With Karns’s and Kardelion’s death, the threat and irreconcilable enmity the two supreme experts had with Grandmaster Kartion and his household have also perished.
Since that major battle and perpetual defeat of the household’s enemies, four years have passed.
Those four years marked a peaceful time for Zax and the people, and beasts, in his life, with several minor events and dealings.
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Beginning with Zax’s Martial household, as the dust settled and no one was left to fight the household and its allies, each of the five tribes brought to rest the casualties belonging to their tribes.
The funeral rites of beasts differ from humans’ and even among beasts, every tribe had its own traditions.
Of Tularg, sadly, nothing could be found and the members of the household, with great sorrow, made for him an empty grave while hoping that his physique was strong enough for his spirit to pass on instead of being incinerated by his mist detonation.
Grandmaster Kartion, thankfully, managed to escape death. Nevertheless, his injuries were too extensive and severe. His high level physique also did not make it easier for him to recuperate. His body, of Chaoyue type beast that cultivated a bodily refinement technique, required either a high realm of bodily cultivation to be able to treat his wounds in a short amount of time, or immense resources with even greater vitality then the unripe Blood Red Grapes’.
Relying on the newfound freedom of the household, it was Kartius who left for the second Savage Cave, to collect whatever consumable treasures for Grandmaster Kartion. With that, Grandmaster Kartion took seven months to heal; however, some wounds were beyond full recuperation. His antlers could not grow to their former glory and his lower half that he managed restored was several times weaker, as if this part of his body lost a bit of its cultivation. That being said, Grandmaster Kartion was content with his condition and not worried. According to him, his Martial path was still intact, and as long that it remained he could one day reach a new realm of cultivation, the third realm of bodily refinement. By then, if his conjectures were not wrong, he will be able to recuperate and shape his whole body whichever way he wants to.
Thus, the instant he was able to, Grandmaster Kartion entered closed doors training, to keep developing the following technique of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, which was practically a whole new bodily refinement technique.
Other than putting to rest and treating the wounded after the war, while those things were going, some decisions about the remnants of Karns’s and Kardelion’s forces, the Black Horns tribe and its allied tribes, were also made.
A decision to thoroughly annihilate the number of tribes was annulled. The household did not wish to partake in the same vile occupations of its former enemies, since no one is entirely evil and tribe extermination would mean killing even the innocent. Besides, these tribes of the inner territory of Valgarel, will not be able to maintain their status now that their leaders and experts are dead, and so, even if the household and its allies will not do anything, other tribes will.
As for those who fought and managed to survive the war, on the other hand, they were a free game.
The funny thing is, when the two elders of the Black Horns tribe, who were left to govern the tribe in the absence of Karns and Kardelion, realized that their prominent leaders and other experts have died, to prevent the declining of the tribe have actually went and beg Kartius, as the so called “Successor” of Karns, to come and lead the Black Horns tribe. They even asked for Grandmaster Kartion to replace Kardelion. Their plea was that the matter between them and the former leaders of the tribe was one which they, lowly servants of the Black Horns tribe, had no say in or right to interfere. Whether it was true or not did not matter to Kartius when he received the two at the entrance to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave. He despised these fellows either way and sent them off with a warning for the whole Black Horns tribe, never to bother the household again.
With regards to Zax’s immediate family and friends, the course of time flowed in tranquility.
Laylen and Marco Zel successfully distanced themselves and their household from the hubbub caused by their son rise to prominence as Eden Formation’s Pearl. A lot of this was thanks to the backing they received from Don, which handled all communications with those seeking to from relations with Zax.
Today, only on festive occasions would they receive gifts from all kinds of associations.
But if to say, what was the source of true happiness of the proud, yet humble, couple; it would be their youngest daughter, Liz. Although pampered to no good by her two older siblings, the little rascal she grew up to be in four years, unlike her brother and sister, did not display premature interest in anything related to Martial cultivation. Her interests were not just befitting her age, but also her parents’ wishes, that is, candies, playing around and the kid show “Ducklings step by step”.
Zax felt remorse in his heart for Liz’s lack of interest in the gift she received from Tularg, which made her considerably livelier than others her age, but contrary to his parents, he held the hopes that when she will grow up and learn about the Cultivation Inheritance, her curiosity will also sprout naturally.
On another front, although not as intimate as it was when they were young, they relationship of Zax and his friends also received its nourishment through the years.
As nineteen years old youths, with the exception of Take who was older than the rest, the temperament of everyone was at the Peak of its evolution to adulthood. Granted, each person had his and her own unique nature that will not so easily change, but the commencement of signs of stability and clarity, with respect to the future everyone wanted for themselves, were inevitable at the age Zax and his friends reached.
Thus, with great exhilaration, a few of Zax’s friends got married.
Take met his fiancée through arranged marriage. She was a distant relative from the main Edomachi family, and after meeting her for the first time Take could not help himself but fancy her. What made the marriage possible for someone from the branch family like Take to marry with a girl form the main family, although not said outloud, was his brotherhood with Zax, Eden Formation’s Pearl.
Aside from Take, another three of Zax’s friends got married or engaged. In an internship at the Mocca Kart Company Serah also met her chosen one, a good fellow Mocca Kart fanatic who also interned at the same division as her. Two had a small wedding, Mocca Kart’s style. Three months later Serah got pregnant and five months from today is the appointed date. Zax is said to be the godfather if it would be a boy and Anet the godmother, if it would be a girl.
A side note: If it was not for Zax gifting the newlywed couple a precious Earth’s Core, which he searched for in Valgarel for couple of months before finding, and giving them as a wedding present, and then, with Take as an intermediary, sold it to the main Edomachi family, the financial situation of Serah and her husband would not have been as bright as it currently is.
After Serah and Take, the last two to get engaged were Mi and Merly. The two opened up about their relationship only after Merly proposed and the wedding date was set to after their graduation. Zax already started looking for D level Earth’s Core as a gift.
As for Zax’s personal relationship… although being apart quite often, he and Anet are still together. In fact, their relationship was doing better with each passing year and their bound only grew more affectionate. Conversely, the two did not reach to point, yet, of thinking about getting married. Viewing themselves as cultivators and pursuers of the Martial path, the prospect of marriage can be said to be a subject that would not make a different if discussed at this very moment or hundreds of years later. For now, the two tacitly made up their minds to live to pursue their selfish desires a while longer before succumbing to their parents’ pressure.
Moving on, in the past four years, the more interesting things happened, as they should, on the affairs related to the path of Martial cultivation.
Before getting to Zax, there are, yet again, three more people, and beast, which accumulated certain achievements during these years.
Both Zetsa and Shulip had their breakthrough to the Core Master realm after roughly two years of cultivating. That put Zax as the sole member of the household who is still in the first realm.
After these two, a month, actually, from present day, Anet broke through the Mist Lord level. That was not all, however, with Don’s guidance and support as her Mor, Anet was able to treat and completely erase the scars, both internal and external, from her nightmarish encounter years ago with Binjo and his big brother.
Zax was overjoyed when he saw Anet’s smooth back. In truth, he talked over with his Master about the measures available to heal permanent wounds. Kartius’s medicinal skill were only revolved around things that were related to bodily cultivation, therefore his suggestion was to seek solution in Kingdom Earth. By the time Zax mentioned the issue to Don, she was already treating Anet.
Only after these three, Zetsa, Shulip and Anet, Zax could be mentioned. And not because his achievements these past four years were inferior, but quite the opposite, Zax accomplishments are divided to so many things in comparison, the others would simply be forgotten if not noted before him.
After a long cessation, the first notable change in Zax’s Martial achievements has occurred in his bodily cultivation.
When the war ended, Kartius found the time to sit with Zax and explained to him about the possibly of resuming his cultivation of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement with accordance to the third bottleneck of insight he comprehended.
The first bottleneck of insight enabled Zax to smell the fragrant of the world. The second allowed him to feel the world and its energy. The third provided the capability to consume the world’s energy and with a certain form of circulation with soul energy, refine and use it to nourish the sixth gate of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement.
Kartius taught Zax that the world’s energy is an existence of which mist cultivators were aware of since the invention of the first mist refinement technique. It is not that a person who did not comprehend any of the six bottlenecks of insight, can perceive with his senses the world’s energy, but when circulating mist energy in the right way, it is possible for the mist energy to resonate with the world’s energy and make a nominal use of it for cultivation.
If still insisting to compare, someone who did not comprehend the bottleneck of insight, which Zax named as the “taste of the world”, can only make use of about one percent of the world’s energy a that person who did comprehend the taste of the world consumes.
A rather important note, it does not matter if the taste of the world is the first bottleneck of insight one comprehends or the sixth, the perceivable amount of the world’s energy and the control over it is fixed.
By consuming the world’s energy and refining it, in four years Zax made it to the Peak of the sixth gate and was a trifling step from breaking through the last gate of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement.
After learning all about it, Zax also realized why His Valor Ozeyn could not cultivate the new bodily refinement technique Grandmaster Kartion was developing. The bottleneck of insight he dismissed before breaking through the third realm was precisely the taste of the world, and with Grandmaster Kartion intending to make it the primary source of nourishment for his new technique, His Valor Ozeyn would be incapable of cultivating it.
Next in the list of accomplishments were the results of Zax’s enlightenment of the bodily maneuvers that he gained during his fight with Ilen-Tar.
After realizing that kinetic energy can be expended outside of the body even without converging it to Kinetic Force and making contact with other objects, Zax understood that the for the last two sequences, the Advanced phase of the Intermediate of the bodily maneuvers, he has to unleash the kinetic energy as far as he can for each of the six hundred and fifty moves.
Although in four years he did not make it to the last move of the sixth sequence and broke through the Advanced phase of the bodily maneuvers, Zax was not far from it and only a handful of moves from the daunting bottleneck.
The penultimate achievement that should be talked about is quite new, but impressive nonetheless. Soul formations.
Bodily formations were too obscure and limited for Zax despite being one of his major occupations. He tried to learn from his Master how he came up with the six hundred and fifty moves of the bodily maneuvers he practiced, but no surprise to him, those moves were initially reinvented, from the bodily maneuvers Kartius trained, with the help of Grandmaster Kartion for Zetsa, to fit the human’s physique and allow her to master the Kinetic Force.
The six hundred and fifty moves were the zenith of Grandmaster Kartion’s and Kartius’s understanding of bodily formations and since they served they purpose, neither of them occupied himself further in the matter.
Thus, Zax could only find guidance in soul formation. Other than gathering basic knowledge and experience from Eden Formation’s Summit, when Grandmaster Kartion was well enough to keep working on the bodily refinement technique for the second realm, he invited Zax to watch and study under him, since apart from him; everyone else in the household could still concentrate and cultivate mist energy. And Kartius, the only one who completed the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, was already assisting him, so it was not like he was undermining him.
As of present day, Zax was still learning and expanding his knowledge and had yet to create a soul related technique or formation of his own.
Lastly, the final for everything that Zax achieved was, of course, concerning the bottlenecks of insight.
I happened three years ago and a year after the war. While meditating on his own, Zax discovered the fourth spark of light. After comprehending the bottleneck of insight within it, five grueling months later he adapted to it.
Zax named the fourth bottleneck the “Sight of the word”. When he found the spark of light containing it he had a sudden sense of captivation for everything he saw, things of beauty, brilliance and grandeur beyond reason. These ethereal spenders appearing before his eyes caused Zax emotional tribulations. Even if he shut his eyes to these things, his imagination would still inundate him with endless memories.
To endure Zax had to enter a secluded session of meditation in a closed space of blackness and then sink into the void.
Five months later he came out, rejuvenated. His soul reached the Peak of the Mist Lord level. The fourth bottleneck, to his delight, did not make him break through the Core Master realm and to Zax’s estimation it would take the fifth bottleneck for his soul to reach the second realm, which was near perfect to what his Master wanted for him.
The fourth bottleneck also affected Zax’s Inner Panorama. Its circumference leapt to tens of kilometers inside his sea of consciousness. In addition, the short dark attribute plants grew couple centimeters taller and their buds gave the impression of forthcoming blossoming.
Zax’s soul faced changes, as well. It was significantly clearer. Its shape was refined to meet a similar shape to that of the growing dark attribute plants. As for the bizarre thing inside his soul that enchanted Zax before, it made a second appearance, looking exactly the same, and was forgotten just as fast as before.
Two and a half years, more or less, after Zax adapted to the fourth bottleneck of insight, four years in total since the war…
A decently muscular young man lay on soft grassland with eyes peacefully closed. His hands and legs were freely spread to the sides in a comfortable manner, but if he would straighten his body, the young man’s height will then stretch to a length of one hundred and ninety one centimeters.
Opening his mouth, a warm breath escaped out, accompanied by five momentous words, and yet a rather calm expression was plastered on his face.
“The fifth spark of light”.