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Thread: Earth's Core

  1. #301
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    Book 10 – Immortal


    Chapter 22 – Reason And Solution





    Zax repressed the aching in his heart. “Why was there was a sudden clash of dark attribute and fiery attribute fluctuations, Senior Ariel?”


    He thought about it since he placed his palm on Anet’s abdomen and discovered the fluctuations. First idea he discarded was the association to the disparity in cultivation level between him and Anet.


    The best example to show it was not the cause was Yimin, the son of Yurnal and Savir. One of his parents is a bodily cultivator equal to fourth level Martial Mortals and the other was an E level Earth’s Core Holder when Zax first met her, which was after she gave birth. Furthermore, Yurnal was a beast and Savir a human.


    In the process of making this deduction, Zax also considered the possibility that perhaps for couples with a big difference in cultivation levels there is an uniquely method to procreate, but he refuted this idea as well. If there was, he was sure that he would have been told in advance by any of his seniors. After all, his high cultivation level did not indicate that he also surpassed them in experience and knowledge of other fields.


    “I’m afraid I can only guess…” Ariel’s answer surprised Zax, who expected an assertive response.


    “Leave me to care for the lass”. Trey offered, so the two could discuss without worry.


    Ariel pulled Zax several meters away, while Trey produced some crystal tubes with herbal aroma. Three of the liquids inside the four crystal tubes had a constant color and the fourth seemed like a mixture of all every color of the rainbow.


    Zax witnessed as Trey dripped one liquid to Anet’s nostrils, another to her mouth, the third rubbed on her forehead and the fourth, after slight hesitation, on her abdomen. Only when he saw her help Anet absorb and digest those liquids, did he shift his gaze to Ariel.


    “Zax, do you know that Immortal can have children with mortals?” Ariel said as a matter of fact, more than a question for Zax to answer. “I learned this during my service in the Blessed Army; but they can’t achieve this in the conventional way. Immortals are beings who converted part of themselves to one of the seven elements. Right after Evolutionary Ascension, the heart of a cultivator who successfully attained the rank of Heavenly Immortal, is the first organ to wholly become of elemental energy physique. What after, other than the names of the subsequent ranks, I’m not sure nor is it crucial for this current predicament”.


    The situation was saddening, but no longer urgent. Additionally, the two were conversing at peak perception speed. For this reason, although Ariel preferred to not frustrate Zax with lengthy chatter, he chose to avoid impetuously cutting to the chase.


    “Because they are not anymore beings of mortal blood and flesh, Immortals have to impose on themselves restrictions, so their mortal partners would be able to jointly support the conception of new life”.


    “I’m a Mortal but also a being of dark attribute…” Zax caught on to the subtext in what Ariel was saying.


    “And the latter part of your sentence is what I suspect to be the cause of the outburst in attribute fluctuations”. Ariel stated. “You gave your wife the Four Wings Stork’s Pure Core. The fiery attribute she inherited from it is probably why she managed to sustain despite the potency of the dark attribute fluctuations. Both of you have might have lost, but, nevertheless, are still to be counted as lucky”.


    “What now, then? Should I head to Logan, ask how I should have relations with my wife?” Zax’s tone had a hint of bitter venom he wanted to spew on this miserable world.


    “Are you vexed by the possibility that he will coerce you to make use of the oath he had given to you?” Ariel assumed. “There is a very easy method to dissuade him from trying…”


    Zax nodded, thinking about the same thing. He looked at Anet and surveyed her condition.


    ‘It would take at least a day for her to wake up…’ He returned to Ariel. “Our families are at my parents’ home. Please bring Anet there, Senior Ariel. I’ll go to the Blessed Army’s First Base. If Logan will confirm the attribute physique hypothesis and be willing to help, I’ll return to my wife’s side. However, if neither he nor anyone else in the five powers could offer help, I’ll seek it via the Galactic Communicator!”


    No letting Ariel to persuade otherwise, Zax swiftly departed.





    ‘I need to meet you. Fly in a straight course toward the pathway to New Earth in Selivereb’. Zax sent General Logan.


    Short time later, a shooting star like figure left a brilliant trail as it sliced past the evening sky.


    Zax’s eyes recognized General Logan, despite the glare of his aura, even before he perceived the fifth level Martial Mortal’s fluctuations.


    “Your call sounded like a summon”. Above the scarce patches of grayish clouds, General Logan floated, arms crossed and a disgruntled gaze.


    “I have something pressing to discuss with you”. Zax said as an excuse.


    General Logan remained unsatisfied, but did not complain. Next time, though, he might come at his own leisure or not at all.


    “It’s about my wife…” Zax opened and narrated everything that happened.


    “You have an attribute physique. Unless your wife reaches to the third Martial Moral level, she won’t be able to bear your children. If you were Immortal, than you would have needed to execute a certain technique to impregnate your mortal partner”.


    ‘The third Martial Mortal level…’ Zax felt conflicted. With the resource given to him by General Logan it will not be a problem to help Anet advance to this level. Moreover, her Pure Core belonged to an Overlord Deformed Being, as long as she dedicated herself to trying, she was bound to, at the very least, reach the fourth Martial Mortal level. ‘But how much time would she need?’ Was the issue.


    “What about a technique for those in the Mortal Enlightenment state and their mortal partner?”


    General Logan shook his head. “If there is, I’m unfamiliar with it”.


    “Is there a way for you to check?” Zax insisted.


    General Logan frowned. “Aren’t you asking a bit too much? Just couple of days ago I gave you a Star Scavenger, in addition to all sort of resources and a coast city. Know when you are crossing the line!”


    Zax is perhaps stronger, but General Logan knew that he will not instigate a fight for fearing of complete fallout with both him and Horn Kikon. Besides, even if this was not the case, he would not have let Zax trample on him whenever he wanted something.


    “I owe you nothing anymore; therefore, you can either use the oath I gave you or enlist”. General Logan suggested. “Not to the Blessed Army or Violet Scaled Troops, be willing to join the Voltic Star, under the Immortal Violet Star Commander, then you’ll be entitled for my assistance”.


    Zax fell silenced. Briefly he allowed himself to evaluate the pros and cons of succumbing to not just General Logan’s offer, but even more so to Archbishop Silternjan’s. Fact is, it definitely was more worth it than otherwise, that is, until he added to the equation the Legacy Of The One’s Path. Whether he could hide it from a Mythical Immortal when he had yet to meet the criteria to actually cultivate it could result in different outcomes for him and this earth and its aboriginals and there was still more…


    Then said – by Gogenta – “mightiest legacy, the unparalleled mist refinement technique”, could be far more than a great attraction to whichever Immortal Powerhouse, behind the five powers, Zax may decide to serve. Unearthing this long time not seen technique can also resurface Gegenta’s name and if the Immortal Powerhouse of the five powers have any indication into who he was, they might stop considering the consequence and make haste to ransack this planet.


    Zax sighed inwardly. “You are right. I can’t intimidate you to help me. I’ll go communicate with the other four leaders of you, five powers, and if they, too, will refuse, than my last remaining option would be seeking help from outer space, through the Galactic Communicator”.


    General Logan’s pupils contracted upon the mentioning of the Galactic Communicator and the manner in which Zax replace an intimidation with an underhanded threat.


    Communicating with the Galactic Communicator will provide both parties the coordinates to each other’s location!


    “You struck an agreement with us! Do you not care what will happen if you’ll break it?! At that time, none of us will be able to postpone the decent our Immortal legions! You and your people would be subjected to one of two approaches. The one in which you have not made anything to infuriate esteemed Mythical Immortals and another in which you stupidly did!” General Logan warned quiet emotionally. Should it be the latter approach, then not even he would come out unscratched, much less rewarded as originally promised.


    What concerned General Logan even more was that if the other leaders of the five powers could not help him, he would really dare to contact outside help.


    “Give me several days”. General Logan said, composed and mindful that his compliance makes the Galactic Communicator a tool for future extortions. Nevertheless, it was a small price for him and the other four to pay until their assignment will come to fruition and one party among the three would be rewarded.


    “I’ll be waiting for the good news”. Saying nothing about General Logan’s change of mind, Zax turned leave. In this interaction he may have gotten the former to help him, but in the process he nurtured that seed of animosity already sowed between him and the five powers.





    A flock of thirty thousand voracious Bone Draining Finchs spotted, from the top of the trees atop they nestled, a figure donning shining dark blue armor, flying right where their turf was.


    They were a cunning group of one scale Deformed Beings. Cowards on their own, they did not dare to mess with other, inferior one scale Deformed Beings, but together, as tens of thousands, they had the nerve to even antagonize some juvenile three scales Deformed Beings.


    Screeching cries rang in the air with a sound akin to bones scrapping as all the Bone Draining Finchs sprang into motion after the intruding figure.


    Only…


    A loud “Humph” reverberated and before the Bone Draining Finch at the forefront flew a hundred meters high, it, and all the rest Bone Draining Finchs fell from the sky with lifeless eyes.


    If it was any other time, there was a good chance he would have spared the dumb birds. It was his purposely suppressed aura that led the Bone Draining Finchs to assume he was easy prey. Right now, though, General Logan was in a terrible mood.


    In the distance was a city of his Blessed Army called “Sonertone” and in it was a skyscraper that surpassed all structures in the vicinity.


    General Logan flew directly to the top floor of the skyscraper and entered through the opened airstrip.


    An elderly bald and bearded man was currently appreciating a certain artwork depicting two people, a man and a woman in leather armor of some sort confronting a creature of scales, fur, four limbs, long tail and a head with three scales.


    General Logan waited patiently for the old man to finish his indulging in the painting.


    “You wanted to meet, under the radar…” Sheldon hoarse voice calmly said.


    “Yes. Not even Kikon can know about it”. General Logan said grimly. “A month, nothing more. If you can agree, get your esteemed Senior to act in conjunction with the Violet Star Commander at the appointed time of the Immortals decent”.


    “A month in exchange to the single favor Senior Ohar promised me…” Sheldon pondered. “What if your Violet Star Commander will fail to obtain the Godly Law Template? I will end up spending my capital for nothing”. Before General Logan could retort he proceeded. “Forty five days, not a second short”.


    There was no room to bargaining. General Logan calculated pros and cons of his decision and weighed his determination; much like Zax did earlier today.


    “Granted”.

  2. #302
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    Book 10 – Immortal


    Chapter 23 – Moving On





    With the secret alliance being made, General Logan repressed his reservation. “I need something else from you”. He told Sheldon.


    “We are partners”, Sheldon looked at him with a friendly smile. “If it’s within my power and with reasonable effort, then do ask”.


    “I need to communicate with someone on the outside using your Galactic Communicator”.


    For a fraction of a second the gaze in Sheldon eyes turned thoughtful before again showing calm. “Very well”.


    The lack of questions indicated another, silent agreement.





    When he returned to his parents’ home, Zax was relieved to know that Ariel already explained to his and Anet’s parents the situation.


    Anet was resting upon his arrival and their parents and Liz were too awestruck by getting to meet Ariel that it was hard to decipher whether they understood his explanation. Perhaps they decided to not mention the miscarriage, before the young couple would open up the subject themselves, and were just happy to know that Anet is fine. Either way, Zax was reluctant to accept consolations and preferred the atmosphere to stay concentrated on Ariel.


    “Zax…” Anet voice was dry. Her eyes opened after her mouth as she gradually woke up, still somewhat weak.


    She was lying on Liz’s bed and Zax sat on a chair by her side, alone with her in the room after asking Don to leave.


    His vision focused on his face but quickly became blurry by tears. She felt the condition of her body and did not need others to tell her what happen, only why, but for the moment it did not matter.


    She covered her eyes with the back of her hand, as the other was placed on her stomach, and she voicelessly cried.


    Her grief mirrored powerlessness and loss he only remembered her ever showing him three times.


    First was when they were children, after the ordeal at the Young Mist Users Conference, where they had been confronted by Martinez family’s young and old. It was a borderline traumatic experience for Zax and his pals and at the time he thought Anet ran and left them. It was only later, when they were invited to Fourchettes Et Couteaux, that they had a teary reconciliation.


    Second occurrence was couple of years later. Zax returned from his training in Valgarel and sought his old friends. Anet was the first he met, and the events that arose by this reunion spelled the disastrous fall from grace of the Derneldar Family.


    Third was, again, years later. Zax was assumed dead. His friends and family were devastated, but Anet… her heart was emotionally full of cracks as if something heavy struck it, constantly on the verge of shattering, until it did. Luckily he returned right on time to amend it, otherwise she would have suffered an irreversible damage.


    And now… was the fourth.


    No one interrupted the two in the days they spent shut in Liz’s room.


    For those two nights and two days Anet had not said a thing after calling by his name when he first woke up and Zax, as he contemplated over the reason of this meaningless tragedy, he slowly recuperated from the emotional upheaval, ultimately being left with only a measure of sadness and a strong resolution to… “Never again!”





    Time heals all wounds, and atop it paved the road to progress.





    “Niel! Niel, wait! Stop running, you little pipsqueak! How can such a shorty be so fast?”


    On the bustling streets beneath the blue sky, two boys were rushing for a certain destination and one was more restless to arrive than the other.


    Unbeknownst to the young lads, several tens of meters behind them a rather unassuming young was trailing their steps, while perfectly blending in the metropolitan environment.


    “Passing through! Passing through!” The lad named Niel shouted as he squeezed through the dense crowed of humans and beasts in either humanoid or human forms.


    “Excuse me, pardon, err… sorry!” The slightly older lad chasing apologized for both him and Niel.


    The pair ran in a straight line for about three hundred meters, toward a fenced, open field with tight security all over.


    Everyone who came made sure to stop three to five meters before the fence, but when the two lads showed up they did not even pay the tiniest attention to those scary looking, black uniformed security guards and brazenly entered what clearly was a restricted location.


    Not just the two boys, but the young man who followed them also entered, albeit, he was a tad more discreet, without anyone of the outside spectators noticing, helping those helpless security guards to save some face.


    There was a one storey building in the field and fifty meters from it was a marked landing spot.


    The single entrance door to the building opened and a figure of a red headed middle aged woman walked out.


    Seeing the short haired woman from afar, before she could make up a word or an expression in response to the unbridle advent of the pair, Niel opened his mouth and loudly declared.


    “A promise is a promise!”


    His voice resonated as suddenly an imposing streak flashed across his childish countenance. With the sound of the wind howling a black aura burst from the tiny pores of Niel’s small frame, along with both dark attribute and Beginner phase first level Core Master fluctuations.


    “See that, grandma Don!” Niel laughed triumphantly.


    An odd look momentarily manifested on Don’s face – yes, the same Don who once was the school principal of Eden Formation. Her jaw muscles bulged as she clenched her teeth; otherwise she feared her chin would drop.


    “I’m so strong now, grandma Don! Big brother Jingrow could not keep up with me when we retrained our cultivation base!”


    “Niel, you brat! Do you really think I would not have caught you if there weren’t so many people in the way?!” Jingrow snapped.


    “Yes I do!” Niel stuck out his tongue, naturally, after getting behind Don.


    Don rubbed her temples. “Shadow!” She called and before the sound of her voice had faded, the young man who was following Niel and Jingrow had appeared.


    “Don’t blame me, Don Ram”. Shadow said defensively. “What? Was I supposed to undermine the Boss’s word to Niel?”


    Don glared at Shadow, who no longer looked unassuming, but quite the opposite… His pristine black skin and smooth long black hair had a glimmer to them that was hard to define and his facial features could probably lead others to think he was a gorgeous woman, if not for his thin yet tall and muscular frame.


    Taking the chance that Don’s attention was shifted from him, Niel gave Shadow a thumb up.


    BOOM!


    A deafening sound rang above their heads; up in the sky it dispersed the clouds and at the other side of the encompassing fence, claps of hands and incoherent cheers ensued.


    “They are approaching!” Don’s tone changed from annoyance to exhilaration. “Get inside”. She urged the three.


    The building was a round, giant room occupied by all sorts of screens and advanced computers. There were at least eighty people inside. Some were sitting in rows behind monitors; others kept watch on an elevated platform and few were congregated on a second platform, in front of a wall size, lifelike projection.


    “That’s… that’s…!” Niel exclaimed without being able to finish the sentence, or properly begin it, as he ran for the viewing platform of the large projection.


    “The Star Scavenger!” Jingrow helped him with eyes just the same, glued to the picture on the wall.


    “And that’s…!” Niel pointed at a small dot he spotted not far from the image of the Star Scavenger.


    “The Boss!” Shadow took charge this time.


    The trio was awfully talkative, in comparison to the twelve people that got before them on the viewing platform. A number of gazes landed on them with different meaning, but eventually, anyone who had something to say, kept it to himself or herself after noting Don’s subtle dismissive nod.


    The Star Scavenger got closer to the ground as its estimate time of full landing narrowed to the span of half a minute.


    Spectators inside the Command Control building and viewers at the other side of the fence were counting the seconds with bated breaths.


    “It landed!” A voice announced through a PA system, for both the people in and out.


    “Yahoo!” Niel excitedly shouted, jumped from the viewing platform and dashed out of the Command Control building.


    First thing that came to view was the amazing Star Scavenger. Niel could not help but wish to someday be accepted as a pilot and head for an outer space expedition.


    Finishing admiring the spacecraft; Niel’s line of sight shifted to the man standing not far from it, the so called “Boss” Shadow mentioned, who supervised its landing.


    “Dad!”


    “Niel?” Zax raised a brow. “You made it!” His expression bore a resemblance to Don’s and then he felt weird, as if some mighty Immortal or God was playing a joke at him. “A nine years old… Core Master!”


    “Dad, look at me!”


    It was the year 5810.


    Zax was thirty five years old and so was his wife, Anet, yet instead of aged, in contrast to his appearance a decade ago, the only difference was that he gave a more mature, fatherly air.


    Niel spread his arms with a snap and the black, dark attribute Core Master aura erupted around him. “You can’t punish me for running away from home! I succeeded, I’m a Core Master! My training is done! I can go adventuring!” He skipped joyfully.


    Hearing his son’s statements and sensing his aura, Zax was stumped, still fixated on the spectacle before his eyes.


    ‘Three Types Of Children…’ He recalled the division of children with enrollment opportunity to post Core Martial schools. Back in his days, even the kids with the best constitution and natural talent would only be assumed as having the potential to break through to the second realm after a decade of harsh training.


    ‘Jingrow?’ As he saw the boy running out of the Command Center building, Zax remembered how half a year ago, just days short from his twelfth birthday, this nephew of his broke through and became a first level Core Master.


    Back then he was not even a quarter as surprised as he is now. Jingrow’s parents were remarkable experts from whom he inherited an easy start for the cultivation path. The Seed he was born with in his dantian had equal makings to a two scales Deformed Being’s Pure Core. Adding to that all the nurturing he received in terms of resources and guidance, it was not a shocker that he broke through the second realm by the age of twelve and when comparing him to his uncle’s feats when he was at his age, he even fell a little short.


    Niel was different. Due to his father inadequate mist cultivation and perhaps because of the upheavals he had been through for absorbing the first Black Core, for some reason, even though his mother was at the Peak of the Core Master realm, Niel did not inherit a morsel of a Seed.

  3. #303
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    Book 10 – Immortal


    Chapter 24 – The Wrath Of A Father





    “Come here, Niel”. Zax motioned with his hand.


    Pleased with himself, Niel ran to his father and took his hand. “Remember your promise, dad. I’m ready to go adventuring”.


    He had the brown hair of his father and the blue eyes of his mother, a combination that coupled with his boyish charm made him look so adorable and yet the things he spoke of were of significant consideration to every other expert with the same cultivation level.


    ‘That’s it’. Zax determined the source of his son quick accomplishment upon making contact with him. ‘The obscurity had cleared out now that his cultivation had risen to a sufficient level’.





    Niel’s dantian was void of innate Seed of Qi, but Zax never believed any son of his to be inferior to those Mist Lord’s children, who were the bottom threshold for possessing a Seed. Hence, since birth Zax planned a strict regimen to extract Niel’s hidden latent potential.


    In the process of locating Niel’s forte, Zax encountered minor hints that were like pieces of a grand puzzle, from which he even drew inspiration for the struggles of his own path.


    At the age of nine months, Zax imparted the nucleus of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement to Niel. This decision nearly created an irreparable fracture in his marriage. The main principle of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement is Pain, the second is Destruction and third is Rehabilitation. Anet did not practice in the technique, but she was still versed in it. How could she have allowed her infant son bear such torture? No sane parents would. Then again, no child on and in this planet ever had a parent who attained the Mortal Enlightenment state, or at least something that was very similar to it…


    Zax convinced Anet that he will regulate the output of Pain to a degree that Niel will at most feel the inconvenience of a small stomachache and that, too, for a breath long period of time and it would only be for four to five sessions.


    Already in the first session, to Zax’s absolute astonishment, Niel began to reveal bits of his talent. Unlike his father, he did not have the support of a Black Core to enhance the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement and eliminate its Pain principle, but it seemed to not be an issue. The toddler’s level of endurance not only proved to be outstanding, before its limit was challenged he was actually enjoying the discomfort. What really was amazing was that the boy flesh and skin were soft and as durable as any other child at his age.


    Zax could only partially explain this phenomenon by the assumption that his son possesses an exceptional affinity to the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, beyond anyone else who cultivated it.


    From that day forth, Zax assisted Niel in the cultivation of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, until he developed the frame of mind to practice without help. Nevertheless, the amount of resources he was permitted was stringently rationed. Ultimately, Niel did not have the Black Core’s support, so his cultivation speed was just above average while the main point was that he was unhindered by the Pain principle. Additionally, the initial aim of his father was to find his forte, which could not be done when taking away all the effort…


    At the age of three Niel absorbed his first and last Earth’s Core. Its quality was unimportant since Zax planned to give him a three scales Deformed Being’s Pure Core when the time is right. The purpose of the Earth’s Core was nothing more than another attempt to push out Niel’s potential as a full New Earth’s indigenous, i.e. Gogenta’s special lab rat.


    On the front of the mist aspect, Niel cultivated considerably faster than in the body aspect. That was when Zax made another discovery… a measure of dark attribute energy had been in Niel’s soul since birth and streamed to his dantian, adding to his mist, when he became a D level Earth’s Core Holder. Moreover, the quality of the dark attribute energy was almost immaculate.





    ‘Originally I calculated that it would take two years for Niel to reach the second realm as a Mist User and the fourth gate of the seven stages. Now I understand how he suddenly surpassed my expectations… maybe in four to six months he will also reach the fourth gate’.


    What Zax currently had his attention on was not Niel’s mist energy or body, but soul!


    Of the three aspects, the soul was the pivotal. Cultivating any of the other two to a higher realm than the soul can cause adverse effects.


    Last time Zax check, Niel’s soul had only been at the Mist Master level and his attainments in meditation had only progressed into the Adraak stage.


    ‘I thought that if not a Qi Seed from Anet, than a portion of my dark attribute physique was passed down to him, but from the start, apparently it was the soul!’


    Up until this moment, he never detected something out of the ordinary in Niel’s soul.


    ‘This is my Inner Panorama’.


    It seemed as if it appeared out of nowhere, like an exact model, inside the soul housing Niel’s spirit.


    Inner Panorama supposed to encompass the soul and not the opposite. For Niel’s to have one in his soul was beyond Zax’s comprehension of the aspect and perhaps anyone else on the planet.


    “Uncle Zax, the Star Scavenger is opening!” Jingrow arrived.


    Behind him followed an entourage of those who accommodated the two platforms. They were men and women, humans and beasts, dignified third realm experts and a quota of New Earth’s forces beneath the blue sky.


    “Sir”.


    “Zax”.


    They greeted Zax before turning in wait for the entrance at the transformative chassis of the spacecraft to fully form.


    Five people flew out of the Star Scavenger in brown and silver, futuristic looking uniforms; four human males and one female beast in human form.


    Before words could be said between the five and the welcoming party, deafening cheers erupted from beyond the fence.


    Several tens of meters above the Command Control building an image of the Star Scavenger and its five crew members was projected in the sky in a wide range for all to see.


    A blond, middle aged man in a white suit gestured for the crew member at the forefront, a short black haired woman, to talk the initiative and speak for the crowd.


    “Citizens of Rising City, I, Star Captain Emel Eg Sorm and the rest of the Star Scavenger’s crew are grateful for being able to return to your heartfelt welcome, back beneath the blue sky!” Emel spoke soundly with a big smile across her light brown face.


    “In the days to come, after my crew and I will decompress and settle our affairs; we will certainly share with you, everybody, the unusual but mesmerizing full account of the journey we had among the stars!” Her tone was exuberant, but her words carefully selected.


    The face in the projection changed to the blond, middle aged man. “Our brave pioneers will make an official appearance in a Press Conference, which date and time will be disclosed this very evening. Please stay tuned to Rising News channel for further details”.


    The projected was cut and the black uniformed security began dispersing the crowd.


    An armored, bus size vehicle entered the fenced operation grounds.


    “I won’t be joining you”. Zax told the blond middle aged man, pointing with his eyes at Niel.


    “I’ll send the report once it’s compiled. If you’ll have something to add, please do it by daybreak tomorrow, otherwise, we will proceed in accordance with the predetermined procedure”.


    Zax nodded. “Shadow”, his gaze shifted to young man who he knew was younger than he looked.


    They met when Anet was in the second trimester. At the time he was an eight years old orphan leaving in an orphanage in cave eighty eight. He was a little scoundrel, trying to scam unfamiliar visitors at the cave. That is how Zax discovered this black jam, who already back then was referred to by those knowing him as “Shadow”.


    Zax did not want an official apprentice or a Tal, but he was interested in cultivating Shadow and for that ranking division was required. Using a term the boy was versed with due to his unruly short lifestyle, Zax ordered Shadow to call him “Boss”. Of course, gaining the little troublemaker’s trust and recognition was a process in and of itself. However, since the boy did not have parents and Zax could practically get whatever he wanted in Kingdom Earth, it was easy to transfer guardianship and pick whichever method he would like for discipline.


    “Yes, Boss”, Shadow obediently replied. Like Niel, he was a duel cultivator and although Zax was not his Mor nor Master, everyone in Grandmaster Kartion’s cave treated him as part of the Martial family and he himself looked up to Kartius as his Grandmaster.


    “Make sure Jingrow arrives home to your aunt Zetsa. I’ll be taking Niel”.


    “Yes, Boss”. Shadow stared at Jingrow.


    “Goodbye, uncle, Niel”. Jingrow grudgingly surrendered. It was midday and he still wanted to hang out outside. Also, despite his age, he too was a first level Core Master, so there were no dangers for him, especially in the streets of Rising City, but since the order came from his uncle, he did not dare to refuse.


    “Big brother Jing, don’t be grumpy!” Niel waved off. “I’m a Core Master now, too. Soon we will depart for many adventures. Dad promised!”


    “Yeah, uncle promised!” Jingrow shouted back, sharing a sly smile with Niel and ran away before getting scolded.


    “Da-” Niel opened, yet before he could complete the word, a finger touched his glabella and for a brief moment he could not even count, his vision became blurry and the vista changed.


    To not overwhelm or hurt his son by carrying and moving him so fast, he used dark attribute energy to shield his consciousness and body.


    The place they arrived to was a gray, squared room. Sun Stones were embedded to the ceiling, illuminating the chamber. At one half of the room were three meditation mats of different materials situated at one corner, a small and sealed depository of scrolls and books and a large cabinet with three hundred drawers. The entire space of the other half of the room took an imprint of a complex formation.


    “No, dad! I just finished training!” Niel cried the instant his eyes soaked the surrounding.


    The squared room was one of the two underground chambers, part of Zax, Anet and Niel’s villa.


    “You want to leave the boundaries of Rising City? Stop whining and sit down!” Zax’s stern voice sent shivers through Niel’s spine.


    With his son lowering his head, Zax placed his palm on it.


    ‘My Inner Panorama, even if it’s just a replica, not only it’s too perfect, it’s also located inside Niel’s soul’. Zax imagined what sort of good fortune it could bring his son, but he did not yet celebrate. With every bit of his psyche powers he inspected Niel again and tens of thousand times over. There was something he had to verify, a gut feeling he was fearful of. After a long while, when he was near exhaustion, his soul latched to a wisp of foreign energy that made his eyes turn red with unadulterated rage. ‘Good, good, good! Truly, wonderfully ruthless!’


    The thick venom of hatred was deeply seated in each and every one of these words of compliment, directed at the shrewdly concealed Godly Retribution share that managed to pass down along the Inner Panorama – to Niel’s soul.

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    Book 10 – Immortal


    Chapter 25 – Snatching Collateral





    In this moment, Zax contempt for The Almighty was indescribable and his hatred insufferable. Immediately, he sent a faint stream of dark attribute energy into Niel’s sea of consciousness. The dark attribute energy formed shapes that combined together inside Niel’s soul, creating a closure within a closure for the small imitation of his Inner Panorama and the strain of Godly Retribution lurking in it.


    “Niel”, Zax released a stifled breath. He ruffled Nie’s hair and pushed his head down, worried that should his son see his face he will notice a trace of the ferocity he currently struggled to hold off. “Do you want to go adventuring?”


    “Yes!” Niel replied eagerly.


    “You broke through the second realm, which initially was the prerequisite I gave you; the real purpose of it, however, was to boost your strength to a sufficient level, so you could survive outside Rising City. Right now your cultivation is not yet consolidated. To prove that your attainment is constructive, stabilize your mist energy and then go challenge the Deformed Beings Arena. When you will beat the third stage, you are permitted to appear before me and your mother for our Godspeed. Are you up to the task?”


    A smile ear to ear stretched across Niel’s face. He was reluctant to have his leave prolonged, but he was taught to never shy from his father’s tests. “I am!” He creased his brows. “But you better not come up with more excuses afterwards, dad!”


    “I won’t. Tell Jingrow that if he wants to join you, he must endure thirty minutes in the fourth stage or five minutes in the fifth”.


    The Deformed Beings Arena was a momentous trial for every cultivator in Rising City. It was a tower with nine stages, each corresponding to a phase and level in the second realm of cultivation. The third stage was equivalent in difficulty to fighting an Advanced first level Core Master, the fourth was equivalent to a Beginner second level Core Master and the fifth to an Intermediate second level Core Master.


    In each stage resides a two scales Deformed Being, as the opponent to be challenged. A challenger who wins would either keep the Deformed Being’s Pure Core or exchange it for other prizes.


    Since Niel and Jingrow’s rewards would be permission to go adventuring, they naturally will not get to keep the Pure Cores or exchange them for something else.





    “He is actually back inside?” Anet laughed as she saw Zax coming out alone from the cultivation chamber.


    In a way, she knew even better than her husband how hard their son strived for the promised sliver of freedom, whilst had been keen on why Zax was so against it. She found it quite amazing that after the Niel fulfilled his father’s ultimatum, Zax, again, not just managed to prolong his stay, but even got him to continue training.


    Then she saw her reflection in Zax’s pupils and the amusement was corroded by an ominous feeling. “What is it?” Her motherly sense told her it was Niel related, and so her question came out as a demand.


    “I was finally able to examine Niel’s peculiarity today, as a result of his breakthrough to the Core Master realm”. Zax was not even considering lying. “A replica of my Inner Panorama was passed down hereditarily to the interior of his soul. It is the source for his dark attribute and acute mentality; however… a strain of the Godly Retribution had covertly sneaked along this inheritance”.


    Anet opened her mouth, about to utter a cry of distress, but shut her lips in defiance. She somberly reserved her aura, yet failed to do the same with her emotions and a profound killing intent, no less potent than Zax, manifested on her delicate face.


    It was a short exchange of a few words and one meaningful look. Zax averted his gaze and turned to leave and Anet watched his back, urging him in her heart not to return before turning the world upside down!





    Archbishop Silternjan, Cardinal Northstar, Stelero Mars, Sister Iaura and Sister Beatriz sat, circling a small, round table at one of the lavish gardens between the nuns and clerics districts.


    A pleasant atmosphere surrounded the group. A ceramic, flowery pot was placed on the table with a fragrant, sometimes blue, sometimes green liquid inside. Five ceramic cups, filled with the liquid to varying capacity, were either on the table or at one of the revered hands.


    Sister Iaura seemed to be at especially good mood as she tipped the edge of her cups lightly to her lips. Stelero Mars also exuded a tranquil frame of mind. Sister Beatriz showed restraint and had yet to take a sip from her cup. Archbishop Silternjan and Cardinal Northstar talked among themselves, and for the other three to listen, about the orthodoxy and its principles, in other words, imparting belief.


    Passersby, members of the church, were not allowed to intrude, yet if by chance their path crossed a hearing distance from the homily, the words would keep fly to their ears until they will reach their destination.


    Almost miraculously, Nature, too, seemed to appreciate the two elders’ verses. Although it was late evening, light still lingered above the specific garden and grew further livelier the darker it got outside.


    Cardinal Northstar was in the midst of expounding upon a proverb by a long dead pious believer, when his tongue abruptly halted and his face sunk.


    Archbishop Silternjan was second to react, as he was not the one being interrupted. Stelero Mars raised his head high an instant later and both Sister Iaura and Sister Beatriz couple of moments next.


    The man, so up in the sky a non cultivator would have only seen a black dot, gaze back at the five. His expression was solemn and presence inspired the nightly darkness to overcome the brightness of the garden.


    ‘This is not a friendly visit’. Archbishop Silternjan warned the other four.


    Stelero Mars clenched a fist on the armrest of his chair. Sister Iaura held Sister Beatriz’s hand to suppress a shiver. Cardinal Northstar glanced with an unreadable look.


    As such, in total silence, a minute and then two, three, four and so on… passed.


    An onlooker might have assumed that he or she encroached on an intense staring contest, but actually, what want on between the heaven and the earth belonging to the garden was an invisible battle of imposing souls that will confer preeminence for either the invader or the ones being invaded.


    Zax was infuriated and wanted to crash Archbishop Silternjan and the rest with his glare, but the latter as well as Cardinal Northstar just engaged in a discussion of faith and enlightenment. Their state of mind was at peak condition especially for this sort of altercation.


    Nevertheless, this was not a clash of one versus one or two versus two, but five versus one. Although Zax was inferior in terms of numbers, the general aim of his soul forced Archbishop Silternjan and Cardinal Northstar to collaborate with the other three as a chain.


    Stelero Mars had a personal vendetta against Zax. Should they lose this invisible battle, he would suffer more shame and his humiliation would be exhibited in front of Sister Iaura, again.


    ‘Your Young Eminence!’ Cardinal Northstar sent via Sublime Soul Sense, however it was too late.


    Stelero Mars bore deep resentment to Zax for couple of reasons. He could not stand his gall anymore, particularly when right beside him the precious Sister Iaura was giving her best to persevere, yet the villainous Zax was bent on breaking her spirit.


    “Enough!” Stelero Mars bellowed. White, light attribute energy flared along the aura of a Peak fourth level Martial Mortal.


    The consequences of a link separating from the chain were quickly mended through a quick resonance by Archbishop Silternjan and Cardinal Northstar as they withdrew from a soul pressure conflict and utilized their mist energy to shield the garden, hence retreating to a passive stance.


    “Sister Iaura”, Cardinal Northstar hastened to aid her, when in fact his intentions were to distract Stelero Mars from his fixation on Zax.


    “Welcome to my Grand Abode, Zax”. Archbishop Silternjan greeted, probing Zax’s volatility.


    Zax maintained his silent for a while longer, before opening in a husky voice. “Silternjan, do not test me!” It was a onetime warning.


    Archbishop Silternjan creased his brows. Among the leaders of the five powers, he was the first to reach out to Zax, willing to reconcile and inviting him to join Luminous Church. Since then, they had a rather placid relationship. How come, then, now he was detecting a clear readiness from Zax to shed their tacit understanding?


    “I truly don’t know what you are talking about”. Archbishop Silternjan replied honestly. He really feared Zax snapping by the weight of incautious wording. “I can see that you are not in a mood to procrastinate. If you can tell me what’s wrong and it is indeed related to me or my Luminous Church, then I’ll make every attempt in my power to rectify”.


    “Silternjan you knew about my wife and mine problem to get pregnant from Logan and that nine years ago we finally had a son. Why haven’t you told me that the Godly Retribution can permeate to succeeding generations?!”


    The mentioning of the Godly Retribution struck Archbishop Silternjan like bolt of lightning in a sunny day. “Your son was targeted by the Godly Retribution?” He did his utmost to steel himself.


    Zax noticed Archbishop Silternjan’s confusion and even the tremor in both Cardinal Northstar and Stelero Mars, who suddenly and stealthily hinged away from the conversation.


    ‘Did it by chance infiltrate?‘ Zax ruminated. To begin with he suspected and kept to himself the possibility that what meant to be a blessing for Niel, turned out to be a curse accidentally. ‘An Inner Panorama is not something that can be inherited. Niel most likely received it due to the combination of being my direct bloodline and a descendant to Gogenta… Originally it was supposed to be a good thing, but because my soul was contaminated at the date of his consummation, it became the opposite‘.


    From Zax’s perspective, regardless how flourishing Niel was now, he was living on borrowed time. And whether he had part in the fault, in hindsight, it was Archbishop Silternjan who drove him to make the oath to The Almighty.


    “Silternjan, I acknowledge that my ignorance plays a part in inviting this predicament, but now that it also befell my son, I will have you, too, take responsibility”.


    With that, Zax made his move.


    “Protect His Young Eminence and Sister Iaura!” Archbishop Silternjan shouted for Cardinal Northstar. He saw Zax approaching toward him in speed that his body could barely follow.


    In a blink of an eye, Archbishop Silternjan complexion turned holy white and eight majestic wings sprouted from his back as he transformed to his light physique, Angelic Emissary form. Gesturing with his hand, a long barrel gun emerged and with the sole motion he could achieve so promptly, his eyes took aim and the trigger clicked.


    BANG!


    A light bullet shot in a straight line, not to kill or even injure, Archbishop Silternjan was not delusional, but to deter.


    “Zax, we can find a solution!” Archbishop Silternjan yelled alarmingly. He could not take on the opponent and employing the defensive measures of his Grand Abode required time.


    “Your God inflicted my son”. Zax roared in a deep voice, his skin shimmering in black. “MY SON!” He smacked the bullet with the back of his hand, shattering it to dispersing fragments.


    Archbishop Silternjan paled at the sight of his concentrated attack so casually dismissed.


    Cardinal Northstar and Stelero Mars, who by some luck stole a glimpse of the situation, were shaken inwardly; instantly deducing that unless they will aid Archbishop Silternjan, buy him enough time to activate the Grand Abode, the entirety of Onzengvas City might suffer the aftermath.


    Cardinal Northstar grimaced and used his own Angelic Emissary form. Somewhat reluctant, he clenched his fists and a pair of thin, white gloves covered them.


    Shining white aura engulfed Stelero Mars and from his spatial ring came out a plain looking wooden staff. A layer of white veins made his skin glow; his incomplete light physique transformation had only one pair of wings and other than the mask of veins, his skin tone remained the same. Nonetheless, the extent of his light attribute energy outstrips that of the two fifth level Martial Mortals.


    “With me!” Cardinal Northstar called Archbishop Silternjan and Stelero Mars, ready to take the vanguard as the current strongest power of the church in Ercas Mir and perhaps the third strongest cultivator on the planet. He was certain that with a proper combination, even without the Grand Abode, they will be able to fend off Zax.


    The same thought he shared with Archbishop Silternjan was that although their opponent attained the Mortal Enlightenment state, he still could only equally match Horn Kikon. From their experience, the latter was the strongest being beneath Immortals and yet, even he will not treat their combined force lightly.


    Regrettably, the ensuing events did not play out as they expected.


    Just as a collision that should not occur so close to the surface seemed imminent, Zax’s vanished from the line of the three’s line of sight an reappeared at the center of their small formation.


    His speed was beyond comprehension, something that should not be possible below the Immortal realm.


    He stood there loftily, holding the barrel of Archbishop Silternjan’s gun, which at some point his hand seized.


    Meanwhile, the three were just commencing the process of turning their heads.


    Squeezing, Zax could not break the material of the barrel but his strength was sufficient to deform it. “My son”, he spoke just fast enough for them to perceive his words.


    A fist coursed in a trajectory for his waist. The glove on Cardinal Northstar’s right hand contained boundless amount of light attribute energy that momentarily amplified Cardinal Northstar’s assault to a degree that made Zax pause.


    “Humph!” Zax snorted and casted the long barrel gun at the fist with a wisp of dark element energy.


    BANG!


    Cardinal Northstar was thrown back uncontrollably from the garden, beyond the Grand Abode’s zone and outside Onzengvas City.


    “I’ll try to treat him myself, if you can’t help”. Zax continued to say. Noting the movement of Stelero Mars’ staff, he impatiently flung his arm aside, striking Stelero Mars and sending flying tens of kilometers with who knows how many broken bones.


    “But I’m not confident and even fearful”. Seeing that Archbishop Silternjan succumbed to the fact he is way more powerless than he thought, Zax took a step, vanished and reappeared again.


    Sister Iaura and Sister Beatriz were unable to keep up with his speed and seemed frozen in time. He caught the collar of Sister Iaura’s silver robe.


    “She is important to you, all of you, right? Even more than that Stelero Mars”. Zax pulled Sister Iaura to him and Archbishop Silternjan gasped in horror, as if he witnessed the dirty hands of an infidel beggar touching the holiest of lights bestowed by The Almighty.


    “Should something happen to my son, however big or small, I’ll kill her”.


    Zax proclaimed, and left with a kick to the ground that sent quakes through not just the city, but the entire Onzengvas domain of Luminous Church.

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