“The Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers!” Zax could not help but to say it once more. “The six sequences birth the breathing sequence, the breathing sequence birth the rhythm and the rhythm birth a sort of energy!”
Zax finally figured the main goal of practicing the bodily maneuvers.
His body disappeared, flickered, moved faster than ever before. He jumped, kicked, punched, swayed, bent, rose in every manner he chose. By reaching the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers his proficiency in utilizing the body whichever way he liked, advanced to a new level. No gesture or movement had a wasted ebb and flow. Even with the burden of the cave’s savage and imposing force that reduce his control, Zax’s precision in maneuvering his body was effortless and graceful.
Zax stopped at the edge of the grove, closed his eyes and contemplated the next thing he should strive to achieve now that he had absolute control of the six hundred and fifty moves, the breathing sequence and the rhythm.
“The energy converged spontaneously and sustained from the one hundred and second gesture of the sixth sequence to its last move and vanished. At the time of the last seven moves and gestures it felt like each of them carried fifty percent more power! Learning to summon the energy should definitely be my next aim, and it’s probably the prerequisite for reaching the Advanced phase of the bodily maneuvers”.
“Still, there something that I don’t understand. If my execution of the moves, breathing and rhythm was perfect and unified all three from the first move, than what made the energy to converge only near the end of the sixth sequence?”
Zax walked blindly to a close by tree, which while testing his new bodily capabilities he saw that had a ripe Blood Red Grape ready for harvest on one of its branches. He jumped, plucked the grape and drank its delicious nectar.
The grape did not fill him with vitality, but the nectar had a special cure like property that lessen the effect of the savagery temporarily and cleared the mind.
“There can only be three reasons. First, I simply didn’t notice the energy. Second, its accumulation was too low to bring in into existence. Third, I had to get close to, reach or execute once the moves, breathing and rhythm in union in order to break through a certain bottleneck before the energy could emerge”. All three reasons were reasonable and all could be true or false, however Zax had a way in mind to be sure.
He extended his hands from the shoulder, slowly inhaled and moved accordingly to the rhythm.
“Gah!” Zax fell on his knees and spat a mouthful of blood.
“Impossible!” He muttered, panting.
Mid way the first sequence Zax felt a growing mass weighting on his body till eventually he could not carry it anymore. The instant he stopped the mass recoiled and a surge of energy bashed his internals.
“Ugh!” His insides felt like they ruptured and entangled. ‘Can’t move, got to rest and heal’. Zax retained a calm state of mind, said to himself and allowed his body to gradually heal.
‘What was that? The first time the energy dispersed and converged in each move separately. But now it energy emerged right from the start and streamed from one move and gesture to another and accumulated till it was too much to bear’.
‘By converging from the start it proved that I broke through a bottleneck when I reached the Intermediate phase, so when the energy accumulated instead of dispersing it made sense that it acts differently in the next level. But if it’s truly like this, then anytime I’ll stop before a sequence or possibly a cycle of all six is complete, the energy will recoil. Then again, that much accumulated energy will blow my body to tiny pieces… Doing it like this can’t be right. I must disperse the energy in every move and let it converge rather than stream and accumulate, that must be the proper way to maneuver it. I’ll test it when my body will heal’. Zax assessed what went wrong and when he reached the conclusion he stopped thinking about it and began to meditate.
It took Zax’s body nine hours of recuperation before it was back in shape, yet drained from energy. Couple of unripe Blood Red Grapes later and he was ready to try his hypothesis.
‘First move. I feel it converge. Disperse right when the first move ends’. Zax self instructed. ‘Second move. The energy converged, repeat the same process’.
Zax exercised the same caution and employment of the energy in one move after another.
‘The last gesture of the first sequence… I can’t keep up longer than this!’ Zax dispersed the energy that converged in his left foot with a little slide of the heel.
“Dispersing and converging… is the proper way…” Zax breathed heavily. “But… I barely finished one sequence…” He picked up a rock, threw it on a tree and several unripe grapes fell over.
Taking the first bite, Zax smiled. “So that is the new challenge!”
From the day he reached the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers Zax reevaluated his daily schedule. There was no point anymore to train on the rhythm at one time and the bodily maneuvers and breathing sequence at another. He combined all three and was able to implement them in whatever he did. Since the progress of his meditation slowed down to near a stop, after he resumed ninety three percent control of his body and a similar ninety three percent adaption to the savagery with his soul, Zax realized that unless he will dedicate more time to meditating he will be stuck in the Savage Cave for maybe years – in case the adaptability of the soul was related the bubble that engulfed his sea of consciousness.
Zax arranged his new daily schedule to evenly train for twelve hours in the bodily maneuvers with the goal to converge and disperse the energy in each of the six hundred and fifty moves and gestures, and the next twelve hours to meditation and reconstruct the bridge between his soul and the savagery to something more efficient.
The swirling air turned comparably to a cyclone and Zax was at its eye for one moment and in the next somewhere else, where the bodily maneuvers took him.
Almost four months have passed since he ventured to the first Savage Cave. Apart from the vicious encounters in the first couple of days, Zax did not meet any other beasts or humans. As it so happened, something, someone, was about to stir his peaceful days.
“Footsteps!” Zax let the energy disperse and halted his movement. “Two feet… could it be a human?”
The sound of the footsteps did not yet reach the grove, but also nor far from it, a few meters or so. Zax also trained not far from the same direction, so even though he was over one hundred meters from the edge of the grove, he could pick up the sounds.
‘If it’s someone that can stride so calmly, then he must be a Core Master at least in soul level!’
From his first days in the Savage Cave Zax learned that Core Masters, or to be precise, a soul with the capabilities of a Core Master is required in order to fend off the savagery.
Nevertheless, although his soul level and body fitness level did not advance at all in the past four months, his utilization of the body experienced leaps and bounds and his control of the body and adaption of the soul were closing in on the ninety seventh percent.
Worst case scenario, if a Core Master would attack him, he will be able to run and disappear before the other will catch him.
“Hahaha… So someone else got here first”. A voice responded to Zax’s emergence and laughed sorely.
The one who stood before Zax was a slim man with a black skin, a trimmed haircut and chiseled muscles. The black man was about ten centimeters taller than Zax, around a meter and eighty centimeters in height, in his early twenties and wore a loincloth that was made out from beast skin.
“Friend”, the man turned to Zax. “Are you capable of speech?”
In other words, Zax understood, the man was checking if he lost to the savagery.
It is important to note that regardless of how well one can handle the savagery, the redness in the eyes is inevitable within the Savage Caves. Therefore, when two meet inside the cave, it is preferable not to rely on the look in one’s eyes.
“Are you a Core Master?” Zax answered with a question. It may have sounded rude, but better to be rude and safe than polite and dead.
The man smiled and released his aura that shown in azure hues. “Are you not a Core Master?” He asked back.
Zax was startled. The arrival of the black man was so unexpected that he only considered himself as the need to know guy. “My soul is”, in an unexplained way it was true, and without a Soul Sense the black man could not know to which degree. “But I’m a bodily refiner practitioner”. With that in mind, the black man will also need to be considerate.
A flash of surprise appeared on the man’s face for a short moment. “Then both of us good, no need for savagery”. He happily said. “My name is Carl. What’s yours?” Carl asked straightforward.
“Zax”. Zax replied, still on guard.
“Okay, Zax, I will not beat around the bush. Since you seem to be in this grove before me, I’ll ask forthrightly, mind if I pick a few ripe Blood Red Grapes?”
‘He came here for the grapes…’ If it will start and end with picking couple of ripe grapes Zax would certainly not care, but if that Carl will get what he wants and come back in the future for more, it would be quite bothersome for Zax. ‘It looks like he also prefers not to fight’.
Zax was not looking to kill more beasts or humans than he already did, so if the other one did not provoke him he could subdue that much of the savagery. On the other hand, if someone will assault him with killing intent, then do not blame him.
“There aren’t many ripe grapes. I rarely find one myself. I’ll recommend that you’ll try your luck someplace else”. Zax said.
“If that’s the problem, I’m willing search and give up on my own. If it is my presence which troubles you than let’s do it like this… I’ll enter the grove and search for ripe Blood Red Grapes for three hours while you will follow and keep an eye on me until the three hours are over. Then, if I’ll find a ripe grape it will be mine, if I’ll find more than one, then for every three that I find you’ll get the third. Whether I’ll find grapes or not, I promise to leave and not bother you again. How is that?” Carl fairly suggested as if he done so in the past.
Zax thought over Carl’s suggestion. ‘If I’ll say No, then there won’t be a reason for him to hold back. And until I’ll reach the Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers, I’ll rather avoid confronting with Core Masters’.
The path of getting to the Advanced phase of the bodily maneuvers required the practitioner to converge and disperse the energy in all six sequences. Zax was able to exercise the bodily maneuvers with the energy nearly to the end of the second sequence, that is, almost reaching to the Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers. The day he will be able to exercise the maneuvers and the energy to the first move of the fifth sequence, he will step into the Advanced phase of the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers.
‘On the other hand, if I’ll say Yes, this guy, Carl, might know and be willing to tell me where I can find the plants Master instructed me to look for in the Savage Cave’.
“Three hours”, Zax said. “Starting now”.
Since his suggestion was accepted, Carl did not hesitate to show his gratification. His azure aura shimmered and his body sprang into action. Although the grove was not that big, to a Core Master who cannot use his Soul Sense and struggles to detect the slight difference in coloring between a ripe grape and an unripe grape because there is not that much of a big difference, examining thoroughly one grape after another when hundreds to thousands are hiding around behind leaves and branches can still take a considerable amount of time.
“There is one!” Carl announced in delight thirty two minutes into his search. “One within half a hour is not bad. If I’ll manage to find six or five…” He was satisfied with that much.
“Carl”, Zax followed from a distance of ten to twenty meters. There were many trees in the grove and he did not want to lose eyesight of Carl even if he could hear him.
“What is it Zax? If it’s not urgent please save for later. Remember that you already initiated the three hours”. Carl said impatiently without even glancing at Zax’s direction. He meant what he said, but also knew that if he pushed, maybe Zax will agree to extend the three hours.
“I can’t say that it’s urgent, but there is something that I want to ask”. Zax replied.
“Mmm… then let’s sit and talk about it when the three hours are up”. He said decisively.
Three hours later.
“In the end I could only find four”. Carl sulked. “Here, one is yours”. He threw one to Zax that shortened the distance between them to eight meters.
“Thank you”, Zax caught the ripe Blood Red Grape. Since he discovered the grove he found and ate three or four grapes every week. After two months the numbers dropped to one or two a week. Additional two months or so later and looking for even one became tiring and at the expense of too many hours of training.
“Well then, I’ll leave now”. Carl said and turned his back.
“Wait!” Zax called. “My question…”
“Oh, that… I wasted three hours on three grapes. I’m not in the mood to stay and talk for no reason”.
It was hard to tell if Carl played upset or really was. Either way, it seemed to Zax like Carl had another agenda besides the grapes. “Answer my question and I won’t mind you staying for another hour”. Zax tried to negotiate.
“An hour? Even if you’ll give me an hour for every tree and keep your share this grove still is done for. Do you have any idea how long it takes for Blood Red Grapes to ripen?”
“Ah…” Zax was lost of words. He did not know how long it takes to the grapes to ripen. Also, if Carl was not interested in more time to search or even the whole grove, then was he wrong about him having another agenda?
“If you don’t know, you are probably even less time than I in the Savage Cave. It takes the grapes two years to ripen. Now, please forgive me, there are many trees and many groves of Blood Red Grapes in the Savage Cave, but only a handful that are not occupied or with safe guys to deal with in this part of the cave”. Carl said and once more turned to leave.
“Okay, stop!” Zax stepped before Carl, shortening the distance even more to a mere meter. ”You either want something and that is why you keep refusing or you are truly hardheaded”. Zax frowned. Why else did Carl make his point about what he cannot get from the grove and the grapes? He talked too much despite his reluctant behavior that Zax had an idea of what he wants. “You already evened us when you gave me the grape, so I can’t expect you to answer my question for letting you the three hours. What else do you want?”
Carl sighed. He was frank when the other side had something that he wanted and cunning when he had something that the other side wanted, but if the other side did not bother to play around and spoke frankly, he also realized that the game could not go on for both sides to win.
“How long have you been in the Savage Cave, Zax? I’m six years, give or take couple of days”.
“Six years?!” Zax was flabbergasted. He himself could not imagine staying for more than one year in the Savage Cave, and that was only because he was not sure if in one year he will be able destroy the bubble in his head.
“How long are you?” Carl repeated the question.
“About four months”.
“Ah! Four months is nothing. Six years is a speck compared to the many that lost to the savagery and the many that did not”. Carl forced a smile and said. “There are experts that have been in the Savage Cave for more than two hundred years. Naturally, all of them broke through the Core Master level. What I want has something to do with these guys”.
“You want me to help you deal with super experts that two hundred years ago were already Core Masters?” Zax sneered. He might as well not ask anything and search the plants on his own.
“Not at all, not at all“. Carl shook his head. ”I’m not looking for death or even a spar against it. I broke through the Core Master level seven years ago. And you, whom I’m still not clear about your body fitness level, don’t strike as someone who can handle those guys. My offer has something to do with them, but not at the risk of our lives, on the contrary, for our sake and benefit!”