They were flying above Sanctum Oasis city, Zax on his own while Linor and Zechariah utilized a duel technique in addition to extending their mist energy around Savir and Yimin. They intended to find a remote place for Linor to teach Zax, somewhere in the more secluded parts of the city.
They landed on a patch of sandy land, where one to two storey houses stood vacant. Before being abandoned thoroughly, this distanced small neighborhood was recently part of the city’s slums. Nowadays, its former residents either moved to areas closer to the center of the city or converged in parts with more available public utilities. Now, unless the mayor’s office will sanction a project to reform the neighborhood, it is only a matter of time before some rich tycoon will demolish it and build a resort or something in its place.
“We don’t have to use mist or attribute”. Linor stated, meaning that since they will not produce fluctuations, no attention would be drawn to their activity.
She and Zax proceeded a bit farther, toward a square with a monument of some desert bird type beast. Meanwhile, Zechariah found a shade for him, Savir and Yimin under the cover of an old restaurant.
“Lenrah said that she will come early noon to the hotel…” Savir reminded Zechariah. He and Linor were supposed to stay with her for the night and morning since Lenrah and Duthur had something to do which they did not elaborate in front of her.
“We will be back by then”. Zechariah assured her. He used a gale of mist energy to cool the air. “You and nephew Yimin shouldn’t stay cramped day by day until Second Master’s return”. He retrieved a basket with foods and drinks Savir prepared before their departure.
Although they did not expect anything amiss to happen if they left them at the hotel, Zechariah and Linor decided to bring the pair of mother and son along. She was the young human wife of their beast Second Master and he was the miraculous tot born from the unification of two species. Such birth was the rarest in Ercas Mir and unheard of in Kingdom Earth.
From prior instances of both species’ child that were publicized, it came to light that should the mother be the human, the child will retain a human form until adulthoods and only then will develop mild animalistic features. As a cultivator, the child’s innate talent would be determined by the type of beast the father was.
Should the mother be the beast, the child will look like a variant of her species and inherent her type as a beast. When the child will cultivate to human form he or she will share great similarities to their human father and his affinities on the Martial path, depend on his level of cultivation.
Hence, after Zax brought attention to the former residence of the mother and child, Zechariah and Linor, as well as the other four, agreed to safeguard the pair from close proximity until Yarnus will return.
“Follow my directions”. Linor told Zax and began to execute a set of foot technique.
Zax mimicked her movement step by step as they both only used their physical strength. Though at first the form of her technique appeared basic, it took no time for Zax to discover that Linor did not provoke the most minuscule of ripples in the air. It was as if she moved through a parallel dimension with her reflection noticeable, only because she allows it. Another extraordinary aspect of her foot technique was its short distances speed. Despite having to maintain extreme softness when stepping on the ground, Zax felt that should he go all out it can produce speed equivalent to the best his body can reach with no other supplements.
‘But there are drawbacks in her foot technique’. Zax thought and believed that Linor also was aware. ‘The movements are too intricate. Keeping them up for a long period of time will put a strain on the leg muscles. Being a bodily cultivator is an advantage in this case. The other problem, or maybe I ask for too much…’ He knew. ‘Unlike the bodily maneuvers, even the old ones, this set of foot technique cannot contribute to cultivation and unless I wanted to change my style, I would have been better off sticking to the bodily maneuvers’.
Twenty minutes passed and Linor finally halted, drenched in sweat.
Looking at her from afar, Zechariah creased his brows. In the end she demonstrated for Zax one of her advanced technique, rather than something basic. ‘You are too considerate’. His countenance resumed its calmness. ‘There will come a day when I’ll make your inner self feel safe appearing on the outside’.
“You are a bodily cultivator”. Linor told Zax as a matter of a fact. Unlike her, much less a drop a sweat, even his breathing was stable. “Practice this set of foot technique. It can be helpful both in and out of the stage”.
“I will. Thanks”. Zax was pleased. Now that he was clear on two things, appearance and movement only one remained, assault. “Should I get a weapon?”
“No”. Linor disgraced the gratitude and answered. She settled her breath and asked. “What do you think are the two most important things in my profession?” She refrained from saying anything related to the word “assassin”. Savir was peacefully sitting within an earshot and though he was still too young, Yimin could blabber his first word any moment.
Zechariah erected a mantle and blocked its fluctuation from spreading.
They could speak freely.
“Not getting detected and making a swift kill”.
“No”. Linor shook her head. “Staying alive. Assassins don’t die for others’ reasons or causes, soldiers do. It’s best if you don’t get detected and better if you kill the target unobstructed, but if these two points are annul, what left is deciding whether to escape or proceed to frontal confrontation. Since you plan to go on a stage, Assassins’ frontal confrontation is the method of fighting you need to know and having a weapon is a matter of preference”.
“Can you teach me a barehanded Martial art?”
“Not in forty minutes, or a day. The foot technique I showed you is enough, if you employ it correctly. For attack you just need to memorize three rules. First, restrain your killing intent and be a part of the surrounding even if you are in plain sight on a flat stage with nowhere to hide. It creates an unsettling atmosphere, if done right. Second, be deceive, aim for the kill in each blow. It’s not about investing all your strength, but using sufficient amount of it for the attack to go through. Third, evade instead of defend. Let your opponent assume that despite being a bodily cultivator you lack in defense, and then give them an opening to wound you and in exchange take their life”.
Thinking of her fighting style, Zax wondered how Linor apply these rules in assassinations. He did not ask.
“I’ll not show you how to combine the three rules in a fight, there won’t be a need if you grasped them and have the capacity to visualize yourself in fighting scenarios, but I did say an hour so I am willing to give you pointers”.
Zax raised his hand and smiled. “Thank you, Linor, but if it’s just that I’ll manage the rest on my own”.
Zechariah removed the mantle. “It’s not ‘just that’, it’s ‘just enough’, for what you need. If you finished we should return”.
“I won’t be coming with you”. Zax said. “There is time before I’ll have to make my appearance in the Elite Tryouts and I kind of like to return home”.
“To Kingdom Earth?” Both Zechariah and Linor were taken aback, though on the latter it less showed.
“Right”. Zax nodded. “I gave my word to my loved ones that I won’t roam the world above ground longer than two years. Preparation for the Elite Tryouts interlocks with my appointed date of return home”.
“You’ll have to run it by with Elder Master”. Zechariah reminded.
“Only because I agreed for taking the mission. I neither need help to enter the passageway home nor am I full fledged member of the chain who must get senior Gid’s permission for every little thing. My agreement with was that I’ll join while retaining the privileges of an outside contractor”. It was not a secret, nor a decision that would be difficult for Zechariah and Linor to understand, which is why Zax was open about it. “But of course I’ll inform him, even if I did not accept the mission”.
Zechariah sighed inwardly. Till now, as much as he was sure about Zax as a worthy compatriot, considering his history, he was not sure how Zax will respond to authority.
“At least you’re sensible. Moreover, the five powers think that you are dead. You’ll have to conceal yourself and ensure that those you’ll see won’t divulge your return”.
“I know“. Zax said as a sudden, inauspicious feeling dawned on him. “Were my parents and everyone in Kingdom Earth told that I died?”
His severe reaction made both Zechariah and Linor hesitate about their next words.
“We don’t know”. Linor said. “Elder Master might. We heard that it was senior Ariel who handled your affairs-” She barely finished the sentence and Zax already vamoosed as a black streak, faster than they could only dream to catch up.
Gid Chu was waiting outside the cottage. If his Sublime Soul Sense did not detect Zax approaching, than the unbridled dark attribute’s fluctuation gave him the indication that a second meeting about to occur with the new recruit.
Reading Zax’s expression, Gid Chu held back the frown and waited for him to descend and speak his heart.
“Do they think that I died?”
“They do”. Gid Chu said solemnly as it took him a fraction of a second to interpret Zax’s meaning.
“I’m going back, now! They need to know that I’m alive, they must! I’ll return to for the Elite Tryouts” It was not a subject for debate. Gid Chu will have to rely on him while he will have to fathom the consequence of the five powers finding out that he is alive.
“I’m counting on you”. Gid Chu said and when Zax was already too far for him to hear him. ‘See me before the tryouts’. His sent via the communicator.
“Are you mad?! Retract your fluctuation or he will enter a craze state again!”
“Who is that? The attribute fluctuations issuing from him are insane but there are no mist fluctuations. Bodily cultivator?”
“Dammit, don’t drag us with you!”
The moment Zax entered the Earthly Crater a cluster of angry cultivators berated him in subdued voices. Sadly, in spite of recent enlightenment that improve his understanding and accomplishment in the dark attribute, Zax still could cross the Seer Don Ocean or Nidbuk Ocean through the undersea wall of whirlpools or above sea gravitational force without risking it, and he did not want to waste time due to a peril. Thus, he could only turn to the Earthly Crater.
“Grrr!” An ominous snarl reach Zax’s ear and a sense of instant death swept him.
‘The Horned Eel!’ He momentarily halted, then clenched his teeth, transformed to the second stage of the Dark Titan Storm form and proceeded across the third ring, unconcerned by when the Overlord of the sea finished its stalemate with the Four Wings Stork, its current temperament or what happened to those who broke his decree by going past the second ring. ‘Don’t aggravate me further!’ He dared not expose his thoughts, but was ready to act upon them, should the need arise and no other choice will be.
“ROAR!” The Horned Eel howled but remained situated in the first ring, presumably guarding or keeping it to itself.
The spectating experts were both aghast and relived. The Horned Eel was not infuriated, but the passing young expert insight to the dark attribute was in an unfathomable level!
“Humph!” Zax snorted after exiting the Earthly Crater and returning to his normal form. He could not maintain it if he wanted to be at peak condition if he will encounter a problematic enemy. Nevertheless, the days it will take him to arrive to New Earth, whoever stands in his way will not be spared!
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