Onzengvas… its lands, before the Age of Catastrophe shifted continents, before it reshaped the planet and before Luminous Church unified it in the name of The Almighty, were known as Africa and South and East Asia.
At the center of the south eastern lands of Onzengvas an enormous and marvelous, mountain like capital city was erected, named after the land itself, “Onzengvas city”, and powered by a formation of twelve floating pagodas crafted from twelve third realm Pure Cores. It knew no walls, for it had no enemies, and stretched for tens of kilometers, for it was copious with devoted lives.
The buildings, from the outskirts to the center of the city, be they small or tall, homes for commoners, aristocrats or servants of the Lord, shone with the same pearly white glamor when the sun hit them.
The architecture of the city’s streets was adorned by ascending columns of stairways, and more advanced technological means of elevation, from the lower class, to the higher ones, up to the summit of a sole, monumental structure, the Grand Abode.
The people, humans and beasts alike, walked day by day proudly on two, their hand or paws against the ground only in rituals, private or public, of worship. They dressed in clean clothes every morning and rinsed themselves every evening. The customary attire at the base of the city was a tad strict for women, included dresses, long skirts and robes, typically neat with one hue. Men could daily choose between suits, loose work clothes and robes, as well. At the higher levels of the city, the dress code was even harsher to servants of The Almighty. Women were obligated to wear robes, permitted to expose their faces and hands alone. Men had their own clerical clothing. Most prominent members of society, the aristocrats, secular tools of The Almighty, could dress however they want, most often than not flamboyantly.
Down the base of Onzengvas city, walking at a vendors’ avenue, a young man, seemingly at his early thirties and dressed in a white cleric robe with golden ornaments and a young lass wearing a sliver robe with a metal plate across her small chest, were chatting with the latter emitting a radiant ambiance.
“Your Young Eminence, it’s almost been a year yet many cultivators still arriving to our Luminous Church’s main city. How wonderful is it? Even if they won’t have a chance to enter to top hundred, I’m sure many of them will find redemption by the exposure to the teachings and values His Holiness his passes”.
“My sweet and innocent Sister Iaura, you are too optimistic about these people. You can’t allow the goodness of your heart blind you from seeing their true nature before making judgment”. His Young Eminence kindly instructed.
“But the brilliance of the people, the beauty of the city, they are all consequential to His Holiness’s quotes imprinted on the surrounding structures, Archbishop Silternjan said so himself. How can all of it be ignored? It’s like visiting someone’s home and ignoring the ethics of the house”.
“Where did you learn to speak like this, Sister Iaura?” His Young Eminence smiled. “Did my word no longer carry meaning that it can be argued for the sake of heathens and heretics?”
“No… no, Your Young Eminence, I did not mean to insult”. Sister Iaura hurriedly said. She could not bear disrespecting His Young Eminence when he was so good to her from the moment they met, even if she paid him all too much back when she saved his life by applying the potion His Holiness personally granted her.
“Good Sister Iaura, forget it, how can I ever be angry at you?” His Young Eminence’s hand quivered behind his back, restraining the urge to caress her head. “But you must understand, here is not the Holy Palace, nor your parents’ home. Although this planet has some importance to His Holiness, the resources here are scarce and deficient. When you offered the Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element as prizes for the Elite Tryouts and Archbishop Silternjan explained their purposes to the cultivation world of this planet, all the experts were stirred to the point of most coming to the city just to watch those prizes when their winners receive them. I still think that you should’ve kept these treasures, if you want it is not too late to take them back”.
Sister Iaura shook her head resolutely. “Mom gave them to me to share with friends or trade. Your Young Eminence already consumed Diluted Element, another won’t be of use to you. Shame I wasn’t given Illumination Dew… a fiery physique will contradict your light attribute. And instead of trading them with someone in the Holy Palace, even if it’s because of greed, see how many people arrived to our city. If one of them does obedience to The Almighty, then it’s worth it”.
Passing by the entrance of glass figurines’ shop, His Young Eminence caught the interest that was piqued in Sister Iaura’s eyes.
He stopped, casing her footsteps to halt. “If there is something you like, pick it. I’ll buy it to you as a souvenir”.
Zax entered Onzengvas city with no obstruction or someone asking for identifications. With the help of the Bone And Muscle Transformation he altered his body to be a head shorter, extremely muscular. Even his face he changed to look rougher with an added scar up and down it, which he will heal after the tryouts. Overall he looked like a barbaric youth with inimical disposition.
‘Tomorrow the Elite Tryouts’ finals will commence’. He read from signs hanging from building to building and posters in stores’ windows.
It was also currently the talk of the city and numerous people were seen making their way to the Grand Abode for early seats.
Contemplating the show he will put up, a hideous smile stretched on Zax’s face. He followed the mob up the stairways. The public carriers and elevators were pecked full and had long lines that were tedious to wait in.
Climbing the hundreds of stairs, moving between stairways, there was a stifle taste to the air.
‘Non cultivators don’t notice’. Zax retained an aloof expression as he paid attention to some of the notable experts around; as he was sure others were also keeping an eye on him. ‘I wonder how many had come explicitly for the prizes and who among them belong to the other four powers?’
In this Elite Tryouts occasion, the other four powers dare to send the members under the third realm to participate precisely because the prizes. However, should one of their members reach the top ten and Luminous Church will have the credit of discovering as well as first recruiting him or her to their Elites, it would be a great loss of face. Therefore, the leaders of the other four powers had sent envoys to attend the tryouts, keep an eye on their members and retrieve them should Luminous Church will express interest. Naturally, any one of those members who will prove to him or her future prospects will not be neglected upon their return.
‘Nineteen hundred and eighty’. Zax finished counting. It was not the undivided number of stairs from the base of the city to the Grand Abode, only of the stairways he chose to climb.
The Grand Abode had a zone entirely of its own at the summit of the city with a circumference of eight kilometers. If one will describe it in one word it would be “dreamy”. At the highest point, which was not necessarily the most central, was the building itself where only Archbishop Silternjan could reside day and night. Encompassing were a nuns district and a clerics district as well as lavish gardens, a church and a huge square for congregation when the Archbishop himself expound on The Almighty.
For the Elite Tryouts the square was arranged as the arena and was provided with stages of tens of thousands seats.
Zax knew that people who came to view had to purchase day tickets at the base of the city for low and medium seats and at the aristocrats’ upper parts of the city for high seats. The number of tickets sold was equal to the number of seats but only high seats were reserved for their tickets holders.
Just as he was about to enter the booths at the periphery of the square for late registration, which was available till the end of the finals, although participation was not promised, a large commotion erupted from the direction of the arena and seating stages.
“In the name of The Almighty I ask respected Archbishop Silternjan to forgive this one’s insolence! My name is Denver Posniov of the Northern Icecaps! I came to challenge the strongest participants that appeared in the preliminaries, shatter his bones and surmount to the overall first place of the Elite Tryouts!”
A deep voice roared and immediately a hubbub ensued.
“The first late contenders appeared, and he dared to challenge Greimor from the get go!”
“Greimor? This Denver’s facial features are so young, he probably want to challenge First age group’s Neyrar, that boy the Golden Desert Fort sent openly”.
“The age groups don’t matter after the preliminaries, and both Greimor and Neyrar exhibited spectacular strength. Does it matter which one of them fights him?”
“My God! Look at him; he is nearly three meters tall! Is he a human or a beast?!”
“What was his tests score?!”
“Late contenders must be tested, but now is not the time, yet. Did he just enter the arena and except for everything to work as he wants?!”
Late experts among the crowd, such as Zax, frowned, displeased for being a step slower than Denver.
Non contenders gossiped and speculated.
The adults mutually agreed that arriving early for tomorrow seats was a splendid choice; they will get to see premature action without paying a dime!
The children were just as glad. Their little faces were brimming with anticipation. When their parents told them that The Almighty treat dearly good children who pray in his name, they were doubtful, but now they wholeheartedly believed them. The day after tomorrow, after the preliminaries’ finals they came to watch, when they return to their schools they will be able to boast in front of their friends, tell stories on the Icecaps’ Gigantor who wrecked the preliminaries.
The Elite Tryouts were advertised throughout the planet, but the prizes were not elaborated too much to the general public. For them it was a recurring Martial competition a person could only attend once in a life time, if they are lucky. Topping it with an advanced performance made it all the more awesome!
‘Neyrar!’ Zax’s ears perked. ‘He is also participating…’ He smiled again that hideous grin.
Although he followed his Mor and joined Golden Desert Fort, for Zax those he encountered in New Earth, had a good impression on and are also in Ercas Mir were still his compatriots. It is not that they knew the background of the powers, so they cannot be blamed for taking the opportunity to join them.
‘Well… that Cattelin should also have been from Ercas Mir, by her weapon of choice and technique, probably a descendant of senior Gid. I should ask him when I’ll complete the task’.
He was not concerned with telling Gid Chu that he killed a member of his family. Cattelin was cruel and desired his life just to silence the news on the Event in Demriva Ridge, while Gid Chu had relinquished his familial duties to Supreme Ruler Ar Yen. Before complaining he should take responsibility for the poor upbringing of his descendants, not all of them could turn out like Zechariah.
He proceeded through the crowed toward the arena, not paying heed to the Ticket Checkers before the seating stages.
An armored, bald, white skinned woman crushed in the arena, triggering the protective formation meant to keep it intact.
“Archbishop Silternjan, my name is Els Joli Nembus Clad, I traveled the oceans from the Clad clan of the Western Continent. I’m here to win your Elite Tryouts. From this moment on, any Core Master who enters the arena forfeit their lives!” Her voice bellowed triumphantly.
‘How domineering!’ Zax admired. ‘But another later contender got ahead of me…’