Those who succumbed to savagery were ample in number as usual; poor soul who will either perish in the first Savage Cave or by stroke of luck will regain their sanity. The former was more probable.
The Blood Red Grapes’s groves were occupied as expected. Zax did not care much about their occupants, but neither he disturbed them when he passed through some for an invigorating unripe Blood Red Grape, which he developed a taste to during the old days…
‘The gravitational force’. Zax noted when he got to its sphere of influence around the entrance to the tunnel leading to the second Savage Cave. ‘So it’s actually the same like in the Earthly Crater. Rather than originating from an earthly attribute, it’s the operation of a dark attribute’s swallowing property. But what is the source of the savage force?’ He wondered. By figuring half the truth, the other half became more intriguing.
‘Let’s test it’. Zax walked inside the tunnel, allowing the gravitational force to weigh on him out of interest to measure the estimate distance a Beginner first level to Peak third level Core Master could endure. As for the savage force, its effect was less than negligible, for now.
The tunnel was few hundred meters long, not a round number but shorter than four hundred meters.
‘So a Beginner first level Core Master can bear the gravitational and savage forces all the way to the second cave’. Zax was a tad surprise.
To maintain an ounce of clarity in the first cave a cultivator’s soul had to reach the Mist Lord level or have an equal strength. The bare minimum requirement to enter the second cave was for the soul to break through to the Core Master realm.
Seeing the great opening at the end of the tunnel, Zax’s attention shifted to the terrain of the second Savage Cave.
It was a barren land, dry earth with fissures all over. In here, other the attribute’s essences, every herb and plant that could survive and thrive was a natural treasure tens and even hundreds of times more rare and superior to those at the first cave. The only issue was finding and then carefully uprooting them without losing their peculiar properties.
Previously Zax thought that to hasten his bodily cultivation he would have to rely on those natural treasures of the second Savage Cave. As it so happened, in the end he got his fortune elsewhere, via other means. Then again, by what Grandmaster Kartion said about the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique, he apparently done a full circle…
Past the tunnel Zax stood with a pensive mien. ‘Somewhere in this cave it is believed that an entrance to a third Savage Cave is located. Weird… I somehow have the feeling that even I won’t be able reach the other end of the second cave yet others are so sure of the existence of a third… Is it because fifth level Martial Mortals found it in the past,’ he glanced up. ‘Or speculation of those who know that there should be more to this place, which is roughly below the Earthly Crater?’
Zax lowered his head and squinted. The other side of the cave was in the range of twenty kilometers away. His cultivated vision, even further boosted by dark attribute energy, at best could vaguely make up the fuggy layout of the distant cave’s wall.
‘Whatever. If I can’t get there it doesn’t matter if I see the entrance or not’. It was a momentarily relaxation for soon after he initiated his entry to the cave he got struck by an annoying realization. ‘My Soul Sense… I can’t spread it farther than ten meters, a hundred or so when amplified with dark attribute energy’. This made things more difficult in finding attribute essences, much less a factual indication that this cave has more than the eye could see without taking the chance of attempting to go all the way to its other side. ‘And the farther I’d would the more of its radius will shorten’. He decided not to bother with it at all. ‘Even if it’s not much, I might as well conserve every bit of concentration. Who knows what other dangerous lay in here…?’
Five meters in… seven meters, eight, nine…
‘Eh? Ten meters is the limit a Beginner first level Core Master could cross to every direction from the entrance of the second cave. In this distance there is hardly anything to find. One can only turn to excavation in hope of finding an underground source of attribute’s essence or natural treasures. But the ground of the second cave is much tougher than regular earth,’ he could tell by stomping it, ‘and impervious to Soul Sense’. He let out a sight. ‘Being weak in a treasure trove must be frustrating’.
As barren and lacking as the land of the second cave may appear on first impression, it was not that impossible to locate with the eyes several of its valuables. With a simple scan, Zax’s field of vision captured a decent collection of plants, ponds and attractive minerals. It was only a slight problem getting to them. The closest to the entrance of the cave were in the ninety meters mark and did not amount to much.
Zax continued to walk. For now he paid no mind to those attractions. Only if he will come empty handed will he pick them on his return.
Fifteen meters in… twenty meters… forty… eighty… a hundred and ten…
‘A hundred and thirteen meters is the limit of Peak third level Core Master’. It was akin for mist and bodily cultivators alike. Even if bodily cultivators could resist the gravitational force for a longer distance, they would still yield to the save force in the hundred and fourteen meters mark.
‘Supreme Ruler Ar Yen and that yellow fox, Ginlin, got their dark attribute fruit and liquefied fiery attribute around this area’. Zax determined and a sort of chuckle escaped his mouth. ‘Weren’t you the lucky one, Ginlin, ah? With the scarce quantity of these shallow ponds it is barely feasible to fill a shot of liquefied fiery attribute’s essence, yet you managed a whole canteen!’ Zax guessed that in all likelihood others had kept coming since then, which is why there was not a lot of fiery attribute ponds. ‘The fact that they did not dry completely is a sliver of hope that the ponds, perhaps, can slowly refill themselves’.
Going beyond the threshold of Peak third level Core Master, Zax started to assess the limit of Martial Mortals, still bearing the growing pressure of the gravitational and savage forces without utilizing dark attribute energy.
His foot sank three centimeters into the ground and a couple of tears formed on the soles of the shoes he “borrowed” Sanctum Oasis after also “borrowing” a pair of clothes.
‘One hundred and fifty seven meters… unexpectedly that’s the limit my soul can withstand’. His eyes reddened a little and a sharp pain invaded his sea of consciousness, hammering at his soul. ‘The savage force is actually even more dangerous than the gravitational force. If it will enfold my soul I might get stuck in this cave until I’ll come across a chance for a breakthrough’. Although when employing dark attribute energy his soul was comparable to a Beginner fourth level Martial Mortal, it was essentially near the Peak of the second realm. Why Zax was not well disposed toward the idea of breaking through, was because he did not want to give up on the last bottleneck of insight. ‘My body can continue a bit farther, though overall the difference isn’t that significant. For a Beginner third level Martial Mortal this should be the limit for both mist and soul’. He straightened his back, pacified the tides and cloud around and above his Inner Panorama. ‘Now, for my real limit’.
Using what he learned from his enlightenment in the Earthly Crater he controlled the dark attribute energy to repel the second Savage Cave’s gravitational force, virtually canceling its influence on him.
Transforming to the second stage of his Dark Titan Storm’s form was also an option, but in this instance it would not have been the optimal solution. The gravitational force would have still remained and after a while not only his transformed form could find it hard to bear, he will also lose the energy to sustain it.
Weakening the savage force was trickier. Zax did not have the means to terminate it. Much like in the Earthly Crater he could only strengthen his with dark attribute energy and advance until he could not anymore, in the process figuring the limit of a Beginner Fourth level Martial Mortal.
One hundred and sixty meters… One hundred and seventy… two hundred…
‘That’s it’. Two hundred and fourteen meters. Zax did not dare to take another step. ‘I’ll not lose myself to savagery by advancing a few more steps, but there is no point. The length of the cave from its entrance to the other side is about twenty kilometers and all I could do was traverse past one percent of the distance by a whisker’.
Zax was depressed. If a fourth level Martial Mortal could only get this far, how much farther a Peak fifth level Martial Mortal will get?
‘The previous owner of the Black Core and the creator of New Earth claimed for being in the pinnacle of Immortality. Maybe only Immortals can reach the other side…?’ It was both a discouraging and alarming thought. ‘If that is the case then there is a chance that the Immortals behind the five powers will come here first, the moment the opportunity to leave their bases, unnoticed by other Immortals, will present itself’
There were a multitude of thoughts flowing in Zax’s head, all sort of queries related to the third Savage Cave.
‘Considering all this stuff when I’m incapable of verifying is just a waste of time’. Evening planning to revisit the Savages Caves in the future, after his Evolutionary Ascension was overreaching for his current self.
Looking sideways and back he resorted to the only he could do, searching and gathering attribute’s essences, occasionally picking a herb or plant that he happened to find or small mineral that looked like a gem, pretty enough to gift Anet, his mother or sisters.
Zax did not care if those were minerals could be refined into something constructive. He was not interested in formations’ tool or forging a weapon.
Fortunately the spatial ring allowed the separate organization of even liquefied materials. Zax collected ninety percent of the attribute’s essence he found, leaving ten out of kindness for others, and arranged them cautiously since attribute could not mix, otherwise they will corrode.
All in all Zax managed to amass in two days of tedious laboring six kilos of dark attribute’s essence fruits and two kilos light attribute’s essence fruits, evenly three kilos of liquefied fiery and icy attribute’s essence and eight hundred grams of windy attribute’s essence leaves.
The lightning and earthly attribute’s essences or so scarce, put together there was less than twenty grams, so he gave up on them.
He also had five kilos of herbs and plants he did not know and elven kilos of minerals, most of which he assumed had nothing particular to them other than looking pretty.
Upon his return to Grandmaster Kartion’s cave, Zax only stopped for a few minutes in the Blue Tower, handing his spoils to Simel.
“Master is revising the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique‘s second stage. You can wait, but I estimate that it would be four days before he will take a break”.
“Then I’ll come in four days, big brother Simel”.
Had had nine hours for his three days promise to expire. On his own it was more than enough to return with hours to spare.
“Mom, dad, Liz, I’m back!”