“Laivien”, Zax called outloud as he entered Grandmaster Kartion’s cave, knowing that Laivien, through the soul amplification of the violet stone, is already aware that he arrived to the cave.
‘Little Zax? You finished you closed doors training early?’ Laivien’s voice echoed in Zax’s sea of consciousness and after a short cessation, before Zax had the chance to reply, it resounded once more.
‘Eh? You really broke through, little Zax!’ Laivien communicated through the soul and the violet stone made it so she would be much more sensitive. Moreover, Zax did not conceal the strength of his soul.
‘Congratulation! Congratulation, little Zax! You truly comprehended five bottlenecks of insight! Even my Kartion is behind you now on that aspect!’
Actually, the reason Laivien knew that Zax succeeded in comprehending the fifth bottleneck was not because she could sense it along with his soul level, but due to the fact that she early known his this time training session’s goal.
‘Laivien’, Zax smiled. There was always an honest care in her voice for him and his Martial brothers and sister, as if each and every one of them was the child in her womb. ‘Thank you, I also didn’t expect to conclude my training so soon. I will later come to personally see, but can you do me a favor before that?’
‘Oh! Little Zax, I got too caught up with your new accomplishment that became distracted. You called me, what do you need me for?’
‘Please look for Master and tell him to meet me in his cabin’.
‘Mm, sure. Big brother is currently cultivating his mist energy in the Essence Cave, but for his Martial son, I don’t think he will mind if I’ll interrupt him’. There was still a trace of excitement in Laivien’s voice, but since Zax promised to visit her, she complied with his request.
“Master”, waiting beside the cabin he used to reside in after he first arrived to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave and was accepted as Kartius apprentice, Zax respectfully greeted his Master upon his arrival.
“Martial son, you have done well!” Kartius exclaim in surprise. He, too, could feel the apparent changes in Zax’s soul. “Exceptionally formidable for a newly promoted second realm soul… nothing less from my Martial son!” His eyes shone in gratification.
“Master-” Zax abruptly halted. He felted, much more evident than in the cavern, the Black Core his Master kept. He could not help but continue extremely thrilled. “More than just breaking through and comprehending another bottleneck has occurred to me… The Black Core, I finally learned its origin… and, literally, cause and effect of everything else!”
Zax sounded abstruse, and it was clear to him. Part of it, naturally, was due to the opportunity of unloading the burden of the heavy and prominent knowledge he acquired. The other reason, unbeknownst to him, was close proximity to another Black Core. His Qi channels, dantian and the now lone Black Core that has left, were all longing to assimilate an additional part of Legacy Of The One’s Path.
“Let’s sit inside”. Kartius suggested after picking up on his Martial son’s anomalous behavior.
Facing each other while sitting on the wooden floor of the cabin, Zax recited his entire experience of the recent training session. At that moment, he intended for the conversation to be private, that is, between him and his Master only. And yet, he was not worried if Laivien might eavesdrop because of two reasons…
First, he knew that Laivien would never intrude on someone privacy when uncalled. Second, and something that he notice earlier when he talked to Laivien, now that his soul reached the second realm he could detect when Laivien used the violet stone to amplify her soul and encompasses him with he strengthen Soul Sense. Zax assumed that although the violet stone can enable the special abilities of a third realm soul in a weaker soul, it does not really influence that much the weaker soul’s overall power, which is why he could tell when Laivien reached for him before she even talked.
It was a long time after Zax ended listing in detail the chain of events he gone through in his secluded training that Kartius stopped contemplating and opened his mouth to respond.
“It is good that you returned here as soon as you finished your training and looked for me, Martial son”. Kartius’s stag head frowned, the muscles of his crossed arms bulged, the grip of each of his hands loosened and clenched over and over. “This matter is of utmost importance, Zax, you cannot share it with someone else heedlessly, do you understand?”
“Yes, Master! That is why from the first place I wanted to consult you about everything that I should do now. And… despite also considering Grandmaster’s advice about the Black Cores, if I’ll go over everything from the beginning, some things may be unpleasant for him to hear and I’m not sure how to approach him about them”.
“Humph!” Kartius snorted at Zax’s comment. “This matter should not be taken for granted, but at the same time, Martial son, do not underestimate the top experts of our New Earth, be they humans or beasts!”
“Master…?” Zax did not expect to be reprimanded by his Master for the concern he had for Grandmaster Kartion.
“Your way of thinking is a clear sign that regardless of your amazing progression, you are still too immature”. Kartius said and continued without allowing Zax the chance to say anything. “You claim that the exalted expert planted fragments of his Martial techniques and refinement techniques in us, his mixed creation with, I guess, Nature, and this is why experts like big brother were able to come up with their techniques… Preposterous!”
“Do you think, Zax, that forming a Peak grade technique is so simple? You said it yourself, what the exalted expert bequeathed could only be unrevealed by those with the capacity to recreate it. You yourself are an example of his severe requirements! Being able to accept what the exalted expert had left is already enough to tell that my big brother is an exceptional expert!”
Kartius’s words resounded in Zax’s sea of consciousness as a wakeup call, one which he probably needed since learning about the experts and his doings, and in a way, they were also the guidance he sought.
Seeing the look of apprehension on Zax’s face, Kartius’s voice softened. “Meeting the requirements, Martial son, is one thing that shows how great big brother is. Apart from it, there is an additional thing, even more significant that can tell you how deep is the meaning in the exalted expert’s message… Let’s assume that big brother’s Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement is a cultivation technique he inherited from the exalted expert. Big brother could have perceived it in two ways, either as a complete technique or as an impression. We already know that it cannot be the first way; otherwise big brother would not have needed to spend so much time creating the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement and to still work on the continual second realm stages”.
“Now, if it’s the second way and big brother only perceived it as an impression, than why should he feel shameful by it? Martial son, can you imagine how difficult it is to make something out of nothing? It is not an ordeal of a year or a hundred. Furthermore, the end results are not even near the likes of Peak grade technique. No, to create a Peak grade technique like big brother’s you have to emulate the teachings and creation of many others, like everything in life… to follow the steps of your predecessors. If big brother’s Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement has anything to do with the exalted expert, then it is just as much about the other techniques he studied in his life. At most you can say that the exalted expert was a better teacher to follow, same as Ten Ram is for you with regards to the soul attack you enjoy using”.
‘Master is right’. Zax thought as he listened to his Master. The only complete legacy the expert left behind was the divided Legacy Of The One’s Path. ‘I didn’t interpret the expert’s message as Master, even though it was plain that his own legacy was left more in the form of a blueprint…’
It dawned on Zax and honestly, made him feel good. He took to harsh the expert words and mistakenly conceived from them that anyone and everyone in New Earth are mere puppets of a deceased vengeful expert.
“Mm?” A spherical black shape suddenly appeared in front of Zax.
“The Black Core!”
The pulses were like beat of giant drums.
While Zax was thinking, Kartius took the Black Core out from the Blue Stone he carries.
“Take it”. Kartius said. “See what will happen. If you can maybe learned more about mist refinement technique it is part of”.
Zax did not hesitate. There was not meaning in doing so or being polite if the Black Core was already handed to him. He took it.
Upon touch a wave of dark mist energy burst from the Black Core in Zax’s dantian, filling it up. Zax felt his whole body rumbling in starvation, craving to consume the Black Core in his hand.
A mental link with the Black Core was made instantly, and before Zax knew it, the Black Core submerged below his navel, into the dantian.
The dark energy encompassing the dantian took immediate possession of the new Black Core. It rammed against its shell and broke it effortlessly as if there was a prior mutual agreement between it and the Black Core.
The Black Core collapsed and turned into new pure dark energy that was assimilated with the indigenous dark energy and eventually swallowed to the Black Core.
Zax followed the procedure with eyes close. When it all was over he opened them and stared into space rather than meet his Master’s inquisitive gaze.
He sighed. ‘Nothing…’ and then repeated outloud. “The Black Core’s energy merged with the other Black Core in my dantian. Apart from it I don’t feel anything different”.
Kartius mused. “Mm…. The prerequisite to break through the second realm of bodily cultivation might be the reason you can gather new information… Forget about it, then”. He looked up to Zax, instructing. “Do what you currently can. With your diligence, breaking through the last gate is inevitable to happen sooner or later. Until then, we should see what we can do about the Black Core in Valgarel. As for the fourth one in Ercas Mir… seek it out when you go there”.
Zax nodded in consent. “The Black Core in Valgarel, Master, do you think Grandmaster can help with it?”
“It is hard to say without investigating its exact whereabouts. Come, let’s see big brother”.
Inside the blue tower.
Zax did not omit any detail as he recounted the story to Grandmaster Kartion. Of course, he also did not inquire for his thoughts regarding the expert’s own legacy fragments.
Grandmaster Kartion was pensive for a little while. The subject did seem to mean something for him, but that was the most of his reaction Zax and Kartius got.
“Divulging the existence of this grand cultivator can cause more harm than good if it will reach the ears of aspiring outsiders like the five powers. This should be a matter between the three of us, for the mean time”.
“I think so, too”. Kartius said.
“It’s for the best…” Zax was not enthusiastic about hiding anything from this big sister or Anet, but enlarging the circle of the people aware of this issue was truly too risky. Besides, the expert himself warned him to be cautious until he will be strong enough.
Grandmaster Kartion moved on. “A Black Core in His Valor Ozeyn’s tribe… There is couple of months before your departure, Zax, right?”
“Have you sensed movements for that Black Core since you first discovered it?”
“Good”. Grandmaster Kartion stood up. “I cannot guarantee brining the Black Core back, but finding where it is… even if it is in the treasury of the Red Rose Beaks tribe, I can at least get a look to affirm its location”.
“Thank you, Grandmaster”. Zax was satisfied with simply knowing the condition of the Black Core.
Exiting the blue tower, Zax accompanied his Master back to the Essence Cave and parted ways there to the direction of Laivien’s valley.
“This few months I have left… should be given for those I love”.
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