While carrying out Somnolence Meditation, Zax reached to the conclusion that he definitely made the right choice. Entering the state of Somnolence Meditation during the process of adaptation to the savagery was similar to when Zax dismantled the icy grains of the Inner Spirit formation and merged them with his soul. The difference was in the fact that the savagery already appeared in the form of energy, so there was nothing to dismantle, and also in the complexity and cohesion of the doses of savagery… the difficulty of the icy grains was at a level in which even someone below level F could handle, the savagery, on the other hand, was a burden even Core Masters struggled with.
To support his soul, Zax figured out a way to reconstruct the bridge of soul energy in a manner that will lessen the intensity of the doses, which will make it easier for the soul to receive, and will allow more doses to pass together as his soul becomes more adapt. Though, to maintain the new structure of the bridge, Zax had to constantly stay in a meditative state.
Two days have gone by while Zax meditated.
“Whew!” Zax breathed a sigh of relief and awakened for the meditative state. “When I meditate, each progress doubles the amount of doses. It’s a shame that I can’t keep the new shape of the bridge at all times. Currently my soul can handle sixty four doses of savagery… I wonder how it corresponds to my control of the body”. His habit of talking to himself from his training days in the Essene Cave resurfaced.
Zax got up on his feet and stretched himself. Though he did not eat anything in the past two days, to a bodily cultivator it was not much if from the beginning his body was full and especially if he did nothing to wear it.
As for how much the savage force of the cave affected Zax after two days of the right form of meditation, well… the desire to lash out at something and rip it apart was still there. However, now Zax’s hold on it strengthened a bit. As long as nothing pushed him to defend himself at any cost, his grip could hold.
“I should check my control with the bodily maneuvers since I’m all too familiar with them than any other sort of movement”. Zax decided and started to execute the six sequences.
“Tsk!” Zax finished the cycle and tutted. “Around seventy five percent of control… Too slow and too little”. The effort to move his body was the basis for his analysis of his control over it. Practicing in the bodily maneuvers felt like he forced himself to perform them in a pool of mud. “Then again…”
When it came to the bodily maneuvers Zax was more than overly perceptive. With his mind in a clearer state than two days ago, he could observe with almost ease why the output of strength and level of agility were higher while he worked out the bodily maneuver, compere to any other move or gesture of the body.
“Training the bodily maneuvers under these circumstances would be like weights training, like raising the level of difficulty. I already know all the moves and breathing sequence, all that I have left is to perfect the rhythm”.
“Weights training” is a gentle way to put it. Although the pressure of the cave is more mental and the more one fights with the savagery the harder it is to bear, its effect so domineering that the body also affected by it to a degree that every cell in the body feels like it is carrying weights. Still, the results of training in such of environment are not the type that will make the body stronger; the pressure on it is but an illusion. What would improve is the technique. Instead of gaining the strength to force an action couple of times, one will gain the ability to execute flawlessly the action. For a practitioner that would seem like trading quantity for quality, but over time it is easier to find methods for strength more so than refinement.
“As of now, the bodily maneuver will exhaust me after about three cycles. Luckily the grove is abundant with fruit trees and just a few seem to fill me up. I will divide my training schedule accordingly to twenty hours of bodily maneuver and four hours of Somnolence Meditation. That way I could exchange sleep for meditation. First, though, I will have to get a sense of time”.
And so another day had passed and, although not accurate to the time outside the cave, Zax managed to dedicate a small portion of his concentration to a twenty four hours cycle of time.
Zax’s body caused all the possible wind’s sounds as he practiced the bodily maneuvers. Slow, fast, deep breaths, shallow breaths… all were executed as they should in the first three cycles and only the rhythm lagged behind.
As more days continued to pass, Zax trained the bodily maneuver not just externally, but mentally as well. In his mind it was simpler to keep up the rhythm for a while longer, but was harder to match it with the six sequences and breathing sequence. Therefore his training split to three parts, thirteen hours of physical training, seven hours of mental training and four hours of meditation.
During these demanding days, Zax found a little solace atop the fruit trees that surrounded him. There was only one type of fruit and on most trees it could be found with its apple like texture and not much of a taste, however, on a handful number of trees the same fruits grew to their ripe stage and their taste was phenomenal!
For every thousand unripe fruits, Zax managed to find one ripe fruit and savor its taste. It did not have the apple like texture beneath its peel. When the fruit was ripe its inside were filled with a sweet and burning nectar as if it was a balloon filled with wine.
Little did Zax know that the fruits were actually the rare Blood Red Grapes that made the wine the Supreme Rulers drank when they announced their pact of brotherhood and sisterhood unification. Zax, like every child in Kingdom Earth, learned about which drink the Supreme Rulers used to seal their pact, but only in writing, that is, its name.
What was so special about the Blood Red Grapes was something that Zax was in the midst of learning on his own. The Blood Red Grapes had only two stages, “Ripe” and “Unripe”. The unripe form of the Blood Red Grapes that Zax ate once in a while was considered as one of the most lethal poisons in Kingdom Earth. It was not that the fruit was poisonous or with accumulation of toxins in its early stage, but the immense vitality of its early stage was what made it so dangerous.
The Blood Red Grapes sucked the vitality of its environment in order to grow. A place where constant slaughter took place like the Savage Caves was its ideal place to grow in. Much like the place where it grew, only Core Master could physically tolerate the vitality of one or two grapes. That was because the physique of Mist User in level S was equal to level C in terms of bodily cultivation. If someone below that level would eat an unripe Blood Red Grape, the vitality will agitate all three aspects of his or her, and their body would instantly combust.
Since Zax’s body surpassed level C by a few phases, his constitution could handle six or seven Blood Red Grapes and afterwards, if he will not wear himself, weeks would pass before the sense of hunger will arise.
As for the ripe stage of the Blood Red Grapes, the fruit spends its vitality to reach this stage. Later, it is still better if one is at least a Mist Master before simply picking and eating\ drinking the Blood Red Grapes. Otherwise, to drink it in its exquisite form as a high class wine, there are still a few stages of external refinement before it is recommended.
The great number of fruit trees was also the actual reason why no one except from Zax approached it. When there is nothing to kill then the need to devour and the instinct to survive restrain the savagery, if only for a short while. Beast and human in the Savage Caves are not exempt from needing to eat. Though their temperament would still be savage, herbivore beasts in nature will seek food that they can eat, digest and sustain themselves with, while carnivore beasts in nature will follow the herbivore ones and those that eat anything will roam to wherever they want but will be mostly drawn to where the greatest accumulation of food is. Since tolerating the Blood Red Grapes depends on fitness level of the body and despite their wonderful taste when they are ripe, it is very unlikely that beasts or humans in a savage state of mind will come looking for them.
Also, the grove Zax found was one out of many smaller and larger ones in the Savage Cave.
A month had passed and Zax’s daily routine also showed hints of improvement between each day of training.
If each dose of savagery was compared to a drop of water, then by now there was a constant stream of savagery that flowed to his soul in the first twenty hours of the day, and a river in the last four hours of the day. How did that interpret with regards to his control of the body? Well, Zax already regained more than eighty nine, closer to ninety percent control of his body. The remaining ten percent, however, were a whole lot harder to regain and even in his meditation time, Zax barely made progress.
With respect to the bodily maneuvers, every day was full with new surprises. Zax could tell that his training did not at all contribute to the bodily refining technique he followed. Nevertheless, each day another cycle was added to the continuity before he needed a break to replenish his energy. That symbolized that although his body fitness level did not increase, his technique did and as a result less energy was spent on executing the bodily maneuvers properly.
And then there was the rhythm. Yes, improvement in the bodily maneuvers did signify that Zax also made progress in keeping up with the rhythm and matching it with the sequences, but after a month of training with meticulous attention to his weakest point, Zax sensed something novel when combining and executing the bodily maneuvers with the rhythm. The longer he could sustain the two together, the more he realized that there was another look, a profounder perspective to the rhythm that his Master left him to figure out alone, much like the breathing sequence.
Lastly, Zax temperament also underwent transformations in the past month. Zax developed familiarity with the intent to kill. He did not think about it a lot, but his morals and view over taking another’s life were changing, cultivating and gaining insight, one must say.
His previous repentance for killing the dark skin man or the badger and the bird was long forgotten. Now and then, Zax asked himself questions of who that man was? Who the green lizard was? Who the three beasts that chased him were?
“Experts on the Martial path, ready to risk their life in training, willing to take mine”.
Put aside the challenges that a Martial cultivator has to go through in order to advance on his or her path, did Zax not know of the dangerous of Valgarel regardless of why he ventured into it that day with his big sister?
Why then it was illegal to cross the border between humanity’s territory and the beasts’?
And those four words he spouted after killing the bird type beast and followed his notion for survival, “Kill or be killed”. That day they were said under the influence of anger, hate, hostility, irritation, savagery! Their meaning to Zax was a spur of the moment. Only a month later did the true significant of the expression meant something intelligible to Zax.
Training in the Savage Cave was the only real time when Zax truly was alone. When he cultivated his soul, before his big sister opened for him the path of bodily cultivation, his time alone was a mere few hours a day. If it felt like more, it was because that back then Zax isolated himself from others.
And when Zax trained with his Master for nearly two years, though he had only one person besides him, it was during that time that his heart began to open up again.
Now in the Savage Cave, Zax was by himself for two months, yet though he would have appreciated company, with the savage force that reign the cave, in mind, Zax acknowledged the need for isolation and used it to concentrate on nothing but training.
Two months after he found the grove, the hint of insight that eluded Zax and was the key to mastering the rhythm finally unwrapped itself.
“Unreal! Unreal!” Zax could not restrain himself and jumped on his feet like a joyful Krikitory cub that was praised by his mother. “Hahaha! So that is what it was!” He announced triumphantly.
“Hahaha! I want to try it!”
His brows touched and a serious expression appeared on his face.
The first move of the first sequence of the bodily maneuvers was extending the hands from the shoulders forward. The first breath of the breathing sequence that accompanied all six hundred and fifty moves was a slow inhale. The two together were the beginning of the perfect execution of the bodily maneuvers because they required the practitioner to open outwardly and solidify inwardly the foundation of the following moves. As for the rhythm, it was slow, steady and impeccably done.
Thus, the cycle began.
Zax’s perception of time with the inner mind was what determined how slow was slow and how fast was fast. Every person that reached the realm of outer and inner mind could choose which one to you use daily. Regularly using the inner mind, though, put a strain on the soul and that was why most people led their life with the basic state of mind, the outer mind. To Martial cultivators, however, training was executed with the perception of the inner mind for fast progress.
If someone of the same soul level as Zax saw him perform the slow moves of the bodily maneuvers, Zax would really seem slow to them. But if someone in a lower level saw Zax, even the slowest move would seem fast. That was not just how Martial cultivators trained, but also how they fought.
In the state of inner mind, Zax followed his discovery of the rhythm attentively.
The savage force of the cave still impeded him, but everything from his bodily maneuvers to the breathing and his new outlook of the rhythm proceeded without a glitch.
The cycle was over.
Zax stood in his place, staring at his hands, arms, over the shoulder and the rest of the body.
“Not one ounce of effort”. An ear to ear smile spread across his face. “Perfect execution”. His hands clenched into fist. “That’s it, the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers!”