“Lieutenant General”, a young woman wearing a glowing armor and skinny black pants with golden strings entered the office and saluted to the man with the long combed red hair and big blue eyes.
Ever since news about the Event in Demirva Ridge were spread, Supreme Ruler of Kingdom Earth and Lieutenant General of the Blessed Army, Ariel Dauch, was summoned back to the army’s First Base, in case a confrontation with the other five powers would arose.
“What is it, Shiva?”
The young woman, Shiva, was exactly one of the Curators who guarded the pathway to New Earth at the time of Zax arrival to Ercas Mir.
As she stepped into the room, a consoling expression was plastered on her face, which caused Lieutenant General Ariel to knit your brows.
“Lieutenant General…” Shiva’s tone was hesitant. What she was about to relay to him was a subject of utmost care and importance to the Lieutenant General. “The youth you accompanied from New Earth, the Curator’s Mark I left in him perished”.
“Perished? Can you confirm the manner it happened?” Lieutenant General Ariel felt his heart sinking. Zax was a talented junior that in Ercas Mir was not different than a kin, moreover, one that he himself convinced to go to this dangerous world above ground. If something truly accrued to him that it was only natural for grief to set in.
“My apologies, Lieutenant General, I can only validate the coordinates and time where the mark perished. It happened in Demirva Ridge, not long after the black sky”.
“Leave”. Lieutenant General Ariel ordered that instant Shiva clarified the situation.
If she had least rephrased her words differently… using “vanished”, “disappeared”, “destroyed” instead of “perished”, all but the last one represented a small chance for him to believe that Zax might be still alive. Alas, she stuck to her choice of words; hence, there was nothing more he needed to hear from her.
“Yes, Lieutenant General”. Shiva saluted again and left, closing the door to the office behind her.
Lieutenant General Ariel’s finger knocked irritably on his desk as his head, with heavy heart, bent back and his clear eyes penetrated the ceiling of the office, or maybe it was his Sublime Soul Sense with which he viewed the gorgeous blue sky…?
“Forgive this senior, junior Zax”. He whispered. “Those waiting for you at home, senior will ensure their health and happiness, I pledge”.
It took the short and grumpy man four days of rest before waking up in the cave Zax found. At first he was confused and behaved disorderly. While his body fully healed, his soul still recovered from the trauma inflicted on it by Helev Hetra.
In the sixth day, Fengar showed hints of clarity and was willing to communicate with Zax, though only for a short while before resuming meditation.
Finally in the eighth day, today, Fengar was in optimal condition in both mind and body, thus finishing hearing Zax’s account of all that happened since he lost consciousness.
Suffice to say that the shock he felt when he learnt about Zax’s miraculous feat, the consumption of the unrefined dark attribute’s essence, was too overwhelming to respond with words.
Before listening to the lad, he had no idea that the dark attribute’s essence requires refinement as a prerequisite to being used. As such, he just secretly gloated when Zax told him how he cheated the scumbags from the five powers of the perfect dark attribute’s essence they pursued him for. But then, Zax got to the part where he felt an unbearable pain, describing it as a torture worse than being torn to pieces. Although his description was insufficient to emphasize the severity of pain, Fengar was not stupid. His age was worth more than a handful of complete non cultivator’s life times to understand the consequence of certain actions, more so when benefits are involve.
As the saying goes… nothing comes easy, unless you do it right.
As the telling of the extermination of the five powers’ members followed, the solicitous and profusely perspiring Fengar slowly dissipated, replaced by relief, then incredulity, then, as Zax extracted a bit soul and dark attribute pressure to prove his radical strength, utter astonishment!
“Take it”. Fengar shoved the dark attribute’s essence to Zax’s hand. “Don’t misunderstand; I want it, probably feel miserable for this decision, and for a long time, at that. However, I have no means to refine who know to whom to turn. If I’ll try to look then I have no doubt that eventually someone from the five powers will find me. I had hopes in the beginning that it would be like any other dark attribute’s essence, but this darn thing is far more complicated than I dare risk bargain for. The staggering amount of Splinters and pills… they, I can find someone reliable to examine and determined their medicinal effect. So keep the dark attribute’s essence”.
Fengar insisted on giving a full speech. The enticement for the dark attribute’s essence was something he could not hide, so to ensure Zax of his resolve he explained all of his reasons before the former could refuse him.
Not knowing how to refute him, Zax yielded and placed the dark attribute’s essence in his spatial ring. “Do you still desire to proceed with the trials?” He asked since for him passing the trials and returning to Xinia was of no significant use.
It was important to remember that while the five powers may think that the person known as “Zax Zel” of New Earth died, at least one of the five powers is aware of the extinct of the feral mercenary that came back from the dead, in addition to several untrustworthy mercenaries. Entering cities or clans before obtaining prior knowledge of his contemporary identity’s status would be too reckless regardless of how strong he became.
“Crossing the ridge with you repelling the wraiths sounds quite tempting, it would turn these rotten trials from the worst into the easiest I had ever taken”. Fengar sighed, evidently negating the idea. “It’s better that for the next couple of decades I will lower my profile. My face had become too recognizable… if others see me at the end destination of the trials, people’s minds will run wild; speculating that to survive that ordeal I probably stumbled on some good fortune. I rather avoid this situation. If Vouvik and Shouva will be okay with it, we’ll take the trials again in the distant future, it’s not like we have lack of Splinters, anyhow”. He cracked opened a self mocking smile, in his heart laughing at the greedy bastard that he was, who ignored years of experience for an extremely costly dream.
He and Zax destroyed the participation’s paper thin red certificates, officially forfeiting the trials’ assignment.
The duo exited the ridge not for from its midpoint, descending from a mountain not too distant from a clan where Fengar, Vouvik and Shouva could converge.
“Keep my communicator”, Fengar passed it to Zax.
Zax did not collect the communicator of the five powers’ members at the chance they have trackers. What he did not know was that even if he took them, their channels were still password protected.
“As long as you are on the lower part of the Western Continent, and we didn’t leave it, Vouvik will be able to locate your signal. At the first chance I’ll get I’ll buy a better one, maybe a communicator with a range that can cover the whole continent and some of the sea”. Fengar was eager. Communicator like the one he talked about had few other functions that a mercenary, or a person on the run, would find useful, so of course he was eager to purchase one.
“Hahaha, don’t worry, Vouvik, I’ll be fine. It is you that need to make sure Fengar won’t become a miser on you and Shouva. The amount of Splinters on him can pile up into a decent mountain, hahaha”. Zax chuckled and porously spoke outloud and communicated with his soul. With everything in order, with regards to the companions and friends he made in the trials, he felt happy and in a mood to tease the short man, whose fiery manner was gradually resurfacing.
“Hey, are you listening to me or nattering with Vouvik?” Fengar scowled. “Anyways, don’t say unnecessary things. Cheap? Ah! You can keep that box of crappy scrolls and articles Greenhorn Shouva gave you, I, generous great uncle Fengar, will buy for her Martial Mortal level quality goods! Tell me, do I sound like a miser now?!”
“Fine, fine”. Zax raised his arm and ended the conversation with Vouvik. “I’ll be going, then. Vouvik and Shouva will wait for you in the Nektral clan. Vouvik said that you know where to find them there”.
“Yes”. The joke was over, so Fengar nodded calmly. “The place you want to go-”
“Just a direction, so I can’t really tell you”.
The third Black Core… initially Zax assumed it would take time for him to break through the second realm of bodily cultivation so he could cultivate mist energy. The idea of gathering the remaining Black Cores was still far in the future. As circumstance changed and after having another lesson of the importance of personal strength while making enemies with the strongest forces in Ercas Mir, he did not want to postpone the assembly of Legacy Of The One’s Path.
“Very well”. Fengar said understandably, giving up on trying to persuading Zax to stay in the group for at least until the dust of the Event in Demirva Ridge to settle.
Fengar stretched up and placed a fist on the lad’s chest. “Take care of yourself”. He said, turned and left.
Several days later…
Sitting inside an abandoned giant nest, at the top of a Titan Kapok Tree, Zax wanted a change of scenery than the caves he typically secluded himself in.
‘I finished!’ Zax rejoiced. ‘It took longer than I thought, but the last bit of information about Legacy Of The One’s Path, left by the expert, is sorted out and deciphered!’ To comprehend the fragments of information he had to break through the second realm of bodily cultivation and since he did, the fragments slowly uncovered themselves on their own.
‘Potential heir’, the familiar voice of the expert echoed in his sea of consciousness. ‘Congratulation for achieving another step forward toward obtaining the qualification to cultivate Legacy Of The One’s Path. In contrast to what you may have hoped, in this last message there is not a lot that I plan to leave you with, just a few key points that you should not forget and shallow knowledge of the Immortal path’.
As Zax listened, his attentiveness increased the more he heard. Immortal path? Be it New Earth or Ercas Mir, wherever he went, Martial Mortals were the epitome of Martial cultivation and “Immortals” were just beings of legend, perhaps real only for the five powers.
‘An exceptional soul, that is what I bequeathed to you, not a condition but a necessity for cultivating Legacy Of The One’s Path. Strong body, tempered physique, without it you would have never been able to endure an Evolutionary Ascension of such level. Liquefied, raw Qi, the bottom of the barrel if matched to personally cultivated liquefied mist energy, yet pure and abstained from the flaws of mortal mist refinement techniques. When these three aspects are aligned, potential heir, what remain are two more conditions. The easy one, gather all four Black Core that I had left, combine them into one in your dantian. Then, lastly, the hardest condition to achieve, even in the endless *****, *l*in, Plains, their stars, all three Valleys… Perception and comprehension of all six bottlenecks of insights before the third realm, for there are two methods of Evolutionary Ascension, commonly reaching the Peak of mortality and arduously striving for a miracle, and transcending all six mortal tribulations, perfecting the mortal path, creating a worldly defying miracle yourself!‘