“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.
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.