There were six seats staring at the crowed of seventy eight. Kingdom Earth’s Supreme Rulers of past and present settled on the four middle ones while Huland and Zax rested on the leftmost and rightmost seats.
Tension filled the conference room. One reason was the return of former Supreme Ruler Gid Chu Takeda, another was the unfathomable strange beast in human form, Huland, the mysterious subject for which they converged to deliberate was a third; fourth and last… the appearance of Zax, someone all of them knew about and few cared to remembered, a deceased who is back with the living, moreover sharing seats with their Supreme Rulers!
Among the seventy eight pairs of eyes, several observed Zax with mixed emotions that weighed heavenly on their hearts by the moment; people who came to know him at different occurrences and either followed his exploits as he grew up or researched them afterwards.
The first name on this short list of astonished and recognizable faces was Habul Majid. The cheerful founder of the Majid family was known as a strong Mist User when Zax was a child. His progression on the Martial path was slightly above average when his name began to shine, yet it somehow sprouted when he became a Mist Lord. Whatever means he discovered, internal or external, improved his cultivation by leaps and bound, in a few short years he reached the Peak of the first Core Master level.
In fact, not one person in the conference room was below the second realm of Martial cultivation and Habul was among the weakest sitting at the third row.
Next in line was none else than Don Dauch, Anet’s Mor and Eden Formation’s retired school principal. Unexpectedly, the deep expression of the red head middle age woman was more akin to a scowl than surprise. Her placement in the first row was evidence to her profound cultivation, the Peak of the second realm. In the past few years, Anet visited her Mor whenever she accompanied Zax to New Earth. In one of those visits, she gifted Don a Pure Core of an adult two scales Deformed Being. To Anet’s dismay, though, Zax never bothered to see her Mor, not even after forcing her to leave New Earth.
Another person that shared an apprehensive scowl was Linda Marzel, matriarch of the Marzel family who Zax once associated with Linor, due to the similarities in their names and crafts, and whom great grandson, Razil, suffered a painful reprisal for his conduct toward Anet in the Martial competition.
“Heck, boy, didn’t you die?!” Superintendent Ten snapped, breaking the silence. Following his comment, all attention was shifted to Zax.
“Senior Ten”. Zax smiled affirmatively. He was not a student anymore so he dropped the “Superintendent”.
A burst of white aura erupted from the old superintendent. Avoiding disturbing the people at his sides and back, superintendent Ten projected his bright mist energy at Zax.
“Old man Ten, are you nuts!” The white haired and wrinkled woman sitting beside him exclaimed. Her cultivation was at the Peak of the second realm and despite not being harmed, the overbearing fluctuations still gave her a scare.
“Thank you for taking care of me”. Before more people could respond, Zax’s voice sounded in everyone’s ears, but his words were especially emphasized in superintendent Ten’s. Subsequent to the blinding glare, a flash of blackness veiled all spectating eyes, with no exception, and with it vanished the imperious second level Martial Mortal’s projection of superintendent Ten.
“Boy, to what sort of monster have you turned to?” Superintendent Ten granted with a pale face. His three aspects had a stifling sensation, particularly in his dantian; almost like his mist cultivation was sealed permanently rather than momentarily suppressed.
Watching superintendent Ten, one of the scarce Martial Mortals in New Earth, surrendering, alarmed the men and women in the room and intensified the suspense.
“Everyone”, Supreme Ruler Ariel raised his hand and a soothing breeze swept the crowd. “Allow me to introduce”. He gestured right. “Leader of Dark Glare, our Kingdom Earth’s ally from beneath the blue sky, Mister Huland”.
“Greetings”. Huland nodded. His identity and profound cultivation captivated the seventy two figures and spawned a multitude of thoughts, more than his place of origin managed to arouse.
One year ago, the expedition group led by Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch’s ninth son, Mortimer Dauch, finally returned into New Earth. The members of the expedition left as Mist Lords but upon their return all broke through to the Core Master realm. For a bunch of people to simultaneously create such a feat was definitely not a coincidence, but the notion of some magical treasure that could benefit Martial cultivation by such degree and be obtained above the ground, was also too outrageous to publicize to the general population. Hence, the report of the expedition group was split into two versions that were revised by the Supreme Rulers.
The version released to the populace coordinated with the collective belief. It spoke about a marvelous, yet dangerous world, mentioning Deformed Beings, accessibility to cultivation resources, layout of the Western Continent and even talked about small communities that happened to be up there, villages and tribes who ostensibly were remnants of the human and beast populations from before the great immigration to New Earth, thousands of years ago.
Then there was the more informative version only the high echelon of Kingdom Earth was eligible to. Those were the families founders and several organizations leaders with good record under their belt in their service to the three main great families of Kingdom Earth, Douch, Zoearth and Takeda.
In their report, the five powers were carefully detailed as the real governing force of the entire planet, as well as the cities and clans of the Western Continent, Mercenary Association and even expectation of Immortality was vaguely touched upon.
Although this alone was not the sole outlook on Ercas Mir for some of the people among the seventy two, for several who just recently attained their revered status it was an eye opener.
“The man to my left is someone some of you personally know and others should have only seen from afar or heard about”. Supreme Ruler Ariel moved on to gesture toward Zax. Moreover, there was a distinguish change in his tone, different from amiable and dominant he was recognizable by.
“Zax Zel…” Matriarch Linda uttered from her seat at the second row.
Habul Majid smiled and nodded in approval, acting like a prideful elder. He did not try to be discreet and his attitude made Zax wonder what went inside the head of the cordial man’s whose son never get his fair chance with his big sister.
‘Is he thinking of matching me with his daughter as a sort of compensation… was Masela her name?’
An aged man and woman sitting side by side also gave Zax an affirmative nudge of head from the third row, but they were unfamiliar to him.
Two seats to the left of superintendent Ten was the old woman who sat beside him during the Martial competition. She was one of the few Martial Mortals of Kingdom Earth and her line of sight repetitively shifted back to Gid Chu after each time Supreme Ruler Ariel’s voice stopped.
“What about him?” A thick voice inquired from the first row. It was a man with short needle like black hair and a tattoo of a spiral cube at the back of his neck. He was Neyrar’s father, was still Kingdom Earth’s recent Martial Mortal and also… the one responsible for Carl’s death.
Unlike Habul Majid, who also met Zax as a child, he did not remember their encounter in the first Savage Cave. Zax, on the other hand…
His mien and even frame of mind were composed. The grudge he had for the man had long been forgotten; at worse he was a little prejudice, yet unsure in what manner to proceed should they interact.
“Heaven”, Supreme Ruler Ariel slowly replied to Neyrar’s father, otherwise known as Heaven, but as words started accumulating in his throat, his tongue halted and he realized that not one lone person in the room was qualified for personal clarification on Zax. “Everyone, Zax Zel is a citizen of my El-Eden. A year after the last Martial competition I guided him to the blue sky of Ercas Mir and the next time I saw him he told me this…”
Thus, Supreme Ruler Ariel narrated Zax’s tale in Ercas Mir, at least what the latter chose to disclose.
With ups, downs and breaks in between for an aromatic cup of tea and then an hour later for an afternoon repast; the story came to an end when far above their heads, in Selivereb of Ercas Mir, the sun had completely set.
With the passing of another hour, the seventy two honored men and women sunk into self reflection, for they all had been outclassed by a member of the younger generation, both in cultivation and contribution to Kingdom Earth. Then, one by one, gazes turned up and to their right with humility and now everyone could witness the missed second glance.
A man cupped his hands and tilted his head down and like so, the first to pose in gratitude was Heaven. Subsequently, seventy one more people acknowledge a new sort of existence at not a lower prominence than former and current Supreme Rulers.
He was young, youngest in the room, in fact, by decades and centuries; however, there were things that exceeded seniority in value.
The most basic one that he had over everyone in the room was Strength!
“Liberation” was the second.
Once upon a time, two unparalleled men and an unfathomable woman came and vanquished a powerhouse by the short name “UGNE”; as a result, freeing the oppressed and uniting humanity toward a brighter future.
Today, an incomprehensible man shattered all obstacles and opened a clear path to the world beneath the blue sky.
“It is too dangerous before establishing ourselves and to do so would take time. The common folks will lose patience fast”. A middle aged woman in a dark purple suit stated her opinion from the first row of seats. Her name was Umer Lia Hern and she was the matriarch of Tongguo’s Hern great family.
“Obtaining an already functioning city is helpful in settling our foundation, but Monivore city is too distant for first realm cultivators to traverse on their own, let alone non cultivators”. Supreme Ruler Trey affirmed.
“Sir… forgive me, mister Huland, is it possible for your organization to supply intelligence on the five powers’ major movement in Selivereb?” A dorky looking young man in the second row asked. His cultivation at the second Core Master level was mediocre in present company, but no one in the first row dared to disparage him, for he was Heaven’s Shadow in the Basement Floor of the Core Breaker Guild, an up and coming youth who said to have broken the Assassination Stele of records before unmasking himself and accepting Heaven as his Mor.
“Inside of several clans and cities, with eighty to ninety percent certainty. Outside, it depends where, which power and what prior preparations were taken”. Huland replied.
“This matter involves the entirety of New Earth, at least those with influence”. An old man in the third row noted. His cultivation was a hairline from the third Core Master level and his status was the Head Steward in a prominent household in Shitou that recently suffered a tragedy, leaving only the young heir alive. “What about the Valgarel’s tribes and His Valor Ozeyn? Are we to worry of them colluding with Blue Sea or Violet Scaled Troops?”
“If they yearn for the blue sky, they’ll assist. Otherwise, they would be left behind, as simple as that”. Zax declared, and although there was nothing special in his voice, his words were perceived as law.
“Yurnal and Ozeyn are in good relationship and the ruler of beasts also acts with his species in mind”. Gid Chu explained. “And finally, aren’t we from the same Earth?”
“The Blessed Army and Violet Scaled Troops are under the same banner. General Logan welcomed the residents of New Earth to Ercas Mir with the conclusion of his negotiation with Zax. Since he stays his hand, Horn Kikon will act in accordance”. Supreme Ruler Ariel said.
“And the remaining three powers are far and deep in the sea and Eastern Continent with their leaders”. Supreme Ruler Trey said. “It’s rather the unrelated locals that we need to consider”.
“Independent experts, mercenaries, villages and tribes… They are spread all around the continent. Even in just the land allocated to New Earth there are still millions of humans and beasts, even more Deformed Beings. That’s a huge number, depends on how we want to deal with the land. One method of dwindling it is exiling all settlements and letting the Blessed Army and Violet Scaled Troops take responsibility”. A robust woman with smooth, pink skin and silver ponytail proposed. “Or, we can assimilate them in a fashion of our choosing, making them the foundation of New Earth’s settlement”.
Huland shook his head. “It’s more complicated than ‘I’m strong, you are weak, obey’. Have you considered the matter of faith? The villages and tribes are a lot more pious than cities and clans. They worship Gods and would rather die than denounce their beliefs. I know that here the absence of religious air is replaced by honoring the ancestors, so it’s a bit difficult to understand if you’d never been to a ceremony in which the manifestation of a God descended. Set aside promoting cultural and religious tolerance, what would you do to prevent your commoners from being converted to a dogma beyond your sphere of control?”
Several grumbling and musing tones sounded in the conference room as the issue was revised.
“Miss Omenera’s first proposition may be the quick solution”. A blond woman in a black dress and white blouse said, referring to the reboots woman’s exile option.
“That’s right”. Huland agreed.
“Except in Luminous Church’s territory, this method is frequently used by four of the five powers when they institute a new city or clan… They don’t care about what beliefs there are in tribes and villages, but in their cities and clans, their rules are absolute. Not agreeing means you better depart or wait to be arrested, penalized and if lucky, thrown out”. Gid Chu said. “As for the church, heretics are to be killed on the spot”.