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Book 5 – Horns, Chapter 3 – Sparkling Blue Tower

‘It’s the bodily maneuvers’ Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase, but it’s more refine than mine…’ Zax watched attentively at Raroen’s movements.

‘His strikes are flawless and every thrust releases the Kinetic Force with not difficulty whatsoever…’ The more he review how Raroen moved his body, threw his punches and delivered his kicks, more illusionary manifestations of his own person appeared in his sea of consciousness. Each mimicked a punch, a kick, a movement Raroen executed.

‘Eh?!’ At first the illusionary manifestations were blurry, but the longer they played in his sea of consciousness, the clearer they became and more easy to comprehend.

‘It’s a Martial art! Big brother Raroen is using a Martial art like the school principal of Eden Formation!’ The realization occurred when Zax compared his own way of fighting with the one of his illusionary manifestations copies.

Visually, there was not much of a difference between Zax’s simple way of fighting and the one carried by the movements of the Martial art. The distinction was only seen when the two clashed and Zax’s method lost miserably.

‘The Martial art is a path!’ It dawned on him. ‘Like how the bodily movements are a sort of a path for learning to use the Kinetic Force, the Martial art big brother Raroen using is a path that direct to the proper outlets for the Kinetic Force in a combat. Between using and not using the Martial art, at first it looks all the same, but after examining and comparing, the result is that using the Martial art is far more useful!’ Zax concluded as he kept spectating the one sided massacre on the ground.

‘But’, Zax’s reaction was not free of doubts with respect to what Raroen was trying to impart on him.  ‘If comparing the Martial art to the bodily maneuvers, the bodily maneuvers, thought more demanding, have the potential to unleash more of the Kinetic Force. Will big brother Raroen’s Martial be capable to channel a greater amount of Kinetic Force?’ Zax pondered.

Yes, by using the Martial art while in the bodily maneuvers’ Intermediate phase of the Intermediate phase, the Kinetic Force is put to better use. But what happens once getting to the Advanced phase of the Intermediate phase, or even more crucial, once breaking through the next phase?

Zax observed Raroen and studied the illusionary manifestations and felt that somewhere in between there exist some sort of confinement that a gut feeling made him feel uncomfortable with, as if the Raroen’s Martial art has a limit that once he will reach, he would not be able to surpass and all other paths would also be close to him.

‘Forget it’. Zax stopped paying attention to the fight and at the same time erased the illusionary manifestations. He discarded Raroen’s way of putting to use the Kinetic Force.

However, the lesson was not in vain. Zax now realized that there are other ways to implement the Kinetic Force, much better ways than his own method of fighting, and a grain of the best way was imprinted in his mind.

‘It’s like the pieces of spiritual knowledge, the fragments of the entity… From now on I should inspect the bodily maneuvers through the grain I gathered from big brother Raroen’s teachings. Since the bodily maneuvers are the source of getting in touch with the kinetic energy and then how to converge it to Kinetic Force, I will let the perfect path unfold through it’.

Thus, Zax made up his mind, and as he did, a liberating sensation washed the previous sense of confinement from his sea of consciousness.

Though Zax renounced Raroen’s Martial art, Raroen still continued to display it till the very last of the original fifty three pursuers was dead.

The azure dome crumbled and the restrictions on Zax faded. When his freedom returned, so was gravity and Zax began to fall to the bloody ground.

With a muffled “BOOM” Zax decelerated and like a feather, landed on the ground.

“Big brother Raroen, your Martial art-” Zax opened his mouth to thank for the lesson and express his thoughts on it, but Raroen raised a hand made him stop.

“In the past, Master showed me a similar Martial art in order to study and analysis. What I showed you, is not refined as Master’s, but this is the product of my own hard word and I’m contented with it. The rest is up to you”. Raroen solemnly brought to a close the matter of his Martial art.

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He jumped to the cave’s sky and transformed to his animalistic form.

Not saying anything anymore, Zax assimilated to his mind the true meaning in Raroen’s words and waited patiently for the hundred meter green scales, purple mane dragon to appear.

“Hop on”. Raroen’s voice resonated in Zax’s head.

A streak of green light traversed the distance of just over one cave’s length in the short span of time that it take to finish a cup of tea.

“Big Ra!” Zetsa waited outside of the tunnel that leads to her Master’s cave.

Raroen returned to his humanoid form and together with Zax he descended.

“Little Zetsa, today was a good harvest for the Collector of Spirits and a cause for celebration to our Master”. Raroen said, all smiling in his draconic way.

The “Collector of Spirits”, Zetsa was more familiar with the name than Zax, was the entity beasts referred and believed to collect the spirits of dead humans of beasts, that of course if the spirit was not destroyed in a fight or an accident.

“These are great news, big Ra, and in good timing”. Zetsa said and turned to Zax. “Martial uncle will escort you to Master’s place. Let Master know what happened to our fifty three pursuers. Big Ra, you don’t mind letting little Zi deliver the good news to Master, do you?”

“Hahaha, if Master will know what method I used to kill them he would be dissatisfied with me…” Raroen shook his head. “Little brother Zax, don’t worry about what I just said and omit details as a result”. Raroen tapped Zax’s head and with his incomprehensible speed, left the brother and sister duo at the entrance of the tunnel.

“Let’s go”. Zetsa told Zax and entered the tunnel first.

“Big sis, what about big brother Tularg?” Zax asked as they crossed the tunnel.

“Tularg left ahead of us to recover his strength. After you’ll see Master, you can go visit Tularg and the other whom you did not see since Martial uncle accepted you as his apprentice”.

The hardworking Krikitories were like a sight for sore eyes. Zax did not really extend his mind to them since he began his training three years ago. And on the way to the reputable expert he waited so long to meet, the owner of the cave and his big sister’s Master, watching them through his Soul Sense eased the tension he felt the longer he followed his big sister to her Master’s place inside the cave.

Why Zax was tense, other than recalling that three years ago the temperament of his big sister’s Master was not good enough to meet him, he also remembered his own Master’s words at that time… In order to stay in the cave, that is to say, as a cultivator who practices the techniques his big sister’s Master developed, he must receive his approval.

Zax followed his big sister in a way that was already embedded in his brain. Past the forest, not far from the Krikitory village at its edges, atop the mountain range with the many hot springs, to the highest mountain in the cave, Zetsa instructed Zax to climb after her when they reached the base of the tallest mountain of them all.

“I can’t use this technique, and the booming sound would echo and might scare the Krikitories who live in these mountains”. Zetsa was momentarily astounded by her little brother method of stepping on the air. According to her reaction, if she, too, practiced the bodily maneuvers, then she clearly did not attain this level of control on the Kinetic Force and that is if at all she can converge the kinetic energy into it.

The sparkling blue stones tower was the two’s final destination and where Zetsa reached the end of her path as Zax’s escort.

“Master”. Although he was surprise when he saw him, Zax happily greeted Kartius.

Kartius was waiting at the large hollowed entrance of the tower.

“Martial niece, you can go back”. Kartius did not expand on words.

In response, Zetsa gave Kartius a node and squeezed Zax’s shoulder before quietly leaving.

“Come”. Kartius said to Zax and entered the tower first.

“Master”, Zax ran after him. “Will you join me in meeting big sis’s Master?” He asked in hopes that he would. “Whaa!”

Before he let Kartius answer him, Zax lost control on his voice and a cry of pleasure slipped from between his lips.

The tower was completely empty, or at least the single room of its first floor was barren from any signs, tangible or otherwise, that someone lived in it. There was only a set of spiraling stairs to at a corner side of the room to the second floor.

It was not the emptiness of the room or the inside glow of the tower that emanated from the blue stones who build it, which made Zax call in absolute amazement, but the sensation of his own soul swirling wildly in his sea of consciousness that started once he entered the tower.

“Zax!” Kartius placed a finger on his forehead and used his soul energy to calm Zax’s soul.

“Master?” Due to the odd influence of whatever lingered in the first floor of the tower, apart from his soul, Zax’s pupils dilated and his vision became unfocused. Once the soul energy of his Master entered his sea of consciousness, it slowly put a stop to the swirling of his soul and his vision refocused.

“Tsk! Tsk…” Kartius clicked his tongue. “Your soul is not unique, Martial son, but in fact too freakish to describe”. He retracted his finger. “Listen now, Martial son, what happened is a matter for big brother to explain to in other time. For the meantime, use your soul energy to shield you soul from the influence of the tower”. That was more of an order than a simple instruction.

Zax listened to his Master without saying a word. The sensation he had when his soul swirled was wonderful, but it came with the price of losing control on himself, which he disliked.

While his Master’s soul energy dwindled, a wave of Zax’s own soul energy flowed from his soul and shrouded it inside a protective sphere. It was a replica of the shape his Master’s soul energy took to stop the swirling.

Inspecting his Martial son progress with his Soul Sense, Kartius waited for Zax to be done before he opened. “Martial son, to what you were asking me I will say two things. The first one is, naturally I will accompany you. As your Martial father I am bearing responsibility to your Martial cultivation. The teachings I pass on to you are the teachings big brother passed, and continue to pass to this day, to me. By evaluating you, I am also being evaluated. Do not forget that you are my one and only apprentice”. Kartius explained in practically one breath, showing that behind his cool demeanor he, too, was nervous.

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‘That right…’ Zax understood and inwardly reprimanded himself. ‘Master always spoke in praises about his big brother. And by allowing me to stay back then, and even more so, by taking me as his apprentice, don’t I reflect the consequences of Master’s decisions? If it’s also concern Master, then I can’t only think about myself in this matter! For Master I have to try even harder to measured up to the expectations of his big brother!’ He decisively told himself.

Letting down his big sister was more than enough for Zax to struggle as hard as he can, till the point of exhaustion if need be, to not disappoint those he care about.

“The other thing I have to say is something more important that you should take to heart if big brother will give you his blessing”. Kartius continued, less in a hurry, but in more serious tone. “Referring to big brother indirectly as ‘big sister’s Master’ or any other similar way is disrespectful manner of speech. With regards to his name, it is for big brother to make up his mind if he wants to tell you. However, from now until he will give his verdict, and hopefully in the future, you will call big brother ‘Grandmaster’, since from the very beginning, from early childhood, I first came to know big brother as Master”.

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