“Ah! Beneath the blue skies?!” Zax recited completely stunned. “What does that has to do with the differences between beasts and humans?”
“That is something we beasts understood at the time of war between two species, but is actually related to an earlier event”. Kartius began to explain in his own words. “We beasts have attempted to venture back to the world above the surface of the earth thousands of years ago. The few of us who ruled our species braved alone through the one path that leads above the earth. However, as they got close to the surface they started to sense the entities which roamed on the other side. At that time the instinct of our rulers was petrified by the new world and its powers, warning not to stay, to go back once more to beneath the earth. You must understand Zax, unlike humans, to us beast an instinct is an impulse we cannot defy, out rulers had no choice but to stride back and forbade entry to the path”.
“Afterwards, occurred the event that changed our perspective of humanity. When humans attacked Valgarel for Earth’s Cores, their actions taught us that humans are not confined to their instinct and are free to act on their whims even at the price of unreasonably endangering themselves. Back then, none of the Chaoyue or Zhihui beasts had attained their human form and the Shenghuo never held much of a position in Valgarel. Therefore our rulers could not understand humanity’s boldness, only realizing it as the key to open up a safe passage to above ground”.
“So beasts stopped fighting with humans to use them as cannon fodder?” Zax doubted his own ears. History lessons in school elucidated that the war stopped for peace. It never expounded that there was more than that. Could it be that what his Master told him was some sort of a secret? But such significant information… Is it right for him to keep it for himself?
Kartius chuckled. “You seemed to be distressed. Were you unaware of it? Even so, what is there for you to worry about? Has it not been revealed that the Supreme Rulers traveled to the world above ground years back and recently didn’t humanity send a new expedition to survey the new world?”
“They did”. Zax nodded, his heart that was throbbing in an increasing pace had calmed down, and he understood what his Master was saying.
The Supreme Rulers had made the risk to go beneath the blue skies long ago and if matched with the beasts that attempted the same feat before them, although the beasts sensed the dangers, the Supreme Rulers experienced them and come back. And now, was there not another expedition that was sent above ground? There was, and one of its members was even the son of Supreme Rulers Ariel Dauch. That expedition definitely received severe instruction from the Supreme Rulers with regard to the dangers they must avoid and not lead back to New Earth. The only thing about this expedition that Zax could not tell was if it came back.
“Beasts are not using humans; we simply let you do what you do best, that is, whatever you want on your expense and our slight benefit”. Kartius detected that his words sounded as if he alienated his own Martial son for being from a different species. It was not his intention and so he retracted. “Zax, whether beasts or a human, whatever those who rule and lead may decide, never forget that in this world your Martial father has one son!” He said sternly, more so because he was embarrassed than to make his point.
“I’ll never forget!” Zax responded earnestly. To learn his Master’s stance of their bound from his own mouth stirred Zax’s heart with warm gratitude.
“Besides”, Kartius proceeded. “Today it’s just an old matter. As time passed and we kept learning about ourselves, we beasts discovered that in human form we can sever the shackles of our instinct for a while. Apart from that our clarity also improve and we become more attuned to the paths of cultivation, this is why we stay in a humanoid or human form unless we are in a fight”.
“…Some see it, and sum up the differences between beasts and humans, as if beasts are the servants of Nature and as such we are born with strong bodies and affinity to what it made us. And humans are the progeny of Nature, born with the power to surpass their feeble existence”.
‘That should suffice’. Laivien approved as Kartius’s voice faded.
“Is there something further that you want to ask about us beast and our relations with human?” Kartius till asked.
Zax thought a bit over what he learned. “Why big sis and I were accepted as yours and big sis’s Master’s apprentices? Did you not care that we were humans?”
Kartius sighed. A voice echoed in his head. ‘Are you willing to answer truthfully? Otherwise don’t cover it with lies and shatter later his impression of the one that opened up for him the path of Martial cultivation’. Laivien said.
Kartius mind was set. ‘Have I not solidified my place as his Martial father? It’s fine for him to hear my decision from back then’. He answered back.
“The decision to recognize Martial niece Zetsa as his apprentice is between Martial niece and big brother. As to why I chose you…” Kartius raised his right hand. Turning the palm up, a Black Core was sitting on his hand. “When I found you unconscious in the Essence Cave, this stone was embedded to the mountain wall near you. I initially accepted you because I could not refine this Black Core and learned from Martial niece Zetsa that you, somehow, claimed to have a similar stone in your dantian. It is shameful of your Martial father to admit, but I asked for big brother to allow Martial niece to bring you over so I could uncover the mysteries of the Black Core”. Kartius added. “Unfortunately, the Black Cores seem to have their own will, and cannot be refined or taken to the dantian like regular Earth’s Core… Nevertheless, that doesn’t matter anymore, Martial son”. He emphasized the words ‘Martial son’, for Zax to feel again their significant and not take for granted his previous shrift.
Kartius’s hand sank and the Black Core in it disappeared.
‘The other Black Core is in Master’s possession!’ Zax was stunned. ‘The reason Master was willing to accept me…’ Despite the initial selfishness, Zax was adamant in what his bound with Kartius meant for either of them. And was he not the same? Did he not come after his big sister so he could be given a chance for his own dreams and desires?
After nearly three years, both Kartius’s and Zax’s desires became secondary to their Martial father Martial son bound.
“Let’s move on”. Kartius said to Zax. “I’ll tell you why I decided to send you to the Savage Caves”.
“Master!” Zax showed once more his attentiveness.
“There are several variables, but why now and empty handed was because of and for your soul. For starters, due to the modification of the Black Core to the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, the principals of Pain and Destruction could not forge your temperament. You see, by constantly undergoing Pain and Destruction the soul receives the traumatic implications that the body goes through. Remember the pain you felt when you first left the protective formation that surrounds the cabin? Imagine being immersed in such maddening pain over and over again without being able to overcome it until there is no smoky mist that can harm you. The aspect which deals with all of it is the soul and the consequences… I will only say that it’s similar to the savagery of the Savage Caves”.
“Then there is your soul uniqueness and rapid evolution. At level C you already were capable of executing the same abilities as a Core Masters. Now, being in level B in such a young age, according to what you told me, the savage force of the first cave doesn’t impede you anymore. If I sent you at this state to the Savage Cave…” Kartius weighed his following words, more than breaking through the next level, the real reason he believed the savage force stopped affecting his Martial son was the dark attribute in his soul. However he was not sure how much Zax was aware to the existence of the dark attribute and did not want him to tangle with it until the appropriate time when his soul will grow stronger. “Your only choice would have been entering to the second Savage Cave, in other words, a death sentence”.
Zax nodded lightly. The savagery truly was not a challenge for him anymore. He could stay and roam the first Savage Cave for as long as he wanted. Only the area near the tunnel to the second cave can execute his powers to stay in, as a result of the gravitation force.
“The first of the two last variables is, again, because of the modification of the Black Core… As I said before, a superior body has a great consumption. To train in the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement you had to start a stage early to use the extract of more potent plants than those that grow besides the hot springs. Since to hone your soul there wasn’t a better place than the Savage Caves, I asked you to find these plants there”. Seeing the bundle of plants Zax brought Kartius additionally said. “Except of the encounter with the man that came out for the second cave, I must say, you had an easier time than I expected”.
‘Easier time?’ Zax felt like refuting, however, the mentioning of the man brought to mind what he did to Carl and alongside it was the fact that without Carl Zax would have been stuck in the first Savage Cave for far longer than he intended.
“Master”, Zax still wondered about what Kartius said about the plants. “When I broke through the fifth gate I did not use the extract of the plants that I collected, nor did I find a suitable area in the Savage Cave with smoky mist, how then was I able to break through?”
“Ahmm…” Kartius mused. “I thought about it when you first told me what the man did when he came out of the second Savage Cave. If I guess correctly, he probably found a treasure in the second cave that resonated with the formation of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement in your body and just form its magnificent aura you were actually lucky enough to attain a breakthrough. It’s too bad since as it stands, neither of us can acquire such treasure on our own… Nor do I believe that without your unique soul, even if you managed to break through, you could have avoided the same calamity as your companion, Carl”.
As Kartius saw it, Zax surviving what happened should have something to do with the dark attribute, still, he could not confirm it since nor he or his big brother ever ventured to the second Savage Cave, despite having the treasure to afford the trip.
“What else, Master?” Zax asked. To be the lucky one to survive instead of the one he recognized as big brother was painful for him to reminisce. Zax wished to someday unveil what truly the man did and why only Carl was affected, but for now other than listening to his Master, he was too weak to do anything else.
“The last variable is the bodily maneuvers. You should know this yourself, but training in the bodily maneuvers in the Savage Cave bore fruits more effectively and faster than in any other cave. Moreover, by sensing the energy, indeed you crossed to the Intermediate phase of the bodily maneuvers. And by being able to almost execute the first two sequences without a hitch, I’ll confirm that this is exactly the requirement to step into the Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase”.
“These are the reasons why I sent you to the Savage Cave”.
“I understand now, Master, but can you tell me more of the explosive energy of the Intermediate phase. Why is it so hard to control? How could the body possess such an odd energy? You thought me that the body doesn’t have a unique energy”.
“Enough, Zax, think about it on your own. Otherwise I will rob my Martial son his own ability to produce insights”.
Forcing Zax to solve the problem of the Intermediate phase’s odd energy on his own, when he seemed to struggle with it, on some level amused Kartius. The source of his amusement was unknown to him, but in fact was his first time gazing at Zax with the eyes of father witnessing son striving to grow.
On his behalf, it should be mentioned that his reason of wanting Zax to gain insight on his own effort instead of being given insight was a genius excuse.
“Don’t feel so bad”. Kartius could tell the pouting expression on Zax’s face with eyes closed. “Of all the things that happened, your improvement in the bodily maneuvers is the most worth praising! Even I am, your Martial father, just a step into the Advanced phase of the Intermediate phase. Big brother is the only one that I could tell that broke through the bottleneck of the Advanced phase”.
“Is that true, Master?!” Zax called out in surprise.
“It is”. Kartius lowered his head in validation. “Ahm!” His eyes struck open, from the suddenness almost scaring Zax. “For the energy… so long that I won’t tell you what it is, I can still give you a hint”. He said. Seeing Zax’s bewildered face change to irrepressible anticipation, he continued. “Hahaha… so eager. Good. Listen well and don’t rashly ask questions later, this is for you to figure out”. Kartius waved a finger at Zax. “The energy, its existence is far above that of the three aspects, it is omnipresent”.
“Omni what?” Zax murmured unintentionally, instantly doing what his Master told him to refrain from. However, the word “Omnipresent” was new to him, one who stopped going to school after the third grade. At most he could tell the “present” part of the word, but the “Omni” did not make any sense.
Kartius’s finger flickered and hit Zax’s forehead.
“Ouch!” The force left a red spot on Zax’s forehead.
“That’s for you not listening”. Kartius said solemnly.
“Sorry, Master”. Zax robbed his head and apologized.
He remembered how painful were his Master’s strikes when he sparred with him, but actually assumed that now that he broke through the fifth gate he could take a few kicks and punches. It really startled him that with a flick of his finger, his Master could still inflict on him such pain, and he also realized that in the past and now, his Master never shown or fought him in his animalistic form, that is, his strongest form!
“Don’t be sorry, use your head!” Kartius sat back and crossed arms. “What left for you to know is the source of the world ‘Realm’”. He said. “However, I’ll not expound too much on this. Instead, I’ll explain to you the levels of a Core Master, who you can contend against and then we will proceed to your future path of training”.