Zax was quietly following Zetsa and Tularg as they crossed the boundary between Kingdom Earth and Valgarel.
Though he just arrived from Eden Formation and not long ago departed, yet again, to Valgarel, his mind was already trying to conceive the right words for when he will return and meet Anet again. He realized too late that leaving promptly as he did was a rush decision, but when the notion of returning to part with Anet in a more friendly manner came to his head, he immediately discarded it due to a gut feeling.
‘…Forget it!’ He attempted to sound tough with himself and strenuously forced the blast of newly acknowledged, first time affection toward the opposite sex, to a corner in his sea of consciousness, where it will not hinder his performances in the event that his big sister’s Master would test him. ‘I’ll see her when I’ll return, and if she is okay with me then… I’ll ask her for a date’. The last thought made his heart pump again and the inner flames of youth flushed his face. The notion of going out, intimately, with a girl was fashioned from the little Zax knew of the next step of when a boy and a girl like each other.
“Are you feeling unwell, Zax?” Of the leading two, the one to ask was Zetsa. By calling her little brother by his name, she unintentionally gave away that although she and Zax reached an understanding of his mistakes and the latter apologized, she was not completely over his transgressions.
Next to Zetsa, at close proximity, was Tularg. His human complexion was pale since he finished treating Liz with his mist energy and other than the route to his Master’s cave he seemed devoid of even the presence of his two companions.
“Eh… Yeah, big sis”. Zax replied with a node and swallowed his stutter. As for divulging his feelings, he chose otherwise. His goal was to avoid the subject until the appropriate time.
Zax eyes gazed upon the blond, blue jumpsuit man, Tularg. He assumed that his current weakened state was correlated to the thing he did to his baby sister with his mist energy. “Big sis, is Martial brother Tularg okay?” He asked in a small voice,
“Let him be”, Zetsa answered. “In a few days he’ll sober up”.
“And Liz, is what he done to her will make her feel bad or something?” Zax asked just in case.
When Zax got back home he checked his baby sister again after Tularg finished treating her. Her Qi channels were three times sturdier and wider than originally and the results of the body’s refinement caused her skin the glow like a precious gemstone. That was Zax’s assessment as per with his initial observation of Liz. Afterwards, Zetsa urged him to say his goodbye to their parents and depart before he could deduce anything further.
“Martial uncle did not teach you what is Cultivation Inheritance, am I right?”
‘Cultivation Inheritance?’ Zax thought. “No”.
“Well, then I’ll explain. Cultivation Inheritance is an innate boon that only Zhihui and Chaoyue beasts that broken through the Core Master realm can bestow. It is a fusion of the most potent blood and richest mist that a beast cultivated, which can only be passed on once in a lifetime to whomever the beast chooses. Someone who receives a Cultivation Inheritance will go through various transformations in a short period of time. When we left, those changes were already apparent on Liz, though the external ones are only temporarily visible. In a few weeks, Liz will recover her normal appearance and with Martial brother Tularg’s Cultivation Inheritance, her potential in Martial cultivation should quadruple”.
“So much?” Zax was astounded. Learning of this unique trait that only selected beasts have, also contributed to his amazement. ”Something so valuable that can only be given once… Martial brother Tularg’s connection to Liz is through us, could this be enough for him to give her such a gift that he could, instead, bequeath to his children? Even if he doesn’t have children, he could still give his Cultivation Inheritance to an apprentice…”
“I, too, did not expect him to suddenly give away his Cultivation Inheritance”. Zetsa admitted. “Regrettably, Zax, for a beast to give his or her sole Cultivation Inheritance isn’t the real consequences”. Zetsa said and pulled some distance from Tularg. “The Cultivation Inheritance of a beast is linked to the beast’s ability to reproduce. By giving away his Cultivation Inheritance, Martial brother Tularg has relinquished any possibility of having his own line of descendancy in the future”.
Not to mention Zax, even Zetsa was baffled with Tularg’s decision. She knew where it came from, but could not support it despite it benefiting her little sister. The price was truly too great.
‘Martial brother Tularg…’ Zax stared at Tularg’s back with a profound expression. He had no idea why Tularg made such a huge sacrifice for Liz’s sake. He gathered his thoughts in an attempt to understand what goes on inside of Tularg’s head right now, rather than pondering why he gave Liz his Cultivation Inheritance.
“If I knew that Martial brother Tularg has given up all hopes of reuniting with his clan, I would not have agreed to let him stay as our escort and let him get close to Liz”. Zetsa displeasingly murmured. She frowned and for a moment seemed to have taken Tularg’s decision personally. She recalled that before explaining the situation to Zax, she was not as angry and now that she was, it was not because of her little brother’s query, but due to a recollection of a debt she would probably never be able to pay back.
“Me escorting you two, was never your decision to make, big sister Zetsa”. Finally, Tularg voiced his thoughts, a thought, and joined the conversation. “Little brother Zax. Forget about the Cultivation Inheritance. This, for once, was a decision that only I could make and I don’t regret it. Also, in the future I’ll make Liz my apprentice, so not everything is loss”. Despite his feeble state, Tularg’s response was followed by a hearty laugh.
To that rejoinder, Zetsa simply shook her head and sighed while Zax acted oppositely, nodded and passed his approval as Liz’s older brother.
As the three journeyed, they stopped scarcely for Tularg to rest.
To recuperate, Tularg needed to circulate his mist energy and replenish his blood. Most common way to do so was to find a place to rest and guide the mist energy and blood in a successive manner for several days and let the recuperation occur naturally.
Tularg could not afford the “common way”. To recuperate after giving his Cultivation Inheritance required the best method to his disposal; which was to circulate his mist energy and blood according to the principles of a cultivation technique, the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi Refining Technique, in Tularg’s case.
That being said of his requirement to recuperate, Tularg insisted that they should not stop at one place for more than half a hour, and so most of his attempts to get better were during travel, which slowed their pace instead of completely stopping it.
Around twenty five hours since they left Kingdom Earth, the three were two caves away from their destination, yet the overall mood of Zetsa and Tularg was vigilant and not at all at ease.
“They are heading our way”. Zax narrowed his eyes and turned his head back. His gaze looked as if it could pierce the thick vegetation.
For the last three hours his big sister and Tularg behaved as if they are in the middle of a war zone and kept their Soul Sense spread. Zax knew of the enemies his big sister’s Master has, but neither when Zetsa brought for the first time to her Master’s cave nor when they left to Kingdom Earth did she give the impression of being wary of hidden enemy experts.
Nevertheless, the two heavily alert, therefore Zax did not pestered them with questions. On the contrary, he, too, released his Soul Sense to keep on guard.
After detecting a few hunting groups and wild beasts, Zax’s attention was attracted and locked on a group of several tens of different beasts that entered the range of his Soul Sense and without hesitation he informed Zetsa and Tularg.
“Is someone pursuing us?” Zetsa pursed her brows. The reach of her and Tularg’s Soul Sense were shorter than Zax’s. She asked to be certain that Zax did not confuse a hunting group of a small tribe with the bands of her Master’s enemies.
“I’m not sure how many. They are on the boundary of my Soul Sense and keep the same pace as us, but I already detected more than fourth that could be registered as pursuers, half of them are at the first level of the Core Master realm”.
“Twenty Core Master and you cannot be sure if there are more… Let’s make a detour. Four hundred meters from us there is a place that will do for a pitstop. Tularg, you’ll continue to recover. Zax, see if they are still following, before the Core Master’s Soul Sense reach us try to find how many pursuers we have. When their Soul Sense will get too close, tell me and we will depart”. Zetsa said in a commanding tone and turned eastward.
In a few breaths they crossed the four hundred meters and reached a large lake, beside a seven hundred meters tall mountain with many burrows on his side.
Tularg flatten a rock and sat on it crossed legs.
“Big sis, how they know where we are?” Zax still looked at the direction of the forty something pursuers. A few seconds after they stopped, the forty something also halted their advancement.
“Probably smell. Most likely they spread their network of influence in the caves surrounding Master’s cave and are informed by their inhabitants of any oddities”.
“That’s what beasts of low intelligent perceive humans, even other beasts in human form. Did they slowed down or stopped?” Zetsa asked because if Core Masters did pursue them, by the end of this small talk, they should have gotten close enough for Tularg to also sense them, and he would not have continued resting if enemies were closing in on them.
“They got a little closer after we stopped. There are more than forty, they are fifty three with twenty one first level Core Masters and thirty two Mist Lords… Big sis, is there a way to tell between a beast in human form and a human?” Zax suddenly asked.
“Master told me that there is, but it’s very hard to achieve this level of detection. You ask because you detected humans? Well, there might be some among Master’s enemies”. Zetsa said casually.
“Nine Core Masters look like humans and twenty of the Mist Lords, also… They are practically walking, but they should get close enough to sense us in a few minutes. What should we do?” Zax was not afraid, the Mist Lords could not threaten him, but even he was not confident against the joint attack of so many first level Core Masters.
“Mmm…” Zetsa contemplated. “They spread around us to either make sure we cannot escape, to execute a formation or both. We cannot kill all of them and to escape there is still some distance for us to traverse. Who would have thought that they will be so daring so soon…?” A hint of killing intent radiated from Zetsa’s eyes. “Fine! Let them if they want to chase. But we will not play the prey like they want us to”. A cold smile stretched across Zetsa’s face, her mist energy surged from her dantian and cold fume accompanied her next words. “It is more fun to be the bait”.