In the roughly four years that passed since Zax first met his today Martial brother and sisters, every one of them also had his and her own progression in the Martial path. Currently, other than his big sister, Zetsa, only Shulip had not yet broken through the Core Master realm.
A hour ago, Zax’s Master, Kartius, announced that soon he will head out to his first household mission, together with Mes, the Thousand Meters Viper, and Hagen, the Martial sister he had yet met.
The gathering place was at the peak of a mountain, which was part of the mountains ridge were the blue tower of Grandmaster Kartion was situated, and the secluded habitation of Hagen.
Several tens of meters below the peak was a cavern, sealed by a giant boulder. A tremor engendered from within the sealed cavern and fluctuation of violent mist energy sipped through the notches between the boulder and the cavern’s entrance.
Short time later, the fluctuation dissipated and calm return to the mountain.
“Big sister Hagen is one step closer toward the third level of the second realm”. A fairly young man, who appeared to be in his early twenties, remarked with a smile.
Beside the young man were Zax and Kartius in his humanoid form.
“Big brother Mes”, Zax turned to the young man who wore a bodysuit made out of purple scales, his purple long hair was combed and tied behind his back and his eyes were gleaming in golden spender.
After his breakthrough to the second realm, much like Tularg, as a Zhìhuì type beast Mes could now change into the third, human form, which flaunted in some of his animalistic features. Also, with a human head, tongue and vocal cords Mes no longer had speech impediments.
“Sensing those mist fluctuation with my Soul Sense, big sister Hagen has reached the Advanced phase of the second level of the Core Master realm. She still needs to reach the Peak phase in order to be a step closer to the third level”. Zax said.
“Ha! Freak Zax, you brat, what do you know? The Peak phase is merely half a step to the next level, the additional half step is just a little more difficult so others occasionally confuse the one into two”. Mes said, sure of his facts.
“You two be quiet. Martial niece Hagen consolidates her mist energy and will be out of her closed door training in a few minutes. If you two will keep disturbing her… Martial son, though you still did not meet your eldest Martial sister, don’t seek your Martial father’s back when she’ll get here incensed. Martial nephew Mes, since you should know better, Martial niece Hagen will punish you more severely”. Kartius both reprimanded and warned.
Seeing how Mes hastened to listen to his Master, and the slight change in his complexion, Zax decided to follow suit and avoid from infuriating his strongest Martial sister in the first impression she would have of him.
A loud bird cry resonated, carrying the sound wave for kilometers.
On the mountain peak, a flashy figure ascended to the cave’s sky, leading the heads of the three to look up.
An about two meters tall bird type beast, with silvery wings, gray feathered body, a hawk head and a beast’s humanoid form physique flew above Zax, Mes and Kartius, circling the summit of the mountain before landing.
“Big sister Hagen, congratulation!” Mes hurriedly stepped forward to welcome the bird type beast in her humanoid form, Hagen.
‘This is Martial sister Hagen…’ Zax refrained from impolitely inspecting her with his Soul Sense, but still could tell the disparity in strength between them. ‘Formidable!’
“Greetings, senior Martial sister Hagen, this one is Zax Zel, nice to meet you!” Zax paid Hagen the same respect he showed his other Martial brothers and sisters.
The double pupils hawk eyes of Hagen shifted from the welcoming Mes to the teenage human.
Being watched by those yellow double pupils ran shivers down Zax’s back. ‘Did I say something offending?’ Externally Zax did not show any signs of retreat, but inwardly he felt those double pupils penetrating his skin.
Catching the quick blink in Hagen eyes, the intrusive sensation abruptly vanished.
‘Good, little brother Zax, you are as strong and fast growing as the abnormal little Zetsa’. A pleasant to the ears voice of nice aunty echoed in Zax’s head.
“Big sister Hagen?” Zax was taken aback.
Also hearing Zax’s response, Kartius understood the misunderstanding of his Martial son and took upon himself to explain.
“Martial niece Hagen, similarly to Martial niece Shulip whom you already know, as a bird type beast, Double Pupils hawk, cannot produce human sounds with her vocal cords. However, Martial niece Hagen had managed to learn the Silverhorned tribe’s technique of sound transmission from Martial nephew Raroen. Therefore, as long as you don’t intentionally barricade your sea of consciousness, her thoughts can resound in your mind”.
‘That’s right, little brother Zax’. Hagen confirmed.
“Hagen, little sister passed you the massage about this time mission”.
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‘Indeed, Martial uncle’. Hagen voice resounded not just in Kartius’s head, but in Mes’s and Zax’s, too. ‘But not in great details’.
Kartius nodded. “The mission is assassination mission. Mes, your Reptilian tribe provided the information. Update the three of us once more”.
The Reptilian tribe, Zax heard from Mes in the past, is a sub tribe of the Silverhorned tribe. It used to be a dominate tribe in the outer territory of Valgarel and after the Silverhorned tribe’s rise to prominence in the inner territory, it also had become a decent tribe in the inner territory.
Today, the Reptilian tribe is a silent ally of Grandmaster Kartion and its members scout the movement of the Black Horns tribe and the three other tribes in its service against the household.
Mes’s easygoing expression was replaced with a solemn one. “The scouts of the Reptilian tribe gathered information about the leader of the Yellowtailed tribe, Ginlin. Apparently, the tribe leader reached the bottleneck to the third realm and headed to the Savage Caves with a few tribesmen to make his breakthrough”.
‘Ginlin finally decided to surpass the peak of the Core Master realm?’ Though Hagen sounded calm as she asked, a hint of exclamation could be seen in her double pupils.
“Hagen, Mes, Zax, Ginlin is one of the four great nemesis of our household. Even though he is a Shenghuo, is strength at the peak of the third level should not be taken lightly. Now more than ever if he is willing to make his breakthrough”. Kartius stressed.
“The information about Ginlin arrived this morning. By now he probably made it to the first Savage Cave, but his destination should be the second one and his allusive target, a fiery attribute liquid. To get the fiery attribute liquid will take him a week worth of time or so, and to consume it safely he would have to return to the first Savage Cave. Your orders are as such, head out to the entrance of the second Savage Cave. If you make it before Ginlin returns, destroy his escort and ambush Ginlin”.
“To not attract the attention of other tribes, Ginlin escort is comprised of only five Core Masters, two of which are second level Core Masters, three are at the first level. On sight, Martial niece Hagen, you shell deiced how you want to take care of them”. Kartius turned to Hagen and then Mes and Zax. “Remember, most important, the moment Ginlin exists to the first Savage Cave, whether you got rid of his escort or not, Ginlin will be too tired and weak and his strength should not be higher than the Beginner phase of the third level. If at the moment of his arrival you can intercept him from consuming the fiery attribute liquid, then don’t hesitate from dealing the killing blow, otherwise, flee as fast as you can!”
Allowing the three a moment of silence to digest his orders, Kartius opened. “Is everything clear?”
The three replied.
“Hagen, you are the leader of this task force. Martial son, Mes, you two are to follow her orders, whichever they may be. Now go!”
‘Little brother Zax, you Soul Sense is the strongest, activate it once every minute to make sure we are not being followed’. Hagen ordered as she flew above the two. ‘I will go ahead of you two. Mes, if you can’t keep up in your human form and humanoid form, let little brother carry you. No matter what, you are not allowed to transform into your animalistic form!’
Mes’s animalistic form was that of Thousand Meters Viper. Such a large form would be too conspicuous and easy to detect by their forces of the household who roam Valgarel.
Before Mes had a chance to reply, Hagen already turned into a streak of azure light and disappeared. Her speed while flying, even in her humanoid form, as several times more faster than Zax’s top speed on the ground with the help of the Kinetic Force.
Seeing Mes’s dejected face, Zax could not help but tease, tapping on his back. “Senior, junior’s back is strong and has no problems whatsoever in helping the elderly-”
“Brat!” Mes snapped at Zax. “Where did the respectable, humble kid gone to and how come a brat as appeared?!” He sighed, shaking his head.
Zax laughed. Of his Martial brothers and sisters, Mes was the only one he could joke with and sometimes tease.
“What are you laughing for, little brat? You think I don’t know, but if I’ll tell your beloved sister, big sister Zetsa, how you speak to your big brother, I wonder if you still be able to laugh”. Mes grinned.
Zax’s face grew stiff after hearing him. “…Junior was wrong, honorable big brother is right. Little brother might need help from big brother in the future, please show me the path to enlightenment”.
“That’s more like it”. Mes laughed.
Zax groaned. To this day his big sister was his weak spot and since his birthday, she entered closed door training and he has not seen her once.
When it came to his witticisms with Mes, whenever one of them dishonestly got the better of the other, the loser would go cry to Zetsa, who then reprimanded the winner. This time around, Zax was at fault since Hagen provided him the opportunity to jest.
Utilizing every ounce of their speed, the three traveled through the outer territory of Valgarel to the inner territory and made it to the entrance of the first Savage Cave unhindered in the span of time that was couple hours short from two days.
‘Ginlin’s escort should be located around the entrance to the second Savage Cave’. Hagen sent after assessing from above the terrain of meadows and mountains that preceded the entrance to the second Savage Cave in the latter half of the first Savage Cave.
From a short discussion on their way, Zax learned that what made Hagen special even for a Chaoyue beast were her double pupils. When she concentrates, anything in her line of sight and up to a distance of ten kilometers cannot escape her prying eyes. The specialness of her eyes can even see through a person’s body, almost like an x-ray vision. However, she cannot inspect with her eyes a person’s dantian or soul. When she glanced at Zax, Hagen praised the level of his bodily cultivation, which her eyes were able to discern. As for the drawback of her eyes, an expert with a strong soul, although will not be able to avoid her sight, can still sense when she inspects him or her, and from the first place, this special ability is very draining and not something that Hagen can make use of for a long time.
“Can you see them?” Mes asked.
‘I discovered two of the first level Core Masters. Since they are not waiting around the entrance to the second Savage Cave, they probably did not erect a defensive formation to not attract the bigger experts in the groves’.
“We cannot stay in one place, if the savages will find us and one of Ginlin’s escort members will notice the fight, we will lose the element of surprise”. Zax spoke from his experience in the first Savage Cave. It did not matter how strong they were, if a savage human or beast will show up, others will follow and incontinent the mission.
“Big sister Hagen, how about this, my soul possesses a dark attribute and adding my last advancement, the range of my Soul Sense is eight kilometers. It won’t be farther from your double pupil vision, but I can scan a much larger area. Give me ten minutes to look around; maybe I will be able to find the other four escort members”. Zax suggested. He could feel how the power of the dark attribute repeals the savage force of the Savage Cave.
A second level Core Master without an attribute, in comparison to Zax, can at most spread his or her Soul Sense to a maximal radius of one kilometer.
Considering Zax’s suggestion, it took Hagen less than a second to node back in approval. The three could not be certain when Ginlin will return, and even then his strength would be, at the very least, at the Beginner phase of the third Core Master’s level. Stopping him from consuming something that is already in his hands… The five escort members had to be dealt with first; otherwise the only choices would be fleeing, like how Kartius ordered, or a desperate attempt.
“You can count on me!” Zax promised. Turning his back, his right leg softly pushed against the ground as his figure sped past the meadows and the invisible Soul Sense erupted.