Blooded splattered and littered the ground around the body of the bright skin man. On the way to his big sister’s Master’s cave and on his journey to the Savage Cave, Zax did not hunt for food. Valgarel had more than enough fruits trees and with his Soul Sense it was not a problem to find them. Therefore, the consternated Zax could only watch at his first kill, a human kill, with a rigid expression on his face.
In his sea of consciousness the internal warfare reached a cessation, but the mental state of savagery was an inseparable part of anyone who ventured into the Savage Caves, regardless of how much the imposing force of the caves affected him or her.
Inside the bubble of savagery that contained Zax’s sea of consciousness, his soul throbbed like a pulsating heart, immersed in the passion of his loathsome deed.
“It is wrong! Wrong! I shouldn’t have done it!” Zax tried to convince and subdue the side of him that sought more slaughter. The savagery contradicted with his morals, so Zax forced himself remorse rather than sincerely feeling it. Under the influence of the bubble of savagery it was like telling a kid who did not receive a present that he wanted on his birthday that he should express sadness despite the many more other presents, candies and everyone that cheered him.
Around six hundred meters to the north, trees began to rattle. Something was approaching in fast speed and large strides. Five hundred meters to the opposite direction, a bird’s cry reverberated and strong winds lifted stones off the ground.
“More insane beasts and humans!” Zax looked at the two directions the possibly more savage beasts or humans were coming from and withdrew a step back. “No! I can’t fight anymore. I don’t want to kill. I didn’t come here to kill!” His body leaned to where the lifeless bright skin man was laying. Zax hesitated, to leave it and run felt like escaping the scene of the crime in the culprit’s shoes.
“To not even bury him…” Zax did not know much about ceremonial burial, only that he could not perform it, thus not give the proper last respect to the man he killed. What was left to him was to simply dig a hole in the ground and cover the man’s body with dirt, yet under the current predicament the risk of him taking care of the man’s body could be at the expanse of his own life. Zax turned around in repentance.
Even after a dual fight against external and internal forces, Zax unbelievably discovered within him the energy to run for the cave’s entrance. ‘I will organize my thoughts outside and come back in. The cave’s force… Master sent me unprepared… No I had it too easy because the Black Core nullified the principals of Pain and Destruction! Laivien said that the Savage Caves will be able to make up for it. Now I just have to find a way to hone myself like Master said!’
At the very least, when the savagery did not rule Zax, its lingering presence aroused a certain level of lucidity in his mind.
Loud calls of savagery seemed to chase after Zax.
‘Why are they coming after me?!’ Zax looked back as he ran. Whoever they were, they were too far and the foliage hindered Zax from seeing the beasts or humans or both that madly followed.
“Stop chasing! Stay away!” They were already on his trail, so it did not matter if he yelled or stayed quiet. “Come at me and I’ll kill you!” Zax roared for the sake that some of them still had a hold over their actions, for the sake of not foolishly risking his life, for the sake of not losing to the savagery again and for the sake of not killing anymore.
“There!” Zax saw it at a distance of a few hundred meters, the cave’s entrance. In a leap he crossed the starting line of the cave and the range of its savage force.
“Haaa!” His head felt like it was being yanked right out of its place. Inside the tunnel, the bubble in his head did not disappear, but was pulled back by an invisible attracting force to the cave, taking everything it encompassed without any consideration to the accommodating person.
Zax succumbed to the will of the bubble and reentered the cave right as his pursuers arrived. None was human. One was a bird around the same height as Zax with four wings, another was a fifty meters long snake and the last one was five time the size of Zax, a mammal from the mustelidae family that had the characteristics of a badger.
The snake and the badger fell into a primal frenzy and jumped each other the instant they met. By the time Zax reentered the cave, both suffered deep injuries while the bird waved its wings, casting strong winds at the two. The three’s cultivation was pretty decent. By the color of their showy auras and mist energy, the snake and the badger both were Intermediate phase Mist Lords and the bird was a Peak phase Mist Master.
“Grrr!” Zax grabbed his head. The pain exaggerated the influence of the savagery and instead of using this chance to escape unnoticed he was more inclined to stay and fight.
The badger, with the unconscious help of the bird, smashed the snake’s head, killing it and still kept tearing the rest of it body. A river of blood streamed out of the snake’s neck. Though Zax saw mostly red, the sight of an even deeper shade of red and a look over his right hand made him realize why he was chased.
It was the scent of blood that reeked from him.
As to why the bird, even if one would say unconsciously, helped the badger… Historically speaking, snakes were the common enemy of many animals, which included the type of bird the four wings bird evolved from and badgers.
Just as there was basically not a single piece intact of the snake’s body, the two beasts turned on each other. The badger pounced first on the bird, bit and ripped its upper left wing and tossed it aside.
“Scree!” The bird yelped and punched the badger’s left eye with its talons.
‘A chance!’ Zax saw the opportunity and pushed himself to use it.
“Rrour!” The badger pushed the bird to the ground and was mid ripping another wing when it noticed Zax attempting to escape. It kicked the tattering bird and roared.
‘It’s coming!’ With barely fifty percent control on his body, Zax could not have gotten far and the beasts were still experts. A skirmish was a matter of couple of seconds to them.
Feeling the killing intent emitted from the badger, Zax had a déjà vu of the bright skin man and an insight to the curtain of blood that still cost its veil on him.
“Graah!” Something snapped in Zax’s mind. He turned and sprang full force and more at the badger.
The badger’s claws and Zax’s fist met and with a “Splash” sound, the fist explosively blew the badger’s arm.
The badger’s other claw slashed and left four shallow marks on Zax’s chest. Blood dripped from the four wounds, but Zax did not show the slightest care.
He growled, caught the badger’s neck and shoulder. “Grah!!!” His eyes were nothing but red. He extracted all of his given force and ripped the badger apart.
Releasing his grip, the two parts fell as blood showered Zax. The abundant energy that he had left was near depletion. While panting, the attrition brought him back to his sense. However, he was not the same as when he killed the bright skin man. This time around, Zax snapped because he reached for the savagery, he sought the complete intoxication of the curtain of blood and now that it was over, transparent to certain degree, the dose of savagery made him assess the situation with wild eyes.
The bird was still breathing, barely able to stand up – the badger apparently broke its legs – unable to fly, submerged by savagery, it desired to continue with the only one that was left.
Zax panted couple more times and then filled his lungs with air.
His body flickered. He did not fight with the savagery, only regulated its influence. His control of the body rose to seventy two percent, but his disposition with his morals reached a new juncture.
So long that he was inside the Savage Cave, taking lives could not be considered a senseless act. ‘In here it’s different than what I was taught’.
He reappeared next to the bird.
‘An aberration that is part of the Martial path…’
“Scree!” The bird opened its beak. It waved at Zax its complete two wings and the half torn one with accumulated dark silver mist energy that sharpened it feathers.
Zax punched and the bird’s head exploded.
“Killing for survival… Kill or be killed!”
Cannot leave, too outraged to stay. After finishing up the bird type beast Zax strode solemnly in the Savage cave, in search of more fruit trees. To get rid of the blood he rubbed himself with dirt over and over, he was not sure that it would help, but twenty minutes went be without encountering anymore beasts or humans.
‘To survive I have to adapt to the savagery. I was on the right track when I let go against the badger, but the way I’ve done it was reckless. Killing like this… ’
Concentrating his soul energy, little by little, a bridge started to be formed in Zax’s sea of consciousness between his soul and the savagery.
‘In small doses my soul will get used to the savagery in moderation’. Zax sighed to himself. ‘For now my priorities should be finding more of those fruit tress since raising fire to cook meat will definitely attract problems. Next, I’ve got to find a place to train. Until I will be able to handle the savagery and gain a hundred percent control of my body, my soul won’t be able to find the tranquility to mediate. Besides, the bodily maneuverers were what saved me against the man… I don’t know why, but when I executed them, I could move much more swiftly and the opposing force of the cave also alleviated for a little while. Training here will no doubt be stressful, but under the pressure I might improve faster’.
In the Savage Cave, calls of savagery could be heard from generally every direction. To avoid additional encounters Zax headed for the opposite direction of any sound that was on his way. That made him to go on circles for a while. Luckily he was able to find several fruit trees.
Amazingly, after eating five fruits all of his energy was restored. It was amazing because one should not forget that Zax’s body fitness level was in the Advanced phase of level C! Because he did not have Qi or mist to nourish it, rich food was the only thing that could provide him the supplements to sustain the body.
“Mmm… That was great! The taste wasn’t much, but it filled me up more than the herbal liquid and Master’s food!” Zax stretched his body in satisfaction. After the short meal his body returned to perfect shape, though he still could not utilize it freely, but with his mind determined to survive and the acceptance of savagery, dealing with Beginner phase Mist Lord without losing his mind was practicable.
Also as someone who trains in bodily refining technique, the injuries that Zax bore already healed.
‘But staying here is still not good. If more than one beast will come or if I’ll be exhausted from training, at one point or another I will lose my life’. Zax mulled over his limited options. ‘If this is the first cave I can’t imagine how many times worse are the second and third are’.
Reaching to this conclusion, Zax picked a few fruits to go and went on searching for a place where he could train without interruption.
A day had passed before Zax accomplished his search. What he found was a desolated grove with nothing but fruit trees and not one bit of savage sound.
‘I should not be rush. The bright skin man and the green lizard both were quiet before they attacked me’.
The grove had a circumference of over five hundred square meters. Zax carefully inspected it, one square meter at a time, and expended his inspection to a kilometer outside the grove. Since the bubble prevented him the use of his Soul Sense, Zax had to rely on the senses of his body to detect crazed beasts or humans.
Around seven hundred meters from the grove was the farthest Zax could go before the madden cries of those that inhabited the cave reached his ears. He did not know why the grove was left deserted, but it was good enough for him to decide not to leave it for a while.
Fruit trees were all that was in the grove, but not far from it was a large water reservoir that Zax could get to with no worries.
After finding a suitable place for him to peacefully sit, the next thing on Zax’s agenda was to observe the fluctuations of his soul that was the reaction to the doses of savagery.
Though even in his current level the soul appeared as a blur, Zax could evaluate its condition by sensing its energy. As expected, the assimilation of savagery was arduous on the soul and slowly progressed. Since the bridge that connected the savagery and the soul was made of soul energy, it also reflected the adaptation of Zax’s soul to the savagery.
One dose of savagery after another crossed the bridge in the form of an energy wave and was swallowed by the soul. To Zax it seemed like forcing a person to eat something that he does not like in hopes that he will acquire a moderate taste for it. Currently, to Zax’ soul, each dose was like a mouthful of the hottest peppers. It passed through the soul, infiltrated past its defenses and inflated it. The only reason that the core of the soul, the spirit, was not in danger, was because the savagery was a state of mind, an emotion that was carried by an outside energy to alter the soul.
‘It’s approximately one dose every second’. Zax calculated at which point his soul will get used to the savagery and, as a result, will be able to nullify its compelling effect. “Naturally, afterwards there won’t be a need for the bridge… but with one dose it will take a long time, yet two are too much”. Zax tried to think of a method that would allow him to expedite the adaption process. He contemplated what he can and cannot do. His current state could not even permit the peace of mind to study the pieces of spiritual knowledge in Adraak Meditation.
“Adraak Meditation!” Zax cried while having his first smile on his face since he entered the Savage Cave.
“It’s completely unsuitable. But Somnolence Meditation…!” Zax instantly sat crossed leg. Still smiling, he began to meditate.
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