Day after day, week after week, Zax invested every free moment of his time in training whether in the Inner Spirit formation or meditation.
In the first week he trained only twice, at Sunday and Wednesday, in the Inner Spirit formation. Each training session was like the first one he had after Zetsa modified the formation. He sat on the white mattress cross-legged, chanted the words that activate the formation and after couple of hours woke up with barely enough time and energy to get back home at an appropriate hour.
The rest of the week Zax reserved for meditation. The results of two sessions in the Inner Spirit formation were substantial. Zax’s consciousness was overflowing with the small icy grains. Thankfully, after Zetsa helped him to dismantle and merge the leftover grains from his first sessions, Zax became much more experienced with the process and his soul slightly evolved to be capable to handle the great amount of grains.
The following month Zetsa did not tested Zax and on the contrary, allowed him the peace of mind to train without interruptions from her side. Just like she predicted, after advancing to the intermediate phase of level G and obtaining an acute awareness to the existence of the Inner Spirit formation’s fragments, the icy grains, Zax’s advancement was brilliant – partly because of his natural affinity to the requirements of soul refining techniques and was training in one of the most astute among them, regardless of its class, a high level illusionary formation.
After one month, the length of time Zax had to tackle the frost illusion and the passage of time outside of the formation have slightly equalized. None the less, each session in the Inner Spirit formation ended as usual for Zax. His body slowly froze until it eventually fell apart to many pieces and then a surge of warm energy defrosted his frozen parts and brought him back from the illusion, completely exhausted.
On the contrary, meditation gradually turned out to be a lot nimble as Zax repetitively practiced it in any given moment he was not bound by prior commitments. Even sleep time became a chance for Zax to continue meditating after Zetsa taught him how to perform the basic technique of Somnolence Meditation.
As Zax’s soul got stronger the true benefits in his daily life, which were the consequences of merging with all the blue white dust, began to show. In school, during classes of which Zax had zero interest in, the sharpening of the soul also sharpened his mind and so even by not paying attention intentionally or day dreaming out of boredom he was able to grasp and interpreted the meaning of sounds and sights around him. Furthermore, subjects Zax had hard time understanding suddenly turn out to be clearer and more logical.
In the company of his teachers, friends, and parents and in general, all the people around him, Zax attitude underwent a significant change as well. From a rather timid, selective and secluded boy he grew to be more composed, poised and confident.
June twenty seven to June twenty nine, year 5784.
Zetsa volunteered as the representative Guardian of cave twenty five’s participants in this year Great Earth’s Core Pursuit. The following day, June twenty eight, with her Tal, Take Edomachi, joining her group of ten year olds, they set off to where the grand pursuit will take place this year. In a week or so she will lead back more than five thousand incompetent, F level beginner phase Mist Users.
June thirty, year 5784.
After two months of training arrived the date for the Half Year celebrations.
Every cave in Kingdom Earth celebrated in its own way. Cave twenty five was a middle class cave with no governor and so the conducts of its Management Office required to first passing through the administration of El-Eden’s capitol cave, cave fourteen, along with other middle or lower class caves.
Being an agricultural cave which lacked a governorship and relied on a Management Office who was managed by the domestic population, the funds of cave twenty five were quite limited even in the national finest time of the year.
However, having no support from the Management Office did not mean that the people could not spend money from their own pockets to celebrate in unity just one day of the year. Much like how siblings will spend together their own saving to buy a toy that their parents will not, the closeness of the inhabitants of cave twenty five was as if they were all one big family, especially during the national Half Year celebrations.
Zax spent the day of the Half Year celebrations with Serah, Dane and other kids from their school. Since it was a holiday, school was close and in the morning till the afternoon, all kids helped clean and decorate the urban area, where the celebrations took place, with ornaments they made in school. The grown up of cave twenty five contributed according to what each of them could do. Some raised all kinds of stalls, food, games, resting and so on… Those who were shop owners lowered their prices to nearly a loss for the needed materials and supplies. Others who owned farms were gracious and shared tons of their crops. All in all, it was a full half day of cooperation for all ages and backgrounds in cave twenty five.
The celebrations began at seven o’clock. The cave’s Nightly Cover formation was activated early for the holiday and with the appearance of the mesmerizing bright white dots on the enormous veil of blue darkness the temperatures also dropped significantly. In the stead of the Sun Stones’ heat, large lanterns were placed in the streets and with subtle light created a warm atmosphere.
The traditional clothing of the Half Year celebrations was plain white tunics, but today people wore tunics of different colors, shades and patterns.
Zax wore a green tunic with patterns of leaves. For the first hour of the evening he, his family and many others joined in several gatherings around small bonfires. Each family carried their personal word of thanks to Nature whether in the form of a letter, a certain item, a prayer or whatever they saw fit to throw into the flames with their gratitude. Afterwards, Zax met with his friends and until the next day, when the Nightly Cover formation reactivated around eight o’clock in the morning because of the holiday, they played around in the numerous stalls, ate all sort of delicacies, danced to the many songs and joyous music and fell asleep together at Dane’s place which was the closest when they started to feel tired – from there they, obviously, called each child’s parents.
A day later and a three day before the expedition of expert Mist Users led by Mortimer Dauch’s departed to the world above the ground, turmoil and agitation caused disarray among the citizens of Kingdom Earth.
The people were divided into three groups. One that backed the expedition, one that was against it and one that was natural with its opinion. Day before the departure the group that stimulated chaos and anxieties in every major cave, by exhausting their right of free speech in various phrasings, was the group that opposed the expedition, RFSF, Remembering For Safe Future.
In order not to desecrate the Half Year celebrations they patiently waited to after the holiday before they took action. They began by pleading the people of Kingdom Earth to not forget the catastrophic world that made their ancestors flee to below the ground. They frightened the people with the notions of beings, far worse than the beasts, who might roam this world now and whatever could happen if they become conscious of the existence of Kingdom Earth. They turned to the families of the expedition’s members and alarmed them to the low survivability of their loved ones and their capacity to return anything but alive. They even went as far as questioning the aptitudes of the Supreme Rulers when dealing with such risks and undermined the great revelation of the Supreme Rulers’ whereabouts during the year 4950 until the end of the Dark Century. All of these and more were the verbal method the RFSF used to gain sympathy for their cause.
The messages of the RFSF were sponsored by many high class families. They were broadcasted in almost every possible Screen’s channel in every household in Kingdom Earth. Their messages reached all the Callers and other communication devices either in the form of text messages, videos or in-game banners… Yes! Their messages had no age restriction and in the view of the RFSF every soul had the right to know the consequences that will befall, not just their kingdom but the whole of New Earth, if the expedition will proceed as planned.
Meanwhile, the group that supported the expedition consisted of unorganized, overhyped, overconfidence citizens of Kingdom Earth who were merely exited to learn, since nothing of the Supreme Rulers’ experience was shared with the public, the state of the world their ancestors came from and hear of, maybe in the future see with their own eyes, its fabled beauty.
The day of departure the expedition team left unhindered by the RFSF since the location of the tunnel which the first man and the first beast discovered to New Earth was located on the beasts’ territory and reaching it on its own was an arduous and dangerous task.
As it stated in partial quotes of the agreement between two species: “Humanity may not lead an army to the beasts’ territory… The beasts’ claws will remain on their side of New Earth… Apart from the designated period, individuals from humanity’s territory may set foot across the borders at the expense of their own safety and may not influence the rulers of either side…”
Basically, humans can test their skills against the beasts or venture to their territory, but regardless of their position in humanity’s territory or their actions in the beasts’ territory, the rulers of the beasts and humanity will not intervened.
Of course, the RFSF with its financial assistance could higher high level Mist Users to follow after the expedition team. But will those Mist Users dare block the way of other experts and Mortimer Dauch, the son of Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch? Very unlikely, to say the least.
First, in the beasts’ territory humanity’s rules did not apply, which make it safe to say that the beasts’ territory was the idle place to solve conflicts between equal level Mist Users that were only solvable by one party’s death, that is if the two parties were first able to ward off the dangers of the beasts’ territory if not use them to their benefits.
Second, the party in question was led by Mortimer Dauch. Mortimer Dauch was an expert, A level Mist User, Mist Lord, with great improvement record. In the age of twenty five he broke through the Core Breaker’s level to the Mist Master’s level and twenty years later crossed to the Mist Lord’s level. Despite his age of seventy three years, Mortimer Dauch still looked in his prime and with a long way to go and for the last twenty eight years practiced in the different techniques of the Mist Lord’s level. Currently it was impossible to guess to what phase he had reached and to try and discover was a fool errand.
Other than Mortimer Dauch, the rest of the ten members of the expedition team were no pushovers either. Each and every one of them was a seasoned A level Mist User with impressive battle record against all the beasts they he or she faced off and they all also were familiar with each other for many, many years.
To suddenly arrange an identical team of Mist Users was something that even if the RFSF had years they could not dream of doing. And so, at the end, the members of the RFSF could only stand by and hope that their fears were senseless paranoia while the expedition team left.
August thirty one, year 5784.
Last day of school.
Being the last day of pre Core School, a magnificent graduation ceremony was held for the class of third grade. The school rented a decent compound for the ceremony and invited by adorned letters the families of all the graduating students.
As the families began to gather inside the compound and the ceremony was about the start, the guests sat on white folding chairs in front a giant stage, the students sat on benches to the side of the stage and the teachers sat on white folding chairs in two lines on the stage, near a table with a batch of graduation certificates on it.
The school’s principal climbed the stairs to the stage nimbly and took her place behind a wooden lectern in the front center of the stage.
Given that middle class pre Core Schools, like the one Zax and his friends attended to, were fairly common, most of them had no official name and were referred to, for reasons of simplicity, by those related to them such as teachers, students, parents… with the neighborhood’s name they were located at before the noun “School”, the heads of these educational institutions were the only ones to call them by their numeric names.
“I, Mirta Du Alk Mar, welcome you parents, students and teachers to the graduation ceremony of school 531, class 22”. The overdressed school principal, Mrs. Mar, was a tall slim sixty something woman. She gained her position due to her decades of experience in the education system and her statues as a D level Mist User, Earth’s Core Holder. Fusing her mist energy with the sound of her voice she was able to speak loud and strong yet with a hint of pleasantry.
“Each year, in this recurring date, we, the humble faculty of school 531, say our farewell to the students and families that have been with us for a memorable three years.
Students, you have joined us merely three years ago, at September first, in the year 5781. Shy and hesitant of your new surroundings, you stepped into the place that sought to instill in you the basic ethics of today’s society, to enhance your knowledge in a variety of subjects that will help you to get a hold of your own Path, and at the very end of our road together, prepare and nature you toward the biggest step in your lives, participating in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit.
Today, in your final day as third graders, you leave us with aching hearts yet bursting with pride. You have addressed us as “Teachers” and “Seniors in life” in the past three years, and we thus far acknowledged you as “Students” and “Juniors in life”. After today, when each of you will receive his and her graduation certificate, we will no longer refer to you in such manner, nor will you identify us as your mentors. From today onwards you will keep growing most of all under the constant supervision of you friends and families. But there would be others like us whom you met at the beginning, the middle and even at the end of a particular brief route on your Path. Those others will cross their paths with yours, and when the time comes you will eventually say farewell to them, too. And from teachers and seniors, we and they will become something else, friends or elders that have taught you the expertise to recognize, walk on and first relay on yourself when you will realize your Path”.
As principal Mar finished speech, the audience of parents, students and teachers applauded. When the sound of clapping hands faded, principal Mar, with an air of contentment surging out of her, smilingly announced. “Without further ado, let us start granting the graduation certificates!”