From smiling to heavily panting. Turan turned pale and his body fell on the floor, motionless.
Zax released a bated breath. He succeeded. His experiment was affective! Previously, when Turan punched his left shoulder, he might have unintentionally sent the soul energy that dwelled in his arm through Turan’s fist. If that was the case, then it was comprehensible that the alien energy did not carry a malicious intent and its effect was meager and only stopped Turan for a short second without causing any harm.
This time, however, Zax deliberately aimed his soul energy as a form of attack against Turan’ soul. It did not go easy, though, for the third time in one day Zax had to reach his limits and that was only to manipulate a tiny stream of energy to the palm of his hand. Just when the energy left his body and entered Turan’s, Zax could feel a relief. It was then carried solely by its objective and, for that reason also, was out of his control.
The stream of energy struck the defenseless blur that was Turan’s soul and a shockwave spread across his consciousness. The pain was beyond what a ten years old boy could comprehend. One moment he had a clear sight on his opponent, the other a veil of nothingness engulfed his very existence.
In terms of soul’s power, Turan was inferior to Zax without a doubt. His Qi level was approximately at the Advance phase of level H, which meant that his soul was at least at that level, as well, but since it was due to Qi training and not soul training it would have been too absurd if he could match Zax who specifically and almost relentlessly indulged only in the latter.
“Turan Ram!” Before any of the juvenile spectators could fully express their confusion and disbelief a hasty voice burst through the door that lead to the fifth floor from the stairwell and a middle age man with brown short air and in a purple suit suddenly appeared next to Turan.
The man was in a frenzied frame of mind. He touched Turan’s head and for a few seconds did nothing but being by his side.
“Sir, Em Ram, yes, the stairwell of the fifth floor. Yes, little Turan Ram’s condition has stabilized”. The man talked to a hidden Caller and stood up with Turan lying in his arms. “Stay where you are”. His stern voice resonated as far as the last kid from the Molten Core’s group and where Serah and Dane stood at. It possessed a binding pressure which none of them could refute, a force that forbade them to move to save their lives.
Zax, who was the closest to the man in the purple suit, suffered the most. After the fight concluded he could not disregard the physical and mental fatigue anymore. Even the seats were no longer on his mind. In spite of this, the pressure from the strange man was too overwhelming, too much to even forget the pain in his arms, as if the man knew how strong Zax’s soul was and so consumed a little bit more force to compel him to the command.
Less than two minutes had passed before another, red hair black eyes, man entered the stairwell.
“Em Ram…” The man in the purple suit approached Em and presented Turan to him.
Em examined the unconscious boy. His finger tapped in nervousness against his leg as he stood stiffly. “Mishe, take him back and let him properly rest. Don’t leave his side again”. Em clenched his hand and moved aside for Mishe to leave.
“Turan’s schoolmates, I’ve heard from my son’s guard. He allowed you to play around and my son ended up gravely wounded. Tell me in detail how did it happen?”
No more bound by the pressure that Mishe gave off, the six kids of the Molten Core’s group and Zax, Serah and Dane all felt like a great weight was lifted off their shoulders. The two groups were now gathered on different sides of the stairwell in silence until Em permitted his son’s friends the right to speak.
“Mr. Martinez”, one of the boys stepped forward and spoke in a trembling tone.
Em Martinez, father of Turan Martinez, was the only reason the rest of them could stumble upon the chance of coming to the Young Mist Users Conference. To say that he was an influential man would serve as an understatement.
“It all started when we arrived to the fifth floor and searched for proper seats to watch the exhibition fights…” The boy opened and did not dare to miss a single thing. He told it exactly how it was, not even daring to contemplate the thought of lying or misleading Mr. Martinez.
“Is that so. All for a second row seats…” Mr. Martinez’s gaze turned to Zax’s group, packed with disdain and the veins on his forehead became visible. “Why O why did such an accursed thing had to happen to my boy?” He spoke aloud but to himself with reddish eyes.
Mr. Martinez surveyed Serah and Dane and then focused on Zax. The three did not know how to conduct themselves in front of Mr. Martinez. The boy from the Molten Core’s group spoke the whole truth, what else could be said to prove that the fault was not on their side?
“You are standing too far”. Mr. Martinez gritted his teeth as he spoke to Zax, in other words commanding him to come closer. As one could have seen, Mr. Martinez restrained himself with all his might, in any other place his voice would have echoed hundreds of meters, but in the Young Mist Users Conference he had the common sense to subdue the urge and not cause a scene.
Sensing the ominous aura that Mr. Martinez straggled to keep inside, Zax realized that he must obey the red hair man just as much as Serah and Dane were paralyzed and unable protest.
Mr. Martinez stared at Zax as if he was some kind of a prey that he was supposed to tear apart before devouring.
“Great great uncle”, Mr. Martinez uttered. In less than the time it takes to blink, a black eyes old man in a red robe and completely bald appeared between Mr. Martinez and Zax.
“What’s the matter, Em?” The old man, reading the atmosphere in the stairwell, inquired his great great nephew.
“A few minutes ago Turan and this boy here had a fight”. Mr. Martinez spoke to the man in the red robe as if he was the boy from his son’s group when he explained what happened to him.
“Oh… This young fellow?” Expressionless, the old man already deduced what were the results. But even if Turan lost, he still pondered why his great great nephew seemed to be on the verge of mentally collapsing.
“These children over there are my son’s friends. According to their explanation and Turan’s guard’s, Mishe, report, this boy is not from their school and neither a Qi user”.
“Not a Qi user? Then, how did he defeat little Turan?” The old man bewildered and paid a closer attention to Zax. Right then his brows touched each other and his mouth tightened as if he bit something sour. “The boy’s soul is extremely strong for a coreless child… He did so like that…!”
“Then you understand?” Mr. Martinez rage slipped out and a little blood dripped from the side of his mouth. “He struck Turan’s soul, great great uncle, my son’s soul! You understand, do you? In what kind of condition my son is in… The setback that it will cause him… He already was accepted for the post Core program of his school…” The more he vented the more blood dripped out from Mr. Martinez’s mouth. For what Zax did to his boy he hated him from the bottom of his heart!
“I understand, I understand, Em. It is indeed a severe case…” The old man tried to ease his great great nephew before his temper rebound against him. “Tell me how I can make it right for little Turan and you”.
“Great great uncle, I would not have asked you if I thought that I had self control remained… Death will be too lenient, great geat uncle, I want you to torment this low being”.
“My, my, Em If that’s what you want I’ll will do this favor, head of our family, but you’ll still have to remember that you had me deal with a child purely out of your temper and not because of little Turan’s condition”. The old man directed his voice in a manner that only Mr. Martinez could hear it. “In addition, I’m not sure how much in such a short time you have investigated of the boy’s background. Clearly there is an expert behind him, otherwise how could the soul of any coreless child reach such a terrifying level at such a young age?”
“Doesn’t matter. If you are worried about it, then that, too, can be taken care of by our family resource”.
“Quite so, quite so, haha…” The old men laughed.
Seeing the old man laughed, the group of kids on either side had a small hope that now the suffocating tension will wear off. On the contrary to what they thought, though, some might have called that moment “The calm before the storm”.
“You six may leave”. Mr. Martinez waved his hand at the group of kids from the Molten Core’s group and the six, without delay, rushed inside the fifth floor.
“What-” Zax wanted to ask what about him and his friends, but before he could get to the second word the old man averted his gazed from the fleeting kids to him and a sort of pressure, much like that of the black hair man that took Turan, confiscated his ability to move in any way possible.
“Listen, boy”, the old man opened.
His manner of speaking and the way he looked at Zax seemed as if is he was occupied in doing the most trivial of things. He did not present any sort of emotion and therefore his following action was the only pretext for deeming him merciless.
“Very soon you will develop a view on me, on the man beside me, on Turan and his friends and even on those two behind you”. As the man went on talking the pressure on Zax bit by bit increased. “And when everything here will end that view on us will be unpleasant to bear. You will first curse yourself for being unable to take back things you said and done. After that you will blame yourself for being weak and powerless, you will want to inflict pain while knowing that you can’t. Then, you will lash at those two who just stand there, stood there, while you went through so much pain”.
Zax was completely exhausted, both in soul and in body, yet even if he was at his peak the force that the old man unleashed on him was something he never experienced to this degree. When his body could finally move, it was to go down on all four and feel the small fractures, which were the consequence of his fight with Turan, worsening, causing excruciating pain throughout his arms.
“Grhaa…” Zax agonized. Nevertheless, no matter in how much suffering he was, he could not lose sense nor become unconscious to the voice of the old man. It was like he was speaking directly to his soul.
“I’m not telling you this to divert your attention from coping with the pain. I just want you to better realize why I do what I do so afterwards you will not seek anyone to blame but yourself”. That sort of reasoning was the same as mentally torturing Zax. Then again, the tone of the old man still remained indifferent. “Let this incident be a lesson which you will never forget and a sole benefit that not many in your position get to receive”.
Next to the old man, Mr. Martinez was utterly delighted in the slow torment his great great uncle inflected on Zax. He wanted to be the one who is directly responsible for torturing the boy who hurt his son, but was afraid of letting his rage make the punishment too swift, regardless of its end result. Therefore it was for the best to leave it in the hands of his composed great great uncle.
“I want to ask but it’s difficult to speak under the restriction of a strong aura… You there”, the old man turned to Serah and Dane. “Are you from the same cave as this boy?”
“Ah…” Serah and Dane were dumbfounded when they comprehended that their ability to speak returned. They coughed even though their throats were not dry.
“Zax…” Serah said softly.
“Simply answer my question”. The old man demanded and with a stroke of energy wave he slapped Serah.
Zax did not notice, but Dane, who was next to her, widened his eyes in terror and worry as Serah’s cheek turned and a mouthful of blood gushed out and dirtied her lips and chin.
“T.. Twe.. Twenty… Five”. Tears of fear ran down on Dane cheeks. He was ashamed of cooperating with the old man but more so afraid that he will hurt him, too.
“Not in our Supreme Ruler’s region… Em, are you familiar with cave twenty five?”
“It is not populated by high class individuals. That is the only thing I’m sure of, great great uncle”.
“Then all the more reason for me to explain the boy his grave error…” The old man sighed. He decided to keep the pressure on Zax at its current level before he will ultimately break him. “That should be a good opportunity to the both of you as well”. He mildly told Serah and Dane.
“In our great kingdom, Kingdom Earth, society is divided to classes. A person’s standing is measured by wealth and Martial power. The primary difference between those of the middle and low classes and those of the high class lay in how society’s rules apply to them. Really… Do they not teach these basics in schools anymore, Em?” The old man asked baffled. “Tsk, tsk…”
“Never mind, never mind. If they can’t teach that much, then it’s better if today incompetent teachers won’t teach at all!” The old man stated. “I do hope that when you asked to pour our family’s wealth into that extravagant school that you sent little Turan to, you inspected its credibility first”.
“Great great uncle, Turan goes to the best school in Tongguo. It was founded by none other than our Supreme Ruler…”
“Is that so… It should not matter anyhow, the money was spent”. After sighing again the old man averted his attention back to Zax and the other two petrified children. “I must confess, in my age it is hard to stay on track. There will be no more interruption from this moment on. Though, I must compliment your endurance, boy, just now I crossed to the Beginner phase of an E level Mist User, that is, in mist energy. I can tell that you never trained your Qi and yet you are still not yielding… Shame, shame, shame”…
“Blah… My blabbering makes Em twitchy. I’ll proceed, I’ll-”
“Serah!” The door to the stairwell burst open. Jinka, Serah’s mom, called, shaken by the sight of her daughter. Behind her was a small figure, Anet. Her eyes were red as if she cried nonstop since leaving and when she saw the state of her friends, her child heart nearly shattered.
The door to the stairwell slammed and the worried mom and frightened little girl were thrown on the floor screaming next to Serah and Dane.
“Continue, great great uncle. You two, stay quiet or I’ll snap your necks…” Mr. Martinez’s aura revealed that he meant every word.
Realizing the unfathomable threat before her, the best that Jinka could do was to tighten her hold on the three kids and scoop them into her lap protectively.
“Keep them like that, Miss, our business will soon be concluded”. The old man affirmed for Jinka’s and the three other kids’ sake. He will not mind seeing them suffer, that he already proven, but tormenting the insignificant Zax was as low as he could allow himself to get. That sort of activity did not befit someone of his stature.
“It has taken too long, boy, so I’ll just say this… Killing, stealing, assaulting, kidnapping and so on and so on… Crimes committed by someone of the middle or low class the person will be severely punished as law states. However, committed by someone of the high class and a great deal of leniency will be presented. Why? Wealth and Martial power. You, boy, have offended someone of the high class. It did not have to go as far as hurting Turan or denying his will, no. Simply by being an eyesore you have put yourself in a position were you justly deserve to be, under the wrath of those Better than you”.
Finished talking, the old man raised the pressure of the mist energy to the Advance phase of an E level Mist User. At that time, Zax laid on the floor drenched with sweat, panting rapidly almost as much as Turan before he lost consciousness. The pressure pressed his body hard against the floor like gravity itself doubled and tripled.
Although in a different manner, Zax’s breaking point was closer than it have ever been during the toughest time of his difficult soul training. Nevertheless, admitting defeat, accepting what the old man forced him to listen to or thinking that he brought it upon himself… Even for the shortest time none of these thoughts has crossed his mind.
Thanks to this resolve, which Zax refused to give up and in truth could only preserve due to the high level of his soul, a glint of silver lining bared itself and within a place in an unquantifiable distance a spark was lit and a thin echo gradually grew stronger.
The old man did not calculated earnestly one vital thing, the significant foundation of the boy he victimized, Zax’s extraordinary soul!