“Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!” A burst of intense flames erupted toward every direction, incinerating the vegetation into ashes in a radius of fifty meters.
Cattelin was in full blown rage as she failed to sense and find her spatial ring.
“The bastard must have stolen it! That was my SPATIAL RING! Everything I collected for the past twenty years! Darvajka, I want to kill them!”
She shouted and punched rays of scorching mist energy, looking more like a child having a tantrum while holding and shooting a gun, then an unruffled Advanced phase third level Core Master.
Darvajka was not far behind, standing, waiting for Cattelin to calm down.
Suddenly, his patient countenance changed and his forehead creased. “Cattelin, settle down immediately!” He berated. Using his Sublime Soul Sense, he compelled her to obey him.
“Darvajka, you dare to coerce me? F*** YOU, FISHBREATH! If I refused to postpone the task just so you will not miss your breakthrough, I want to see how you would have had the nerves to force me to submit!”
Having her staring at him venomously, Darvajka bitterly grimaced. Even before he broke through he was stronger than Cattelin, but as things are at the moment, he owes her a big time. Furthermore, with his debt to her cleared or not, she was his partner in this joint operation, and with this task being their overall sixth together, it was not just more difficult for him to handle her, but well aware that he should not even try.
“Hear me out, Cattelin”, Darvajka said and removed the oppression of his Sublime Soul Sense. “I was informed a moment ago, following up with the lists doesn’t matter anymore! Someone leaked the news about the slumber of the Demirva Ridge’s wraiths!”
“What!” Cattelin cried in alarm. “Was it those weakling Musclehead and cowardly kitties?!” The shock dealt her a slap of clarity.
If the news about the event were out because of Zax and the rest, then she will be blamed for negligence and definitely severely punished!
“I… Wait!” Darvajka did not answer right away as more information was transmitted to his communicator. “I don’t think so”. He finally said, permitting Cattelin a breath of relief.
“Then by who?”
“The news started to spread from the west, far from our location. The culprit suspected to be a participant or participants who done so out of spite and to create chaos for the Mercenary Association”.
Finishing receiving the new orders, Darvajka stopped paying attention to his communicator. “Come, we are heading to Demirva Ridge, the mission commence!”
He did not wait for her response and made the first move toward their destination.
Cattelin tarried for a bit before composing herself and closing in from behind. “What’s the plan? Are they going to send Martial Mortals?”
“Currently, undecided. You know that it would be a breach in the five powers’ mutual agreement. They should be debating it right now; they also have to take in consideration that bringing in Martial Mortals will put their main forces in immense risk! My breakthrough in the Violet Scaled Troops’ dominance was treated as a loophole in the agreement, which dispels half the problem and why the Grand Admiral approves my ongoing stay in the joint operation”.
Up on the summit of a crude looking, kilometers tall mountain.
“Hahahahaha! Someone went and did it, hahahaha!” A strong, vigorous voice echoed in jubilation and brimming presence. “The cunning Martial Association issued a fairly simple assignment in the second level trials just to distance us, loose Martial Mortals. Who would have thought that sitting this time’s trials out will end up being more beneficial! They spent so many resources into getting our attention and making things easy to pass the trials, hahahahaha! Now everything will collapse on their deceitful heads, hahahaha!”
Inside a star shaped bus size aircraft.
“Sister Beatriz, which of the five powers you think already knew about the upcoming event?” A young lass wearing a sliver robe with a metal plate embedded with the words “Luminous Church” on her small chest, asked the middle aged woman, Sister Beatriz, who sat next to her.
The two were sitting on plump seats inside the extravagant interior of the star shaped aircraft.
Sister Beatriz’s garments were quite the same as the young lass, the differences were in the golden color of her robe and the head covering that revealed only the features of her poised face.
“Mm…” Sister Beatriz mused. “I presume that the Mercenary Association had to share the predication with either the Blessed Army or the Violet Scaled Troops, and our missionaries on ground reported odd movement of the Blessed Army’s side… Sister Iaura, without a proper investigation, that is all I can say”.
The young lass, Sister Iaura, leaned with her back sinking into the backrest of her seat. “It doesn’t matter, we have Sister Beatriz accompanying us. I’m not afraid of anyone when Sister Beatriz is by my side”.
“Hahaha”, a juvenile, male laughter from a sit at the front of the star shaped aircraft rang in amusement. “My darling, Sister Iaura, you are not afraid of anyone when Sister Beatriz is by your side, but are you even familiar with the prospect of ‘Fear’ when I’m around?”
“Definitely not! Definitely not, Your Young Eminence!” Sister Iaura hastily straightened her stature from the laidback posture on the seat and waved her arm.
“Your Young Eminence, please do not tease Sister Iaura, she is still just a postulant. Her comprehension of Your Young Eminence is still lacking“. Sister Beatriz said in a calm and soothing manner.
“Hahaha, Sister Beatriz, what I said is not wrong, but completely and utterly right! The Almighty graced our Luminous Church with this magnificent blessing. Wretched are those who affront me, be they Peak expert of the second realm or Martial Mortals, like you, hahaha”.
Quiescent on a bed of burning coals.
“So it’s that folktale that created all the commotion…” A robust voice growled out of the muscular throat of a blue scaled, one meter and eighty centimeters long, Pink Eyes Agama. It then proceeded to respond to the transmission it just received. ‘If you reach a deal with the other four powers and intend on dispatching me alone, then so be it. But, I want a portion of the dark attribute’s essence’.
Through a heavy, nighttime rain within the Titan Kapok Trees.
“Should we slow down?” Fengar glanced back at Zax, who maintained a low pace for the past hour or so.
“No. My body is in the process of healing. It won’t take long for me to get as fit as I can be with a severed arm”.
The two leaped from one giant branch to the next, covered by raincoats.
Zax had to borrow his own from Fengar. Underneath he wore his tunic and underneath that he kept only the bandages on his right shoulder. His condition was worse than he let on or even realized before deciding to proceed with the assignment. To be injured by both continuous use of Soar With The Storm and Cattelin’s scythe took a great toll from his body.
Fengar was, naturally, not convince by Zax’s words of assuredness. He could gauge his physical state by comparing it to the condition it was when he picked him up after the fight with Cattelin. He did get better in an inconvincible rate, but he merely recovered fifty, maybe sixty percent from what he exhibited in the fight.
Slowing down to match his speed, Fengar said. “By morning we will get to the ridge, better we’ll each take a Linder Seed now, to keep our awareness up not just from the wraith, but other participants who lurks at the outskirts of the ridge or even members of the five powers and Mercenary Association”.
“Are you worry that they will want to ambush us? What would be the point?”
“If I were in their shoes… I would seal the cultivation of those I can catch and dispose of them as decoy after extracting the dark attribute’s essence or at any other dangerous occasion”. Fengar explained insouciantly.
“That’s cruel, but smart. If someone will attack us… and won’t be a hassle to carry around, we might as well show the same courtesy”. Zax was not a bad person, he will not bother with those who done him no wrong, but those who will underestimate him will surely regret it.
His response made Fengar grin. “I was afraid that you’ll disapprove. Greenhorn Shouva definitely would not have agreed to it”.
“Wait”. Zax stopped Fengar from extracting that Linder Seed dark attribute’s essence. “To be on the safe side, let’s each take one of these”.
Zax retrieved from the spatial ring, which he kept in one of the compartments of his utility belt to avoid prying eyes, the thin box of Linder Seeds he received from Xinia. The Blue Stone he still kept in a different compartment – for some odd reason, trying to place it inside the spatial ring felt like pulling at nothing.
“These are…!” The moment the Linder Seed fell onto Fengar’s palm, his expression turned aghast. “The potency of this Linder Seed, Zax… where did you obtained it?!”
“You do remember that I’m the Sensensar’s envoy in this High Rankers’ trials, right?”
From Zax’s reminder, Fengar understood and sighed. “Even though, from what I can tell, this Linder Seed is sixty percent, could be higher, more potent than the common ones I bought”.
“Eighty percent is what I was told“.
“Eighty!” Fengar nearly lost his footing on a slippery branch and had to recompose himself again before falling. “That way beyond what we could hope for, Zax. We are not talking about efficiency, but a whole other category”. He felt compelled to explain due to Zax’s chilled mien. “Each of my common Linder Seeds takes around thirty seconds to construct a protective barrier around the soul. And that protective barrier is said to withstand no more than one or two wraith’s soul attacks. But this…” He clenched his fist around the Linder Seed in his hand, as if to prevent it from disappearing by divine intervention. “If it was only eighty percent more efficient, than there would not have been anything for us to talk about. However, eighty percent potency… Although its dark attribute’s essence pale in comparison to the one in the Demirva Ridge’s folktale, with it, I estimate that it would take less than ten seconds for the barrier to form, and it should be able to endure seven, eight wraith’s soul attacks!” Closing his speech with that, Fengar could not resist anymore and voraciously consumed the Linder Seed’s dark attribute’s essence.
Zax followed suit and after eight seconds could feel and see the sealed, tube like barrier around his soul. ‘This thing is truly amazing! If I’ll try to break it I gather that not even thirty soul attacks will be enough!’
A point that Fengar missed was that although the barrier of the Linder Seeds, no matter which type, is not everlasting, at the chance that nothing will go wrong, it will take a month for the ones currently constructed around their souls to deteriorate.
“We are couple kilometers from the ridge. From now on don’t use your Soul Sense, apart from alerting the experts in the vicinity, the wraith might notice it and awake prematurely from their slumber”.
The sky was masked by layers of dark clouds. Occasionally, a lightning would strike and thunder would rumble.
The beginning of what appeared as an endless, desolate mountain range was at sight.
The two halted their advancement and found concealment in the foliage of a Titan Kapok Tree.
“The downpour will supply a cover for all of those who wish to enter Demirva Ridge, though I’m certain that some astute experts will still try to ambush whoever enters”. Fengar asserted in a serious tone.
The ruthlessness of the assignment was no longer just a notion, but a short distance from them. Fengar’s vehement personality was mindful of it and submerged, replaced by a cool headed approach.
“Being a bodily cultivator, my senses are several folds more heighten than other who can match me in strength”. Zax stated confidently. Nonetheless, he was not overconfidence. There were beasts that in their animalistic forms could rival his sharp senses even without being bodily cultivators. “We won’t be easily caught off guard”.
“Regardless, we will remain vigilant. Our first goal should be to cross the ridge and complete the assignment. Harvesting dark attribute’s essence from wraiths will depend on whether we are lucky and… resolute, should the opportunity arise”.
“Fighting in the ridge will jeopardize everyone’s intentions”. Zax said. “The only chance to cope with us is now. Similarly, the best time to enter the ridge is also during this hindering weather”.
Fengar shook his head. “The ridge is vast and there are hundreds of roads from here to its other side. Although it’s inadvisable, with the enticement of the dark attribute’s essence, fights are bound to happen”.
“This is still our ideal time to move. With every passing moment, the chances of someone interrupting the wraiths’ slumber are increasing, along with our chances to encounter exasperated wraiths…”
Zax’s view may have sounded rash, yet he was correct in some aspects of their situation and Fengar did not refute him.
Squinting, Fengar examined the vista of the ridge’s direction.
He turned to Zax. “Can you run fast? Faster than your speed on our way here, and without making noise?”
It was a sensible question, which is why Zax did not get angry by it and simply nodded.
“Then let’s go. It’s my first time in Demirva Ridge, so we can select a random road once we are in the mountain range”.
The two moved like gales of wind, blending with the stormy weather. As Fengar silently relied on Zax’s assuredness in his senses and the latter indeed vaguely locating hidden presences, with some also noticing him.
They swiftly traversed the last hundreds of meters, past the last tree and the base stone of the first among numerous bleak mountains that made out Demirva Ridge.
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