Zax moved fast and stealthily through the meadows of the first Savage Cave and then the group of mountains where the entrance to the second Savage Cage was.
His Soul Sense inspected every millimeter of the surrounding, detecting many bird type savage beasts and couple of experts who preferred to cultivate their souls in the cavities of the tall mountains.
‘Is this the second level Core Master big sister Hagen found?’ Zax found a skinny man with lemon skin tone lurking not far from the peak where the entrance to the second Savage Cave man. The man did not give any indication of training and so Zax assumed that he is one of the five he searched for.
‘And that should be the first level Core Master’. The two were not far from each other and their hiding spots, although not bad, also not good against those with superior surveying capabilities.
‘The other second level Core Master… he is hiding a bit farther from the other two. Is it because he is stronger?’ The other Core Master was in the Intermediate phase of the second level, in comparison to the first one who was in the Beginner phase of the second level.
‘And the remaining first level Core Masters are staying in the same spot…’
Zax did not think about it, but little did he know that the five escort members were not using formation for concealment or defense for three good reasons.
First, the Yellowtailed tribe lacked such formations, a high class formation that could make a difference against the sort of enemies they quietly ambushed and hoped that will not appear.
Second, erecting formation is the Savage Cave is very arduous. Unless one possess an attribute supported soul that is already powerful, maintaining a formation which requires constant upkeep would be impossible.
Third, the most important spot the five had to make sure no one will approach, the area with the strong gravitational force, where the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the second Savage Cave, is almost corrosive dead zone to most external mist usages. A strong cultivator might be able to unleash a long range mist attack at thirty to fifty percent of the original power, but erecting a formation? Unless it is A class formation or higher it will not hold for long.
Finding all five, Zax turned around and got back to the restless Mess and somewhat still calm, Hagen.
‘You got all five?’
“Yes”. Zax used a finger to draw on the ground a sketch of the four hiding spots of Ginlin’s escort members in the mountains area. “Here two level one Core Master are staying. Both of them are the Beginner phase of the first level. In this spot the strongest second level Core Master is watching over the entrance to the second Savage Cave and the other four. He is also at the Intermediate phase of the second level. Here are the two you probably saw”.
‘Mm…’ Hagen mused for a second. ‘Little brother Zax, I’ve been told that you managed to beat a second level Core Master in the past. What do you think your chances would be against the weaker second level Core Master?’
“Big sister Hagen, everyone among the five is on high alert and due to past encounters and the last several months, the household’s enemies should have by now a description of me, however not an idea of my strength. To answer your question, if you’ll manage to hold up the other second level Core Master, it would help me getting close enough to this one”, Zax pointed on the spot in the sketch where the Beginner phase second level Core was. “And counter him along with the close by first level Core Master”.
Zax believed that with his unique soul, the Beginner phase Core Master will not detect him in time to properly deflect a sudden attack and with the faintest touch he would be able to transmit a Soul Binding formation to the enemy, momentarily incapacitating him before landing the killing blow.
‘Then this one your target. Finish him and then deal swiftly with the Core Master close to him’. Hagen did not argue with Zax or try to get a better understanding of his abilities. She trusted her Martial uncle, Kartius, for electing him, knowing perfectly well how important the mission is.
‘Mes, can you handle the two first level Core Masters?’
“Yes, but if you want it to be done fast, I’ll have to transform into my animalistic form. The problem is that by then it will also be troublesome to conceal my mist energy from the others”. Mes answered honestly and seriously.
‘If that is the case… Little brother Zax, can you tell me how five looked when your Soul Sense detected them, that is, in what form they were?’
“Sure. All the five are in human forms. They also all have the same yellowish complexion”.
‘Fine then, Mes’, Hagen shifted her hawk head back to him. ‘It is fine for you to transform. By little brother’s observation everyone Ginlin brought is truly from the same Yellowtailed tribe, which is known for its many members rather than their type as beasts. At most, and this is an exaggeration, the five can be Zhihui type beasts. And since they are in their human form, they probably want to conserve their strength for the unexpected, which we alternately can use for our favor if we indeed strike fast enough’.
“Got it”. Receiving Hagen’s permission, a deep, poisonous looked appeared in Mes’s eyes. His predatory instinct was ready to home on the two first level Core Masters.
‘Good, Hagen spread her two sliver wing arms and brought Zax and Mes closer to her. ‘Engrave this in your heads! If Ginlin happens to return before we reassemble, the two of you must run away and pose as savages. Don’t try to help each other, don’t try to pose as cultivators and definitely don’t think of escaping from the first Savage Cave! Understand?’
Zax and Mes replied unanimously.
‘Then we are ready to move. Little brother Zax, remember, after I’ll strike first you will have a short window to surprise your target. Little brother Mes, you are not to transform until you’ll hear two explosions. One created by me and the other by little brother Zax. Lastly, don’t let any of the five make a crazy maneuver for the second Savage Cave to warn Ginlin. Go!’
Hagen’s aunty like voice resonated in the two’s heads. It possessed the sound of someone you do not want to disappoint, regardless how long you knew or met her.
Allowing the two to set out before her, Hagen waited for the right distance and the right timing to move.
Zax was faster than Mex. After the distance between him Hagen got to seventeen hundred meters and about twelve hundred meters from his target, Hagen soared and transformed to her animalistic form.
Her body expended to a silver tail, silver wings hawk figure with a height of eight meters and wingspan of twice her size, a bit over sixteen meters.
Stiffening a compulsive hawk’s war cry, Hagen stretched her wings and flew above the treetops in anticipation for the moment when Zax would be a second away from his target.
With a flap of wings, an azure aura explosively let loose from Hagen’s body. A streak of azure light flickered and then subsided as two flattering shines, fiery red and icy blue, swirled around the accelerating hawk figure. Hagen’s comprehension of the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique was not far from its pinnacle.
A lone human figure with lemon like skin tone and short blond hair turned its head in shook. He was Hagen’s target and the strongest of the escort members. “Who-”
Before the sound of his voice finished pronouncing the question, a shadow covered his head. One hawk’s leg pierced his upper body with incomparably sharp talons. The other hack’s leg pierced with its talons the lower body. A shiver ran through the body of the strongest escort member, yet as the first sign for yellow fur sprouted from his transforming body, the two hawk’s legs pulled and severed the upper and lower body.
The strongest escort member uttered a miserable scream in his last living moments, before the hawk’s leg holding his upper body squeezed, crushing his head.
Not far from the bloody scene of slaughter, a skinny man yelled in confusion and heart pumping. He was the other second level Core Master and Zax’s target.
“Not good!” A foreboding feeling aroused in the skinny man’s heart. Releasing his Soul Sense, beads of cold sweat formed across his slim back.
Seven meters from his target, the skinny man began to turn around. Zax was forced to utilize the Kinetic Force through his feet to close the distance with a burst of speed, before his target would have the change to retaliate.
The skinny man saw a palm strike approaching his torso much faster than he could transform and his face sink. The bursting power that allowed Zax to get close to him so fast was a force he did not underestimate nor wanted to face carelessly. Clenching his arms together, azure mist energy was summoned and emanated, amplifying his defenses to its utmost. In his weakest form he did not leave anything to chance.
“Accursed human!” The skinny man bellowed. He could tell that Zax was not a beast in human form and could not wait for the chance to transform into his animalistic form and shred the daring human.
“Hmph!” Zax snorted. His palm strike swept the arms of the skinny man and two Soul Binding formations were transmitted. ‘Oh… so too much concentrated mist energy can pose some resistance…’ Zax raised an eyebrow, but did not show real care.
The skinny man’s mist energy was really strong. His mist energy was actually briefly able resist the Soul Binding formations, which caught Zax by surprise since he was not aware that mist energy can be used against soul energy. Unfortunately for the skinny man, his defense was plain and basic and did not contain any soul energy within it. Honestly, in Valgarel, soul attacks were too rare for him to expect one, much less a soul formation!
“Eh…” The face of the skinny man convulsed, something passed through his all out defense and barged into his sea of consciousness.
The two Soul Binding formations flew toward the skinny man’s soul like emerald mouths to a blurry flame.
One hundred and forty two shapes stretched out, encircling the skinny man’s soul, confining his awareness.
Zax watched carefully, inspecting for the first time the effect of the Soul Binding formation.
The skinny man’s mist energy rattled before dispersing and the antagonistic light in his eyes dimmed as his whole face became expressionless.
‘Sadly, I don’t have time to see how long it can last…’ Due to the mission, time was of the essence and so Zax could not take this opportunity to experiment further on his enemy.
“Die!” His right hand took the form of a claw, shooting for the defenseless skinny man’s head. There was no even need for the Kinetic Force.
Blood and pieces of skull and brain matter oozed in between Zax’s finger. Ignoring the gore and glancing to his left, his Soul Sense caught the first level Core Master trying to escape toward the entrance of the second Savage Cave.
“Useless”. Zax smirked.
Kinetic Force was employed.
Before the body of the skinny man even reached the ground, Zax was a meter behind the fleeing figure of six tails yellow fox.
“Tribe lead-” Attempted the yellow fox to cry.
Zax leaped several meters above him and descended hit the heel of his right leg toward the back of the yellow fox.
Again, there was no need for Kinetic Force. Merely, as a bodily cultivator, every one of Zax’s offensive moves was exceptionally brutal!
Mes began to move when he heard the “BOOM” Zax produced in his hast use of Kinetic Force to get to the skinny man.
Mes was a Zhihui type beast who cultivated the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique like his two big Martial sisters, Hagen and Zetsa, and certain other of his Master’s apprentices. For a long time Mes was stuck in the Mist Lord level due to a bottleneck in his Qi and mist refinement technique. For those who cultivated the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique this bottleneck was well known and a huge hurdle.
In recent years Grandmaster Kartion nearly forced his apprentices, who cultivated the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique break through this bottleneck. Though it was true that rushing a breakthrough was not recommended, in some refinement techniques there was a point when advancing a specific threshold solely depended on the cultivator’s vigor.
Since Mes surpassed his bottleneck and broke through the Core Master realm with the foundation of a top Qi refinement technique, his power practically skyrocketed in comparison to other beasts, regardless of type, who cultivated good Qi\mist refinement techniques. Furthermore, in the future his cultivation will be much faster!
In but a few breaths, Mes’s human form transformed and stretched to a length of thousand meters as the purple bodysuit he wore expended into an armor of purple scales. The Thousand Meters Viper was not just very long, though not to the same degree, it was also fairly wide. Mes’s animalistic form had a diameter of nine meters.
Like a chain reaction, the instant a hint of azure aura flickered in the viper’s golden eyes it was outshined by two instinctive fiery red and icy blue hues that spread from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. The luster of the two hues was only outclassed by the vividness of Hagen’s aura.
The two first level Core Masters were not slow to react. By the second “BOOM” they were already transforming into the animalistic form in a much rapid pace than Mes because of their smaller animalistic bodies.
“The Thousand Meters Viper… Mes!” One of the yellow foxes grimaced.
“Don’t fight him, run to warn the tribe leader!” The yellow fox closer to Mes said in a said hurry to his companion.
“You wissssh to essscape me?” A supercilious voice emerged from Mes’s throat.
The two foxes did not bother to respond.
The one closes to Mes pounced at him, carrying the fact that he can only sacrifice his life and nothing more. But it all was acceptable for the sake of the tribe leader’s breakthrough!
The yellow’s fox claws shone with bright azure mist energy, aiming to clutch and penetrate just below the jaw of the Thousand Meters Viper.
The two paws failed to pierce the tough scales on Mes’s body, and with a slight a tremor the yellow fox landed on the ground with four broken claws.
“Roah!” Mes roared with a pained expression.
His eyes proceeded to, literally, look down at the yellow fox. He sensed the fluctuation in mist energy and was able to tell what the yellow fox planned. ‘Mist detonation…’ He could not let it happen!
Cracking his jaw open the pressure of Mes’s mist energy spiked, and an almost tangible killing intent poured from his mouth at the ghastly pale yellow fox.
“No!” The yellow fox issued a fearful cry as the blackness of Mes’s mouth descended to sallow him whole.
The head of the viper was the second fastest feature of him. From a close range, the speed in which Mes launched himself toward his prey was as fast as Hagen’s flying speed.
And beasts like the yellow fox? They were good enough as any meal. And the fear of mist detonation? As long as his prey’s cultivation was not higher by too much, the venom inside his body will prevent such foolish ideas.
“Now you…” Mes’s golden eyes shifted up and his neck turned to the direction of the entrance to the second Savage Cave.
The yellow fox that tried to escape was roped by Mes’s tail, his fastest feature, and was being dragged over.
“You killed third brother!” The yellow fox looked viciously at Mes, trying to hide the shook and fear his third brother fate of being eaten alive.
His fangs were deeply rooted in Mes’s tail. He already used his strongest Martial technique, which strengthen the jaw and fangs, to rip apart a huge chunk from Mes’s tail when he tried to escape, but by the second bite Mes redirected his tail’s scales and utilized his mist energy to stop the bleeding and lock the yellow fox’s fangs in his flash.
“Grauh!” The yellow fox howled with dread sipping from his eyes as he watched Mes’s mouth opening for him. Unlike his third brother he was not willing to destroy his spirit; therefore he did not try to detonate his mist energy. Besides, he knew that the swift tail can throw him the moment his mist energy will cause ominous fluctuations. By then he will not be able to pull off the mist detonation and his enemy would be fine.
Fear and regret could not help but creep into the heart of the yellow fox as he recalled the tribe leader choice of colluding with the Black Horns tribe and the support that even he gave the tribe leader at the time. Now, because of this mistake death was inevitable more than ever since the enemy he made exuded his predatory instinct and so could not be negotiated with.
‘Forgive me, tribe leader’. In the end, the yellow fox had an outburst of miss leaded loyalty, as he stared into the abyss.