    Warm sun light cause the splashing waves to sparkle as if their foam was a cluster of shining pearls.


    In contrast to the Down Ocean, the still fairly dangerous Seer Don Ocean was a sight for sore eyes to those who had visited the former. Heck, just by putting his feet in the cold seawater revitalized Zax’s spirit, washing away the strenuous vigilance he maintained until arriving to the western coastline of the Eastern Continent.


    Although he took the long and safer route the map presented him, ultimately he was not chased and so had not got the chance to discover what countermeasures Gid Chu prepared for him, apart from learning of two or three places where Sublime Soul Sense cannot work in due to natural disturbances in the worldly attributes of those area, which he could not explain.


    ‘Don’t dilly dally, Zax, we are waiting for you in the undersea cave’. Gid Chu sent through the communicator.


    ‘Right, I’ll be there in couple of seconds’. Zax affirmed and proceeded to tell to himself. ‘Right, it’s about time for me to get paid, and then…’ His heart was filled with excitement.


    Traversing fifteen kilometers from shore and submerging into the depths of the cold Seer Don Ocean, Zax found the undersea cave in an unassuming flat area in the bottom of the ocean, concealed from unwanted attention by a myriad of unfathomable formations.


    The entrance to the cave was through a formation induced quagmire. It felt uncomfortable sinking into it, the doing of formations meant to deter unwelcomed guests before they even get to be suspicious.


    Coming out on the other side, for an instant Zax suspected that he returned to New Earth.


    The cave was as big as his home in Kingdom Earth, cave twenty five. Its ceiling even had Sun Stones, which Zax could tell that were manually implanted. There was a small colony of humans and beasts, surrounded by a vista of a diversified plant life.


    ‘Earth’s Core Holders, some not even that. The beasts are mostly Shenghuo type and only a small percentage in human form’. It was fair to say that Zax was startled by the small mix community which had a total population of a bit over five hundred souls. Who would have expected to find such place when actually looking for the base of Ercas Mir’s most notorious criminal organization?


    “Zax!” A figure in some sort of military trousers and coat flew from the top of a squared building at the center of the colony.


    Gid Chu, accompanied by a group of fifty one men and women, humans and beasts, greeted Zax with an exultant smile. At the forefront, next to Gid Chu, was a blue eyes brown haired, hazel skinned middle aged man with less than happy face. He exuded an air of dominance and a solid front. When his and Zax’s line of sight intersected, the latter could instantly tell the identity of the man.


    ‘Second Leader of the chain, Yurnal’. Zax exchanged a short clash of stares with Yurnal before nonchalantly averting his gaze. It was not submission, but understanding of why the ugly look and acknowledgment that in the Second Leader’s shoes, he will probably express the same cordiality.


    “Hahahaha!” Gid Chu descended, laughing. “Exceptional performance, Zax, hahahaha! Not only did you get the Galactic Communicator but also stole the Diluted Element and the Solar Basil Leaf!”


    “You know?” Zax reacted with minimized surprised, guessing that even though it is considerably hard for the chain to gather internal information of the Grand Abode, ructions like the one he is responsible for, which occurred no less during the event of the century, are impossible for even the five powers to contain.


    “Neither you nor the church were subtle, any worth mentioning force in the continent know what transpired, tomorrow every force around the globe”. Gid Chu elaborated and moved aside for Yurnal and the rest to approach. “Everyone, this is Zax Zel, the seventy fifth member of our Sinister Chain”. He introduced.


    The great number of faces, from young to old, whether fury, scaly, feathery or smooth skin, glanced at back with an array of convivial expressions.


    Zax proved his strength on several occasions they heard about, if from Rockwell and Riv, Zechariah and Linor or their Elder Master\ Leader. Furthermore, by succeeding in his task, he now improved his reputation several fold over, on a level few members of the chain ever accomplished.


    ‘Well done, Zax!’


    ‘Excellent work, young man!’


    ‘Brother Zax, you sure are impressive’.


    ‘Dear friend Zax, are you married? Regardless, you’ll definitely like my daughter, or son, if you swing that way’.





    The members of the chain sent via the communicator, presenting themselves with short words of praise or bluntly trying to attract him, in the process giving names to all the faces.


    ‘Incredible!’ Zax said to himself while listening to everyone. ‘Aside from senior Gid and Yurnal, forty four of the fifty are Martial Mortals and among them are seven Chaoyue type beasts!’


    It was important to note, that since he ventured to Ercas Mir, Zax had barely met Chaoyue type beasts. The fact that his Martial family had so many of them, relative to the number of members, was not to be taken for granted.


    Although the seven were Martial Mortals and so could transform to a perfect human form, in the cave they stayed in animalistic forms, perhaps for feeling comfortable in their haven where humans and beasts lived mutually. As a result, even if he only heard about them, Zax could tell each of their species.


    “Silence, everyone”. A stern voice caused all the transmissions Zax received to withdraw. The speaker was the blue eyes, hazel skinned Yurnal. “Gid Chu”, he turned to his equal on the leader’s seats, ignoring Zax. “The powers are not permitted to have the time to come up with a solution to sabotage the plan. Get the Galactic Communicator and quickly disrupt their joint frequency”.


    “Brother Yurnal, you are right. Zax, please give me the Galactic Communicator”. Gid Chu, basically everyone, could figure Yurnal’s temper, but he kindly cooperated with him for the sake of pacifying him and since indeed delaying the plan was worse than labeling it “negligence”.


    Not paying attention to Yurnal, Zax nodded and retrieved the rectangle suitcase looking device.


    Seeing it in person, not even Yurnal could restrain his delight from showing up in the glint of his eyes.


    “That’s it”. Gid Chu received the Galactic Communicator and verified. The shape of the device was easy to replicate, but the formation engraved on it were so obscure that, in his opinion, only Immortals can reproduce.


    “There were factors in the plan that you were wrong about. I had to commence it earlier than planned and realized how to do it without much of the guidance you provided me”. Due to his losses in cultivation, despite the Diluted Element more than compensated on them, Zax insisted on citing his experience for later getting additional compensation.


    “Boy, that is a given”. For the first time Yurnal directly spoke to him with a deep glare, but in his tone it sounded as if he was preaching rather than agreeing. “We all face tasks, missions that require improvisation and sacrifice. Since it’s for the betterment of our New Earth’s kin, refrain from mentioning the subject again!”

  14. #254
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 15 – Inharmonious





    “Second Leader Yurnal”, Zax frowned. He was willing to turn a blind eye to his attitude, but if his effort will be carelessly disregarded, than he will draw a clear line to stress his position in the chain. “First, if there is something I want to say, then either listen or don’t, but forget from telling me to stay quiet. Second, my agreement with senior Gid was to join as an outside contractor. Even if you count me as the seventy fifth member of Sinister Chain, keep in mind that I’m not doing a voluntary service”. His tone was harsh and he did not bother with watching for offending Yurnal too much. With him after the Black Core in Yurnal’s possession, their chance for friendly relations was meager, at best.


    “Insolent child, you can’t even begin to comprehend what sacrifices had been done for your poor sake as an indigenous of New Earth. If it was not for the success in your task, I would have etched each one of them on your skin so you would know and not forget”.


    It was not just Zax’s impudence that made Yurnal implode, but also the bottled up anger he contained since hearing about what transpired with his wife and son while he was on a mission.


    Hostile intent started emanating from the two.


    “Master”,


    “Second Leader”,


    The fifty members of the chain responded with trying to calm Yurnal, stepping back or sharing the same dissatisfaction with Zax.


    “Settle down!” Gid Chu berated. “Yurnal, you yourself told me to hurry up with the plan, yet you ignite such disarray! Zax, whatever else you have in mind, keep it for later. Gadgel, Xiao Kirin, show Zax the cave. Everyone who is curious on whether today we will have a historic development in our battle against the five powers, wait outside the central edifice”.


    With a look that says “this is not over”, Yurnal turned away, leaving in flight with most present members to the squared building at the center of the colony, the central edifice.


    “Senior Gid”, Zax called him right before he, too, left.


    Halting midair and seemingly able to read his mind, Gid said before Zax could speak. “You have done more than I can compliment for, Zax, you will naturally be rewarded for it”. He turned and flew.


    No one said anything about the Solar Basil Leaf or the Diluted Element. They sure thought about them, but it was not the appropriate time for several reasons.


    “Brother Zax”. The two that stayed behind, Gadgel and Xiao Kirin, repressed any unpleasant opinion they might have had on Zax, due to his confrontation with the Second Leader, and concentrated on his achievement to summon a genial mien.


    “Brother Gadgel, sister Xiao Kirin”. Zax nodded. The mores of “brother” or “sister” were more common in New Earth than Ercas Mir. Being referred to as a “brother” produced a favorable first impression for the pair in Zax’s eyes. “Are you from New Earth?”


    “I am”. The thin, pale skinned and fluffy light brown haired Gadgel said. “Roughly three hundred years ago immigrated to the surface with the help of Leader and Supreme Ruler Trey”.


    “And I was born right here in this cave’s colony”. The red haired, reddish skinned Xiao Kirin said with a smile, amused by the abrupt surprise that plastered on Zax’s face. “See there?” She pointed at the colony to clarify. “Leader and Second Master established the colony, actually, created this cave, for members of the chain who built families in Ercas Mir. Usually the population isn’t that big, near full capacity as today, but after Leader and Second Master were informed of the success in your mission, afraid that the reprisal from the five powers will not discriminate between the innocent and guilty, they ordered the seventy two of us to bring back our families from the outside”.


    Zax nodded.


    “Brother Zax, Leader asked us to show you the cave, but there is not much to see and even if there was something, any Martial Mortal could use Sublime Soul Sense to browse the entire cave, except the central edifice”. Gadgel tapped Zax’s shoulder. “My guess was that he wanted to separate you and Second Leader. We all heard what happened with Savir and Yimin. Even if you did not really harm them, you should know how difficult it is for beasts and humans to procreate. The scare you gave Second Leader justified his outburst”.


    “Are you, too, trying to make peace?” Zax raised his brow. If Gadgel wanted to get involved it was fine, but until Yurnal willingly give up the Black Core, any sort of peace would only be temporary.


    “I am”. Gadgel confessed. “Sadly I can’t force it. So just considered what I said and if, in the end, you and Second Leader will come to blows, be sure not to involve the people in here, not that I think this solution will be in your favor”.


    “Anyway”, Xiao Kirin said to mend the air. “Now that you know Leader’s intentions, it doesn’t matter if we’ll wonder around the cave or join the others. Maybe with you, the ‘Bringer of the Galactic Communicator’, we’ll be allowed in the central edifice”.


    “Sorry to trouble you”. Zax followed the two. His impression of them did not change for inclining toward a natural stance on the matter between him and Yurnal.





    The colony was the size of a small town, with most building being private houses and a few communal. Since it was a place of convergence more than the actual home of many of the beasts and humans here, its residents had a general familiarity with each other. The cause for the chummy ambiance was the mutual connection everyone shared, roots to another world below the ground. To them, who lived in Ercas Mir, able to learn about New Earth from their elders and at a certain age and make to decision of moving to the undersea cave, the idea of originating from the same place, somewhere the majority of them would likely die from old age before ever visiting, made them look at each other as distant relatives in times when they converged.


    “Are you two married?” Zax inquired upon noticing the closeness between Gadgel Xiao Kirin.


    Staring at each other and sharing a smile, the pair turned their heads to Zax.


    “We did not have a ceremony, but you can say that we are both the other one’s significant other”. Gadgel said.


    “For more than a century, since we began practicing the formation together…” Xiao Kirin emphasized.


    ‘Companion’s Link formation’. Zax speculated. The members of the chain were split into pairs just because of this formation and whoever practiced it was practically bound to nurture romantic feelings. “So you also have a family here?”


    As they walked together along the roads of the colony, which was fairly technologically advanced to support the needs of its provisional residents, Zax recognized few of the fifty members of the chains that accompanied Gid Chu and Yurnal mixed with the non cultivators population.


    Core Masters and Martial Mortals dealing in the mundane. In New Earth, each one of them would be the patriarch, matriarch of a family or leader of a tribe with younger generations under them dealing with material matters, while they cultivate undisturbed.


    “A son, a daughter and several grandchildren. Neither are cultivators, sadly”. Xiao Kirin.


    Seeing the indiscreet “that’s all” look slowly forming on Zax’s face, Gadgel followed up, saying. “Our trade as world renowned criminals is not exactly safe and here is not New Earth. Finding the time to raise children, much less care for an entire family, is impossible in this conditions. That is why members of the chain can live here in such unity with non cultivators. Maybe when the threat of the five powers won’t hover above our heads we’ll be able to indulge in fostering fame and status among other great families and clans”. He uttered a hearty chuckle.


    The central edifice was a fifty five cubic meters structure with no windows and one entrance. Typically all members of the chain could go in and out of it freely, but on occasions when crucial operations were taking place, only those involved were allowed entry.


    “You can’t go in”. Two of the seven Chaoyue type beasts, Martial Mortals of the third level, stood on guard at the entrance, blocking thirty six of the present fifty two members of the chain in the cave.


    One was a raven half a meter tall with one leg, four wings and multicolored feathers, Rainbow Raven. The other was nine meters tall, four legged, and white furred, six eyes wolf with head about as big as the rest of its body, White Jawed Beast.


    “Zax-” Concerned for how he may react, Gadgel said with the intent to explain.


    “I can wait”. Zax cut him, crossed his arms and kept standing in front the two beasts. He could understand why Gid Chu would not want a crowd within the central edifice, at the moment. When things will be finished inside, then he will intrude to learn whether his task was in vain or not and to receive what the chain owe him.


    An half an hour passed and the White Jawed Beast’s ears perked. “New guy”, he turned to Zax. “Leader and Second Leader ask for your attendance. Gadgel, you and your spouse should show him the way”.


    Soul Sense could not work in the central edifice and the building had five storeys with corridors and varied room. To get to Gid Chu with haste, Zax needed guidance and the couple benefited from being assigned to him.


    “You really angered Second Master”. Xiao Kirin whispered in a sigh. She and Gadgel also received the order through their communicators and it came from Yurnal. If Gid Chu was busy than the Second Leader could directly send message to Zax, but he ended up using a middleman.


    The central edifice was comprised of straight corridors and five the ten room in each storey.


    “There are rooms invested for different plans, separately each of the five powers. Labs, cultivation chambers and rooms only selected members with special authority can enter”. Xiao Kirin said as they took the elevator to the fourth floor. “Every room, which we more often use the term ‘Vault’ to refer to, has a letter that indicates the level of clearance needed to enter it, followed by the number of the floor it’s situated in, a dimensions number and ID number. Vaults with the letter ‘C’ demand the highest clearance level and a dimensions number means how many such rooms the chain overall has in all of our bases. The C-4.2.1 vault is the super computer room and usually no one enters it but Leader, Second Master and maybe four more members, so no matter what, don’t start a fight with Second Master”.


    The doors to the C-4.2.1 vault opened sideways automatically. Inside was a room similar to the communication room in the Grand Abode.


    Next to large control panel and a wall size screen were Gid Chu, Yurnal and six men and women, four of which humans, the last two beasts in human form.


    The Galactic Communicator was connected to the control panel and an elderly looking, bald headed man, alongside Gid Chu, sat beside the communicator and typed on a lengthy keyboard.


    “Boy, come here immediately!” Yurnal snapped the moment the doors opened. While he looked furious, Gid Chu and the other six had complicated looks of frustration on their faces. “Are you deaf as well as half incompetent? Now come here to explain!”

  15. #255
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    Book 9 – Eruption

    Chapter 16 – Sought After And Found



    Seeing the struggle over executing the code to hack the Galactic Communicator, Zax had an idea of why he was summoned. Nevertheless, being harangued before having the chance to speak or fully understand why he was needed, despite foreshadowing, ticked him off.

    Remembering Xiao Kirin’s words, Zax swallowed his anger and approached the eight.

    “You arrived…” Straightening his back, Gid Chu paid attention to the three after skimming a new code typed on the huge screen. Whether he was too absorbed in the code to hear Yurnal or not was hard to tell by the complex frown on his face, which could be for any of the two reasons or both. “Tell me how you disconnected the Galactic Communicator, Zax”.

    “I had not time to do it with accordance to the material you gave me to study. I had to disconnect it manually”. Zax answered straightforwardly without batting an eyelash.

    “I know it”. Said the bald elder, sitting in front the control panel. “We won’t be able to jam the frequency between the five powers and the Immortal powerhouses behind them”.

    BANG!

    Yurnal stomped, though controlled his strength to not damage the room or anything in it. “This was a once in a life time opportunity and your pick for the person to perform the task ruined it for all of us”. He pressed his voice down his throat with effort as he put the blame on Gid Chu.

    Severely looking back at Yurnal, Gid Chu said in a low tone. “After telling you of his abilities did you have someone better for the job?” He did not prolong the argument and turned to the bald elder. “Michael, is the Galactic Communicator still operational?”

    “Mm”. Nodded the bald elder, Michael, after reexamining the Galactic Communicator. “Yes. Its list of frequencies is still intact, but of all its functions only the sending and receiving are available”.

    Pondering for a second, a resolute expression covered Gid Chu’s face. “Good, then I have a plan”.

    Staring at Gid Chu with a piercing gaze, as if to penetrate into his mind, a sudden brilliant change manifested on Yurnal’s countenance. “You intend to…”

    Forcing a smile, Gid Chu answered. “It’s a long shot, but we don’t have other options”.

    “Leader?”

    “Second Leader?”

    The five members working the control panel and Michael connecting to the Galactic Communicator wanted to know what solution to their problematic situation the two leaders had.

    “Senior Gid, can you really make use of the Galactic Communicator?” Zax asked. Beyond getting paid, it was also far more important for him to limit the threat of the Immortal powerhouses in command of the five powers.

    “You stay out of it. You’ve done enough!” Yurnal pointed at Zax. “Gadgel, Xiao Kirin, go and take him with you”.

    “Yes, Second Leader”.

    “Yes, Second Master”.

    The pair replied respectfully. Xiao Kirin is one of Yurnal’s apprentices, which is why she refers to him as “Master”. The reason for adding “Second” was Yurnal order, so it would be less confusing when instructing apprentices both under him and Gid Chu.

    “Brother Zax, let’s go. Since everything is going well here, why won’t you come to our place so we could introduce our family to you?” Gadgel suggested with warm hospitality as an excuse for Zax to respond to the order.

    “Senior Gid?” Zax insisted without moving a centimeter, acting as if Yurnal and his actions were nothing but air… expendable that he could do without.

    “Yes, Zax, the Galactic Communicator is working, which makes it indispensable. You did well. Now go with Gadgel and Xiao Kirin. Unessential personal is only a distraction. When we’ll be done, I’ll talk to you again”. In truth, he was fine with Zax staying, but because of Yurnal and his concern for the former’s wellbeing should the two exchange blows, he picked the latter’s side in a more mild wording.

    “Fine”. Zax resigned to Gid Chu’s persuasion.

    “You’ll stand in my way for only so long, Gid Chu”. Exiting the vault, Zax heard Yurnal say.

    The side doors were a fraction of a second from shutting.

    “No, Yurnal, I won’t. For our kin and Earth, there is no point. This… both of you should do your best to remember”.

    The doors closed and Zax could not tell the meaning in Gid Chu’s response. Did he expect for them to make peace? For Yurnal to give his Black Core and let the matter end, or for Zax to turn over his?



    Gadgel’s and Xiao Kirin’s home was a villa containing all the members of their small family.

    While the couple outwardly seemed to be at their late thirties, early forties, their son and daughter and their spouses appeared quite older, due to not being cultivators, and even their grandchildren were not looking that much younger.

    Being the only base of the chain equipped with all needed utilities and proper residences, the small family lived permanently in the undersea cave.

    It is an understatement to say that the decision to confine their children, their spouses and grandchildren to the undersea cave was made with heavy heart, however Gadgel’s and Xiao Kirin’s identities as Sinister Chain’s member was known to the five powers, so the outside world was no longer safe for their family.

    As they all came together in the back garden of the villa for a familial lunch and introduction of Zax, the new promising member of the chain, elsewhere, not far in the Eastern Continent and just an hour earlier, another group of people gathered around a round table with the intention of dealing with more than the afternoon’s meal.



    The location was a in the open, a green meadow.

    A collection of six figures, two women and four men sat in pairs around a table of unknown substance with a circumference of eighteen meters. The table was arranged with all kinds of fruits and beverages that were barely touched.

    Surrounding them was a dome shaped array with layers upon layers of formations.

    At the presence of each other, each of the six exuded an aura of unrivaled supremacy.

    Sitting together to the north were General Beking and Admiral Hamumni. Side By side toward the east were Archbishop Silternjan and Cardinal Northstar. With their backs to the west sat Horn Kikon and General Logan.

    “Well, Silternjan, Northstar, you fed us and quenched our thirst. Move now to the topic for which you called us to meet in person”. Horn Kikon’s voice rumbled like the sound of rolling stones. He sat in a human form, a three meters tall golden man with four arms, silver eyes and draping silver hair, covered by a red fur cloak and nothing more.

    “Tell us how things concluded with the Galactic Communicator”. Admiral Hamumni knocked the bottom of her wine cup on the table. She, too, was in human form, but differs from Horn Kikon her appearance retained fewer of her bestial features.

    “We lost the Galactic Communicator”. Archbishop Silternjan spoke in a husky tone. “It was stolen and probably reached the hands of Sinister Chain”.

    Dealing with matters of the church in Ercas Mir was his duty, which is why Cardinal Northstar had not even glanced at the Horn and Admiral. In fact, if he did not need to borrow the usage of one of their Galactic Communicators to return to the Holy Palace, he would not even been here.

    “You did what?!” Admiral Hamumni shouted. “And instead of letting us know right when it happened, you dragged us for lunch?!”

    “Aren’t you something, Silternjan? You are aware that we all suspected that by ‘lost’ you meant having your Galactic Communicator out of commission”. General Logan reproached. “But stolen and in Sinister Chain’s possession…? Forget the ridiculousness of how it sounds, why do you think they were willing to go through all the risk of trouble to get it?” He kept on talking and answering himself. “We all use the same frequency…”

    “Enough beating around the bush”. Crossed arms, General Beking demanded. “Silternjan, Northstar, at the moment the fault is on your heads. Are you prolonging the issue for it to aggravate further and let us four share the brunt when confronting with our Immortals command?” When counting Cardinal Northstar, in terms of strength, she had to share the second place behind Horn Kikon, but as far as wits and equanimity go, she was number one.

    “Cunning zealots”, Horn Kikon slammed a golden palm on the table. His sharp nails scratching the surface of the table, causing blue sparks to ensue. “This shameful incompetence is yours to bear. What? Do you want I, Kikon, to suffer, too? If that is the case, be certain that the cost of my scales and fur will be your little lives!” His human’s face twisted, revealing more of his animalistic form.

    Two white auras flared around the Archbishop and Cardinal.

    “Kikon, the grace of The Almighty shine on us”. Cardinal Northstar said. “What you have… Fiend Immortal?”

    “General of the Armies, Violet Star Commander!” General Logan corrected with a menacing trace of killing intent in his voice.

    “Settle down. Am I to remind you that your pride will be the fall of this joint operation?” General Beking gestured with her arm and all the food and drink on the table vanished, replaced with a digital map of the planet. “This is our responsibility, and if there is even a hint of it being jeopardized, although each of us should know his fault, it’s all of our duty to deal with it!”

    “You are right, Beking”. Archbishop Silternjan was the first to withdraw his aura. “Failing to catch the culprit is my error“. Attempting to split the blame was a stake he would have continued to gamble only if their true obligation was kept aside. He could care less of angering the other four powers, but disregarding the task he assumed from His Holiness was a heinous crime, no amount of prayers to The Almighty would suffice to pardon.

    After Archbishop Silternjan, the rest also took a step back.

    “I see no other way, but flipping this planet upside down, if need be trimming it, to once and for all find and exterminate every base and associate of the chain”. Horn Kikon said definitively.

    “How long that would take us?” Admiral Hamumni disagreed. “And do you think those Overlords would let us? What if Sinister Chain keeps its base in their territories or even the Down Ocean?”

    “Kikon, your plan is only viable if Immortal will take the helm”. Beside the golden man, General Logan noted in a soothing tone.

    “Would you hear the approach to the matter I thought of?” Archbishop Silternjan asked.

    “Speak, Silternjan”. General Beking said.

    Nodding in gratefulness of giving him continuous support, Archbishop Silternjan opened. “First of all, with regard to the frequency, you all don’t need to worry of it sabotaging our communication with our lords. The Galactic Communicator was removed manually. According to the report printed on the computer it was connected to, when the communication to my Luminous Church was severed, the Galactic Communicator erased the administration permissions on the frequency”.

    Shading light on their critical situation with this imperative information, the grim ambiance alleviated a bit.

    “Second, quite helpful… my Luminous Church had a short investigation into the identity of the culprit and we think we know who he is and his origin”.

  16. #256
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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 17 – Unexpected Message





    “Who the hell cares about the grunt that made a fool of your church?!” Horn Kikon retorted. “How many members of the chain did we identify over the years and where it got us? Other they die in battle, hide or, in case of capture, the chain relocate and everything torture out of them is useless”.


    “Kikon”, Archbishop Silternjan persistently said. “True, it has never been beneficial to possess the identities of the chain’s member, expect for making it easier to kill them, but this time around, if not for his speculated origin, then his identity alone worth spending all our resources for an additional kill”.


    “You’re making it sound like there is a new fourth level expert in the chain”. General Logan flipped his hand and a purple bottle of some sort of drink appeared in his hand, out of his spatial ring, while six glass cups appeared on the table. He filled each cup to the brim in one motion and telekinetically disturbed five of them among the people around the table. “Who is it? I would like to know”. He took a sip of the purple liquid in his cup and asked.


    Archbishop Silternjan caught the cup sent to him, held it firmly, but did not raise it to his lips, to drink. “He is not a fourth level expert”. He said with a knowing smile of what to come…


    “Are you playing with us, Silternjan?” General Beking glowered, also not drinking.


    “I’m certainly not”.


    “Then what are you saying?” Admiral Hamumni pushed the cup away, for the meantime. She knew what beverage Admiral Logan like the most and always kept on his person. It had a distinct flavor and aroma and also possessed a mild positive effect on the soul. However, she, too, was not in the mood to drink. “Are we to utilize our powers for a third level Martial Mortal or weaker? The chain has more than ten third level Martial Mortals, maybe twenty, maybe more? Frankly, Silternjan, I’m beginning to doubt the credibility of your words, or are you still trying to pull us down with you?”


    “Let him speak!” The bottom part of a cup hit the table; half the content of the purple beverage was gone. The speaker, who leaned back on his chair and chided withdrew his presence right after reminding everyone that today the forces of the church are not solitary.


    “Thank you, Northstar”, Archbishop Silternjan nodded and with everyone’s attention ready to listen, he finally took a long sip and continued to clarify. “The person who stole the Galactic Communicator isn’t a third level expert, although his power not far. Let me tell you something, that person, who bypassed two Bishops and escaped myself, until a handful of years ago, wasn’t even as strong as a Peak Core Master”. He smirked from the looks of astonishment and disbelief. Subtle as they were, he knew those around him quite well and could easily distinguish their reactions. Besides, after this rate opportunity to entertaining himself on their expense, the Archbishop was aware that when everything will be done and the church will reinstate communication with the Holy Palace, His Holiness will have him undergo repentance for his shame and failure.


    “That’s not funny, Silternjan”. General Logan poured a second cup down his throat, his breath smelled like sugary fruits. “By what you say, the chain had gotten an expert with an astonishing rate of cultivation. If in just a few years he reached the level of eluding you, then perhaps in a few more, a seventh fifth level Martial Mortal will be born on this planet”.


    “The chain two leaders are comparable to fourth level Martial Mortal, I reckon above Beginner phase”. General Beking, “but for them to increase their battle power to that of a fifth level Martial Mortal… they might need a thousand years, if not thousands. This says a lot about their overall talent and shows that the aboriginals of this planet are not to be taken for granted… Is the origin of the man in question is a New Earth’s native?“


    “Another one?!” Admiral Hamumni exclaimed and averted her gaze to Horn Kikon and General Logan. “Are the two of you inept? Should I myself contact your Violet Star Commander and tell him about your inability to govern your territories?! The pathway to New Earth is in the Western Continent, not in the east and not in the sea!”


    “Little ***** of the seas, you have the nerve?!” Horn Kikon howled. “Should you dare slander me in the ears of Violet Star Commander, I’ll eat you!” In a fit of rage he transformed to his regal, nightmarish animalistic form of over three hundred meters long golden scaled, silver furred body, with horns, sanguine claws and ebony teeth. His shoulder up and waist down like the combination of a tiger, wolf and a bear, while his torso, shimmering gold like a four armed dragon.


    “Threaten me?!” Admiral Hamumni exploded in fury. She sprang to the air and transformed, as well. Her dress torn to pieces, revealing from the waist up a body white as snow with a blue luster glittering on her seamless skin. Her white long, oceanic hair spread flowingly to all directions of the compass. She had not eyes, just a button nose and sweet lips that concealed rows tiny teeth. Her waist down was scaled blue, green and yellow, a fish’s tail with seven razor sharp fins and pearly four long tentacles.


    Neither was a beast of this planet, neither was inferior to the rare Chaoyue beasts of this planet.


    “Draw back!” General Beking jumped from her seat to the air, next to Admiral Hamumni whose animalistic figure was still smaller than the average person. She leered at Horn Kikon. She, Cardinal Northstar and maybe one or two Overlords, were the sole existence second to that beast.


    “Kikon, it’s not time to fight!” General Logan flew in front of the giant head of the nightmarish beast.


    “Move away, Logan! These lambs think they are mine, Kikon’s equals?!” He roared. “I’m Youyue!” His voice echoed to the heavens, splitting the clouds and shaking the earth.


    “You are, Kikon, you are, which is why you shouldn’t let her words influence you! You are Superior to her in every way; Violet Star Commander will kill her before listening to any slurs regarding you!” General Logan used his attainments in the soul to and release soothing undulations. He was not afraid from Horn Kikon, they both served under the same Immortal and in fighting will only get both of them in trouble. To avoid the headache, he did his best to calm his comrade.


    “Horn Kikon”, Cardinal Northstar flew right above his seat. Picking his words carefully, he proceeded to say. “Our enemy is Sinister Chain and that new prospect they recruited. Admiral Hamumni was mistaken in forgetting this point and getting distracted by the trivial”.


    ‘Don’t say a word, Hamumni!’ General Beking warned her via Sublime Soul Sense. ‘Logan will definitely take Kikon’s side, should we end up in a fight, and by the time the church will interfere we will sustain critical injuries. Therefore, endure!’


    ‘Elder sister Beking...’ Admiral Hamumni obeyed, if only to not burden her trusted friends and elder sister figure.


    After moments of silence, the atmosphere Horn Kikon exuded mollified and he regained his composure. Without quibbling anymore, he returned to his human form and back to his seat, covered by a new fur cloak, green this time.


    Seeing him calmed, Admiral Hamumni also resumed her human formed and donned new dress. She and the other three in the air, descended back to their seats.


    “I will continue now, if nobody minds”. Archbishop Silternjan said and found no opposition. “General Beking, indeed we suspect that he is aboriginal, but let’s explain it step by step. First, who he is. Can you all recall for me the Event in Demirva Ridge during the Mercenary Association’s High Rankers' trials?”


    The others affirmed in quiet.


    “At that time’s High Rankers' trials there was a applicant which left a memorable impression on all of us. In the information chips Sheldon delivered us, according to multiply reports, applicant, not related to the five powers, had found himself under siege by members from all of our powers. Back then, it was more than implied that the deceased Cattelin from the Golden Desert Fort had severed his arm and was after his life”.


    “Get to the point. We know the one you talk about”. General Beking said.


    “Fine. That person is the applicant who somehow managed to absorb the perfect dark attribute’s essence and slaughter nearly all of the five powers’ representatives. That person used the chain’s undetectable Bone And Muscle Transformation but exposed himself during his escape”.


    “Him? But according to Sheldon, he could barely handle your Sister Beatriz. Yes, she is an Advanced third level expert, but in a few years-”


    “A few years ago he escaped the pursuit of Lieutenant General Debuk Jin and Feather Ulvi, Hamumni, you should not be surprised”. General Logan recapped.


    “I don’t know how he got so strong so fast, Hamumni, his growth far too exaggerated to consider it as a result of absorbing the perfect dark attribute’s essence”. Archbishop Silternjan said. “Logan, remember that I said that he is not a third level expert? He is a bodily cultivator, yet his base physique is about as strong as Peak second level expert. Do you understand my meaning?”


    “His understanding of the attribute is his source of strength?” General Beking responded a moment before General Logan registered Archbishop Silternjan’s meaning.


    “Yes”. Archbishop Silternjan nodded with a grave expression. “His understanding of the dark attribute worldly energy is actually above my understanding in the light attribute”.


    “That’s absurd!” The most collected General Beking declared.


    “It is”. Archbishop Silternjan admitted. “But it’s also true. When Sister Beatriz told me that his understanding rivals a fifth level expert, I didn’t believe her, but after seeing it with my own two eyes… The chain had obtained an aboriginal the likes of which none of the Ascended Elites within the superpowers we serve can match against”.


    “He must die”. The four had heard enough to announce unanimously.


    “Silternjan, how convinced are you that he is native to New Earth? Could it be that he is related to that traitor Gid Chu, or that Shenghuo beast Yurnal?” General Logan inquired.


    Yes. The five powers knew the identities of Sinister Chain’s two leaders.


    “He can’t be related to Gid Chu. His family severed their ties with him. Neither he nor they care about the wellbeing of the other, at least that’s how they behave. Cattelin, who was a member of my Golden Desert Fort and similarly a descendant of Gid Chu, killed both members of the chain and their families and in the end was killed by that man we are having this discussion on. As for Yurnal, he doesn’t have a tribe in Valgarel. Even if he had, who among you want to offend Ozeyn? Kikon, would you let us investigate another Youyue?” General Beking turned to the golden giant.


    “Someone one of a kind such as myself? How many Youyue beasts do you think are out there in the lower Valley? No, definitely no! Besides, Ozeyn already agreed to join the Voltic Star when he will reach the fifth level of the Martial Mortal realm-”


    “Quiet!” Archbishop Silternjan suddenly snapped.


    “Silternjan, you dare interrupt me!” The rage in Horn Kikon’s eyes was reignited.


    “It’s the chain”. Archbishop Silternjan hurried to explain. “They used the Galactic Communicator to relay a message to all members of the church, also to share with the other four powers: ‘We overwatch your frequency. Terminate all communication with the Holy Palace, Voltic Star and Planetary Battalion and related members of these places currently in deep space. You have an hour to comply, afterwards let our location be known to the entire universe’”.

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 18 – Difficult Decision





    “Silternjan, repeat these words you just said!” Horn Kikon gritted his teeth as the atmosphere spiked with tension.


    “Calm down, Kikon”, Archbishop Silternjan felt a tinge scared that the beast will lose all reason and attack the messenger. Inwardly he cursed the Violet Star Commander for sending Horn Kikon along General Logan and not someone less unhinged. “It’s the chain trying to take what little advantage still available from obtaining the Galactic Communicator”.


    “Silternjan”, Admiral Hamumni banged her tiny fist on the table. “You said that the administration permissions of the Galactic Communicator were erased, but you haven’t said what was left?”


    “Regarding that…” Archbishop Silternjan’s old bottom slightly shifted on his seat. Only in front those of the same caliber as his and in matter related to His Holiness, such as the joint operation, would he fail to completely mask his unease. “All other functions are either fixable or undamaged to begin with. If the chain wants, they are capable of broadcasting the coordinates of this planet outside of the Milky Way plain”.


    “Why have you kept to yourself it till now?!” General Logan berated.


    “We didn’t assume that the chain will get so far? Maybe regardless how much they know, they are still unaware of what will happen if news about this tomb of a planet will spread to other Immortal powerhouses”. Cardinal Northstar relieved a portion of the burden from Archbishop Silternjan.


    “By settling inhabitants of our three powers and letting them blend for a few thousand years with the old population of this planet, for my Violet Star Commander it’s no longer a legal or ethical issue if all life on this planet will perish. I’m sure it’s the same for His Holiness and General of the Armies”. Horn Kikon grunted. “But if someone else will snatch the treasure of that expert, then all this patient work will end them being for naught and we will have to suffer the consequences. Even I won’t be an exception”. Perhaps because of how rare was his class as a beast that when an imminent threat to his life, beyond his abilities to defend himself, presented itself, his instinct for self preservation kicked in and he became extremely coolheaded.


    “Then how should we respond?“ Admiral Hamumni asked, her line of sight budged toward General Beking. “We can’t consult the Planetary Battalion, Voltic Star or Holy Palace. An hour is not enough time for correspondence”.


    “We will have to decide on our own on whether to comply or not. Our leaders will realize if we suddenly stop communication-“


    “Wait a moment”, General Logan cut her mid speech. “You do understand that this is no compliance, but submission to enemy’s demands”.


    “I’m also against breaking off communication”. Cardinal Northstar affirmed.


    Looking at the two, General Beking’s brows creased. “Northstar, you landed on this planet with His Young Eminence, Stelero Mars, and a postulant with an extraordinary background. Do you think it is not obvious that you seek whatever solution that will permit you to bring them back to the Holy Palace? Logan, tell me how you prefer to handle the situation, but remember, one transmission to your Voltic Star and you might doom your Violet Star Commander’s hopes for the treasure”.


    Reprimanding one, warning the other… after General Beking finished, neither Cardinal Northstar nor General Logan opened their mouths to further embarrass themselves.


    “Making this judgment on our own still feels wrong, in my opinion”. Archbishop Silternjan insisted. “You said it yourself, Beking, currently in the Grand Abode is an Ascended Elite, whose authority in the Holy Palace higher than both mine and Northstar, and a young postulant who even His Holiness cherish deeply, not to mention her parents. By complying with the chain’s demands, those two will have to remain on this planet for hundreds, if not thousands, more years”.


    “I considered them, already, Silternjan”. General Beking comforted. “As a matter of a fact, it’s quite simple. Answer me, Silternjan, Northstar, too, if you wish… What’s more important, the Immortal treasure we are after or sending Stelero Mars and the postulant back to the Holy Palace?”


    Archbishop Silternjan and Cardinal Northstar both grimaced upon hearing the inquiry. Nothing short from what they predicted would be General Beking’s thoughtful consideration. There was no need to replay, nor blame General Beking’s straightforward manners. The reason they had ugly looks on their faces was because they will have to explain the situation to His Young Eminence and enforce the decision, even if he would be against it.


    The more they tried to refute the notion of going along with Sinister Chain’s demands, the closer they found themselves reaching to the frustrating understanding that there is no better alternative.


    The atmosphere around the round table was downcast.


    “Please, everyone, it’s not like we have zero options out of this predicament”. General Beking said with reassurance.


    “Beking, we admit. You have the best strategist mind. Now tell us what we haven’t thought off, yet”. Archbishop Silternjan spoke with resigned tone.


    “Elder sister Beking, don’t play with us like that Silternjan did at the beginning”. Admiral Hamumni pleaded as she could not tolerate more suspense.


    Snickering, General Beking opened. “Sheldon”.


    “Sheldon?”


    “Sheldon? Your intentions are…?!”


    Nearly everyone but Cardinal Northstar took only a moment to realize General Beking’s, most probably, final resort.


    At the same breath of mentioning the name of the Mercenary Association’s leader, General Beking jumped on the momentum of her speech before she will get interrupted. “You don’t know this, so listen, Northstar. Sheldon, the man leading the Mercenary Association, once in the past discovered communication device wreckages of the Immortal expert that died on this planet. After years of studying them and comparison to the communication technology used here, he came up with a half decent Galactic Communicator. With this makeshift communicator that could reach deep space, he contacted a number of Immortals, but could not figure this planet’s coordinates to give any of them”.


    “And you just let him do it?” Cardinal Northstar asked, not yet putting blame on anyone.


    “We couldn’t know. Our Immortal leaders agreed to operate on the same frequency and block all others from coming in or out, even just to get detected. Sheldon was lucky, that all”. General Logan took it upon himself, being the nearest of the six to the man in question. “When he mentioned God made dark attribute’s essence, in one of his conversations, that is when he caught the attention of an Immortal expert who contacted Violet Star Commander, His Holiness and General of the Armies for clarification. Having neither coordinates, nor his own personal forces on the planet, the Immortal expert and our leaders reached an agreement. He will not fight them for the location of the planet, which we will have to transmit, and they will not order us to eliminate his sole subordinate, Sheldon”.


    Speaking for so many words without pause, General Logan poured himself, and all of finished drinking from the cups, another round of the purple beverage.


    “Currently, Sheldon doesn’t know that we can’t communicate with the Planetary Battalion, Holy Palace and Voltic Star”. General Beking said. “Therefore we can do this… proceed regularly with the search for the treasure, as if nothing happened. When we’ll find it we can wait for our leaders lose their patience and come looking with the approximate info they have on our location. Or, we can devise a plan to convince Sheldon to send a message to his benefactor, to our leaders. Worst case scenario, the Immortal expert will invite a few friends and together they will follow our leaders here. They will fight, we might get caught in the cross fire, but overall I’ll believe our leaders will win”.


    “And the chance that all of us may die? It doesn’t bother you?” General Logan seemed unsatisfied.


    “It’s only a chance within the worst case scenario”. General Beking shrugged indifferently.


    “I agree”. A voice rumbled, Horn Kikon raised a brawny arm.


    “Me too”. Admiral Hamumni was fine with whatever her elder sister concocted.


    “I guess… I, as well”. General Logan heaved a long, scented sigh.


    “Silternjan, Northstar?” General Beking turned for the two’s decision.


    “It’s your call, Silternjan”. Cardinal Northstar simulated a considerate mien, which did not fool the Archbishop.


    ‘Curse you, Northstar! Of course ultimately you will not care. While you are merely responsible to His Young Eminence and Sister Iaura, I have the responsibility of protecting His Holiness’s interest’. Angering His Holiness and angering Stelero Mars were two concepts on different levels. “I agree”. Archbishop Silternjan sealed the decision.


    “Good”. General Beking nodded. “Silternjan, since the chain contacted you and your church, give them our answer and tell them that they can watch the frequency, if they don’t believe us”.


    Hastily responding to Sinister Chain, before he will have second thoughts, Archbishop Silternjan drank from his cup until not a drop was left and turned it upside down.


    “Since this matter is settled, for the meantime, should we return to the identity of Sinister Chain’s newly joined menace…?”


    “Do so if you want, but I feel irritated”. Horn Kikon growled. “If you only have speculations and cannot tell us who exactly he is, I don’t care whether he is an aboriginal or a descendent of those we moved. Seek me when like ‘Yurnal’ and ‘Gid Chu’, you will have a name”. By the time his voice stopped echoing he was long departed.


    “Logan”, Archbishop Silternjan glanced at him, not fully making eye contact. “Are all the members of the Voltic Star uninterested in speculations?”


    “Before the headache your loss of the Galactic Communicator caused us, I more than had been in the mood to listen. Now… even if the chain will have tomorrow its first fifth level expert, one on one and for a few hundred years, anyone of us could still kill such a newbie. As for expecting him to attain Evolutionary Ascension… forget it. I’m also not in the mood for jokes”.


    Following Horn Kikon and General Logan, General Beking and Admiral Hamumni left, as well. Although they all recognized Zax’s threat as real, they were drained and believed that without their help or not, Luminous Church will sooner than later identify the culprit who wronged and shamed them more than the rest of the four powers. Hence, they will act when there will be someone to act against.





    “They agreed”. Gid Chu looked with a smile at the seven before him in C-4.2.1 vault, including Yurnal.


    “Can we trust them, Leader?” A short haired, black woman named Aljiah, seemingly at her late fifties, asked.


    “No”. Gid Chu promptly replied.


    “But we can monitor their frequency”. Michael noted.


    “And if they will break their word, we can then decide whether to keep ours or not”. A tall fatty with milky skin and head half bald said.


    “No”. Yurnal sounded as if he is about to refute. “They will only break their word if they won’t need to keep it anymore. In this case, we will immediately transmit our coordinates to the whole universe”.


    “Right, Second Leader, better going out with a bang than allowing the risk of them killing us and obtaining whatever treasure they are after”. A bony, shriveled, gray skinned woman, with thin white hair, said with a vicious shine in her eyes.


    “Nam Ner, Nam Ner”, Gid Chu tried to calm to aging woman who was only one generation younger than him, yet looked like she could be his grandmother. “Don’t be so pessimistic. Above ground there is always a plan for rainy days, while beneath it we had long ago learned to prepare for Sun Stone storms…”

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 19 – Reviewing And Fairness





    In the evening, as a Nightly Cover formation, much like those in Kingdom Earth, was activated, the ceiling of the undersea cave shimmered and gradually dimmed to star full, dark blue sky panoramic view.


    Zax was sitting by himself at the garden of Gadgel’s and Xiao Kirin’s family home. He requested the peace and quiet without telling why or needing to. Basically, he just wanted the comfort of being alone and rest his mind, until Gid Chu will call him and the imminent confrontation between him and Yurnal, over the Black Core, will commence.


    ‘Zax, please come to the central edifice’. Gid Chu’s voice was transmitted via the communicator.


    Lingering for one or two breath on the wooden chair he sat on, Zax pressed the armrests and pushed himself up.





    They were waiting in A-1.4.1 vault, a training hall that took much of the space of the first floor that under normal circumstances anyone in the cave could enter.


    A total of seventy two people were sitting on plastic chairs in an oval arrangement, humans and beasts in human form, men and women, seemingly young and old.


    The great majority of them were Martial Mortals on various levels while the rest were at the Peak of the Core Master realm.


    Among them, Zax recognized a few faces he was acquainted with. Other than Rockwell and Riv, there were also Zechariah, Linor, Duthur, Lenrah, Varinka and of course, Giant Havreim.


    At the center of the oval sitting arrangement was an empty plastic chair, evidently for Zax.


    Overall, it was a tad ridiculous sight, seeing so many experts converged in a manner that was more similar to Parents’ Day, than a group meeting of the most notorious criminal organization.


    ‘Don’t take offence, Zax’. Gid Chu hurriedly sent. ‘This is how we typically review the results of members that returned from a mission. Most won’t speak, only several of us and in turn. In essence you only have to reply to my and Second Leader Yurnal’s questions, but I gather that nobody would ask something out of place. At the end we will discuss the matter of your payment as an outside contractor’.


    Although he was not fond of the ambiance and the idea of being evaluated for a successful task, Zax grudgingly complied. He sat on the plastic chair, noticing the mixture of faces, the plain, the welcoming and the criticizing. ‘They don’t hide which of them are of the same mind about me as Yurnal’. He discarded the uncomfortableness of the situation and the opinionated looks. In the end, all that mattered were the Black Core and the remaining amount of dark attribute’s essence he required to reach the second stage of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique.


    “You know the rules, everyone”, Gid Chu opened. “If you have anything you want to ask, do it after a preceding issue was concluded, whether it had been decided to leave it open or it was closed”. Getting an affirmative response from everyone, he continued. “Some of you aware, others aren’t, so I’ll first narrate Zax’s acceptance to the chain since his first encounter with Rockwell and Riv. Then, I’ll expound about the task he was given and its final results”.


    Thus, Gid Chu proceeded to recount everything there is to know on Zax, even their exchange, though he did not elucidate on the techniques both of them used. For one reason, it was for Zax to choose who he wants to know about his Dark Titan Storm form and other techniques. Another reason was Yurnal… Gid Chu believed that Zax was still reluctant to forgo the unique Core in Yurnal’s Blue Stone. Should the state of affairs escalate to a battle, he would rather refrain from wronging Zax by revealing his skill to his opponent, whom he knew nothing concrete about, as far as bottle powers goes.


    After forty minutes passed, Gid Chi finished bringing everyone up to date.


    “Leader, is it really true? Did we really incapacitate the communication between the five powers and the Immortals behind them?” A second level Martial big guy with short and spiky black hair, wearing everyday clothes shielded by engraved metal plates, slapped his knee excitedly.


    “It is, Jailson. Although the five powers could always break their word, as I see it, it won’t happen until a fairly long time in the future”. Gid Chu assured.


    Zax looked at the short and spiky haired man, called “Jailson”, and remembered him being one of those who had ugly expressions on their faces since his public argument with Yurnal.


    Brimming with elation, Jailson’s thin dark lips stretched to a big smile. “Yes, yes, Leader, I see what you mean”. His mind did the calculations. Adding what he knew as a high ranked member of the chain, it took him an instant to make the same evolution.


    As others also wanted and were about to express their thoughts, Gid Chu coughed, instigating silence. “I will start with the first question. Second Leader Yurnal will follow next and we will proceed clockwise. Zax, explain to me, please, why you could not disconnect the Galactic Communicator properly and ended up doing so manually?”


    “Because I had no time. The Grand Abode, some of it is protected internally by formation and other parts are made from extremely sturdy metal. The door and the entirety of the communication room were made of such metal. Even in full force I was barely able to budge it enough to squeeze myself in. If I insisted on disconnecting the communicator using its program, you would have still seen me today, but empty handed”.


    “Be mindful of how you phrase yourself”. Yurnal said in a warning tone.


    “Don’t ask me questions you wouldn’t like to hear the answers to”. Zax shot back.


    On the sidelines, Rockwell, Zechariah, Linor and the rest who were a bit familiar with Zax sighed inwardly. Being further enlightened about him by Gid Chu, they naturally acknowledged his capital to act however he wanted. Nevertheless, if Second Leader Yurnal had a chip on the shoulder for him, why could he not be the better man, instead of antagonizing even more the much older and stronger?


    “I’ll ask and give you the leeway to speak whichever the hell you want, but if your answer won’t be satisfactory…”


    “Brother Yurnal, my turn is not yet over”. Gid Chu strived to separate the two. “Zax, so it’s my miscalculation to blame for the state of the Galactic Communicator… Were you able to climb to the above storeys of the Grand Abode?”


    “No. Only up to the fifth, where the communication room was”.


    “Alright, I understand”. Gid Chu briefly pondered. “Brother Yurnal, I’m done”.


    “The Diluted Element and the Solar Basil Leaf… you went in for the Galactic Communicator, but you came out with three things, two of which are practically unattainable treasures. Where are they?” Yurnal demanded, by his tone he sounded as if Zax should have turned over the Diluted Element and the Solar Basil Leaf along the Galactic Communicator.


    Zax scoffed. “Aren’t we supposed to discuss the task I undertook? I’m under no obligation to mention things I obtained in the passing”.


    “Is that so?” Yurnal crossed his arms, outwardly unruffled by Zax’s response. “I’m curious… what you meant to retrieve you brought back in an almost useless condition, yet what wasn’t part of your mission you somehow managed to obtain without a hitch. I just wonder if you were distracted by the two treasures and perhaps chose to get them on the expense of the mission. If my assumption is incorrect, right here and now you have the floor to explain yourself, unless you wish for all of us to scorn you for being a compatriot who is willing to sacrifice his kin for personal benefit”.


    “So that’s what you wanted to know, Second Leader Yurnal”. Zax showed a meaningful smile. “Your prior question wasn’t clear. I stole the Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf during my escape. It was impossible to conceal the breaking into the communication room. When I sought a way out, I encountered the church’s Ascended Elite, Stelero Mars. He and a group of third level Martial Mortals dismantled the protective formations on the casing containing the two treasures. Upon meeting and, I guess, recognizing each other, they tried to attack me. I, of course, returned the same favor and took the Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf in the process. That was after I stole the Galactic Communicator and I could not possibly know that the dumb Ascended Elite would think that he could better safeguard the treasures than the intricate formation of their casing”.


    There was a trace of condescension in Zax’s attitude, not for how Stelero Mars, Sister Beatriz and the rest conducted themselves back then, but for Yurnal. Whether he really cared if Zax was swayed by the Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf to the degree of being negligent with his actual task, had nothing to do with the treasures’ current whereabouts.


    “That’s a reasonable explanation”. Gid Chu looked to Yurnal, behaving as if merely voicing his opinion.


    “Little brother Gid, the integrity of this answer to my question is for me to determine”. Yurnal said with his gaze fixated on Zax. “I’m still waiting for you to reply, where are the Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf?”


    “What they got to do with the task?” Zax retorted, not really angry as he appeared to be. He expected that the matter of the two treasures will not be let go.


    “You obtained them during the mission, hence they are related. Additionally, the prestige of the Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf is far too great for us to ignore. If they can help strengthen the chain and already in the possession of a member, internal or external, then judgment over their usage must be made by those most suited for the responsibility”.


    “In other words, even if I have them on me, their fate is not for me to decide?” Zax sneered. “Do you think I’d agree to it?”


    “Leader, Second Leader, this kid has done immense service by stealing the Galactic Communicator. The treasures were not one of his or the chain’s goals. If he managed to snatch them, regardless of how well they can enhance our strength, keeping or sharing them should be left for him to decide”. A white skinned, white haired middle aged man with stern face voiced his thought.


    “What you say is wrong, Benhamin”, the bony and shriveled Nam Ner countered. “He did well by bringing the Galactic Communicator, like he was supposed to do, but didn’t he receive from Leader the Bone And Muscle Transformation technique? The communicator cannot be count as payment since Leader already stated that he intended to pay Zax for the task, which means that he still received the transformation technique for nothing. Does that sound to you acceptable? You, new recruit, are you an inconsiderate person?”


    ‘The Bone And Muscle Transformation…’ Zax grimaced. ‘Any member of the chain who meets the criteria can learn it. It’s possible to say that learning it was my right by staining myself more with the troublesome status of a chain’s member. Still… my relationship with the five powers was not going to be any better in the future. Having something like the Bone And Muscle Transformation technique would also greatly benefit future endeavors, for my own sake if not the chain’s’. He thought about the fourth and last Black Core. ‘Dammit!’ He did not want to so easily hand over the only treasure he had left, the Solar Basil Leaf, but he felt that otherwise he will earn a vindicated despicable reputation.


    He gestured in a slow motion that attracted the attention of all the surrounding members of the chain.


    A red orang basil leaf appeared in his palm. “I already used the Diluted Element. The Solar Basil Leaf is all I have left. Grandma”, he looked at Nam Ner with no malice, she actually helped him get rid of a debt. “You are right, I should not take for granted learning the Bone And Muscle Transformation technique, after all I am an outside contractor and not a ‘real’ member of the reputable Sinister Chain”. There was a distinguishable detached hum to his tone. “But the transformation technique isn’t worth the Solar Basil Leaf and I still need to get paid for the task”. He turned to Gid Chu and Yurnal. “Leader, Second Leader, the Bone And Muscle Transformation technique can be treated as an advance, and you can get this tiny, otherworldly leaf, but what more are you willing to offer as a trade”. A few thoughts came to his mind. One was sufficient amount of dark attribute’s essence; another was of the same nature…

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 20 – Payment


    Zax pondered on the possibility of trading the Solar Basil Leaf for Yurnal’s Black Core. Regardless of the chain’s Second Leader’s thoughts on the bizarre Earth’s Core and wanting to keep it for his son, without the remaining three, it will only limit his cultivation path. In contrast, the Solar Basil Leaf will reconstruct his physique and improve his affinity, make it tremendously a lot easier to understand the fiery attribute.


    “You- You- already used the Diluted Element?”


    The shock on Gid Chu’s, Yurnal’s and all the others’ faces was mutual.


    “Wasn’t the Diluted Element the treasure made personally by an Immortal?” Someone asked in a deep undertone.


    “It is… was. I partook in the trials, under a disguise. I even heard from someone who stayed in the Grand Abode and got to see them up close”.


    “How did you waste it? Why did you not consider more fitting candidates?” Yurnal snapped. His bare foot stomped furiously.


    “T- The- The most valuable treasure on the planet…” An old man, second level Martial Master, in a golden robe and a long white hair stuttered on his plastic chair beside Gid Chu.


    “How could you have succumbed to the enticement of learning your insights? Why must you be so young?! Why can’t you understand that you are still young?!” Nam Ner implored, knowing it is too late.


    “Zax…” Gid Chu said in a low voice, struggling to utter the name without venting. The calm and calculated, the peacemaker amiable Leader of the chain… even he knew not how to react. “Explain”. He asked in a tone that was hard to determine whether it was a demand or a plea. “Explain”. He repeated.


    In Gid Chu’s mind images of his fight with the lad raced in an unending cycle. It was not the fact that Zax used the Diluted Element without consulting anyone that agitated him, but his belief that with his talent and potential, even if the lad did not already, then sooner than later he would have perceived and comprehended the fifth bottleneck of insight, the limit of the Diluted Element.


    “Zax…” Zechariah, on his plastic chair next to his beloved, Linor, quietly said. Perhaps only his companion could interpret the meaning of his solemn gaze.


    “That…” Rockwell said and Riv shook her head.


    “Was a stupid decision”.


    “Humph!” The duel pistols wielding Duthur snorted disdainfully. “See, Lenrah… what have I told you? Do you remember? This pretentious guy, him obtaining the perfect dark attribute’s essence was not luck, but his cunning. If he handed it to Rockwell and Riv back then, instead of using it to boost himself, than maybe our Sinister Chain would have had already an expert on the same caliber as a fifth level Martial Mortal”.


    Duthur did not bother to control his voice, as a result, all the members encircling Zax could hear and recalled that before the Event in Demirva Ridge, before certain someone consumed the extremely sought after perfect dark attribute’s essence, the so called “new member” who is actually an outside contractor, was not something more special than the other Core Masters talents in the chain, at most, a tier above prodigies such as Zechariah, Linor, Varinka, Duthur and couple more others.


    “No wonder his growth is such exponential”.


    “Forget the youngsters; even old ones like us could have had a spike in battle power if we consumed a legendry perfect dark attribute’s essence”.


    “Some of us had a slow start on the cultivation path that cost us our youthful looks. Although we can live now for thousands and thousands of years, having to live by looking like an old men and women… with treasures like this kid was fortunate to use, retrieving our youthfulness might not have been impossible”.


    “No, it’s still not impossible. The Solar Basil Leaf reconstructs the physique. Even if it is just internally, the energies could still rejuvenate tens for years back”.


    Many of the chain’s senior members lamented, daring to do so outloud due to the fact that should they really had the chance; none of them would make a selfish decision.


    “Quiet”. Gid Chu requested. “Zax, speak”.


    “Senior Gid, if you want the truth, then I’ll admit…” Zax spoke earnestly. If revealing that he comprehended five bottleneck of insight could alleviate his status in the chain, make things easier, including getting the pay he wants, than there was no better time to share it. “Before consuming the Diluted Element I already comprehended five bottlenecks. The reason why I still used it was because it constantly gave my position when Archbishop Silternja chased me”.


    “So you got rid of it by consuming it?” Yurnal asked.


    “Did I have a choice? Should I have spilled it somewhere? Throw it away? You can choose to believe me or not, but the instant I shattered its crystal bead container, I had no way of stopping it from get absorbed by my body”. He did not want to say that he kept it in his mouth. “I was in the Down Ocean, as you all should know. Although the Diluted Element did not contribute to my comprehension, it did refueled my body, gave me the energy to make my escape”.


    “With the help of three Pure Cores of Deformed Beings not weaker than fourth level Martial Mortals”. Someone from Yurnal’s side reminded, a Peak Core Master short black haired, brown skinned woman, wearing white tank top and blue jeans.


    “A choice for Leader and Second Leader which has nothing to do with me”.


    “They saved your life when you deviated from Leader’s initial plan!” Nam Ner joined the younger looking woman.


    “Leader’s plan was flawed. And if I received the Pure Cores to begin with, maybe I would not have needed to waste the Diluted Element to stay alive, or even need all three Pure Cores”.


    “Ingrate!” Nam Ner spat, her eyes turning red, actually changing color, while her bony body grew pale scales. In a short moment she transformed to the low class Shenghuo, Ghastly Red Eyes Snake. “Incompetent those who raised and taught you!” She hissed.


    “Nam Ne-” Before Gid Chu could fully pronounce her name; a boom sound from the center of the oval sitting arrangement caught him by surprise.


    Zax’s plastic chair was blasted to tiny sharp fragments as he charged at the twenty meters longs snake.


    A resonating deep roar emerged from Nam Ner’s lengthy throat. She was an Intermediate third level Martial Mortal, seeing that Zax came at her without executing any particular technique, she was more than willing to meet him in a frontal assault.


    “Halt!”


    “Suffice!”


    Both Gid Chu and Yurnal bellowed, changed into two silhouettes and rematerialized between the pair. The chain’s Leader with his back to Zax, while the Second Leader with his back to Nam Ner, it seemed that their real intention was for Gid Chu to shield Zax from Yurnal and for Yurnal to be Nam Ner’s vanguard.


    “Senior Gid”, Zax lividly gritted his teeth as fluctuations of dark attribute energy bustled in the air, an indication of him about to transform to his Dark Titan Storm form. “This review, appraisal or whatever you want to call it, is done!” Killing intent oozed from every word, his countenance ominous.


    It was one thing insulting or bullying him to corporate with the chain’s own accords. He could endure and even attempt to manipulate certain parts of the arguments in his favor. However, it was another to tarnish his parents and Master, his big sister and Grandmaster, his extended and Martial families. More so when they were not present and thus lacked the ability to defend themselves, furthermore, when to him, by word or touch, his loved ones were untouchables!


    “Second Leader, move!” Nam Ner hissed. “He still dares to talk like this…! If it wasn’t for my sister’s sacrifice, then what task, what accomplishments, what treasures could he had achieved and obtained?! On the expense of whom does think he made his worth?!” As she bellowed, the encompassing members of the church all stepped back, leaving the situation for Leader and Second Leader to handle, not risking deteriorating it no matter with whom they sided in their hearts.


    Hearing Nam Ner, Zax involuntarily recalled his conversation with Gid Chu about the member of the chain that infiltrated the Grand Abode and got the primary information about the Galactic Communicator and layout of the church’s most important structure. It eased his temper, but only a little bit.


    “Senior Gid, I’ll not kill her, but for dissing my family... There is a limit! If other members will keep thinking that I owe the chain something and they could wantonly berate me, then I either put them in their place with a show of force, or quit entirely!”


    “No, Zax! There will be no fighting in the central edifice. Yurnal!”


    “Nam Ner, calm down. I won’t have anyone go beyond a spar in the cave. If you want to fight him, a battle that isn’t worthy of your efforts, then you can only do it outside!” Yurnal said outloud while sending through his communicator. ‘Be smart. If neither I nor Leader will get involved, you will lose miserably, so Calm Down, Nam Ner. Leave him to me. As the chain’s Second Leader I can’t challenge him for a fight without an adequate reason. In the end, no harm came to Savir and Yimin due to his conduct at my absence. However, even if Savir forgave him and Leader backing him, between him and I there is still a matter to settle. He is aware of it, too…’ He purposely refrained from elaborating. ‘Trust me, at the right time I’ll also do justice to little Nor Nama’.


    Abiding Yurnal’s persuasion, Nam Ner slid back and returned to her human form, dressed in an attire of white scales in place of her torn black robe.


    “You will not fight an unharmed person, Zax, will you?” Gid Chu prodded at his ego as a fellow cultivator.


    The dark attribute energy fluctuations waned. “Don’t presume to know what I will or will not do, senior Gid”. Zax was not in the mood for cordiality, but he also retained a measure of sensibility. Putting aside that he preferred to maintain friendly relations with some members of the chain, particularly those he was familiar with and thought well of. “To not get caught by Archbishop Silternja I performed a technique that damaged my cultivation, caused me a huge loss. If you told me about the Pure Cores from the start, senior Gid, than my remuneration would not have been as high…”


    “So that is the case…”


    Much like Zax could understand Nam Ner, several members of the chain could finally understand his behavior throughout the review.


    The stronger a cultivator was the more difficult it was to compensate for losses in cultivation, and when the word “damage” was embroiled, the cost for recovery was much, much higher.


    Although saying that he bore “damage” was not the most sincere way to put it, Zax nevertheless used the word to create a sympathetic atmosphere.


    “You can take the Solar Basil Leaf, but for it and my payment I want dark attribute’s essence, God made, one from what you got in Demirva Ridge”. He never doubted Rockwell’s and Riv’s gains. “Other than that, I want ten thousand kilogram of regular dark attribute’s essence. If you can manage decent quality, then I’ll take less”. As much as he wanted Yurnal’s Black Core, even if he managed to trade for it, he was not certain if and how much it will increase his strength.


    “Inacceptable!” Yurnal denied instantaneously. “The God made dark attribute’s essence is too much. Two thousand kilogram of regular dark attribute’s essence and four thousand kilogram of any other attribute’s essence”.


    “Senior Gid?” Zax postponed his response.


    “Second Leader is correct. We can’t afford to trade the God made dark attribute’s essence”.


    “Then there is no trade. Pay me the two thousand kilogram of regular dark attribute’s essence for completing the task and compensating for my losses and we are straight”.


    “After everything you still intend to be obstinate?!” Yurnal scolded.


    “Be reasonable, Zax”, Gid Chu said in a mellowed approach. “The Solar Basil Leaf will not do you any good. Will you toss your exceedingly high attainments in the dark attribute for a restart in the fiery attribute?”


    “No, I won’t use it myself. I’ll gift it to someone close to me”. Zax nonchalantly declared. He knew the chain will not dare go after whoever he will give the Solar Basil Leaf for fear of making an enemy out of him.


    “This is one of the most precious treasures on the planet and you mean to give it to a family member? A friend?” Yurnal asked. “Tell me, who do you know that is more suitable for the Solar Basil Leaf than the prospects of my chain? The Solar Basil Leaf should be given only to someone who has the potential to further tip the scale against the five powers!”


    “Remember what we talked about, Zax… we might have managed to sever the connection between the five powers and the Immortal powerhouses commanding them, but we are still living on borrowed time. The Solar Basil Leaf can be considered as another contingency…”


    “Then agree to my terms of exchange, senior Gid, Second Leader. I absorbed a God made dark attribute’s essence, a perfect one, at that, I don’t believe anything lesser will be equal to the Solar Basil Leaf. As for the regular dark attribute’s essence, you can give it to me in increments of two thousand kilogram a year for the next five years”.


    There was a long silence. Zax patiently waited as Gid Chu and Yurnal stopped negotiating with him and debated their reply confidentially via their communicators, along few more members, in a closed conversation.


    The onlooker members of the chain, who did not partake in the conversation, kept standing silent, as well. Among them, some, those who coveted the Solar Basil Leaf and had a chance of getting it, hoped for Leader, Second Leader and the others to agree for Zax’s terms. Others, those who already cultivated arduously to convince their leaders that they should get one of the chain’s two God made dark attribute’s essences, did not want to see their chances dropping by fifty percent.


    “We decided”. Gid Chu opened. “The regular dark attribute’s essence will be divided to ten portions of a thousand kilogram, each, that you will receive yearly and completely within the following decade. You can also have the God made dark attribute’s essence”.

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    Book 9 – Eruption


    Chapter 21 – Danger At Home





    As his soul quivered in a rush of excitement, soul energy spread the thrill like surging wave from Zax’s sea of consciousness to the rest of his body.


    Asking for ten thousand kilogram of dark attribute’s essence at once turned out to be a long shot, as he predicted which still paid off. For him to breakthrough into the second stage of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique, all that he needed was mere eleven hundred kilogram.


    ‘A hundred kilogram will soon be all that is left. And before Senior Gid will deliver the second portion, with my absorption speed increasing I could easily fill the last point one percent with dark attribute worldly energy or collecting dark attribute’s essence on my own’. Zax thought while making sure to maintain a composed mien. “When can I get the God made and first regular portion of dark attribute’s essence?”


    Yurnal gave Zax a scornful look. “You deal with him”. He told Gid Chu and turned away to leave. Accompanying him was a group of thirty something dissatisfied members of the chain.


    “Everyone, the review is over. You can leave”. Gid Chu said to those who stayed and those who turned their backs as if there was not a divide.


    With no more words being said, of the seventy two members that were there to begin with, seventy one left the central edifice, additionally some departed the undersea cave, leaving Gid Chu and Zax alone in A-1.4.1 vault.


    Flipping his right hand palm up, a slightly pale, spherical dark bulb appeared in Gid Chu’s hold.


    Seeing God Demirva’s dark attribute’s essence presented for the taking, Zax’s eyes could not help but lit up and then turn gloom as he remembered losing his own God made dark attribute’s essences to Dewgong family of Monivore city.


    Gesturing with his hand, the Solar Basil Leaf appeared floating above Zax’s palm. He was worried that a prolong touch will cause the same reaction as with the Diluted Element, which made him absorb prematurely, against his will.


    Tossing the two treasures at each other and making the trade simultaneously, Zax grabbed the God made dark attribute’s essence as Gid Chu grabbed the Solar Basil Leaf and both drew them immediately to their spatial rings.


    “The one thousand kilogram of regular dark attribute’s essence will arrive in approximately three weeks. You can stay in the cave until then”.


    Zax did not mind the wait, but… “You carried the God Demirva’s dark attribute’s essence on your person?” With the chain having two leaders, he expected a compromise that would have them hide the organization’s treasures someplace natural, equally easy for both of them to reach.


    “That one”. Gid Chu smiled, phrasing himself and giving the indication that the chain had more of God Demirva’s dark attribute’s essences without caring of enticing Zax’s greed. On the contrary, the new member of the chain proved himself capable of obtaining quite a loot wherever he goes. By letting him know that the chain does not lack valuables to exchange, maybe in the future he will surprise them with another extraordinary swag.


    “You should know, Zax, from now on your face cannot be revealed above the surface of the Earth, unless you want for the five powers to detect and pursue you”.


    “The five powers can only utilize fourth and fifth level Martial Mortal to chase after me and how many of them do they have? They can order and hope for their other members, stationed across the planet, to inform should they encounter me, but if they don’t want me to start slaughtering their weaker members, it will be smart of the five power not to use them as extended eyes and ears”.


    “And what about the common people? Since the completion of your task, you haven’t got the chance to explore the current happenings in the villages, tribes, cities and clans… I was notified that the five powers released a bounty on your head, and they did not skimp. They offer a hundred million Splinters to whatever information that could give your exact position, a billion to anyone who can capture you”.


    “A billion Splinters?!” Zax was shocked. With this sum he could buy anything that could be bought with money. Moreover, Splinters were not just a currency, but a cultivation material. Granted, to use them for cultivation a great quantity was needed, but a billion Splinters were more than right up that alley.


    “That’s the same bounty on my and Yurnal’s heads. The five powers should know your battle power, which at the moment doesn’t deserve this sum of Splinters, so they probably assessed you by your growth potential, deciding at the very least you are a threat on the same level as I and Yurnal”.


    “My appearance was revealed, so they should know that I’m the same person who got the perfect dark attribute’s essence in the ridge”.


    “And that before consuming it, you weren’t much stronger than Peak Core Master, yet a few years later you can stand your ground versus a Beginner fourth level Martial Mortal”.


    “I understand. Outside the undersea cave I’ll use the Bone And Muscle Transformation technique to conceal my face”.


    “That’s a good, but temporary plan. Have you forgotten that the five powers have a small number of people who can recognize and connect you to New Earth?”


    “The Curators!”


    “Yes, and big brother Ariel. Although you don’t need to worry about big brother exposing your identity, you must by wary of the five Curators”.


    “Dammit!” Baleful undulation erupted around Zax as hysteria dawned on him. “What should I do? When I previously left to New Earth there were different Curators than those who marked me!” If any of the five from back then will see the mug on his bounty, then his loved ones in New Earth will no longer be safe from the consequences of his transgressions toward the five powers! “Why did you not inform me earlier?!”


    He was more furious at himself for not considering the existence of the five Curators. In retrospect, he also did not take them into account after letting Sister Beatriz, Sister Iaura and Stelero Mars leave in Demirva Ridge, which shows that at the time the five powers preferred to avoid making an enemy from a mere lucky mercenary with prosperous future…


    Little did Zax know that the leaders of the five powers even wanted to recruit him after the Event in Demirva Ridge, though now it was too late.


    “Calm down, Zax. First, I wasn’t notified about the bounties until a few minutes ago. Second, not all of the chain’s members were present in your review. There are two members stationed separately in Selivereb and New Earth. Although I can’t contact them with the communicator’s range, I was able to remotely control the Galactic Communicator to transmit them both a message. The member in New Earth should now be preparing your family and friends-”


    “To leave New Earth to another hideout of the chain?!” Zax interrupted with clenched fists.


    “Yes”. Gid Chu replied solemnly, he could see that Zax hated the idea of uprooting his family and friends only to move them to quarantine without them even knowing why.


    ‘H- How- How could I have been so careless?!’ Zax’s mind was under immense stress, he did not expect to be in, up until short moments ago. What worst was that he could not blame anyone but himself for letting his real face be seen. ‘Wait…’ A sudden thought struck him like a lightning bolt. “Your family, you said that there is a bounty on your head? Does that mean that the five know your identity?”


    Knowing where Zax was going, Gid Chu nodded. “Yes, they know. They don’t move against my family because I severed my ties with them while they stopped recognizing me, their founder. The public is left to think otherwise to maintain the ignorance of Kingdom Earth’s citizens to the matters above ground, but it is also due to big brother Ariel’s and big sister Trey’s help that my family was left untouched. Yurnal, on the other hand, doesn’t have many relationships in Valgarel that the five powers can you to threaten him with. And as a Shenghuo beast that attained his level of strength, he received Ozeyn's deepest admiration, and the five powers don’t want to offend the ruler of Valgarel by using his subjects as hostages”.


    “Then… my loved ones in New Earth have to leave?!” Zax felt cornered. Just a while ago he received affirmation that his task was a success and the immediate fear of the Immortal powerhouses behind the five powers was nullified, yet instead rejoicing in this temporary freedom he got everyone he cares about even more confined!


    “Your Martial family is probably safe, as a result of its affiliation to Ozeyn and the fact that it’s situated in his territory, but your friends and family in Kingdom Earth. I’m sure once big brother will catch wind of the situation he will speak for them along big sister and try to get the same deal, but because there is a difference in status between our families and their influence in Kingdom Earth… I’m afraid they won’t be able to prevent the five powers a second time”.


    Doing his utmost to compose himself, in the span of time it takes to blink, Zax manifest his naked body at his Inner Panorama and forcefully mollified the raging waves of the boundless sea encompassing it and the looming clouds above its quaking land, which he got to last.


    “How do you plan to move my family and friends? Two people will not be enough for the job and for so many people to be transported and settled from beneath the ground to the surface of the planet will centrally not escape the surveillance of the Curators”.


    “In haste”. Gid Chu answered simply. “There are two members on the Western Continent, but I sent additional twelve from those who were present in the review. They are now on their way, crossing the ocean. Their mission is to first neutralize the Curators so they won’t be able to transmit messages to their superiors, but they can’t be killed since from past experience we learned that they, too, in their particular job, are marked and their deaths will alert the five powers. We did the investigation. Your family, in its entirety, contains eighty nine people, up to the last extended members. Your friend, we only gathered information about those you were in contact with before your participation in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit, and their immediate families are overall fifty one people. The five powers will not seek their extended families”.


    “Weren’t you thorough…”


    “We must be. It may not be often that we meet this predicament, but if we weren’t planning in every way for it, then who would have been there to safeguard our loved ones?”


    Zax did not argue. “How long will it take to move them?”


    “We don’t have time for explanations or anything of the sort. A hundred and forty people is a large number, but it is still doable. My family might be monitored, but there is a hidden cell that supports me and will cooperate with the member in New Earth. As for the duration of the operation… It should take forty eight hours to move them all from Kingdom Earth and a week to escort a group of non cultivators of this size to the base in the Western Continent”.


    “A week is too long!” Zax protested.


    “It’s the shortest time”. Gid Chu insisted.


    “…Then I’m going, as well, to partake in the operation”.


    “You can, but under no circumstance you are allowed to reveal yourself to your family and friends, before we get them to the base”. Gid Chu said after an instant of deliberation. “I can’t guarantee their wellbeing, should the operation tarry because your loved ones will see a recognizable face and feel confident to demand answers, which you will feel obliged to give instead of concentrating on the escort”.


    “Fine, I’ll use the Bone And Muscle Transformation to change appearance during the operation”. Zax complied.


    “If you understand, then good. You can head out after the twelve; I’ll send you the information about them and the other two at the Western Continent in a bit”. Gid Chu said and a small smirk stretched on his serious countenance. “It seems that you will receive the first delivery of regular dark attribute’s essence two weeks early”.

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