Late afternoon. The family consisted of Zax’s parents, grandparents and sisters put aside all unrelated business they had and were idly enjoying each other company in the farm until their beloved son, grandson and brother would return.
“Mm…” Liz mused with a smile while putting her elbows on the picnic table and holding her cheeks up.
“What is it, sweetheart? Do you want me to cut you into squares another watermelon?” Noticing the youngest of her grandchildren daydreaming blissfully, Grandma Shi Oh tried to bribe her into telling her, as she eats, what is on her mind.
“No, grandma”. Liz shook her head and straightened up. “Mom, I want to go to school tomorrow!”
“Eh?” Both Laylen and Marco, who were walking, sometimes just standing and mostly viewing the visage of the farm, were surprising upon hearing Liz yelling and the content of her words. A second later they understood why the sudden exaltation and nodded happily.
“I’ll help you prepare you bag when we get home”. Laylen said. She was far more excited than Marco as it first came to her mind that she rather have her youngest daughter go to school than journey with her big sister to the beasts’ territory. Before she will go to sleep tonight and tomorrow morning, though, she will have to remind her once more to keep the fact that Zax is alive a secret.
A figure dashed from within grandpa Ger’s and grandma Ney’s house. Zetsa stood on the lawn with a frown on her face. “This basted spied after her, again!” She muttered angrily.
“Big sis”, Liz jumped from her seat. “Tomorrow I-”
“Mom, dad, grandma, get inside with Liz”.
Marco, Laylen and grandma Shi Oh confusedly stared at Zetsa as they slowly registered her words, actions and countenance.
“Enter the house”. Marco came back to his senses. He pulled Laylen after him and together they helped grandma Shi Oh and Liz to follow them in without delaying.
Short minutes after the door to the house was closed and Zetsa remained the only one outside, a long, golden vehicle, accompanied by another, black, larger vehicle, drove to the farm and parked at its front.
The backdoor of the golden vehicle opened and a gorgeous man who looked just as old or young as Zetsa exited the vehicle, while the driver along with whoever was in the black vehicle stayed put.
“Why are you here, Grent?” Zetsa stared at him like a predator leering at another predator who invaded its territory.
Grent shut the vehicle’s door. His eyes surveyed the surrounding as if searching for something, before landing on Zetsa. “Beastwoman”. He whispered in a voice only he could hear. “You know why I’m here”. He was not about to play around.
The first and last time he took the woman in front of him for granted, he came to learn that though both of them are second level Core Masters, when her cultivated physic is added to the mix even an Intermediate third level Core Master will find it difficult to suppress her. Fortunately, for this trip he managed to prepare in advance support, at least as escorts riding in the black vehicle, in the form of two figures from the family that together can give a headache to any Intermediate third level Core Master who confronts them.
“Oh, I do indeed know. But you know what, this time it’s only a secondary issue”. Hints of blazing and freezing mist energy oozing from Zetsa’ body revealed the hastiness in which the exchange of few words could escalate to a fight. “You actually dared to bring your goons to my family’s property!” There were not Soul Sense obstructing formation on the black vehicle and she obviously did not miss the chance of observing who is behind the blackened windows.
Grent creased his brows. He was not a mere scion of a high class family, nor a graduate of just top Martial school. To his name was one of the great families of Shitou and his Mor was a reputable teacher of none other than Crescent Arms, one of the three best Martial schools in Kingdom Earth. Nevertheless, his family, great as it was, and is Mor, lofty and mighty as she was, all warned him of the power behind Zetsa, a younger woman than him who never enrolled to school other than pre Core one, and her family, save from her deceased freakish brother, was the most common a middle class could be.
Detecting the discreet sign they instructed Grent to use only at the chance that a battle might occur, the black vehicle’s backdoors opened and from each side of it came out the two figures.
They both appeared as middle aged man and woman. The black haired, brown skinned man wore a red robe while the tallest, blond haired, brown skinned woman wore an everyday jeans and tight sleeveless shirt.
“How long is it going to be, Grent. I told you that I have plans for today and your uncle also wants to return to his meditation”. The blond, tall woman feigned an irritate demeanor and excuse for her and the black haired man to exit the vehicle.
“Forgive me, aunty Navida. Soon I’ll be told what I want and we’ll be on our way”. Grent said apologetically and turned to Zetsa, less amiable. “You misunderstood. These are my uncle and aunt. Both are great expert of my family and I simply wanted to introduce them to Anet. If either of them see what I see in her agree to receive her as a Tal it would be far better fortune for her than staying the Tal of Eden Formation’s school principal”. His expression turned somber. “But that’s none of your business, and though I’m reluctant to drag this to a fight like before, I don’t mind telling you to your face, if you stand in my way, I’ll go through you”.
Zetsa’s aura intensified, the roots of her hair rising, turning fiery as her breath turned cold.
Her feud with Grent was not due to him pursuing her brother’s girlfriend, no. At the time she thought Zax is dead, though she never spoke of it with her, in her heart she hoped that Anet will not sink in the depression, even if it means forgetting Zax and finding new love. In this context, her problem with Grent also was not the sincerity of his feelings toward Anet, since they were apparent in his eyes and voice when he spoke her name and how he patiently responded to each of her refusals.
Her deal with Grent was his constant attempts to not just draw, but distant Anet from her family, as if they were the obstacle preventing him from reaching her heart. Moreover, she always detected a trace of contempt from him, which she somewhat was under the impression that its cause in Grent’s mind was the idea of them not worthy for someone with high standing and future such as Anet.
Perhaps his behavior was simply him being overprotective; perhaps it was his upbringing, in the end it did not matter. She was fine with her parents persuading Anet to visit them less often, if it pains her, but it was whole other matter handing her to this prick.
“Young lady, please restrain your aura. We didn’t come here to create a scene. Our nephew invited us to see the woman who captured his heart. That is all”. Grent’s black haired uncle stepped forward, by his side Navida. He spoke of self control but seemed both capable and ready for the worse.
“Zetsa, answer me that and we’ll leave”. Avoiding a seethed conflict was still the best choice and so Grent attempted to mitigate. “Was Anet here? Was it you or someone else in your family that made her halt her training session and come here?” He figured that Anet was not present because he did not see her Sun K-RV2 and he assumed that they might be the cause of her coming to cave twenty five since his intel indicated that she has not left the cave or added to her parents’ home.
“I am not obligated to answer you anything, Grent, now get lost from my grandfather’s farm!” Zetsa barked. Finding out that Zax is alive did not diminish her flightiness in the least. In this particular matter she was now even more viscous with her intentions.
“These are easy questions to answer. Are you bent on staying stubborn?”
“Humph!” Zetsa snorted. Sadly the revelation of Zax being alive had to be kept a secret, hence she had to maintain her typical aggressive approach toward Grent instead of once and for all shuttering his dreams.
“If that’s your decision…” Grent turned to return to his golden vehicle. “Uncle, aunty, sorry for wasting your time, but will you be okay with us staying parked in this farm until Anet arrive or leave the cave?”
“Of course, Grent, if it’s so important for you that we’ll meet her”. Navida coincided.
“It is! Very much important!”
“Rest in your vehicle, nephew. The two of us would rather appreciate the rustic scenery”. The black haired man said.
“I think that you will like it, uncle Jeve. I, on the other hand, saw enough of it, so please forgive my rudeness”.
“Hey, this is private property. I will not say it again, leave!” A thin layer of frost emerged on Zetsa’s exposed skin. Grent ignored the threat in her tone and returned to the vehicle.
“They refer to you by ‘Miss Zetsa’, correct, young lady?” Navida tied her long blond hair. “At your age I was called by the same honorific, too. However, if I’m being honest, I was not as strong as you seem to be at your age. Luckily I and Jeve met. Our compatibility is seamless. Together we have been to many adventures, risky situations, always coming out on the upside. How about you chill down, sit and I’ll tell you some of them”. She imposed herself with flowery mannerism.
The coldness reached Zetsa’s pupils. She nudged her arm, concentrated the combination of both heat and cold mist energy. It was a quick movement, which alerted Navida and Jeve and brought them to stand together.
“Miss”, Jeve’s voice was amplified and reverberated like distant thunder. “Will it be smart to actually start a fight?” He gestured with his eyes at grandpa Ger’s and grandma Ney’s house. “Will you be able to bear the consequence should a stray attack hit it?” It was a reminder as well as a subtle threat. “We will. The great Lenma family will, even at the face of the great Zoearth family”.
Like Grent and even better, Jeve and Navida were aware of the capabilities of the Valgarel’s power known as Kartion and those of his family. That war, several years back, which involved almighty tribes and third realm entities did not evade the intelligence of the major families of humanity’s Kingdom Earth. Jeve and Navida preferred not to taunt Kartion, but there was limit to their servility. In their calculation, should push comes to shove, so long as they will not kill or ruin Zetsa’s cultivation, Kartion will not take the risk of invading humanity’s territory.
Zetsa squinted her eyes, her mist slowly dissipating. For her family’s safety she could do nothing but surrender to their terms.
“Good girl-“ Navida’s mouth hanged open as she barely could finish the remark when a deep voice bombarded her ears.
One word that sounded from everywhere, hammered the heads of Navida, Jeve, Grent in the vehicle and the two drivers.
Instantly all five vomited mouthfuls of blood and their complexion paled.
Inside the golden vehicle Grent leaned forward, his arms struggling to support his back. “Wh- What!” He coughed some more blood and, felt like his inwards were squeezed by an invisible force. A crisis of life and death hovered above his head.
With their knees on the ground and the metallic taste pushed down their throats, Navida and Jeve instinctively skimmed the surrounding, looking for the source of the terrifying voice.
“Se- Se- Senior”, they regulated their breath and begged.
“Senior?” A second word, another invisible ripple that struck viciously.
Dread was plastered on Navida’s and Jeve’s face and inside the golden vehicle, after its driver and the driver of the black vehicle, Grent was about to be the third to lose consciousness.
“What make you think that you are qualified to speak to me?” The sentence rang loud in their ears, but it no longer possessed the harmfulness of the previous two words.
Navida and Jeve shivered. They wanted to say something, admit their wrongs, whatever the hidden senior would like to hear, but being taken the right to speak they could only pray in their trembling hearts while wondering whether it is Kartion himself in the shadows or one of his formidable elder apprentices.
“The puny Lenma family dared to trespass and bully non cultivates, eh?” The voice snarled and without them realizing, Navida and Jeve found their forehead grovel so low, they were in contact with the ground.
They did not sense soul or mist fluctuations, which scared them even more. Regardless of the gap in the cultivation with the hidden expert, even if he was at the third realm, if he directed his assault at them they should have been able to discern it. Yet, they did not. For someone to so easily dominate them without figuring how, not even the four old patriarchs and matriarch were capable of such feat!
“Get up. Get lost. From this day forward all five of you are banned from entering this cave. Oh yeah, and if you seek revenge, or rather, if anything happen to the people living here, it is your lives I will take”.
The voice faded out and Grent, Navida and Jeve as well as the two drivers felt their bodies lightening as the invisible pressure disappeared.
As one azure streak and one dark streak Navida and Jeve ran, leaving cave twenty five, not bothering with the black vehicle or concerning themselves with the brat who almost got them killed.
“This relationship cannot be permitted!” Jeve gritted his teeth. “This Anet’s and Grent’s feelings are mutual, if this expert is against it, regardless of reason, who can tell if the patriarchs and matriarch will be able to handle him”.
“Precisely”. Navida clenched her fist. She truly planned to have some fun today with old friends in one of her favorite high class establishments, now she was far from being in the mood from even leaving her bedroom. “Grent, this incompetent punk! His talent and place in the direct line got to his head!”
Jeve sighed. “It’s not his fault. Do you think that he could discover in his investigation an expert of this caliber?” He shook his head. “Poor child. He should not have put his aim on the girlfriend and family of that man. Even if he’s dead, it was always probable that his family was protected by former friends and Martial family”.
“I don’t want to discuss it anymore. Let’s hurry. Banned from this little cave? Hell if I care. Next time there is business to be handled in El-Eden, find someone else!”
The two were gone, most likely never to return. After them, in hot pursuit, followed one golden, one black vehicles.