“Soar With The Storm”. Zax punched from point blank.
The cloaked woman used the momentum of the collision with Fengar’s axe to turn around and meet Zax’s fist with the edge of her scythe.
Zax felt a hot liquid, blood, hitting his face, and then a sharp pain in his right arm, as it was ripped.
“What?!” He was more stunned by finding himself wounded than the pain.
The scythe dispelled most of the Kinetic Force, the rest of it crashed against the protective mantle of the cloaked woman, compelling her to spit a mouthful of blood. Simultaneously, with her endurance, she stabbed the blade of her scythe in Zax’s stretched right arm and split across.
The confrontation sent the cloaked woman tumbling tens of meters backwards, while rendering Zax’s right arm useless, mostly.
Sweat ran down Zax’s back and his heart palpitated. He recognized the scythe, it was similar to Zechariah’s, only, in the woman’s hands, gave a far more threatening impression. That was one thing. What really affected him was that he could tell the cloaked woman cultivation was below the Martial Mortal realm, and yet he was not certain that he could beat her.
The hood fell back and the face of the cloaked woman was exposed. She appeared to be young, but for a cultivator it did not say much about her age only that she attained a high level of cultivation at an early age. Her black hair was short and her black eyes were piercing. She had light skin and was overall pretty. Despite having blood on her lips, she promptly balanced herself, stood up and sneered.
Wiping her lips, she stared at the newcomers, Fengar and Zax. “A midget and a cripple, another two that I haven’t been briefed on. Well, even if you are not on any of the lists I’ll kill you just in case!” She kicked the ground and in a flash renewed her assault.
“Fall back, Zax!” Though Fengar was dumbfounded by Zax’s performance, the Greenhorn participant’s arm was butchered and he was concerned for him.
Zax gritted his teeth; she actually managed to withstand his strongest attack point blank!
It was hard to accept!
His last life and death battle was years ago against Ilen-Tar, since then he lived in an easygoing manner where he did whatever he wanted to. This moment brought back his killer temperament, not because it was a matter of life and death, but due to him legitimately feeling overpowered!
It has been a long time since he considered it, but circumstance, this time, made it best choice. “Prepare to run away!” Zax ordered the three behind him, his voice was hoarse from both savagery and opposing the cloaked woman’s killing intent with his own.
“Wai-” Before Fengar finished to pronounce the entire word, Zax also kicked the ground.
The cloaked woman channeled her blazing mist energy through her scythe and swung it.
Zax bent back, avoiding the blade. Now that he knew its terror, he did not dare to meet it barehanded and moreover, took it as a new life lesson.
“Good reflexes, but no aura? Bodily cultivator!” The cloaked woman exclaimed, finally impressed by her opponent. “Your physique might be stronger than mine, but my blade is tougher and sharper, my mist cultivation technique is also High grade and above all… your Martial art is sloppy”. She kept waving her scythe, for every strike that missed Zax; two more cut him between skin to bone deep. “So it turned out that you are just a little brat”. She smiled venomously, dodged a kick and struck the other end of the scythe in Zax’s stomach and chin.
Zax growled with severe expression, the two blunt hits broke a rib and fractured his jaw. He disregarded the pain and threw a cross.
The fist struck the scythe’s shaft and was blocked by the cloaked woman’s quick reaction. Though she successfully avoided damage, the force lifted her from the ground and sent her forty meters in the air.
Zax turned his head. “Go!” He yelled again at Fengar and Vouvik who were reluctant to leave him behind, much like how Shouva could not abandon her father.
“Sly kid!” Fengar angrily remarked at Zax for hiding his true strength and whatever more he plans.
“Let’s hope that he has more up his sleeves!” Vouvik said to quietly.
Following their reactions, with no other choice, after retrieving the axe the two began running, catching up with Shouva who halted her retreat since Zax’s and Fengar’s arrival. When they reached a certain distance, the three stopped and looked back.
“Vouvik, the moment something goes wrong, more wrong… I intend to intervene. You, supply me support from the back with your roar!”
After landing on a tree’s branch, the cloaked woman jumped back. Zax’s eyes struggled to keep up with the scythe swift movement and had to use all of his senses to persevere.
‘Not yet, there is only one chance! Not yet!’ Zax endured.
“That was a good punch, Musclehead, but you are seriously starting to annoy me. I wasn’t planning to go all out before the hunt in Demirva Ridge and if I’ll fail in my task, fish breath won’t shut up about it”. The cloaked woman grew more infuriated by the second.
The longer they fought, the more Zax got accustomed to her scythe technique and the harder it was to land a decent blow.
Zax concentrated only on evasion. It was not that he was bad at close quarters combat, on the contrary, he very much exceled in it. But the cloaked woman’s skills were way above him, even more taxing to deal with than fighting against his Master.
Although he amassed a lot of fighting experience in the many battles he had been to, the core of Zax’s fighting skills evolved from the bodily maneuvers, and to that there was a downside and an upside…
The drawback was that the bodily maneuvers’ objective was to foster one’s proficiency in kinetic energy utilization. Improving combat skill, helping to formulate a Martial art, those were nothing more than byproducts.
Fortunately, by cultivating the body along with practicing the bodily maneuvers, Zax acquired an additional byproduct, a near perfect control over his body that the cloaked woman could not even come close to compare. Most important, by now Zax could scratch the surface of the last bottleneck before breaking through to the Advanced phase of the bodily maneuvers. Such results allowed him to minimize the injuries he received at the cost of focusing only on evading.
‘I won’t be able to break through. Don’t rely on that. If I’m lucky, then after this fight…’ As the moment drew near, his mind became sharper and other than his aim, Zax started to perceive the benefits of giving everything he had while being in a perilous situation, all the accumulation of the past peaceful years that even the Martial competition could not bring him to comprehend.
The scythe cut his chest vertically and more blood was spilled as the scorching mist energy seared the flesh.
“How can your body be so durable? It’s damn frustrating! This game suck!” The cloaked woman complained. “Just wait, for being so irksome I’ll cut you a thousand times more even after I’ll kill you. Then, I’ll kill the two kitties. Or should I destroy their dantian and domesticate them? The dwarf, though, is too ugly even for a pet”. She downright dominated the battle, but at the same time…
‘Her defenses are getting lower, good!’
First signs of dizziness due to the loss of blood were hampering Zax’s movement. Still, he was fine with it since the cloaked woman saw it as his final struggling attempt and put less attention on him further retaliating.
The one sided battle spread through the Titan Kapok Trees, setting aflame the vegetation, cracking the earth, toppling trees.
‘Now!’ Zax put his plan into play.
Kinetic energy streamed to his split right arm and converged to Kinetic Force. More and more, Zax was incapable of using his arm to fight, but he could still feel it, still channel and control the kinetic energy and Kinetic Force in it. And when completely disregarding, treating it as an expendable tool rather than a limb, he could gather Kinetic Force above and beyond his limits!
The Kinetic Force gushed like a raging sea. In his physical domain Zax could postpone its explosiveness, however with his arm split, maintaining it from scattering was worse than swaying a full glass of water and hoping not to spill a drop.
In mere seconds Zax surpassed the maximum capacity of Kinetic Force that he could before it will be rampant.
Miniature booms echoed in the vicinity of his right arm, the Kinetic Force that leaked out despite his best efforts.
The sound was almost inaudible through the clashes of the scythe with the environment and the howls of the wind, but the explosions, as small as they were, created undulations in the air that were easily noticeable for an expert at the cloaked woman’s level.
Zax, whose body was sensitive to changes in the surrounding and was the source for the miniature booms, knew right away that he could not disguise his preparation for a counterattack anymore.
The cloaked woman’s attention was shifting to his right arm, and that was not allowed to happen, for his sake and his three companions. He kicked for her waist!
As expected, it was too obvious of an attack and once again he was blocked by the scythe’s shaft.
‘Now!’ He beseeched himself not to miss the opportunity and sent his split right arm in a whipping motion.
The cloaked woman knit her brows. There was no force in the kick like her weakling opponent’s previous attacks and that confirmed her belief that he is spent, yet an ominous sensation at the back of her mind bothered her. That is when she noticed the arm she cut in two about to hit her.
The cloaked woman spun her scythe. She could not be fast enough with the blade so she, again, used the shaft to block.
The shaft collided with Zax’s upper arm. It did not matter. In the instance of the attack he stored the Kinetic Force in his forearm and hand, which continued to twist like a whip and collide with the cloaked woman’s left shoulder.
She blacked out for a fraction of a second. When she came back to it, there was nothing left of Zax’s right arm, except from an expanding eruption of invisible force that carried her off of her feet like a rocket.
While uncontrollably being thrown into the distance, an acute pain caused the upper left side of her body to pulse and issue sounds of bones breaking and muscles tearing apart.
For kilometers she shuttled through the forest, through the trees and even after hitting the ground she kept rolling violently.
Zax’s entire body felt like it is about to collapse, never to get up again. Typically he could handle another round of “Soar With The Storm”, but to call the manner in which he executed it this time “reckless” was a colossal understatement!
He tried to move his body, to use this chance to run away. He was not sure in what condition the cloaked woman is, how resilient she can further is.
Taking half a step back, instead of finding his footing, Zax fell. Anything besides halting the blood flow was too arduous.
“You Greenhorn scoundrel, hurry, let me help you!” A voice from behind resounded in Zax’s ears.
Fengar supported his back, pushed him to stand up. “Come on, hold a little bit longer. Vouvik charging his roar to distract her, in case this monster of a woman will use her Soul Sense to deduce our path!”
Zax said nothing, he barely heard Fengar, anyway. Leaning on the small fellow that returned for him, he let him carry him away.
As the rushed to and through the darkness of the forest, from somewhere on a high place, a beam of fiery hues shot past the treetops and the nightly sky, as if it were a shooting star. And when it finally reached its target, a dome of fire erupted in crimson light, like the sun of dawn.