One day remained to the restricting one week without any sort of training that Zetsa imposed on Zax. Thankfully, today Zax had things on his mind.
Zax, Zetsa, Marco and Laylen were sited in a long black luxury vehicle which was the property of cave twenty four’s governor, Xingze Edomachi. The four of them were invited to the governor’s manor in cave twenty four to a boisterous celebration in the name of Take Edomachi.
As it so happened, in less than two months, a short passage of time after the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit, Take Edomachi succeeded in advancing from the intermediate phase of a F level Mist User, to the beginner phase of an E level Mist User.
This great accomplishment was possible due to two factors. The first one was the high quality F level Earth’s Core that Take managed to find with the help of his Mor in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit. The second was his diligent training in the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique.
Zax excitedly watched outside from the vehicle’s window as it drove up to the governor’s manor. He had not met Take since the last time Zetsa took him to be present in their training session. Take was his first friend closest to him in age that attained an Earth’s Core and Zax could not wait to see how powerful he had become – mainly because any Mist User on the Martial path, regardless of his or her level, was a glamorous entity in the eyes of coreless children.
Zax knew from Take that his father impels him toward the direction of the Martial path, which he also interested in, otherwise how could he convince Zetsa to spend her time cultivating him?
When they got out of the vehicle Zax noticed that his parents were tense. There were quite a few vehicles parking at the manor’s grounds and at the entrance to the manor, its owner and his wife accepted their esteem guests.
“Miss Zetsa!” Governor Edomachi abandoned the reception of his guests over to the old maid and the white suit bodyguard and with his wife and hands spread wide open in the air rushed to welcome his son’s Mor and her family.
“Xingze, Slovet, please meet my parents, Marco and Laylen Zel”. Zetsa made an introduction. She did not mention Zax because the Edomachi duo already knew him.
At the time, Marco and Laylen, who never were in contact with high class personnel or even came close to the property of someone of the high class, were oblivious to how they should conduct themselves so that they will not embarrass themselves or their amazing daughter.
“Oh, Hahaha…” Governor Edomachi laughed coarsely, he was in such a good mood that when he saw Zetsa, the one responsible for his son’s abundant fortune, that he lost all traces of restraint and almost skipped his way to hold the hands of this extraordinary beautiful young woman. “Hahaha, you do me and my wife the honor, Mist Zetsa! It’s pleasure to meet you Marco Ram, Laylen Ram, young master Zax!”
“Marco Ram, Laylen Ram, forgive my husband’s boisterous manners. Take’s advancement brought extreme joy to all of us”. Mrs. Edomachi was more reserved than her husband.
“Marco Ram”? “Laylen Ram”? Both Marco and Laylen were speechless. Who could ever imagine that they will be referred to with such an honorary title? And by someone of higher statues than theirs, nonetheless!
“You treat us too well, Mr. Edomachi, Mrs. Edomachi”. Marco turned to them in an orthodox manner. To even gesture back the honorary title was beyond his and his wife capacity.
“Marco Ram, I’ll lose face, I’ll lose face, hahaha… Your daughter refers to me and my wife by our first names only and you do so as if we are strangers. Nonsenses! I can’t accept such treatment. My name is Xingze and my wife’s is Slovet. Please, you and your wife may use them however you like”. Governor Edomachi was a D level Mist User and in his current temperament he was very oppressive. He walked with Marco under his arm as if they were old friends while Mrs. Edomachi accompanied Zetsa, Laylen and Zax to the manor.
“Big sis, why governor Edomachi refers to mom and dad with “Ram”, to you with “Miss” and to me with “Master”? Why each of us get a different title?” Zax whispered.
“That’s because, like mom and dad, I also more used to the orthodox manner. High class people, on the other hand, will use whichever they feel appropriate to the person in front of them. At first Xingze referred to me with “Ram” too, but it felt uncomfortable so I made him settle for “Miss”. To you he refers with “Master” because that’s how most high class children are referred to by adults who acknowledge them”.
Many of the guests knew or heard about one another even before arriving to the Edomachi’s estate. Being members of the highest tier of population in Kingdom Earth, through their various connections, they obtained the guests list of the event to assert those who will come for numerous reasons, such as knowing from whom they should be aware of or for whom they should exploit this opportunity to start a formal relationship with.
When the distinguished guests watched from the side as their host ignored them in favor of other guests who seemed to have miserably simple appearance and were unknown to them, they felt deeply insulted. Then again, as Governor Edomachi together with his wife passed the rest of their guests with the Zel family, no one dared to make a fuss and admit his or her degradation.
The tables in the great dining hall were set with all kinds of drinks and delicacies. Zax and his family sat beside the Edomachi family. Governor Edomachi was in the center of the table, Take to his right and Mrs. Edomachi to his left. To Take’s right sat his Mor, Zetsa, and next to her were Laylen, Marco and Zax. Governor Edomachi raised a glass in honor of his son and then called for the performers to begin and the maids to arrive with the main courses of the celebration.
Following the performance and the feast, the guests that wanted to put their own show and publicly express their compliments and blessings, rather than hand over their gifts to the serving staff that was stationed to accept them, stepped forward in front of their host, his wife and their son.
To be honest, the line was not that long. Although an E level Mist Users at the age of ten years old did not appear very frequently, commonly, in Kingdom Earth every few decades many were born that surpassed the older generations, though the reason behind this occurrence was the improvement in Qi\Mist and soul refining techniques. What was one more lucky child that had his parents to probably waste part of their wealth to acquire such technique? In a few years’ time others will be born anyway and more high level techniques will be available to the public.
Now, if the boy in question would have achieved his current level by sheer talent that would have been something else entirely!
Zax and Take sneaked out of the designated guests’ room that was prepared to accommodate and keep entertaining the guests after the feast.
“Can you believe how many presents I received?!” Take boasted. Rubbing Zax’s head that was shorter than his in ten centimeters or so, he said. “You can help me unwrapped them later and take those you’ll fancy”. Take truly meant it for couple of reasons. First, as the son of a cave governor the material things that he lacked in his life could be counted on one hand. Second, how can he be parsimonious toward his dear Mor’s little borther? Third, being still a child he might have not fully comprehended his emotions for Zax, however, if one looked from the side the only impression that he or she will perceive from Take’s manner will be that of a caring older brother.
“That will be awesome!” Zax replied. Being immersed in training most of the time did not repress his childish desires completely. If one of the presents contained a mechanical pet, a new generation Caller, a premium account card of the popular online game Mocca Kart that he could show off to Serah – presumably until he will realize that he does not care about it and give it to her – or maybe even a low grade Martial technique…! For the last one his aspiration most certainly overreached, nevertheless, any of the other previous three would surly more than satisfy Zax.
“Say, Take, did you become an E level Mist User because of big sis’s Qi refining technique?” Zax probed.
“Hmm”, Take nodded. “But me and Zetsa Mor call it now “Radical Fiery Icy Provocation MIST refining technique” since all my Qi converted to mist energy. If I wasn’t training in it, then it would have taken me at least a year to break through the bottleneck of an E level Earth’s Core Holder”.
“Just a year? I read online that to the average Mist User who trains in mist refining techniques it could take around three years to advance from the F level to the E level!” Zax was astonished at Take’s remark. Little did he know that Take obtained a high quality F level Earth’s Core in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit with the help of his big sister. Yet that was a secret Zetsa forbade Take to reveal to anyone. At most he could tell his doting father that he was lucky at the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit.
Take’s chattering caused him to a slip of the tongue. To fix his mistake he puffed out his chest and gave Zax a noogie. “You presume this older brother of yours is the same as a mere average Mist User?!”
Even though the age gap between them was less than a year, a coreless child, no matter how talented and cultivated, frankly had no chance against a Mist User of the same age. “Sorry, I’m sorry, Take!” As much as a noogie can be painful and annoying, it did not feel like Take was bullying him. Rather, that Zax had it coming for underestimating “this older brother”.
One thing that should be noted is if Zax would have used a soul attack to repel Take, its effectiveness would have been nearly identical to how it affected Turan. The reason was that E level Mist Users could not utilize their soul energy for offence or defense, so even if Take’s soul was two levels higher than Zax’s, at best he could only withstand the impact of Zax’s soul attack at the price of becoming bedridden for about a month. Then again, Zax learned his lesson of how much dangerous soul attacks are and how inexperience he was in implementing them. Even as a joke we would not use a soul attack on a friend, nor an enemy that he could avoid in every other possible way. That being said, there was still one more day before he could train or use his soul or Qi.
“Good, don’t forget how spectacular I am! Hahaha…” Take’s laugher was akin to his father.
The two wandered around the manor, playing jokes on each other, checking once in a while on Zax’s parents or if the other guests already left so it will not be rude to open up the presents. Zax did not mention anything of his experience in the Young Mist Users Conference. He reconciled with his friends a few days back when they and their parents were invited to a dinner at Fourchettes Et Couteaux. Reminiscing the past when he was at peace with himself would have thrown him into gloomy state of mind.
Take told Zax about his own experience in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit in a nutshell since it was not a guarded secret or anything and much about the event can be found online.
“They send you off together with tens of thousands of kids to search for an Earth’s Core in a cave that throughout the year is part of the beasts’ territory. Listen to my advice, Zax, and maybe you, too, will be fortunate. When they’ll tell you to enter the cave, follow the Guardians who go to patrol at the far end of the cave. In past years, and this is something you can’t even read about, all the decent to high quality Earth’s Cores were found a few kilometers from the tunnel to the unsafe zone. Obviously, you should not venture close to that tunnel no matter what!
“If Zetsa Mor will accompany you to the to the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit, that will be good. As a Mist User at the level of a Mist Master she can asset for you the value of an Earth’s Core. If she won’t go with you, then it’s best if you keep to yourself and stay away from the other Guardians. Some of them, I’ve heard, will even steal a high quality Earth’s Core if they’ll know that some kid found one…”
Zax attentively listened to Take’s pointers and warning. In January the new date of the next Great Earth’s Core Pursuit will be decided. By then he will already be in fourth grade, reach the age of ten and eligible to take part in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit. When the time comes, any kind of information that he could obtain in advance would be beneficial.
“Good luck on your chosen path, master Take”.
“Do your parents well, son”.
“You have a marvelous ahead of you, Take Edomachi”.
“Promising, promising, hehehe…”
The visitors gradually began to leave. Each of them Take had to greet, bow and thank for coming to his celebration and their presents.
When the Nightly Cover formation covered the cave’s ceiling with sparkling dots of light only Zax and his family remained in the governor manor and a few members of the extended Edomachi family. Governor Edomachi thanked Zetsa, Marco and Laylen for joining today and sharing this blessed time of his, his wife and son. Afterwards he excused himself to privately talk with his kin.
Zetsa, Marco, Laylen and Slovet sat around a small table with cups of green tea in their hands while the two boys opened the presents.
The hour was late and the middle class parents sensed some time ago that they should also leave, but Mrs. Edomachi insisted that they should join her for a small talk. “During the party I had to indulge in dull conversations”. She sighed heavily. “Please, Miss Zetsa and I often sit and talk with each other. Our conversations always so fascinating, and even at times when she doesn’t have something new to impart, her opinions of the various topics I bring up are wittily thought provoking”. A subtle smile spread across Mrs. Edomachi’s rosy cheeks. “It will be a nice change of pace to halt and get to know the people who raised this young woman”.
Faced with Mrs. Edomachi’s cordial appeal Marco and Laylen felt compelled to respect the wishes of their charming hostess. In a way, this was an opportunity for them as well to learn about their daughter from someone else point of view who knew her intimately.
Zax and Take uncovered very many gifts from the small pile that was placed at the center of the room. There were expensive mechanical toys, most were of great figures of the Martial world, few were of known horrific beasts and fewer were the Pet type. The pair was disappointed that they did not find any books of Martial techniques. It appeared that the guests either saw Take as a child or did not want to contribute to the cultivation of a future potential of another family. What the two boys were unaware of was that three guests did gifted Take with books of Martial techniques. There were three in total, one book from each of the three guests. Two of them were a present from two families that had close relations with the Edomachi family, and the third one was from the extended Edomachi family. The three books were not placed among the other presents and were handed discreetly to governor Edomachi by those who brought them.
Initially Take had thought of sharing half of his gifts with Zax. The amount which he received was too much for one boy to indulge with. Moreover, all his free time was devoted for training to establish his footing on the Martial path.
Marco and Laylen, in contrast, accepted Take’s generosity but opposed to him giving away his presents to their son. They did not explain their decision, either. Fortunately, the boys did not argue and showed a substantial understanding maturity.
Mrs. Edomachi was also prepared to rebuke her son if necessary. If the presents are not to his linking they will donate them, as they have done in the past.
The stay at the governor manor concluded late at night. Zax ended up with two of Take’s presents, a mechanical pet modeled after a cub blue scales fox which had blue shining scales on its back and hind leg and blue fur on the rest of its body. It had four ears, three eyes and was about twenty centimeters long, fourteen centimeters tall. The other present was a Mocca Kart’s premium account card. Take received around seven so convincing Zax’s parents and his mom was not difficult, in addition, Zetsa intervened for his support.
The Zel family left the way they came, in the governor’s black luxury vehicle.