Kartius left the Krikitory village with Zax right as he finished saying his goodbye for the next three years.
They went back on the path from the village and when the path split into the forest or the cave’s entrance, Kartius chose the former.
Past the forest was the mountain range, there, Kartius forced Zax to climb relaying on his own strength. At most, he showed him a bear claws sign that marked a couple of rocks and told him to look for more signs.
“They were made by the Krikitory village that resides on the mountains and take care of the various hot springs. The bear claws signs indicate the paths that they use to climb down or up the mountain. I’ll be climbing ahead of you, so search for the signs that lead to my direction”.
It was two and a half weeks’ worth of a journey. In it, apart from the advice that Zax received from his Master, Kartius only helped Zax with food and water and the Krikitory’s path that he followed supplied him the rest. Warm places within the mountains to sleep at nights, hot spring pools to clean himself and enjoy for the first time in his life; Zax even met a few adult Krikitories, some of the caretakers, who were suspicious of him at first but once he mentioned the name of his Master, turned gracious.
The Krikitories showed him the edible plant that grew around the hot springs. They told him which ones were testier after boiling in the hot springs and, after taking a look at his bruises from the climbing, which, if mushed, were good for making ointment for small injuries.
When he reached the flat peak of the mountain Kartius led him to, Zax discovered an unbelievable spectacle. Atop of the highest mountain in the mountain range, a mountain couple of hundred meters higher than the other mountains and probably under the tallest cave’s ceiling in all of New Earth, was a tower made out from sparkling blue stones.
Kartius did not say anything about the tower. From the top of the flat mountain he simply created a mantle from his mist energy around Zax and jumped crushed at the other side of the flat peak mountain’s valley.
“Use your Soul Sense!” Kartius told Zax and formed a fist above his head that contained his Core Master’s might.
The ground shook.
Rocks spread all over.
A clear path appeared beneath the ground.
“Ah?!” Zax was stunned. He listened to his Master and used his Soul Sense but still could not detect the underground path.
“Do not be surprised. This place is one of the secret wonders of New Earth and cannot be detected by Soul Sense. Now brace yourself!” Kartius said. His mantle around Zax intensified and in his full speed he dashed into the path.
Within the mantle Zax was not affected by the extreme speed, but until Kartius stopped he could not perceive anything of the surrounding, at best he saw flashes of reddish colors.
The mantle around Zax fades a second before he came to himself and the duo of Master and apprentice arrived to the inside a spacious cabin.
The interior of the cabin was mediocre. A large beast fur carpet, a square box around a meter tall and wide and two gigantic clay jars that Zax himself could fit in several times. From the two jars, through their wooden sealing, a sweet herbal fragrance arose and filled the cabin.
“Sit down”. Kartius instructed Zax and sat first on the carpet.
“Yes, Master”. Zax joined obediently.
“Good. First, let us have a proper introduction. My name is Kartius, a Black Stag beast formerly from the Black Horns tribe”. It was a short introduction, but it covered all that Kartius wished to share with his Martial son in this moment in time.
“My name is Zax Zel, human. From El-Eden”. Zax copied his Master. However it seemed too short, so he thought more for a bit and then said on the verge of lowering his head. “I thank Master for saving my life when I ventured and was lost in the beasts’ territory!”
“Do you remember or Martial niece Zetsa told you that I saved you?” Kartius asked.
“I remember my experience in the beast’s territory, but not Master saving me. Big sis was the one who told me”.
“I see…” Kartius nodded. “You should stop naming the place besides your ‘Kingdom Earth’, ‘the beasts’ territory. Our three hundred and seventeen caves also have a name. Here we call our territory ‘Valgarel’; it means ‘Beasts’”. The first thing Zax learned from his Master, the name of the place he will stay in for the next three years, at the very least. “Repeat it”.
“From now on, if something has a name and you know it, use it instead of referring to it with something else. If you don’t know the name of a person or a place, seek the opportunity and ask for the name. Knowing the right names is the minimal commodity to preserve one’s life on the Martial path. Do you understand why?”
Zax did not answer right away. He thought of what his Master said and then remembered a certain event couple of years back. He reminisced the day of the Young Mist Users Conference. Back then he was saved by Habul Majid. If he ever met the man again or get into a conflict with someone like those from the Martinez family, will it not be useful to have the reputable name that supported him once in the past at his disposal?
“Then I won’t dwell on the subject”. If Zax answered promptly, Kartius would have asked him to clarify his answer. Since he did not, Kartius preferred to study his Martial son by watching rather than probing him.
“Zax, tell me about what happened to you in Valgarel, your experience from the moment that you encountered the Brown Digger”. Kartius frowned when he recalled the beasts, the vermin. The topic may also seem like he probed into his Martial son’s business in contrast to his decision, but it was a matter that was correlated to Zax’s condition and as his Martial father, it would be negligent for him to not inquire.
Zax did not hide anything from his Master. He began reciting from the very start, the first moment of craziness in which he spent his Qi trying to penetrate a rock for imaginary Earth’s Cores. He finished with revealing its relations to his practice in Adraak Meditation.
Kartius heard the story and receded to telling his part just about when Zax fainted near the Brown Digger.
“For now forget the Black Core. You have my approval to continue meditating as you usually do. For now it should suffice as the only soul refining technique that you should practice. The day you’ll breakthrough with your soul to the level of Mist Master, we will reevaluate your soul and what it requires for further growth”. Thus, Kartius put aside his Martial son’s earlier experience in Valgarel and proceeded to prep him for his big brother’s test in three years.
“Let me see now, how well is you basic knowledge. Tell me all you know about the three aspects of a living being in order of their importance to a living being. Start with the least important.”
‘The least important of the three aspects…’ Zax thought for a short while. “The least important should be the body”. He said confidently. “I think so, because of the three aspects, in normal cases, the body is the only one that can be harmed to the extent that even if half of it is lost, a person can still stay alive with the help of medical instruments. With regards to Qi or mist, they both flow in the body through Qi or mist channels. Although my case is too odd, there is still no better example than what happened to my Qi channels. They are clogged, still in perfect shape, but with just being clogged, if it wasn’t a special case, big sis told me that I should have died. So in my opinion, in terms of importance, Qi or mist is in the middle”.
“The most important I say is the soul. To my knowledge, if the soul will get even a light damage the person still would die. I don’t believe that special cases exist with the soul. It is the aspect I cultivate every day for the past year. Big sis says that my soul is unique, that it can accomplish things beyond its level. Well, I say, knowing my soul better than anyone else, that if something were to happen to my soul I will die. And if what I read online has a hint of truth in it, than I won’t get to reincarnate either! Oh… Does Master know about Going Online?”
“You mean seeking information using your Computers and Screens?”
“So you do know, Master!” Zax was relieved. What good would be his reasoning if his Master could not understand the idioms he used?
“Don’t look down on your Martial father, Zax. Beasts are not oblivious to human’s technology”. Kartius snorted.
“Sorry, Master!” Zax sensed the contempt in his Master’s tone and hurried to apologize.
“Don’t make assumptions over things you haven’t first studied to the best of your ability on your own. Only then it’s fine to be wrong once in a while. And with respect to your one year of training your unique soul, so what?! Your soul is nothing but premature and your understanding, even of your own soul, cannot compare to the knowledge that is outside of the boundaries of your comprehension. There are experts and super experts that cultivated their soul for hundreds of years and still admit to know nothing”. Kartius said calmly. “Now, are you satisfied with your order of the three aspects?” He got back to the main subject.
Though it could have been a coincidence, or maybe just his Master’s plan, but after getting lectured by his Master, Zax was not as confident as before with his ordering. “I was, Master”, Zax first admitted. “Now, not so sure…” It was not a way to escape from a wrong answer, but how he honestly felt.
“Then let me educate you. As your Martial father, even if we are two individuals, through our mutual bond of Master and apprentice, it is fine for you to accept my wisdom as if it was your own from the first place”. Kartius stated the truth that tied every Master and apprentice. It was an essential concept an apprentice had to be aware of in order to accept wholeheartedly his or her Master’s teachings.
Constantly watching over his apprentice’s expression, Kartius looked for conflicting thoughts by reading Zax’s body language and fluctuations of his soul. He said what he believed every Master should say to his apprentice. Some staff he figured on his own, others his big brother taught him. Regardless from whom he gained his knowledge, Zax was his first apprentice and his demeanor as a Master has also just begun to form and reshape.
“Of the three aspects, for sustaining the life of a living being, the Qi is the least important. To understand why, you should firstly learn the natural role of each aspect. The natural role of ‘Qi’ is to be the nurturing energy that feed the body. Qi can replenish itself in a few ways. The Two most commons are rest and nutrition, food and water. At a certain level it is also possible to replenish your Qi through cultivation. Whichever way you choose, the main contribution Qi has for the life of a living being is sustaining the body. To simplify it, the Qi is like the Sun Stone in Martial niece Zetsa’s vehicle”.
“If the body relies on Qi, than isn’t Qi supposed to be more important?” Zax asked.
“That may sound like it, and I will explain it, but aren’t you more curious of why you, with clogged Qi channels, can still move your body around?” Catching Zax’s reaction as he was about to change his question, Kartius pointed at his dantian and carried on with the answer. “It is because of the Black Core in your dantian. It somehow acts as a Qi substitute for the body, or at least that’s my hypothesis. We will know for certain after you’ll start training in the bodily refining technique”.
“And if Master will change his mind?”
“Then it means that there is a different explanation. However, if I’ll end up being right, it means that between you and the Black Core there is a mental link, as for how it can help you, saved that one for later… My hypothesis is also based on the fact that only you can observe the Black Core in your dantian and the change in coloring that it has done to your original Earth’s Core”.
‘So Master’s hypothesis depends on my sanity…’ Zax realized. “What’s the natural role of the body, Master?” He did not want to go into it with his Master so he diverted the conversation back to the lesson at hand.
“The natural role of the ‘body’ is to be the vessel that runs on Qi and safeguards the soul!” Kartius emphasized. “Though it sounds simpler than the Qi, as a matter of fact, the second aspect, for lacking a distinctive energy the body turns out as far more complicated than the Qi and even the soul! That, and the genuine difficulty of forging the body, is why there are maybe three bodily refining techniques in all of New Earth!”
“Besides containing the other two aspects, the body is also the thing which connects the two. Qi may flow through the whole body, but its core, even for those who don’t possess and Earth’s Core, is within the lower dantian. Soul, on the other hand, remains inside the brain. Each in a different place, each within the body, Zax. The body can be harmed, like you said, but I tell you that if the dominion of Qi, the dantian, is destroyed, a living being can still survive. The body may lose its entire accumulated Qi, but as long as the Qi channels are intact, there are unique ways to make use of them, to pass other energies through them to sustain the body. On the contrary, if a vital organ of the body is destroyed, then no matter what the state of the dantian or the Qi channels is, there will be no point to them”.
Kartius’s finger moved from Zax’s dantian to several places in the body, which were the places where vital organs were. He stopped, pointing at Zax’s forehead. “And that is where the most important is at”. He tapped once on Zax’s forehead and drew back his hand. “Qi is the energy which runs everything, the body is the container which keeps everything together and safe and the soul, the natural role of the soul, is being the last pillar of defense that guards the essence of a living being, the core of the soul, the spirit”.
“Zax, you know about the three aspects, but do you know about the ‘spirit’?”
“Only that it is the core of the soul…” Zax answered sheepishly. Was it not what his Master just said? “But, Master, doesn’t the body have a core?”
“That, you’ll come to discover in time, Zax. I know of the educational system of you, humans, if it weren’t for your condition, you would have probably only started to learn the natural roles of the three aspects. I, your Martial father, will not renounce my Martial son for not knowing what I did not teach him!” Kartius said decisively. “Ease your heart and pay attention. You claimed that a damaged soul is a death sentence, but that is not accurate. The soul’s natural role is to protect the spirit, but it does much more than that. The soul is also the chronicle of a living being’s persona. It maintains the memories, the feelings and growth that make you who you are. When the soul is damaged two things that make it seem as if a living being is about to die are actually happening. The first is a shock that passes through defenses of the soul and affects the spirit. The second, if the spirit survives the initial shock, depends of how high the soul’s level, it will begin to slowly recover”.
Kartius halted his teaching. He saw his Martial son thinking of what he said and waited. If there will be a question, he will answer it. If not, he will resume. Zax seemed to keep up.
“Here raises the question. If the soul’s structure is fundamentally the same, it doesn’t matter where it’s damaged, than how come it is more important than the body, which has life depending vitals? The answer is that the soul is the keeper and last defender of the spirit. Unlike the three aspects, the spirit is not considered an aspect of a living being, but its essence. The spirit is what allows us to be. It is behind our influence, something that we cannot hone like the three aspects. It is given to us by Nature. With it, even if a living being loses all three aspects it can still enters the realm of incarnation. Let it be harmed and you’ll cease to exist. It is said to be the core of the soul because if the soul is not damaged it will forever be bound to the spirit, even to the next life”.
“Master, Qi channels if harmed-” Zax was about to say.
“You will die; depends which one of the many is harmed. However, the Qi channels are not a separate aspect. Their connection to the energy which runs the body is not the same, but similar to the connection between the soul and the spirit. Think of it like the body’s veins”.
“In any case, these are the natural roles, the crucial truths, of the three aspects. Naturally, there is still much that you can learn. You will fathom more and more as your cultivation progress. If you have more question, put them aside for the moment. Some things are better to comprehend on your own”.
Psst! Psst! Click here and join our YouTube Channel