Zax was at loss, but in his moment of anxiousness he could still find a silver lining. ‘Senior Ariel explained that the purpose of the marks left in me is to notify the five powers when either my body or supposed mist energy break through the second realm. Hopefully, that’s about it for their surveillance capabilities…’
“Listen well; the soldiers from the Violet Scaled Troops aren’t necessarily from the Second Corps. At worst, only one platoon from the Second Corps is on its way. If they do come and happen to find us, we would split into two groups. As only I and Fengar possess communicators, Shouva will follow me, and Zax and Fengar, you two split together to another direction. No matter what, remember not to fight them, we cannot afford offending one of the five powers”. Vouvik instructed everyone and then averted his gaze to the shortest in the group. “Fengar, calculate five meeting points from here to Demirva Ridge and send them to me”.
“Yes”. Fengar said and the four fast made their retreat out of the town like Sifon tribe.
Under the bright light of the moon, the four moved quickly and without hindrance. In contrast to the ordinarily communed manner of villages and tribes, due its unofficial status as a “Travelers Town”, it was easy to enter the Sifon tribe just as much as it was easy to leave it, usually.
Bursts of mist energy from various locations in the Sifon tribe erupted one after the other, as the experts responsible for them made a blatant escape.
“What’s up with them? Are they trying to get caught?” Shouva said in a low voice.
“I don’t think so”. Fengar annoyingly berated. “Considering the current situation and the level of power emanating from their auras… It’s more like they are experts, either participants or those behind the killings, and in a hurry to get as far away from town as possible”.
“Which means”, Vouvik added. “That they might have an idea of what’s occurring, and more importantly… By the fluctuations of their auras, some of them do not seem impossible to handle, should we pursue for answers”.
Zax stayed quite as the group discussed and left the Sifon tribe, back to the cover of the Titan Kapok Trees forest.
‘Whatever they will decide, I guess, for now I can comply with. Worst case scenario I’ll say my goodbyes in a moment notice. Till then, continuing with the assignment is still beneficial, and I am curious about the motive of the five powers in this time’s trials’.
The four dashed through the forest, relying solely on their physical’s speed. Three of which had to surpass their mist energy to avoid getting sensed.
Suddenly, surges of Soul Senses began to sweep the forest, enveloping in their reach the four and who knows how many runaway trials’ participants.
“Damn!” Fengar cursed.
Although he, Vouvik and Zax were quick to react, use their own Soul Senses to shield and conceal them, Shouva’s soul was weaker than couple of the snooping Soul Senses. By her upset expression, it was clear that her position was made.
“This… It’s actually those hurrying to leave bastards!” Fengar spewed a second time.
The Soul Senses were not belonged to the Violet Scaled Troops, but the trials’ participants who used mist energy for explosive escape, those suspected to have an idea of what is going on.
The five or so parties of fleeting experts separated and dispersed in the Titan Kapok Trees forest. Two lone experts headed toward the direction of Zax and his party.
“Are they insane? Actually trying to pick up a fight?!” Fengar half anticipated their arrival, half got angry.
Yes, they were their potential means of find out everything, but for the mark to initiate contact with the bullet… sending only two experts, an Advanced second level Core Master and an Intermediate third level Core Master, were they looking down on their group?
As he was a Beginner third level Core Master, Vouvik was nearly at the Advance phase. As for Shouva and Zax, one, to his limited knowledge, was at the Peak of the second Core Master level, while the other was at the Advanced phase.
“Fine, make it easier to catch you!”
“No!” Zax retorted. Realizing first the fleeting experts’ intention, his complexion turned ugly. “It’s as if they are not just running away, but knowingly being chased. That’s why they left the Sifon tribe so fast. But while the rest of us are being reserved, they can’t keep up accelerating while beaconing where they are with their mist energy-”
“They want to drag us with them”, Vouvk caught up. “There were many participants in the Sifon tribe, but only few left rushing. I gather they flee due to obtaining unique information from the murdered brokers and therefore are also being targeted by the five powers or some other troublesome entity-”
“But, father”, Shouva cut in. “If any of the five powers or anyone close to their level decides to get involved in the trials, they can do so freely above ground. Why resort to foul play?”
“Claiming that the five powers have something to do with the killings is just the most probable hypothesis, Greenhorn Shouva. The Violet Scaled Troops might act as a cover or because it genuinely unrelated and wants to investigate what’s happening in its territory”. Fengar answered, also finally understanding the motive of the scattering fleeting experts. “In the end, it doesn’t matter from whom they flee. If so many of them, veteran mercenaries and capable Core Masters, chose to do so over simply fighting their pursuers. What matters is that soon they’ll get all the other participants involve!”
The two fleeing experts indeed got close to the party, enough to make up their real numbers by their other senses. The stayed at a distance of approximate one hundred meters from the party, maintained the same running pace and released their auras wantonly.
This vile method of using the ill informed participants as scapegoats was executed by the fleeting experts all across the forest, as if they planed so beforehand. They were aware that even if they left inconspicuously, whoever chasing them will avoid wasting time after those who did not receive the news. Therefore, they decided to lead them themselves toward parties or individuals like Zax, Shouva, Vouvik and Fengar.
“Vouvik, they aren’t advancing anymore”. Zax said, referring to the two experts on their tail. “We should get rid of them and take the chance to find out what they know”.
“Shouva and I will deal with them. You and Fengar, proceed to the second meeting point. We are already too close to the first one“. Vouvik assessment of Zax’s strength was the same as Fengar’s, hence, he preferred to coordinate with his daughter since she was not too far apart from him and more reliable.
“So the two of us don’t get the chance to fight?” Fengar said disappointedly.
“Calm down”, Vouvik said soothingly. “By how eventful this assignment turned out, unless we will withdraw from the trials, I doubt this would be the last of our battles”.
Vouvik and Shouva changed to their animalistic forms, two flaming Blaze Horned Tigers the size of double and near quadruple decker buses.
The duo were, obviously, noticed by the two experts, however, they closed in fast, erupting with red fiery attribute mist energy.
“Shouva, delay her for ten seconds, that’s all”.
Of the two experts, the weaker was a female human. The one Vouvik targeted first was a female Scaled Ape who transformed to her human’s size yet quick animalistic form the instant she realized a battle is inevitable. As it occurred, all three beasts were Zhìhuì class.
“Vouvik, so it was your party we intercepted!” The two meters tall ape with the brown scales said as she maneuvered swiftly from one Titan Kapok Trees.
“You got eight seconds to tell me why you came after us and what your contact told you, Danttena, otherwise this will be your last attempt in the High Rankers’ trials”.
Despite being larger and obstructed by the Titan Kapok Trees, Vouvik managed to keep up and even shorten the distance between him and Danttena.
“I prefer not to fight with you; Vouvik, let’s both take a step back and I and my companion will stop following you”. Danttena struggled to conceal her apprehension.
She was a member of a party of six. Splitting to twos and shadowing others was only to aid their escape from those who killed their contact. When she discovered Vouvik’s party with her Soul Sense, she decided to approach them despite not being clear on their identities. After all, she had confidence against most under the Martial Mortal realm. But then it turned out that she and her companion selected a problematic associate she heard enough about to recognize as an opponent beyond her capabilities.
“Too late for that!” Vouvik roared and swung his paw, sending four brilliant pillars of flames toward Danttena.
Danttena channeled all her dark attribute mist energy into her protective mantle.
With great effort, she managed to block it but the bones in her palms broke and the force pushed her through tens huge and thick Titan Kapok Trees’ trunks.
“Four seconds!” Vouvik counted and pounced after Danttena.
He did not hold back. There was no meaning in doing so. He gave Danttena enough time to answer his questions.
Danttena fell to the ground, her black aura swelling for a moment, yet eventually dying out. “I’ll talk”. She resentfully said, transforming back to her human form of a brown haired brown skinned middle age woman, not bothering retrieving new clothes from her spatial ring. Unlike Vouvik and Shouva, she was fond of her human form.
“Danttena, don’t!” Her wounded companion shouted while being besieged by Shouva. Although they were equally matched, seeing Danttena surrendering had shaken her resolve, creating an opening for Shouva to strike.
Time was running out, thus both Danttena and Vouvik ignored the pitiful yells of the female human.
“Speak”. Vouvik demanded.
A bright red ray of light penetrated Danttena’s head, killing her abruptly.
“Danttena!” Her companion shouted.
Another crescent ray of light cleanly cut the female human’s head.
“Who?!” Vouvik raised his guard. Before he could react, Danttena and her companion died by two precise and frightening attacks.
A gray cloaked figure walked leisurely out of the nightly darkness of the forest.
“That’s a shame… I hoped to follow these two until they’ll regroup”. A sighing female voice resounded from beneath the hood of the cloaked figure. “According to the dead bird’s list, Aiden’s party who bought information from him should have six members. You, kitties, are certainly not part of the remaining four, right? Oh! Maybe your names are on one of the other lists? But I don’t recall getting the description of two kittens…”
The gray cloaked figure walked forward. Holding in her hand was a long scythe with curved World Gathering Bone for a blade. Her attitude was carefree, but malignant killing intent leaked from her relative small physique.
Vouvik’s claws gripped the earth. He could tell that the cloaked figure is at the Advanced third Core Master level, a small gap between their levels. Nonetheless, he was scared, terrified, almost, from her profound technique, from which he will not be able to protect his shivering daughter.
“Run!” He roared and released his aura to the utmost. ‘Fengar, a gray cloak person, human by the smell, has killed the two experts that came after us. She is likely behind the killing… I won’t be able to escape her. Please protect Shouva, protect my daughter!’ He transmitted before opening his mouth and letting out a beam of fiery hues.
“Father!” Seeing her father using his signature move, “Scorching Tiger Roar”, Shouva found her bearing and roared in dismay, hesitant to comply with his command.
“Go!” Vouvik roared, exuding a blast of wind that slammed against his daughter.
With no other choice, Shouva turned her back and ran.
“Not so fast!” The gray cloaked woman sneered. She swung her scythe back and forth, meeting the fiery beam head on.
A grinding sound followed the collision. Vouvik’s beam split in two and continued to fly for several kilometers, incinerating everything in its path before finally dissipating.
Proceeding with her attack, the cloaked woman shifted the trajectory of the World Gathering Bone blade; her mist energy contained a fiery attribute in it, as well, it colored the blade red as it struck the earth.
The forest’s ground shook and a long, red glowing fissure extended toward the escaping Shouva in high speed, toppling the majestic Titan Kapok Trees in its wake and swallowing the dead Danttenta and her dead companion.
Vouvik overtook the fissure, mist energy augmenting around him a translucent giant shape of a tiger.
He ruptured the ground and halted the advancement of the fissure, but it came with a price as he was hit with the residual force.
‘Her power… it’s infinitely close to a first level Martial Mortal!’ He thought in alarm as his muscles contracted in pain.
“How cocky, daring to turn your back to me”. The cloaked woman said in disdain. The blade of her scythe shining, its edge was about to descend on Vouvik’s head.
The metallic blade of a huge axe rapidly flew in the air, hitting the scythe’s blade and forcing the cloaked woman several steps back.
A blurry figure appeared next to the woman, savage killing intent imbued in its whispering voice.
“Soar With The Storm”.