“You are not my Tal or apprentice, so ‘Senior Gid’ or my whole name ‘Gid Chu’ is acceptable. This is how big brother Ariel told you to refer to him, might as well do the same with me”. Former Supreme Ruler Gid Chu Takeda exuded no air of haughtiness as one who grew up learning about the feats and temperament of his or her exalted founder would expect. In fact, he also did not have an iota of a cultivator’s air to him, just the impression of a middle aged man at his early forties who still retained some of his youthful features.
‘Supreme Ruler Gid Chu Takeda!’ Even if his life was on the line and he had to scream every name that he could scrap from his mind, Zax would have never assumed that the leader of Sinister Chain is actually former Supreme Ruler Gid Chu Takeda. His mood suddenly turned foul and he glared at Zechariah and Linor, his eyes demanding: ‘Could you not have freaking told me?!’
The duo averted their gazes, truthfully were kind of anticipating his shock, more so because in the short span of time that passed since their first and last meeting he managed to surpass all their rigorous cultivating by an outrages margin.
As for their initial response to former Supreme Ruler Gid Chu Takeda… they pretty much reacted the same way. Linor’s composed and cool demeanor faltered and her mouth opened wide enough to fit a bundle of Earth’s Cores while the mannered Zechariah nearly s**t himself shouting “Founder? You are alive!” Apparently it is some sort of well kept secret in the family…
“Varinka, Havreim, Linor, Zechariah, return to the hotel”. Gid Chu dismissed them and then gestured for Zax to enter the courtyard and inside the cottage.
“Elder Master-” Varinka opened.
“Leave”, he interrupted her attempt to sway him otherwise. “Your duties are unattended”. Gid Chu reminded, calm and patient, sending them off like a father rather than teacher or superior.
“Elder Master, everything Rockwell and Riv said is true”. Giant Havreim said.
“Of course it is”. Gid Chu nodded and with that stopped paying attention to his four apprentices. “Let’s get inside”. He turned to Zax. “Currently everyone is out, so we can have peace and quiet while enlightening each other. There is good coffee, too”.
The cottage was spacious, consisted of a large room, right after the entrance, that most of its space was overtaken by the living room and the rest, the northwest corner, was the open kitchen. Two bathrooms, a laundry room, a storage room and four bedrooms were evenly divided beyond the east and west hallways.
“You wonder why I picked this place to stay in?” Gid Chu read Zax’s inquisitive expression. “It’s not our headquarters, far from it. Take it as a temporary resident randomly chosen”.
“Senior Gid”, the many things Zax wanted to ask him about amounted to too much that his pick of residency was barely at the bottom of the list. “Why did Senior Ariel say nothing about you here, moreover being the leader of the five powers’ number one opposing organization?”
“Would you like to join Sinister Chain?” Gid Chu asked in return, “I mean, it was not why big brother Ariel sent you up here, if it was he could let big sister Trey handle your affairs, making sure you understand, but the five powers think now that you are dead and we already met. Ultimately we share the same goal, the betterment of our fellow New Earth’s citizens. Why not work together, then?” He pulled a chair for Zax to sit on by the round table at the back of the living room and turned to the kitchen, where he used a grinder to grind dark brown, slightly reddish, coffee beans he took from a jar that sat on the countertop.
Zax smelled the rich aroma of the ground coffee. He was not a fan of the bitter beverage, never got the chance to drink enough to get accustomed to the flavor, but he appreciated the scent.
He realized that Gid Chu was serious with his offer and addressed him on equal footing, his pick, perhaps because Zax was not his apprentices and he acknowledged his accomplishments in Demirve Ridge, not to mention his level of strength from recounts of Rockwell, Riv and Linor.
Thinking about the pair and remembering that he still possess inside his Blue Stone the hexagonal token with two letters printed on it in Netherling, ”S.C” Rockwell gave him following the invitation to join Sinister Chain, Zax also recalled the same reckonings he made back then for either becoming part of a criminal organization or a Geared mercenary band.
“I’m not good with taking orders”. He wanted to negotiate his terms of service. Requests were one thing and being constantly told what to do was another, against the nature he fostered growing up around more beasts than humans.
Gid Chu washed and wiped two small cups. “And working in a group? Have you ever been part of a group working for mutual purpose?” He causally inquired.
“I can work with other. I did”.
“Then you always were the leader, remarkable”.
Zax frowned. Was he being mocked?
Following the silence of a lack of response, Gid Chu glanced at him while pouring the steaming dark liquid to both cups. “Being a loner is fine and dandy, but then what does it has to do with your disposition toward orders?” He carried the cups, each on a small wooden saucer, served Zax his and sat down. “There is no contract to sign or an oath you have to make. Heck! Looking at you, I cannot even buy you with our resources. That is, besides the thing you took, or rather its content…”
“You know?” Zax was surprised. Not that Gid Chu was informed of the Blue Stone he stole, but what inside of it and its usage. He thought it belonged to the so called “Second Master”.
“Hahaha”, Gid Chu laughed, choosing not to elaborate, and returned to the original subject. “Would you mind if I’ll tell you in the form of an order to save a life?”
“Of course not”, or more accurately he would not care, since if the subject was someone who did not deserve to die and was nearby, then he would have helped regardless what others told him and in what manner.
“What about taking a life to save a life?”
For now he decided not to force the issue of the Blue Stone, partly at the chance Gid Chu would forward it toward the absent Second Master. “You won’t have to tell. I don’t particularly like seeing innocents suffer and don’t overthink killing evildoers”. In his book, the innocents were mostly non cultivators hoping for peaceful life, a concept he unconsciously associated with his parents, extended family and friends.
“Lastly, should I order you to search for a name, follow the person, acquire the information and clean all evidence that you were ever present, all for the sake of New Earth, humans and beasts alike, would you refuse it?”
‘This is ridiculous’. Zax thought, knowing exactly what Gid Chu was coercing him to say. “Where did you send them, Zechariah and the others? What are they doing?” He reached for his cup, mimicking Gid Chu he held it by the handle, as to not get burn nor would he but this was common custom. As expected, it was bitterly offensive to his tongue and when he sniffed the aroma from right under his nose its richness turned pungent. In retrospect, most unexpected was that the coffee did not have any special properties. Inwardly Zax wondered why he assumed that the coffee Senior Gid, former Supreme Ruler of Kingdom Earth, serve him would be something rare that only cultivators can drink. ‘Did I indulge myself with too much of the Deformed Being meat Havreim ordered?’ He barely ate, but in recent months it was the largest meal he had…
“You have to be a member of Sinister Chain to get exact details”. Gid Chu remarked as a reminder. “They are somewhere in a more populated area of the city, lying in wait till further orders, which importance they fully recognize”. He added the last part despite not being asked for their opinions.
“Then this is something I cannot do. Senior Ariel wanted me to follow the steps of my predecessors, those sent to explore the world above ground, but I’m sure he truly intended for me to actually investigate the five power and just was not able to be explicit about it due to some sort of limitation. He stated that an oath was involved. Anyway, I have my own way of going about it and resting in place not it”. He was blunt. If he was the same young man who first laid his eyes on the most exalted figure he grew up to believe exists, he probably would have had a lot less spunk and expressed himself more meekly.
For a long while, after hearing Zax, Gid Chu preoccupied himself in a concentrated sip of hot coffee. He was hard to read, always seeming placid, maintaining an air of hospitality.
“I gather you are not interested in our Companion’s Link formation?”
It was painly obvious. Gid Chu just wanted to clear it for certain out of the way, but Zax was so direct that he felt a tad disgruntled. ‘Brat, can you comprehend how sought for this formation is and the figure who created it?!’ Naturally, he did not reveal it.
“Then it settled”. He declared out of the blue with an approving smile as though they made an agreement Zax was unaware of.
“What’s settled?” Zax uncomfortably shifted in his seat, leaning a bit forward. He was not worried about Gid Chu imposing something on him, and if he was someone else then he would not have even batted an eyelash, but the man still was a hero of childhood, an elder who reshaped history. Without his involvement there is one third chance he never would have been born. So of course he will feel a level of shame and embracement, should he deny him.
“Of course, that you shall join Sinister Chain!”
“As an outside contractor”.
“Outside what?” Zax was confused. He knew what an “Outside contractor” is, but was taken aback that the supposed most notorious criminal organization has an acceptance policy for odd recruits.
“This way it will be easier for you and me”. Gid Chu began to explain as well as narrate the state of affairs. “In the organization I’m known as ‘Elder Master’ or ‘Leader’. I share the leading post with another, a beast cultivator from Valgarel, referred to as ‘Second Master’ or ‘Second Leader’. You can say that the both of us established Sinister Chain. Currently we have seventy four members, including myself, divided into three groups: First are New Earth’s natives, such as me, Second Leader Yurnal and your acquaintances… Seconds are descendants of New Earth’s immigrants, basically sons and daughters of older generation members who were born in Ercas Mir. Last are Ercas Mir’s natives, with no bloodline connation to New Earth, like Rockwell and Riv that you met in Demirva Ridge”. Gid Chu kept holding his cup in one hand, the saucer in another and In between sentences drank his coffee. “All seventy four members are direct operators of the organization, as the seventy fifth you will be the sole outside contractor. The downside is that you will enjoy less of the resources, which doesn’t seem to be a loss… the upside is that you will have the ability to accept or refuse tasks and accomplish them without interference, though I do expect a flawless success rate, since you insist on working alone. Is that fair?”
“Yes”. Zax agreed.
“Hahaha”, as if struck by a amusing thought, Gid Chu laughed in satisfaction, postponing further proceedings. “Anyway, now you should feel relived”.
“Yes? For what?” Zax had achieved nothing yet, merely joined Sinister Chain.
“Why of course, despite big brother Arial’s doubts on the matter, us in Sinister Chain already obtained the results of the task he hope you, many before you and those sent after, will accomplish”.
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