“The fifth step of Kinetic Force, Martial son, your body is still not strong enough to handle a successive utilization of it. But it doesn’t mean that you should shy from cultivating it. Train in your mind; let your soul reach perfect familiarity with the fifth step for instantaneous execution. Essentially, it would take a long period of time before you will be capable of using the fifth step as well as the initial steps, but until then, you can rely on the fifth step as a method of last resort, one attack and a price to change the flow of a battle in your favor”. These were Kartius’s guiding words for Zax with regards to the fifth step of Kinetic Force.
“Remember, Zax, when you go beyond your limits and manage to stand up again, as a bodily cultivator there is no better form of tempering. And the fifth step of Kinetic Force, your limit, it may force you to utilize a power that you are far from adequate to mess with, but this type of destructiveness is not necessarily bad, if not repeated often”.
“The overbearing steps of Kinetic Force have the unique capacity to break your body in a cellular level and when the process of healing initiates, absorption of nutritious treasures and the energy of the world will accelerate the cultivation of bodily refinement techniques. In contrast, lower increment will inconsistent with the primary objective of the seven steps of Kinetic Force and their efficiency will be lost”. Grandmaster Kartion expounded.
Turbulences of Kinetic Force coursed in every fiber of Zax’s body, breaking him as he struggled to withstand the corrosiveness of power far beyond his level of control.
“Soar With The Storm!”
This was the name Zax gave to the fraction of an instant he could maintain the fifth step, and his only long range attack.
The ideal range of Soar With The Storm is ten meters, which is way Zax had to get closer to his two opponents despite the danger of their attacks, since from the eleventh meter onwards, the power of Soar With The Storm will halved for every additional meter.
At the same time Zax punched, all sounds seemed to vanish inside the area where the fighting stage used to be.
Even the sounds of his blood vessels exploding and Zechariah’s and Linor’s attacks became dormant.
A ripple emerged, not from Zax’s fist, but his whole person. It started as a dome and rose forward like a baleful cyclone of invisible, yet unstoppable, power.
Sun Reaper and Dark Lightning slammed against Zax’s Soar With The Storm.
The scythe phantom shattered to tiny fragments and the living lightning collapsed to worm size electric currents that dispersed.
Zechariah and Linor watched with wide eyes as their strongest attacks could not even pose a minuscule resistance against Zax’s punch. They both raised their arms, mustering all of their reserved mist energy to defend.
Like a balloon exploding upon the touch of a needle, Zechariah’s and Linor’s defensive mist energies burst under the pressure of the invisible cyclone.
Zechariah and Linor were hurled uncontrollably, like broken kites in a thunderstorm.
As the two struck the eleven elders’ protective formation, clear sounds of detonation rebounded in the hall.
The protective formation was already slightly cracked from the fluctuation of Zechariah’s and Linor’s attacks, after being hit by their bodies and the force propelling them, it finally crumbled.
The crowd of spectators was flabbergasted. Most were only able to see the flashy redness and blackness of Sun Reaper and Dark Lightning and then Zechariah and Linor being slammed against the elders’ formation. Only few managed, with great difficulty, to follow the exchange and even less people saw it clearly.
A green mantle suddenly appeared, replacing the elders’ formation and simultaneously served as a cushion to catch Zechariah and Linor and gently carry their unconscious bodies down.
The dust around Zax settled and his body remained in the punching posture; or rather it stayed like that since moving was too painful.
Blood dripped from Zax’s mouth and the open wounds all over his body.
“Cough!” Zax attempted to breathe out and release the tension from his entire physique, but he only vomited more mouthfuls of blood.
“Announce the end of the three way battle, Talhera”. Elijah, still supporting his Tal, told her in a detached tone. Cold light flashed in his eyes as his gaze seized Zax and recalled his last attack.
Talhera staggered on her feet before composing herself. These three participants, Zechariah, Zax and Linor have left her speechless. Never had she believed that other than her senior Tal, Neyrar, there would be other monstrous Martial cultivators within the same generation and of the same scale.
“Winner, Zax Zel”. Talhera declared.
Members of the medical team rushed to pick up Zechariah and Linor. Two members hurried to Zax, they saw him still standing and sober that they questioned if the blood covering his person really belonged to him and not his fallen opponents.
However, as they approached and got to a meter or so from Zax, the two medical team members suddenly grimaced and their complexion became pale as they felt an immense pressure descending from above, as if gravity itself was increased by several folds where Zax stood and about a meter in front of him.
The effect on gravity was due to the residue Kinetic Force in the air. As a result of the planet’s gravitational force, the residing Kinetic Force was drawn down.
A soft wind blew the residing Kinetic Force and the two medical team members heaved in relief. Their cultivation was at the Mist Lord level, but they still could barely stand up. They could only imagine what it is like to suffer the direct attack that caused the gravitational change. Nevertheless, the two had a job to perform, and now that they were able to move freely, they hurried to Zax.
The moment one of the two placed his hand on Zax’s shoulder, to assess his internal condition, he felt as if he touched smoldering coal. He raised his hand hastily, not that he was hurt by the heat emitted from Zax’s skin, but from feeling an odd sensation under his palm.
On Zax’s shoulder, a red swelling in the shape of the medical team member’s hand formed and kept augmenting.
Zax was about the groan, but was choked from the blood in his throat. He found solace by the fact that his condition was much better than the last time he used the fifth step, even though he should have waited a bit longer before executing it for his bodily cultivation. Then again, he regretted that in the short window he now has to accelerate his bodily refinement technique, he lacks the medicinal treasures to absorb and can only rely on the energy of the world.
The two medical team members were about to use a mist technique to carry Zax, but before their golden shrouds were complete, a green mantle appeared out of nowhere, covered Zax and wafted him in the air. As it happened, inside Zax’s sea of consciousness, a soothing green gale drifted, forcing him to a trance state.
Before the two medical team members reacted, Zax vanished from their and everybody’s eyes.
Don and the rest from Eden Formation were anxious. They were about to jump from their seat and frantically look for Zax, when a voice echoed in every one of their sea of consciousness. Only then did they calm down.
“Don, this child cannot be yours! Tell me, to whom he belongs!”
“Eden Formation’s school principal, the body strength of that chief representative of yours, the dreadful attack he executed, in all of Kingdom Earth only senior Elijah can nurture such bodily cultivator. But your boy cannot be a third Tal of senior Elijah. You must tell us who taught him!”
“How ferocious! To actually beat both his opponents’ supreme technique in what seemed as a casual manner…”
“Unfortunately, by his physical condition, it doesn’t look like that young expert Zax will be able to continue his participation in the Martial competition”.
“Talhera said so in the beginning, to get far in the Martial competition one also require luck. Eden Formation has gotten such a formidable student, to even beat Zechariah and Linor in one move… if he was a member of our Heavenly Temple Martial school, we would not ask for more”.
Some great figures, familiar with Don, were unable to restrain their desire to find out who created the techniques that embedded so much power in Zax. Some even had speculation that were not said outloud, a few were right on the spot.
Other great figures discussed the result of the three way battle. They, too, had lust burning inside of them, but even more they felt immense apprehension. Zax came from a mediocre background and has risen to prominence time after time. In today Martial competition he proved himself as a force to be reckoned with, even in the eyes of those unobtrusive third level Core Masters among the honorable elders and group leaders of the different factions.
Don dismissed the hubbub, and so did the other members of the Eden Formation’s group.
Per the orders they received from the voice that echoed in their heads, they got up from the arranged seats and headed to the second elevator at the western side of the hall.
Zax opened his eyes and a small cry escaped through the slit between his dry lips. All of his body was sore and itching, and from head to toes he could feel that his skin was smeared by a cool ointment before being wrapped like a mummy with white bandages.
He lay on a bed in a spacious room, with lavish decorations and a wall size window that overlooked cave five hundred and twelve from the peak of the Path Arena.
Zax was not interested with the view or the room he was in. As for the discomfort of his injuries, broken bones and all… he was used to even worse and more painful wounds that he completely disregarded them.
“Your pain tolerance is truly remarkable. Can your Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement be responsible for it?” A deep voice that was both amiable and dominant stunned Zax and attracted his attention. Before he heard it he thought that no one but him was in the room.
On a chair beside the bed he laid on, at a first glance, seemed to sit a scholarly looking man with a long combed red hair and big blue eyes. But then, as the man straightened his back and exposed his pristine demeanor, the humble attire on his person suddenly transformed to a spectacular emerald long robe, and the plain sandals to his feet shone with golden luster.
The moment Zax saw the man’s face; he recognized him and was downright dumbstruck.
The man was Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch in all his glory, and he was actually waiting alone by his bed like a worried mother!
Quickly, probably faster than the gears in his head ever turned, Zax found his bearings, got up from the bed while his body issued weird sounds and displayed a respectable mien.
“Junior, Zax Zel, greets Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch!”
“Ariel Dauch receives younger generation, Zax Zel’s salute”. Supreme Ruler Ariel said informally, as if he did not mind the etiquette between senior and junior.
“Zax”, Supreme Ruler Ariel said as Zax was about to open his mouth. “You went beyond the exaptation of us elders and Supreme Rulers, we really hoped that you would have found your match against Zechariah and Linor and lost”. His countenance was calm as calm could be, despite the harsh and even unfair words. At most, there was a tint of disappointment in them.
“Eh…” Zax really did not know how to respond, was he being praised or rebuked by the strongest human in El-Eden? Should he take it as the greatest honor in his life regardless of the meaning behind it? Difficult to refuse even if this man, whom millions upon millions worship in Kingdom Earth, will go a step farther and slap him in the face…
“You don’t understand, but that is well and logical”. Supreme Ruler Ariel said and sunk into preoccupation. The abrupt manner, in which he stopped talking, left Zax wondering if it is now proper to say the words that bothered him.
“Sir, Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch, where am I? Shouldn’t I be in the hall where the Martial competition is being held?” Zax was previously forced by Supreme Ruler Ariel into a state of trance. It did not influence his sense of time, leaving him able to detect now that less than ten minutes have passed since the end of the three way battle.
“Those things do not matter anymore, Zax”. Supreme Ruler Ariel raised his hand and waved it apathetically.
“Supreme Ruler-” Zax was confused and wanted to ask when Supreme Ruler Ariel interrupted him.
“Zax, you have done well, but I ask of you, forfeit the rest of the Martial competition”.