“Zax, this Hamer from Molten Core should be as strong, or stronger, than Silvia and Woren. I’m not worried about your chances in beating him, but do stay vigilant if you insist on not use your full strength”. Don asked.
Hamer was forty four years old yet appeared as a blue haired, blue eyes young man in his late teens or early twenties, as a result of his cultivation level and his overall investment on the way he looked.
In his previous fights, Hamer won with little difficulty. The techniques he revealed were trained to high proficiency; they ended each of his battles in a bloody manner and caused many faces in the spectators’ seats to grimace.
Hamer had graduated almost fifteen years ago from Molten Core and with his vicious personality, went to work for the Basement Floor. Despite his faults, he was still offered the position of one of Molten Core three representatives, all for the sake of dominating the winner’s circle of the competition.
Honestly, though, viewing Hamer as he smugly entered the fighting stage and then feeling the killing intent he imbued to his aura, there was not one spectator who has not wondered how such a person can be given the approval of the Zoearth family of the beloved Supreme Ruler Trey.
Zax gauged Hamer next to Don in response to her request.
‘A Beginner phase second level Core Master…’ His eyes met Hamer’s.
“Kid, hurry up and enter the stage”. A hint of bloodlust was fused in Hamer’s voice. “I won’t be apathetic as I was when you behaved arrogantly before the first round. In fact, now that we crossed paths in the competition, don’t think to blame me later. Everything that is about to happen is entirely your fault”.
When he communicated clandestinely with Razil through subtle hand signs and taps, Hamer has agreed for the remuneration offered to him. As for what was the service he was hired to do? Naturally, it was to, as inconspicuously as possible, end the fight by crippling Zax or, better yet, unintentionally killing him.
Hamer was extremely shrewd with the way he taunted Zax. The reason why he conducted himself so bluntly and made his intention to brutally confront Zax obvious, was so afterwards he will be able to justify his ferocity by claiming that he warned Zax and was consumed by raging desire for retribution over the disrespect and violence against his school and juniors.
Zax pursed his eyebrows. First it was Neyrar’s Mor, than Razil, following was Elita and now Hamer… Just a while ago, in the second round, upon meeting his two opponents and feeling their resolve to treat him as an equal and serious adversary, Zax began to think that the he no longer has to deal with over the top, standoffish people.
Moreover, each round he participated in, when some used their Soul Sense or Sublime Soul Sense to get a finer perspective of the battle, he always felt the chilly aggression of Neyrar’s Mor sweeps him as if trying to antagonize him. This left Zax a little vexed and intending to get to the root of the elder’s issue with him at one point during or early after the competition.
“What’s going on?”
“Why isn’t he entering the stage?”
“Is he afraid of Hamer?”
“I think Hamer threatened Zax into a stupor for the commotion between their schools earlier…”
Staring at Zax as he kept standing in his place, unmoving, after Hamer provoked him, the crowd of spectators started to speculate if the underdog and last representative of Eden Formation has finally recognized a foe that he cannot match, and so was consumed with doubts about risking a brawl with him.
“Participant Zax Zel, please enter the fighting stage or forfeit the match”. Talhera called him once more and let him know his options. She did not think that Zax was afraid or anything like some in the spectators’ seats, but had to inform him what would happen if he will not enter the stage per her duty as the main judge.
Zax glanced at Talhera and nodded. In a single step he arrived at the stage.
The fights in the other three stages were well underway, once more in the cycle of fights Zax was part of.
“Do you, too, have a problem with me?” Zax asked. This time he wanted to know before executing a certain urge. “You weren’t so talkative in the previous two rounds”.
He did not say anything about being targeted by Hamer’s bloodthirstiness since Zax viewed his fights and regardless of whom was his opponent, in each of his attacks, Hamer made sure to draw as much blood as he could. From a particular standpoint it almost looked like the splashes of blood were done in a ceremonial fashion.
Zax continued. “And in the feud with the group from your school you seemed nonchalant from beginning to end. Why now are you making a fuss?” He was listening to Don during the exchange between Hamer and Razil, so he did not connect the dots.
“It’s really simple”, Hamer said in a low voice. His expression turned grave and resentful, suitable for the part of a righteous man looking to regain lost face. “You injured my juniors, disregarded the presence of my old school principal, made further threats to my junior and even indirectly, verbally imposed yourself at me, and for what? An argument a few spectators had?” Hamer rested his breath with a sigh and raised his head again to meet Zax’s eyes. With an upright smile he said. “I won’t diss you because of rumors; actually, I’ll give you the respect of one who made it to the third round and fight seriously, for a change. But as for my opinion of you and objective in this fight… you are a lowlife”, Hamer pulled two short hidden World Gathering Bone daggers and his azure aura emerged, bellicose and bloodcurdling. “And I will painfully eliminate you from the path of vileness that you are on!”
“He is brutal, but this may be just his fighting style. In essence, this Hamer seems quite benevolence”.
“Indeed, I witnessed the discord between Eden Formation students and Molten Core students. In the end, participant Zax intervened and struck two Molten Core students…”
“This certainly should not be allowed nor encouraged. Our society has rules and the eastern hall was designated for us to debate with one side losing and one side winning. It is the way of life. If you want to prove otherwise, do so on the fighting stage”.
The spectators who found reason within Hamer’s speech and from the get go were more inclined toward Molten Core, voiced their opinion and strengthened the accusations Hamer made.
“This people are disgustingly fickle!” Jalal remarked. “They will act obediently quiet when someone strong contradict them and will howl and cry when someone they think can protect them will show up”.
“Don’t pay them attention, Jalal”, Don said. “If you look around you’ll see that these people are but a small portion from the crowd. Hamer is not a saint and everyone knows it. Whatever comments he has about Zax, let him present them with his fists”.
Hamer dashed toward Zax, his two daggers glittering with spectacular cold light. Channeled in them was, astonishingly, Hamer’s mist energy with the addition of icy attribute!
“If that is the case…” Zax softly spoke. He could not care less about Hamer’s reply to his question, his haughtiness and the crowd’s reaction. But if he come at him with the intent to kill and the mind to humiliate him, than Zax felt appropriate with the idea of discharging this annoying bit of frustration he had for Hamer’s kind.
Hamer swung his arms and arched sharp beams of icy blue mist energy ejected from his daggers, thinner than a sheet of paper.
Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve icy blue beams neared Zax in a terrifying speed.
Zax kicked the stage, jumped and evaded the first two beams, but the instant he thought that he was in the clear, Hamer’s dagger vibrated and all the beams changed their trajectory.
Zax was momentarily stunned. He did not avoid the long range attacks because he felt like jumping around, but due to their sharpness. Even if the arched beams could not easily dismember him, Zax sensed that they were not any less sharp than Silvia’s crescent blade and could easily cut him to the bone.
An indistinct “BOOM” echoed underneath Zax’s leg, for the first time in the competition he was forced to use Kinetic Force, if only to, on principle, escape unscratched.
Out of the over one thousand spectators, roughly ninety or so detected the nearly silent “BOOM”. After four years, this precise and delicate level of control over his Kinetic Force was one of Zax’s greatest achievements.
Zax’s speed surpassed the daggers’ beams, but the stage was limiting in size, and Hamer, after seeing that he physically cannot catch up with Zax, unleashed the maximum number of arched icy beams that he could control at the same time.
“Humph! Even if you can fly, it won’t help you to escape!”
Twenty four daggers’ beams pursued Zax midair and on the ground.
The crowd spectating from their seats, watched agape.
“F- F- FLYING!” Someone jumped from his seat and burst in outrage, more than astonishment.
“How can it be?! Hurry, anyone, Zax’s mist cultivation was not disclosed in any report, is he a third realm expert?!” Another woman, a backer of one of the participants, got up from her seat, beads of sweat sliding from her forehead to her slender neck.
It was general knowledge for those in the high echelon, that the entities known as “third realm experts” were the only cultivator capable of flight. Sure, there were rare techniques, which enabled Core Masters to fly, but they were too mist consuming and impacted agility far too much to be used in battle.
How come, then, that someone younger than twenty years of age, was moving freely between the ceiling of the hall and the floor of the stage like a bird?!
“He is a bodily cultivator; this is definitely a bodily technique”. It did not take long for someone astute with a little more information about Zax to guess correctly.
“Amazing! Amazing! A bodily technique that can make someone walk on air… is it possible that Eden Formation has embarked on the path of bodily cultivation as well as formations?”
“Look at his speed!”
“Don”, a middle age looking woman with black air, wearing a black suit turned to Don with a stern expression. “What is the meaning of this? Is this really a technique belong to your school?”
“Hahahah”, Don covered her lips and laughed. “Mira, Eden Formation has many aces. If this is one of them, do I need to confirm or deny?”
Mira, the black suit woman, stayed quiet. Was there a need for Don to reply? The answer was “it does not matter”. Zax was flying and is an Eden Formation’s student.
Should it be said more explicitly?
Even in air, Zax remained in the space above the stage. He could not tell if going outside the boundaries of the stage will be a violation of the rules, therefore he maintained cautiousness.
The daggers’ beam followed without dissipating no matter how long it has been since Hamer shot them. They assaulted from every direction and their maneuvers were difficult to avoid in such a great number.
“You are becoming predictable!” Hamer already realized that Zax was trying to get to him. In response, he controlled the daggers’ beams to defend more so than chase and after a while, for experts at least, he vaguely started to read Zax’s movement pattern.
An icy beam flashed across Zax’s shoulder and made contact.
“Tsk!” Zax clicked his tongue. He had to hand it to Hamer, his technique was truly remarkable for it to keep up with him and even harm him.
Nevertheless, although still disappointing, the cut was only skin deep and not so much as caused a single drop of blood.
Zax pounced back, far from Hamer and his sharp daggers’ beams, to stand at the far end of the fighting stage from his opponent.
“Amusing! You think this much distance can make a different?” Hamer’s lips stretched to a smug. He swung his daggers as if dancing, and the beams he controlled flew toward Zax.
“One cut”, Zax said while remaining still. “That is all you get!” Clenching his arms near his waist, he waited for the twenty four beams to reach him.
The daggers’ beams approached. Fifty seven meters… forty fourth meters… thirty meters… twelve meters…
Half a meter from him, Zax clenched his large physique. Kinetic energy circulated in his body and some of it even oozed out.
Zax stretched out and Kinetic Force erupted from his body like an invisible dome, fending, blasting and shattering the twenty four beams.
“What?!” Hamer complexion paled as the mist energy he channeled to his daggers rebounded. “Puah!” The shock to his internals caused blood to go up his throat.
“Be prepared. I’m going to vent”. Zax bent his knee. In his eyes reflected the intent to break.
Hamer was injured, so Zax lacked the need for further use of Kinetic Force.
His fist slammed against Hamer’s chest. Lifting him from the ground with enough force inside the impact to throw him off the stage, but Zax moved fast.
“You should have been more decisive”. Zax discoursed. He caught Hamer’s arm and applied pressure.
“Ahh!” Hamer screamed. The daggers he held loosely slipped from his hands.
“Not that it would have made a difference”. Zax turned, swinging Hamer like a rag doll, dislocating his shoulder and letting go.
Hamer bolted out of the fighting stage, past the west side of the hall, straight to the socializing and to accommodating east side’s wall.