Zax punched and Zechariah cut.
Linor could only surpass the two for a few seconds before she was overwhelmed and pushed back in a defensive posture, leaving two trails of broken stone on the stage.
Zax and Zechariah both frowned. There was not a sign of the tiniest wound on Linor.
‘My last attack was the Peak of the second step. And that Zechariah’s scythe attack was even stronger, at least comparable to the third step of my Kinetic Force!’ Zax pondered solemnly.
In the past four years, as he got closer to the Advanced phase of the bodily maneuvers, Zax was taught by his Master and Grandmaster Kartion, a system of steps to calculate the output of Kinetic Force he can handle, to measure the precise growth in his strength as he converged more kinetic energy to Kinetic Force and to allocate it to different levels, or in Zax’s naming sense, steps.
The first step was Zax’s base physical strength, without the supplement of kinetic energy or Kinetic Force.
The second step was the first actual use of kinetic energy, and the Kinetic Force he generated in this step increased the power of his attacks by a hundred percent.
The scythe attack Zechariah released right now had a similar strength to the power of Zax’s third step, which is a double increase of the second step, two hundred percent of his base physical strength.
Zax, of course, could utilize Kinetic Force to generate twenty percent, ninety percent, one hundred and seventy percent and so on increase of his base physical strength. He was already doing it after he discovered that the second step is insufficient against Zechariah and Linor.
However, battle wise, if treating Kinetic Force as a Martial technique, then by dividing it to predetermined increments between each step, it would be much more efficient as instantaneous means to gauge, counter, surprise and swiftly defeat any opponent.
That being said, mastering the steps of Kinetic Force was not an easy task for Zax. For each step he had to repeat and retain the same increments of Kinetic Force after convergence for thousands of times until he memorized them in body and soul and became able to execute the steps instinctively.
According to Kartius, the third step of Zax’s Kinetic Force was capable of severely hurting an Intermediate phase third level Core Master. And Linor just blocked this level of strength from Zechariah, in addition to blocking Zax’s punch, without a scratch!
‘This woman cannot possibly be so strong. She redirected the force of our attacks after the impact to her feet!’ Zax and Zechariah shared the same thought. They were able to distinguish the diminutive shivers in Linor’s legs.
Zechariah evaded Zax’s punch and retreated forty meters back. With his right hand he held his scythe behind his back. His left hand sprang forward, surrounded by dazzling fiery red aura; he began to sketch with it in the air a pattern of scrambled shapes.
Linor channeled her mist energy to her arm, her veins started to protrude like winding black snakes. The maces she held issued a “TING” and their heads disconnected and fell, swinging by a thirty five centimeters long metallic chain from the shaft.
“Zax, Linor, I never imagined that I would meet in the Martial competition participants that could threaten me other than Neyrar. But I’m glad, your techniques differ from mine and are very unique, so fighting you is both interesting and exciting”. Zechariah’s left hand finished the flaming diagram, his eyes shined and his lips stretched to a genuine smile. “From now on, I won’t hold anything back!”
Zechariah thrust the pointy tip of his scythe in the diagram. The scythe seemed struggling to penetrate the diagram, but slowly it passed through, emitting fluctuation of mist energy that propelled to every direction in fiery lights.
“Most of my techniques are meticulous and meant for assassination. The next one, however, is my only brute technique, meant for utter destruction. At its peak, I cannot stop the killing intent it is bearing. Therefore, be careful”. Linor spared the two her complimentary words and solely warned.
She swung her maces, revolving their heads in the air.
Linor clapped her hands, the two shaft of the maces stuck to each other, their heads spun without obstructing one another. Booming sounds continued to be heard as a spiral dark black cloud formed above Linor.
Zax clenched his fists. His light brown eyes glittered with black darkness. “You two, be prepared. My force is nothing but explosive”. He also gave out a warning.
Skipping the third step and generating a four hundred percent increase of his base strength. That was Zax’s utmost limit and although he could go one or two percent higher, if he will do, the burden on his body will take a tremendous leap!
In a blink of an eye, the air around Zax began to swirl, bustling with kinetic energy. In Zax’s body, torrents of Kinetic Force occupied every fiber of his being. It was stable, not yet about to explode, not easily agitated like in the past, but in the moment of a strike, a kick, a punch… mountains will split apart and the earth will shatter.
Zechariah’s scythe completely passed through, swallowed and embedded the diagram to its curved blade, which increased its size by five times and issued sparks and small fiery red embers.
The dark black cloud above Linor descended, absorbed into her body. Her scarred, white skin darkened in shade and discharged hair thin black electric currents.
Anyone of the three could sense the other two’s devastating power. They each tacitly agreed since the begging not to expound too much on words. The previous sentences they shared were merely to express their mindfulness recognition of each other.
An outburst of three participants, acknowledged as three of the four strongest contenders in the Martial competition, has escalated into a battle of giants!
The eleven elders circling the fighting stage and protecting the crowd of spectators became frantic.
At the beginning, four of them were enough to block the ricocheting mist energies. After the three participants unleashed their full strength, all of the elven elders were required to act in order to maintain the spherical formation around the fighting stage and protect the crowd, and even together they felt immense pressure. If the three were to directly hit the protective formation they erected around the fighting stage, the elven elders were not certain that they would be able to resist the consolidated force.
“Monsters! They are MONSTERS!”
“Block! Release all of your mist energy at once!”
“DON’T HOLD BACK!”
“The stage… It’s not holding!”
Under the inexorable attacks of Zechariah, Zax and Linor, the first fighting stage finally could not endure and exploded.
Huge debris, imbued with either Zechariah’s or Linor’s prodigious mist energy, were blown, slamming the eleven elders’ formation.
The spectators watched from their seats with their mind and body tensed. They saw the pieces of the shattered fighting stage flying toward them, and the weaker, young and inexperienced jumped from their seats with the intention to run. Only when their seniors and the leaders of their groups shouted at them, did they calm down and realize that the elders’ formation blocked the debris.
By now, Zax’s previous opponents, the two he incapacitated, Elita and Woren, already awakened and along with the badly hurt Hamer and the still fine Silvia, watched the fight with cold sweat running down their backs.
Before, when they encountered Zax on the stage, they were able to keep up with him for a period of time and only lose after making him spend some effort. Seeing him now, though, or rather the blur they thought was Zax among the three, their hearts thumped like war drums and the expression on their faces was that of absolute submission.
If any of them, for whatever reason, was not content with losing to Zax before, now they were simply relieved that he went easy on them during the earlier rounds’ fights, Hamer most of all!
Razil’s body was cramped in his seat, his facial muscles convulsed. He stared at the fighting stage and his mind reeled with trepidation as a grave realization dawned on him. Zax was strong, too strong to not survive a fight with Neyrar. Even if he will lose, he will probably be overall fine. Moreover, considering his level of strength, Razil was smart enough to know that even his great family will disagree to stand for him against Zax if he would decide to beat or even kill him for publicly ridiculing him.
Four words kept repeating in Razil’s mind. ‘What should I do?! What should I do?! What should I do?! What should I do?!’ For the first time in his life he cursed his unbridled mouth and temper.
Of all the spectators, there was only one who stood up and seemed unshaken by the rampant forces in the fighting stage.
Neyrar breathed heavily. His heart was agitated and sorrowful; it wanted to know as it kept wailing… Why was he not chosen to participate in this magnificent battle?!
The fighting stage was completely ruined. No longer was it in its squared shape of eighty meters length and width. That being said, neither Zechariah, nor Zax, or Linor touched the hall’s floor even once.
The three fought standing on the debris and regardless of their size. If they needed to be stepped on, then whoever stood on them will stay perfectly balanced.
The three also carried themselves on the air. Zax more than the other two due to the peculiar usage of kinetic energy and Kinetic Force.
Zechariah and Linor executed techniques that only enabled them to glide in great speed for a very short time. Flying like Zax would have been too much of a tool for them.
The swirling heads of Linor’s maces issued thundering sounds as they swung in lightning speed.
Zax maneuvered his body nimbly and kicked.
Kinetic Force and electric dark black mist energy collided.
Linor lost her momentum. Evidently, her power was slightly lower than Zax’s when it came to head to head confrontations.
Zax’s hand launched in blinding speed, spreading gales in its wake. His five fingers, like the claws of a Silver Horns Dragon, struck Linor’s abdomen.
Linor used her mist energy to protect her internals, but the blow was too strong. It sent her flying, coughing blood. Nevertheless, before she even got fifteen meters from Zax, she stabilized herself and landed with poise on of the stage’s broken pieces.
Just as their confrontation was concluded, Zax sensed deadly mist energy fluctuation. He immediately bent back.
Zechariah’s scythe slashed diagonally. It missed Zax’s neck, but cut his Eden Formation’s school uniform and pierced his skin, flesh and chest bones.
Indeed, by this phase of the three way battle, the three fought with potent killing intent, if not to truly take their opponents’ lives, then at least to match their resolve, and the wounds each of them sustained was the best kind of evidence to that!
The incandescent tip of the scythe’s curved blade both cut and burnt Zax as if his body was made of tofu.
Zax gnashed his teeth. Unlike his opponents he did not have mist energy and cannot use Kinetic Force as a constant external shield. He could only resort to halt the scythe and forcing it out by using his Kinetic Force internally to disintegrate the hostile and foreign mist energy. Still, Kinetic Force was more suited for attack than defense and more had to be done for Zax to repel Zechariah.
Zax threw an upper cut to the scythe’s shaft and the force raised Zechariah from the piece of stage he stood on, pushing him several meters away.
The wound was deep and the damage far too severe for Zax to think of healing before the battle’s end.
He retreated for a distant of fifty meters from Zechariah and Linor.
‘It won’t do. If they need to pick, they’ll target me than each other’. It became clear as the fight progressed. The fourth step of Kinetic Force amplified Zax’s strength and speed beyond the full extent of Zecharia’s and Linor’s supreme Martial techniques. As a result, the two considered him to be their greatest threat despite his inability to perform long range attacks like them.
‘There is no other way… I’ll have to surpass my limits. Otherwise, I won’t last against the two of them!’ Zax decisively made up his mind.
From his cautionary demeanor, Zecharia and Linor could feel the shift in Zax’s frame of mind. They each solidified the hold and control of their weapons and Martial techniques. In their eyes flashed the same resolute light that they have seen in Zax. They were ashamed for uniting against him, but that was also a sign of their respect and recognition of him as the strongest.
The eleven elders’ hairs stood on end. Something ominous was birthed within the destroyed area of the three way battle that was encompassed by their protective formation, something that cause them to feel suffocated despite having higher level of cultivation than any of the three.
The elven said nothing. They poured all of the mist energy to the formation, waiting with great expectation rather than fear, to witness the next move of the monsters of their young generation.
A dim phantom of a fiery red scythe manifested over Zecharia.
An arm’s width black electric current emerged from the spinning heads of Linor’s maces.
Zecharia swung his scythe, shooting the fiery red phantom toward Zax.
Linor’s black electric current moved like a predatory living creature, and Zax was its prey.
They both felt a sense of importance to declare the names of their attacks.
The mere fluctuations of the two attacks made the protective formation of the eleven elders shiver and crack.
Zax could not help his teeth from clattering as a half crazed smile appeared on his face. The two attacks, if he will not succeed to counter, certainly have the power to take his life.
Zax pounced, not trying to avoid, but to meet the Sun Reaper and Dark Lightning at least ten meters from their masters.
Six hundred percent increase of his physical base strength, way beyond his limit. A terrific power Zax could only maintain for a brief, internecine moment.
Zax reached and stopped ten meters from Zechariah and Linor, their attacks less than a meter from him.
Lowering his legs to a steady stance, bones breaking sound echoed from his body. Placing his arms close to his waist, blood vessels ruptured and his internals gradually began to fail.
Since the start of the three way battle, not even two minutes have passed, since he used the fifth step, not even a millisecond gone by.
Time has stopped as Zax prepared to punch.
Hot red steams left his mouth in a long breath, which seemed to be outside the confinements of time.
He punched, along with declaring the name of his attack.
“Soar With The Storm!”