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  1. #81
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 5 – Dealing With The School Principal



    Eden Formation’s principal frowned at Zax’s threat. “Don’t overreach, boy, accept my invitation. Let’s go to my office”.

    “Fifty seconds!” Zax growled. Reminiscing over the scar on Anet’s back, it was not about killing Binjo and his brother anymore, he wanted to inflict pain on all who should have taken responsibility instead of letting Anet suffer at home.

    “Principal Ram, is that truly a human boy?” The vice principal asked behind her back. With the appearance of the school’s head and the short time that passed he managed to hone himself up to the frightening killing intent. He felt it, he was wary of it, but he rose up with his pride as a Core Master of Eden Formation.

    “Vice principal Mizuri, this one is very special. My Soul Sense detected his level of cultivation… this boy’s Qi channels are clogged, but his body fitness level is even superior to my own!”

    “You are saying…”

    “This boy is following a bodily refinement technique!”

    As the school principal and vice principal of the number one first rate Martial school, Eden Formation, regardless of their level of cultivation, the two knew perfectly well what sort of rarity are bodily refinement techniques and how formidable the practitioners that train in them.

    For one to suddenly come by their school, moreover a child, was an unprecedented opportunity to roll in a legendary refinement technique and put themselves ahead of the other two number one first rate schools of Tongguo and Shitou!

    Who the boy was, currently was not on their mind, how to appease him without losing face and the support of the Derneldar family at the same time was the school principal’s and vice principal’s main struggle.

    “Let’s have it your way”, the school principal said and Zax curiously halted counting mid way to forty. “Your grudge is with a Derneldar family member. Say that you get your hands on him, do you know what will happen next even if our school let it slide? The Derneldar family will seek revenge on you, sending their top experts to kill you. And if those experts won’t be enough, sooner or later, you’ll ignite the wrath of the Derneldar founder…” The school principal’s eyes narrowed. “To get to my point let me first ask, are you the Tal of a Mor or the apprentice of a Master?” With that question not only could the school principal deduce if Zax had a human or a beast behind his back, she could also discern which bodily cultivation technique he followed.

    Of the three recognized bodily refinement techniques in New Earth, two originated in Valgarel and one in Kingdom Earth. If Zax was taught by a Tal, than the school principal would be able to tell right away his background, which in this case the Derneldar family and founder will be powerless against his Mor. But if Zax was taught by a Master, although the school principal would not be able to tell which exactly bodily refinement technique he follows, the Derneldar family could act according to their whim and with no concern. The reason for that was an agreement between Kingdom Earth and Valgarel that any expert in the second realm of cultivation is forbidden from harming a core family or a core tribe in the other species’ territory. With this, the balance of powers can remain intact and if it would be shaken by a member of the same species, the other would not be blamed.

    “Forty seconds, I am an apprentice of a Master”. Zax answered, oblivious to the repercussions of his response.

    The school principal sighed. Although it will hurt the reputation of the school if a student would be assaulted on school’s ground and even more so, by a non school’s personal, she could still find an angle to work around it if behind the youth that barged into her school was that bodily cultivator of Kingdom Earth…

    “Then allow me to proceed to my point”, the school principal said mildly. “If the founder of the Derneldar family will come after you, other than running to your Master, you’ll be powerless to do anything else. And if you have bonds in Kingdom Earth, they would bear the consequences of your doings”.

    “Hmph…” Zax snorted in disdain.

    It’s true that against Core Masters above the first level he will not stand a chance, but how many of them were in New Earth? Even if the founder of the Derneldar family was in the second level, Zax was confidence that if he will implement the Kinetic Force competently, then he would not need to break through the sixth gate of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement to contend against Core Masters in the second level.

    Although at the moment Zax did not care, if calamity will befall on him, it would only be in the form of a Core Master in the third level.

    “Why are you so sure that I can’t handle the Derneldar founder?” Zax shot back.

    A small smile adorned the bright face of the school principal. “That is simple, he and I both equal in terms of cultivation, and you are weaker than me”. She said.

    ‘Weaker? Is she…’ Zax pondered, but for Anet he was not willing to back down. “That bastard, Binjo, and his elder brother deserve to die! They will die by my hands and anyone who’ll shelter them will not be treated lightly!” Zax bellowed. “Ten seconds!”

    “I don’t want to fight with an extraordinary young talent like you, but you don’t leave me any choice!” The school principal said heatedly, an azure aura exploded from her body, her fine suit suddenly looking like a battle uniforms.

    The students and teacher that watched from the surrounding buildings gasped. An unknown youth made their repute principal draw her combat spirit out! Even if their eyes could not follow, just being in the sidelines and seeing flashes was worth the school’s annual fee!

    Zax saw the school principal of the best Martial school in El-Eden coming at him in a speed not that much inferior to his own.

    Heading toward him, the school principal formed several hands’ signs and shapes with her mist energy. Completing the complicated formation, the aura of the school principal condensed around her body into a transparent azure armor ornamented with runes that elucidated the true meaning of the hands’ signs and mist’s shapes.

    Zax threw a fist toward the school principal, his movement, his body, his rhythm in flawless unity. However, he could not summon the power of the Kinetic Force like when he practices the bodily maneuvers. Zax did not have time to think what was amiss in his execution.

    The school principal deflected Zax’s punch; simultaneously a foreign energy entered his body.

    ‘A soul attack!’ Zax realized. His soul energy instantly met with the foreign power that flowed in his sea of consciousness. The two energies collided. The school principal soul attack was a basic infiltration to momentarily halt the opponent rather than harming him. The shock from the collision dispersed the school principal soul attack whilst Zax became a bit disoriented.

    SLAP!

    The school principal actually struck Zax with an opened palm instead of a fist.

    SLAP!

    Another slap hit his other cheek and his tongue tasted a hint of blood.

    The pain brought Zax back to his senses, yet was too piercing, worse than any punch he could remember, almost as painful as the times his Master destroyed his limbs during a spar! It spread across his face like fire that burned under his skin.

    Zax clenched his jaw. ‘Second level!’ He determined the level of the school principal.

    It meant that in body fitness level she was about the same as a regular participant at the sixth gate of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement. In addition to her strong body was her stronger mist energy, which alone was enough to boost her speed and strength beyond what Zax could endure. To top it all, she even used a weird formation to solidify her defense and spared him a serious soul attack.

    Zax’s desire to take vengeance on Binjo and his big brother was raging in his heart and soul, but it did not obstruct clarity from his current situation. With a kick to the ground he escaped a straight palm to his face. ‘Without summoning the Kinetic Force I’ll lose terribly!’ He understood and could not allow himself to even entertain the notion. ‘I am still holding myself back!’

    He reached fifty meters from the plaza of the Intermediate grade building and away from the school principal and turned to her. She was right behind him, fast, but not as fast. Her technique concentrated more on frontal attack and defense than speed.

    “Grrr!” Zax moved his body with all his might to greet her with a kick. Nevertheless, the kinetic energy did not manifest in its purer abundant from as the Kinetic Force.

    BANG!

    The kick landed cleanly on the school principal. She was pushed back, but the armor was undamaged.

    “That’s not enough, boy!” She yelled at Zax and launched herself at him.

    BANG!

    The school principal met his second kick with a kick and both of them were thrown backwards.

    Zax was aware that his attacks were only prolonging the inevitable. His soul energy formed a shielding wall around his soul, but it was experimental means. His body throbbed after each collision with the school principal and he was not sure if she suffered the same.

    ‘Let loose! Let loose! Let loose! Let loose!’ Zax bellowed at himself.

    The two clashed furiously. The expression on Zax face betrayed his state of mind, which hanged on the revenge that should be paid in Anet’s name and deserved no one but him to uphold.

    On the contrary to Zax, the school principal kept a solid expression on her face. The youth she dealt with instigated constant wonder in her. ‘How old is he? In all of our Kingdom Earth how many of the same age and level of power can be found? There are more cultivators in the second realm than geniuses like him. How come he appears just now?!’ She wondered while also weighing how to conduct with him. ‘He seems bound on killing the Derneldar student. That child is indeed troublesome, but his family is contribution to the school is too good. How can I soothe his rage without losing the funds of the Derneldar family?’

    The saying “Eating the cake while leaving it whole” was what the school principal strived for. Any other option was to hand over the Derneldar student and deal with his family while attracting an unprecedented talent and technique, or breaking the young talent for the sake of old relations.

    The school principal not once considered making an enemy out of Zax, simply because of who was the founder of the school. Returning in later date to take revenge for the school’s faculty intervention? The question in itself was so redundant no one ever had the need to think up an answer.

    “My offer still stands. We can end it and see how I can help you in my office”. The school principal said after blocking Zax’s kick.

    Though the power behind his attacks was huge, he kept repeating the same move over and over. Even if he was fast and could maneuver that kick to any direction, the school principal by now learned what to expect and adequately react.

    The fight led the two to a flat cement court far from the three grades buildings. After the last assault they were at a distance of two meters from each other and Zax was breathing heavily.

    ‘His kicks are getting stronger!’ The school principal scowled. The heated exchange reached a terrifying display of strength and instead of tiring himself, the force behind each of Zax kick was multiplying.

    ‘More! More! Release it all!’ Zax method to utilize the Kinetic Force was a stopgap that a gut feeling warned him of its dire implications. Nevertheless, he had no other solution.

    BANG!

    The strikes of the school principal also got feistier. To top her advantages in attack and defense, although her control of the body was not at the same level as Zax’s, her close quarters combat technique was able to counter his flow of elementary kicks and punches.

    ‘That’s it! Gather it!’ Little by little, Zax began to sense the Kinetic Force spurting with each movement. However, the accumulating kinetic energy was blusterier in comparison to when it materialized while he practiced the bodily maneuvers. Consequently, it was very difficult for Zax to handle the enlivening Kinetic Force.

    CRACK!

    The sound resonated from Zax left arm, where he directed the current of kinetic energy. It was the sound of bones cracking, but more than that, beneath his skin, Zax’s vascular and muscles were being torn by the Kinetic Force.

    With a swift throw of hand, Zax left hand sliced the air toward the school principle crossed block.

    Sensing the wild fluctuations in the air, which were caused by the force that the fist carried, the school principal had a bad premonition. She wanted to parry the strike and respond accordingly with a palm strike to Zax’s temple to break his balance, but her experience alerted her to block with all she had!

    BANG!

    Just before the fist landed, the runes on the azure armor wavered and their placement on the armor changed.

    Receiving the full force of the punch, the azure armor reacted differently to the impact than in the previous collisions. Zax felt his left hand sinking a few millimeters into the azure armor, but against his exaptation, it was not because he bended it or was about to break it. With the runes in different places, the armor became elastic. Its function changed solely to defend. It absorbed the impact and like the surface of a lake, the force spread in circular ripples.

    “Tsk!” Zax lurched ten meters back, annoyed. Not only did he fail again to release the full power of the Kinetic Force, what little he did manage to let out nearly blew the tips of his fingers. As a result, only the nails on his left hand were missing.

    ‘Not enough!’ Zax clenched his left hand into a bloody, throbbing fist. He still felt the kinetic energy swirling inside of him, converging to Kinetic Force and knew that to release its full destructive potential, even if at great consequences, he has to make a sacrifice.

    ‘That right now was a bit dangerous’. Though her azure armor protected her, the school principal still was forced two steps back. ‘If it was the Ruler Is Perfect formation, the armor would have been broken by the strike… To turn a kid into such a monster, what cultivation technique, in the name of the Supreme Rulers, is he following?!’ She wanted it, she wanted him. ‘Luckily, it seems that the Ruler’s Fort formation can withstand his attack and the same move cannot be repeated multiple times’. She gauged by looking at the exhausted and injured state Zax was in, but to her surprise, the belligerent brilliance in his eyes only intensified. ‘He is coming!’

    Zax kicked the ground, raising his left fist for a punch. It already accumulated most of the kinetic energy that he managed to generate and to stream it to another limb would have been too laborious and impossible after in converged to Kinetic Force.

    ‘One after the other they try to obstruct me… So be it!’ In his mind, Anet’s back and the manner in which she was scarred, both physically and mentally, were engraved as a constant reminder that in this world he will not find peace until Binjo and his big brother will pay with their life and anyone who will stand in his way, might as well, pay an equal price!

    The school principal’s eyebrows tightly wrinkled. She raised her right hand, intending to block and in the moment the force behind the fist will disperse, she will call forth, once more, the Ruler Is Perfect formation and subdue the weakened Zax.

    BANG!

    The fist and the palm collided. Surges of kinetic energy streamed from every corner of Zax’s body to his fist and exploded as Kinetic Force. The durability of the Ruler’s Fort formation, shockingly, held up as circular ripples spread the force of the impact.

    “Grrr!” Zax growled. The pain in his left arm was immeasurable. ‘Break! Break! Break! Break!’ He closed his eyes and pushed and pushed and pushed. “BREAK!!!” A discharge of Kinetic Force burst forth in great explosion.

    “Principal Ram!” Vice principal Mizuri, which followed the two and watched from afar, stepped into the battle ground and caught the school principal which was flung away. Her azure armor Ruler’s Fort completely decimated.

    “I am fine, Mizuri”. The school principal said and steadied herself. A long tear adorned her previously fabulous golden white suit. “So close!” She said with more admiration than astonishment. “He actually broke grandfather’s Ruler’s Fort defensive formation!” Saying so aloud, even the expression of the vice principle could not help but show commendation.

    As the only two that were able to perform the formation in the whole school, they knew all too well what level of power was required in order to break it.

    “But at what expense…” Vice principal Mizuri, turned his head to Zax and said faintly.

    Zax stood exactly where he met the school principal, but his facial expression was ugly to behold. He looked deathly pale, his stature was barely holding on his two feet and worse of all, his left arm utterly blown into tiny pieces.

  2. #82
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 6 – Leaving For A Short While



    Panting, Zax stared back at the two. Oddly enough, the outburst and exhaustion cleanse his mind from the overbearing rage, and from his physical state he could tell that not much energy was left for him to fight, much less to use the Kinetic Force a second time.

    ‘Topple the building… How pathetic I am’. Vexed, Zax scorned himself for being audacious when he could not back his words. If the matter did not concern Anet, he would have also felt humiliated. But since the mortification done to Anet was far more infuriating than his misplaced vanity, he could not feel an ounce of a self absorbed emotion like humiliation.

    Gripping his amputated shoulder, Zax began to assess the situation, what he can do and what he should do.

    ‘This is too one sided… Being at the sixth gate alone is not enough! The Beginner phase of the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers also useless… Her mist energy is at the same level of cultivation as Master’s!’

    From the not so far distance that separated them, the school principal straightened her uniforms. “Was it worth it? Losing an arm?” She asked gravely.

    “That…” Zax steadied his breath. “Is only temporary!” He already sensed his body starting the slow convalescence process.

    From his words and confident manner, the school principal and Mizuri caught that small insight Zax imparted into his bodily refinement technique and the pitying looks of the two changed to sheer astonishment. ‘Regrow limbs!’ The two thought the same thing. To their knowledge, not even humanity’s sole bodily cultivator was able of doing that!

    Tightening his hold on the wound and mildly swaying to redirect the blood flow and stop the bleeding, Zax continued saying to strengthen his shaken position. “If to kill that bastard Binjo, for what he and his bastard brother did to Anet, all I have to become is stronger than you, then just wait!” This was his way of assuring the school principal of his future come back and hinting her not to be partial. He phrased it like this so the school principal will keep to herself what she learned of him, so it would not be tracked back to his family.

    ‘So this matter and the Derneldar are related…’ Hearing Anet’s name, the school principal finally had this youth’s, Zax’s, behavior and sudden appearance solved. ‘Who knew such a prodigy was hovering around one of my students…!’

    “Anet Lensi, an Intermediate grade student. She stopped coming to school three months and twelve days ago. A teacher was sent to her house in cave twenty five, but she refused to see and talk to him. If you are here on her behalf, all the more reason me and you should stop fighting”. She did not say anything about treating his arm, she already noticed that the bleeding stopped.

    Zax was reluctant to resign, but he could not surpass the school principal either. “Very well”, he said and loosened up.

    Seeing how his body movement reflected his change in temperament, the school principal had a gratified smile. “Good, wise and talented-” She praised.

    “Then I’ll take my leave and return in a short while, stronger than you and the Derneldar founder”. Zax said and utilized the rest of his strength to hastily depart.

    “Ah…!”



    Zax swift departure left Eden Formation’s school principal dumbstruck. She could chase after him. With her Soul Sense she could pinpoint his location to compensate for her lower speed. But if Zax would have managed to slip through the reach of her Soul Sense, for running after him, he without a doubt will develop a rancor toward her and that will bring to a wrack her unwavering desire to roll him and his bodily refinement technique in.

    It could be said, that by letting him go he was already circling her hook.

    ‘What a troublesome monster…’ The school principal sighed. Evidently, Zax’s declaration did catch her off guard. His confidence was not seen in her eyes as foolhardy. Considering his cultivation technique, she was sure he did not spout nonsense due to the spur of the moment and was not looking the type.

    The school principal turned her visage to her vice principal.

    “Now, how should we proceed to conclude this incident with the incommodious Derneldar…?”



    Back in the school’s gate, the six youths did not even distinguish Zax’s prompt exit. To be honest, even if they could perceive his level of speed, five of the six were too busy feeling sorry for themselves, with the one exception being the experimenting youth which was eagerly and quietly training. How could they not be aware of the tempest that passed through the school and on their shift? Even without knowing the specifics, they could still hear Zax and the explosions from the direction of the three grades buildings. Furthermore, the school’s gate needed new hinges and someone had to inform the school’s scary superintendent.

    “Last one to raise his hand has to-” Barnard thought of an easy way to choose who will go to the superintendent. Regrettably, mentioning the word “hand”, the other five, including the experimenting youth, raised theirs before he had the chance to finish the sentence.

    “Stay and keep guard at the gate…?”



    ‘Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!’

    Zax was going back, retreating, at full speed. More than for his loss, he was frustrated for not keeping his word to Anet and that his opponent was lenient on him.

    Several caves after cave two, Zax reached a cessation in an alley between two large buildings. Clotheslines stretched between the two buildings and from one of them he picked a long sleeves jacket that was still wet. He wore it to hide the gruesome wound in his left shoulder.

    ‘No! What I’m doing is running’. After the initial apprehension, Zax took a deep breath and calmed himself. It was easier now that he exhausted his rage against the school principal. Unless he delved into the vengeance that he failed to inflict, he could maintain a comprehensive mind.

    ‘I was rush and arrogant, Master told me what my limit is. Instead of getting angry for not being strong enough, I should work around it following the quickest way I currently have. But… even if I’ll succeed in killing Binjo and his brother, would Anet be fine with it? What they did to her…’ The scars on her back flashed before his eye and Zax fought to quell his anger. ‘One thing at a time, one thing at a time… I really am too weak for doing more’. He said to himself. ‘To eradicate those who harmed her, I first need to become stronger. Grasping the method to utilize the Kinetic Force wherever, whenever should be my goal. Healing Anet… there must be away!’

    Though he stated decisively, Zax was not entirely sure. Even if Anet will train in a bodily refinement technique and reach the level of growing back limbs, her body would only heal to the point that it was when she started training. ‘I should consult with big sis and Master’.

    Other than these two things, there was the subject of revealing the cause of his appearance in Eden Formation. Because of his angry chatter the school principal knew that he was related to Anet.

    ‘Will she side with Binjo or with Anet?’ The thought occupied much of Zax’s mind. If she will side with Binjo then he had put not just Anet and her family in danger, but also his family. ‘But she didn’t chase’. There were three ways to reason the school principal’s decision. The one Zax was most certain about was that she did not chase because she could not keep up with him. If that was the case, then what goes inside her head was still a matter of speculations. The two other reasoning were associated with whom the school principal chose to side.

    ‘I must resolve this matter quickly!’ Zax made up his mind.

    If the school principal sided with Binjo, worst comes to worst, he would ask his Master for help. Zax was not aware of the agreement between two species with regards to the involvement of Core Masters, so if the school principal or the Derneldar founder will come to settle this issue, Kartius’s sense of paternity for his Martial son will be put to the test.

    In any outcome other than that, Zax will concentrate on mastering the utilization of the Kinetic Force. By summoning just a bit of it to deflect attacks and accompany one out of three to four punches, Zax believed that as long as his opponent was not faster, he would be able to hold back even a second level Core Master.

    ‘For now I should go see Anet…’ It was inexplicable, how his heart began to pound just by the notion of seeing her again. However, it was not quite the same to when he left with the presumptuous promise that he made. His was now ushered by concern.

    ‘Will she be able to trust me?’ Zax pondered. Most important to him was not to lose Anet, the first of his friends that he reconciled with.



    “Enter, enter, enter!” Beka hurried Zax after opening the door.

    Zax concealed his injury as best as he could. There was no reason for Beka to wonder about his clothing, so on the way back he filled the missing space in the left sleeve with a piece of cardboard and tucked it the jacket’s left pocket. Unless one looked closely or used a Soul Sense, the state of Zax’s left arm was inconspicuous. “Aunty, can I see-”

    “Zax!” Anet ran out from the hallway. “You are back, Zax?!” She jumped and hugged him. Her eyes were tearing and snot dripped from her nose.

    Zax was perplexed from her behavior. It was not the Anet he left. She cried and was emotional, yet it was not pain that she transmitted to him, but was brimming with relief. ‘She thinks that I dealt with Binjo and his brother…’ Zax thought. He did not want to let her go, but he also did not want to deceive her.

    “Anet”, he pushed her gently. “I-”

    “It will be fine, Zax, it will be fine... The school principal gave me her word”. Anet said trembling. Her dark white aura emanated and fluttered soothingly.

    “What?” Zax bewildered. It has been hours since he left Eden Formation, if the school principal made her mind to support their side against the vile Derneldars and wanted to let him know, a quick call – which is how he thought the school principal contacted Anet – indeed was sufficient in doing so, but for it to actually happen so fast and so conveniently… “Explain from the start”. Zax asked of Anet.

    Anet took Zax to her room.

    When her feelings were in disarray, Anet’s emotional state was emanated in small dosages through her aura and as an Advanced phase Core Breaker it affected the usually subtle environmental essence of her home. Now, differ from his previous visit, the gloomy environmental essence that lingered in the room was gradually waning.

    After the Savage Cave, Zax stopped paying particular attention to it, but much like a Core Master and due to his unique soul, he could tell the changes in the environmental essence even without using his Soul Sense.

    The two sat on Anet’s bed and truth to be told, Zax was more embarrassed than she was. Three years could transform a close relationship, but what they had, Zax, Anet, Serah and Dane, especially, been a bond forged by their tears and affection. Put aside Zax, the rest of his friends also did not see each other that often due to their school’s odd off days. The differences with Zax were his premature and forlorn leave and his lack of contact. To Anet, having one of her closest friend come back in a time of distress, moreover, one that she had a sense of similarity to, had extinguished any reservation and suspense from her heart.

    “The school principal, principal Ram, she called my house couple of hours ago. Mom talked to her and then I… We did not talk for long. She asked if I will meet if she would come to my home and said that I have nothing to be afraid of. She admitted that she was not keen on details, but she said that she is partly aware of why I did not come to school and because of whom and that the school has my back, no one will hurt my family if I’ll reveal what happened”. Anet expressed a mix of emotions, excitement, liberation, gratitude and pain. Clearly, despite getting the long awaited support she deserved, the wounds Anet bore were much deeper than what she presented externally.

    ‘That’s good’. Zax mused. If the school principal of Eden Formation, the number one school in El-Eden, will also take upon herself to handle any involvement from the Derneldar family or their founder over his hostile demeanor toward Binjo, then for the time being he would not need to worry about anyone searching for him. Moreover, by learning who he is, the Derneldar might connect him to Anet, and that would only hinder the school principal’s intentions.

    ‘Next time I should apologize…’ He realized, and not only to the school principal, but to the vice principal and the Disciplinary Class, as well. As for the six youth… he did not wronged them. They said that they will guide him if he will open the gate and he did.

    ‘But it was worth it. Now I’m more versed with what human experts are capable. If the Derneldar founder’s cultivation is about the same as the school principal’s, than this can be the threshold I should surpass before killing Binjo and his brother’. Yes, Zax was pleased with the school principal, but he believed that she will not kill or seek to kill the two bustards and for him any other sentence other than death was not good enough.

    “Was it you, Zax?” Anet asked. She cut the flow of his thoughts, but he did not mind. Also, only a second or two passed since she finished explaining. To her, who was using her outer mind, it was nothing compared to him, who contemplated in his inner mind. ”But how is it possible, did you, by any chance, ask big sis Zetsa to talk with Principal Ram?”

    ‘So that’s what she thinks…’ Zax understood. In her level, Anet’s Soul Sense could not probe Zax’s body without his consent. There was no way for her to know his body fitness level or current state. And if she assumed anything, as far as she knew, Zax specialty and only aspect that he could surpass her with and cultivate was his soul. ‘She was thinking that I’ll seek help from big sis…’ It somehow made him disappointed. He wanted Anet to see him as someone reliable on his own.

    “I went there myself”. Zax said firmly. His level of cultivation and method were not a secret anyway. ”I’m a bodi-”

    “You are really amazing, Zax”. Anet pulled up her knees up and said with a soft smile. “In fact, I saw you when you left. You disappeared so fast that I wasn’t able to follow with my eyes, but now I believe it”. When he left, Zax was fuming. Consequently, he did not notice when Anet opened the living room’s window to stop him.

    “Not only did you fix your Qi channels, you also broke through the Mist Master’s bottleneck… you were always so amazing, Zax”. Her eyes squinted as if she daydreamed. After the school principal’s call, Anet felt like a certain weight was lifted from her shoulders, liberating her from a portion of the nightmare. And since the affair with Binjo and his brother, she did not casually talk with anyone. In this moment, Zax became the first in a long time.

    “Am I?” Seeing her smile made Zax a little laidback in his attitude. He was not able to assess his feelings for her. It was new to him, this sort of sudden affection toward another person which was both overbearing and compelling.

    “Mm”. Anet nodded.

    “I don’t think so”. Knowing how vast the contribution of the Black Core was, and still is, to his cultivation, Zax deemed it as what was praiseworthy. “You can’t tell because my soul is stronger than yours, but my Qi channels actually had yet to unclog”.

    “They aren’t?” Anet was surprised. “But you moved so fast…”

    “It’s because I’m training in a bodily refinement technique”.

    “You what?!” Anet blinked at him completely stunned. Regardless of how she had been in the past months, as a Martial cultivator of the best Martial school in El-Eden, how could she not be aware of the significance of bodily refinement techniques in comparison to mist refinement techniques?

    Take for example that solitary human expert who developed his own bodily refinement technique. There was not much known about the method behind his technique, but top tier Martial schools taught that according to sealed reports with regards to all three known bodily refinement techniques in New Earth, the one of the solitary expert from Kingdom Earth, is of the lowest quality and yet still comparable in the strength it supplies to its practitioner to a top mist refinement technique!

    “That’s what I left to learn”. Zax said.

    “Yes you are”. Anet answered to his self rhetorical query. “You are amazing”. There was not even a question of believing him or not.

    “Well, I think that you are even more amazing. In three years your cultivation speed nearly reached to Mist Master level. As for me… there were other things involve…” It was not just Anet that left him in awe. The other students of her school were also amazing cultivators. It did not occur to Zax that great Martial schools like Eden Formation had top tier cultivation techniques and resources to supplement the mist and soul, like the Blood Red Grapes and the herbs he used.

    “Anet”, Zax assertively grabbed her hand. “I’m sorry! I’m still not strong enough to make them pay for what they have done!” It bothered him that he could not keep his word. That trash like Binjo and his brother are out of his reach.

    “Zax…” Anet pulled her hand hesitantly. His unexpected confession tainted the mood. ‘Why did he have to bring them up?’ she was thinking. “You are wrong, Zax. You already did so much. I… I… I was too afraid to involve principal Ram. He warned me… But you did it for me and now principal Ram promised to help me. You don’t need to do anymore, promise me you won’t!” Anet was worried. Zax was not a student of Eden Formation. Principal Ram will not have a reason to help him if he would confront Binjo and his brother and anger the rest of the Derneldar family. As for having big sister Zetsa, Miss Zetsa, the reputable genius expert of cave twenty five, as an elder sister and a practicing a formidable refinement technique… In her mind they were not even secondary to a family like the Derneldar.

    “That I can’t, Anet”. Zax got up from her bed and lowered his gaze to her eyes. “Like I can’t stay even if I wanted to”.

    “What? Are you saying that you are leaving again?” Anet got up from the bed, anxious. Facing him, she was the one this time to grab his right hand. Fortunately, before she grabbed him, Zax was quick and turned his left side to the door.

    Zax sighed. The overbearing feeling in chest boiled. He held Anet’s hand and raised it. It small size was the length that separated their faces. It was difficult to look her in the eyes, but he forced himself. “Only for a short while… I know that with your school principal you are in safe hands. This allows me the time to maybe finish a certain engagement and possibly grow a little stronger… Afterwards, soon, I will come back to fulfill my promise”.

    Zax lightly released Anet and stepped back. His body movement was smooth. He turned his back and exited the room.

    “Ah?!” A pair of delicate arms reached and clung to his shoulders from behind.

    Anet’s body pressed against Zax’s back. “You can’t take long”. Her voice whispered. “Because of me you miss the others, so return soon, okay?”

    “…Okay”.

  3. #83
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 7 – Predictions



    After saying goodbye to Anet, Zax rushed back to his home.

    ‘I hope Master and big sis’s Master will understand’. He sighed inwardly.

    The way he planned it was to meet his old friends and return to meet Zetsa’s Master. But as things progressed and he learned of Anet’s situation, he made a haste decision to make things right for her, to first purge the bastards that harmed her. This sort of decision was coming from his heart rather than his head. Zax knew that and that it was the same to when he went to solve the matter at Eden Formation.

    Considering his previous experience, Zax gathered that what he chose to do can have the same conclusion as his visit to Eden Formation. Even if he will develop a less wrenching method to utilize the Kinetic Force, instead of properly familiarizing with it step by step by exercising and advancing in the bodily maneuvers, there was no guarantee that he would be able to beat a second level Core Master. Furthermore, he was not sure how long Laivien could stretch for him the awaited date of the three years’ time that Zetsa’s Master gave him.

    Still, if there was a chance for him to become stronger and unassailable by the powers of the Derneldar family he had to try and grab it.

    Luckily, when Zax got home, his parents were out along with Liz and her stroller. Zax was relieved. Though his parents were aware that at some point he would return to the beasts’ territory, just as their eldest daughter does frequently, it was still an internal struggle for them to let him go again and for him to leave them and his baby sister.

    Finding pen and paper, Zax left a note for his parents to pass on the Zetsa.

    “Mom, dad, Liz,

    Sorry for leaving just after getting back… I promise to return soon.

    Please tell big sis that I reached a sudden bottleneck and so left to the place where to grapes grow.

    Tell big sis that I’ll return on my own after I’ll breakthrough and I apologize (she’ll know for what).

    Lastly, ask big sis to keep an eye on Anet and if possible talk to her to understand...

    Will return as soon as I can,

    Zax”

    Zax attempted to sound subtle as he possibly could. He left a hint for his big sister to figure his whereabouts but counted on her to give him the time he needed to farther his proficiency with the Kinetic Force and instead of following him, to keep an eye on Anet like he asked in the improvised letter.

    As he departed, Zax threw the jacket in a dumpster before crossing the boundary between two species that separated cave twenty five and Valgarel. Like he mentioned in the letter, “the place where the grapes grow” was exactly the Savage Caves and Zax destination was the one he had been to not so long ago, the first Savage Cave.

    Zax’s purpose of returning to the Savage Cave was the unripe Blood Red Grapes. Since his motive was to improve his control over the Kinetic Force and the body was the aspect which generated the Kinetic Force through kinetic energy… for fast recovery of the staggering amount of energy that the body depleted when kinetic energy was purified and manifested the Kinetic Force, whether by practicing the bodily maneuvers or with Zax’s dangerous method, only the unripe Blood Red Grapes could make do. In addition, the unripe Blood Red Grapes could also accelerate the growth of his left arm.



    A day had passed.

    While Zax was on his way to the Savage Cave, the school principal of the number one Martial school in El-Eden, did as she promised and arrived to Anet’s home.

    “Please, Don Ram”. Per Don’s, the school principal, request, Beka served her and her daughter two cups of tea and left the living room. Though it was her home and Anet was her daughter, as a common citizen of Kingdom Earth, that is, not a cultivator, it was more appropriate of her to leave the two experts alone and even more so, after Don asked her to let her talk with Anet privately for a while.

    Nevertheless, to have one of the most renowned people of El-Eden, maybe Kingdom Earth, did make Beka awfully nervous, and she hoped that after their conversation her daughter would finally return to the cheerful girl that she once was, even if the reason for her resent despondency will remain a secret.

    Sipping from her small tea cup, Anet quietly waited for Don to speak first.

    “Anet”, Don lowered her tea cup and comfortably sat herself on the padding of the armchair. “For several months you neglected your school commitments and stayed at home. Looking at you records, it was odd to see such a drastic change in your temperament toward you studies and cultivation. You should know how strict our school’s rules are… Would you tell me what happened that made you violate them?” She may have sounded rebuking, but Don wanted to state exactly for Anet the current outlook of the school on her situation. That way, if Anet wanted the school’s support, Don’s support, she would need to explain clearly what happened between her and Binjo and not attempt to hide anything out of fear.

    For a short time Anet hesitated to reply. Every time she remembered the pain and shame, it felt like remnants of Binjo’s control over her were still in her heart, forming an invisible hand and squeezing it.

    “My mother…” Anet spoke faintly.

    Don showed her that she understood and nodded her head. “She is in a bedroom; she would not be able to listen”. She confirmed.

    As a Core Breaker, Anet’s Soul Sense could not reach far enough to detect her mother’s current whereabouts in the house, and so she was not sure if she could speak. Anet, not matter what, wanted to at least protect her family from the knowledge of what happened to her and the identity of the culprit they could do nothing against.

    Anet released a pent up breath and began to recite word for words, what she told Zax to Don and expanded a little further. “I can’t remember how long he tortured me… only that after he tore the skin on my lower back, his brother decided that it’s enough and took him away. Before they left me, his brother threatened me not to talk to anyone and advised me leave to school, otherwise, I’ll drag my family to an even worse situation and no one would be able to help me…”

    Lastly she was willing to reveal the scars on her back, but Don stopped her. Naturally, when Don arrived she used her Soul Sense to survey her students and discovered the long and repugnant scar on her back. Now she knew the source that caused the scar and had no intention to force Anet to show it to her eyes.

    Anet hugged herself and cringed. “How… How I could risk my family…? I could not even if someone from school came to talk to me… only he gave me the strength to do so, he and knowing that you might help me, principal Ram”. Trails of tears streamed down her cheeks and Anet forced her voice not to sound sobbing.

    Of what she learned from Anet, one thing in particularly made Don’s nerves twitch in anger. ‘No one came to visit her from school?’ It was not possible, she, herself, spoke with the teacher that Mizuri sent to her home. ‘Could it be…?’ There was not even an ounce of doubt of Mizuri’s loyalty, but the teacher’s… That was another matter entirely.

    Don got up from the armchair and moved to sit beside Anet on the wide couch. Patting her head, she used her soul energy to comfort Anet. “I understand everything now. Tomorrow come to school regularly. Don’t worry; no one will obstruct you on your way that I promise. When you’ll arrive to school, come to my office. Today I will take care of Binjo Derneldar, tomorrow I will take you as my Tal”.



    Cave two. Eden Formation. Principal office, Don’s office.

    Don sat on a white chair with a tall backrest. On the other side of her desk, on a little less impressive chair, sat Mizuri.

    Frowning, Mizuri turned to Don after hearing the cause of what brought Zax to their school, bent on killing Binjo. “That Derneldar student was given too much liberty”. Remembering his own words to Zax, he felt deep regret. “To harm a fellow student to such severity… As an educator and a guardian I failed”.

    “Mizuri, in a hour or so Dureil Derneldar should arrive. While I’ll deal with him, go find and bring to me teacher Slaverin. Also, bring the boy Binjo. Do so after I’ll mention the boy and make sure, when you enter, that teacher Slaverin can’t talk”.

    Though she was curious of finding out his real identity and connection to Anet, Don did not probe for details about Zax. It was not because she was considerate toward Zax’s privacy or anything of this sort. She intended to ask Anet about him, but when she arrived to her home and used her Soul Sense, a certain finding partly uncovered who he was.

    “What are you planning to say?” Mizuri slightly moved his body, prepared to get up.

    “Something that will cause Dureil to be cautious”. Don smiled cunningly.

    “Oh… have you decided to sever all ties with the Derneldar family when this case will be over?”

    “Not at all, Mizuri, not even if I wanted to I would do that. Put aside the difficulties I will have to deal with by trying to convince the school’s board, have you forgotten what that frightening little boy said? If in a short span of time he will reach my level of strength, as a bodily cultivator, his endurance would be higher than my own. If then the old founder of the Derneldar will hinder his pursuit for revenge and fight him, he will definitely lose, and the Derneldar family’s position as one of the five great families of El-Eden will perish. You see now, Mizuri? It is not that I should sever our ties with the Derneldars, but exploit them as much as I can before their power will greatly diminish and the familial powers begin to shift”.

    “That sure sounds convenient, principal Ram, but forgive me, it is simply too ridicules course of action to rely on. You can’t seriously consider what that boy said. Granted, in his generation he is probably among the very few super geniuses that stand at the summit. But for someone so young, scratch that, someone below the age of one hundred to contend against a second level Core Master… that’s unheard of!”

    Don’s smile stretched wider and a brilliant azure light shimmered in her eyes. “Tell me, Mizuri, of those super geniuses that you mentioned, how many possess a unique attribute?”

    “An attribute?!” Mizuri bewildered. “None, absolutely none!”

    What was a “Unique Attribute” to a Martial cultivator? More than validation of cultivation level, it was the most sought after proof of a breakthrough every Core Master strived to achieve, the first fracture in the indissoluble bottleneck of the third realm!

    “That boy, at the time, I detect a tiny presence of a dark attribute in his soul. It’s very unlikely that he reached the Core Master realm as a bodily cultivator. Even if he did, he could only be at the beginning to the first level”.

    “Mizuri, as much as I would like to just expel the Derneldar student and keep the school’s relations with the Derneldar family as they are, I can’t imagine that a great family will take lightly someone that publicly offends it, much less someone unrelated to any other great family. Among the five great families of El-Eden which isn’t proud? Which will let a matter such as this slide? Even the slightest vulgarity toward the least significant family member will take notice. Killing two family members… I should not have to say anything further”.

    “Principal Ram… first there are the twins geniuses of Tongguo and then there is the wild youngster of Shitou and now El-Eden, too, have an unmatched prodigy…” Mizuri sighed. “What about the girl, Anet? Is it really safe to leave her alone?”

    “Her…” Don closed her eyes and chuckled. “There is more than on monster by her side”.

  4. #84
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 8 – Leading On



    “Please, enter and have a seat”.

    “Principal Ram”.

    Inside Don’s spacious school principal office, she welcomed in an old man, which seemed to look in his late fifties.

    The man with light skin, orange hair and red eyes wore a gray suit with fine black designs and was none other than Binjo’s father, Dureil Derneldar.

    “This is not a courtesy visit, so I will not have my secretary serve us anything”. From the very moment they sat and were eye to eye, Don’s loftiness embedded the air with coldness. To rebuke an important member of a great family, her temperament had to be domineering regardless of position or situation.

    “I’m fine with simply receiving all the information related to the incident and the person who threatened my son”. Dureil said, attempting to keep a composed visage. As an Intermediate Core Breaker, when confronting a superior cultivator he used to clung into his statues to save his face. As for how a Core Breaker could attain placement in the main branch of a great family, in this particular case, it can be explained by luck and heritage.

    “Of course, I have it all prepared for you, however, I cannot hand it over this instant. This incident caused our school several losses. Some, I admit, are negligible and already been taken care of. Others, on the other hand, have affected the school reputation and its reliability, which brings me to why I cannot share this information. As the highest school’s official that was on scene during the incident and as the principal of this distinguished institute, I’ve decided to utilize the school’s resources to methodically investigate the culprits responsible for this incident and befittingly punish them as a form of compensation”.

    “The school’s resources are entwined with the number one great family of El-Eden, the Dauch family. Are you saying, principal Ram, that this matter was agreed to be dealt with by Dauchs?”

    When Don refused to hand over the details of the incident, Dureil was discontented before she even expanded her reasoning, but when the involvement of Dauch family was mentioned, though not explicitly, he was relieved. In confrontations concerning Core Masters, Dureil had two options. To exhaust all of his connections and all the favors he accumulated over the years, or lower his head before the family head and beg for his help. Sure enough, he could also seek the support of the family’s founder, but then he may risk been personally demoted to the position of a mediocre branch family. Either way, the incident was connected to his son, and so the responsibility of making sure that it would not tarnish the family name was laid on him. Thus, up until Don said that the school will deal with it, Dureil was prepared to lose an arm and a leg.

    Dureil was secretly joyed. In addition to his contemplation over his great luck, a piece of information he was not aware of, which Don idly revealed, gravely took him aback.

    “Culprits” Don said to him. Not one person, like his son informed him, but more. As far as Dureil knew up until he heard it, only one Core Master came seeking his son. If Binjo was incorrect and more than one Core Master sought him, than the family head and founder had to be notified.

    “No”. Don calmly replied to his inquiry. “The school’s resources that will be utilized are our esteemed Student Council Class”.

    “What?! Are you intending to let a bunch of students act upon this matter?!” Dureil lost his poise.

    The Student Council Class of Eden Formation was a well known entity that served solely the school principal and would listen to no one but her. Each and every member of the current Student Council Class was publicly recognized in the high class community as the Tal of school principal Don. They all were under the common age of graduation among Martial schools, thirty years old, and all at the Mist Lord level!

    The Student Council Class was comprised of seven, twenty something, students. Although not even half the number of the Disciplinary Class, the strength of the Student Council Class was far above the Disciplinary Class and two years back had been proven when the Student Council Class managed to subdue a Core Master at the Advanced phase of the first level in an exhibition fight.

    Since at the time the fight was exhibitory, many of the keen eyes observers could tell that the Core Master restricted himself from executing killing and critical strikes, but the Student Council Class’s performance still managed to impress, and the conversant crowd would not have argued in oppression of the Student Council Class in a serious fight against a Core Master in the Beginner or Intermediate phase of the first level.

    Bearing that in mind, Dureil was certain that if the Core Master or Core Masters were able to elude Don, there was no one in school competent enough to subjugate him, her or them.

    “Nothing else can be done. To avoid leakage of information, we temporarily confiscated every piece of technology that could enable students to record the incident. However, we could not and will not restrict their freedom of speech. A day after the incident, it seems that things are still quiet. Might be because no student talked yet, might be that students did talk, but whoever they talked to is careful due to the parties involved and decided to first investigate what happened before releasing it to the press. For that reason, at the scenario where eventually the incident will get publicized, by using our own students to solve it, even by just putting them on the pedestal to be looked at, the school will be able to restore a substantial public’s opinion while integrating an air of confidence and credibility among students, parents, school faculty and donors”.

    “That’s… that won’t do, principal Ram!” Dureil protested. Of what he perceived from her priorities, though catching the culprit and punishing him, her or them was a preference, Don was willing to trade it for retaining the school’s image, which may place the culprit, yet again, as his problem.

    TUMP!

    Hearing him retorting, Don slammed the palm of her hand on her desk. “Dureil, you seem to forget the most important issue of this incident”, the hand that slammed the desk clenched into a fist as she responded.

    From the other side of the desk, Dureil seemed confused for a short moment after the “TUMP!” sound. The desk definitely had a Peral metal frame, and the wood that it was made of, most likely, also was something precious. Otherwise, it could not have taken Don’s hit and produced such a loud sound.

    “Principal Ram…” Dureil said, pondering how to interpreted her words and actions. As a person of the highest class, he was used to the bigotry and guile games that were inseparable part of the status. To lead on someone was the most common conversation technique, which was mostly used by middle class or lower class merchants, far beneath the likes of Eden Formation’s school principal. Nevertheless, that was what she done to him, and he, only at the end, noticed.

    Dureil did not expect Don to by sly with him, or rather, he was unsure if she really intended to lead him on. She had no reason to, considering the relations of the school and his family. From his experience, by assessing her next words, he could tell the true nature of this whole conversation from Don’s perspective, if she led him toward exploitation or genuinely sorted their discussion, planning to keep the worst for last.

    “What is that issue?” Dureil reverted to the unruffled mien he presented to so many of his kind.

    “Do I have to say it? Very well, the one who’s responsible, or at least was the source that brought upon this incident, is your son, Binjo Derneldar!”

    She led him.

    “I don’t have to tidy up his misdeeds for you. You should perfectly be aware of the corrupt side of your son. His record started in the pre Core grades and steadily increased over the years. Usually, because of how close the school and the Derneldar family are, we try to sort the situation ourselves, at most, notify you and finish the matter with a contribution to the one that was hurt or complained. This time around it was too much, Binjo managed to offend experts, the culprits, in the Core Master realm, barely weaker than I am”.

    “I don’t know who, but clearly, in the list of people he recently troubled, was someone with doting capable connections. Finding out whom he upset won’t be a problem, Binjo himself can compile a list. But let me tell you this, for the trouble this incident caused to the school, when that person will be found, if he or she is a student, the school would act accordingly and your son would be expelled!”

    “What?!” Dureil roared and his complexion paled.

    To go as far as expelling his son! The shame alone would lower his position in the main branch, add to it that his sixth son had the most promising future as a Martial cultivator, even if he seemed to care for it only when it fit him, how could he let this future rise to prominence for his name to slip in between his fingers?

    There was no school in El-Eden that could extract his son’s latent potential, which he wasted so much of his wealth on, other than Eden Formation. Sure, there were the two other number one Martial schools of Tongguo and Shitou, but would anyone of the total three accept a student that one of the other two expelled? Implausible. Besides, the Derneldar family did not have relations with the two other schools, and considering Binjo’s upbringing… he would not stay long in any of them.

    Dureil exhaled. Don did not repeated what she said and as a Core Breaker he had enough time to rearrange his thoughts. “Principal Ram, what do you want in order to terminate my son’s association with the incident?”

    “Dureil, you seem to not understand. The consequences of Binjo’s misdeeds, at this point, are no longer something that could be compensated by a simple donation and the consideration of the school’s relations with the Derneldar family. Not even the school board would fight me on this”.

    “Then by what means this matter can be resolved?” Dureil gritted his teeth. The “simple donation” Don dismissed was not something light like she made it sound. In this context it was equivalent to the Derneldar family’s annual donation to the school, not a sum that he could hold up on his own without adding a pound of flesh. What would be enough for Don, frankly terrified him.

    Don opened a drawer in her desk, taking out a small squared piece of paper and with a pen scribbled on the piece of paper.

    “Here”. Don handed the piece of paper to Dureil.

    Taking the piece of paper gingerly, Dureil flipped it over and surveyed its contents.

    Instantly as he read what Don written, Dureil’s pupils contracted and a drop of sweat formed on his forehead.

    Pure white mist energy burst from Dureil hand and burned the paper into ashes as he jumped up from his seat. “You cannot be serious!” He bellowed. “That much… That much… Do you want us to borrow money from the other great families?! Principal Ram, you said that Binjo is the source of the incident, but what about your responsibilities toward you students? That assault on my son’s life was on school grounds-”

    “Your son wasn’t harmed by the experts that barged into the school”. Don interrupted him as if she was prepared all along to this response. “Conversely, because Binjo attracted the attention of fiery experts, it was he that initiated the risk on the other students”.

    “At first, I thought to address only to the school losses when I gave you the note. Now that you on your own mentioned the danger this incident delivered to the student body, it is clearly insufficient, won’t you agree, Dureil?”

    Seeing that Dureil was too stunned to talk back, Don let a gentle smile adorned her and loosened the imposing atmosphere she instilled in the environmental essence of her office. At that moment, though she had a military haircut and was more domineering than most men, in addition to past the hundred and fifty years mark, her beautiful face shone smoothly like that of a teenage girl.

    “But of course, as awful as it is, the school is willing to take the fault due to our close relations”. Don stood up and encircled her desk, standing before Dureil, who instead of showing relief, attentively waited for her to finish her piece. “There are a few condition, but nothing unfeasible to a great family. The number I wrote is one condition and is indisputable. The second is the temporary suspension of Binjo from school. Aside of him deserving a form of punishment, until the culprits will be caught, the risk of them returning and causing problems is still looming over the other students”.

    “They will go overboard and come again?” Dureil muttered doubtfully.

    If Don intends to truly just use the Student Council Class as means of dealing with the incident from the school’s stand point, then the culprits would remain loose. In that case, the culprits would not push their luck and probably give up or seek another opportunity for dealing with Binjo, which in turn will make the school the safest place for him. Also, if the culprits are gutsy enough to make a mess in the number one Martial school of El-Eden, they should even more so have the nerves to not give a damn about who the Derneldar family is, and make a move for Dureil’s estate in the main branch.

    In this kind of situation where it is not about chasing after the culprits but fending their assault, Dureil could not even think of dealing with them using his own resource. His five eldest sons would also have to contribute everything they have, and since the assault might occur on the property of the main branch, notifying the head and founder would not be a matter of choice anymore.

    “The school won’t take the risk”. Don said insistently. “As for the third condition”, she continued. “If this incident does involve another student and not an outsider, the Derneldar family will contribute a Mist Essence Amplifier”.

    Dureil opened his mouth but tightly closed it before letting his voice out. ‘A Mist Essence Amplifier she demanded?!’ He wanted to shout. “Fine”. He said in dismay. “Is that all?”

    “Have the money transfer to the school’s account and send the Mist Essence Amplifier by the end of the week. If it will turn out that no other student was involved, you can retrieve the Mist Essence Amplifier”.

    Even time she did not give him. Helplessly Dureil asked. “Then, if possible, can you supply me the information you gathered of the culprits”. He wanted it from the start, even before he came to her office. But knowing now how troublesome they are, he was rather reluctant to the time he would have to deal with them.

    Don released a fake sigh. “Yes, but only verbally”.

    It was little, too little, but Dureil waited for her to start sharing.

    “There were two culprits, but one remained hidden throughout the incident. The other one I personally dealt with. At first he used a concealment technique to look like a young boy to infiltrate the school. When I used my Soul Sense on him, I detected his true cultivation, the Advanced phase of the first Core Master’s level. But despite his lower cultivation, his appearance stayed vague due to his proficiency in the concealment technique. Other than that, he also used a peculiar dagger technique that was able to break my protective formation. However, it nearly consumed all of his mist energy, and he could not follow up with another attack. That’s when he used the rest of his strength to escape and the other one also disappeared. Such a high level of skill should be quite rare… You should already have an idea where to look…” Don altered the truth in a manner that actually caused the expression on Dureil’s face to be even more mournful. The place she hinted for him to look for one of the two none exists culprits was tightly discreet of its operatives. Only the likes of the number one and number two great families of El-Eden and the other two regions, could extract such information from that place.

    “That is all”. Don concluded.

    “Thank you”. Dureil had no other way to respond other than appreciatively.

    KNOCK!

    KNOCK!

    Someone knocked twice and opened the office’s door.

    Mizuri entered the school principal office together with Binjo and a slender brown skin man that seemed to be in his thirties, teacher Slaverin.

    The two were tense but kept their gazes away from each other. The moment they crossed the doorstep, teacher Slaverin felt his body tightening up, as if an immense force bounded him to his place without the power to even talk.

    “Dad?” Binjo looked at his father and right away he felt a wave of relief in his heart.

    What happened the day before aroused his concerns. When vice principal Mizuri called him out in the middle of class together with teacher Slaverin, he was afraid that his bribes toward this lackey of a teacher were about to be discovered. It scared him how principal Ram would react, but seeing that his father was present, he did not care anymore; after all, his father was the younger brother of the current head of the family and the grand grandson of the founder. Even if the relationship between his father and uncle was bad, his uncle was always good for him and his brothers. If he will beg him, any matter could be taken care of.

    Dureil did not look affectionately at his and even rebuked him with his eyes, but Binjo did not notice.

    “Dureil”, Don turned to the furious father. “This is Mr. Slaverin, a diligent teacher in the Intermediate building and a dedicated cultivator at the Peak phase of the Mist Master level”.

    THRUST!

    Don’s figure suddenly blurred, the next moment her left hand shimmered in azure light and like spear penetrated teacher Slaverin’s abdomen and exited from the other side, lifting him couple centimeters above ground.

    Mizuri also ceased his curb on teacher Slaverin and the brown skin curly black hair man bent in pain, hanging and grabbing Don’s arm. Trying to speak, only blood came out of his mouth.

    The scene made Binjo cower behind his dad, while Dureil expression only slightly soured. His son might have had a higher level of cultivation, but in terms of constitution they were worlds apart – unless, of course, it was Binjo himself who let out his wickedness.

    The azure aura intensified and Don’s mist energy swirled. In a mere second she disintegrated the perfidious teacher Slaverin.

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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 9 – Two Questions, One Decision



    Don waved her hand, repealing the bits of blood and dusty remnants of her former teacher from the sleeve of her neat suit.

    “Allow me to explain”, seeing the petrified expression on Binjo’s face and the restrained expression on Dureil’s face, Don calmly said. “It came to my attention that a long time teacher of my school has been takings bribes from students and their families to alter students’ records in his class. He was also selling sensitive information about our cultivation techniques and Martial techniques. Indeed, Mr. Slaverin was that teacher”. Her tone was indifferent. She walked past the duo of father and son, back to her tall backrest seat.

    “Well then, the two of us will take our leave. Come, Binjo”. Dureil said. He grabbed his son’s hand and dragged him out of the principal office.

    Closing the door behind them, vice principal Mizuri turned to Don and sighed. “Taking bribes and selling our techniques… Who’ll dare?” He raised an eyebrow.

    “Should I have said that I killed him because someone in the Derneldar family influenced him to disobey my orders and lie to me?” Don was certain. Binjo alone could not persuade the deceased Slaverin. She suspected that it was the brother who helped him to apprehend Anet.

    “Did the conversation go well?” Mizuri decided that arguing for the dead was pointless. Besides, he, too, was resentful toward the unethical teacher. It interested him more if Don managed to achieve her goals with Dureil Derneldar.

    “Have the matter of Mr. Slaverin’s dismissal taken care of. Make something about him departing to Valgarel due to imminent breakthrough and inform his family”. Don instructed. She knew that neither Dureil nor Binjo would dare say otherwise if they learn of this cover up of teacher Slaverin’s death. “I’ll tell you everything afterwards”.



    Valgarel. The entrance to the first Savage Cave.

    It took Zax several days, but he made it to the first Savage Cave without resting once to eat, sleep or meditate to renew his powers.

    “Finally!" Zax let aloud and sped through the long tunnel.

    Entering the first Savage Cave, it was the same for Zax as being in any other cave. After the event with the man from the second Savage Cave, the imperceptible dark attribute in his soul made some changes that nullified completely the effect of the savage force on him.

    WUSH!

    Zax kicked the ground and swiftly vanished.

    Short time later Zax stopped in front of familiar foliage of trees, the grove he found shelter when he first entered the Savage Cave, and the place he buried Carl.

    CRUNCH!

    Zax finished the unripe Blood Red Grape he plucked on his way. He had everything planned in his mind, but when he was about to enter the grove, an overwhelming sense of longing to visit Carl’s grave manifested in his heart.

    ‘No. After I’ll kill Binjo and his brother and help Anet I’ll come see how you are’. He could tell.

    He wanted a moment to alleviate the contempt he felt toward himself for not being able to keep his word to Anet and for being brazen toward Don. In both times he allowed self confidence to cloud his judgment. He overestimated himself and the blow to his self esteem was massive.

    To deal with the shame he could seek consolation by reminiscing his time with the big brother that he made when he trained in the Savage Cave. Of course, Carl was not the only one with the power to absolve Zax. His big sister and Master also had this power on him. However, Zax knew that whether it was Carl, Zetsa or Kartius, turning to any of them or even reflecting on how they may or might have console him was merely a form of dependency, a remnant of his receding child mind that considered all three as his rescuers in one form or another.

    Eating a couple more unripe Blood Red Grapes until he felt his body about to burst with vitality, Zax relocated a suitable place inside the grove where in time it would be spacious enough to train in the bodily maneuvers, sat down and began to meditate.

    ‘With this much energy, in about a week my arm will grow back’, he made the assessment with moderate accuracy. It was why he chose to train in the first Savage Cave. To regrow his arm as fast as possible and to recover instantly the energy he will expend by practicing the bodily maneuvers, he needed external supplements and the unripe Blood Red Grapes were the only that came to mind.

    ‘The Kinetic Force’ Zax started to ponder and gradually recalled his last experience with it that obliterated his left arm and destroyed Don’s defensive battle suit formation.

    How it came to be and why it was so hard to control were the two questions that occupied him. Zax felt that by finding the answers, he would be able enrich his insight of the Kinetic Force so much that besides a workable utilization of is, he would also, possibly, be closer to a breakthrough in the overall bodily maneuvers.

    ‘No… first is the kinetic energy. At first I thought that the bodily maneuvers were the source of it, like how an Earth’s Core is the source of mist energy. But when I read the definition of “Omnipresent” and later figured out what the energy is and tried to forcibly converge it into Kinetic Force, I realized. Kinetic energy was not created from the bodily maneuvers nor was the Kinetic Force. Additionally, the purpose of the bodily maneuvers is not just to allow me to feel kinetic energy and then use the Kinetic Force, at least the purpose of the of the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers was not that. Its purpose is to limit the convergent of kinetic energy to Kinetic Force and the flow of the Kinetic Force’.

    ‘…A definitive answer is too hard to find with my current level of perception, but if I’ll have to guess, I think that once a person is intuitive toward his body, like how I became after surpassing the Beginner phase of the bodily maneuvers, the kinetic energy that a person produce can become Kinetic Force by simply paying some attention to it and directing its convergent’.

    In his sea of consciousness, Zax portrayed an emulation of how he interpreted the behavior of kinetic energy with his soul energy. Of course, he did not expect his soul energy to suddenly converge and become “Soul Force”, but by doing this it helped him reach his conclusion. Consequently, Zax believed that in his current condition he reached the best possible answer to the first question.

    ‘For now this will be my answer’. He dispersed his soul energy. ‘If I follow this assumption, then I can gather that the kinetic energy is in tune with the body, since it’s always exist in and outside of it, whether its perceptible or not, which means that the difficulties of controlling the Kinetic Force are mostly related to itself’. Zax mused.

    ‘How does it behave?’ Zax asked himself. In order to find why Kinetic Force is hard to control, he decided to recall its behavior when he use it while executing the bodily maneuvers and at the fight against Don.

    A ball of soul energy emerged in his sea of consciousness. Zax made it to exemplify the behavior of Kinetic Force.

    ‘Different from Qi and mist energy, the Kinetic Force does not amplify the strength and sturdiness of a body’s part. Even when I use it to punch or kick, it’s more like explosively shot out from my body, like a long range mist attack, but actually, can only have an effect when it collides with an external force. Mmm…’ Zax had an idea.

    He put aside the ball of soul energy and opened his eyes.

    Zax’s gaze turned to his right hand. He raised it and focused on his pinky. Minutes later, Zax shifted his head in a slight node of satisfaction. Being in the Beginner phase of the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers it took him a little time, but eventually he managed to sense the kinetic energy in his pinky. It was very small, barely noticeable, exudes from the minuscule vibrations of his blood flow.

    From this first stage of the experiment Zax thought of, he unexpectedly learned that the little the amount of kinetic energy is, the harder it is to sense. Proceeding to the next stage, Zax controlled the kinetic energy to gather and converge at the tip of his pinky.

    “Tsk!” Zax clicked his tongue. Right when the Kinetic Force was formed, his pinky quivered, the Kinetic Force exploded and blood sprouted from the sides of his fingernail.

    Unlike when he exercised the bodily maneuvers, Zax did not even have the time to disperse the Kinetic Force before it went out of control and exploded. Luckily, he used a very small amount of kinetic energy to create it so its power was measured respectively and at most he felt a light ache from his pinky and blood came out, yet his fingernail remained intact.

    ‘When it converges from kinetic energy, it concentrates the amount of kinetic energy I decide on, but no matter what, it stays unstable like a spark…’

    Zax closed his eyes, and retrieved the ball of soul energy and began to play with it. He could not see how kinetic energy and Kinetic Force behave but he could feel them.

    ‘Kinetic energy is like water in a sea’, due to fantasy movies, old pictures, drawings and things he learned in school, Zax could make the comparison. ‘Always flowing, never stop moving, when it hits a rock, it flow on to it and from it. It does not care whether it is carried by a moveable or an unmovable object. Since it is in a constant movement, an unmovable object can only possess it for a short time, but a moveable object can carry it and manipulate it. Kinetic Force, on the other hand, is the moment when the sea hit the rocks and the water splash everywhere. Then it returns to be kinetic energy’.

    The ball of soul energy changed its shape according to Zax’s analysis. It ceased after exploding several times more like a spark than splashing water.

    ‘The behavior of the Kinetic Force is always frenetic, but is it why I can’t control it?’ Zax considered the answer. ‘Partly. When I train in the bodily maneuvers it isn’t much different, but I still manage to disperse it before it explodes. Or rather… it explodes, but something in the bodily maneuvers prevents it from going out of control to a short moment. To know for certain I’ll have to continue practicing in the bodily maneuvers… It’s fine. Now that I have an idea of what to expect when the kinetic energy converges and how the Kinetic Force is going to react, it will be easier to accomplish through the bodily maneuvers’.

    ‘…Problem is I cannot practice in the bodily maneuvers without an arm…’ After thinking for so long Zax felt miserable. He was not sure if he truly cannot train in the bodily maneuvers with one harm missing, but he did not want to risk it and blow the left side of his upper body.

    ‘For the time being I should concentrate on healing as fast as possible. If I’ll direct all my body’s functions to healing, I can hasten the speed a little more. And when my arm will grow back, with the little insight that I gathered, I should try breaking through to the Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase. Then, hopefully, the Kinetic Force would be more controllable and I would be able to conceive a way to use it safely’.

    It sounded like a plan, a good one that all three, Zetsa, Kartius and Carl would approve.

    “Five days is the limit!” However then Zax opened his eyes and said aloud to himself. “Five days, whether I’ll succeed or not”, he had a great incentive that roused both his fury and his determination, regardless of how sure of himself he felt. “Five days and I’ll go kill them!”

  6. #86
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 10 – Zetsa Takes The Scenes



    “Brother! Second brother, you got to help me!”

    In a large estate with shiny floors, high ceilings and mighty pillars, an orange head, white skin young man at the end of his teenage years, ran along the exhibited artwork in pursuit of a slightly taller man with similar external traits and called out pleading.

    The man turned and golden light winked in his eyes as he glared at the one chasing him. “Out of the question, Binjo!”

    Indeed, the on in pursuit was the notorious student of the number one Martial school in El-Eden, Binjo Derneldar.

    Seeing his second brother glaring at him, Binjo did not seem to mind and hastened to close the gap between them.

    “Third brother spoiled you way too much and now the whole family is going to suffer! Are you not done causing troubles yet?!”

    It had been two days since Dureil brought his son back from school, and by now, the conversation between him and principal Don was known to each of his sons and wife alone.

    “I’m done, I’m done, second brother”, Binjo stepped closer and presented his hands to his second brother. “But, second brother, I made a list of all those I confronted recently. How about it, second brother? Your connections in the underground world are even better than father’s. Can’t you take care of these people for me?”

    Twisted and self centered. Even Binjo’s own brothers knew of his perverse inclination, more so than even their parents, since whenever he decided to act according to his whims, it was they who gave him a hand to make sure he satisfied himself.

    Rather than being twisted as he, his brothers helped him – his third eldest brother more frequently than the rest – for couple of other reasons. Being their youngest brother with an age disparity of twelve years between Binjo and the second youngest brother, it was inevitable that he would end up excessively doted. That was the main reason. Other reason was their status. Put aside the Mist Lord cultivation level of second brother and third brother, which in their family put them in better position than their father’s, the brothers were all part of one of the five great families of El-Eden and were also cared for by the leader of the family. To them, acting on their whims at the expense of others was a right, therefore, even if Binjo misused this right more than the others, the rest were arrogant enough to approve.

    The last reason was Binjo twisted personality. Though most time he kept it at bay, yet not as well as their mother, Binjo had personality disorders that if not let out, they would pent up and a mess may occur, much like their current predicament.

    Surveying the list Binjo handed him, second brother read all the names, cultivation levels and status that his little brother included.

    In total there were eight people in the list that were objectified to Binjo recent misdeeds. Five of which, were noted as students of his Marital school, among them was Anet. The other three were two males and a female he met in a party that he attendant with third and fourth brothers.

    “…The three you met in the party and one of the students you messed with have a high class status”.

    “Yes, second brother. I think that it was they who hired the Core Masters”. Binjo replied with a smile. He knew that if his second brother read the list and repeated aloud its content, it means that he gave in to his beseeching.

    “Very well”. Binjo second brother wrinkled his brows, not completely agreeing with Binjo’s conjecture, but willing to help, nonetheless. “This mess that you created far surpassed father’s own resources and the family will also take a heavy blow if we would accept the conditions of your school principal. While I’ll see what I can do, stay with third brother in the family leader’s villa. Make use of the high quality Earth’s Core that father obtained for you and cultivate your mist, am I clear?”

    “Yes, second brother”. Binjo nodded and darted to pack his stuff.

    Seeing his figure going away, Binjo’s second brother crumpled the piece of paper with the list of name and turned it to ashes. Rebuking and being hard on his little brother was his way of instilling in him the severity of his actions. In truth, after receiving the text that a Core Master came to get him in his school, Binjo’s second brother and the other four burned in distress and fury.

    Binjo asking for help was utterly unnecessary. It had been two days since he returned home, but since the moment he and his father returned, Dureil right away discussed the situation with his five sons and what each and every one of them could do was already reeled into motion since that moment.

    Binjo’s second brother turned and frowned. Since third brother was the most familiar of sixth brother’s, Binjo’s, misdeeds, six of the eight names on Binjo’s list were already on their way to be dealt with. The two new ones were a girl who was Binjo’s upperclassman and Anet.

    Raising his caller to his ear, a voice instantly emerged from the other side of the line.

    “Mejar?”

    “Father, my preparations are complete. Tonight I will deal with the names third brother gave me. Binjo just added two more, but they won’t be a problem”.

    “Good, Mejar. Unfortunately, me and your brothers still failed to arrange the sum and Mist Essence Amplifier, whether it would be needed or not. Tomorrow, I and eldest son, along with fourth will go meet your uncle in this regard and tell him everything. We can’t be sure that the Core Masters were hired, and if they weren’t, it wouldn’t matter with whom you deal with tonight”.

    Binjo’s second brother, Mejar, gritted his teeth. Despite his good relationship with his uncle, when it came to his father, the family leader never treated him well, and the second son did not want to see his father shaming himself by being obsequious.

    “Don’t worry, father, the Mist Essence Amplifier would return to us, and for daring to threaten our family and make us lose face, I’ll do my utmost to get rid of every name in the list, just in case”.



    Cave twenty five.

    Night time. The Nightly Cover formation was fully activated.

    Two figures clad in black dashed along the streets and stopped three hundred meters from their targeted destination, a four storey apartments building among a cluster of same size buildings.

    The two were exactly Mejar Derneldar and a same level expert he brought with him from the Derneldar’s estate who was the head guard of his father’s estate.

    The two’s target was precisely Anet. After the conversation with his father, Mejar investigated quickly the whereabouts of the two added names Binjo gave him. The results were a half full glass. The upperclassman student was staying in the school’s dorms, which made her untouchable and in the current time span Mejar arranged to deal with the original six names, it was difficult to work out a plan to make her leave school. Anet, however, was coming to school for the past two days for a few hours and was going back home afterwards.

    Learning about her unusual leaves in a school where generally students could only go home once a month, and that before that, she was absent from school for couple of months, Mejar associated the approval she clearly received from the school to go and leave as she wants, with his little brother’s sudden removal from school’s grounds.

    The likelihood that the two Core Masters who came for Binjo were related to her also crossed his mind. But looking at her background he decided that the chances were slim. That through her classmates she possibly learned that Binjo is also absent from school, and used the opportunity to explain her past behavior to a school’s official.

    As Mejar saw it, Anet was convincing enough to get someone’s in the school sympathy, which conveniently provided him the chance of dealing with her with little effort.

    “Fang Lor, the girl has long scar on her back. Detect her with your Soul Sense and kill her and her family members. Leave no remains”. Mejar instructed the head guard of his father estate. “This one should be the easiest of the eight names, her status is the lowest and her cultivation isn’t much. But though it should be a fairly easy job, I came with you to avoid any unexpected troubles”.

    Mejar preferred to be cautious throughout the nightly operation he arranged, no matter who the target was. He chose to accompany Fang Lor, because he did not have time to arrange a Mist Lord through his underground connection and to deal with Anet, he also considered it a waste of money. Moreover, Fang Lord’s mist refining technique was comparable with his. Together they could raise a formation with the power to impede even a recent first level Core Master.

    “Yes, Mejar Ram”. Fang Lor replied obediently and his body sprang out from their hideout, toward the target’s location.

    The two kept stealth solely because of the important of the operation. If Anet was an ordinary Core Breaker with no special connections, even killing her in broad daylight would not have been a problem. But since she was a student of Eden Formation, they were forced to by subtle.

    Fang Lor advanced like a black streak of light. Releasing his Soul Sense he found Anet actually siting in a meditative position, while three other individuals were sleeping in different rooms in the same apartment.

    Just when Fang Lor’s lips were about to stretch into an assured smirk, his face convulsed and he suddenly stopped fifty meters from the apartment building.

    Looking at Fang Lor from two hundred and fifty meters away, Mejar became confused. Prior to this, he did not use his Soul Sense to avoid detection by a stronger expert, in case one was around. Seeing Fang Lor standing in place, he contemplated what to do, till finally deciding to wait and continue watching. A hint of azure aura and he will start laying the formation they decided on in advance, knowing that Fang Lor will do the same.

    “Aha…” A female voice sighed from the area of the apartment building and a young woman jumped down from one of the roofs. “I was thinking that my presence here is no longer necessary, but luckily I decided to stay until his return. Otherwise you, rats, may have had the chance to do something despicable”. The young woman was none other than Zetsa. She noticed Fang Lor when his Soul Sense encompassed her along with the building Anet lived in and she noticed Mejar when she retraced at the direction Fang Lor came from.

    “An Advanced phase Mist Lord…” Fang Lor frowned as he quietly said to himself. For an expert of such level to suddenly appear, he knew it was not a coincidence. “Miss, it seems that you wondered into a personal dispute... Would you kindly agree to negotiate leaving-”

    WHOOSH!

    Before Fang Lor finished talking, Zax’s body shone in a dark golden light as her aura burst and she bolted toward him in an amazing speed.

    “An Advanced phase Mist Lord!” Sensing the immense mist energy and the fluctuations in the air which were caused by someone who looked younger than his third brother, Mejar could not help but cry in shock. As a Beginner phase Mist Lord he would not have detected her if he used his Soul Sense, but if she got close enough and because of Fang Lor decided to use her own Soul Sense, Zetsa could definitely detect him.

    “Hmph!” Fang Lor let out a snort and released his aura. He did not call for Mejar because he, too, was an Advanced phase Mist Lord and was confident in his abilities against others in the same level.

    Dark golden mist energy spun around his body and two beams of dark golden light were shot at Zetsa. “Lingering Line Cutter!” He called out the name of the technique.

    In response to the two beams, the light of Zetsa’s aura dimmed a little but her skin began to glow in a brownish golden color which was a mix of her golden mist energy and olive skin tone. Opening the palm of each hand, Zetsa grasped the two dark golden beams and light explosions echoed from between her fingers. With a scowl and terrifying killing intent, she increased her speed and reached Fang Lor.

    “Impossible!” Fang Lor shrieked, first from the might of the killing intent, then from how easily Zetsa destroyed his attack. What were the two beams of light of his Lingering Line Cutter technique? Though seemingly thin and small, they were the concentrated force of a high grade long range Martial technique. Even a Beginner phase first level Core Master would not try to touch them when he, Fang Lor, shot them. But for Zetsa to do so when they had the same level of cultivation, and with so much as only a few drops of blood as consequence… how inconceivable was that?!

    What Fang Lor did not know, was that Zetsa’s body fitness level was akin to a second level Core Master’s body fitness level. By strengthening her body further with mist energy, both her speed and power reached a level that could take on even an Intermediate phase first level Core Master.

    PUCHI!

    Forming a spear with her right hand, Zetsa pierced Fang Lor’s heart.

    “Blaah!” A mouthful of blood came rushing from Fang Lor’s throat. ‘In one move!’ Was his last thought.

    “Fang Lor!” Mejar could not believe the scene in front of his eyes.

    A young woman who had a similar level of cultivation as the head guard of his father’s estate, sustained the destructive force of Fang Lor’s strongest long range attack and then killed him in one strike!

    ‘This girl, Anet, is the one related to the two Core Master!’ The sudden revelation came with the realization that just now, from the eight names, the operation to eliminate Anet became the most dangerous.

    Knowing that his position was already jeopardized, Mejar did not tarry for Zetsa to come finish him as well. His light golden aura went madly ablaze and with couple of bizarre steps his figure flickered and started to escape.

    “A movement technique…” Zetsa licked her lips.

    Fang Lor aroused her killing intent, the one she honed in the first Savage Cave as she fended countless savages while keeping safe the little treasure her Master gave her to make sure she would not lose to the savagery. Now, since Fang Lor and the other one, who hid his face, seemed bent on harming Anet, she was not interested in their reasons and made her mind, deciding to kill them at all cost.

    Zetsa’s decision was more than understandable even if she was not blood related to Anet. Of Zax’s friends, Anet was the third, after Serah and Dane, to call Zetsa “Big sister”. She started calling her like this at the time when Zax was secluding himself, after the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit, and his friends came by and made efforts to see him. At that time, Zetsa fondness toward her little brother’s devoted friends grew bigger, and toward the ones who visited the most, Serah, Dane, Anet and Zushi, she even became affectionate.

    Dropping her back a little, Zetsa pulled her weight to her feet and kicked the ground. The hunt for the second prey commenced!

  7. #87
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 11 – Countering The Operation



    ‘How could I be so reckless?!’ Mejar reprimanded himself as his face turned rigid. ‘That woman is getting closer!’ An ominous feeling at the back of his head caused him to shiver. From a hidden pocket in the torso part of his black clothes he took out a small capsule and threw it to his mouth.

    BOOM!

    An unbridled golden aura fluctuated out of Mejar’s body. The color his mist energy emitted promptly turned dark gold. With the boost from the capsule, Mejar actually reached the Advanced phase of the Mist Lord level and with the constant utilization of his movement technique, his speed rose exceptionally.

    “A boosting supplement?” About seventy meters from behind, Zetsa was briefly stunned, but with a small icily laugh she found herself suddenly agreeing with Mejar’s action. ‘Better bedridden than dead, I suppose’.

    WHOOSH!

    Wind whistled as Mejar executed his movement technique. ‘Is that woman really a Mist Lord?!’ Seeing that the gap between him and Zetsa continued to shrink, he became frantic. But even at the same cultivation level and with the help of a movement technique, how could he compare to Zetsa when a genuine Advanced phase Mist Lord, such as the deceased Fang Lor, lost to her in one move and without a chance to retaliate? If Mejar had bother to look carefully, he would have discovered that after he took the capsule, Zetsa sole response was to push her legs a little harder.

    ‘All because of that damned Binjo!’ Mejar gritted his teeth. “Woman, you are courting your death by chasing me!” Since he was already discovered, there was no reason for Mejar to remain inconspicuous. This part of the operation failed anyway.

    As his voiced reached Zetsa’s ears, it continued to reverberate for hundreds of meters, shattering the silence of the night.

    Hearing the hostility and resentment in his words, Zetsa had no intention of answering back. In her eyes, the one in front of her was a man already dead, not even worthy for her to use her own movement technique

    Reaching for a pocket in his pants, Mejar drew his caller. “Fath-” Though he pressed the instant dial call to his father, Dureil, before Mejar managed to utter the first word, an azure flash flickered in his eyes and in the next moment all he could see was his body stumbling before him and darkness descending.

    As Zetsa perceived the instantaneous death of her prey, her feet halted as she stood on guard, inspecting the person who unexpectedly appeared in a speed even more impressive than her current one.

    “You…” Zetsa muttered. The person in front of her clearly was not a stranger. “Eden Formation’s school principal…”

    “Hahaha, young girl Zetsa, did your Master not teach you not to play with your food, especially if he has a caller?” Don smiled back at Zetsa. In her hand, Mejar’s caller was pulverized.

    “You investigated?” Zetsa was taken aback. She knew that when this school principal visited Anet, she discerned her presence and at the time Don’s Soul Sense even let Zetsa know when she indiscreetly probed her.

    “Did you except that I would let you keep an eye on my Tal without knowing who you are? Besides, you also seem to know who I am”. Don replied.

    When Don told Mizuri that there was more than one monster by Anet’s side, the first monster she meant was Zax, while the second was Zetsa. Back then, when Don surveyed Zetsa, she found that not only her soul and mist level were at the Advance phase of the Mist Lord level, her body fitness level was, astonishingly, equal to her own.

    From that much, Don deduced that the boy who barged into her school and the young woman that looked over Anet were somehow related. Instead of asking Anet for explanation in regards to the two, Don preferred to investigate who the two were using her own means.

    With her vast connections and status, if Don looked to uncover something, no one would hinder her. Thus, it was not difficult and even faster than she expected to find details about Zax. By mentioning the words “A boy with clogged Qi channels, possibly from cave twenty five, around fourteen, fifteen years old” she managed to lit all the red lights that were responsible and worked hard to conceal Zax’s case from being associated to his experience in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit.

    Don learned a lot on Zax and his family. Even about his parents’ story on the benevolent expert that accepted him as a Tal. However, beyond that story, whether true or false, the trails went cold and no more information could be found. No one was interested in a boy with clogged Qi channels.

    Zetsa, too, was not ignorance toward the identity of the woman in front of her. After she read Zax’s letter, her expression grimaced. At first she was angry at him for leaving without asking her opinion in person or at all, but afterwards she reasoned his attitude by acknowledging the importance of a breakthrough and even more so, after she talked with Anet and understood why he would be anxious to get stronger.

    Later, from Anet, other than learning what happened to her, who was the perpetrator and to what family he belonged to, Zetsa also learned who the woman with the noble aura that visited her was.

    “Miss principal-”

    “’Don’ would be fine. You are not my student and as far as I know, no one of your household is part of my school. As such, seeing that we share a mutual objective, calling by name will suffice”.

    “Very well, Don Ram”, Zetsa accepted Don’s point, but since she felt a since of respect toward the older woman for her cultivation level and for her actions, which clarified where she stands, she added the honorific title “Ram”. Also, Zetsa was not too familiar with Don to call her by her first name. Politeness always preceded candidness.

    “Are these two the only ones sent by the Derneldar family?” Zetsa understood that Don’s appearance was not coincidental and suspected that she did not appear earlier, against Fang Lor, to view her fighting capabilities.

    “Not sent, they are the Derneldar family”. Don attested. Her head turned and she looked over at Mejar’s corpse. “I, too, am surprised. This one here is Mejar Derneldar. He is the second brother of Binjo… I’m sure you are familiar with the name”. She turned her head back to Zetsa.

    “Of course”. Zetsa clenched her fists.

    Don ignored the display of killing intent that followed Binjo’s name. With a nudge of her hand she released a surge of mist energy and disintegrated Mejar’s head and body. “Come with me”. She instructed Zetsa.

    Don took Zetsa back to Fang Lor’s corpse and destroyed it as well, and then she led her to a roof, five buildings from Anet’s home.

    “I received credible information that Mejar Derneldar hired experts from the Core Breakers Guild for an extermination maneuver against all possible suspects who might be interrelated to your little brother, Zax. But oddly, the marked names they were hired to assassinate did not include Anet’s. Tonight I decided to check in for myself, in case my contacts missed something”.

    “Did you have doubts in my ability?” Zetsa asked.

    “I was careful. Three of the experts Mejar hired from the Core Breaker Guild are Core Masters, and despite being aware of your brother’s ability, when I surveyed your body fitness level, I sensed that you were a weaker than Zax”.

    “Mmm…” Zetsa was slightly offended, yet did not retort.

    It was true that in terms of body fitness level and soul Zax was more accomplished, but would she not be able to close the gap if she used her mist energy? If she executed her most potent Martial techniques who could tell who will win in a fight between her and Zax. Besides, as his older sister she was not willing to accept that her baby brother may not need her anymore in any form or way.

    Don sighed, dispirited. “I really didn’t want to interfere and hoped that you would take care of the two by yourself… Yet you had to give him the chance to use his caller”.

    If traces of her mist energy’s signature were left in the environmental essence and someone will detect them near the last signature of Mejar’s mist energy before they will fade, the Derneldar family could use it as an excuse to diminish, if even a little, the monumental reputation of the number one great family of El-Eden, the Dauch family, and protest against how they permits the administrator of the fine establishment they contributed so much to, to act excessively against a member of their family. Now, if such a thing would happen, even if it will not stir the tensions the Derneldar family might hope for, it would still cause the other families that contribute to the school to ponder on whether it is right for both the school board and the principal of the number one Martial school to be members of one family, the same family, the Dauch family.

    “Don Ram, you said that there are other names targeted by the Derneldar family. Are those students’ name, by any chance?” Zetsa asked.

    “Some. My contacts in the Core Breaker Guild let me know of six names, three of which are students of my school”.

    “…These are kids that they are targeting…” Zetsa said, frowning.

    In truth, a portion of the students in Eden Formation were the same age or older than Zetsa, since the graduating age is thirty years old. Moreover, it was possible that one of the students or all three were older than her, but because of Anet, Zetsa associated the other students as kids in her and her little brother’s age. Also, growing up in Valgarel, Zetsa’s last impression of a school was a place that kids go to.

    Picking up the discontent in Zetsa’s voice, a small smile briefly adorned Don’s face. “Though for me to personally interfere is problematic, others that are related to me can still do what they want…”

    “You mean…!” Zetsa’s eyes widened and a gratified shimmer flickered in them.

    “I’ve given my heart to choose the side that aligned with my principles. Now I simply make use of the opportunity before my eyes to improve the odds of my choice…”



    The Core Breaker Guild, an establishment of the highest order in Kingdom Earth. Its influence is parallel to any of the three greatest families of Kingdom Earth, the Dauch family, the Zoearth family and the Takeda family. Established in the past by Core Breakers for Core Breakers as the intermediary for cultivators who want to utilize their hard work of years of cultivation and assimilate it into society for living.

    As years gone by and the founders of the Core Breaker Guild, along with many of its members, advanced and cultivated beyond the initial level, although externally the guild kept its name, within, it began to evolve and expand. Today, members above the Core Breaker level can upgrade their membership and through different tasks promote their position inside the guild. That being said, the higher one’s level of membership in the guild is, the more difficult it is to form alliances and dependable connections with other of the same level, unless a member has an intimate relationship with one of the guild’s core members. The reason for the deliberate hardship is for the guild’s core members to maintain a monopoly on the guild’s power and influence in Kingdom Earth. And because the power of the very few far surpasses the power of the many, the status quo continued to remain the same for hundreds of years.

    After Mejar Derneldar received the list with six names, he immediately sent it to his contact in the Basement Floor of the Core Breaker Guild, which was also known as the underground society of Kingdom Earth. As for what other than assassination missions the proprietors of the Basement Floor have to offer to their clients and guild members, is currently unrelated to Mejar’s request of the guild.

    Six names were divided between eleven hired experts of the Basement Floor of the Core Breaker Guild.

    Two Core Masters were hired to assassinate Sermon Kirik, Silva Kirik and Michela Kirik.

    One Core Master was hired to assassinate Zuek Sein Loren.

    Two Mist Lords were hired to assassinate Xish Habrir.

    Two Mist Lords were hired to assassinate Jeremy Shimmerman.



    Cave seven. Outside the manor of the high class Kirik family.

    CRACK!

    A neck was snapped and a formerly sturdy middle age man in black suit fell to the ground.

    “Mist Master…” A figure clad in black garments stood beside the body and by its voice it sounded like a young man sneering.

    “Why waste time on irrelevant, brother Peats? I already located the targets. They are at the eastern wing of the manor, sleeping in three different rooms”. Wearing similar attire, another figure stepped out from the darkness.

    “Brother Xinz, the main branch of the Kirik family actually has a grudge with my Fitra family. But my great uncle founder ordered me not to act and let him resolved it. Now, however, a job was offered in the Basement Floor to kill three members of the Kirik Family. Hehehe… This branch of the Kirk family is quite important to the main force. With the job coming from the Basement Floor great uncle founder can’t blame me for killing some Kiriks even if he’ll know that I took the job”.

    “Brother Peats, you are truly unfilial! Did not your great uncle founder adopt you and even appoint you as the family head?” Xinz asked and sighed.

    “He did, but he forced me to marry his daughter for the position. That bastard knew I was interested in someone outside of the family and made me give up the woman I coveted”. Beneath the covers of his mouth and nose, Peats gritted his teeth. “Damn it! Remembering it makes me want to disobey him even more!” He spoke sharply and an azure aura emerged. “One more breakthrough and the old man won’t be able to be overbearing anymore. Until then, let’s kill every living sole in this place, brother Xinz”.

    “Brother Peats, as another family head, you make me wonder sometimes how both of us can be in the same position…” Xinz shook his head and followed.

    “Excuse me”, when Xinz and Peats were prepared to enter the inner ground of the manor together, an elderly voice startled them and the two sprang left and right, Xinz holding a small dagger while Peats held three metallic balls.

    On a garden stool at the entrance to the inner ground an old man with combed white hair was peacefully siting.

    “An expert! Brother Peats, be careful, this man’s cultivation is higher than ours”. Xinz warned.

    The old man had a pleased look in his eyes as has started at the two. “Principal Ram’s contacts were accurate”. The old man laughed. The old man was Mizuri, Eden Formation’s vice principal.

    “You two, do you know the ages of your three targets?” Mizuri asked and got up. “Let me give you a hint…”

    “He is coming!” Xinz announced as a bizarre formation suddenly engulfed Mizuri and his body shot forward toward Peats.

    Less than five seconds later, two bodies fell to the ground. Xinz and Peats lay on the ground; the expression in their eyes was utter disbelief. To be so easily and so fast defeated without a chance to escape by someone only two phases above them, the Advanced phase of the first Core Master level!

    Blood sprout from thirteen deep holes in Xinz’s chest and seventeen deep holes in Peats’s chest.

    “The middle one is in between”.



    Cave seventeen.

    Eight figures were running across the streets. Seven golden auras, one azure aura.

    “Enough, you kids think that you can match a Core Master?!” Annoyed, a skinny man with red complexion ceased running and turned to the seven, still very much youthful figures, which tenaciously pursued him.

    “Old man”, a young woman with blazing hair stepped forward. A black ribbon was strapped to her left arm with the words “Student Council Class - President” in white letters, reflecting the nightly street lights. “We will not forget your contribution to our Martial development”. She folded her hands in salute and replied with cold eyes.



    Cave twenty.

    “Jalal, amazing! You actually beaten an Intermediate phase Mist Lord on your own!”

    “Hahaha… You guys also did great. Saar, you held up the formation better than in training.” Jalal complimented the nine other Disciplinary Class members.

    “What are we gonna do with them?” One of the Mist Masters in the group asked.

    Jalal puckered his brows and a cold glare appeared in his eyes. “Kill”.



    Cave nineteen. Around a kilometer from the governor’s estate of the Shimmerman family.

    “Fi Han, which formation?”

    Ten members of Eden Formation’s Disciplinary class were facing one Intermediate phase Mist Lord and one Advanced phase Mist Lord.

    “Two Tails Three Heads Hound!” Fi Han commanded.

    The nine members responded dutifully. Supporting each other against the untied attack of the two Mist Lords, the ten managed to link their mist energy and moments later a five meters tall hound with three heads and two whipping tails was erected.

    “Tear them to pieces!” Fi Han bellowed.

  8. #88
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 12 – Zax Is Back



    When Dureil did not receive confirmation of his second son’s nightly operation at the time he agreed to contact him, an ominous feeling filled his heart.

    Early morning, before leaving to the family head’s estate, he first contacted his second son’s operative in the Basement Floor only to discover that no one of the hired assassins returned to confirm the deaths of any of the targets.

    Worried that his fears might have realized, Dureil immediately summoned his eldest and fourth sons and left to the family head’s estate.

    Two hours later. The estate of the Derneldar’s family head.

    A council of seventeen individuals converged in the gathering hall. The most important members of the Derneldar family that were on sight, sat, contemplating how to deal with Dureil, his sixth and unbridled son and the trouble he caused. Among them, on the seat with the highest position, sat a man with well built frame, blood red hair and dark eyes, the family head of the Derneldar family, Dinar Derneldar.

    After a long hour of discussions, the members of the Derneldar family made their decisions of how to deal with the situation.

    The council knew from Mejar’s operative that the targets Mejar sent to the Basement Floor were the six names Dureil’s third son gave him. The two remaining names that Binjo added were possibly the ones Mejar targeted himself. However, the council did not have time to investigate the background of Anet and the other girl, or rather, were more occupied with the question of how to deal with two capable Core Masters that seems to even have connection in the Basement Floor – otherwise, how could they have ruined the nightly operation? The two girls and the other six names were not the council’s concern at the moment.

    To deal with two Core Masters who might be at the Advanced phase of the first level, the first decision the council made was to involve the family founder. While the council dispatched someone to inform the founder they made their second decision, transferring the sum and Mist Essence Amplifier to Eden Formation to maintain their critical relationship. The council believed that the assassination failed because they were left to outsiders to carry out. By dealing with the eight names personally, Eden Formation’s school principal will not be able to claim that Binjo’s victim was a student, thus, she would have to return the Mist Essence Amplifier. As for the money… there was a way to earn it back, fast and with interest, but that course of action the council left for the founder to decide, along with what to do with Dureil and his sixth son.

    Lastly the council decided to lay a trap to the two Core Masters. To the outside the family will act as if it scattered its forces to look for the two Core Master, while in actuality it will assemble their most skilled men, hopefully along with the help of the founder, in the large family head’s estate and wait for the two Core Masters to have no choice but come to them if they want to kill Binjo.



    WHOOSH!

    A young, vigorous figure cut through the air like a strong whirlwind.

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    Every single time a fist or kick were thrown an explosive sound accompanied them.

    WHOOSH!

    The figure ascended thirty, fifty, ninety, one hundred and thirty meters above the ground.

    BOOM!

    The figure nudged its foot and the explosive force sent it like an arrow tens of meters to the west.

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    Constant explosions resonated in the first Savage Cave as Zax traversed it through the air.

    Three days, in just three days Zax had managed to grow back his left arm completely. In truth, the process of accelerating one’s growth of a limb was more arduous than Zax gave it credit before he recklessly started eating the staggering amount of unripe Blood Red Grapes for their energy. The abundant vitality was not a sentient being and so Zax was responsible on where it goes, otherwise it would simply spread inside his body. By directing all his body’s functions into healing, his grasp on the vitality tightened and most of it was properly put to use. But the rest, thirty to forty percent of the revitalizing energy, slipped beyond his control and created an imbalance in his vitals that felt like a superior expert bombarding his insides. That was one obstacle Zax encountered when he rushed the healing of his left arm.

    The second obstacle was nearly making the mistake of counting on his body alone to be in charge of the healing process. Since Zax pushed his body to heal in a speed greater than what it was currently able to endure, a lot of stress was put on his body. The results were a distorted growth of Zax’s left arm. Luckily, Zax noticed it early and cut off the deformed piece of his arm that was still in its initial stage of growth. Afterwards, along with his body’s functions, Zax concentrated all of his mental attention on the healing process and this, to some degree, alleviated a significant portion of the stress.

    The instant he felt the comfortable sensation of the complete again missing limb, Zax ceased sitting on his bottom and right away began to experiment with the Kinetic Force according to his newfound understanding of it.

    Half a day later, Zax felt immense power surge in his body as kinetic energy converged, became Kinetic Force and exploded out of his body. Zax was enthusiastic with his achievements. The Kinetic Force he released was on par with the one he mustered to break Don’s defensive formation and the feedback, in comparison, was negligible.

    With a day and a half before the five days limit he set for himself, Zax decided that his current control of the Kinetic Force is not satisfying. He could utilize it to fight, but it still forced him to expend a lot of energy. Thus, Zax made his mind to spend the next day and a half practicing the bodily maneuvers. Eating the unripe Blood Red Grape, this was his best opportunity to attempt a breakthrough for the Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers.

    The next day and a half Zax flashed across the grove as if he was possessed. He no longer dispersed the Kinetic Force when it converged from the kinetic energy during his execution of the six sequences. Zax attempted to release the Kinetic Force in each of the six hundred and fifty bodily maneuvers. That aggressive way of practice was very laborious and demanding, but eventually it paid off.

    With just a few hours before the end of the fifth day, Zax broken through the Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers and even nearly completed the third sequences.

    With the remaining hours Zax pushed himself to find out the changes in his utilization for the Kinetic Force now that he made a breakthrough. His biggest surprise was that he now could mellow the explosiveness of the Kinetic Force in his body and released it from his outermost layer of skin, a feat which enabled to create a short instance of repealing force that could push his body to any direction and immensely increase his speed. On the other hand, it was extremely difficult to maneuver. By releasing the repealing force from his feet, Zax found that he could constantly stay above ground in a manner which looked more like air walking than flying.

    By the time the last hour was nearing its end, Zax jumped to the sky of the first Savage Cave and headed back to Kingdom Earth.

    “Awesome! Too awesome! Hahaha!” Zax was overjoys for his accomplishments.

    BOOM!

    He massively landed near the entrance of the tunnel to the first Savage Cave. With his feet touching the ground, his body was better balanced, a sensation which made him feel that he could move even faster.

    “Anet…” He murmured her name.

    CRACK!

    The sound reverberated in his sea of consciousness. The dam that kept his rage, hatred, killing intent and vengeful spirit at bay for him to concentrate on his training, began to crack.

    A vicious light flickered in Zax eyes.

    “Derneldar…!”



    ‘Eden Formation’. After getting back to Kingdom Earth, Zax continued heading to the number one Martial school in El-Eden. Other than Eden Formation, he did not know where he could find Binjo. As for his big brother… he will beat his whereabouts from Binjo before killing him.

    The two golden harps that made the school gate were closed like in his previous visit, but the students on watch were a different bunch.

    “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! What do you think that you are doing, kid! No entry in these hours…!” A tall girl with long ponytail intended to rebuke Zax as he came close to touching and opening the gate, yet when he directed his frosting glare at her, the tall girl felt as if her whole body was being pierced by needles.

    “Move awa-” Zax restricted his killing intent and opened to say when he felt someone’s Soul Sense probing him. Snorting at the week presence that dared to invade his body, Zax countered with his Soul Sense, dispelling the other party.

    “Tsk!” Zax frowned. When his Soul Sense spread out, the school gate’s formation obstructed his Soul Sense from passing through and outside of the school he did not locate the owner of the Soul Sense.

    “Marvelous!” A complimentary voice sounded from the other side of the gate as a young man in white and golden uniform and a black ribbon on his left arm with the words “Student Council Class – Secretary” embedded to it in white letters, approached the students in duty.

    “Senior Uri!”

    Five of the six students called unanimously.

    The blond hair, blue eyes senior Uri nodded toward the bunch and tapped the back of the tall girl.

    “Eh!” The tall girl felt the noxious feeling fading and turned to look at the man by her side. “Senior Uri!” She responded in the same manner of the other five.

    “Everyone, you all seem to be doing well in your cultivation. Let this senior help you a little. Go spend the remaining time of your shift cultivating in the Mist Agitation room. Say that I sent you. Senior will stay here until the next shift would arrive”. Uri smiled.

    “Mist Agitation room!” The six students began to shake in excitement. “Thank you senior Uri!” Unwilling to lose a millisecond or argue against the kindness of their senior, the six students bowed and left in a hurry.

    As the six vanished in beams of white and silvery lights, Uri turned his gaze to Zax and surveyed him.

    “Would you mind telling me how old are you?” He asked Zax.

    “The Soul Sense from before was yours”. Zax ignored the question and raised his hand to the golden gate.

    “Wait!” Uri called aloud. “No need to ruin the school gate a second time, Zax”.

    “You know me?” Zax halted and his gaze turned deadly.

    “Haha, you think that you can just barge into the number one Martial school and your identity will not be revealed”. Uri laughed, but he did not sound like he was patronizing Zax. “Don’t worry. Don Mor… Principal Ram instructed to keep your identity a secret”. Seeing the threatening gaze Zax gave him, Uri hastened to reassure him.

    ‘Good’. Zax released a pent up breath. For a moment he was worried that the school principal changed her mind and while he was away, sided with the Derneldars. “Are you going to open the gate for me?” He asked impatiently.

    “There is no need”, Uri shook his head. He stepped closer to the gate. Taking out a piece of paper and a tiny picture from a pocket in his uniforms, he held them up and presented them to Zax.

    “Cave two to cave six” was the title on the squared piece of paper that was not bigger than a child’s palm. Beneath the title was a map from Eden Formation to a specific location marked on the area of cave six. This detailed map, which only cultivators with unusually sharp vision could read, shamelessly revealed to Zax the location of the main branch of the Derneldar family.

    The picture was of a young man with white skin and orange hair. It did not have a name written on it, but Zax understood. ‘Binjo!’

    “Memorized?” Uri asked Zax after about three seconds.

    “Yes”. Zax replied.

    “Godspeed”. Uri wished and golden mist energy burnt the discriminating evidences to nothingness.



    “That’s the place…”

    Zax stared at the large gates and surrounding walls that enclosed an area of over five thousand square meters.

    The main branch of the Derneldar family was like a private small luxurious Olympus.

    Unlike Eden Formation, the main branch did not have a formation that could obstruct his Soul Sense, and so Zax was able to survey far into the Derneldar family’s territory by staying not so far from the gates. Unfortunately, there were many people behind the walls but no Binjo and the territory was too big to survey from the outside.

    BOOM!

    Zax expeditiously lunched to the air as a deafening sound started the alarms of close by vehicles.

    His movement was too fast for the Core Breaker guards to perceive his figure going up fifty meters and then crossing in a flash the large walls, as he entered the Derneldar family’s territory.

    Past the lavish, dreamlike gardens that welcomed guests of the Derneldar family, at the core of their territory, was the residential area of the family members and their aides. In total, there were twelve villas that could be the potential hideout of Binjo in this vast residential area.

    Trying to probe them with his Soul Sense from above, Zax’s face convulsed with anger. Each of the twelve villas had a formation that prevented his Soul Sense from seeing inside.

    “Hmph!” Zax snorted. ‘If that’s how it gonna be…’

    BOOM!

    He crushed landed at the central part of the residential area.

    Maids, servants and other attendants, who were in the open area and witnessed Zax’s decent, screamed in stupefaction as the one amidst the dust and cracked open earth appeared to be a teenage boy.

    “DERNELDAR RESIDENTS, EITHER SEND OUT BINJO OR EVERYTHING WILL BE DESTORYED!” Zax roared.

    Though Zax experienced a deja vu, he disinclined to let his barging to the Derneldar’s territory to end up the same way it ended in Eden Formation.

    RUMBLE!

    From different location, from all over the residential area, footsteps and groans rushed to where Zax eagerly waited.

    Over three hundred men and women, most in black suits and holding firearms, encircled Zax. Spreading his Soul Sense, Zax discovered that not one of the three hundred plus was below the Core Breaker level and the firearms they aimed at him had small formations embedded to them. The huge number of cultivators was divided frighteningly to two hundred and fifty seven Mist Users at the Peak of the Core Breaker level. Thirty five ranged between the Beginner phase and Peak phase of the Mist Master Level. Eighteen ranged between the Beginner phase and Advanced phase of the Mist Lord Level. And seven were actually ranging between the Beginner phase and Intermediate phase of the first level of the Core Master realm!

    ‘Was I expected?’ Zax looked around him and could not help but wonder. Not that it mattered to him.

    From the mix of hostile stares, as the workers, which were not related to this small army of expert beyond their reach, cleared away, a middle age looking man with blood red hair and dark eyes, Dinar Derneldar, stepped out.

    “Impudent man, do you know on whose territory you are intruding?” Dinar spoke with hoarse but heavy voice as a baleful azure aura burst from him.

    In the past few days he mourned, what everyone in his family speculated, the death of his second nephew and hate instigated his thirst for blood of whoever killed him.

    Finally, when he heard the youthful voice calling out for his nephew, Dinar felt like the chance to avenge his second nephew arrived, but he also had doubts about the intruder. Only after remembering the description his brother received from Don of one of the two Core Masters, he gave the word to move out, believing that just like the incident in school, the Core Masters that pursued Binjo decided to repeat the same approach.

    Then, when he, and the other Derneldar’s Core Masters, followed the men and women who were on standby for the past couple of days without knowing when they could return to their regular duties, Dinar tried to get a sense of the young man, which imperiously stood inside a small crater. But as it so happened, he could not gather a single thing and was blocked by the seemingly young man’s Soul Sense.

    “Whoever you are, I have no quarrel with you”, Zax collected himself and said. “Bring out Binjo and his brother and my issues with this family will be concluded”.

    “Hahaha… You, lowlife bastard, want more of my kin?! Hahaha!” Dinar laughed as he leered at Zax. “One of my nephews was not enough? Well… Well... who I am really doesn’t matter. The fact you were brazen enough to mess with my Derneldar family and, furthermore, barged to the lions’ den on your own initiative, already signed off your lease on life”.

    Hearing the arrogant tone in Dinar’s voice, Zax raised his chin and let loose his killing intent. “You are not willing to give them to me?”

    “Ah!” Dinar snarled. The crowd of expert was too big and unknowingly their collective air of disdain and boastfulness confronted Zax’s killing intent.

    “We are not willing to let you leave alive”. Dinar said decisively. Surrounding him hundreds of auras flared up.

    “Then you all might as well die!”

  9. #89
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 13 – Hendar’s Binder Formation



    Though mournful for his nephew’s death and resentful toward his killer, Dinar did not let his heart waver. He and the hundreds men and women beside him, who waited together for the threatening Core Masters to arrive, have formulated a plan days ago and by letting them encircle him, Zax was already inside the scope of their formation.

    Jumping a step back behind the line of armed Core Breakers after Zax’s response, Dinar bawled. “First step ON!” His commanding family head’s tone resonated and immediately pillars of azure and gold auras were raised from the bodies of every expert between the Mist Lord and Core Master levels.

    Zax’s reaction was prompt. The moment he declared his intention, before Dinar made his move, he already kicked off from the crater he created and shot toward the leader of the pack.

    BANG!

    Not one, but hundreds. The instant their family head and intruder said their piece, the armed Core Breakers and Mist Masters instigated the formations on their weapons and barrage of Peral metal bullets, which shone with colorful white and silver auras and seemed like dots of light, shot from several directions at Zax.

    “Grr!” Zax gnashed his teeth. His mind was in a state of savagery of his own making, but it was also perfectly clear on his surrounding and situation. As he saw the numerous bullets heading toward him, he growled at the nuisance he took them for.

    Peral metal bullets? In Kingdom Earth they were only a threat to Mist Users below the Mist Lord level and to regular bodily refiners who cultivate the ultimate bodily refinement technique in Kingdom Earth, the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, that were below the second gate.

    Zax was taught in his pre Core school about the war between Kingdom Earth and the new UGNE and how dangerous the new UGNE’s Peral metal war machines were. But, even the strongest war machine of the new UGNE, the S class weapon Victorious, were unable to harm Supreme Ruler Gid when he was just a Mist Lord.

    Granted, today’s weapons might be less robotic, but with the improvements in the field of formations, since the war between Kingdom Earth and the new UGNE, there were fire arms that in the right hands could even pierced through a first level Core Master’s defense. Still… Zax was not even a little bit worried. Even if his cultivation was two gates lower, it would simply be corresponding to a first level Core Master’s body fitness level, and due to his bodily refinement technique he would even be slightly tougher.

    “Grr!” To Zax no matter how many bullets were shot at him, they could not hurt him. But being rained by so many bullets impeded his speed and allowed Dinar the time to jump back and initiate the formation they were going to use against him.

    “Die!” Zax reached the first line of Core Breakers and with simple motions of swinging his arms began his killing spree.

    The eyes of the Core Breakers that saw their comrade being slaughtered so effortlessly, opened wide. Even the Mist Masters and Mist Lords, who watched the devilish figure of Zax ignoring the Peral metal bullets and killing Mist Users one by one by nothing more than a nudge of hand or foot, were brimming with awe and fear. They all though him to be a second level Core Master, an existence they could never dream to match.

    “Second step ON!” Dinar bawled again. Just as fast as Zax closed the gap between the first line of Core Breakers and took the first few lives, the group of Core Masters and Mist Lords were ready to execute the second step of the formation.

    The azure and golden pillars intertwined and formed a vast screen that surrounded the fight scene. Behind the screen stood the Core Masters and Mist Lords and as the screen closed in on Zax, like a shrinking dome, the line of Mist Masters and Core Breakers threw away their firearms, raised white and silvery pillars and added their strength to the formation.

    BANG!

    Zax saw the screen closing in and slammed against it. The power of the formation, however, was too great and slowly pushed Zax back as its size kept getting smaller.

    “You think that enough to stop me?!” Zax murmured. He still has not used the Kinetic Force and when he slammed against the formation he already sensed that it is a bit weaker than Don’s defensive formation.

    “Ah?” Just when he was about to converge the kinetic energy to Kinetic Force, the formation began to act weirdly. As if a yarn ball, the now azure, golden, white and silvery screen unraveled to countless threads of energy that flew toward Zax and shrouded him, every body’s part separately, like a mummy.

    It all happened in the span of one second, and though Zax’s inner mind saw it unfold in a moderate speed, his body still was slow to retaliate.

    Shrouded by the threads of the formation, Zax was bound, unable to move a finger or even open his mouth.

    “Hahahaha!” Dinar laughed in delight. “Third step ON!” He shouted and every one of the hundreds of expert that were part of the formation swallowed their aura back to their bodies and from their eyes a purple light shone.

    Zax felt the threads twisting and sinking to his skin. Without the ability to move his body, he could not maneuver the kinetic energy as he usually does and as a result, he could no longer break the formation like he intended to before with the Kinetic Force.

    ‘I can still rotate my internals and can use the kinetic energy my blood flow generating…’

    As a bodily cultivator and someone who practiced the bodily maneuvers, his control of the body was excellent, to say the least. Though it will be a little weaker at first, but by streaming the kinetic energy back and forth, he could use the constant blood flow and the short shifts of his internals like a swing to intensify the flow of kinetic energy in his body and accumulate enough of it to a strong burst of Kinetic Force.

    Previously, when the threads covered every part of his body, Zax eyes were also covered and he could not see anything other than the colorfulness of the threads. But, as the formation sunk inside his body, even through his eyes, his vision was no longer obstructed and he could see the disdainful looks of the experts in front of him, especially Dinar’s.

    “My dantian?!” Zax was startled. Even after the threads entered his body he was still bound in place, but after they entered they actually turned into purple membrane and tried to contain his dantian, to cut his connection to it.

    “Hahaha! Family head, the bastard can’t move. His body is bound and his mist energy is trapped in his dantian, hahaha! So much for a second level Core Master!” One of the Core Masters in the group laughed.

    “Mm!” Dinar nodded. They succeeded, their formation managed to confine Zax completely. Nonetheless, Dinar did not seem full of joy as the other family member who laughed in content was.

    Dinar’s eyes surveyed the surrounding. Other than the seemingly young man who was a Core Master at the second level of the realm, there was supposed to be another Core Master, and in case he, too, was of a similar level, his great grandfather, the Derneldar founder, was waiting in ambush.

    Seeing that no one is intervening, Dinar said nothing in regards to the supposedly hidden second Core Master, but decided to be cautious.

    “Good, good, good”, Dinar stared at the bound Zax and repeated sternly. “The formation took root in his dantian. With this, even a Core Master at the Peak phase of the second level would not be able to free himself”. He informed Zax with the desire to see him falling to despair.

    The formation he and the others executed was called the “Hendar’s Binder formation” after the one who created it, Hendar Dauch, Don’s predecessor. He sold the formation’s secrets of execution to the Derneldar’s founder many years ago, when he planned to venture to Valgarel for a breakthrough with a group of several other Core Master at the Peak phase of the first level.

    The Hendar’s Binder needed nine Core Master at the Peak phase of the first level to be perfectly executed and then only two to nourish it. Given that Dinar could not pass the requirements with the current level of experts the family had, the founder, being in a higher level of cultivation than in the past and in possession of more than a hundred years of experience since he purchased the formation, suggested a way to modify the formation’s structure to use lower level Mist Users but in much, much greater quantity to execute it.

    The new structure of the formation worked, and in its new complete form the Core Breakers, Mist Masters and Mist Lords were enough to nourish it instead of the original two Core Masters at the Peak phase of the first level. The seven Core Masters were free to do as they wanted.

    “Ten thousand pieces. Avoid vitals and slice him to ten thousand pieces. Make sure he doesn’t bleed to death, too”. Dinar said to the other six Core Master.

    “Buthon”, one of the Core Masters, a guy with ruthless facade, turned to another Core Master, a balding middle age man with a large belly. “Take the first one thousand cuts. See who can cut the son of a ***** faster without killing him”. He said so with a smirk on his face.

    “Ah?! Dulsan, I’m a close quarters specialist compared to you. My belly doesn’t mean a thing, if you think that because I’m fat I’m less accurate and thus slower then you are gravely wrong! Both of us are at the same phase as Core Masters”. Buthon, the fat Core Master said as he stroked his stomach.

    Other than Dinar, the six other Core Masters did not have close relationships with any of Dureil sons and were still dissatisfied with the little menace, Binjo, which had yet to receive punishment from the family head for the troubles he caused. To the other six Core Masters, Mejar death was a trivial matter. What infuriated them was the blow to the family’s reputation, the general idea that someone dared to be insolent, to threaten a family member and not put the rest of it in his eyes.

    Now, the seven biggest figures on scene that belonged to the Derneldar family were the seven Core Masters, and with the opportunity to not just vent their anger but also do so against a superior expert, they all were quite excited.

    “How about this, Dulsan, let’s see who’s faster and more precise at the same time. Left size is yours and right size is mine, agree?”

    “At the same time, hahaha, I have a better idea to make it more interesting. The one to draw more of his blood without landing a killing blow within one thousand cuts should be the winner. The winner receives the loser’s yearly revenue”. Dulsan revised their bet.

    “Fine!” Buthon said and looked at the others. ”You, guys, are witnesses!”

    “Okay”, a Core Master with groomed red mustache agreed first. “Lu Gan, Del, Han Pei, should we also bet which of them will win?”

    “No need”.

    “Sure”.

    “Same stakes”.

    Two out of the three were interested. Of all the Core Masters, Dinar remained the only one who no one dared bother with the bet.

    “At three”, Dulsan said. His and Buthon’s azure aura emanated with intense light. To lose the yearly revenue they earned as members of the main branch, none of them was willing. ‘One. Two. Three!”

    They, at the same time, moved their legs in a manner that if Zetsa saw, she would recognize as the movement technique Mejar used to escape her. The difference was in the level of proficiency. Mejar, compared to Dulsan and Buthon, was not half as fast even without the gap in cultivation.

    WHOOSH!

    The two were even faster than the bullets that were shot off at Zax.

    ‘A little bit more, a little bit more!’ Zax issued the kinetic energy across his body and directed it to the palms of his hands after another cycle. ‘Going after my dantian…’ Zax sneered, wondering how they will react when he will break the formations with pure physical strength.

    As the two approached him, Zax saw them executing close range Martial techniques. Using, yet again, the same technique, the two’s mist energy formed four azure blades in total that radiated sharp auras.

    ‘Avoid and strike!’ Zax felt the accumulation of kinetic energy growing, almost enough to converge to Kinetic Force. His plot was to break the formation, escape the two’s attacks and target first the fat Core Master, which his Soul Sense detected as slightly slower.

    BANG!

    ‘What?!’ Zax exclaimed inwardly, feeling a sudden explosion echoing from his dantian.

    CRACK!

    The membrane that contained his dantian cracked.

    ‘What’s going on?!’ Zax was confused. Something in his dantian tried to break the formation. ‘The Black Core!’ He realized in bewilderment. What other than that could do what it wants in his dantian?

    “Arh!” All the Core Breakers screamed in agony.

    “What’s that?” Dinar and the four Core Master turned their heads in puzzlement.

    All those who nourished the Hendar’s Binder formation suffered a backlash due to the membrane cracking. The Core Breakers felt a pain akin to mist channels tearing, the Mist Masters grunted as they felt their bones breaking and the Mist Lord, for now, only grimaced.

    Everything happened at the same time. While the membrane was cracking, Dinar and his group noticing the strange expressions on the other Mist Users and the two, Dulsan and Buthon, were closing the distance between them and Zax, the Black Core released a vast black stream of energy.

    BANG!

    The membrane shattered. Being the last form of the Hendar Binder formation, it carried all the responsibilities of subduing the target.

    ‘Hahahaha! You are good to me even now!’ After practicing the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement and being exposed to the benefits of bodily refinement techniques in comparison to mist refinement techniques, Zax stopped resenting the Black Core. Seeing that it still helps him, the instant his body was no longer bound he evilly smirked.

    He still did not use the kinetic energy that he finished streaming to his hands.

    Seeing the sudden smile on his face, both Dulsan and Buthon replaced their confident expressions with utter disbelief.

    To their knowledge, once confined by the Hendar Binder formation a person cannot even bat an eyelash.

    ‘The new structure didn’t hold?!’ The same thought crossed their heads. If so, they were too close to avoid collision with Zax and their burst of power was near impossible to maneuver to other direction.

    “Kill!”

    “Kill!”

    Neither of them cared for the bet or the family head’s command anymore. The formation clearly surpassed the intruder for a short while and there was the chance that they will manage to get to him before his prowess returns.

    SWISH!

    SWISH!

    SWISH!

    SWISH!

    Four azure blades neared Zax’s head and neck.

    “Ha!” Zax shouted. With the ability to move, he could utilize kinetic energy without playing around. Welcoming his freedom along with the two Derneldar Core Masters, Zax kicked off the ground with a blast of Kinetic Force. His body shot forward, evading the four blades, he raised his hands, throwing to palms to Dulsan’s and Buthon’s chests.

    The two did not bother to defend themselves from the start. There was no use and now it was too late.

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    Dulsan and Buthon were merely Beginner phase first level Core Masters. Their body fitness level was exactly three levels below the Core Master’s realm, in Beginner phase the Core Breaker level. In addition, none of the two used his mist energy to defend.

    Zax’s palms hit their chest and two explosions echoed simultaneously.

    “Eh…”

    Most of the Core Breakers lost their consciousness after the membrane shattered. The other experts, though, were in a state of stupefaction.

    Blood and small meaty pieces were gruesomely splattered on the ground, Dulsan and Buthon lay dead with two huge holes in their chest area and barely any skin to hold them up.

    “Too much?” Zax looked at the two with an indifferent gaze and casually pondered. To kill them he only needed to pierce their vitals or cut off their heads with his basic strength. But, he already summoned the kinetic energy and converged it to Kinetic Force… Who could blame him that it happened to be overkill?

  10. #90
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 14 – Falling From Grace



    “Family elder Dulsan! Family elder Buthon!” The men and women, Mist Users of the Derneldar family, cried as they doubted their own eyes. In a swift confrontation, which was supposed to be in their advantage, two of their family elders, Core Masters, died too promptly and gruesomely.

    Dinar and the remaining four Core Masters showed restraint on the outside, but on the inside they felt as if a macabre force was suffocating them, surpassing even their auras from breaking out.

    What represented the loss of two Core Master for a great family in Kingdom Earth? To the Derneldar family it was akin to losing twenty percent, at the very least, of their military and financial strength. The consequences of such a large percentage were beyond comprehension to the Mist Users of the Derneldar family below the Core Master realm and outside the main branch.

    “Family head… The Hendar’s Binder formation…” The Core Master named Del looked at Dinar with expectation to further instruction, a hidden card to deal with this unexpected predicament.

    Dinar, however, was unresponsive. The Hendar’s Binder formation was their means of dealing with one of the two Core Masters they anticipated to arrive for his nephew, Binjo. Their group was supposed to use it against one Core Master, to make it easier for the family founder to deal with the other Core Master when he or she will show up.

    But now what? The supreme formation failed and Dinar suspected that it was because the founder messed with its structure. Two Beginner phase first level Core Masters died with holes in their upper bodies and a thin strands of skin to hold them from splitting apart. And the worst of all, a second level Core Master was once more on the loose!

    Zax turned his head from the two bodies. “Why is that that so many are willing to die for just two despicable members of a great family?” His query was not directed to anyone in particular. He stared at the group of Mist Users with the same deathly expression he had against the bird type beasts that he slaughtered after leaving the entrance to the Second Savage Cage with the crippled Carl.

    Zax’s determination to kill was not wavered by the species of his foe. ‘Five Core Masters, two in the Intermediate phase of the first level, three in the Beginner phase…’ He took a step forward toward the one who led the group of Mist Users against him.

    Dinar saw Zax glaring at him and his alertness of the current situation returned to him. He was one of the two Intermediate Core Masters, stronger than any of his men and women, but still nothing compared to a second level Core Master.

    “You dare threaten the head of a great family?” Dinar’s pupils dilated in fear. With everyone still digesting the deaths of Dulsan and Buthon and, or suffering from the failure of the formation, the blazing unified spirit that tackled Zax’s killing intent has crumbled.

    The formerly second greatest pillar of the Derneldar family started shaking. Confronting alone the terrifying killing intent, Dinar felt immense pressure oozing from Zax. He did not receive an answer, but he was now afraid that his question, if repeat would antagonize the expert in front of him.

    “Blame yourselves for standing in my way”. Zax suddenly said.

    WHOOSH!

    His figure flickered and in but an instant he appeared next to Dinar. “I was expecting to meet your family founder, but it seems I was not worthy enough for him to welcome me”. Zax said solemnly to Dinar. “I wonder if he would come out if I’ll do this”.

    “DON’T YOU DARE!” A loud shout bombarded the air. From one of the villas circling the battle a powerful azure aura burst out. Nearly collapsing the whole building, a figure in white robe explosively jumped outside, heading toward Zax.

    “Founder…” Dinar murmured like a lost child finding his mom.

    “I warned you”. Zax looked at the elderly figure of the red eyed, long and groomed white haired man rushing to his direction and sneered in disdain.

    PUCHI!

    “NO!” The Derneldar family founder roared. Of the many Mist Users on scene and in the service of his great family, he was the first to perceive what Zax did.

    BOOM!

    The ground under Zax’s feet exploded. Utilizing to Kinetic Force to boost his speed, he and the Derneldar founder were on a collision course.

    “Eh?!”

    Dinar lowered his head to his chest and his complexion paled. An acute pain was coming from his left side. “What happ…” His body collapsed before he finished asking. His lost thought before his brain stopped functioning was not made out of wards but with feelings, self contempt and hatred. As the head of a great family he was familiar, to a certain degree, with every second level Core Master of every great family in El-Eden. He did not recognize Zax, and for all he knew before he met Zax, the Core Masters that sought his nephew did not belong to any other great family. Therefore, Dinar thought him to be just another secluded expert who never invested in his family, one not out of many, but still not a threat to a great family.

    How his nephew managed to enrage such an expert and why did he not hand him over like the expert demanded were the sources for Dinar’s hatred. How, despite his preparations, he still looked like as if he underestimated a second level Core Master was the source for Dinar’s self contempt.

    “HEAD!”

    The four Core Masters were the third to notice what happened to Dinar and in one voice they bellowed.

    BOOM!

    At the same time the four Core Masters yelled and Dinar’s body struck the ground beside the stupefied Mist Users who were close to him, Zax and the Derneldar founder collided.

    When he met the Derneldar founder, Zax punched forward with a Kinetic Force fist and the Derneldar founder attacked with a spiraled mist energy Martial technique that engulfed his right arm.

    The force of the impact drove Zax dozens of steps back, but equally affected the Derneldar founder.

    ‘How strong!’ Zax looked with awe in his eyes at the Derneldar founder. He was not able to tell in which phase in the second level of the Core Master realm the Derneldar founder was, but the power he exuded was too oppressive and in the moment of impact Zax felt the bones in his right arm shacking.

    Don told him that she and the Derneldar founder were equal in terms of cultivation and remembering her words, Zax only now realized how lenient she was on him. ‘I got to use the Kinetic Force with this old man in every clash and avoid or counter his attacks with the Kinetic Force no matter what! Otherwise…’

    In this battle that could be nothing but to the death, Zax knew that this is going to be his most furious fight.

    Holding his right arm that hanged from his shoulder, the Derneldar founder used his mist energy to support his bones from breaking and muscles from tearing.

    “You are…!” The Derneldar founder steadied himself and raised his head to look at Zax with an ugly expression on his face. A shimmer of understanding flashed between his eyes and immediately after he unleashed his Soul Sense. “Just one and not even a mist cultivator?” He said to himself.

    Some of the Mist User who attentively watched the aftermath of the collision heard the Derneldar founder, yet were confused with what said. Only the Core Masters grabbed the meaning of his words.

    “Could she have given us false information?” The Derneldar founder speculated. By “she” he meant Don. “A bodily cultivator…” A mused over his unique opponent as thousands of thought sped inside his mind.

    How two second level Core Masters turned out to be a child with clogged Qi channels and body fitness level similar to that of a Beginner phase third level Core Master?

    Were there more than the two Core Masters?

    Was he the supposedly “second Core Master” that hid from Don and perhaps she misjudged him?

    Is he HIS Tal?

    How could a mere Core Breaker, a descended of him, managed to cause an enmity with someone who is in possession of such a formidable refining technique?

    Was it possible that Don lied in order to trade the relations with his family for the bodily refinement technique or to from new bonds with the boy’s Mor? …Master?

    For that he lost two of his family’s Core Master and the strongest Core Master in the family, which was only second to him and also the head of the family?

    The Derneldar founder stared at Zax with blood in his eyes. After the boy disobeyed his word and killed Dinar everything else stopped to matter.

    “Everyone! We have been fooled!” The Derneldar founder said aloud. “Other than this man, this CHILD, there is no other cultivator on our property! This boy is not even a Mist User, but a bodily cultivator!” Every word was emanated with the might of his mist energy, a force that throughout the family only the former head was exposed to. “KILL HIM WITH LONG RANGE MARTIAL ATTACKS!”

    His intentions were clear. In the collision with Zax, even if it could be said that he had yet to show his full strength, his power was inferior to his opponent to a level which he was wary of.

    “A child?!”

    “Bodily cultivator?!”

    “The information was wrong?!”

    The Derneldar Mist Users on sight were not just the strongest of the entire family, but also the most loyal. The death of the family head shocked them, but the revelation that it was due to lies spread to weaken their preparations, coupled with the appearance of the strongest member of the family, rekindled their resolve.

    “Shoot!” The Core Master with the groomed red mustache shouted.

    It all happened too fast. Zax was finishing assessing the Derneldar founder, when the old man opened his mouth and started to claim strange things. In Zax’s eyes other than the Derneldar founder there was no one worth his attention, so he let him speak his mind as his lost words.

    “Wanting it impede me with Martial techniques?” Zax frowned and asked the Derneldar founder. “Do your best!”

    BOOM!

    Zax dashed toward the Core Master fifty meters to his right, the one with the groomed red mustache.

    “Hahaha! I’ll break the chain of command from the second best to the weakest and keep you, old man, to the last before I’ll get my hands on Binjo!”

    “Fast!” The Core Master with the red mustache only saw Zax’s figure flickered as a cloud of dust and cement exploded were he stood and hundreds of bullets and long range Martial technique missed him.

    “Barnia!” The Derneldar founder madly shouted. Zax speed was even faster than before their clash and there was no chance for him to catch up with him.

    BANG!

    A fist was thrown and the head of the red mustache Core Master, Barnia, exploded like a watermelon.

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    BOOM!



    Consecutive explosion resonated. Zax disappeared from sight after the first explosion, but then the “BOOM” sounds reverberated from above.

    “Flying!” The Derneldar founder was flabbergasted.

    It was well known in the small community of second level Core Masters and above that the existence of techniques which enables Mist Users to fly was really scarce and neither of the very few that were out there were easy to comprehend. Furthermore, their consumption of mist energy was immense!

    Now, however, a child and a bodily cultivator hopped above his head, tapping the air with his feet as if it was the simplest thing in the world!

    “Not good!” The Derneldar founder realized who was Zax’s next target and hustled to close the small distance between them and stop him.

    In air, Zax had less of a momentum, which made him a bit slower than on the ground, but he could maneuver himself freely to any direction, which in this particular case, allowed him to evade most of the bullets and long range Martial attacks.

    “Die!” Zax yelled at the Core Master named Del and tried to ax him with a kick from above.

    BOOM!

    The Derneldar founder reached Del in the nick of time. From his robe he pulled out a knife with a stone blade fifteen centimeters long, like butcher knife, and inserted into it a tremendous amount of mist energy moment before he countered Zax.

    “Tsk!” Zax clucked his tongue.

    The Kinetic Force and the mist energy canceled one another. The knife’s blade sunk four centimeters deep into Zax’s heel, but the Derneldar founder did not come out of the clash without a scratch. The old man’s leg sunk heavily ten centimeters into the cement.

    “Don’t hit the founder!” Someone shouted and all the bullets and long range Martial techniques surged toward Zax.

    “There is no escape!” The Derneldar founder grabbed Zax’s injured legs and locked his movement.

    “Is that so?”

    BOOM!

    Zax kicked with his other leg and forced the Derneldar founder to let go. He flipped backwards in the air several meters.

    He landed on the ground, avoiding more Martial techniques than bullets he was forced farther again.

    ‘The old man will be on the lookout for the Core Masters… change of plan!’

    BOOM!

    The Kinetic Force exploded and Zax launched up.

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    BOOM!



    He headed toward the two Core Masters, Lu Gan and Han Pei.

    “Brat! If you didn’t kill my great grandson I would have happily let you do what you want with my other great grandson’s child. Now, though, it’s already too late and on the air your speed cannot elude me!” The Derneldar founder was closely following Zax’s tail from the ground and stating to lower his fortitude.

    Zax zik zaked like a flying python and the Derneldar founder got to the two Core Masters.

    A devilish smile adorned Zax face.

    BOOM!

    Zax suddenly descended in the midst of Mist Masters and Mist Lords.

    “DISPERSE!” Realizing that he was fooled, the Derneldar founder frantically roared.

    Of the group of Mist Users, the Core Masters were his blood and the strongest pillars of his family. Naturally, they were the ones he had to protect above all. But the other Mist Users, although cultivators of the first realm and in deferent levels, they were the most loyal of his men and women, the ones with the potential to contribute most to the family. Under any circumstances he could not neglect them and, yet Zax made him do so!

    “DIE!” Multitudes of yells aimed their firearms and Martial technique at Zax.

    WHOOSH!

    Ignoring them all, Zax, like a typhoon, cut through the masses. Man, woman, Core Breaker, Mist Lord, Zax made a single move one fell with his or her eyes rolling to the back of their head.

    “Founder, you have to stop him!” Lu Gan and Han Pei urged the Derneldar founder to do something before the best of their family men and women would be no more.

    The Derneldar founder gritted his teeth. While the boy was immersed in killing the lower realm cultivators, he could attempt to confront with him again. But on the ground the boy was faster than him and if he would make a sudden movement toward to Core Masters after he will clear himself a path, then there will be no way for him to stop him.

    “Elders! Founder! Help us!” Some of the Mist Users called out when their ammunition was over or they saw that their Martial techniques are useless and Zax keeps getting closer to them.

    SWISH!

    Zax’s arm cut through the air and sliced a Mist Master from head to chest. Zax did not show mercy to anyone and resented those that stood in his way. They fought to impede him while their superiors attempted to kill him. They knowingly put their life on the line for a garbage family, probably driven with pride that one or two men cannot defeat them. Now Zax intended to show them otherwise.

    “Fall back!” The Derneldar founder could not continue seeing his men and women being slaughtered and ordered. Of the over three hundred experts, Zax eradicated more than half by just waving his hands. These feats emphasized the monstrosity that is a bodily refinement technique.

    Those who had to strength, that is, did not encounter Zax, immediately obeyed and the three Core Master also followed suit.

    “Vile being, Look at me, I’m your opponent!” The Derneldar founder dashed toward Zax. His speed was incomparable to those who escaped and by the time only a meter separated him and Zax there were still some making their first step back.

    “Old man!” Zax turned to the Derneldar founder with a fist already in motion.

    BOOM!

    Blood sprayed the stone blade of the Derneldar founder’s knife. The blade cut off three of Zax’s fingers and stuck to the bone at the base of his pinky.

    “DIE!”

    Zax and the Derneldar founder cried at the same time. The left hand of the Derneldar founder clawed into Zax head. Unable to pierce his skull, a stream of soul energy flowed to Zax head.

    From his fight with Don, Zax learned to prepare himself in advance to soul attacks. In his sea of consciousness he currently executed his best made up technique. Currents of soul energy built a surrounding wall around his soul. In addition, Zax implemented the same principal that was in Don’s Ruler’s Fort formation, which caused the foreign soul energy of the Derneldar founder to spread and disperse in the moment of impact.

    Truth is, if the Derneldar founder was a little bit more proficient in soul attacks, Zax’s soul defense would have collapsed and with another soul attack, the Derneldar founder could have kill him. Unfortunately for him, after breaking through the second level of the Core Master realm the Derneldar founder trained mainly with his knife, seeking the most efficient method to assimilate his mist energy with its unique stone blade.

    PUCHI!

    When the Derneldar founder struck his soul, Zax’s left hand formed a spear head and penetrated his chest. A layer of tough mist energy barred his fingers four millimeters in.

    Zax did not mind. “Kinetic Force!” He let the Derneldar founder know the name of his bizarre power… no, Technique that will take his life.

    BOOM!

  11. #91
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 15 – Keeping His Word



    To most people Zax was an anomaly. As such, the Derneldar founder could not comprehend him properly, yet he still thought that he figured him out. Don, too, thought like that at first, but then Zax broke her strongest defensive formation.

    The strong do not give much credit to the weak until they are defeated.

    “Founder!”

    The cries of all the retreating Derneldar Mist Users resonated all at once.

    “Puh!”

    A mouthful of blood gushed up and out from the Derneldar founder’s throat to the ground. Just a bit faster before the he, too, met the ground while his body convulsing.

    ‘Terrifying!’ Zax extricated the stone blade from the bones in his hand and threw it to the side. ‘If I didn’t counter with the Kinetic Force this knife of his would have sliced me as if it was passing through water…’ He thought as his heart was pounding and he stared at the Derneldar founder in his last moments.

    “Bastard! You dare injure my founder!” Suddenly, the Core Master named Lu Gan yelled in rage and many of the Mist Users seemed to emphasize, releasing their auras with vengeful spirits.

    “Hmph!” Zax snorted. “Come at me if you don’t know what’s good for you”. He said in an indifferent tone.

    How many he killed did not bother him, but wasting his time on weaklings was meaningless, which is why Zax did not attempt to pursue. His sole concern was the Derneldar founder, and now that death was approaching the old man, no one but his two targets was important.

    “Everyone, we must save the founder!” Lu Gan yelled. The other three Core Masters shared the same thought along with their handpicked Mist Users that they assembled for the failed trap to restrain Zax.

    “Fools…” The weak voice of the Derneldar founder spilled out with the stream of blood that continually flowed out from his mouth. He saw his blood related Core Masers, the last pillars of his family, and the men and women his family cultivated for tens of years, willing to throw away their lives for him and he could do nothing but gaze at them with grief in his blurred eyes. Who better than him knew the state of his body right now? The explosive strike of the young bodily cultivator blew his heart. If it was not for his high level of cultivation, he would not even stayed alive to watch all he built falls and crumbles.

    “Han Pei, Lu Gan, I will obstruct him while you two take the founder to the second escape route!” Del ordered and without waiting for the other two’s approval, he set his azure aura ablaze and bolted toward Zax.

    “Hurry! Support elder Del!” Those at the Mist Lord level led the rest of the remaining first realm Mist Users after Del.

    “Damn it, you all!” Han Pei roared. At this moment, position, status and cultivation were all secondary to the preservation of the Derneldar family.

    Due to the great and many losses the calamity known as “Zax”, caused to the Derneldar family, every one of the surviving Mist Users on scene was of outmost importance for the future of the family. Though most of these men and women were, up till now, part of the private military force of the Derneldar family, they all had the potential to branch out in other significant fields that could benefit the family.

    Han Pei and Lu Gan had no choice but to accept Del’s sacrifice, but they were reluctant to have further losses.

    “Fall back!” Del shouted at the following Mist Users. “Wolerbeng, initiate the residential defensive formation!” His command reached the ears of the leading Mist User, a tall, blond haired Mist Lord.

    “Del Ram!” Wolerbeng halted, spreading his arms to the sides with golden light forcing everyone behind him to stop as well; he looked at Del’s back in bitterness. “Initiate formation Red Lines!”

    Everything took place in a matter of couple of seconds. Zax, next to the Derneldar founder, stood and watched with expressionless eyes the Core Master, Del, commanding and bolting toward him with the resolve to confront him at the cost of his life.

    Behind Del were the other two Core Masters, the only ones that still advanced to his direction.

    “Useless, the old man is dead whether you like it or not”. Zax said, not caring if they listened to him or not.

    He knew just as good as the Derneldar founder the current state of his body. Even if his heart was pierced, being a bodily cultivator or not, he would also have nothing else to do but patiently wait for death.

    ROU!

    A terrifying sound suddenly resonated as Del’s aura burst out like the roar of a mighty beast.

    “…?” Zax frowned.

    Del’s speed and intensity of mist energy suddenly surpassed his peak and his skin began to flash in azure luster.

    WHOOSH!

    The smooth cement ground torn under Del’s furious steps as the violent and bellicose eruption of mist energy continued to grow stronger.

    BOOM!

    A pulse released from Del’s body and the distance between him and Zax shortened to little over a meter.

    Zax clenched five fingers and Del raised his right arm to defend from the Kinetic Force.

    The left fist landed and let loose the Kinetic Force. Del gritted his teeth as his right arm collided with the fist. An extraordinary power stunned Zax as he felt his fist and Kinetic Force being parried.

    BOOM!

    Despite Del’s efforts his right arm shattered to smithereens.

    “Ahhh!” Del bellowed. He caught Zax with his left hand and actually pushed him back.

    “What?!” Zax could not believe Del’s display of strength.

    When Zax probed him with his Soul Sense, he found out that Del’s level of cultivation was at the Beginner phase of the first level of the Core Master realm. Now, though, it was beyond his previous estimations. It was as if he was forced back by the all out attack of an Intermediate, no, Advanced phase first level Core Master. Standing firmly was not enough to resist.

    Dragging Zax tens of meters from the dying founder, Han Pei and Lu Gan arrived next to their family founder and picked him up carefully with their mist energy.

    ‘From where, in the name of the Supreme Rulers, his power is coming from?!’ Zax had a bad premonition as he felt odd fluctuations radiating from every pore of Del’s body.

    BOOM!

    His palm struck Del’s left arm and it exploded, but Del just bit his lips and slammed Zax with his chest, taking him outside of the Derneldar residential area.

    As they exited the residential area, behind Del’s back and in front of Zax’s eyes, spiraling red lights condensed around each of the twelve villas.

    “Let me go!” Zax aimed both of his hands to crush Del’s skull.

    “DIE!” Drawing Zax farther, Del yelled as his body released a blinding azure glow from his dantian.

    ‘Not good!’ Zax eyes widened as the first rays of azure mist energy pierced through Del’s abdomen. Instantly he drew back his hands and clenched his body.

    BOOM!

    A ball of fist size azure magmatic flames expanded from Del’s dantian to a diameter of hundreds of meters like a scorching blue sun.

    The explosion shook the ground to a distance of several kilometers from the blue ball of flames and produced strong turbulences that could topple buildings for hundreds of meters.

    Around each of the twelve villas the spiraling red lights, the Red Lines formations, absorbed the shock waves of the explosion with immense difficulties.

    One minute, two minutes, three minutes… Eight minutes had passed before the ball of flames began to subside. Three minutes later, where Del ignited his mist energy, a two hundred and forty two meters deep crater was formed.

    From a distinct spot inside the crater, next to the boiling rocks, hidden inside a cloud of steams, a lone figure could be seen.

    “GRAAH!!!” A voice carrying an indescribable pain wailed from the mouth of the red steaming figure. “GRAAH!!!”

    The red naked figure was none other than Zax.

    The explosion was unlike anything he experienced before or anything he thought it would be when he realized what Del was trying to do. Its power engulfed Zax with the destructiveness of the second level of the Core Master realm. There was no way for him to use the Kinetic Force to completely defend himself, it was only a momentarily solution to hinder the first and most colossal shock wave from hitting him. The rest of the shock waves that followed struck Zax and fractured many of his bones while the azure flames bathed his body.

    The explosiveness of Del’s sacrifice buried Zax deep into the ground as the ball of azure magmatic flame expanded. The heat it generated burnt his skin and hair completely, leaving him a red figure of red and black flash. In an attempt to regain his senses Zax pounded his ears, but he could not hear anything, he scratched his eyes, but all he could see was blackness.

    “GRAAH!!!” His body was healing in a slow pace when the ball of flame shrank and he exited its scope. Because of this, Zax became sensitive to the pain and screamed madly.

    ‘TH… THERE…!’ With rage fueling him, Zax activated his Soul Sense. It was his only means of observation, his only option to locate the Derneldar forces. “GRRR!”

    After the explosion the Red Lines formations collapsed along with the formation that obstructed Zax’s Soul Sense from probing the twelve villas.

    Out of the twelve, ten accommodated the serving personal of the Derneldar family with a few of the Mist Users that engaged in the fight with him.

    In the largest villa, in an underground lavish room, Zax detected nine people, two women and seven men, one of which he identified as his target, Binjo!

    In the most western villa were Han Pei and Lu Gan, the dead body of the Derneldar founder and many other Mist Users. They were franticly digging an underground path that seemed to be sealed due to the earthquakes and stretched beyond the reach of Zax’s Soul Sense.

    ‘HIM!’ Zax madly announced in his mind. A series of cracks sounded from his body as he rose up. Using the Kinetic Force was too risky and without it he did not feel that he had the strength to fight with the two Core Masters. He came to this conclusion after he discovered Binjo.

    The vile youth and the people by his side felt the explosion and were anxiously waiting for rescue. Finally finding Binjo aroused a clearer and definitive judgment of what he has to do that overpowered his desire to do what he wanted.

    WHOOSH!

    Zax climbed out of the crater, fighting the urges of his weakened state to rest and heal.

    The scenery was vastly different after the explosion. The splendor of the Derneldar territory turned upside down to drabness. Only the twelve villas remained intact and no one dared to go outside.

    BOOM!

    Zax broke through the largest villa’s walls, right into the fancy reception hall. His ferocious entry blasted a few of the artworks and furniture, but from the start he treated them all like air. Other than Binjo and whoever might be his brother among the six men with him, Zax cared for nothing.

    Zax sped across the villa, breaking walls instead of wasting time by taking turns. The air itself amplified his pain, waving his fists to break down the walls was agonizing in a whole other level. Still, he welcomed the pain. The more he felt it the more intensely his body worked to heal and the stronger the rush he felt. He advanced in rapid speed, about to make his goal, his promise to Anet tangible.

    BOOM!

    His two feet slammed the floor and with the foundation and pearl tiles he descended to the underground floor.

    “Ahh!” Someone shouted in a high pitched voice.

    “Third brother!” Another voice called.

    “Kinua, protect us!” A stern and hoarse voice demanded.

    Zax landed right in front the nine people. A cloud of dust hid his scorched figure, behind him where the staircase to the villa’s ground floor.

    In but a few breaths the dust settled and the blood of all the nine people drained from their faces.

    “Devil!”

    “A demonic beast! It’s demonic beast!”

    “Kinua, kill that creature!”

    As the group of people saw the heavily panting red figure of Zax, none was able to keep his or her calm. Of the two women, one helped the more mature elderly one who had unsettling eyes to the back of the spacious room. Six of the men clustered together after the women and one man, an Advanced phase Mist Lord, was facing Zax in insecurity and lack of choice.

    ‘Binjo! Binjo! Binjo! Binjo!’ The name repeated in Zax’s mind in succession.

    As for the others, some had similar external traits as Binjo. One of which was too old and looked to be his father rather than brother and the other one was the elderly woman. The remaining four, who had certain similarities to Binjo, were four twenty to forty something years old men with cultivation between the Earth’s Core Holder level and the Mist Lord level. Lastly, there was the other young woman and the Mist Lord who was on guard. Both, Zax assumed, were attendants.

    Taking a step forward, Zax’s red lips stretched and his white teeth were shown clenching.

    “Kinua, what are you waiting for? Stop him!” The older of the men, Dureil, yelled at the Mist Lord guard, Kinua.

    Kinua used his Soul Sense to assess the level of cultivation of the creature before him, but a surge of killing intent washed over him, as if a soul attack impaled his soul. Frozen in place, Kinua even held his breathe as Zax walked past him.

    “Kinua!” Dureil and his sons staggered backward. If their Mist Lord guard did not dare act against the demon, who of them could?

    “You! Who are you? What do you want from us?!” The second Mist Lord, Dureil’s third son, inquired.

    Zax stopped and exhaled from his nose couple of times before slowly opening the blockage of his teeth for the one word to go out unhindered.

    “Aent!”

    He allowed them to hear the name for two seconds, enough to curse the poorest choice in their life.

    SWISH!

    Zax threw his hand straight and his hand cut halfway through Binjo’s third brother’s head from above before it halted.

    “Yaaah!!!” The young female attendant screamed in fright and fainted.

    “Third brother!”

    “Nojiko!”

    Dureil along with his four sons cried. Only his wife and their mother watched quietly as if she was mute.

    Binjo stared at Zax with tears in his eyes and shock uncontrollably. “I was wrong! I’m sor-”

    SWISH!

    Zax’s left hand grabbed Binjo’s throat, his right hand firmly balanced on his shoulder.

    A faint indistinct smile appeared on Zax’s face and his healed eyes narrowed like two crescent moons.

    “DIE!”

    CRUNCH!

    SWHOOSH!

    He crushed Binjo’s spinal cord and ripped it out.

  12. #92
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 16 – Superintendent Ten



    “Is he really fine?”

    “As fine as only a bodily cultivator can be under such circumstance”.

    “…That was a Core Master’s mist detonation that destroys, in the process, the user’s soul and spirit to amplify its force! Are bodily refinement technique really that marvelous?!”

    “At the very least his is”.

    “…What is he doing now?”

    “Killing the brother… He killed Binjo”.

    “I am still having hard time to believe that someone like this exist… so young and yet able to kill a second level Core Master! If he will join us then we defiantly won’t have to worry about the other three in the results of the next group evaluation”.

    “Keep your exaptation at bay. He is coming. Go to the largest villa, to the underground floor. Unfortunately, he mentioned her name… Even though with his current appearance if they’ll see him in the future they won’t be able to recognize him, it could be the start of a trail that is better to eliminate now”.

    “What about the Mist Users he fought with and the maids and workers who saw him?”

    “Sigh… He was too straightforward. I thought he learned his lesson the first time, but he proved me wrong… The attendants are meaningless and were horrified in his arrival; they could not have paid much attention to him. Let’s leave them alone. The Mist Users that saw his face are spread inside the villas and in the escape route the Derneldar’s Core Masters ran into. This time, it would have been complicated to exert our forces in the Derneldar territory. Therefore, I hired some help from the Basement Floor to deal with any Mist User in the Core Breaker level or above”.

    “Mmm… Would he notice me?”

    “I’ll distract him. Also, retrieve the stone knife. It should be in the central plaza”.

    “Then I’ll be going, Don Mor”. The young woman with the blazing hair and the black ribbon that was strapped to her left arm with the words “Student Council Class - President” in white letters, stepped out of the concealment formation and vanished in the wrecked scenery that not so long ago was the lavish territory of the Derneldar family.

    Don’s watched the back of her Tal and closed her eyes. After her Tal, Uri, informed her that he showed Zax Binjo’s picture and the detailed note to the Derneldar’s territory, Don left to make sure everything will proceed accordingly to her and the school’s benefit.

    She brought with her the blazing haired girl, her best Tal and her future heir, to show her the extraordinary event of a great family extermination, since to those who are familiar with what a great family represent in Kingdom Earth, to witness the event of its downfall first hand could be very enlightening. Not on the Martial path, but rather, on the political one.



    “You fiend!” Dureil cursed. The gruesome death of his youngest son caused him so much shock that his internals twisted and blood came out of his mouth. Coughing, he was utterly devastated mentally and physically. First he second son, then his third and now his youngest! They were his most promising sons. They were his sons!

    “Ah!!!” Dureil wailed.

    “Father!” His three remaining sons prostrated next to him. They felt weak on their legs but also wanted to support their father who buried his face in the bloody floor.

    The elderly woman, Dureil’s wife, stood silently and motionless, in her hands she actually supported her fainted young attendant.

    The Mist Lord that was meant to protect Dureil and his family finally felt the oppressing killing intent dispersing. He turned his back to see what happened, but when his eyes encountered the two bodies, instead of fright they only revealed a deathly stare before his eyelids closed.

    The red and black devil, Zax, did not care for Dureil’s remark, or more precisely, he did not hear him. His left hand released the tight grip and Binjo’s head that was still connected to the spinal cord Zax held, fell on the floor.

    Despite the tormenting pain all over his body, after letting Binjo’s head loose, a serene sensation Zax did not anticipate washed his sea of consciousness and the waves of wrath subsided.

    ‘Dead, he and his brother are dead, Anet. I beat a second level Core Master to reach them and I kept my word for you, Anet…’ Zax whispered to himself in his mind. But somehow, it was not enough. ‘There must be away… Big sis or Master or that woman should know! I will not let his mark remain on you, Anet!’ He recalled the scar on Anet’s back and it appeared before his mind eye like an extension of Binjo, something that as long as it stain her body will keep Binjo’s shadow alive in her heart.

    Zax gnashed his teeth.

    STUMP!

    He crushed Binjo’s head under his foot and kicked what was left.

    Bending his legs, Zax summoned kinetic energy to his feet and converge it to Kinetic Force.

    BOOM!

    He leaped from the underground floor. Whoever was left in there did not earn his concern. Would they ever be able to stand in his way? Even Dureil, the one with most grief in his heart, in this moment of ruin still held back his aura from lashing out his resentment in fear for his life.

    If a father does not act upon his son death while his killer defiles his body, when will he?

    This sentence did not cross Zax’s mind, but due to the impression of Dureil, it was all the same whether he thought about it or not.

    Leaving the large villa, Zax was about to release his Soul Sense when a stronger presence made itself known to him intentionally and for the second time after the great mist detonation.

    The presence was a Soul Sense of a soul stronger than his own. When he howled in pain after his skin melted and burnt and the flash underneath suffered the black burns, the exact Soul Sense reached to him like a beckon that helped him collect himself.

    Now, after he killed Binjo, the beckon reached him once more, invitingly. It made itself so clear that Zax was more curious about it than the Core Masters and Mist Users who ran away.

    The owner of the Soul Sense continually stayed out of the reach of Zax’s Soul Sense until he left the Derneldar territory.

    “You!” Zax staggered atop the roof of the seventy stories building, approximately half a kilometer from the Derneldar territory. He no longer had the mental capacity to push himself and his body kept exhausting every ounce of energy it had for the healing process to the point that he stumbled before Don.

    Observing his condition with her Soul Sense and seeing him with her eyes, was not much different, however, the instant she had seen Zax, Don’s brows puckered.

    In order to heal, Zax’s body slowly exhausted his strong vitality. As a result, aside from the burns, Zax looked scrawny and feeble.

    “Ssh”. Don whispered. She made one step forward and caught Zax with her mist energy.

    “Why are you…” Zax said, but before he finished his mind went blank. A soothing energy entered his sea of consciousness. A bizarre shape appeared in front of his soul and shone brightly on it.

    “Rest”. Don said softly.



    “Ssss!”

    The sound hissed like a nest of a thousand snakes.

    Zax opened his eyes and felt a bubbly hot sensation from his back. The room he stayed in was completely sealed from light. He did not get up right away, since he felt comfortable on whatever he laid on, but he wanted to know where he was, so he used his Soul Sense to find out.

    ‘A small room’, Zax discovered that the dark room was smaller than how the blackness made him perceive it. It was a squared, four on four meters, room.

    Inside the room, were three, large enough to lie on, rocks that engendered the hissing sounds. What more precisely was the source of the sound was the warm liquid the rocks ejected. Inside the rocks was an accumulation of the warm liquid and on the top surface of the rook Zax was laying on, which was shaped to fit the back of a roughly one hundred and eighty centimeters tall human, were thousands hair’s width cavities.

    ‘But can’t get out...?’ Oddly enough, Zax’s Soul Sense was confined to the room. A formation he could not penetrate through trapped him like a cat inside a box.

    Still, Zax was not worried or depressed. To his amazement he actually felt great. The pain and tiredness he remembered before passing out were nothing but a bad memory. He rubbed his arms, legs, belly, face… They were all perfectly well, his skin grew back and was softer and smoother than before, almost as nice to the touch as his baby sister’s, Liz’s.

    ‘My fingers also!’ That was another immense surprise. The three fingers the Derneldar founder cut also grew. Because of his previous physical state it should have taken him over a week to fully heal if all he did was rest. A week was a long time for Zax to spend in dormancy, but he did not think that he rested that long due to the warm liquid and the clear effect he felt from it. With that much external help he should have been out for about two days, probably, after he was placed in this room, that is, and two days were an acceptable passage of time for Zax when he considered his wounds…

    But…

    ‘I’m bald!’ That however made him slightly alarmed, though was also not quite accurate. His hair also grew, but only barely, two, three centimeters at most. Zax was fonder of the wild hair that even after the haircut Zetsa gave him was nine, ten centimeters long.

    ‘It will grow’. Zax sighed. The reason it did not grow as fast as his fingers was because the growth of his finger was a healing process and so was the recreation of his hair follicle. Anything further is simply the natural growth pace of his hair.

    What was now important was that he healed and while he continued to lie on the large rock, his body kept devouring the rejuvenating energy of the warm liquid through his skin. It was not abundant as the unripe Blood Red Grapes, but he did feel surges of new vitality flowing in his veins.

    Staying couple of minutes longer on the rock just to enjoy the comfortable feeling, Zax eventually got up and walked to the corner door of the room. He was naked, and it would be embarrassing if he will meet someone outside, but other than the rocks the room did not have anything that he could use to cover himself.

    Turning the handle, the room was not locked.

    “Eh?” Zax was stunned. Outside of the room was a small, one meter square, space with a glass door which separated the small space and a staircase to somewhere above the ground that his Soul Sense still could not probe.

    Beyond the glass door, was a rack with a set of clothes, an all too familiar dark shades white and azure uniforms, hanging on it. On the stair beneath the uniforms was a pair of white sport shoes with azure socks folded inside the right shoe.

    Besides the glass door, the two side walls and the other side of the door to the dark room were also covered by a layer of glass and on the right glass covered wall was a bright green dot.

    ‘Press to open?’ Zax wondered. He could break the glass and climb the staircase, but that would have been rude toward the one who let him stay in such a treasured room that could supplement the body so effectively. He lightly pressed the bright green dot, since other than it, all the glass covered walls looked the same and the glass door did not have a knob or showed signs of moving when he lightly pushed it.

    A strong current of tiny cold water streams poured from the ceiling of the small space. It was both sudden and refreshing and Zax did not oppose it. After several seconds the water stopped and was replaced by currents of cold air that dried Zax body, while the water was drained by pumps underneath the floor tiles.

    Finally, the glass door opened and the bright green dot disappeared.

    Wearing the Eden Formation’s school uniforms and the pair of shoes, needless to say, despite the formation that blocked his Soul Sense, Zax knew where he was and with complicated expression climbed the stairs.

    Opening the door at the end of the staircase, Zax could at long last feel the confinement on his Soul Sense wearing off and after he took the step into the maintenance room his Soul Sense was free to expand as far as it could.

    Yes, the room with bad lighting was at ground level and was filled with maintenance tools, cabinets and shelves and barely anyplace to stand.

    “Don’t stare like a boor, boy! Hurry up and sign your name on the Rehabilitation Room’s registry!” A rough and low voice rebuked Zax.

    “Who?!” Zax was startled. Not his five senses or is Soul Senses detected the old thin man who stood behind a just as old printing machine less than two meters from him until he opened up his mouth and sternly spoken.

    “Sir”, Zax looked at the old man and respectfully turned to him. ‘This old man’, he had a sudden piercing feeling that froze his heart, ’is terrifyingly strong!’

    The old man move from behind the printing machine with a touch Screen in hand. He wore a discolored robe with a golden symbol of elaborate formation, the Eden Formation’s school’s symbol, on the left side of his chest.

    Picking Zax’s hand, the old man pressed his thumb on the touch Screen’s screen.

    “Ugh…!” Zax felt his hand being clenched by boundless force, nearly breaking his new fingers under the old man’s grip.

    BEEP!

    The touch Screen rang.

    “Susuya!” The old man released Zax’s red hand and called.

    “Superintendent Ten?” A young girl with black hair, black eyes and black skin wearing the light shade version of the school’s uniforms, which indicated that she was in the Beginner grade, rushed from outside and asked the old superintendent, Ten.

    “Take this boy to Don’s office”.

    “Okay, superintendent Ten”.

    “Don’t procrastinate”.

    “Okay, superintendent Ten”.

    “Come back here right after”.

    “Okay, superintendent Ten”.

    “And bring tea from Don’s office”.

    “Anything else, superintendent Ten?”

    “Don’t dilly dally!”



    “Who was that old man?” Zax looked at the old maintenance building before it vanished from sight at the first turn he took after the ten, eleven years old girl, Susuya, showed him the way to the school principal’s office from the maintenance building on school’s grounds.

    “Say, are you new or dumb?” Susuya said and stared at Zax seriously.

    “New”. Zax did not want to respond to her remark and kept his cool and answered calmly mainly. Frankly, it was because he somewhat remembered his baby sister, Liz, and for a fraction of a second wondered how he should react if his own little sister ever speak to him like that.

    “Oh, okay, he is the superintendent of our school”.

    “Superintendent? Isn’t it a joke?” Zax heard Susuya refer to Ten personally as “Superintendent Ten”, but it was too absurd to accept. “In his cultivation he is some school’s ‘superintendent’?”

    “Mm, you better not let him hear you call Eden Formation ‘some school’”.

    “Err… Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. But, I met the vice principal and the principal and none of them projected toward me the same level of dominance”.

    “Well, you are new so you would not know, grandpa Ten-”

    “Grandpa?” Zax stopped Susuya and looked at her, trying to understand if what she used was a figure of speech or really meant that the old frightening man was her grandfather.

    “Grandpa Ten is my great, great, great grandpa. I spend time with him when I feel bored in class, but he doesn’t allow me to call him ‘grandpa’ during school hours”. Susuya pouted as she explained. Her innocent childish face talking about superintendent Ten, her actual grandfather, this segregated and severe expert, made the first and recent memory of him in Zax’s mind appear kind of cute.

    Zax could not bear how Susuya distortedly messed up his impression of the old man and changed the subject from her familiarly to him, to what she was about to say before he interrupted her. “I would not know what?”

    “Mm, you would not know, although probably even among students only your Advanced grade know, that grandpa Ten was the first school principal of Eden Formation”.

    “First school principal becomes superintendent?!” Zax recalled the messy maintenance building and was stumped.

    “He started working just a year ago, when the school accepted me. He retired two hundred years ago, more or less, when he broke through the third realm”.

  13. #93
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 17 – What Is Right What Is Wrong



    “A third realm expert?!” Zax exclaimed. “Girl… Susuya, you are just an Earth’s Core Holder, how can you so casually call someone a third realm expert? Are you even aware what a being in the third realm signifies? Please tell me that you simply heard the term ‘Realm’ from someone and trying to play a prank on me!” Zax refuted her statement the instant her words sunk to his mind.

    That she is his granddaughter and that superintendent Ten is a third level Core Master Zax could accept. Even saying that he was the first principal of the number one Martial school in El-Eden, Zax was willing to believe, after all, he did perceive a tremendous level of strength from the old man. But for Susuya that was not enough. She actually, calmly and without batting an eyelash, claimed that her own grandfather is one of the very few, most likely less than ten beasts and people put together, in all of New Earth that surpassed the Core Master realm!

    The maintenance building was concealed behind a layer of trees. Susuya led Zax on a path from the remote office of her grandfather that encircled the cement court Zax and Don fought on. The court was large, eight times the size of a regular sport court and a few classes of students were peacefully and diligently practicing cultivation techniques and low class formations.

    One class, close to the edges of the court, was of Beginner grade students who, naturally, wore the same shade uniforms as Susuya and seemed to be around the same age. This one Beginner grade class practiced a very low class formation that was also a very important formation due to it being a Foundation formation that meant to strengthen the comprehensive abilities of those who practiced it.

    Of course, Zax was not proficient in formations and could not tell much of what the Beginner grade class was doing, only that their teacher instructed the young students to repeat the formation until they can manipulate their mist energy and create ten Foundation formations under one minute, which by the look of things, no one would be able to accomplish it even under one hour.

    Susuya turned her bored gaze to the close by Beginner grade class and raised her hand. Brown mist energy emanated from the palm of her hand like a smoke.

    “You…” Zax looked at Susuya and guessed what she was about to do, yet was not convinced that she will succeed.

    SWISH!

    Susuya moved her right hand as if it was a brush’s handle and her five fingers as if they were the bristles.

    One… Two… Three…

    One after another she perfectly completed Foundation formations.

    Four… Five… Six…

    Unlike the other students she did not show signs of fatigue.

    Seven… Eight… Nine… Ten!

    Susuya lowered her right hand and turned her gaze from the Beginner grade class to Zax.

    Between him and her floated round and similar to the tiniest of details, ten Foundation formations, and not twenty seconds have passed.

    “If I say that grandpa Ten is in the third realm, then grandpa Ten is in the third realm! If I say that I will also reach the third realm, then you should not look down on me just because now I’m in the Earth’s Core Holder level!” She said and sulked. This young and feisty girl actually had quite of a competitive spirit and was not afraid to loudly claim her aspirations.

    Turning her back to Zax, Susuya kept going, leading the way to Don’s office in the two storey faculty building.

    ‘She was serious!’ Zax realized. Partly, because of her outstanding display, which if connecting the dots could be explained as hereditary talent, partly, because of the earnest and noble fluctuations in the air this little girl gave.

    Rubbing his short and spiky hair, Zax sighed with a smile. Did he interact with a third realm expert couple of minutes ago and now a third realm expert in the making? He wanted to lough, but refrains from doing so. Susuya’s completion of the ten Foundation formations already caused ruckus in the small Beginner grade class and the teacher was scolding the students while staring at Susuya’s back with both complementing and complicated expression.

    With his blood boiling, Zax followed Susuya.



    ‘So I ended up going to her office anyway…’ Zax thought to himself, remembering how Don tried to convince him to come to her in her office the first time he had been to Eden Formation.

    Back then he was not willing to listen and insisted on doing things his way. Eventually, he ended up running away with missing arm. Thinking carefully to that day, Zax could not help but release a relief sigh and thank the Supreme Rulers that with his bad temperament at the time he did not encounter superintendent Ten, otherwise, with the old man’s equally bad temperament…

    “Aunty Don”, Susuya did not bother to knock and open the door to Don’s office with her voice first announcing her arrival.

    “Susuya, Zax…” Don was sitting behind her desk with a pile of document to one side and a large touch Screen on the other.

    “Big sis!” At first, Zax was about to humbly greet the woman he gave so much trouble to, but when he entered Don’s office and his eyes caught a glimpse of a familiar figure that sat in a meditative position on a small carpet in the left corner of the room, his mouth opened and he gasped in surprise.

    As for why Zax did not noticed his big sister before entering Don’s office, it was because that even inside the faculty building, possibly in every building on school’s grounds, was a formation that confined his Soul Sense to the current room that he was in. Much like how it has been in the Rehabilitation Room. The reason Zax was surprised to see his big sister, was because he simply did not expect for her to be waiting… training in the office of Eden Formation’s school principal.

    Hearing her little brother voice, Zetsa eyes opened gradually. She got up from the carpet with solemn expression on her face and walked forward to meet Zax.

    “Big sis?” Zax asked quizzically.

    Zetsa did not respond with words.

    FUFUFUFU!

    Dark golden aura burst from her body and a strong whirlwind swirled around her.

    ‘She… is mad!’ It was the first time he felt such a baleful aura emerging for his big sister and it was actually directed at him.

    Being in her presence for the last couple of days, Don was aware of Zetsa’s present mood. When her guest got up and was about to release her aura, she did not hesitated and formed a protective formation around Susuya and her desk.

    Zetsa stood face to face with Zax. Her palm slightly turned bluish and exuded cold air, while her fingernails slightly turned red and exuded hot air.

    “Big sis… I’m-”

    SLAP!

    Zetsa did not let him finish the sentence. Concentrating all of her mist energy to her right palm, she raised it and slammed it against Zax’s face with ears piercing sound.

    Zax’s head turned ninety degrees to his right. He saw the mist energy swirling and swallowing to Zetsa’s body. He saw her hand going up and her skin shining in olive, gold, blue and red. His saw the trajectory of the swing and he saw that his big sister and the room turning to a blur as the vibration of the strike passed through his brain.

    Throughout this course of events, Zax did not even dream to resist. At the beginning he simply was not sure what will happen, he never saw Zetsa so angry before. His soul was stronger than hers; his body was tougher than hers. He had no reasons to fear her. Nevertheless, when his eyes followed her actions, which he could so easily avoid, a sudden pinch in his heart made him perceive his big sister from the eyes of his former self as the eight years old child she promised to start training and made so happy.

    This threw Zax into a complete submissive state of mind, it was about to be the first time in his life his big sister will hit him and after a few milliseconds it was the first time she hit him and he did nothing but accept it, if only not to offend her.

    As far as how he preserved when the slap landed on his face… far worse than he expected. The pain was just a little bit lesser than when Don slapped him. Zax counted his big sister’s body fitness level and her mist level, but he did not take into account the quality of the refinement techniques she practiced. The Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi\Mist Refining Technique and the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement were top refinement techniques that made Zetsa unrivaled against someone in the same level of cultivation.

    To say that a slap with her outmost strength would hurt to someone like Zax, would be a big understatement.

    “Do you not have any consideration for yourself and for you loved ones?!” Zetsa yelled at her little brother’s astonished face. “You’ve been back for less than two days and you seek to challenge the number one Martial school in El-Eden? You decides that you are capable of being overbearing because what? You trained in Valgarel for three years?! How that worked out for you? Even with Don Ram not going into details, with you suddenly going away, leaving only a damned letter, I easily tell that your impulsive behavior brought you no good!”

    “Is that right?!” Zax turned his head and said angrily. “Did you even talk with Anet? Do you know what I accomplished for her sake?!” His anger stemmed not from the pain of the slap, but from how Zetsa ignored the reason he barged to Eden Formation.

    “Was that done for Anet?” Zetsa’s tone filled with disdain. ”When your friend suffered graveness you sought consolation by taking revenge for her, but against who or what did you have any idea before you thoughtlessly went to challenge a member of a great family on the property of the number one grate family?”

    Zax clenched his teeth, he was stumped.

    “Let me tell you, while you were away for a breakthrough, the Derneldar family did not sit idly. Even though Don Ram sacrificed a lot to cover the trail you left, they were still reluctant to give up. They sent assassins to target the victims of that boy who viciously hurt Anet. They sent Mist Users experts to kill Anet when you were not here, LEFT FOR OTHERS, to protect her!”

    “What! Anet-” Zax lost all the color from his face. Yes, he was irresponsible, he did many mistakes by rashly threatening Binjo and alerting the Derneldar family, but if Anet was hurt because of him, if she…

    His eyes turned red just from the thought and his muscles bulged. He said two words only to be cut short by Zetsa.

    “She is fine. She never got hurt or knows that her life was at risk”. She replied with a frown, but her voice was calmer. Seeing Zax’s spark of nervousness and fury, Zetsa let it wane instead of pointlessly allow it to flare up. The single moment of fretfulness was tormenting enough.

    Zax fists that were raised to waist height loosened up and the redness in his eyes dissipated.

    “You protected her?” He asked softly.

    “Yes, I and Don Ram. I kept an eye on her at home, on her way to school and back. Don Ram was generous and accepted Anet as her Tal to keep an eye and nurture her in school”.

    “That was just because she has talent, Zetsa”. Don interfered. “I treated her well in school because she deserves it, but I accepted her as my Tal because she has talent”.

    Zetsa responded with a node to Don, and Zax just looked at her with gratitude.

    Poor Susuya felt awkward being a stranger in what seemed to be a personal dispute. Her small hands were stuck to her ears since the awful slap’s sound. Zetsa’s show of force did not intimidate her, but it did make it uncomfortable to stay around.

    “Aunty Don”, Susuya used the pause to finish what her grandfather told to do and dismiss herself. “Grandpa Ten asked me bring some tea when I get back”.

    “You know where I keep it, little Su, take a few leaves and grind them at Ten Ram’s place”. Don released the formation around Susuya and the ten, eleven years old girl opened the drawer of a wooden cabinet that rested at the center of the left wall.

    Inside the drawer was a jar with multicolored leaves. Picking a few leaves, Susuya returned the Jar, closed the drawer.

    “Bye, aunty Don”. She said and left in a run.

    Seeing the door close behind Susuya, Zetsa turned her head back to Zax.

    “Without Don Ram’s help even I would have been in a problem. Don Ram forced the Derneldar family into a corner. If she did not, than in a matter of a day or two, they would have identified who I am and the people close to me, to us!” Her rebuking tone resurfaced. She did not finish. “That’s you acting on your own without thinking about others. Let me ask you, Zax, could what I say till now be the end of your wrongdoings?”

    The question was not rhetorical, worse, it was a test!

    Having the feeling that even if he will answer what she wants to hear, he will still get rebuked; Zax did not dare open his mouth.

    “No! Because after you returned you decided to go and confront on your own not just a second level Core Master, but his whole family, as well!”

    “That…” Zax had a few words to say in this matter but stopped himself. The outburst of confidence long faded, and if he would say that it was an Eden Formation’s students who gave him the information about Binjo and where he live, would not he have to deal with Don in addition to his big sister?

    Despite that he won against the second level Core Master, killed Binjo and his brother and is still alive, better was for him to shut up.

    “You said before that you have some accomplishments, well… I won’t say what we both know, whether it was due to luck or ability. However, Zax, can you recall the state that you were in when you found Don Ram?” Remembering the burnt and bloody scrawny body of her little brother, Zetsa self discipline faltered, the rims of her eyes reddened and tears soon after began to slide down her cheeks. “It wasn’t coincidental that you found Don Ram before you fainted. Don Ram followed you so you will have the opportunity to get justice on your own and interject only in the worst case scenario. On that we agreed together, except that when you returned I was in cave twenty five and when that Core Master detonated the mist energy in his dantian, the worst case scenario far surpassed our expectations!”

    Zetsa kept eye contact with Zax. A Core Master’s mist detonation… if it was not for the modification the Black Core did to the bodily refinement technique he practiced, if it was not for the school’s special Rehabilitation Room, how would she have taken care of her little brother so promptly?

    Of everything that happened, everything she scolded him for, it was not Zax decision to kill Binjo, to challenge a great family or even to fight with a second level Core Master that Zetsa was angry at him about. What made her angry and wanting to instill his mistakes in his head was the approach he had for every decision. Essentially, wanting to do the impossible and most dangerous was not profane, doing so negligently was.

    Zax could not stand the look in his big sister eyes when tears trickled down from them. He could not refute the words that led her to cry.

    He bit his tongue and was ashamed.

    “Forgive me”.

  14. #94
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 18 – A Few Hours



    “Now, now, now, now”, it was Don who reacted to Zax’s apology. She got up from her tall backrest chair and proceeded to stand beside Zetsa. “If you understand, than it is good enough to settle this issue here”. With one hand one Zax’s shoulder and the other on Zetsa’s, Don was slightly taller than the two and gave the impression of a mother placating her children.

    “Zetsa?” Don asked for her response.

    “I said… all I had to say”. The tears stopped falling and Zetsa wiped the two salty trails from her cheeks. Her hand reached for Zax’s and she made him turn with her to face Don.

    “Thank you for taking care of us, Don Ram”. Zetsa bowed her head and Zax followed suit.

    “I’m sorry for the way I’ve been when I barged into the school and I’m sorry for offending you, Don Ram, the vice principal and the students who tried to calm me”. Zax added. He did not want for his big sister to bear the apology for his misconducts, so he bowed his head a bit lower.

    “You, two, are exaggerating, hahaha”, Don chuckled and shoved the siblings to straighten their backs. “Conventionalisms are unneeded in present company, hahaha… Young girl Zetsa, you waited patiently for two days so that young Zax could heal himself entirely. It seems to me that you should not prolong your matters over in Valgarel…”

    From Don’s manner of speech and choice of words, it sounded as if another issue, far more pressing than the previous one with the Dernalder family, was taking place in Valgarel and somehow, although it had been related to Zetsa, Don was also in on it.

    “Yes, Don Ram”, Zetsa nodded. “We will take our leave for the time being. I’ll remember what we talked about and give you an answer when things will be less erratic”.

    “Very well”. Don said contentedly. She accompanied Zax and Zetsa several steps and opened the office’s door for them. “Wait for him to become placid, regardless of what we talked, that should be your first priority”.



    “We are good”. Zetsa reassured Zax as they made their way back to cave twenty five. Zax did not say something to make her feel the need to confirm, but from his timid behavior Zetsa said so anyway.

    The two departed from Eden Formation immediately after Don saw them out of her office.

    Zetsa insisted that they should get back in a hurry, mentioning that the appointed three years’ time had passed and they should not make her Master wait any longer needlessly. “A certain pressing issue requires us to depart as early as possible”.

    “Is it impossible to wait one more day?” Zax asked. In about one week time so much had happened and the important matters he wanted to attend to, ended up being on hold. Zax knew that it would be brazen of him to ask, but for the chance of reconciling with his old friends, for letting Anet know personally that he kept his word, he dared ask.

    “Are you really fully healed?” Zetsa did not pay heed to his question and disregarded it all together as she changed the subject with her own question.

    “Yes”.

    “Then let’s pick up the pace”. Zetsa said and pondered for a second. “You’ll have the chance to say goodbye to mom, dad and Liz. Besides, if Master will approve of you, which he most certainly would, you will be able to return after a few days”.

    The first sentence made Zax a bit sullen. After hearing the second sentence he was relieved. Suddenly a half mischievous half curious thought came to his mind. “Big sis, you know, Eden Formation has for a superintendent a third realm expert”. He said, wanting to break the seriousness in her tone.

    “I know”. To his surprise, Zetsa’s respond was imperturbable. “I met senior Ten when you were brought to the Rehabilitation Room. It’s better if you don’t mention him or the Rehabilitation Room casually in front of others. Expert of his caliber are best to refer to only when it’s appropriate, you can’t tell what kind of powers they have…”

    “Oh…” Zax took it as another lesson he should remember. “That old man was scary…” He confessed.

    “Terrifying”. Zetsa also admitted.

    The brother and sister duo reminisced to when they met superintendent Ten and sighed simultaneously. They continued on their varied path as the tips of their shoes touched rooftops, sidewalks, commercial boards and so on… Much like two tender but inexorable gusts of winds they WHOOSHED back home.



    The apartment’s door of the Zel’s residence opened.

    On the living room’s couch three figures were situated, Zax’s parents along with a tanned man who had short blond hair and was wearing a blue jumpsuit. Zetsa walked in without delay, but when Zax followed her inside, a look of astonishment adorned his face. The blue jumpsuit man, right in front of his parents, was holding his baby sister, Liz, and imbued azure mist energy into her little body.

    ‘What the heck!’ Zax could not understand what the man was doing, why his parents let a stranger hold their daughter and use his mist energy on and in her frail body. If it was not for Zetsa’s still demeanor, Zax would have demanded some sort of explanation the instant his eyes laid on the blue jumpsuit man. Instead, with a frown, Zax released his Soul Sense and decided to first carefully inspect what the mist energy of the blue jumpsuit man was doing to his little sister. Afterwards, alongside the expectation that nothing bad is being done to his little sister, questions like who the man was, what business a Core Master has in his home and so on… will follow.

    “You are…” The moment Zax caught glimpse of the energy signature of the man’s mist energy, a sudden sense of familiarity resurfaced in his mind and a few connections were made. “Elder Martial brother Tularg!” Unbelievable as it was, the blue jumpsuit man was none other than the nearly four meters tall, jaguar head, humanoid beast that he had the pleasure to meet and recognize as his Martial brother only once, the Dotted Jaguar Tularg, or more precisely, Tularg’s two meters tall human form.

    At the same time as he recognized Tularg, who apparently had a breakthrough in his training, Zax also found out what Tularg’s mist energy was doing to Liz. In a remarkable way, Tularg’s mist energy swirled inside of Liz’s Qi channels, expending them and reconstructing them little by little. Also, the mist energy that engulfed Liz, refined her skin, bones and internals.

    “Amazing!” Zax exclaimed.

    “Zetsa, Zax”, Marco and Laylen called in delight a step slower than Zax’s reaction. They got up from the couch, leaving Liz in Tularg’s hands. They both had a fond expression in their eyes when they saw Zax’s haircut.

    “Martial brother Tularg, you should not have troubled yourself”. Zetsa said with a hint of worry in her tone. Other than Tularg himself, she was the only one to understand best the significance of his actions and the implication they will carry for a temporary, yet not short, passage of time.

    “Zetsa, young man Tularg is wonderful”, Laylen interrupted, clapping her hands and smiling. “Since you left he helped around the house and took care of Liz. It’s simply wonderful. Liz in his hands is so calm and peaceful. She even smiled a few times!”

    “Indeed, Zetsa”, Marco confirmed, welcoming her and Zax with a hug, though he and his wife did not see them for quite a while, especially Zax, the two were accustomed to their children indeterminate leaves and consumed with the current benevolence that Tularg, a Core Master, had showed them. “This fellow is so young and already a true expert! Last night, he asked mine and mom’s permission to bless Liz and it has been more than half a day and just look how comfortable and soothing beloved Liz is in his hands, hahaha!”

    Though a Core Master who circulates his mist energy through a baby may seem odd and unheard of, common people such as Marco and Laylen would not think to question his actions.

    “Ah!” A gleeful moan escaped Liz’s small mouth, like a tiny laugh.

    “Honey, hurry! Liz is smiling, she is laughing, she is laughing!” Laylen urged Marco and he, right away, used his Caller to record the memorable event.

    “Sigh…” Zetsa released a long breath. She looked at her astir parents and then at her baby sister and her Martial brother. What he was giving was indeed a brilliant boon, but with that, her parents’ hopes for a normal child, that is, not a monstrous cultivation freak, would go down the drain.

    “Zax”, Zetsa turned to him. “Seven to eight hours, that’s how long it’d take Martial brother Tularg to finish. Anet is at school. I’m not sure about the rest of your friends… Go, you have exactly seven hours to see whoever you want and return”.

    With Tulrag delaying them, Zetsa could not press Zax anymore to go meet her Master with her. She took the initiative to hold the door open for him and pushed his back out.



    When Zax left the apartment building his parents lived in, he immediately hastened his way back to Eden Formation. Without a doubt, the person he chose to meet was Anet. It was not that he favored her over his other old friends… he did not think that he did.

    ‘To reconcile with the other’, Zax though, ‘will probably take more than the time big sis gave me. I’m also not sure where I can find them without looking up first the locations of their schools’.

    Thus, his choice could only be to return to Eden Formation. Nevertheless, with going and returning from Eden Formation, the span of time he could spend with Anet will mostly be enough for a short leisure talk. Now that the Dernalder family issue is mostly behind them, Zax could only afford the time to let Anet know that never in her life she should feel scared again from Binjo and his family, and hopefully, that would make her mental scars fade a little faster.



    “Dark shades uniforms! An Advanced grade students!” One of the guarding students at the school gate called out in surprise.

    With that, Zax did not even need to bother to open the gate himself. The six students opened the school gate with veneration in their eyes.

    ‘Wearing this uniform feels weird’. Zax thought.

    It was not that the school uniform were uncomfortable, actually, they were made from precious materials and felt just like a second layer of skin. It was the conformity that they represented and demanded from those who wore them to uphold, that Zax felt odd bearing. The foundation of his Martial path solidified in Valgarel, there, no one dictated that he should follow any sort of regulations. Training was all that matter.

    ‘But they sure can be useful…’ Zax had to admit and turn to the six students. “Do any of you know where I can find a girl named Anet Lensi?”

    “Senior”, a short girl with combed hair lowered her head a little when she replied. “Anet was a student in my class. You might did not take notice because it only happen recently, but Anet was transferred to senior’s Advanced grade building. That is all that I know”.

    “Thank you”. Zax said. In one step his figure vanished from the gazes of the six students.

    “So fast…” The six were left awestruck.



    ‘This Advanced grade building is the same’. Zax frowned when an invisible formation limited his Soul Sense in the Advanced grade building’s ground floor. Still, he could not help but be enticed by the sumptuous interior of the ground floor. It was similar to the acceptance hall of a five stars hotel, which Zax was able to see only in movies.

    To his right were two elevators and behind them a staircase. To his left was the reception with a young beautiful woman behind a counter, wearing white suit with a short skirt.

    Amidst the ground floor was a resting place with couple of large seats and an enclosed miniature frost garden between them. A curious perceptive person would have notice that the miniature frost garden aerated the air in the ground floor, which in turn had an elevating effect on the soul of those who breathed it.

    Zax turned to the young receptionist. Before he entered the Advanced grade building she was absorbed in meditation, when he crossed the threshold of the entrance, Zax noticed her withdrawing from the meditative state. The young receptionist had the cultivation of a Beginner phase Mist Lord.

    “How may I help you…” It took a single breath time for the young receptionist to recollect the faces of all the students in the Advanced grade building. When Zax’s face did not come to her mind, a latest confidential document that the young receptionist received, appear instead. “Zax”.

    Zax had a pondering expression on his face. He wondered how the woman knew his name. Quickly, though, he had a few ideas when he considered the clothes he wore, where he was and his concise history with the school.

    “I’m looking for Anet Lensi”. Zax said.

    “Fourth floor, second class”. The young receptionist said without the need to check the Screen of her smart desk behind the counter.

    Zax nodded and was about to turn when the young receptionist finished musing over something and amiably said to him. “Would you like me to summon her?”

    “If it’s possible”. Zax answered. He did not want to awkwardly intrude to Anet’s class, so the young receptionist’s suggestion was appreciatively accepted.

    Couple of minutes later, Anet stepped out from one of the two elevators and from the corner of her eyes, caught a glimpse of Zax standing beside the miniature frost garden.

    “Zax”, Anet could not contain her voice, but manage to assimilate sensibility and control the tone in which she spoke. “You… got a haircut and enrolled to the school?” Once she noticed his trimmed hair and clothes, her rosy lips stretched to an exited smile and her eyes sparkled.

    Zax smiled. She looked better than he thought she would be. He signaled her to come over and sit with him before answering her questions.

    ‘Eh!’ A certain sensation assaulted Zax when Anet rushed to him. The last time he saw her, her slender hands clinging to his shoulders from behind, her body pressed against his with the intention to let go only on her terms. Zax felt heat accumulating in his head and his short hair perked up.

    Seeing his red face and the half step back that he took, at first, Anet was confused, but as the look in his eyes became clear to her, her body halted five feet from Zax as if she mirrored his reaction. Rather than having the same recollection, her sharp feminine intuition alerted her to his thoughts and what she might feel in return buy have yet to deeply consider.

    Seeing the two teenagers at odds with each other, the receptionist chuckled to herself and got up from her seat. Golden aura emerged from her high heels and she elegantly crossed the distance between her and the two teenagers.

    “If you’ll patiently wait a moment, I’ll serve you something to drink”. She said with a soft smile. Her voice awakened Zax and Anet from the sudden stillness and the two turned to her simultaneously with approval and a certain level of gratitude.

    “Well then, please sit and I’ll return shortly”. The young receptionist said and with that, the restraining ice broke.

    “You are wearing the school uniforms”. Anet repeated in moderation. Both she and Zax were still shaken from the insight to the inner secret of their hearts.

    The young receptionist coerced them to sit on the same large seat, close to each other, close enough for their kneecaps to touch and make the atmosphere more embarrassing.

    ‘I love her, don’t I?’ Zax did not seek an answer, but finally acknowledged what he feels and confessed these feelings to himself. Now, although still reserved, he felt the perplexing spark inside him, which existed since the first moment his saw Anet after his arrival from Valgarel and till now, turning into an invigorating flame.

    “No, I did not enroll the school”. Zax said. “As to why I’m wearing the school uniforms, I got them after I kept my word for you, Anet, and made sure no one of the Dernalder family will never bother you again”. His speech was firm and his eyes shown assertiveness.

    “The Dernalder family, it’s in ruin, Zax, are you telling me it’s all because of you?!” Anet leaned back, dumbstruck.

    The current state of the Dernalder family was known to nearly everyone in Kingdom Earth. But as of now, not all the details were released to the general public. By now Anet knew that neither Binjo nor his brother will harm her ever again, and she never forget Zax’s promised to her, but the idea of someone her age surpassing a figure like the Dernalder founder was like a dream she could not even entertain.

    “Don’t underestimate me”. Zax said while shyly smiling. He then began to recount what he did after he left her house that day, his training, his return and visit to the Dernalder family, his demands and their reply. Obviously, he emitted the really gory stuff, but gave a well defined picture of the length he went through to exterminate the pillars of this vile family. He did so not to move Anet, but to reveal to her the part of him that was groomed in Valgarel, the determined savage part she would have to accept if she ever decide to love him back.

    As he spoke, the young receptionist returned with two bottles of soda and left without saying a word when she saw the two talking and listening attentively.

    Anet’s response was not unequivocal. Some of the stuff Zax said made her shiver, some made her worry, others made her unknowingly grasp his hand and some stuff made her a little frightened from Zax’s concept of killing without remorse.

    A mixture of many thoughts and feeling reflected on Anet’s face when Zax finished talking. Meanwhile, it was about time for Zax to leave.

    “Anet”, he called by her name to get her attention and stood up. “I need to go again. I’m not sure how soon I will return, a few days, a week, two weeks…” He saw some anxiety in her eyes and his voice sank.

    Last time she did not let him go without first holding him, hugging him? Now, the vibe he got from her was something of the other side of the spectrum compared to their previews separation. It pained him.

    “Goodbye”. Without waiting for her to send him off, he left, as if fleeting from her unvoiced rejection.

    “Zax…” It was too late for him to hear the quiver in her voice.

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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 19 – Cultivation Inheritance



    Zax was quietly following Zetsa and Tularg as they crossed the boundary between Kingdom Earth and Valgarel.

    Though he just arrived from Eden Formation and not long ago departed, yet again, to Valgarel, his mind was already trying to conceive the right words for when he will return and meet Anet again. He realized too late that leaving promptly as he did was a rush decision, but when the notion of returning to part with Anet in a more friendly manner came to his head, he immediately discarded it due to a gut feeling.

    ‘…Forget it!’ He attempted to sound tough with himself and strenuously forced the blast of newly acknowledged, first time affection toward the opposite sex, to a corner in his sea of consciousness, where it will not hinder his performances in the event that his big sister’s Master would test him. ‘I’ll see her when I’ll return, and if she is okay with me then… I’ll ask her for a date’. The last thought made his heart pump again and the inner flames of youth flushed his face. The notion of going out, intimately, with a girl was fashioned from the little Zax knew of the next step of when a boy and a girl like each other.

    “Are you feeling unwell, Zax?” Of the leading two, the one to ask was Zetsa. By calling her little brother by his name, she unintentionally gave away that although she and Zax reached an understanding of his mistakes and the latter apologized, she was not completely over his transgressions.

    Next to Zetsa, at close proximity, was Tularg. His human complexion was pale since he finished treating Liz with his mist energy and other than the route to his Master’s cave he seemed devoid of even the presence of his two companions.

    “Eh… Yeah, big sis”. Zax replied with a node and swallowed his stutter. As for divulging his feelings, he chose otherwise. His goal was to avoid the subject until the appropriate time.

    Zax eyes gazed upon the blond, blue jumpsuit man, Tularg. He assumed that his current weakened state was correlated to the thing he did to his baby sister with his mist energy. “Big sis, is Martial brother Tularg okay?” He asked in a small voice,

    “Let him be”, Zetsa answered. “In a few days he’ll sober up”.

    “And Liz, is what he done to her will make her feel bad or something?” Zax asked just in case.

    When Zax got back home he checked his baby sister again after Tularg finished treating her. Her Qi channels were three times sturdier and wider than originally and the results of the body’s refinement caused her skin the glow like a precious gemstone. That was Zax’s assessment as per with his initial observation of Liz. Afterwards, Zetsa urged him to say his goodbye to their parents and depart before he could deduce anything further.

    “Martial uncle did not teach you what is Cultivation Inheritance, am I right?”

    ‘Cultivation Inheritance?’ Zax thought. “No”.

    “Well, then I’ll explain. Cultivation Inheritance is an innate boon that only Zhihui and Chaoyue beasts that broken through the Core Master realm can bestow. It is a fusion of the most potent blood and richest mist that a beast cultivated, which can only be passed on once in a life time to whomever the beast chooses. Someone who receives a Cultivation Inheritance will go through various transformations in a short period of time. When we left, those changes were already apparent on Liz, though the external ones are only temporarily visible. In a few weeks, Liz will recover her normal appearance and with Martial brother Tularg’s Cultivation Inheritance, her potential in Martial cultivation should quadruple”.

    “So much?” Zax was astounded. Learning of this unique trait that only selected beasts have, also contributed to his amazement. ”Something so valuable that can only be given once… Martial brother Tularg’s connection to Liz is through us, could this be enough for him to give her such a gift that he could, instead, bequeath to his children? Even if he doesn’t have children, he could still give his Cultivation Inheritance to an apprentice…”

    “I, too, did not expect him to suddenly give away his Cultivation Inheritance”. Zetsa admitted. “Regrettably, Zax, for a beast to give his or her sole Cultivation Inheritance isn’t the real consequences”. Zetsa said and pulled some distance from Tularg. “The Cultivation Inheritance of a beast is linked to the beast’s ability to reproduce. By giving away his Cultivation Inheritance, Martial brother Tularg has relinquished any possibility of having his own line of descendancy in the future”.

    Not to mention Zax, even Zetsa was baffled with Tularg’s decision. She knew where it came from, but could not support it despite it benefiting her little sister. The price was truly too great.

    ‘Martial brother Tularg…’ Zax stared at Tularg’s back with a profound expression. He had no idea why Tularg made such a huge sacrifice for Liz’s sake. He gathered his thoughts in an attempt to understand what goes on inside of Tularg’s head right now, rather than pondering why he gave Liz his Cultivation Inheritance.

    “If I knew that Martial brother Tularg has given up all hopes of reuniting with his clan, I would not have agreed to let him stay as our escort and let him get close to Liz”. Zetsa displeasingly murmured. She frowned and for a moment seemed to have taken Tularg’s decision personally. She recalled that before explaining the situation to Zax, she was not as angry and now that she was, it was not because of her little brother’s query, but due to a recollection of a debt she would probably never be able to pay back.

    “Me escorting you two, was never your decision to make, big sister Zetsa”. Finally, Tularg voiced his thoughts, a thought, and joined the conversation. “Little brother Zax. Forget about the Cultivation Inheritance. This, for once, was a decision that only I could make and I don’t regret it. Also, in the future I’ll make Liz my apprentice, so not everything is loss”. Despite his feeble state, Tularg’s response was followed by a hearty laugh.

    To that rejoinder, Zetsa simply shook her head and sighed while Zax acted oppositely, nodded and passed his approval as Liz’s older brother.



    As the three journeyed, they stopped scarcely for Tularg to rest.

    To recuperate, Tularg needed to circulate his mist energy and replenish his blood. Most common way to do so was to find a place to rest and guide the mist energy and blood in a successive manner for several days and let the recuperation occur naturally.

    Tularg could not afford the “common way”. To recuperate after giving his Cultivation Inheritance required the best method to his disposal; which was to circulate his mist energy and blood according to the principles of a cultivation technique, the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi Refining Technique, in Tularg’s case.

    That being said of his requirement to recuperate, Tularg insisted that they should not stop at one place for more than half a hour, and so most of his attempts to get better were during travel, which slowed their pace instead of completely stopping it.



    Around twenty five hours since they left Kingdom Earth, the three were two caves away from their destination, yet the overall mood of Zetsa and Tularg was vigilant and not at all at ease.

    “They are heading our way”. Zax narrowed his eyes and turned his head back. His gaze looked as if it could pierce the thick vegetation.

    For the last three hours his big sister and Tularg behaved as if they are in the middle of a war zone and kept their Soul Sense spread. Zax knew of the enemies his big sister’s Master has, but neither when Zetsa brought for the first time to her Master’s cave nor when they left to Kingdom Earth did she give the impression of being wary of hidden enemy experts.

    Nevertheless, the two heavily alert, therefore Zax did not pestered them with questions. On the contrary, he, too, released his Soul Sense to keep on guard.

    After detecting a few hunting groups and wild beasts, Zax’s attention was attracted and locked on a group of several tens of different beasts that entered the range of his Soul Sense and without hesitation he informed Zetsa and Tularg.

    “Is someone pursuing us?” Zetsa pursed her brows. The reach of her and Tularg’s Soul Sense were shorter than Zax’s. She asked to be certain that Zax did not confuse a hunting group of a small tribe with the bands of her Master’s enemies.

    “I’m not sure how many. They are on the boundary of my Soul Sense and keep the same pace as us, but I already detected more than fourth that could be registered as pursuers, half of them are at the first level of the Core Master realm”.

    “Twenty Core Master and you cannot be sure if there are more… Let’s make a detour. Four hundred meters from us there is a place that will do for a pitstop. Tularg, you’ll continue to recover. Zax, see if they are still following, before the Core Master’s Soul Sense reach us try to find how many pursuers we have. When their Soul Sense will get too close, tell me and we will depart”. Zetsa said in a commanding tone and turned eastward.

    In a few breaths they crossed the four hundred meters and reached a large lake, beside a seven hundred meters tall mountain with many burrows on his side.

    Tularg flatten a rock and sat on it crossed legs.

    “Big sis, how they know where we are?” Zax still looked at the direction of the forty something pursuers. A few seconds after they stopped, the forty something also halted their advancement.

    “Probably smell. Most likely they spread their network of influence in the caves surrounding Master’s cave and are informed by their inhabitants of any oddities”.

    “Oddities?”

    “That’s what beasts of low intelligent perceive humans, even other beasts in human form. Did they slowed down or stopped?” Zetsa asked because if Core Masters did pursue them, by the end of this small talk, they should have gotten close enough for Tularg to also sense them, and he would not have continued resting if enemies were closing in on them.

    “They got a little closer after we stopped. There are more than forty, they are fifty three with twenty one first level Core Masters and thirty two Mist Lords… Big sis, is there a way to tell between a beast in human form and a human?” Zax suddenly asked.

    “Master told me that there is, but it’s very hard to achieve this level of detection. You ask because you detected humans? Well, there might be some among Master’s enemies”. Zetsa said casually.

    “Nine Core Masters look like humans and twenty of the Mist Lords, also… They are practically walking, but they should get close enough to sense us in a few minutes. What should we do?” Zax was not afraid, the Mist Lords could not threaten him, but even he was not confident against the joint attack of so many first level Core Masters.

    “Mmm…” Zetsa contemplated. “They spread around us to either make sure we cannot escape, to execute a formation or both. We cannot kill all of them and to escape there is still some distance for us to traverse. Who would have thought that they will be so daring so soon…?” A hint of killing intent radiated from Zetsa’s eyes. “Fine! Let them if they want to chase. But we will not play the prey like they want us to”. A cold smile stretched across Zetsa’s face, her mist energy surged from her dantian and cold fume accompanied her next words. “It is more fun to be the bait”.

  16. #96
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    Book 4 – Conflict

    Chapter 20 – Rarest Side Of The Spectrum



    “Tularg”, Zetsa turned to the seated Tularg and awakened him for the absorbed state of mind.

    “Big sister Zetsa”, the rest hardly made any difference to his complexion, but inwardly Tularg did feel slightly better. “What have you decided?”

    Smirking disdainfully at the encirclement of enemy experts, Zetsa’s gaze shifted to Zax and then to Tularg. “These guys are not stupid, if you managed to sense them, then the Core Masters on their side should have noticed and know now that we are conscious of their presence”. As she spoke, Zetsa unleashed her Soul Sense.

    She might not be able to detected every one of their enemies due to lower soul level – unlike Zax’s unique soul, her soul did not transcend beyond its limits – but more than half of the enemies surrounding them were Mist Lord, which Zetsa was nearly at the Peak of that level.

    Thus, before she responded, Zetsa perceived her own picture of their predicament.

    “It seems that they are working on a formation, but they are advancing slowly to prevent a sudden exchange before the completion of the formation. Since we are not up for a fight, this would be in our favor, though”. Zetsa summed up.

    Understanding what she meant, Tularg thought for a second, assessing his condition and spoke. “Big sister Zetsa, if I’ll exhaust all my strength, then I would be able to summon roughly eight percent of my full strength, at most, for four minutes”. He informed Zetsa to not impact her plan.

    “Tularg, if I was worried about you, I would have let Zax carry you and we would have ran away with some, but not significant, difficulty”. It sounded like some sort of a joke, which her two companions were not sure how to respond to, but Zetsa was completely serious. “No, how good your condition is will not be a problem. Zax”, she turned to her little brother. “This situation is perfect for a spontaneous lesson about formations”.

    “Even though they are closing in on us?” Zax asked in doubt.

    Tularg sighed. “Listen to big sister Zetsa, little brother Zax. This is not our first encounter with Master’s enemies and from what I’ve been told, also not yours. Besides, big sister Zetsa’s natural affinity to formations is the greatest in our family, slightly superior to even Master’s. If these guys executed a formation that she could not comprehend to a certain degree, big sister Zetsa would have said so and we would have been long gone”.

    “Big sis’s forte is actually with formations…” Zax was murmured. It was the first for him to ever learn his big sister best field of practice.

    In the past he never pondered deeply on which path of cultivation his big sister excelled, he simply thought her to be a sort of “Jack of all trades”. As it so happened he was right, but his thinking was too small, confined to cultivation techniques, disregarding utilization techniques like formations, Martial techniques and other stuff that suddenly came to his mind like Martial art, even his own Kinetic Force and hints of many things he could still not fathom.

    With just a few casual words, Zax’s vision expended ten folds, as if new bricks were being laid on his Martial path, which he now could walk forward on, farther from his current placement as Martial cultivator.

    This moment of insight was both surprising and apparent through the splendor that shone from Zax’s eyes.

    “Zax?”

    “Little brother Zax?”

    Zetsa and Tularg were dumbfounded from the dull expression on Zax face, but then they understood and their hearts began to shake in reverence. This facial expression that was most commonly seen when a person was daydreaming could only signify one of two things. The more familiar side of the spectrum, inattention, yet again in repeating words, daydreaming was one. And then there was the rarest side of the spectrum that indeed, could be sought for, yet achieved without any known manner or method. An accidental manifestation of random components, enlightenment was the second.

    Zetsa and Tularg could distinguish the latter from the former only when light returned to Zax’s eyes and a profound expression adorned his face.

    Zax smiled. From Tularg finished speech to the end of his enlightenment only two to four seconds have passed, but after such a short passage of time, Zax felt a surge of excitement rising up in him. His former way of thinking always put himself primary as a bodily cultivator and everything else, either secondary or unimportant. Even cultivating his soul was only a means to an end for him to eventually continue cultivating the body. Then, however, he reached a point where he had to get stronger and fast and cultivating the body could not do… looking back, it could be said that practicing the bodily maneuvers and trying to perfect the Kinetic Force put Zax on the verge of this enlightenment. Now, he saw it differently. Cultivating the body was his method of refinement to enhance his person. The peculiar case of his clogged Qi channels limited the things that he could do, the method and techniques that he could practice, but did this mean the he receive the short of the stick?

    What were his options, how many different crossroads his path can have and where should he look to broaden his horizons were all questions he had yet to find the answers to. But that did not bother him because now he knew, as black round proof started to take shape in his mind, that…

    ‘There is more‘. He concluded.

    “Big sis, Martial brother… big brother Tularg, when can we go?” For an instant Zax forget their current situation and just wanted to meet up with his Master, to tell him about his moment of insight and ask for his advice.

    “Hahaha!” Tularg burst in laughter.

    “How audacious, little Zi”, Zetsa held a hand against her lips and tried to maintain a solemn facade while also laughing.

    “What?” Absorbed in his thoughts, Zax did not notice the two’s astonishment until it changed to pleased laughter.

    “Mm…” Zetsa mused. “Nothing, nothing”. She said. The matter of Zax’s enlightenment was not something that she or Tularg wanted to intrude, merely, it was such a treasured event that neither of them had ever experienced, yet both were overly joyed for Zax.

    Whether Zax knew what it was that provided him the sudden insight or did not, until he will fully grasp all it had offered him, it would be best to leave it alone. After all, what followed enlightenment was a process.

    “Back to what I was saying”, Zetsa waved her hand and affectionately looked at Zax. “The beasts and people encircling us have about one minute to complete their formation. Little Zi, which way do you thing would be best to avoid the formation?” Her temperament toward her little brother clearly improved after his enlightenment. Zetsa was too happy to remain dissatisfied with him and keep call him by his name.

    Zax calculated for a single breath of time before opening his mouth to answer. “In this case… big sis said that we should act as baits instead of fighting back. Let’s just wait for the completion of the formation to reach its pinnacle and exist the encirclement before it will be finished”. Zax answered.

    It was a short answer due to their limited amount of time before the fifty three would complete the formation. The full answer Zax had in mind was… To utterly break the formations, the best way is to interrupt the one who act as the core of the formations. The result, in this case, would be similar to Zax’s fight against Eden Formation’s Disciplinary Class. On the other hand, although most affective, utterly breaking the formation is also to most risky move since by aiming to break the core, one basically have to challenge to most formidable enemy in a situation when time is of the essence.

    If the goal is to avoid the formation and to fight back, then the second option Zax thought of was to exist the scope of the formation by hastily trampling the weakest link in the formation, the weakest enemy that is part of the formation. This event would be partly similar to Zax’s fight against the canines. At this point after breaching the formations, one would just need to be careful and not let his enemies encircle him again.

    Lastly, there is Zax answer to Zetsa. When aiming to run away, regardless of what reason, it is best to let those who raise the formation reach to point of no return, the short window when not completing the formation can result in a backlash. By then, if one manages to escape the scope of the formation, he or she will gain an advantage, where they could either land a critical blow to the enemy or escape before the enemy will have time to react.

    Of course, there was also the solution of breaking the formation after it had been complete. This case is the other part of Zax’s fight against the canines. This case is also practically a bet that after the last scolding Zetsa gave Zax, he would not hurry to take.

    “Good”. Zetsa agreed with Zax. “Really good”.

    Next to her Tularg also nodded affirmatively.

    “Okay, we should start move”. Zetsa said. “Little Zi, by going with your solution, it doesn’t matter through which expert we try to break through”, she led Zax and Tularg across the mountain wall and into one of the burrows. “But you can still better your chances when taking into account the environment”.

    Her dark golden aura emerged and illuminated the pathway inside the burrow, which was about two three meters tall and two meters wide. Deeper in the burrow there were groups of fury beasts that retreated into many other pathways when they felt Zetsa’s imposing aura. In truth, those beasts were only capable to advance a step or half a step before the three passed them, but fear still lingered in their hearts, therefore, they kept withdrawing from any pathway that was remotely close to that of the three.

    “These guys encircled the mountain along with us in an attempt so we won’t discover them. Inside the mountain, though, their Soul Sense will have hard time detecting us through the stone”. Zetsa said with a smile. “We, on the contrary, can more easily perceive the burrows and pathways when within the mountain. Little Zi, the beasts who live in this mountain are called Pawed Woodpeckers, these beasts build their nests beneath the base of secluded mountains. The farther nests are usually tens of meters from the mountain base and not so deep underneath the ground. If we’ll reach these nests before they’ll complete the formation we’ll be in the clear”.

    “Don’t they also know about the Pawed Woodpeckers’ nests?” Zax asked.

    “They should know if they waited in this cave for a group of Master’s apprentices, us”. Tularg answered.

    “But we did not give them any indication that we know that they are following us until after they started executing the formation and we kept stand idly even after. Now it is too late for them to stop us. Whoever will be faster will win”. Zetsa continued to explain. “Also, if we’ll make it to the outer layer of nests, gaining distance and escaping would be as simple as digging up a few meters”.

    ‘Digging up?’ Though both Zax and Tularg. That would be a good example of what needed to be done if they were Pawed Woodpeckers. ‘Burst through!’ The two could not agree on nothing else. They were not just trying to escape, but lure their enemies to a trap.

    It goes without saying that the experts on the other side figured the three’s idea to escape the scope of the formations through the Pawed Woodpeckers’ nests, and a few regretted the decision to proceed with extreme caution for the sake of completing the formation.

    Zax, Zetsa and Tularg did not pay heed to the frightened Pawed Woodpeckers and found themselves in the inner nests seconds before the completion of the formation. With this, they no longer had to be concerned with the formation’s effect and only had to get to the outer nests to leave the encirclement.

    BOOM!

    Zax blasted the ceiling of the outer nest they were in and the three emerged from beneath the ground roughly sixty meters from several of their pursuers. Among them two were in the Core Master realm.

    Killing them would have been simple, but the formation was already complete and the three did not really escape in the ideal nick of time to play around.

    “Bastards!”

    “They escaped!”

    There were three Mist Lords with the Core Masters and a group of five more three hundred meters left and right.

    The transparent orange half dome that was the formation, reach third of the mountain’s height but had a much larger span. When the five saw Zax, Zetsa and Tularg, they sent word to their companions and began to deactivate the formation.

    The fifty three only need seconds to cancel the formations. If Tularg was in perfect shape, Zetsa would have waited with just giving notion that they are planning to escape to make sure that the fifty three would assume that they are slow and would follow without suspicions.

    Unfortunately, Tularg was not in perfect condition, hence, she did not take to risk and ordered him and Zax to immediately escape.

    “Faster! Faster! Faster!”

    “We got to catch them!”

    Calls of urgency resonated as the peak experts among the fifty three orders around.

    “We escaped and they are on our tail, big sis, what now?” Zax Sensed with his Soul Sense the fifty three assemble in batches and running after them. He was not one bit pressured by the threat of so many experts. After seeing the maximum height of their formations he learned the limit of what a group of this number and level of experts could achieve, and if a next time will occur and he would be alone, he could effortlessly escape by using the Kinetic Force to soar.

    “Little Zi, including this one, there are still two caves before Master’s. Eldest Martial brother or eldest Martial sister should be guarding not far from the tunnel to Master’s cave. Go ahead of us and give whoever is there a call”. Zetsa said with a smile of anticipation.

  17. #97
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    Book 5 – Horns

    Chapter 1 – Green Scales, Purple Mane Raroen



    “Gaklin, the tribe leader ordered not to cross to the next cave without at least two elders of whichever tribe, and the Basement Floor’s humans don’t have any expert at the same level as an elder with them”. A grim looking large man with lemon skin, wearing a blue scales robe said to a similar looking man, Gaklin, who wore a brown fur robe and led five of the fifty three pursuers in the pursuit after Zax, Zetsa and Tularg.

    “It would take them, three quarters of an hour to reach the next cave”. The brown fur robe man responded and turned to the men behind him and the other groups that converged out from the total fifty three experts. “Moreover, that’s just a temporary setback. What’s currently bothering me is an eyewitness testimony that I received from two Mist Lords in my group. We were the closest to the two targets and when they emerged from the Pawed Woodpecker’s nest, a third figure was a comparing the two. Have you detected a third entity with your Soul Sense?”

    “No, I’m still only spotting two. One is the woman the tribe leader said to do our utmost to capture alive, another is a Core Master in our level. But I can’t tell if he is a human or a beast. Are you confident in those Mist lords’ words? Though they are at the same level as the woman, in reality, they cannot be compared…”

    “…Mirph”, Gaklin turned to the other Core Master in his group of six. “Take command on the group. Gu”, his gaze shifted to his tribesman in the blue scales robe. “You and Mirhp, relay a message to the other eight groups behind us. Let them know about the possibility of a third target just in case it’s an expert above our level. The two are running in a moderate pace. Among the five Core Masters in our two groups I’m the fastest. I’ll go alone to scout ahead and if there is a hidden expert I’ll extend a signal to let you know and stop”. Gaklin said and look at the other Core Masters for their approval.

    The four exchanged gazes, all in human form, none of which was actually a human, and nodded toward Gaklin.

    “Then I’m going”. Gaklin said. Azure mist energy blew out from his last breath in human form and in the next moment a six tails, three meters long, completely yellow fox lurched forward like an azure yellow streak with brown fur robe tied to one of the six tails.



    Zax traversed the distance to the last cave, before his designated cave, in but couple of minute after separating from his big sister and Tularg. Up till now the reason he was not discovered as the third member of their small party was because none of the Core Masters pursuers add a Soul Sense more formidable than Zax’s since none was in the second level of the Core Master realm or above.

    Only when they exited the Pawed Woodpecker’s nest, two of their pursuers managed to make visual contact and see Zax.

    Now, Zax was too far to detect Gaklin with his Soul Sense, and so proceeded as his big sister instructed him.

    About twenty minutes after he entered the cave a terrible sense of danger emerged in his sea of consciousness and a terrifying presence invaded his person, inspecting every millimeter of it, including his dantian and soul.

    ‘Crap!’ Zax froze in his place and forced all of his soul energy to expel the foreign Soul Sense. It was futile. The opponent was too strong. ‘RUN!’ Zax only choice was to sprint to the entrance of the tunnel to his big sister’s Master’s cave.

    WHOOSH!

    Several tens of meters from the location he was spotted, Zax felt a surge of wind bellowing from up ahead and the next thing he saw was a green flash, aiming to strike him.

    BOOM!

    Zax gritted his teeth and defended the attack, of what he perceived as a green scaled palm, with a counter of a double Kinetic Force fists.

    Making contact with the green palm, Zax pupils widened. His fists felt as if they met an immovable construct, while he was thrown back from the impact.

    ‘Impossible!’ Zax bewailed as his body crossed a nearly hundred meters distance through the dense vegetation, which only helped to lessen the force that sent him flying while being smashed.

    ‘Is that it for me?’

    To be unable to cause harm to his opponent even while extracting his Kinetic Force, indicated that his opponent was an expert above the second level of the Core Master realm. And taking into account that beasts were the enemies of his big sister’s Master, he already assumed that the one to strike him was at least a Zhihui class beast. He did not believe that a human or a Shenghuo class beast, even with the mist energy of the third level of the Core Master realm, could so impeccably block his fists.

    A large tree trunk finally put a stop to his flight and Zax spun his body to land on his feet. Other than the lack of sense in his hands, Zax was mostly unhurt.

    ‘So much power in one slap of hand… was it a Martial technique? What kind of beast has such tough scales?’ Zax’s mind worked hard to decipher the blurry image of the palm strike’s owner. At most, he was certain that it was not a human because he recognized green scales covering the hand that struck him and vicious claws at the tip of each finger.

    ‘He is coming!’ Another surge of wind alerted to the second arrival of his mighty foe. ‘Hold your ground!’ He ordered himself. He knew that at the moment he cannot outrun whoever was after him. He was undoubtedly also weaker, so a fight was out of the question. Nevertheless, he was not feeling hopeless, if his opponent would meet him in the same manner as before, Zax believed that he could redirect the impact to send him to the air and as long as the beast attacking him did not have wings, he could use the Kinetic Force to escape through the air.

    For his plan to succeed, Zax stood vigilantly, prepared for a second clash.

    “Tsk, tsk, tsk”. Three clicks of a tongue were carried by the coming wind before it dispersed a few centimeters from Zax. “If that was your best way to counter my palm strike, you are still missing the point of the proper usage of your power, little brother Zax”. A voice that was low and proud preceded the appearance of a somewhat familiar figure.

    Out from the wreckage of smashed vegetation a humanoid beast, over two meters and thirty centimeters tall with green scales, purple mane and two silver horns, calmly approached Zax.

    “Eh?!” Zax was dumbfounded by the words of the humanoid beast, which had similar horns to Rarahel’s. ‘Could he be…?’ Zax wondered and then asked. “Are you eldest Martial brother?” He was supposed to meet either his big sister’s eldest Martial brother or eldest Martial sister. Put aside the surprise attack, Zax believed that the one in front of him should his big sister’s and also his Martial brother.

    “Who else?” The green lizard head replied. “For you I am Silver Horns Dragon, big brother Raroen”. Raroen introduced and then looked questionably at Zax. “Now that we greeted each other, would you tell me why you arrived alone? Sister Hagen brought brother Tularg to escort you in sister Zetsa in your return precisely so you won’t return by yourself. Could it be that you were worried about your assignation with Master that you hurried on your own?” Raroen asked in dissatisfaction.

    ‘Was what happened before a greeting?!’ Zax did not know what goes one in the head of this dominant big brother that he just formally made. He kept his doubts to himself and answered. “Big brother Raroen, on our way her, in the cave next to this one, a group of fifty three expert began to pursue us. Twenty one of which are first level Core Masters, the rest are a bunch of Mist Lords. The guys were to numerous for us to fight with, so after we avoided their collaborated formation, big sis sent me to find you or eldest Martial sister”. Zax explained in a quickly.

    Although Zetsa had an unperturbed demeanor when he left her and Tularg, Zax still did not feel comfortable leaving them behind. He did not want to let them bare anymore risk, but for Raroen to head with him back to them immediately.

    “Oh… little Zetsa decided to inflict some damage to their underlings”. Raroen mused amusingly. “Losing twenty one Core Masters will be a significant blow to these tribes and might ease some of Master’s indignation”.

    Raroen raised a heavy hand and put it on Zax’s shoulder.

    “Before their deaths, let’s make them know who their executioner is”.

    His grip on Zax’s shoulder tightened and with a horizontal movement of his arm, he flung Zax fifty meters to the air.

    As Zax tried to comprehend what happened, his vision settled while still in the air, and when he caught first glimpse of what beneath him, also in the air, his complexion paled.

    “Grab my scales”. The voice of the hundred meters long dragon resonated in his brain.



    ‘They were only two’. Gaklin, in his original animalistic form as a yellow fox, mulled atop a giant boulder after he passed Zetsa and Tularg and found a good spot to seize them with his keen eyes. ‘Foolish Mist Lords’. He was a bit angry for having to extract effort for nothing. ‘Never mind, it seems that they were slow because the woman had to support the Core Master… In a fight, I can’t tell for sure if I can prevent both of them from escaping, but by just standing in their way, I should be able to obstruct them long enough for additional help to arrive’. He assessed.

    Wirth his mind set, Gaklin jumped from the boulder, headed toward Zetsa and  Tularg.



    “Big sister Zetsa, I’m not crippled, only tired, and just a little, why are you making me hung on your shoulder powerlessly?” Tularg groaned in discomfort.

    A few minutes ago he told Zetsa that he sensed someone closing in on them alone, and then that someone contracted his soul energy to hide himself from his Soul Sense. Only an expert with the same soul level or a higher level soul could conceal himself from him. Afterwards, Zetsa told Tularg to lean on her and the two continued to run.

    “It can’t be that no one of their experts knows what tier our mist refinement technique is and thus, to an extent, our true abilities. If we acted normally and kept running in this pace, they might suspect that we are leading them to a trap. Since you said that someone split from the pack, it’s probably because they want to gauge use with their eyes. That’s why I made you act as if you are injured. Besides, your face is pale enough to perfectly fit the sham”.

    “Lucky us…” Tularg murmured. For a moment there it sounded to him as if his condition was a blessing to them, if it meant that they could fool the enemies chasing.

    “Back!” Zetsa abruptly ordered and Tularg kicked the ground at the same time as she did.

    On the ground, where they previously stood, five three and a half meters long and one meter deep carvings were.

    “Hmph!” Gaklin snorted. To avoid having his mist energy sensed, he used it as little as possible in the attack. Still, due to their supreme mist refinement technique, Tularg and Zetsa’s sensitivity to mist functions was extremely sharp. Not to mention that both had sharper senses due to the bodily refinement technique of their Master, though Zetsa was far more advanced in it than Tularg.

    The two noticed Gaklin when he was twenty five meters from them and allowed him to get close because, otherwise, their ploy will be revealed.

    After his attack missed, Gaklin foxy form jolted away, avoiding Zetsa’s retaliation kick and blocking their way.

    “Yellowtailed tribe fox”. Zetsa said angrily and in response Gaklin grinned with his eyes.

    “That’s as far as you go”. Gaklin hunched his back, ready to attack if one of them dares move forward. “Girl, tribe leader wants you alive. Be nice and you be brought to him unharmed”.

    “An Intermediate first level Core Master, you really think that I’m afraid of you?” Zetsa’s dark golden mist energy burst in intimidation from every pore in her body.

    “You don’t need to be afraid. In couple of minutes the rest of my group will arrive, then, there would be nothing for you to do but submit. And your behavior now will determine how I will treat you then”.

    “Big sister Zetsa, if we’ll let them to catch up with us it would be troublesome to escape again. Killing one Core Master is also good”. Tularg told Zetsa in a persuasive manner that took Gaklin aback.

    “You in your condition still think that there is way for you to preserve your life?” Gaklin scorned Tularg. If Tularg was in perfect condition, taking into consideration their equal soul and mist level and knowing who his Master his, he would not have tried to obstruct the two from fear to his own life. But with Tularg acting weaker than he is, Gaklin was certain that with his speed he can force the two to a stalemate.

    Zetsa ignored Gaklin and contemplated Tularg suggestion. She did not expect from the expert who intended to watch over them, to end up looking down on them so much. Killing Gaklin would not involve any troubles, but by suddenly showing their strength, the remaining fifty two will realize that they have been played with.

    “Why so serious, little Zetsa?” A voice resonated in Zetsa’s brain and rush spread throughout her body.

    “Hahaha! Big Ra!” Zetsa called to the skies of the beasts’ cave.

    “Big brother Raroen!” Tularg did not receive a call from Raroen, but hearing Zetsa suddenly calls his name, he realized that Zax made it in time.

    Feeling every hair of his yellow fur standing and the bones in his legs shaking, Gaklin’s antagonistic manner vanished and his heart sunk.

    While Zetsa received a shout and Tularg received nothing, Gaklin received a taste of Raroen’s majestic oppressiveness by alerting him to his Soul Sense.

    ‘A… Ch… Chaoyue third… level Core Master!’ His mind was bombarded with an immense desire to flee after sensing and seeing the gigantic animalistic form of the Silver Horns Dragon, but his body could not comply.

    “Fox, you were talking with my little brother and sister about something interesting. Don’t let my presence interrupt you, please continue”. Raroen’s words were polite, but the sound of his voice in Gaklin’s head was tyrannical.

    In fear for his life, Gaklin awkwardly transformed to his human form while at the same time, with graveness, wore his brown fur robe at the same.  “Se…” Gaklin said once and then stopped. Trying to first conquer his stutter, he continued. ”Senior arrived just in time. This junior intended to intention were to pass tribe leader’s invitation…”

    “Little Zetsa, they spotted me”. Raroen’s voice interrupted and his words resonated in the heads of the three below him. “Kill him and go on. I’m taking little brother Zax for some bonding time“. He said and his gigantic, hundred meters long figure departed in a green flash.

    “Kill…?” Gaklin had a bizarre expression of helplessness on his face and then it dawned on him. “You will kill me?” He looked at Zetsa in contempt.

    “Big Ra took little Zi with him?” She said to herself a spark of joy in her eyes. Her head turned to Tularg. “Rest”. Following him, she moved her gaze to Gaklin

    Blue frostiness began to mix with her olive skin tone and reddish fiery light playfully sprout in her brown hair.

    “Yes”.

  18. #98
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    Book 5 – Horns

    Chapter 2 – Fifty Three Regrets



    Zetsa’s dark gold aura began to emit wild contrasting temperatures, like oil and water, cold and heat that exchanged places unceasingly.

    Though she made progress in the past three years and advanced to the Advanced phase of the Mist Lord level, Zetsa was still stuck in the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique’s last phase of the third stage. However, by taking a step farther from the first to phases of the third stage and reaching the state of merging the characteristic of cold and heat with her body, Zetsa could finally perceive the bottleneck of the last phase of the third stage. Now, it was only a matter of time before she would attain a breakthrough to the fourth stage of the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique.

    Sensing the two temperatures radiating from Zetsa, Gaklin clenched his fists in the long sleeves of his fur robe and beads of sweat littered his face while his eyes exhibited disbelief. ‘Impossible! These fluctuations of mist energy are not possible within the first realm regardless of the mist refinement technique!’

    Zetsa did not have the natural affinity to the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique; therefore she struggled to overcome her deficiencies with years of bitter and rigorous training, not to progress as a Mist User, but to comprehend the technique she practiced. All of this was just so she could reach her current accomplishment in the Qi and mist refinement technique that her Master taught her and in the span of time that he dictated.

    As for the “good” and the “bad”… The drawback was Zetsa being stuck in the first realm for longer than she had to, if she otherwise trained in a more suitable mist refinement technique. But, the advantage afforded her mist energy and mist channels peerless foundation that would profoundly transform her dantian when she will cross to the second realm.

    Gaklin was astonished from Zetsa’s exploits that even affected her body, but that was all. In his heart he believed that once he would change to his animalistic form, Zetsa will not be able to keep up with him and it would be his choice, if to withdraw before Raroen’s return, or stay to cripple Zetsa and bring her to the tribe leader.

    Zetsa’s response to his previous patronizing query still vibrated in the air, and after considering his choices, Gaklin’s brows knitted and his thin lips stretched backward, showing his human form’s sharp fangs.

    “Incompetent woman!” Gaklin retreated several steps and as Zetsa finished summoning the two extremes in her mist energy, he transformed back to his yellow fox form with his fur robe tied to one of his tails.

    WHOOSH!

    Once their preparations were complete, Zetsa and Gaklin simultaneously turned into two blurs, aiming to strike before the other.

    Azure aura shone and fox claws sliced toward Zetsa’s abdomen.

    CRACKLE!

    Zetsa bent her legs and the claws tore through her shirt and scratched at a thin and flexible, yet very durable layer of ice that covered her skin.

    Three long white scratch marks appeared on Zetsa’s chest. Gaklin felt the tough surface that his claws failed to penetrate and bad premonition filled his heart.

    ‘If her attack is strong as her defense…!’

    WHOOSH!

    Gaklin’s aura burst as he utilized all his strength to avoid Zetsa’s accumulating attack.

    WHOOSH!

    Zetsa shot forward after him through the dense vegetation, to a meadow that stretched out to dozens of kilometers.

    Killing intent reflected in her eyes. The marks on her chest already vanished, but the painful sensation lingered. Her transformation was not perfect and only enchanted her external traits. If she moved slower and Gaklin’s claws hit her lower stomach, even if he failed to penetrate it, her internals would have still suffered greatly.

    “You can’t escape!” Zetsa roared. She did not predict Gaklin’s nimbleness when she previously intended to collide with him. Her fists held up her mist energy, not wishing to miss in the confrontation, she halted to usage of her mist energy and changed her technique before unleashing it.

    Seeing that he cannot lose Zetsa despite his innate speed, Gaklin cursed her inwardly. ‘She was hiding her true ability!’ The target that he considered as his prey turned out to be more formidable than he anticipated. ‘What’s up with this human woman? How many profound techniques does she has?!’ He realized that Zetsa was keeping up with him by exhausting a movement technique.

    “First Hoof!” Zetsa murmured. She opened her left palm and icy ray of light shot from it, surpassing her and Gaklin’s speed.

    Gaklin sensed his back and tails tingling. ‘Not good!’ It was too late to escape. His mist energy surged to his six tails and they all squirmed defensively.

    Clenching her left thumb, Zetsa called deeply. “Thrust!”

    The icy ray of light converted to a huge icy stag’s hoofs that struck against Gaklin’s tails.

    BOOM!

    Four of Gaklin’s tails split open and blood sprout on the ground. Gaklin groaned in pain. That was it for him. He wanted to end this fight and escape. This human girl he looked down on was still not an equal to him in his opinion, but she had too many scary techniques that his tribe’s heritage could not compete with.

    Knowing who her Master is, he cursed him even more.

    “Mm?!” From to collision of the icy hoof with his tails to the outcome and Gaklin decision to flee, only one breath had passed. Gaklin was about to retreat when he suddenly could not feel his hind legs.

    Turning his head back, Gaklin discovered that frost covered his hind legs and the ground his stood on and held him in place.

    “Eh!” The mist energy in Gaklin’s dantian sensed terrifying fluctuations of mist energy hovering above him and he raised his head up.

    “Second Hoof!” As he could not move, Zetsa jumped twenty meters into the air and when a straight line formed between her and Gaklin on the ground, she murmured.

    Her right palm opened and a fiery ray of light shot down at Gaklin.

    “Stump!”

    A flaming hoof converted from the fiery ray of light and rained at Gaklin stunned figure.

    BOOM!

    The explosive sound overwhelmed the sounds of breaking bones and crackling flames.

    Zetsa landed, staggering one her feet. She was able to exceed Gaklin by so much only because she utilized her maximum ability.

    The effect of cold and heat dispersed and her skin tone mostly returned to be olive. Only, due to her last attack, she felt as if her body was slightly burning and so some red was also apparent in her skin tone.

    Before leaving the burnt figure of Gaklin and returning to Tularg, she used her mist energy to extinguish the fire from the meadow.



    A glimpse at the approaching floating dragon was enough for the fifty two pursuers to first, halt, and then stumble backwards.

    “Chaoyue! Chaoyue third level Core Master beast!” Some of the Basement Floor humans were trembling and calling in fear for their companion to help them decide what to do.

    Not everyone knew the connection of Raroen to their targets, and so, some hopped that this is just a passing expert who show off his deep cultivation.

    “Silver Horns Dragon Raroen”. In contrast to the human experts, the Core Masters of the beasts’ side were perfectly aware of the identity of the gigantic dragon.

    “Everyone, this is a high class target of our tribes’ leaders”. A man in skin cloths and long orange hair informed everyone while paying special attention to the Basement Floor humans. This man was one of the Core Master beasts in his human form, one of the top three among the original fifty three.

    “Sajar Nam”, a bald burly man in wearing a black suit, turned to the orange hair human form beast. “Our contract mentioned only peak first level Core Master or below!”

    “Nash, organize your humans if you wish for your group to keep your lives. In a moment, Raroen will arrive and by then what was agreed in the contract won’t matter!”

    Upon listening to the two’s conversation, the direness of their situation became clear o everyone among the fifty two, be it Core Master or Mist Lords.

    “Everyone, talks won’t help us against this target! Concentrate your attacks on the same place to take him down; the weakest spot on the animalistic form of the Silverhorned tribe is in the scales between their lower jaw and neck!” Sajar Nam described calmly to keep the others in line. As for the other two experts who were on the same level as his, he counted on them to survey the hired experts and fellow tribesmen and stop any attempt to flee.



    Decelerating above the group of fifty two pursuers, Raroen’s voice resonated in Zax’s head.

    “Watch carefully, little brother Zax”. As he spoke, azure mist energy wrapped around Zax and lifted him from Raroen back to a fixed spot midair.

    Unable to nudge even a figure or even speak, Zax could not help but comply with Raroen. ‘Big brother Raroen not even going to let me participate in the fight…’ He was a bit disappointed.

    Zax resented anyone who sought his life. Even if not real graveness has been done, the experts below were not just his big sister’s Master’s enemies, but his Master’s enemies, too.

    Still, watching Raroen descend, changing to his humanoid form, arouse an excited feeling in Zax heart. After his enlightenment, Zax felt like his eyes were opened. His mind was in a state of famish, yearning to comprehend and evolve. And by spectating at the coming fight of Raroen and the fifty two experts, he was unknowingly going to nourish it and build up on the insights he gain from the enlightenment.

    Like an arrow head splitting the wind, a green silhouette cut through the air and crushed in the midst of bewildered experts.

    Raroen in his humanoid form appeared standing in a small crater of his creating and the crumpled figure of the Mist Lord he stepped on.

    More of half of the remaining fifty one experts stared slack jawed, pondering now where to attack when their target changed form.

    “Fools! He is a lot weaker now in his humanoid form, just combine you long range attacks!” Sajar Nam exclaimed. Immediately after, his human form transformed to an orange eagle owl with wings span of eleven meters.

    Following Sajar Nam, every beast among the fifty one experts transformed to his or her animalistic form. In an instant, thirty one various beasts, along with twenty humans, encircled Raroen.

    Eagle owls, yellow foxes, three horns bulls and large canines let loose their auras of golden and azure colors.

    Up in the sky of the beasts’ cave, Zax furrowed when he saw the canines. ‘They are from big brother Carl’s tribe…’ Only one canine was in the Core Master realm, and his animalistic form was all the more similar to Carl’s and captain Kane.

    He stopped paying heed to the canines when Raroen’s voice reached to his mind. “Don’t miss any of my movements”.

    Finished speaking, Raroen made the first move and charged first at one of the six three horns bull Core Masters.

    “Uoo!” The three horns bull mooed. His three horns shone with his concentrated mist energy and their ivory color changed to dark blue.

    BANG!

    Raroen did not extract any effort and redirected the three horns bull’s horns attack to the ground.

    SWHOOSH!

    He beheaded the bull with a swift arched movement of his hand, with pure body strength.

    A first level Core Master three horns bull was not so simple for even a third level Core Master to behead it without using the superior mist energy. The strongest part of the three horns bulls was the neck, second were the three horns and third was the skull. Nevertheless, in his humanoid form, Raroen was able to chop his head from the neck as if his hand was passing through water.

    Instantaneous panic began to spread around the remaining fifty, even the three strongest.

    “Dammit with you, Sajar Nam! Damn your arrogance! We should have dispersed the moment Raroen showed himself!” A three horns bull, a bit larger than the one Raroen decapitated and one of the three strongest experts, cursed and glared at Sajar Nam.

    “Thi-This… without even using his mist energy…” Sajar Nam’s head spun. He actually made the same mistake as Gaklin, only his was inexcusable since from the very beginning he knew that Raroen’s status and level of cultivation far surpassed theirs. Then again, when Raroen appeared, their only options were to either run away, which would still results with the majority of them dying, or jointly attack him in hopes of reaching a standstill with the advantage of their numbers.

    “Sunflower retreat!” Nash called to the other nineteen Basement Floor humans. The twenty humans released their aura and utilized their mist energy to execute their personal movement techniques in order to escape to different directions.

    “The humans abandoning us!” The weaker of the beasts noticed and hate bubbled inside them.

    “Raroen will hunt only us if the humans will leave! We can’t beat him, run, everyone!” The three horns bull who rebuked Sajar Nam ordered.

    Zax watched as the fifty made their mind and turned their back to the menacing Raroen and wanted to ask to this new Martial brother of his to stop standing idly and at least kill as many enemies as he can.

    Raroen, however, looked unruffled and did not respond as Zax wanted him to or Sajar Nam thought that he would in the case of them running away.

    With a gratified smile, Raroen finally released his azure aura. He bent on one knee and cupped his hands in the soil.

    CRACK!

    CRACK!

    CRACK!

    CRACK!



    Tremors passed in the earth. In a circular motion, fissures began to spread in the earth, and in a few breaths they reached farther than any of the grounded escapees.

    FRURURU!

    A wall of azure membrane erupted from the earth, surrounding all the escape routes and kept rising up to form a dome.

    The eagle owls, the only ones who could and fled through the air, were indifferent toward the grim fate of the grounded beasts and humans, up until the rapid growth of the membrane surpassed their flying speed and the dome was near completion.

    WHOOSH!

    Two of the eagle owls were Core Masters with greater speed than their accompanying tribesmen. The increased their speed to the utmost of their powers, but the speed of the membrane growth was akin to Raroen’s flying speed.

    VUM!

    A low sound echoed when the two eagle owls slammed against the complete dome. Other than emitting the sound, the dome did not react.

    Raroen pupils contracted as he looked above at the useless attempt of the eagle owls the break the azure dome.

    Seeing that his sealing formation worked, he first let out a chuckle. Everything worked as he planned. To kill every one of his Master’s enemies, he had to confine them to one place, otherwise, even he will not be fast enough to prevent everyone from escaping.

    He landed in the center of their group, and killed the nearest to him and one of their strongest Core Masters with a show of force to help them realize their chances against him.

    As he hoped, to escape they, the remaining fifty scattered with some flying away. That was precisely what he wanted. If they aimed their attack at the same spot, his sealing formation would have break easily, but now, with their egocentric strategy of fleeting, much like the dome, their fate are sealed.

    As for escaping by digging, when the dome closed it became too late.

    “Grab the boy!” Sajar Nam madly screamed at his group of eagle owls. Failing to create a breach in the dome, he understood that unless he will come up with a way, Raroen will kill them.

    WHOOSH!

    The other members of his tribe were not stupid and figured his intention to trader their lives for the boy’s.

    ‘Raroen…’ Since Zax was within the dome, he could perfectly see the group of eagle owls speeding to snatch him with their talons. If them trying to grab him was the only problem, than Zax would not have cared, but being confined by Raroen’s mist energy he was basically a piece of meat, waiting for the eagle owls to do as they wished.

    BOOM!

    Raroen kicked the ground and like a streak of green and a bit of purple, jumped toward the leading eagle owls.

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    BOOM!

    Constant explosions resonated accelerated.

    ‘Kinetic Force!’ Zax wanted to yell, but was unable to make a sound. “Raroen is using the Kinetic Force!”

    Sajar Nam was less than two meters form Zax, his beak large enough to bite off his head.

    WHOOSH!

    With his back turned to Zax, Raroen came between him and Sajar Nam.

    BOOM!

    Throwing a punch forward, Raroen’s fist connected with Sajar Nam’s head and utterly destroyed it.

    ‘Watch’. The one word kept reverberating in Zax head.

    Like a kid who was about to get the toy he dreamed about, Zax obeyed with excitement oozing from him. He picked up something when Raroen punched Sajar Nam, something that was missing from his own usage of Kinetic Force, and this small discovery, which is still did not completely fathom, somewhat felt like the greatest present he ever received!

    Seeing Sajar Nam’s demise, the other eagle owls promptly deviated in shock.

    BOOM!



    With only his body’s strength and Kinetic Force, Raroen chased after them. Several punches and kicks later, the fifty pursuers reduced to forty one.

    Hearing the explosive strike of Raroen and watching as one after the other eagle owls fell with mutilated bodies, the grounded escapees lost their ounce of remaining hopes of staying alive.

    “This job was supposed to be easy…” The Basement Floor humans whipped.

    “It’s all because of the accursed tribe and the greediness of the tribes’ leaders and elders!” The beasts blamed.

    At first, they were confident fifty three. Now, they are disheartened forty one. Soon, will all be dead.

  19. #99
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    Book 5 – Horns

    Chapter 3 – Sparkling Blue Tower


    ‘It’s the bodily maneuvers’ Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase, but it’s more refine than mine…’ Zax watched attentively at Raroen’s movements.

    ‘His strikes are flawless and every thrust releases the Kinetic Force with not difficulty whatsoever…’ The more he review how Raroen moved his body, threw his punches and delivered his kicks, more illusionary manifestations of his own person appeared in his sea of consciousness. Each mimicked a punch, a kick, a movement Raroen executed.

    ‘Eh?!’ At first the illusionary manifestations were blurry, but the longer they played in his sea of consciousness, the clearer they became and more easy to comprehend.

    ‘It’s a Martial art! Big brother Raroen is using a Martial art like the school principal of Eden Formation!’ The realization occurred when Zax compared his own way of fighting with the one of his illusionary manifestations copies.

    Visually, there was not much of a difference between Zax’s simple way of fighting and the one carried by the movements of the Martial art. The distinction was only seen when the two clashed and Zax’s method lost miserably.

    ‘The Martial art is a path!’ It dawned on him. ‘Like how the bodily movements are a sort of a path for learning to use the Kinetic Force, the Martial art big brother Raroen using is a path that direct to the proper outlets for the Kinetic Force in a combat. Between using and not using the Martial art, at first it looks all the same, but after examining and comparing, the result is that using the Martial art is far more useful!’ Zax concluded as he kept spectating the one sided massacre on the ground.

    ‘But’, Zax’s reaction was not free of doubts with respect to what Raroen was trying to impart on him. ‘If comparing the Martial art to the bodily maneuvers, the bodily maneuvers, thought more demanding, have the potential to unleash more of the Kinetic Force. Will big brother Raroen’s Martial be capable to channel a greater amount of Kinetic Force?’ Zax pondered.

    Yes, by using the Martial art while in the bodily maneuvers’ Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase, the Kinetic Force is put to better use. But what happens once getting to the Advanced phase of the Intermediate phase, or even more crucial, once breaking through the next phase?

    Zax observed Raroen and studied the illusionary manifestations and felt that somewhere in between there exist some sort of confinement that a gut feeling made him feel uncomfortable with, as if the Raroen’s Martial art has a limit that once he will reach, he would not be able to surpass and all other paths would also be close to him.

    ‘Forget it’. Zax stopped paying attention to the fight and at the same time erased the illusionary manifestations. He discarded Raroen’s way of putting to use the Kinetic Force.

    However, the lesson was not in vein. Zax now realized that there are other ways to implement the Kinetic Force, much better ways than his own method of fighting, and a grain of the best way was imprinted in his mind.

    ‘It’s like the pieces of spiritual knowledge, the fragments of the entity… From now on I should inspect the bodily maneuvers through the grain I gathered from big brother Raroen’s teachings. Since the bodily maneuvers are the source of getting in touch with the kinetic energy and then how to converge it to Kinetic Force, I will let the perfect path unfold through it’.

    Thus, Zax made up his mind, and as he did, a liberating sensation washed the previous sense of confinement from his sea of consciousness.



    Though Zax renounced Raroen’s Martial art, Raroen still continued to display it till the very last of the original fifty three pursuers was dead.

    The azure dome crumbled and the restrictions on Zax faded. When his freedom returned, so was gravity and Zax began to fall to the bloody ground.

    With a muffled “BOOM” Zax decelerated and like a feather, landed on the ground.

    “Big brother Raroen, your Martial art-” Zax opened his mouth to thank for the lesson and express his thoughts on it, but Raroen raised a hand made him stop.

    “In the past, Master showed me a similar Martial art in order to study and analysis. What I showed you, is not refined as Master’s, but this is the product of my own hard word and I’m contented with it. The rest is up to you”. Raroen solemnly brought to a close the matter of his Martial art.

    He jumped to the cave’s sky and transformed to his animalistic form.

    Not saying anything anymore, Zax assimilated to his mind the true meaning in Raroen’s words and waited patiently for the hundred meter green scales, purple mane dragon to appear.

    “Hop on”. Raroen’s voice resonated in Zax’s head.



    A streak of green light traversed the distance of just over one cave’s length in the short span of time that it take to finish a cup of tea.

    “Big Ra!” Zetsa waited outside of the tunnel that leads to her Master’s cave.

    Raroen returned to his humanoid form and together with Zax he descended.

    “Little Zetsa, today was a good harvest for the Collector of Spirits and a cause for celebration to our Master”. Raroen said, all smiling in his draconic way.

    The “Collector of Spirits”, Zetsa was more familiar with the name than Zax, was the entity beasts referred and believed to collect the spirits of dead humans of beasts, that of course if the spirit was not destroyed in a fight or an accident.

    “These are great news, big Ra, and in good timing”. Zetsa said and turned to Zax. “Martial uncle will escort you to Master’s place. Let Master know what happened to our fifty three pursuers. Big Ra, you don’t mind letting little Zi deliver the good news to Master, do you?”

    “Hahaha, if Master will know what method I used to kill them he would be dissatisfied with me…” Raroen shook his head. “Little brother Zax, don’t worry about what I just said and omit details as a result”. Raroen tapped Zax’s head and with his incomprehensible speed, left the brother and sister duo at the entrance of the tunnel.

    “Let’s go”. Zetsa told Zax and entered the tunnel first.

    “Big sis, what about big brother Tularg?” Zax asked as they crossed the tunnel.

    “Tularg left ahead of us to recover his strength. After you’ll see Master, you can go visit Tularg and the other whom you did not see since Martial uncle accepted you as his apprentice”.

    The hardworking Krikitories were like a sight for sore eyes. Zax did not really extend his mind to them since he began his training three years ago. And on the way to the reputable expert he waited so long to meet, the owner of the cave and his big sister’s Master, watching them through his Soul Sense eased the tension he felt the longer he followed his big sister to her Master’s place inside the cave.

    Why Zax was tense, other than recalling that three years ago the temperament of his big sister’s Master was not good enough to meet him, he also remembered his own Master’s words at that time... In order to stay in the cave, that is to say, as a cultivator who practices the techniques his big sister’s Master developed, he must receive his approval.

    Zax followed his big sister in a way that was already embedded in his brain. Past the forest, not far from the Krikitory village at its edges, atop the mountain range with the many hot springs, to the highest mountain in the cave, Zetsa instructed Zax to climb after her when they reached the base of the tallest mountain of them all.

    “I can’t use this technique, and the booming sound would echo and might scare the Krikitories who live in these mountains”. Zetsa was momentarily astounded by her little brother method of stepping on the air. According to her reaction, if she, too, practiced the bodily maneuvers, then she clearly did not attain this level of control on the Kinetic Force and that is if at all she can converge the kinetic energy into it.

    The sparkling blue stones tower was the two’s final destination and where Zetsa reached the end of her path as Zax’s escort.

    “Master”. Although he was surprise when he saw him, Zax happily greeted Kartius.

    Kartius was waiting at the large hollowed entrance of the tower.

    “Martial niece, you can go back”. Kartius did not expand on words.

    In response, Zetsa gave Kartius a node and squeezed Zax’s shoulder before quietly leaving.

    “Come”. Kartius said to Zax and entered the tower first.

    “Master”, Zax ran after him. “Will you join me in meeting big sis’s Master?” He asked in hopes that he would. “Whaa!”

    Before he let Kartius answer him, Zax lost control on his voice and a cry of pleasure slipped from between his lips.

    The tower was completely empty, or at least the single room of its first floor was barren from any signs, tangible or otherwise, that someone lived in it. There was only a set of spiraling stairs to at a corner side of the room to the second floor.

    It was not the emptiness of the room or the inside glow of the tower that emanated from the blue stones who build it, which made Zax call in absolute amazement, but the sensation of his own soul swirling wildly in his sea of consciousness that started once he entered the tower.

    “Zax!” Kartius placed a finger on his forehead and used his soul energy to calm Zax’s soul.

    “Master?” Due to the odd influence of whatever lingered in the first floor of the tower, apart from his soul, Zax’s pupils dilated and his vision became unfocused. Once the soul energy of his Master entered his sea of consciousness, it slowly put a stop to the swirling of his soul and his vision refocused.

    “Tsk! Tsk…” Kartius clicked his tongue. “Your soul is not unique, Martial son, but in fact too freakish to describe”. He retracted his finger. “Listen now, Martial son, what happened is a matter for big brother to explain to in other time. For the meantime, use your soul energy to shield you soul from the influence of the tower”. That was more of an order than a simple instruction.

    Zax listened to his Master without saying a word. The sensation he had when his soul swirled was wonderful, but it came with the price of losing control on himself, which he disliked.

    While his Master’s soul energy dwindled, a wave of Zax’s own soul energy flowed from his soul and shrouded it inside a protective sphere. It was a replica of the shape his Master’s soul energy took to stop the swirling.

    Inspecting his Martial son progress with his Soul Sense, Kartius waited for Zax to be done before he opened. “Martial son, to what you were asking me I will say two things. The first one is, naturally I will accompany you. As your Martial father I am bearing responsibility to your Martial cultivation. The teachings I pass on to you are the teachings big brother passed, and continue to pass to this day, to me. By evaluating you, I am also being evaluated. Do not forget that you are my one and only apprentice”. Kartius explained in practically one breath, showing that behind his cool demeanor he, too, was nervous.

    ‘That right…’ Zax understood and inwardly reprimanded himself. ‘Master always spoke in praises about his big brother. And by allowing me to stay back then, and even more so, by taking me as his apprentice, don’t I reflect the consequences of Master’s decisions? If it’s also concern Master, then I can’t only think about myself in this matter! For Master I have to try even harder to measured up to the expectations of his big brother!’ He decisively told himself.

    Letting down his big sister was more than enough for Zax to struggle as hard as he can, till the point of exhaustion if need be, to not disappoint those he care about.

    “The other thing I have to say is something more important that you should take to heart if big brother will give you his blessing”. Kartius continued, less in a hurry, but in more serious tone. “Referring to big brother indirectly as ‘big sister’s Master’ or any other similar way is disrespectful manner of speech. With regards to his name, it is for big brother to make up his mind if he wants to tell you. However, from now until he will give his verdict, and hopefully in the future, you will call big brother ‘Grand Master’, since from the very beginning, from early childhood, I first came to know big brother as Master”.

  20. #100
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    Book 5 – Horns

    Chapter 4 – Grandmaster Kartion



    “Prepare yourself to greet Grandmaster, Martial son”. Kartius repeated a last time and averted his gaze to the staircase. “Big brother, I’m sure that you understand… We are waiting for you here”. He called and then straightened his black humanoid form.

    Seeing his Master getting tense up Zax mimicked him and fixed his posture.

    TUMP!

    TUMP!

    TUMP!

    TUMP!



    Heavy hooves stumped stair after stair after stair with a dominating sound that reverberated through the room, to Zax’s head and across every corner of his sea of consciousness.

    A presence, mighty and aloof, was the first thing Zax faced. A weight he tasted once in his life, he now encountered a second time as it tyrannically invaded to every part of his three aspects. The power of a third realm expert!

    Large and lofty light brown eyes materialized in front of his soul, a severe gaze that made Zax’s awareness retreat to the inside of his blurry soul.

    To these lofty light brown eyes the sphere of soul energy Zax created was an obstacle as much as a blade of grass was to a truck. They watched, studying Zax’s soul as if they knew of its uniqueness and looked for what made it as such.

    After several observations, without giving the slightest of impressions for their thoughts, the large eyes turned their attention to the two majestic gates, beneath the soul, which belonged to the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement Zax practiced.

    Seeing one of the gates, the lowest one, black, a glint of surprise appeared for a brief moment in the large eyes. To the above gate the large eyes only gave a single look before receding.

    From within his soul, like an obedient child, Zax waited for the large eyes to finish seeing what they wanted. He was not doing it out of fear, but through a sense of acknowledgement. The owner of those eyes could do as he wished and fighting against his will was a fool’s errand, at the very least, to Zax in his current level of cultivation it was.

    Following the inspection in his sea of consciousness, Zax felt a foreign force passing like a tidal wave in every component that composed the aspect that was the body.

    Whilst his body was being checked, bit by bit, Zax’s awareness spread out from within his soul to his sea of consciousness and stopped there. As it did, Zax could better sense the foreign force within his body. Before, Zax immediately confined himself to boundaries of the blurry soul. As a result, he could not assess much of the power of the lofty light brown eyes. Now, what he perceived from the foreign force was as if countless lofty eyes were looking at him, in and out.

    ‘Is that a Soul Sense?’ Zax could not help but wonder. The foreign force did act like a Soul Sense, and toward someone with a lower soul level Zax, too, could have invade the other’s three aspects. Still, the foreign force had something more to it that Zax struggled to point out. ‘Could it be the difference between a third realm Soul Sense and a first or second realm Soul Sense?’ Generally speaking, between the Soul Sense of the first realm and the second’s, the sole distinction is in the reach of each Soul Sense.

    Incapable of coming with a deceive answer, Zax was stumped. ‘In my level right now I can only speculate’. He sighed inwardly.

    Finally the foreign force retracted itself from every cell in Zax’s body and concentrated again to a colorless sphere inside his lower dantian.

    Two black cores were seen inside Zax’s dantian. One was the odd Black Core; the other was Zax’s original Earth’s Core.

    The concentrated foreign force glanced at the originally brown Earth’s Core and then paid it no more heed. Instead, it seemed to be fascinated and attracted to the Black Core.

    A stream of energy extended from the foreign force, split to many more streams and interlaced to create one colorless durable string.

    A whistling sound echoed and the durable string shot toward the Black Core.

    TING!

    The string collided with the Black Core, but failed to cause a reaction from it.

    The foreign force gathered the string and unleashed it again.

    TING!

    TING!

    TING!



     

    Failure after failure after failure… Not only that the string could not create the smallest scratch at the Black Core, it could not even budge it from its place in Zax’s dantian.

    After the eight time the foreign force retrieved the string, but not shot it as it repeatedly done before.

    The foreign force released eleven streams of energy and from each of them created similar strings. Twelve durable strings floated in a raw, connected by their tails to the concentrated foreign force. A thirteenth stream of energy was released; however it did not split and interlaced to create another string. The thirteenth stream formed a wide formation underneath the twelve strings. The twelve strings shuddered and then one by one they began to interlace into one superior black string.

    The black string maintained its connection to the foreign force through its tail, and like the first durable string, shot at the Black Core.

    Nearly tearing the space of Zax’s dantian in its flight, the black string sped toward its target and collided with the Black Core.

    There was no “TING” sound when the two made contact. The impact did not budge the Black Core from its place yet again, but the tip of the black string also remained jammed to its place.

    BOOM!

    An earsplitting sound reverberated as a barely visible cracked appeared on the Black Core, where the tip of the black string landed.

    An enthusiastic wave of emotions emanated from the sphere of foreign force, yet it only lasted a fraction of a second before it changed to sheer terror. The crack on the Black Core latched to the tip of the black string and a surge of black mist energy infested it. The black string was a vein to the black blood that was the mist energy of the Black Core.

    The black string squirmed like a lightning from its tip to the farther the black mist energy charged.

    “Grah!” A pained cry was heard from the foreign force as it fought to severe the connection to the tail of the black string before the black mist energy would reach and consume all of it.

    BANG!

    The tail of the black string shattered and the foreign force withdrew out of Zax.

    As this course of events took place, the span of time in which it occurred was too short for Zax to notice before the foreign force disappeared and the crack on the Black Core closed.

    All that remained as evidence to what happened inside Zax’s dantian was a black lightning, the former black string.

    ‘This power is like back then!’ Zax could not believe his own senses. The feeling he got from the black lightning was one and the same with the black dome that was released from the man who came out from the second Savage Cave!

    ‘Eh!’ Zax felt his soul suddenly responding to the black lightning. Ignoring that protective sphere of soul energy, a strange dark force was released from his soul and practically fished the black lightning, swallowed it and receded back to Zax soul.

    ‘My soul is getting stronger!’ Zax was both bewildered and ardent. The dark force in his soul was perceptible and empowering. It gave Zax a sense of clarity, wider view on the path of soul cultivation and a glimpse of something that specially caught his interest.

    As for the swallowed black lightning… a series of explosions took place in Zax’s sea of consciousness, all originating from his soul. The dark force was refining the black lightning, merging all of its power with the soul until abruptly stopping.

    ‘Hahaha! In one leap and with no effort, whatsoever, I reached the Peak phase of level B with my soul!’ Zax had no explanation for this joyous outcome, he only assumed that Grandmaster had something to do with it, since he already figured out that the foreign force that surveyed each part of his three aspect was his.

    ‘Now I wonder if even Don Ram can probe my body with her Soul Sense’. It was not a gigantic leap of one whole level, but it was enough for Zax to reevaluate the strength of his unique soul and his ability to block the Soul Sense of second level Core Masters.

    The first floor of the blue tower was quiet as a grave. Not even the sound of breaths could be heard. Zax resumed his control on his five senses, and vision returned to his eyes.

    He was still was in the same stiff, straightened position he had when he readied himself to greet Grandmaster together with his Master, Kartius.

    As the scene in front of him became clear, a new figure was already before him, meeting him first with its large and lofty light brown eyes.

    A crown of grandiose brown horns was connected to the head of the lofty eyes, the face underneath them was similar and yet not entirely the same. A sort of resemblance to his Master’s face it had. The face was that of a brown fur stag. A humanoid beast with the head of a stag, sitting crossed legs, his forearms were resting on his thighs. If he stood up, his height would certainly be more than a head taller than Kartius.

    Seeing the familiar lofty eyes again, Zax took a deep breath, cupped his hands and respectfully bowed.

    “Greetings, Grandmaster, this one is Zax Zel, nice to meet you!” Zax greeted how his big sister taught him and remained in the bowed position until he will be told otherwise.

    Grandmaster had a complicated look in his eyes, which Zax could not see. His gaze was swayed toward Zax’s dantian and was vexed. After a short while the complicated look vanished. “Junior Zax Zel, Grandmaster’s name is Kartion, a Brown Stag beast formerly from the Black Horns tribe”. Grandmaster Kartion introduced himself. His words held an indistinct intent, which assured Zax that he can stand at ease now.

    Hearing his big brother giving his name, Kartius wanted to smile but stayed reserved. Only inwardly he allowed himself to rejoice. His Master son’s accomplishments were satisfactory to his big brother!

    “Sit”. Grandmaster Kartion said to Zax. By his manner of speech, though firm and impassive, Zax could tell that he was gratified after inspecting his three aspects.

    Zax sat on his bottom, also crossed legs, and behind him to his right, Kartius did the same.

    “Young apprentice Zax has a peculiar luck”. Grandmaster Kartion said. “A while back you encountered what many presumed as a ‘regrettable misfortune’. Today, three years after you were accepted his Kartius’s apprentice, your cultivation level improved to its current level in the amount of time it takes a normal human, or even the second fastest cultivators among beasts, Shenghuo beast, between half a century to a full century to achieve”. Grandmaster Kartion said it in a tone which emphasized how marvelous Zax’s cultivation speed is.

    “Your soul is also skilled in gaining insights and actually, despising having the signature of the first realm, already possesses an attribute…” Seeing that wanting to ask but holding back his voice, Grandmaster Kartion elaborated. “The dark force that devoured my black string, it is called an attribute, specifically a dark attribute. Don’t think about it now, I also explained only because you seem to perceive it”.

    Zax heaved a sigh of relief. The dark force, dark attribute, did not feel like something harmful, but it was something new to him. Thus, he was a bit suspicious of it. He wanted to know more of it other than its name, but was not willing to argue to Grandmaster after he told him to not think about it.

    ‘If it aroused a sense of danger I would have asked, but Grandmaster seems to be fine with it, so I might as well listen’. Zax decided.

    “Junior apprentice Zax, you did well growing in strength. Show me how much you comprehended the bodily maneuvers Kartius imparted to you”. Grandmaster Kartion asked.

    Nodding his head, Zax got up and took a few steps back. Right before he started, Zax closed his eyes. With his inner mind he recalled all of the six hundred and fifty bodily maneuvers and their division to six sequences.

    Utilizing the bodily maneuvers, he wanted to do so after recounting of what he grasped from the lesson Raroen gave him.

    WHOOSH!

    Right after Zax executed the first moves of the first sequence, his body began to move like a leaf in the wind.

    One sequence marked the half way point of the Beginner phase of the Intermediate phase.

    Two sequences signify that in the Beginner phase he was perfect.

    Three sequences… that was Zax’s limit lost time he practiced the bodily maneuvers.

    Reaching the finishing moves of the third sequence, Zax calmly continued. Where his mind eye saw the final move of the third sequence a grain of light emerged. Zax’s whole attention was focused on the grain of light, gazing through it at the last move, he continued to execute it and then the following one.

    Four sequences!

    Zax broke through to the last sequence of the Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase.

    He did not halt but seek the second and third and fourth and one moves of the fourth sequence.

    Not long after, the fifth sequence, the bottleneck to the bodily maneuvers’ Advanced phase of the Intermediate phase was in sight.

    The closer he got to the fifth sequence the more difficult it was to see through the grain of light, the more straining the remaining moves of the fourth sequence have become.

    Ultimately, Zax could not go on after the lost move of the fourth sequence and his body stopped. To see through the bottleneck to the next phase with the single grain of insight that he had was akin to observing a mountain through an ant’s eyes.

    Panting as if it was the first time his lungs breathed air in ages, Zax steadied his breath and fixed his stance before his Master and Grandmaster.

    “Four sequences”. Kartius said to his big brother proudly.

    Grandmaster Kartion was not as ebullient as his little brother. Raising his chin, which was already higher than Zax when he himself was sitting, he said. “Good. Sit”.

    Taking his place back, Zax raised his head to meet the eyes of Grandmaster Kartion. “Grandmaster, I’m not sure when would be the proper time to say it, so I’m asking for you permission now”.

    “Speak”.

    “When I, big sis and big brother Tularg traveled to get here, a group of fifty three experts discovered and chased us”.

    Hearing this, Kartius knitted his stag brows and was about to say something before the air in the room suddenly turned suffocating.

    Grandmaster Kartion did not show a physical response like Kartius, but a changed to his temperament occurred and affected severely both his little brother and his apprentice.

    In the same instant that his rage resurfaced it also faded. Grandmaster Kartion’s voice was hoarse when he spoke. “Proceed”.

    The instantaneous unconstrained rage handed a huge mental blow to Zax.

    ‘In the name of the Supreme Rulers!’ Zax did not suffer any damage, only a moment in which his heart wavered like never before in his life. ‘This is the killing intent of a third realm expert?!’ To stop shaking even after Grandmaster Kartion confined his rage and the air in the room settled, Zax had to tightly clench his jaw.

    Gulping a large ball of newfound thoughtfulness for his survival, he carefully chose his words as he opened his mouth again.

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