Book 4 – Conflict, Chapter 14 – Falling From Grace

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“Family elder Dulsan! Family elder Buthon!” The men and women, Mist Users of the Derneldar family, cried as they doubted their own eyes. In a swift confrontation, which was supposed to be in their advantage, two of their family elders, Core Masters, died too quickly and gruesomely.

Dinar and the remaining four Core Masters showed restraint on the outside, but on the inside they felt as if a macabre force was suffocating them, surpassing even their auras from breaking out.

What represented the loss of two Core Master for a great family in Kingdom Earth? To the Derneldar family it was akin to losing twenty percent, at the very least, of their military and financial strength. The consequences of such a large percentage were beyond comprehension to the Mist Users of the Derneldar family below the Core Master realm and outside the main branch.

“Family head… The Hendar’s Binder formation…” The Core Master named Del looked at Dinar with expectation to further instruction, a hidden card to deal with this unexpected predicament.

Dinar, however, was unresponsive. The Hendar’s Binder formation was their means of dealing with one of the two Core Masters they anticipated to arrive for his nephew, Binjo. Their group was supposed to use it against one Core Master, to make it easier for the family founder to deal with the other Core Master when he or she will show up.

But now what? The supreme formation failed and Dinar suspected that it was because the founder messed with its structure. Two Beginner phase first level Core Masters died with holes in their upper bodies and a thin strands of skin to hold them from splitting apart. And the worst of all, a second level Core Master was once more on the loose!

Zax turned his head from the two bodies. “Why is that that so many are willing to die for just two despicable members of a great family?” His query was not directed to anyone in particular. He stared at the group of Mist Users with the same deathly expression he had against the bird type beasts that he slaughtered after leaving the entrance to the Second Savage Cage with the crippled Carl.

Zax’s determination to kill was not wavered by the species of his foe. ‘Five Core Masters, two in the Intermediate phase of the first level, three in the Beginner phase…’ He took a step forward toward the one who led the group of Mist Users against him.

Dinar saw Zax glaring at him and his alertness of the current situation returned to him. He was one of the two Intermediate Core Masters, stronger than any of his men and women, but still nothing compared to a second level Core Master.

“You dare threaten the head of a great family?” Dinar’s pupils dilated in fear. With everyone still digesting the deaths of Dulsan and Buthon and, or suffering from the failure of the formation, the blazing unified spirit that tackled Zax’s killing intent has crumbled.

The formerly second greatest pillar of the Derneldar family started shaking. Confronting alone the terrifying killing intent, Dinar felt immense pressure oozing from Zax. He did not receive an answer, but he was now afraid that his question, if repeat would antagonize the expert in front of him.

“Blame yourselves for standing in my way”. Zax suddenly said.

WHOOSH!

His figure flickered and in but an instant he appeared next to Dinar. “I was expecting to meet your family founder, but it seems I was not worthy enough for him to welcome me”. Zax said solemnly to Dinar. “I wonder if he would come out if I’ll do this”.

“DON’T YOU DARE!” A loud shout bombarded the air. From one of the villas circling the battle a powerful azure aura burst out. Nearly collapsing the whole building, a figure in white robe explosively jumped outside, heading toward Zax.

“Founder…” Dinar murmured like a lost child finding his mom.

“I warned you”. Zax looked at the elderly figure of the red eyed, long and groomed white haired man rushing to his direction and sneered in disdain.

PUCHI!

“NO!” The Derneldar family founder roared. Of the many Mist Users on scene and in the service of his great family, he was the first to perceive what Zax did.

BOOM!

The ground under Zax’s feet exploded. Utilizing to Kinetic Force to boost his speed, he and the Derneldar founder were on a collision course.

“Eh?!”

Dinar lowered his head to his chest and his complexion paled. An acute pain was coming from his left side. “What happ…” His body collapsed before he finished asking. His lost thought before his brain stopped functioning was not made out of wards but with feelings, self contempt and hatred. As the head of a great family he was familiar, to a certain degree, with every second level Core Master of every great family in El-Eden. He did not recognize Zax, and for all he knew before he met Zax, the Core Masters that sought his nephew did not belong to any other great family. Therefore, Dinar thought him to be just another secluded expert who never invested in his family, one not out of many, but still not a threat to a great family.

How his nephew managed to enrage such an expert and why did he not hand him over like the expert demanded were the sources for Dinar’s hatred. How, despite his preparations, he still looked like as if he underestimated a second level Core Master was the source for Dinar’s self contempt.

“HEAD!”

The four Core Masters were the third to notice what happened to Dinar and in one voice they bellowed.

BOOM!

At the same time the four Core Masters yelled and Dinar’s body struck the ground beside the stupefied Mist Users who were close to him, Zax and the Derneldar founder collided.

When he met the Derneldar founder, Zax punched forward with a Kinetic Force fist and the Derneldar founder attacked with a spiraled mist energy Martial technique that engulfed his right arm.

The force of the impact drove Zax dozens of steps back, but equally affected the Derneldar founder.

‘How strong!’ Zax looked with awe in his eyes at the Derneldar founder. He was not able to tell in which phase in the second level of the Core Master realm the Derneldar founder was, but the power he exuded was too oppressive and in the moment of impact Zax felt the bones in his right arm vibrating.

Don told him that she and the Derneldar founder were equal in terms of cultivation and remembering her words, Zax only now realized how lenient she was on him. ‘I got to use the Kinetic Force with this old man in every clash and avoid or counter his attacks with the Kinetic Force no matter what! Otherwise…’

In this battle that could be nothing but to the death, Zax knew that this is going to be his most furious fight.

Holding his right arm that hanged from his shoulder, the Derneldar founder used his mist energy to support his bones from breaking and muscles from tearing.

“You are…!” The Derneldar founder steadied himself and raised his head to look at Zax with an ugly expression on his face. A shimmer of understanding flashed between his eyes and immediately after he unleashed his Soul Sense. “Just one and not even a mist cultivator?” He said to himself.

Some of the Mist User who attentively watched the aftermath of the collision heard the Derneldar founder, yet were confused with what said. Only the Core Masters grabbed the meaning of his words.

“Could she have given us false information?” The Derneldar founder speculated. By “she” he meant Don. “A bodily cultivator…” A mused over his unique opponent as thousands of thought sped inside his mind.

How two second level Core Masters turned out to be a child with clogged Qi channels and body fitness level similar to that of a Beginner phase third level Core Master?

Were there more than the two Core Masters?

Was he the supposedly “second Core Master” that hid from Don and perhaps she misjudged him?

Is he HIS Tal?

How could a mere Core Breaker, a descended of him, managed to cause an enmity with someone who is in possession of such a formidable refining technique?

Was it possible that Don lied in order to trade the relations with his family for the bodily refinement technique or to from new bonds with the boy’s Mor? …Master?

For that he lost two of his family’s Core Master and the strongest Core Master in the family, which was only second to him and also the head of the family?

The Derneldar founder stared at Zax with blood in his eyes. After the boy disobeyed his word and killed Dinar everything else stopped to matter.

“Everyone! We have been fooled!” The Derneldar founder said aloud. “Other than this man, this CHILD, there is no other cultivator on our property! This boy is not even a Mist User, but a bodily cultivator!” Every word was emanated with the might of his mist energy, a force that throughout the family only the former head was exposed to. “KILL HIM WITH LONG RANGE MARTIAL ATTACKS!”

His intentions were clear. In the collision with Zax, even if it could be said that he had yet to show his full strength, his power was inferior to his opponent to a level which he was wary of.

“A child?!”

“Bodily cultivator?!”

“The information was wrong?!”

The Derneldar Mist Users on sight were not just the strongest of the entire family, but also the most loyal. The death of the family head shocked them, but the revelation that it was due to lies spread to weaken their preparations, coupled with the appearance of the strongest member of the family, rekindled their resolve.

“Shoot!” The Core Master with the groomed red mustache shouted.

It all happened too fast. Zax was finishing assessing the Derneldar founder, when the old man opened his mouth and started to claim strange things. In Zax’s eyes other than the Derneldar founder there was no one worth his attention, so he let him speak his mind as his lost words.

“Wanting it impede me with Martial techniques?” Zax frowned and asked the Derneldar founder. “Do your best!”

BOOM!

Zax dashed toward the Core Master fifty meters to his right, the one with the groomed red mustache.

“Hahaha! I’ll break the chain of command from the second best to the weakest and keep you, old man, to the last before I’ll get my hands on Binjo!”

“Fast!” The Core Master with the red mustache only saw Zax’s figure flickered as a cloud of dust and cement exploded were he stood and hundreds of bullets and long range Martial technique missed him.

“Barnia!” The Derneldar founder madly shouted. Zax speed was even faster than before their clash and there was no chance for him to catch up with him.

BANG!

A fist was thrown and the head of the red mustache Core Master, Barnia, exploded like a watermelon.

BOOM!

BOOM!

BOOM!

Consecutive explosion resonated. Zax disappeared from sight after the first explosion, but then the “BOOM” sounds reverberated from above.

“Flying!” The Derneldar founder was flabbergasted.

It was well known in the small community of second level Core Masters and above that the existence of techniques which enables Mist Users to fly was really scarce and neither of the very few that were out there were easy to comprehend. Furthermore, their consumption of mist energy was immense!

Now, however, a child and a bodily cultivator hopped above his head, tapping the air with his feet as if it was the simplest thing in the world!

“Not good!” The Derneldar founder realized who was Zax’s next target and hustled to close the small distance between them and stop him.

In air, Zax had less of a momentum, which made him a bit slower than on the ground, but he could maneuver himself freely to any direction, which in this particular case, allowed him to evade most of the bullets and long range Martial attacks.

“Die!” Zax yelled at the Core Master named Del and tried to ax him with a kick from above.

BOOM!

The Derneldar founder reached Del in the nick of time. From his robe he pulled out a knife with a stone blade fifteen centimeters long, like butcher knife, and inserted into it a tremendous amount of mist energy moment before he countered Zax.

“Tsk!” Zax clucked his tongue.

The Kinetic Force and the mist energy canceled one another. The knife’s blade sunk four centimeters deep into Zax’s heel, but the Derneldar founder did not come out of the clash without a scratch. The old man’s leg sunk heavily ten centimeters into the cement.

“Don’t hit the founder!” Someone shouted and all the bullets and long range Martial techniques surged toward Zax.

“There is no escape!” The Derneldar founder grabbed Zax’s injured legs and locked his movement.

“Is that so?”

BOOM!

Zax kicked with his other leg and forced the Derneldar founder to let go. He flipped backwards in the air several meters.

He landed on the ground, avoiding more Martial techniques than bullets he was forced farther again.

‘The old man will be on the lookout for the Core Masters… change of plan!’

BOOM!

The Kinetic Force exploded and Zax launched up.

BOOM!

BOOM!

BOOM!

He headed toward the two Core Masters, Lu Gan and Han Pei.

“Brat! If you didn’t kill my great grandson I would have happily let you do what you want with my other great grandson’s child. Now, though, it’s already too late and on the air your speed cannot elude me!” The Derneldar founder was closely following Zax’s tail from the ground and stating to lower his fortitude.

Zax zigzagged like a flying python and the Derneldar founder got to the two Core Masters.

A devilish smile adorned Zax face.

BOOM!

Zax suddenly descended in the midst of Mist Masters and Mist Lords.

“DISPERSE!” Realizing that he was fooled, the Derneldar founder frantically roared.

Of the group of Mist Users, the Core Masters were his blood and the strongest pillars of his family. Naturally, they were the ones he had to protect above all. But the other Mist Users, although cultivators of the first realm and in deferent levels, they were the most loyal of his men and women, the ones with the potential to contribute most to the family. Under any circumstances he could not neglect them and, yet Zax made him do so!

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“DIE!” Multitudes of yells aimed their firearms and Martial technique at Zax.

WHOOSH!

Ignoring them all, Zax, like a typhoon, cut through the masses. Man, woman, Core Breaker, Mist Lord, Zax made a single move one fell with his or her eyes rolling to the back of their head.

“Founder, you have to stop him!” Lu Gan and Han Pei urged the Derneldar founder to do something before the best of their family men and women would be no more.

The Derneldar founder gritted his teeth. While the boy was immersed in killing the lower realm cultivators, he could attempt to confront with him again. But on the ground the boy was faster than him and if he would make a sudden movement toward to Core Masters after he will clear himself a path, then there will be no way for him to stop him.

“Elders! Founder! Help us!” Some of the Mist Users called out when their ammunition was over or they saw that their Martial techniques are useless and Zax keeps getting closer to them.

SWISH!

Zax’s arm cut through the air and sliced a Mist Master from head to chest. Zax did not show mercy to anyone and resented those that stood in his way. They fought to impede him while their superiors attempted to kill him. They knowingly put their life on the line for a garbage family, probably driven with pride that one or two men cannot defeat them. Now Zax intended to show them otherwise.

“Fall back!” The Derneldar founder could not continue seeing his men and women being slaughtered and ordered. Of the over three hundred experts, Zax eradicated more than half by just waving his hands. These feats emphasized the monstrosity that is a bodily refinement technique.

Those who had to strength, that is, did not encounter Zax, immediately obeyed and the three Core Master also followed suit.

“Vile being, Look at me, I’m your opponent!” The Derneldar founder dashed toward Zax. His speed was incomparable to those who escaped and by the time only a meter separated him and Zax there were still some making their first step back.

“Old man!” Zax turned to the Derneldar founder with a fist already in motion.

BOOM!

Blood sprayed the stone blade of the Derneldar founder’s knife. The blade cut off three of Zax’s fingers and stuck to the bone at the base of his pinky.

“DIE!”

Zax and the Derneldar founder cried at the same time. The left hand of the Derneldar founder clawed into Zax head. Unable to pierce his skull, a stream of soul energy flowed to Zax head.

From his fight with Don, Zax learned to prepare himself in advance to soul attacks. In his sea of consciousness he currently executed his best  self created method to counter soul attacks. Currents of soul energy built a surrounding wall around his soul. In addition, Zax implemented the same principal that was in Don’s Ruler’s Fort formation, which caused the foreign soul energy of the Derneldar founder to spread and disperse in the moment of impact.

Truth is, if the Derneldar founder was a little bit more proficient in soul attacks, Zax’s soul defense would have collapsed and with another soul attack, the Derneldar founder could have kill him. Unfortunately for him, after breaking through the second level of the Core Master realm the Derneldar founder trained mainly with his knife, seeking the most efficient method to assimilate his mist energy with its unique stone blade.

PUCHI!

When the Derneldar founder struck his soul, Zax’s left hand formed a spear head and penetrated his chest. A layer of tough mist energy barred his fingers four millimeters in.

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Zax did not mind. “Kinetic Force!” He let the Derneldar founder know the name of his bizarre power… no, Technique that will take his life.

BOOM!

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