Once Debuk Jin and Ulvi stopped chasing Zax, he paid them no further heed. All hates and enmities he strived to put to the side than let them foster and eat at him when he was too weak to act upon them. Besides, up ahead was a tempest of ice and fire, none of which was directed at him, but attacks spawned randomly in short intervals and wherever. Going around it was also not an option, basically meant returning to his lingering pursuers’ hands.
A ball of flames the size of two storeys building shot past him, the heat radiating from it burnt the skin on Zax’s right side. ’That was too close; it looked like just an oversized fireball, but its temperature… The intent is much fiercer than when that bird came after me’.
These were no longer attacks aim at a minuscule nuisance such as Zax was in the eyes of the two Overlords, no! The two top Deformed Beings were exhibiting the epitome of their caliber with the intent of validating their sovereignty over the domain of sky and sea. As for the repercussion on the planet, naturally, they each were aware and when one delivered an excessive strike onto the other’s turf, the latter nullified it before harm could be done.
Zax channeled, little by little, dark attribute energy through his physique, to test the two Overlords’ response to his daring presence. Fortunately, they were disinterested in him, which elevated a portion of the stress. Without dark attribute energy magnifying his physical capabilities, passing through the tempest would have been impossible.
Darting, he executed a set of bodily maneuvers. These were not the six sequences of six hundred and fifty bodily maneuvers Grandmaster Kartion created and his Master, Kartius, altered to fit his different physique, nor did they were Zax’s own take on said bodily maneuvers or the byproduct of bodily mastering he gained by practicing the bodily maneuvers.
In this moment of dire straits, where his reliance on the dark attribute regarded each step forward as escaping certain death, Zax felt his sense of comfort growing by less moving with accordance to what he was taught by Grandmaster Kartion’s creation and more by following the natural flow of the worldly dark attribute energy. The result was the first attempt of formulating the initial set of dark attribute maneuvers.
Sliding, kicking, swinging, flipping, ducking, stretching and more… It was not like letting your body carry with the wind, kinetically, the dark attribute had its own unique nature. Every move that Zax performed felt like being painfully yanked by a multidirectional suction force from one position to another.
‘It meant to devour, compress and devour?’ Zax reflected on the little bit he knew about the dark attribute. ‘Am I supposed to compress myself? How am I supposed to do that?!’
Being the equivalent to a baby on this new frontier, advancement inevitable had to come in the appropriate pace. Moreover, Zax could not afford dividing his attention, the numerous worsening wounds he was receiving were the proof of that.
‘Concentrate, the other side of this tempest is within sight!’
It was not a long journey to take, but it sure was laborious one. Eventually, Zax managed to come through as he got out of the tempest’s range and weakly fell to the sea and rose above water, floating to whichever the waves would take him until he will regain some strength.
‘Beneath blue sky, atop blue sea…’ It was nice for a change to not worry about facing death at every turn of the way. Lifting his head up and watching the hazard zone getting farther and farther he felt relived for coming up with the idea of the dark attribute maneuvers, even if it was in its diapers.
‘If Martial brother Raroen had not been rush, this is the state he should have waited to grasp, instead of choosing an incorrect path. Master and Grandmaster, when I come back home, hopefully, will profit from my insights. And with the help of the dark attribute’s essence…’ He finished the thought with a scowl.
The injuries were bearable, but now that he was in the clear from all of those wanting to harm him, the feelings of embarrassment and indignation crept on him from the back of his mind, again forcing him to deal by pushing them aside.
It should be noted that the heart of a cultivator could sprout emotions much more intensely and less fickly than that of a non cultivator’s. It did not depend on age, but sole cultivation of the three aspects with which a cultivator’s experiences manifest increasingly richly. Prime examples of the effects of a cultivator’s heart typically seen in matters of love and hate. Though the differences between those at the Peak of the first realm and even those at the second realm and non cultivators are not that substantial, they are still there even in these stages. It is possible to examine through the lasting affection of cultivator companions and the extreme grudges of cultivator rivals, in comparison to similar situation relating to non cultivators.
Indeed, Zax’s current cultivation of the three aspects was disproportionate and his overall cultivation was still immature to be concerned with the consequences of rooting hatred. However, as he progresses on the Martial path he will someday have to arduously hone his heart to the state of rising above it or muster the dangerous resolve of following through his demoralizing feelings before they pollute him. Otherwise, should he succumb, recovering his serene and unwavering self will be costly, to say the least.
‘The Black Core is ahead of me by an undetermined distance… I wonder if tracking it will really get me to the Eastern Continent, or maybe an island along the way?’ Zax was curious about the largest patch of land in Ercas Mir. In the Western Continent he barely covered the lower half, Selivereb, yet discovered the invaluable treasure that was God made dark attribute’s essence.
Having used so much dark attribute energy and straining himself to stay alive, Zax closed his eyes. He was tired and to a level of measurement, safe. He fell asleep.
‘Is that?’ The sky was dark when he woke up. The period of his sleep has ended after a day and a half in which he allowed himself to indulge in the solace of good rest. ‘Wild Beasts?’
The kind of creatures that were akin to non cultivator humans in beasts’ term were copiously swimming together or alone, deep or near the surface of the water, as far as his Soul Sense could explore.
‘Selivereb’s forests were mostly populated by Deformed Beings, maybe if I went to some of the tribes and clans I would have encountered Wild Beasts’. The sight of them brought back childhood’s memories of the first trip he took with his big sister Zetsa to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave.
Breathing out, his body has fully recovered. Changing to a seated position atop the water, with the aid of dark attribute energy, Zax stared down and observed with all of his sense.
‘When in sea’, he realized by witnessing the abundance of life and beauty. ‘It is under the water where one should traverse’.
Diving, he propelled himself, shrouded by dark attribute energy, enjoying the scenery while sticking to the direction of the Black Core,
‘In this speed I’m bound the reach land in less than a day’. He gauged when suddenly he thought of something. ‘I can’t really tell the exact whereabouts of the Black Core, not from this distance. It also could be that I’ll found it someplace in the sea!’ Being a land dweller he just assumed, at first, that the Black Core must be also on land. ‘But if it made its way from New Earth, it should have been carried by someone, though that person could have died while traveling in the sea… forget it. I’ll know when I’ll find it’.
As he approached the sea floor, Zax was exposed to all kinds of interesting things, which in the past he only got to perceive via his Soul Sense… Weirdly looking Deformed Being, and not weak ones, like near the surface of the water, two scales and even a few young three scales, which was very much amazing. In Selivereb, not including the Four Wings Stork, he never saw three scales Deformed Beings. Those few three scales Deformed Being kept to themselves, seemed quite apprehensive of their surrounding and not at all territorial like the one and two scale Deformed Beings. Unexpectedly Zax found deposits of Earth’s Cores, high quality ones at that. He did not pick them up, however. There were also a small number of sighting of attribute essences, mostly icy attribute and in the form of solid glaciers hiding in under water caverns. Of course, there was also the mundane kind of interesting things, aged sunken ships, mesmerizing gems and even extraordinary looking Wild Beasts and Deformed Being that would fetch quite the sum in certain markets.
‘Something wrong!’ A sense of crisis washed over the charm of the underwater world. ‘The currents are changing’. They were numerous and for the most part subtle. He drifted one or two of them for a while, for they contributed to his speed, but now he had a bad premonition that he should not get close to them. ‘I can break free from their pull with little effort, regardless how strong it is. This bad feeling is due to something else’. The currents of the sea, wild and forceful as they were, had their limits when someone equivalent to third realm expert was involved.
Like an invisible water serpent, a wide current wiggled and whipped Zax, catching him unprepared and ripping the last shreds of white coat he was still wearing, now naked, again.
“What!” He shouted in astonishment as he was tossed several hundred meters with a stinging pain in his arm. Stabilizing and looking for the truculent current, to examine what in it packed so much force, Zax’s eyes bulged from their sockets.
Giant whirlpools emerged from nowhere. Disrupting his Soul Sense, he could only vaguely tell that the something that was in the current that struck him was also within the whirlpools in far greater magnitude.
Tumultuous voices of angry and scared creatures caused the seawater to vibrate from kilometers away and closer.
‘An expert!’ Zax discovered, as he had yet to decide what to do since the whirlpools were like a huge wall that stretched from north to south, from the bottom of the sea to what gave the impression of above the surface of the water.
“Zuilong, it’s another eruption! Lead everyone as close to the Emerald Cross as possible”. A beast that emanated third realm undulations and looked like a purple winged dragon with four muscular limbs and the size of seventy, eighty meters, shouted. Following its orders, a gold megalodon of an aquatic beast swum past its. Its blue aura released a mantle and wrapped with it around twenty figures, humans and beasts alike.
Same situation occurred in other places close to the wall of whirlpools, but were too far for Zax to be aware off.
In a remote part of the sea…
“I told you, Liminton, I told you! It’s either through the Emerald Cross or certain death!” A peevish Bin Bin clung as hard as he could to the gray fur of the fleeing Liminton. Alongside them were seven other humans and beast, familiar faces from Monivore city’s harbors, all escaping.
Though they set out later, by having it easy, in contrast to Zax, the two and their companions were well into the wall of whirlpools when it abruptly erupted.
“You all are bunch of idiots, dumbass, rotting brains!” Bin Bin cursed. “Who was that suggested to go through the Nidbuk Ocean? Saying it’s less dangerous?! Benni, you freaking moron, if we don’t enter the Emerald Cross it’s all the same!” Bin Bin berated and a blond haired man with bright bristles bit his lips and said nothing.
“Please, someone, help me recall. Who was it that said the Gentic Belt is traversable? It’s just swirling water that we can suppress together?! Zenkai, Nirik Je, Hason, you three are perfect specimens of the Common halfwit!”
A brown fox opened in discontent. “You are going too far, Bin Bin, crossing the Gentic Belt is doable, you saw it being done on the way, and it’s just our timing and luck-”
“Haaalfwit!” Bin Bin responded dismissively.
“Enough, Bin Bin, you agreed to follow and said nothing when we shelved the notion of a boat or a ship”. Liminton rebuked. Last thing he wanted is for their companion to gang up on his provocative junior.
“I agreed because you and Enderta didn’t leave me any other option, so…”
“So nothing! Otherwise, do you want us to bring up who was it that antagonized the Armored Squid for its ink when it was absconding, making come after us in the end, instead of listening to the rest of us when we had the opportunity to find refuge, like the other experts, till the Gentic Belt will settle down?”
“Yeah, Liminton, remind us please who was the insubordinate punk”.
“Do tell, Liminton”.
“I wonder, too”.
“It must be someone who deserves some good beating”.
“Let’s just say we all agree to kick that ‘someone’ ass”.
As everyone singled out Bin Bin because of his remark, Liminton felt for doing it to the youngest in the group who was also a sort of responsibility for him. “Well, Bin Bin, should we let things go or-”
“That is an inequitable denunciation and I’m not going to entertain it with justification”.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.