“The unrivaled tribe in Valgarel, since beasts and humans settled in New Earth, has always been the Red Rose Beaks tribe”. Kartius explained to Zax. “When the four of us escaped, the only one who could protect us from Karns’s and Kardelion’s rage was the strongest beast in New Earth, His Valor Ozeyn, the sole Chaoyue Demonic Scarlet Crane in New Earth and the leader of the Red Rose Beaks tribe”.
“Martial son, since most of the tribe members in the Red Rose Beaks tribe are bird type beasts, the locality of the tribe is spread across a chain of caves with many large mountain ranges. When we arrived to the territory of the Red Rose Beaks tribe, Big brother did not have the means to meet His Valor Ozeyn, therefore, when we reached to the Cave Of Long Beaks, the core cave of the Red Rose Beaks tribe, I, little sister and her maidservant stayed in hiding as big brother burst his way through to His Valor Ozeyn’s Blue Mountain”.
“Big brother’s conduct did not intend to hurt anyone, only to attract His Valor Ozeyn’s attention. When few of the Red Rose Beak tribe’s elders descended to arrest big brother, he did not fight back and was willingly detained”.
“Luckily, the length of big brother’s detention was short enough for him to plea to see his His Valor Ozeyn over an important issue, before Karns’s and Kardelion’s associates in the Red Rose Beaks tribe could inform them about big brother’s whereabouts”.
Kartius glanced at Zax. “Things that happened afterwards are the nucleus of our household’s enmity with the Black Horns tribe and those that helping it”.
“The four of us found safe haven in the Red Rose Beaks tribe, after big brother demonstrated before His Valor Ozeyn the supremacy of the initial stages of what you know today as the ‘Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement’, the two made an agreement. His Valor Ozeyn’s part of the deal, in fascinated admiration toward big brother’s bodily regiment technique, was to accept us four to his tribe as honorary guests, while big brother’s part of the deal was to share is technique with His Valor Ozeyn. As long as big brother could develop the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement further, His Valor Ozeyn let us stay”.
Kartius gave the impression of suddenly wanting to sneer at the next part of the story, but insisted, the muscles on his face twisted and it took couple of seconds before he could calm down and continue narrating.
“Unable to refute His Valor Ozeyn’s decision, knowing that they could not under any circumstances offend and arouse his wrath, Karns’s and Kardelion’s state of mind was near madness from anger. Still… the peace we acquired in the Red Rose Beaks tribe was short lived”.
“As honorary guests of His Valor Ozeyn, it wasn’t dangerous anymore for big brother to resume his ‘Master apprentice’ relationship with Raroen, and Raroken himself did not mind where his favored son would receive his proper training. I and little sister, however, severed our ‘Master apprentice’ relationship with big brother. Other than our new familial bond, the reason we stopped training under the guidance of big brother… For me it was the decision to halt my mist cultivation to start cultivating my body following the principles of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, which back then did not require profound teachings, only short instruction. Little sister, in contrast, chose to indulge herself in the violet stone, since only she could reap the most benefits from it and big brother was not proficient with its uses at the time”.
“Like that couple of decades passed. Big brother’s diligence studies would, every five to nine years, help him attain new small insight for the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, and his agreement with His Valor Ozeyn sustained. Then, after forty seven years in the Red Rose Beaks tribe, little sister got pregnant…” Kartius’s stomps penetrated deeper into the ground. “News of her pregnancy somewhat made their ways to Karns’s ears, despite big brother efforts to shush them”.
“Over the years, Karns’s bigotry and discrimination only intensified due to what happened with big brother. Karns could not accept his daughter birthing the child of a Brown Stag, moreover, the one who stole his violet stone, which no matter how much he wanted he could not get back so long that we stayed in the Red Rose Beaks tribe. Thus, Karns’s insanity went out of bounds… Rather than a daughter with the child of a Brown Stage in her womb, he preferred a dead daughter… Karns sent assassins to kill little sister!”
Recalling what his father did, Kartius furiously stomped and a few hundred meters long and tens of meters deep fissure split the ground. If the two were followed by some of the household’s enemies, after this raging performance, Zax was certain that no one will bother them until they will get to their destination, Kingdom Earth. Furthermore, although Zax knew that this is a story of a past and Laivien is safe and sound in right now, he too experienced a spike in his killing intent.
Zax’s number of interactions with Laivien was small, but the two had been in the company of each other for a long time. In his Martial household, the impression and warmth he received from Laivien was somewhere between a Martial mother to a Martial aunt. If someone dare threaten her, he or she will be panelized with the same fate as the Derneldar family.
“Even today there are no incriminating evidences that Karns was the perpetrator who organized little sister’s assassination, but other than him, who could? No other tribe except the Silverhorned tribe and the Black Horns tribe had the resources for a small scale infiltration into the Red Rose Beaks tribe. The Silverhorned tribe’s first leader, Raroken, was content with big brother for Raroen’s improvement. And of the two leaders of the Black Horns tribe, Kardelion, regardless of how much hate he had for big brother, would not dare to go after my or little sister’s life without Karns’s consent. Besides, Kardelion was aware that the vindictiveness in Karns’s heart was far more potent than his. Sooner or later, Karns was bound to retaliate. There was no need for Kardelion to go through the trouble in addition to risk angering His Valor Ozeyn”.
Kartius explained his hypothesis.
“Karns used his associates in the Red Rose Beaks tribe to help two second level Core Masters human assassins to secretly enter the Cave Of Long Beaks and locate little sister”.
“Little sister is alive, that you obviously know, Martial son”, reaching to this point after nonstop talking over an exasperating story of the past, Kartius’s voice became awfully hoarse. “When the two assassins attacked, little sister’s maidservant, a Peak phase first level Core Master, a Shenghuo Brown Doe, was by her side. At the nick of time she changed to her animalistic form, taking the two attacks that were intended for little sister and dying”.
A strange gleam reflected in Kartiius’s eyes. When Zax saw it, his heart felt heavy almost taking his breath away.
‘Did Master and Laivien’s maidservant were…’
Wondering only in this moment about the manner in which Kartius kept referring to Laivien’s maidservant, not calling someone who was part of their small group of four by her name… It dawned on Zax just now that perhaps his Master had a personal relationship with Laivien’s maidservant, and due to her death it was difficult for him to say her name.
‘Master…’ Zax wished to comfort Kartius, but the events he mentioned were not something that, for good or bad, could be reason with words. Furthermore, Zax, too, had someone he loved. Even before he realized his feelings for her, Anet, were someone tried to hurt her, no words would be enough to sooth his anger…
“Little sister’s maidservant sacrificed herself, and the noise she made brought what happened to the attention of those outside of little sister’s room, including His Valor Ozeyn and big brother. His Valor Ozeyn got their first and killed the two human assassins, but the short span of time it took him to arrive enabled one of the assassins to release a last attack at little sister. This attack… it wasn’t enough to take little sister’s life, but it hit her in the abdomen and damaged the embryo and”.
“That day, I and big brother were seething in tremendous rage. Little sister’s maidservant died, the embryo was hurt and little sister resorted to sustain it with her cultivation base… a pregnancy of two short years is now delayed by nearly a hundred years!” Kartius bellowed.
“Martial son, the words I used are for this moment only and in our household they are taboo from saying outloud. If little sister or big brother wishes to unburden, they alone can repeat what I told you”. Kartius clarified after a slight moment of calming down.
“Yes, Master”. Zax understood well his Master and in a short reply assented.
“Good”. Kartius nodded. “There is not much left to tell”, he continued. “Unable to restrain our rage, I and big brother sought Karns’s life. Over the forty seven years, big brother reached the Intermediate phase of the second level in the Core Master realm and I was not far behind him, in the Peak phase of the first level in the Core Master realm. Generally, it was not enough for even both of us together to challenge either Karns or Kardelion, but mist cultivation was not our main aim. Training mostly in the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, back then big brother completed the sixth gate and I broke through the fifth. With the support of the tempering our body received, in addition to our mist energy, we had the strength to contest against Karns”.
“We left little sister in His Valor Ozeyn’s care and rushed back to the Black Horns tribe without informing anyone about our intentions. Inside the tribe’s territory we moved stealthy. Kardelion’s residence was five caves away from Karns’s and we did not want him to learn about our arrival until after we got sufficient time to critically wound Karns”.
“Our battle with Karns was rigorous. Only due to the fact that he was not aware of our bodily cultivation and the benefit we got from it, we were able to barely match him. Eventually, Karns’s guards made it to Kardelion and our attempt at Karns’s life met its demise. I and big brother could barely match Karns, him and Kardelion at the same time… The tables turned it was I and big brother that were about to die”.
“Seeing that we cannot even escape, big brother made a sudden choice. Ordering me to run, he did not even give me the time to respond. Big brother destroyed his dantian, discharging all of his mist energy from his body and detonated it”.
“If not from Karns and Kardelion, then from the sphere of destruction I had to escape in order to keep my life. Big brother, on the other hand, well… you know that he is alive, but his mist cultivation base was utterly ruined to the point that even the recovery capability of his accomplishment in the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement could not rebuild his dantian. Martial son, compared to you, big brother is truly crippled as a mist cultivator. Nevertheless, he is also one of the strongest figures in New Earth”.
The last two sentences came out from Kartius’s stag mouth with a lot of meaning and the sense that for a long time he waited for the proper moment to share them with his Martial son.
As Kartius anticipated, a dumbfounded expression was plastered all over Zax’s face. This long overdue revelation struck and shook his sea of consciousness worse than any soul attack he ever experienced.
“Grandmaster can’t cultivate mist energy!” Each word echoed in booming sound in Zax mind before leaving his mouth.
“Regrettably”. Kartius nodded. “His only hope is that once he will reach the third realm in his bodily cultivation, with a bit of luck, he will be able to reform his mist channels and a new dantian”.
“What level of bodily cultivation Grandmaster is currently at?” Zax asked curiously.
Kartius thought a bit before answering. “The Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement is the method to cultivate the body from the first to the second realm. Big brother used the same requirement of cultivating mist energy in the second realm as the base of the next step after the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement. Right now big brother completed the first level of cultivating the body in the second realm and is working on the establishment of the second level. All things considered, you can say that big brother’s bodily cultivation is at the second realm, in the Peak phase of the first level. Big brother’s soul already exceeded the second realm and crossed to the third realm”.
“Master, are there really no other steps after the first level?” Zax was stupefied. If Grandmaster Kartion was still developing the technique to cultivate the body in the second realm, then if ever catch up to him he will reach a deadlock on his Martial path.
“Since big brother no longer can practice formation with his mist energy, he has to relay on his soul energy to experiment. Initially, I used to help him whenever he had new insight. When he reached the third realm with his soul, he decided to create a new kind of formation to lay upon the principals and refinement method of his new technique. If it will all work out as he plans, than the complete bodily refinement technique he is creating for the second realm, will be a hundredfold better than what can be created with the basis of a mist formation like in the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement!”
“Oh…” Zax gasped in veneration. To refer to Grandmaster Kartion as “genius” was nothing but understatement! ‘In comparison to Grandmaster, what worth my accomplishments have? Other than my soul, everything is thanks to the Black Core and the teaching of others. Grandmaster alone achieved every step that I ever took!’ Zax criticized himself, feeling a bit of shame.
“Awe inspiring indeed”, Kartius commented after Zax gasped. “It’s only bad that creating a whole technique of the second realm is excessively difficult. According to big brother, it will take decades for him to start working on the third level of the second realm, and about a century or two to cultivate it”.
“That long?” The long span of time caught Zax unprepared. His training speed, which frightened many, was a small matter to his since he never knew otherwise. To suddenly stretch it by such a long time… his only option to keep training will be to primarily return to soul training.
Kartius did not answer. He knew exactly what went on his Martial son’s head. Anyone who knew Zax and spectated at his fast cultivation will be able to read the current thoughts in his mind.
“Don’t bother thinking about it. Concentrate on your present training regimen. Now, let me continue and tell you what happened after big brother detonated his mist energy”. Kartius said sternly, forcing Zax to comply.
“As I fled, my mind was under an immense turmoil. I thought that big brother died. I did not know that he externally detonated his mist energy, it should not have mattered anyway, but thanks to the level he reached in the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement he actually survived. Unable to think straight, I wanted to punish Kardelion for interfering in our fight with Karns. So while Kardelion and Karns retreated to one direction from the explosion, I went the Kardelion’s residence, targeting the second most precious treasure of the Black Horns tribe that was in his possession, the blue tower”.
“Grandmaster’s blue tower?” Zax asked with light in his eyes. It made him quite happy to know that his Master, much like him, is daring.
“I slaughtered my way to where the blue tower was located. The blue tower, like the violet stone, possesses several functions. One of which is the ability to fold itself into one blue brick, the size of my palm in my humanoid form. The problem is that it takes a long time to fold it completely. I did not take this time into account and had to fend the guards and elders in Kardelion’s residence while folding the blue tower. Still, I did manage to get a lucky break when all I had to face were a few of the tribe’s elders, and guards and not Kardelion himself. As it so happened, it was His Valor Ozeyn who held up Kardelion and Karns. He learned too late that I and big brother left to confront Karns and arrived after big brother detonated his mist energy”.
“As he made it to the scene of the explosion, His Valor Ozeyn found big brother in a terrible shape. Preventing Kardelion and Karns from finishing big brother, he questioned them about the two assassins and left shortly after hearing their responses”.
“Later I, too, left Kardelion’s residence. Though I was badly wounded, I stole the blue tower and headed to the Red Rose Beaks tribe”.
“After big brother fully healed, assessed his condition and heard from little sister about the condition of the embryo, he asked from His Valor Ozeyn a place, a cave for our household and no one else. His Valor Ozeyn agreed and gave big brother the cave of the Krikitory tribe at the outskirt of Valgarel’s outer territory. The reason big brother wanted a private cave was due to the fact that within the territory of the Red Rose Beaks tribe, it would have been problematic for His Valor Ozeyn to restrict complete entry just to avoid future depraved occurrences like the recent one with the assassins”.
“Providing our household with a cave would have been much simpler. Using his emissaries, His Valor Ozeyn informed all the powers in New Earth about the restrictions on big brother’s cave. He gave everyone one ultimatum for big brother to have a peace of mind, ‘One enter without permission, all will die’. The interpretation of the meaning of his words was easy to understand. Kardelion and Karns, even with their two most precious treasures lost, yet again, could do nothing”.
“Afterwards, Raroen joined me, big brother and little sister. Since His Valor Ozeyn could not stay on guard beside big brother, he did not bother threatening others from assaulting us outside the cave. Consequently, Kardelion and Karns allied with other tribes in Valgarel, putting a price on our heads. Big brother did not idly sit around, either. The weaker tribes in the inner territory of Valgarel are always in a state of war and sometimes the tribes in the outer territory are also affected. After a thorough examination, Big brother recruited his apprentices from various diminishing tribes, gathering those he could trust and has common denominator with”.
“Sometime later, big brother found Martial niece Zetsa. Then, you joined our household. And here we are today, Martial son”. Kartius met Zax with his eyes, as a father looks at his only son.
The past had him go through lots of pain, yet somehow in the present he found contentment.
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