Zax’s temperament seethed like boiling water. From the first time they got back to the ring to now, this troubled girl has finally done it! Putting a show and blasting him away without a hint of carefulness brought immense desire to show her who is the better one.
“Her Qi is so strong”, Zax admitted to himself. “But Take’s no weaker”. In that he was certain.
Just who was Take for Zax? No less than an older brother figure! And who was his Mor? None other than his big sister! Granted, ever since they made acquaintances Zax saw Take train strictly in accordance with to the guiding principles of the current stage that he tackled in the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique and with barely any fuss like the one Masela just made. But, was this all? Far from it! From what which Zetsa enabled Zax to learn he could fully understand. That which Zetsa passed to her Tal was an advanced Qi refining technique that even she was a long way from mastering.
Did that brown skin girl trained in the same level technique? Even if she did Zax was confident with his evaluation and comparison of her to Take and so the conclusion came clear. “Take is superior to this brash girl, and so could I be!”
As the two silhouettes kept moving in speed too high for the naked eye to perceive accurately, Zax just stood there unshaken in the edge of the ring like an unmovable steel pillar. In terms of Qi, Zax never trained in any particular Qi refining technique and never could sense it on his own. For the first time in a fight Zax decided to rely on the force that he did trained.
How did one perceive the Qi or mist energy of the opponent? As a tool meant to enhance external capabilities of the body. In the early stages, which even Mist Users struggle to surpass, the Qi or mist energy can form a layer which raises a few levels the user’s physicality and even the five senses. In other words, provide stronger external attacks and defense.
Zax could not use his Qi and was nearly a year far from attaining mist energy. What Zax had was an extraordinary strong soul!
Closing his eyes Zax sank into the depths of his consciousness. Confronting the blur that was his soul, Zax used his intent to tap into its power. A chilly light passed through his eyes when he opened them again and a serene smile indicated his satisfaction. Where there disadvantages for him to worry about? Certainly. Did he worry? Not one bit.
Similar to the one support factor of Qi and mist energy, not all utilizations of the soul’s energy depleted it. To make it simple to understand, just like to contain a great amount of Qi and, more commonly, mist energy can the energies indefinitely improve the physical structure of the body by the natural refining of the mist energy or by certain techniques… The benefits of soul training, to better sustain its growth, can and will naturally improve the outer and inner mind in addition to greatly influence not five but six senses.
From the F level of Mist Users, one became capable of dividing the perception of the outer and inner mind. The purpose of the outer mind is for daily use. Since the world move at a specific pace, one cannot always heighten the senses otherwise time would stand still. On the contrary, the purpose of the inner mind is to constantly be in maximum performances. Generally it may sound straining, but once a person becomes a Mist User the roles of the outer and inner mind emerged as second nature.
Zax’s soul had not reached that of a F level Mist User, which is why he had to borrow more of its energy to push himself close enough just like Masela forced herself a burst of power, only his change was not visible by none experts.
“Now I see you”. Zax thought. He did not simply “saw” them as the words implied. His utilization of the soul was two levels higher than Masela’s best and Clergyman’s current outer mind. As Zax saw them they were no better than hyperactive snails, which were still snails.
“Ninety nine tile, forty two tile, seventh tile, eleventh tile, tenth tile…” Wherever Masela and Clergyman stepped, Zax outer mind already was there. The ring had one hundred tiles and by reading their smallest gestures Zax could predict where they will stop, for how long and to which direction they will turn next.
Undeniably Zax’s mind was a head of them, but there was one problem. Zax’s advantage was only in his wide and fast perception. In terms of body movement, as highly talented as he was compared to the other kids in his pre Core School, now, the other kid had the support of Qi which put Zax’s physical condition in Masela and Clergyman’s view point at the same place as he put their mind…
“I’ll wait. Clergyman ignore me, his eyes always shift to the man who caught me and that girl”. He followed closely the action of the professional fighter first and then observed the girl who kept retaliating. “She exhausting herself too quickly, so stubborn… Her speed is slowing down, seventeen seconds!”
Since Masela released her Qi in an explosive force virtually two minutes passed. The depleting Qi has put her in a tight position, just a bit more and her life will be at risk. Clergyman faced an even bigger crisis… If anything will happen to this little girl because he pushed her too much he was sure that a calamity befall him right after. “Losing my life as a result of a fight with a coreless kid!” At long last beads of sweat began to dirty his face. “It is your daughter’s life on the line, Mr. Majid, hurry up and permit me to end the fight!” His eyes screamed but Mr. Majid remained indifferent to his pleading.
“Just one more second”. Zax’s waiting period came to an end. He made his move.
Masela attempted to dodge but it was a faint, she panicked for a second, lost her footing and stumbled back.
Clergyman could not raise his performances without letting some of the spectators and of course, Mr. Majid, notice the minuscule changes. He could not disgrace himself and so instead chose to act sneakily. He leaped forward to shorten the distance between him and Masela as much as possible and at the right moment, when it will be too intimate for others to notice, lock eyes and use a little hostile intent to frighten the fighting spirit out of the inexperienced girl in hope that her father, as well, will not be able to discover when they are up so close.
“Don’t blame me”. Clergyman meant for Masela. The gap between them was less than a meter and if not for her losing her footing Masela could have been more than just helpless.
“Eh?!” Suddenly Masela felt him. Zax made one step forward and was right behind her fleeting and slipping figure. The two were on a collision course.
“Not good!” Initially Clergyman counted on her moving two more steps back, so his body was already in motion to get closer. Now not only did he see the outcome of the collision, he also was about to be part of it. “The Young Masela Majid will definitely get badly hurt!” Unintentionally he succumbed to her Young Lady status.
This was all caused by a careless boy, a careless boy whom he ignored! Clergyman used the momentum of the leap to change his former initiative from a dash forward to a high jump. Masela’s shoulders were in his grip range. He grabbed and lifted her to his chest as his body turned like a screw a hair length from Zax’s head before hitting the ring’s surface.
The sounds of the fifth floor fell silent after the crash sound of Clergyman’s gigantic figure with the ring’s surface. Zax was the only one standing, the first one to stand alone in ring one.
CLAP! CLAP! CLAP!
Dozens of clapping pairs of hands and cheers came from all around the ring. The disbanded crowd gathered again and praised the quick thinking, the stealth, the technique, and the execution.
“Remarkable! Remarkable in every way!”
“Masela Majid, this is she is ten years old. Her Qi manipulation and the closing burst of power… Are there any in the three schools that can rival her?”
“My son goes to one of the three schools. Unfortunately his progress is meager compare to Mr. Majid’s daughter”.
“Have you seen Clergyman’s instantaneous deviation? He lowered his performances to fight equally with the Young Masela Majid, not relaying on his mist energy at all during the fight he managed to avert endangering her and the other boy with reduced physical capabilities”.
“That took me by surprise as well. I think Mr. Majid was also ready to act and save his daughter”.
“If it was some other pro fighter, he would have most likely needed to step in, haha…”
“Shame that boy had to interfere…”
“Innocence is bliss! Truly lucky he didn’t get hurt”.
The crowd laughed.
Zax did not paid attention to the crowd’s biased criticism. He heard what they said but their words held no meaning, no insight to what really happened. There was one thing he did want to do, but suspected that it might be childish or less cool than when it played in his head.
“If you are down, does that mean that I win?” He tried it anyway, imagining himself asking Clergyman with a naive look and then stepping down from the ring with a victorious smile, as if he did not know the answer from the start. “Dumb! Stupid! Can’t believe I ever thought these lines are cool!”
After so many month of soul training he was not the same juvenile kid. He was more calculated, more aware to the importance of proper demeanor and less interested in showing off or receiving the approvals of those he did not know or had very little to none impact on his life.
It was the same in the cases of his friends, too. In the past months he learned to open up to those who were courteous to him and not take seriously those who still referred to him by his stupid nickname. Ensuing, his circle of friends significantly expanded. But it was not the end of it. Over time, as he continued to grow mentally, he also developed an interpretation of the meaning of true friends and who he should categorize as such.
It began when he started to pay heed to the collective number of kids in his age that were around him. How many of them did he know? Do conversations, laughing together and playing at recess makes them close to him like Serah, Dane and the few others who were by his side since early childhood? With whom he would rather walk back from school? Did Many were truly good as or better than the Few?
Every question that popped up in his mind, after some thinking, provided a solution and clarity.
Most and foremost, friends were a good thing that one should not limit. The downside was, many friends usually mean “a lot of people that you get along with”, and that is how Zax began to realize the place in his heart of the new kids he befriended. There were two kinds of people he categorized as “Friends” and that was only because of lack of better term. In reality, those who had an effect on him were the ones which he actually never pondered about, and those were the valuable true friends his heart acknowledged and sought their approval.
The mock fights with Clergyman as came to an end. The professional fighter expressed his desire to get some rest before the real fights and with Mr. Majid subtle nod he sent Masela to her father.
“You, too, should get off the ring”. Clergyman told Zax with an indifferent tone. If it was not for the boy, the fight, which he considered to be only with Masela Majid, would have ended much smoothly.
“I thank my teacher in life and Martial law”. Zax unexpectedly bowed toward Clergyman, the only one who respectfully did and who treated the fights as personal lessons.
Clergyman blinked in surprise, but before a moment had passed he nodded his head in acceptance to Zax’s gesture, and saw the boy getting down from the ring.
“Here…” Serah offered Zax the bottle of grape juice that she bought.
Meeting up with his friends, the burden of excessive consumption of soul energy began to affect his state of mind. If Masela’s body received the feedback of her bursting Qi, than in Zax’s case it was his mind that suffered.
Zax drank the grape juice while leaning back on his assigned seat and fell asleep without saying a word to his consoling friends. In Zax current state even if he wanted to he could not perform Somnolence Meditation. He was too weakened and had a throbbing headache; therefore he let his consciousness to drifts freely while his soul slowly recuperated.
“Get up, punk”, a voice penetrated Zax’s sound sleep. “I said, GET UP!” After the second time the voice screamed a hit to his face followed.
“Who?” Zax awakened hazy and confused. He blinked couple of time, the headache has passed, but his cheek was burning.
“Move! Don’t touch him!”
“F****** jerks! There to hit someone while he is asleep!”
“These seats are ours; we have been saving them in the fifth floor for hours!”
The first to speak was Serah, her voice was full of anger and she may have spit while talking. Dane was the second voice Zax’s recognized. When his temper got the better of him, which happened rarely, He tended to succumb to cursing those who offended him or his friends. The third one was Anet, from her voice Zax could tell that she was crying. The three expressed different behaviors. Serah and Dane seemed to address the same person while Anet spoke to another, a bit farther away.
Zax rubbed his cheek and saw a kid in green and silver school uniforms grabbing his shoulder with a smug on his face.
“Don’t blame me, kid. I tried to wake you up, but you slept like the dead”. The blond blue eyes kid structure was bigger than Zax’s and with one hand not only did he cover all of his neck and half of his left cheek, he also continuously tapped them. “What? Still sleepy?” The blond kid frowned and raised his right hand for another slapping wake up call.
“Their uniforms…” Zax’s scanned the group of seven kids that appeared while he was sleeping. “That’s the badge of Molten Core!” He actually was taken aback.
Molten Core, also known as one of the best three Martial schools in Kingdom Earth. It was located in Tongguo. The school’s symbol was a melting Earth’s Core which emphasized the future prospects of its students, becoming Core Breakers. The school’s uniforms consisted from two colors, green and silver, in different shades. Much like the changes in the shades of a Mist User’s aura, darker shades uniforms meant higher grade students.
By the look of it, the seven kids were at the same age as Zax and his friends. After all, the Young Mist Users Conference was partly intended to children who were about to enroll to the first year of a post Core School.
“Dugo!” The boy Anet was speaking to warned Dugo, the blond blue eyes kid, but was too late.
Turning his attention to the boy who probably was the one that struck him when he slept, a furious glint shone from Zax’s eyes. Barely twenty minutes had passed since he exited the ring and although he gained enough rest for his soul to recover its energy; it still did not completely settle down from the shock.
To Zax’s impression, Dugo’s hand was moving hundred times slower than Masela’s and Clergyman’s, and there was not much of a force behind it. He grabbed Dugo’s hand, twisted it and kicked him in the stomach from his seat.
Dugo caved to the floor while holding his stomach and restrained himself from vomiting.
“You’ll pay for it!” Two of the five kids who blocked Serah and Dane yelled and approached Zax.
“They are using Qi…” Zax saw the air around the fists of the two kids distorting almost indiscriminately. “They are weaker than the girl from before”. He dodged the two’s strikes by reading their movement. It was like taking a walk since the two could only cover and strengthen their fists, the rest of their physical capabilities remained as those of a regular nine or ten years old.
“Don’t bully my friends!” Zax was about to hit the two from the back when the boy who warned Dugo intervened again.
“Service people should be more docile”. The red hair black eyes boy appeared before Zax in a flash and commented. He threw a concentrated Qi punch that Zax could not evade. Zax raised his arms to block and felt his bones shaking.
“Show them, Turan!” A girl from the Molten Core’s group said enthusiastically.
“Hrr…” Zax uttered in pain, yet he somehow managed to keep a tough mien.
“Bastard! We have event badges just like you- Urr…”
“Dane!” Serah shouted.
Dane fell to his knees. In a single moment Turan’s body flickered to his side and a punch landed in his stomach.
Every person on the fifth floor was aware of the quarrel, especially the present Mist Users. They easily detected the reason for the quarrel. Although most of them were of different status than Zax and his friends, they all remembered the lucky boy that ruined the fight between Masela and Clergyman and when the fight ended saw were he headed… four good seats which he and his friends saved earlier.
Each of the high status event’s guests identified the unjust and provoking act of the Molten Core’s group. It was not like they did not think of it themselves. But for people of their status to act that way will be nothing but shameful. Even those whom arrived late and suffered the nagging of their children for better seats, had to hold in the urge of confronting the, too obviously, low status four kids.
Now that someone did confront Zax and his friends, no one sought to interfere and help them, even those who felt sorry for them for mainly one reason. If the group of kids with the uniforms of Molten Core had someone powerful behind them, then harassing them could result in disastrous consequences.
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