Zax cursed with a hideous expression plastered on his face.
Right after his spectacular turn around, the finishing blow he landed on Ilen-Tar that ended the fight, Zax’s vision blanked while still being midair and his frozen body fell on the mush of furless rat meat and blood.
One move, one kinetic energy bodily exhalation was all it took to bring him into this disgusting and excruciating state.
In the beginning, after his body inflated and deflated, all he could feel was a mild tingling sensation all over his body. But in the instant that led to him defeating Ilen-Tar, the sensation intensified so quickly into pain and then unbearable pain that even after he awakened from the daze, all covered with filth, his mind still struggled to remain consciousness.
Zax got up. His face convulsed with every muscle stretched to its limit, which only added to the pain, and strode to the entrance of the tunnel.
If possible, he would still like to kill more, to accompany his big brother Tularg.
Hagen flew at her top speed toward the tunnel to her Master’s cave. Due to the erection of the Blood Ties formation and the nuisances first level Core Master, she was free to chase Ilen-Tar when his fight with Zax was already over.
She lost Ilen-Tar’s position after Tularg’s mist detonation and thought the he perished in the explosion. Nevertheless, she never stopped looking for him out of concern that she might be wrong and indeed she was and knew it when Ilen-Tar revealed himself against Zax.
‘Little brother Zax, Ilen-Tar…’ Hagen sent to him that instant she arrived to the tunnel’s entrance. She inspected Zax, gauging the severity of his worn out condition and feared the worst. ‘Did he-’
“No one can pass me, big sister Hagen”, Zax interrupted, saying firmly, using five long breaths to finish the sentence…
Zetsa sprinted across the battlefield like a phantom of ice and fire. As one of the few humans on the battlefield, it stands to say that her presence could not stand out among the thousands of beasts in their oversized animalistic forms.
Fiery red and icy blue radiance shone from her arua.
A frosty palm strike obliterated a raw of first realm experts simply as her first appetizer.
Ahead of Zetsa was Simel. He roared, pounced and smashed two first level Core Masters.
As for their clones… they did not summon them for the lowly small fries.
Belavin, the third pillar of Karns’s and Kardelion’s forces, was surrounded by three bloody figures and one smoldering Kartius.
Bloody Kartius, the clone, along with bloody Simel and bloody Zetsa, impeded all of Belavin’s assaults to the point of driving the oxen tribe leader insane.
The strongest the innate physique of a beast was, the more it relied on close quarters fighting style when engaging in a fight.
Belavin was proficient in a few long range mist attacks, but by no means could they compare to his mist enhanced physical assaults. And yet, the damnable bloody clones would vanish and reappear right in the crucial moments of his attacks to throw him off.
Kartius did not cultivate the Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi refining technique, therefore his aura was purely azure hue.
A glint of killing intent flashed in his eyes. He finally found an opening that would end the fight.
Stampeding toward Belavin, the glow of Kartius’s aura thickened and a staggering amount of mist energy streamed to his crown of Black Stag’s antlers.
This was Kartius’s strongest attack and the circulation in which he sent his mist energy to his antlers was both grueling and complicated to execute in battle.
The piercing fluctuations of mist energy made Belavin sober up, but an ominous feeling already took root in his heart.
Ignoring the three bloody clones, his gaze shifted to Kartius, who was gaining terrifying momentum.
“Dare to come at me head to head!” Belavin’s hotheaded attitude burst at the face of death. He could not evade Kartius, nor thought to do so.
Mist energy filled his horns in a stunning pace. Every ounce of mist energy in his body, actually, jostled to his head since Kartius came at him too fast, leaving him no time to properly execute his renowned horns attack.
Belavin had only enough time to take to steps toward Kartius when their attacks landed heavily on each other’s body.
A mouthful of blood rushed from Kartius’s throat. At the moment of confrontation, He raised his head, avoided directly ramming Belavin. As a result, though, Belavin’s horns were embedded in his chest and the release of foreign, hostile mist energy injured his internals.
Belavin’s body crushed on the ground. His head, on the other hand, was severed from the neck and stuck with his horns to Kartius’s chest.
Azure color antlers wriggled like tentacles, after impaling Belavin body.
Kartius nudged his head and his antlers screeched as they shortened, assembled and resumed their original size and crown array.
Raroen, Merson and Somi had grave expressions and blazing eyes. The moment they got the support of their bloody clones, they took offence and in a short time slaughtered the entire enemy’s second level Core Master.
As they finish the assignment of the line, Somi and Merson turned back, to help deal with the first level Core Masters.
Raroen declined the offer to join them and even after killing the lost human, remained fixed to his place.
“Tularg…” His voice was quiet and tender, but the killing intent emanating from it was nearly distinguishable to the naked eye.
Raroen’s hundred meters, Silver Horns Dragon’s body, ascended to the air and flew toward the bastards who brought about his little brother’s death.
As the skirmish of first level Core Masters and first realm expert against the household experts took place, with the household having the upper hand, Grandmaster Kartion’s battle with Karns and Kardelion only intensified.
Sixteen bloody clones, along with Raroen joined the fight, aiding Grandmaster Kartion.
“Give up and die already, Kartion!” Kardelion shouted, icy blue mist energy bloomed around him, forming a frosty defensive formation of sharp icicles. In his mouth mist energy consolidated to the shape of a five meters long spear.
The spear split the wind and shot toward Grandmaster Kartion.
“Kardelion! Kardelion! Kardelion!” Grandmaster Kartion bellowed three times. After learning of Tularg’s death, there were no adequate words for him to curse with by the names of his two adversaries.
The air in a radius of several meters around Grandmaster Kartion vibrated. The kinetic energy did not exude from Grandmaster Kartion’s body, but from the world itself.
Bashing the air, a current of kinetic energy converged to Kinetic Force and then traveled to counter the icy spear.
The two long range attacks were evenly matched. Upon impact, the icy spear shattered into countless fragments, while the wave of Kinetic Force dissipated.
For Kardelion and Grandmaster Kartion, though, it meant naught. They overbearingly confronted each other at the same time as they readied their next attack.
“Get the hell out of my way, brat!” Not far from the two, Karns shouted at Raroen.
“Karns, you b*****d, your whole tribe of fiends should perish and die!”
Raroen blew a breath of azure flames, but against this level of attack, Karns merely waved his head, casting a black mantle that dissolved the blistering flames and threw backwards the bloody clones and Raroen.
“Brat, there is only so much face for me to give to your father. This is your last warning, withdraw from the battle or blame the traitor for your death!” Karns was seething with anger.
The unruly Raroen was a frustrating obstacle for him to deal with, more than he initially gave him credit for. As the son of one of the Silverhorned tribe’s leaders, a tribe on per with Karns’s Black Horns tribe, killing Raroen would put Karns in a difficult position with the Silverhorned tribe’s leader. That being said, what truly was troublesome was that Raroen is a third level Core Master and a Chaoyue type beast, at that! By going easy on Raroen, Karns enabled him to fight without reservation, giving him the opportunity to go all out with attacks that even he, although also a Chaoyue type beast, could not casually block. Furthermore, with the backing of the bloody clones even his movements were slightly restricted.
The mantle vanished after as the last of Raroen’s blue flames was abolished.
“Go!” Raroen’s voice rumbled.
The bloody clones sprang toward Karns. Sixteen red silhouettes traversed a distance of several hundred meters in a blink with the help of the Blood Ties formation.
Seeing the clones appear next to him instantly and Raroen still being defiant, Karns snorted. Killing intent radiated from his eyes and a black aura emerged like a wailing wind.
“Brat, if you insist on being obstinate, then I rather give my condolences to your father!” Karns last his patience.
His aura extended into sixteen black beams that swiped the bloody clones, smashing ten of them, dissolving their forms. Nevertheless, Karns was not enthusiastic. The clones would keep reforming until Simel will not have the mental strength to support them, which is why is stayed at the back even after completing the formation.
Ignoring the remaining six that stood in his way, Karns galloped, bearing hate and ruthlessness, he issued another seven black beams to strike down Raroen.
“Hmph!” Raroen snorted. His mist energy condensed into icy and fiery spheres, but not with the intent to use against the black beams. The bloody clones appeared before him and countered the majority of the attack before dissolving, yet again, with only two beams going past them.
The beams hit Raroen, piercing his scales and went deep into his flesh, but did not cause severe damage. At the same time, Raroen discharged icy and fiery spheres that expanded from the size of two eggs to a circumference of one meter.
Karns squinted his eyes at the coming spheres, yet stayed on track; Raroen was but twenty meters or so from him.
The two spheres struck Karns and a grand explosion erupted and engulfed him.
Raroen was forced back by the shockwave and could not see Karns. Even his Soul Sense failed the perceive Karns’s state.
A black figure leaped from within the flaring ice and fire. Karns’s black mist energy shrouded him from the low and high temperatures, only the blast seemed to leave a lingering waning effect on the surface of his black fur.
“Brat, die!” Karns roared. His antlers were askew, aimed to impale Raroen’s head.
A grim shadow passed in Raroen’s eyes. He could not escape, avoid or counter, only see an instantaneous flash of his life.
“Karns, you savage, halt!” Grandmaster Kartion shouted in a crazed tone. Immediately after him another voice followed.
“Brother Karns, stop!” The familiar tone of the voice caused Karns to stop midair. It was Kardelion!
Glancing over his shoulder, Karns located the two and his expression became harsh.
Grandmaster Kartion breached Kardelion’s icy defensive formation. His body was wounded, with couple of icicles thrust at his back, but still better than his opponent.
Kardelion was on the ground. His four limbs broken and over his head a black hoof pressed his skull.
“Stand back or I’ll kill him!” Grandmaster Kartion threatened.
Raroen, who actually escaped death, felt a shiver running through his massive body. He tried to retreat while Karns’s attention was not concentrated on him, but immediately sensed the great killing intent of the third realm expert he challenged targeting him.
‘Apologies, Master, I failed your instructions and underestimated Karns’. Raroen transmitted in grief.
‘Raroen…’ Grandmaster Kartion was reluctant to respond in comfort, his Martial son Tularg died, and he did not have it in him at the moment. ‘There is still away. Use the clones…’ He exchange quick words with Raroen and turned to Karns.
“Move your leg”. Karns said in a rough and unwilling tone.
“Karns, one son of mine died in this war”. The muscles on Grandmaster Kartion’s stag face convulsed and he increased the pressure on Kardelion’s head. “To destroy my household you will have to kill every one of us, but if you’d do and lose Kardelion in the process, would you dare to face alone the Silverhorned tribe?”
“Karns…” Kardelion groaned. Discussing the matter via Sublime Soul Sense, after a second or two his expression turned relieved.
“What do you suggest? If I’ll let go of the Silver Horns brat and he will use the repulsive formation to aid him in escaping, how can I know that you will not try to kill Kardelion?” Karns said through gritted teeth. In truth, other than the fact that he really could not lose Kardelion, the two already formulated a plan, using this chance, to critically strike Grandmaster Kartion, and if need be, Raroen, also.
“Bring Raroen over here. I’ll hand you Kardelion at the same time”. Grandmaster Kartion said. For the sake of his Martial son and taking down the two he did his utmost to repress his rage over the death of Tularg.
Karns turned his head to Raroen. “Brat, do anything that will arise my suspicions and I’ll kill you”. He made it clear.
As the other party came closer, Grandmaster Kartion lifted his hoof from Kardelion’s head. ‘Be vigilant, Raroen. You must not think about me. Zetsa, it would be up to you…’ Grandmaster Kartion sent.
The bloody clones stood in their place and did not show any reaction. Their owners could see through their eyes and hear through their ears everything that happened, but to converse secretly, Grandmaster Kartion had to stretch his Sublime Soul Sense all the way to the real Zetsa.
Zetsa withdrew from the battle, getting as far back as the entrance to the tunnel to her Master’s cave. She said nothing to the questioning look on Zax’s face and sat down in a meditative pose.
The two parties were now close enough to make the trade, at a distance of less than tem meters Karns stopped along with Raroen.
Grandmaster Kartion could see in his eyes that rather than a target, after this bit of thinking he had time to do while they approached, he settled with the idea of only using Raroen as a bargaining chip. However, as he could feel relief for his Martial son, the desire to take his life in Karns’s eyes was even more obvious for Grandmaster Kartion.
“Stop!” Grandmaster Kartion ordered. “From here, each of us will step forward alone and at the same time. If either will make a sudden move toward his hostage, whatever will happen would be on his head!” He purposely did not state about the hostages making a move. He was also certain that if Karns will drive him to take Kardelion’s life, the latter will not hesitate to detonate his mist energy.
A mist detonation of a third realm expert was not something Grandmaster Kartion was confidant on taking head on even with his body fitness level and all the virtues born from the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement and his new developmental refinement technique.
Karns did not agree or disagree. He took the first step right when Grandmaster Kartion did and with that the notion was accepted.
The distance of basically nine meters was nothing to the two if not because their cultivation levels than because their sizes.
There were barely four short steps each, for the two to take before reaching midpoint.
‘Retreat!’ Grandmaster Kartion’s voice boomed in Raroen head.
Karns and Kardelion both grasp Raroen’s minute movement.
A series of prompt reaction followed suit.
Raroen’s aura exploded as he flew back at his top speed. Neither of the three could see, but in one of his claws appeared a tiny blue stone that began to grow into the shape of a small miniature blue tower.
An icy blue aura from the back and a dark black confronted Grandmaster Kartion. Karns and Kardelion coordinated a joint attack to finish him.
A ray of blue light shot from behind Grandmaster Kartion. Its destructiveness was exceeded anything Kardelion unleashed at him thus far.
A mirage of black horns materialized through Karns’s mist energy at the front.
The ray actually missed. Grandmaster Kartion dared transform to his humanoid form for his size to shrink and avoid it!
Mustering a soaring amount of kinetic energy and converging it to Kinetic Force, half of the materialized black horns got destroyed, but the other half pierced through Grandmaster Kartion’s superb physique and shot out from the back.
“Puah!” Grandmaster Kartion spat a mouthful of blood, yet acted as if nothing happened and transformed to his animalistic form.
Kadelion consumed a lot of mist energy and could not fire another attack at a short span of time. Karns, on the other hand, rammed Grandmaster Kartion right about when he resumed his animalistic form.
“Grr!” Grandmaster Kartion gnashed his teeth. Both he and Karns were in a standstill, despite one’s broken crown of antlers and the other’s shattered bones in his leg. Even summoning their respective energies required the state of mind neither could concentrate on.
Grandmaster Kartion was forced back a step.
Kardelion, with some effort, rose behind him, rippling aura surged from his body.
He rammed Grandmaster Kartion for the side, but in comparison to the injuries from the materialized black horns, he only made Grandmaster Kartion to exhaust further strength to resist.
Fifteen bloody clones joined the fray. Emerging between and around Karns and Kardelion, they coiled, laying their weight and everything they had to hinder the two.
Karns was about to use his mist energy to throw them off, but felt Grandmaster Kartion gathering his strength after he weakened the pressure on him, so he stopped and brushed his antlers with Grandmaster Kartion’s, resorting to finish him by either piercing his skull or waiting for Kardelion to get to his heart.
“Your death is imminent and those things cannot stop it!” Karns’s hoarsely said.
“Karns, Kardelion, the two of you think too highly of yourselves”. A sudden amused mien appeared on Grandmaster Kartion face.
A bloody clone appeared from behind him, holding a fiery red sphere, a Core, Ginlin’s third realm Core!
‘Do it Zetsa!’ Grandmaster Kartion sent.
The bloody clone operated through the blood and mist energy that were used to erect the formation. It imbued the mist energy forming it and, through the formation’s ties, Zetsa’s other seven clones to the third realm Core, irritating this mist energy inside it.
“Third realm Core’s mist detonation! Kartion, you…!”
Karns and Kardelion were aghast. They felt the fluctuation inside the Core and the catastrophic force, which even together they could not withstand if it would detonates.
“Hahahaha”, a rolling laughter escaped Grandmaster Kartions’s throat. In the moment that Karns and Kardelion were stunned, he transformed to his humanoid form and surprised them with two Kinetic Force blows to their heads, slamming them in the ground.
The eight clones of the other participants of the Blood Ties formation sprang to cover Grandmaster Kartion while Karns and Kardelion got up, attempting to escape in the in the nick of time.
“For years of enmity this won’t end with both sides surviving”. Grandmaster Kartion roared and laughed and in his heart wanted to say more, but there was no time to be generous with words.
Contrary to Grandmaster Kartion who managed to escape a hundred meters or so before transforming back to his animalistic from to improve his chances of living through the mist detonation, Karns and Kardelion only managed to escape less than twenty meters when Zetsa finally triggered the mist detonation.
The sound wave was nothing that can be expressed with words. Upon reaching the experts on the battlefield everyone, without exceptions, momentarily froze in space. Those who were on the ground stood like statues while those in the air almost crushed.
Earthquakes, heat waves, tempests and a huge ball of melting temperatures than even a third realm expert cannot endure.
The battlefield turned into apocalyptic zone.
The household’s forces were moved as far back as they could, at the same time as protecting their lines, in advance and rushed back the Grandmaster Kartion’s cave right when they regained their wits.
The enemy forces were astounded as their two leaders. Feeling the menacing fluctuations of mist energy, the no longer tried to fight but also escape with some fighting their way to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave and other heading to the far exist for the adjacent cave they came from.
Zax gagged, but composed himself quite fast. Although he never experienced such a destructive force, he did stand in the center of a mist detonation once, and although it was much weaker, the view from his position, back then, was not prettier.
‘Let them in and make sure none of the enemy’s forces get inside!’ Hagen voices resonated in his mind.
Zax frowned and released his Soul Sense. He could tell who was an enemy and who was a friend by their animalistic forms.
Hagen and Raroen also transmitted to everyone, without wasting time on whether they were part of the household and its allies or not, to retreat in their animalistic forms.
It caused a less orderly situation, but this way it was simpler to locate the enemy’s forces.
It took close to a hour for the huge ball of fire to start detract and another a hour and a half to completely die out. When it did and the members of the household left to look for Grandmaster Kartion, they found that the interior of the cave they fought in entirely changed.
From its lavish, wild nature what was left was a barren, scorched and fractured land.
Of Karns and Kardelion only black outlines of two stags were found imbedded to the ground.
As for Grandmaster Kartion…
From his abdomen down there was nothing. The rest of his body was burnt nearly behind recognition.
The bloody clones were virtually gone at the time of the initial shockwave, which caused Simel to lose concentration and the Blood Ties formation to break.
To Grandmaster Kartion they were not of much help in the end, aside from the advanced distance they gave him.
But maybe it was enough, nonetheless, since a breath of life was still present in the dying hornless Brown Stag.