With an indifferent expression, Zax turned to the remaining savage beasts and launched himself at the closest one, killing it and moving to the one after that and after that and after that…
Unhindered by the weight he once gave death, his body moved naturally and freely. With his mind set on killing, Zax did not ever bother of doing it brutally. To kill, he only needed one gesture of the hand. In a way, when killing was not ruled by hate or pain, its execution was somewhat even graceful.
In no time Zax and Carl were the only two living being on the mountain.
“Grrr!” Carl growled when Zax approached him.
“Carl…” Zax saw him and tears began to fall again, clearing the blood on his face. He lifted Carl’s head, rested on his shoulder and hugged it. “I love you, big brother”.
Zax snapped Carl’s neck and he died.
For hours Zax cried besides Carl’s corpse. But eventually he realized that he could not stay anymore, that his time in the Savage Cave should come to an end.
Zax insisted on carrying Carl all the way with him to the place where they met, to bury him in that grove, underneath a Blood Red Grapes tree that in Zri’s abundant grove he loved to drink even for fun.
From one side of the cave to another Zax traveled with Carl. From one side to the other they traveled once more and if savage beast or humans were obstructing their way, they died.
To put him out of his misery on the mountain or in the grove was a decision that Zax did wholeheartedly. His big brother was lost and his body was broken and torn. Even as a savage, Zax did not want for him to live like that when death was already certain.
Zax proceeded through the cave and in six day returned to the grove in the first half of the Savage Cave.
He buried Carl under the tree he used to sit by and meditate. Since he was not familiar with the proper ceremony, Zax looked for a ripe Blood Red Grape. After the changes the dark attribute had done to his soul, Zax could use his Soul Sense to the best of its abilities, and with that, he easily found a few hidden grapes and rinsed Carl’s grave with their nectar.
When he finished, Zax left.
Months earlier, at the entrance to the first Savage Cave.
The canines continued to safeguard the entrance of the cave, though, since the enemy was gone, they returned to their humanoid forms.
Around fifteen remained of the original twenty one. Among them the wolf boss was impatiently waiting.
“Boss, a captain has arrived”. A canine head informed. Instantly the eyes of the wolf boss lit up and his gaze turned from the cave to the arrivals.
One of his unit members and another one in a human form, a captain.
“What is that your canine told me, Rolv, your unit lost to a human and a boy, at that”. The captain said with a raised brow. His appearance was that of a black skin human with black hair that was tied by many beads. His height was over one meter and ninety centimeters tall and his physique was perfectly chiseled.
Rolv, the wolf boss, bit heavily with his teeth from the shame and addressed the captain with utmost respect. “Captain Kane, my canine should not have bothered you, a Core Master, with this small matter. Please forgive his impudence, I promise to put him in his place later”. As he said it the complexion of the canine that escorted captain Kane, the captain in the human form, paled, but he did not dare to refute his unit’s boss.
Although Rolv acted as if it was a mistake, he actually was very satisfied that with his canine. The tribe had eleven captains, only four of them were Core Masters, the only Core Masters of the tribe besides the two elders. To manage to bring one was no doubt a great feat accompanied by great fortune on his side. Though, his initial assessment called for a Mist Lord, if the boy comes out from the cave will it not be better to have someone on a different realm?
Rolv decided to reward his unit member when this matter will be over.
“I came here because that is as far as the elders let me to the Savage Caves. They even allowed Him to enter the first cave before me, even though I broke through to the realm of Core Master years before Him”.
Captain Kane said in disdain toward the “Him” that received the elders’ permission instead of himself to enter the first Savage Cave. What truly infuriated captain Kane, was the Him, get to keep half of what he may bring from the Savage Cave.
Rolv and anyone in the unit could tell who “Him” was, one of the Core Master captains of their tribe, and the only tribe member currently in the Savage Caves.
“Captain Kane, you should still not trouble yourself, this matter can be taken care off by a Mist Lord”.
Rolv knew that this bitter captain Kane already made his mind to stay. What kind of higher rank canine of their tribe would let himself to be replaced by someone of a lower rank? Insisting that he should not bother was only to solidify the notion that captain Kane was staying on his own accord and that he, Rolv, would not be reprimanded by the elders for summoning a Core Master captain.
“Enough, Rolv, tell me about the human”. Captain Kane demanded.
“Yes, sir! The boy was a practitioner of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement bodily refining technique. I can’t say with certainty what his level was, but the powers that he showed surpassed even our enclosing formation”.
“How many of you formed the formation?” Captain Kane asked. With the one that escorted him they were sixteen, but he knew that several others were hurt and if he did not see them here, they must have been taken back to the tribe.
“After two of our Mist Master lost to the boy in the circle, the rest joined the formation. Our greatest number was nineteen, Fourteen Core Breakers and five Mist Master”.
Captain Kane’s pupils contracted. Nineteen canines forming the formation, even if all were Core Breakers, could restrain a Beginner phase Mist Lord. With five Mist Master even an Intermediate phase Mist Lord would not necessarily break through the formation.
From his assessment and what he knew of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement bodily refining technique, captain Kane appraised that Zax was, at least, in the Intermediate phase of the corresponding level to a Mist Master for mist cultivators.
“Impossible!” Captain Kane suddenly muttered. For a human boy to reach that level in such a young age… unheard off regardless of which bodily refining technique he followed. “Are you sure about his identity? Did he use some kind of treasure when you besieged him in the formation?”
The mentioning of a treasure startled Rolv as if he was awakened from the disbelief Zax shrouded him and his canines in. As a unit’s boss, of course he knew who and what his unit can handle. To not manage to handle a human boy, how ridicules was it?
“It was a human boy, sir. He wore a fur coat that my unit’s Calrob apprised to be of a Core Master Two Headed Beaver. That cannot be counted as a treasure, sir, but thinking back he must have had more stuff hidden on him. Otherwise, how could someone so young dare enter to the Savage Cave?”
Captain Kane nodded. “I see… How long ago did he enter the cave?” he asked.
“Less than a day ago”.
“I don’t believe that the boy’s soul was at the Core Master level”. Captain Kane said decisively. “He must have possessed a treasure, and since even treasures have an expiration date, he would probably stay until his soul adapt to the savagery, depend on the treasures in his possession, or until the treasures will expire. Either way, I don’t think that he was sent to die”.
“Sir, at the chance that the boy did not use treasures in our fight, in the future he will definitely be a threat to the tribe for its involvement…” Rolv pointed.
“That cannot be allowed to happen! That woman that he took in is already showing that kind of potential. Another one with great potential cannot be left for them to cultivate!” Captain Kane howled. “If this boy is as you said, we don’t need to worry of him staying long or dying without confirmation in the cave. From now on, this unit and I will settle near the cave’s entrance. We will not get involve with those that goes in or leave it, if they are humans in the Core Master level or beasts from small tribes don’t bother, anyone outside of this criteria can be questioned or dealt with however you want. These are the rules. And when the human boy will appear, verify that it is him and inform right away”.
“Where will we find you, sir?” Rolv asked.
“I won’t be far, close enough for my Soul Sense to pick you up and what’s happening. But I won’t leave it constantly on. Choose one of your canines to follow me and I’ll show him where I’ll stay to cultivate”.
“Yes, sir!” Rolv listened. “Luke, go with the captain!”
“Sir!” A young canine head rushed through the forest, yelling. “Captain Kane!”
“Still yourself! I know!” The pup did not make it half way to captain Kane’s dwelling when the captain’s figure flashed past him, leaving four words.
“Captain Kane!” As he arrived, the first to notice him was the unit’s boss, Rolv. “Did you feel it? Something came out from the cave, concealed by black mantle! This… this…” Rolv was in complete shock. The black light came out and his unit members that were staying fifty meters from the cave’s entrance all fell to the ground, unconscious in their animalistic form.
“That was…” Captain Kane was not doing better himself than that low rank Mist Master, Rolv. His facial expression was ugly to behold, as if he ate something sour, and if one looked closely, they would have detected that his fist were slightly trembling. “An existence beyond the Core Master realm!” Captain Kane replied. Such being he did not even need to use his Soul Sense to detect, not when it showed itself in a manner so ostentatious.
Captain Kane’s gazed on the direction the existence left. “Either a secluded expert or… Kingdom Earth!” The thought of a human in this level of cultivation of was truly frightening. Although there was peace between the two species, one would still prefer that the grass in his neighborhood will be greener.
“He possibly made a breakthrough in the cave and felt like celebrating. Your canines are fine. Know that it is noteworthy that you and the pup managed to stay conscious. Look like even our tribe has potential worth cultivating”.
A forceful voice commanded and Zax halted his steps right as he existed the tunnel from the first Savage Cave.
Zax looked ahead with more attention. ‘The canines head…’ Enemies, Carl’s tribe members or just humanoid beast that happened to be there, he did not care. Because he did not mind them, he also stopped when they commanded. How could they give him trouble, anyway?
“You made it out, hahaha!” The wolf boss was there as well, bursting in laughter.
Zax heard the footsteps of someone rushing to arrive from behind the trees and another set of steps following the closer ones.
“Is that him?” A black skin human in black garments appeared, asking the wolf boss and pointing at Zax.
‘Carl…’ The man had a certain resemblance to his deceased big brother and Zax felt a pinch in his heart. Nevertheless, the feeling was inadequate to the moment. If he needs to kill his big brother’s tribe member he rather do it and be done with it without added sentimentality.
“Are you standing in my way?” Zax asked without the slightest emotion.
Captain Kane stepped forward a little. He tried to grasp Zax’s mist cultivation and Soul level but to his surprise he picked up nothing, so he proceeded cautiously, wondering if it was the boy treasures that eluded him or if his cultivation was at a level where he could use specials skills to hide it. Thought, not once did he consider Zax surpassing him in any aspect other than the body.
The wolf boss answered. “Kid, last time you did not kill anyone, therefore we won’t kill you right away. Either come with us to meet our elders or be dealt by captain Kane and be fed on alive!” His wolf head turned to captain Kane, indicating to Zax that he was the one he should be worry off.
Zax’s Soul Sense spread. ‘Eleven Core Breakers, five Mist Master and a Core Master… their numbers grew smaller by four, but they brought a Core Master to compensate’. He said to himself. “Who is Carl to you?” He asked. For his big brother he convinced himself to maybe avoid unnecessary clashes.
“Carl?” Captain Kane’s face distorted and a thought passed in his head. “You met our beast kin? I see… and the chump did not realize that you are an enemy, hahaha! Let the elders know their foolish mistake, hahaha!” Captain Kane laughed.
Hearing this captain Kane belittling his resting big brother, Zax calm temperament began to boil and his killing intent emanated. ‘Good! Good! Don’t say that I didn’t give you a chance’.
Sensing the terrorization killing intent, captain Kane’s laugh stuck in throat and the sixteen canines behind him felt shivers passing through their fur.
“Boss…” One of the canines verbalized his fear in his tone of voice. Other than the one word nothing came out, but all the other fifteen canines remembered the previous encounter with Zax and knew what their unit member wanted to say.
“Everyone, step back. Leave him for the captain”. The wolf boss barked at his unit. He could not tell what was different but something creeped him out, his instinct, telling him that something was amiss and no matter what he and his unit should stay away from Zax.
“Boy…” With effort, captain Kane repelled the oppressing killing intent and frowned. He stared at Zax as the boy approached him one step at a time and his eyes landed on the beast skin pouch tied to Zax’s loincloth. A smile stretched on his human face, treasures!
“Grahwoo!” Captain Kane howled and transformed to his animalistic form, an over four meters in height, six meters in length canine, a black fur wolf with red paws.
His resemblance to Carl was almost a hundred percent identical. But who was Zax? A cultivator of a bodily refining technique, with his eyes alone he could differentiate between the one in front of him and Carl. There was not a second pinch to his heart.
“Graow!” An explosive azure aura was released and Captain Kane sprang toward Zax with his red claws growing, radiating fiery azure glow.
Zax sensed the might of the red claws. ‘A high level Martial techniques?’ If it was, then even for him it was best to avoid it.
Zax’s legs increased the rhythm, his body shifted sideways; his figure flickered in captain Kane’s eyes and then disappeared.
“Where?” Captain Kane halted in amazement. His left ear nudged a little and his body reacted accordingly, jumping to his right.
He was not fast enough and something heavy struck his left ribs. Cracking followed the impact and captain Kane retreated twenty meters more the instant he got his footing.
Another strike landed on his head and the world turned upside down.
Another blow and captain Kane’s skull split open. In two blows to the head he died.
“Captain!” The wolf boss howled.
After the last blow Zax reappeared and stopped near the body of captain Kane, not a drop of blood on him.
‘How…? How…!’ The wolf boss stared and could not tell what was inside the Savage Cave that turned a condescending human boy with some skill and potential, into the monster that stood next to his captain’s corpse.
“Won’t kill me right away?” Zax gaze moved from the corpse of the giant wolf to the wolf boss.
His body flickered and sixteen “BANG” sounds followed next.
One last thought passed inside the head of the wolf boss, moment before it was his turn as the sixteenth. “Is it worth it, elders…? The consequences our greed brought upon us…!”