Tularg was an Advanced phase first level Core Master.
The explosion swept the battlefield, a mere small portion of the entirety of the cave, but in his last moments, Tularg directed it forward, which then made it catch thousands of the enemy’s first realm experts.
Thousands of miserable shrieks reverberated at once, some for a short instant, some for a while longer. Eventually, though, they all fell silent.
Hagen flew about not far from the defensive formation of the Core Master experts. She saw everything happening perfectly, yet as fast as she was, could not get there in time to stop he younger Martial brother or the about to explode furless rat.
Being incapable of finding Tularg with her double pupils, which she relied on all her life even more than her Soul Sense, reeled her mind with an indescribable feeling.
Raroen and Kartius were stuck fighting Belavin and the second level Core Master. To find out where the dire fluctuations of mist energy are coming from, they utilized their Soul Senses.
Tularg’s sacrifice was as clear to them as if it occurred right in front of their eyes, yet beyond their reach to stop or help him.
The two, one uncle, one big brother, felt a cold breeze blowing, freezing their stalwart bodies as if they were two blades of grass. In their sea of consciousness flames were erupting.
Mes and Rarahel reacted at the same time and caught Shulip. Tularg’s mist detonation, although not directed at them, still threw them off tens of meters.
As he realized that his big brother died, Mes did the impossible and suppress the sorrow. He grabbed hold of the paralyzed Rarahel and the weakened Shulip with his long and coiling body and dragged them away from the scene of their big brother sacrifice, as far away from danger as possible, before it will sink in.
Zax could not tell what happened. It was too far to detect even with his Soul Sense.
He stood at the entrance to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave and hoped no one in the household is hurt.
The mist detonation of a first level Core Master brought Grandmaster Kartion fight with Karns and Kardelion into a temporarily secession.
Grandmaster Kartion glanced southward, his eyes turned red and the air couple of centimeters around his body vibrated.
Simel’s eyes abruptly opened. His job on erecting the formation with Zetsa was the control over the familiar blood in the battlefield and its assimilation to the formation.
‘This blood… This blood…’ His mind wailed, but he tried to force himself to stay composed.
Gnashing his teeth, his hands started moving like an illusion, forming numerous azure hand seals that were then absorbed by the blood bathed earth.
To erect the formation safely, he had to mostly use the blood of an ally and at best could maintain a seventy thirty ratio if also using the enemy’s blood.
‘The blood of little brother Tularg’s enemies… I’ll squander till there is nothing left to mourn!’
Taking into account overall proficiency in utilizing formations in the household, if Simel was ranked second, then Zetsa ranked first. Even their Martial uncle could not compare to the aptitude the two had for formations and their Master… could only make use of soul formation, so there was no point even mentioning.
In this bloody formation, the Blood Ties formation, an outstanding and unique formation that was gifted to Grandmaster Kartion by the Dauch family and the Eden Formation Martial school, Zetsa’s role was that of the core.
It was purposely modified to fit the household’s needs at the case of an all out war.
The Blood Ties formation was the most profound, most difficult formation Zetsa ever encountered. To complete it she had to submerge in deep concentration.
When Tularg died, all she felt was a mild disturbance, not significant enough to sway her determination.
When Simel made use of the enemy’s blood, nurturing the formation with tens of times faster than a moment ago, the edges of her lips turned upward to a faint smile.
‘Ten breaths, nine breaths, eight breaths, seven breaths, six breaths, five breaths, four breaths, three breaths, two breaths, one breath…’
Zetsa’s olive skin tone turned icy blue from her toes all the way to her forehead and her hair, it blazed as if a crown of a fiery red flames.
Following the mist detonation, the blowing shockwave and roaring earthquake, the stupefaction, sorrow, rage and confusing did not completely vanished for a whole one minute, when thick rays of blood emerged from the ground, engulfing the battlefield and painting the ground with a sequence of patterns.
The auras of selected few of the household’s member and their allies – apart from Grandmaster Kartion all who were above the second level of the Core Master realm in addition to Mes, Rarahel and Zetsa – bloomed with a pink radiance that darkened in a matter of seconds to nonpareil red.
Kartius, Raroen, Merson, Somi, Hagen, Mes, Rarahel, Simel and Zetsa shut their eyes and at the same time, the thick ray of blood all over the battlefield started to wriggle and converge.
Belavin, the hotheaded leader of the Oxen tribe, snorted and fumes came out of his nostrils when he saw his opponent daring to close his eyes in the midst of their battle.
“Moooo!” His bull cry echoed fierceness and malice. His hooves smashed the ground, his bulky physique pounced with his head bent and his horns shone brightly in dark azure luster.
In this moment, Belavin was not the only one to attack the immobile nine, but the first.
The second level Core Masters were reduced to seven out of the original twelve. Thus, revenge emitted from their eyes as they stared at Raroen, Merson and Somi before moving to attack.
The first level Core Masters lowered their defensive formation. Hagen was hovering in the air, seemingly unresponsive, defenseless.
The beasts among them transformed to their animalistic form, while the couple of humans were hastily reading their respective destructive Martial techniques.
When all were prepared, they jumped to take down the domineering bird.
The army of first realm experts drastically decreased in numbers after Tularg’s mist detonation. Nevertheless, they were still many more than the household’s side of first realm experts. And now, with the breach in the line of defense that Ilen-Tar’s ploy caused, the enemy forces made use of the opportunity to push their way in, while the captains of the five allied tribes had to brace themselves since not only first realm experts approached, but several of the first level Core Masters that Hagen surpassed also came toward them.
“Mooo!” Belavin came faster and closer.
Kartion opened his eyes, unfazed even though avoiding from the horns of the bull was no longer viable.
Right when Belavin had the premature sense of ramming Kartius, two red figure emerged out of nowhere in a blink of an eye. On figure looked exactly like the animalistic form of Simel, while the other seemed to be a copy of Zetsa.
The red Simel and red Zetsa slammed Belavin’s left side at the same time. His cultivation was superior to the original bodies of the both of them, and the copies were even slightly weaker, but they still possessed around seventy percent of Simel and Zetsa full strength. Considering that they took him by surprise when his momentum was not directed toward them… Belavin lost his balance, tilted to the right; he missed Kartius by a hair line, but managed to stay on his hooves.
Kartius glanced disdainfully sideways. “It’s about time for you today”. His voice was husky and lofty.
A third red figure appeared above Belavin’s head, a bloody copy of Kartius animalistic form.
Its appearance was too sudden for Belavin to retaliate in time.
The red Kartius exude an energy that assimilated both a portion of the body fitness level and mist energy level of the original as its hooves descended to stomp Belavin’s head.
Sixteen bloody red figures emerged in various locations atop the battlefield.
Eight of which were exact copies of Zetsa. The other eight took the forms of Kartius, Simel, Merson, Mes, Hagen, Raroan, Rarahel and Somi.
For the next six hours or so the Blood Ties formation will remain working so long that Zetsa and Simel are alright.
The purpose of the Blood Ties formation was exactly as it seemed, creating blood clones of several people with seventy percent power of the original strength of each person, which could be summoned in a flash to every position in the grand formation that was laid over the battlefield.
Now that the formation is complete, Simel’s job was being the connection between the clones and per his will he could enable each person a full control over his or her clone. Zetsa’s job, as the core, was fairly simple, not to die. Also as the core of the formation, Zetsa manifested a personal blood clone for each person who was tied to the formation.
At the back of the battlefield, nearest to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave, Simel and Zetsa surveyed the surrounding.
Zetsa’s countenance was stiff and blue veins bulge on her face. “Simel, why aren’t there nine?” She asked in a hoarse voice, her body shaking.
“Tularg is dead”. Simel replied plainly, affirming Zetsa’s fears. His rage was sweltering too much to soften the blow of the truth.
“Tularg… died?” Zetsa started to breathe heavily, the temperatures of her body dropped while the heat of her flaming hair intensified.
A baleful aura emanated out of her and Simel alike.
“KILL! KILL! KILL! KILL!”
They joined the battle.
With the emergence of the blood clones, the fighting spirit of the household members and its allies became not only vengeful, but also brutal. Now, they could finally initiate their assault.
Contrary to Zetsa, Zax was perspiring. His body was burning, his fists were tightly clenched and his pupils contracted into two, barely seen, dots.
From the entrance to the tunnel he could not hear Simel’s and Zetsa’s conversation, but with his Soul Sense, he managed to perfectly grasp every single word.
“The mist detonation was big brother Tularg’s…”
A series images and sounds blustered his sea of consciousness, all of which belonged to Tularg. For a few seconds Zax’s awareness was nowhere near the ongoing war, and when the last image and sound resurfaced and echoed in his mind, he was utterly devastated.
Oddly, these image and sound were not fragments from Zax first meeting with Tularg, but the image of Tularg in his human form holding his baby sister, Liz, and the words of Zetsa which explained his Cultivation Inheritance.
When he returned to himself, apart from his red eyes, Zax’s mien was devoid of emotions. A breath later and the red color of eyes also faded.
The loss of a big brother brought sorrow to his heart, but simultaneously the revelation that he still has someone, many, who he must protect dawned on him and like a bucket of ice water, cleared his mind.
“Mm?” Zax caught a glimpse of small but fast moving figure, crossing the household’s lines before any of the first realm experts and even Core Masters could detect.
The figure was about half a meter in size and in a sorry state. Its body was covered with blood and was missing a hind leg.
As Zax saw that it continue to advance toward him, he remained still and paid careful attention with his Soul Sense to this crafty being.
The right side of its face looked like it suffered severe burns, which made it lose an eye. Despite its wounds, when it got thirty meters from Zax, the aura the creature released was terrifyingly strong, somewhere near the Peak of the Core Master’s second level. It also gave the impression that it could raise higher, but with a certain price that the body had to pay.
What was really strange was that ten meters from the pensive Zax, the creature started growing in size, from the sneaky half a meter to a giant furless rat.