“Then again, little brother Zax, do you take extracting a Core from a cultivator is such an easy thing?” Mes’s sentence pulled Zax back into the firm grasp of reality. “To shatter a second realm Core can be done in the span of a breath, even less!” If the situation was otherwise, Mes would have laughed at Zax’s current face. “That’s why I referred to the instant big sister Hagen aims to attack Ginlin as a ‘short window’, shorter than what it sounded“.
Mes’s expression became solemn, he concentrated his gaze, spotting something, but then his head lowered and he heaved a deep sigh. “Our only hope, according to what I gathered from big sister Hagen, is that a third realm Core takes longer to shatter, and so present enough time for big sister Hagen to strike”. He said heavily.
Following the conversation about the insight into the process of breaking through realms, Zax and Mes quietly sit in the nest, vigilant for the arrival of Ginlin.
As days passed by, neither one of the three shifted his or her gaze from the direction of the entrance to the second Savage Cave.
All the while, the talks between Zax and Mes were kept to bare minimum. But it was fine for Zax. Since the reply he received from Mes to his inquiry about the value of Cores was “First get one”, his mind could not stop contemplating ways to be there, at the time of a breakthrough, of Mist Lord who serves the household’s enemies. His temporary solution was to scout the caves around Grandmaster Kartion’s cave in hope of finding the enemies’ forces, kidnap the Mist Lord with the heights cultivation and force him to breakthrough.
‘Too much of a hustle…’ Zax told himself when the idea came to his mind. Nevertheless, the notion of the prize he will obtain if his plan would succeed toppled his resignation of the idea.
Finally, in the fourth days of waiting…
Wild fluctuations of famished, ruinous mist energy burst from the tunnel leading to the second Savage Cave. Those fluctuations traveled for kilometers, alerting savages, reclusive cultivators and of course, Hagen, Mes and Zax.
As the fluctuation grew stronger, closer to the first Savage Cave, from their hideout, Zax and Mes caught glimpses at savage and reclusive cultivators, alike, running away from the mountain area of the first Savage Cave.
Hagen, on the contrary, paid no attention to anyone and anything but the entrance of the tunnel. Her pupils contracted as she watched in ambush of the approaching prey.
“Cough! Cough!” A voice echoed from the tunnel. Moment later a figure of a human of an elderly man with lemon skin tone, long blond hair and furry garments walked out of the tunnel.
The elderly man was panting and his back was bent. With his right hand he supported himself against the wall of the entrance to the tunnel and in his left hand he held a lustrous canteen with odd glowing symbols, formations with fiery splendor, which doubtfully was made in Valgarel.
Even in his sorry state, the eyes of the elderly man kept scanning the surrounding of the area with the gravitational force, as if waiting for something, someone.
Raising the canteen close to his chest, a look of concern, little by little, creeped to his face. Then a flash of understanding reflected in the elderly man’s eyes and he gritted his teeth.
Opening his mouth to say something, he suddenly changed his mind and lifted his left leg to take a step back into the tunnel.
Hagen’s killing intent exploded. With a sharp hawk’s war cry, her aura burst in hues of fiery red and icy blue.
The mountain peak, on which Hagen waited for four days crumbled, and her figured turned into an intensifying streak of light that shot toward the entrance to the second Savage Cave.
Hagen’s assault was everything but subtle, as any assassination should be. It was not that she did not want to wait a bit longer for the elderly man, Ginlin to leave the tunnel and try to catch his breath, but the enemy was too shrewd.
Due to the gravitational force Ginlin could not use his Soul Sense to locate his escort members. Knowing that, he released his mist energy to notify them of his arrival and have them assemble outside of the tunnel. When neither of the five appeared, Ginlin became suspicious and as he waited a little longer he realized that something was wrong.
Thus, two choices came up in Ginlin’s mind. One, escaping from the gravitational force area and hastily, and in the open, consume the fiery attribute liquid in his canteen. Second, retreating back to the tunnel, where there was more than just the gravitational force to hinder him, and make the consumption of the fiery attribute liquid many time more dangerous, but at least going for it where whoever is waiting for him in ambush will not come in.
Surviving the second Savage Cave and even being successful in finding the fiery attribute liquid, Ginlin made a prompt decision and chose the second option. However, one thing he did not take into consideration was the craziness and killing intent of his enemy!
Hagen was younger but no less smart than Ginlin. Watching his expression changes and then his left leg going up and swaying backwards, gave her enough indication of what he was planning.
‘Going for the tunnel?’ Small flames and cold steams oozed from Hagen’s feathers as her killing intent kept surging. ‘Then let this place be your grave!’
Barely a second flashed before the second Hawk’s war cry shook the air and ground, causing undulation within the gravitational area. Flying there and flying inside the tunnel was a hurdle Hagen willingly took.
“Roah!” A roar blustered from the tunnel and a fiery flash emanated outside. A huge figure lunged from the tunnel and slammed into Hagen.
The fiery flash dissipated. In no way it was even close to the black dome that encompassed Zax and Carl when the man from the second Savage Cave appeared and bit the object with the dark attribute.
“He consumed the fiery attribute liquid?!” Zax assumed after seeing the fiery flash, however he was not certain and so his words came out, sounding like a question.
Before Mes had the chance to say anything, the two saw her big sister Hagen being pushed back by a six meter long, four meters tall yellow fox.
The yellow fox did not release his aura, but his fur and eyes shone with a fiery red luster.
“He did, but inside the tunnel he was only able to safely consume a little of it and the fleeting flash it seems that it was of low quality fiery attribute liquid… It cannot be enough for Ginlin to break through! Does he underestimating big sister Hagen, overestimating his capabilities to break through or have an ulterior motive?” Mes nervously furrowed his brows. The lack of knowing what went inside Ginlin’s head worried him to the point that his body started to involuntarily transforming to his animalistic form.
“Mes! Careful, the nest his breaking!” Zax shouted at him. He also got startled when Ginlin emerged in his animalistic form and attacked Hagen, ripping several of her feathers before both of them moved back and again, simultaneously assaulting each other.
Seeing that Mes does not listening, still dwelling over his words and spectating the even fight along with the last of the retreating savages and the reclusive cultivators, Zax swallowed his rebuke as a thought surfaced in his head.
‘Savage Cave, unripe Blood Red Grapes with immense vitality, Ginlin does not cultivate a bodily refinement technique but I do… At the cost of my limbs, how many Soul Binding formations would I be able to transmit to his sea of consciousness…?’
Suddenly he did not care of the nest breaking, or Ginlin finding the location the only spectating experts, that is, him and Mes.
“Wretched bird!” Ginlin growled and pounced from the ground, to meet Hagen in another confrontation.
“Scree!” As Hagen saw it, Ginlin was not worthy for any of her words but the war cry her enemies hear before she kills them.
Slapping he wings, he guest of abundant mist energy swirled and descended toward Ginlin.
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Swiping his palm, Ginling’s claws were shining in fiery red, hitting the guest of fiery red and icy blue.
The explosion reverberated throughout all of the first Savage Cave.
That was the fifth collision of Hagen’s long range mist attack and Ginlin’s frontal assault. Those long range attacks from Hagen were just to probe Ginlin as the initial attack she told Mes and Zax about.
Like Mes, Hagen, too, suspected Ginlin’s confidence in consolidating his mist energy into a Core and deciding to fight her with pure physical strength and the occasional low grade soul technique he knew, which was not threatening against experts in her level.
It was a pleasant surprise that Ginlin only managed to gather low quality fiery attribute and, furthermore, consumed just a little of it before their fight, but it truly gave an uneasy feeling to Hagen.
Hense, she continued with the insufficient long range mist attacks for a while longer, before changing method to a close range attacks, her specialty.
Ginlin ran across the mountain, destroying two separate beams, fiery and icy, that shot together from Hagen’s mouth, he jumped in an instant on the side of the mountain, creating fissures in the impact, and pounced toward Hagen.
Among the four who occupied themselves with the fight in one way or another, Ginlin was the one who least thought about it.
Ulterior motive? Secret plan? Causing uneasy feelings to his opponent?
The reason for Ginlin’s behavior was not that complicated, rather very spontaneous. Ginlin lived for hundreds of years and in his lifetime saw quite a few Peak Core Masters being killed in various ways, to maintain the balance of powers in Valgarel. To not meet the same fate as those poor experts, the matter of his breakthrough was a private knowledge that was shared only with his five escort members and couple of his tribe’s elders.
Nonetheless, Ginlin was not apathetic to the fact that his plan to secretly venture into the second Savage Cave and obtain the fiery attribute liquid was absolute, but he could also not know when his enemies will strike, if they would get a word of his departure.
Everything went smoothly until his escort members did not heed his summon, so only at that moment he had to realize a solution to his sudden predicament.
As a result, the best choice for Ginlin was to uninterruptedly consume as much of the fiery attribute liquid as he can. Confront whoever intercepted his escort members. And hope that his soul will assimilate the fiery attribute energy from the fiery attribute liquid as fast as his mist energy, so he would be able to start shattering the Core and have his breakthrough before the situation will worsen. A rigorous process that had to commence without the slightest delay!
“Scree!” Hagen reached an understanding of Ginlin condition and current level of strength.
To fully break through Ginlin required time. How much time? The answer was undetermined. With his current body fitness level, her options of defeating him are either with the use of her sharp beak or piercing talons. As such she ceased probing him and began to fight seriously.
Flying in a curve, Hagen mostly avoided Ginlin’s retaliation. Her tail feathers were the only ones he managed to rip with his claws.
Ascending to the ceiling of the first Savage Cave in but the blink of an eye, Hagen turned her body around, homing with her gaze on Ginlin she started to descend.
Fiery red and icy blue mist energy shimmered from every feather. A tail of fire and icy extended and followed from behind. Accelerating, the red and blue hawk, halfway to her target, started to spin. If one will climb up from the ground and look up to the nightly dark blue sky, a similar spectacle would appear. Untold times more exuberant than a shooting star, Hagen came down from above as brilliantly as a comet.