‘He stopped following me?’ After the short barrage of flickering light bullets ended, Zax managed to catch a break and gaze up to confirm. Slowly, while riddled with seven bullet holes, grazed by twenty something strays and suffering the corrosiveness of the seawater, a smile of relief stretched across his face. ‘This was probably the most dangerous situation I’ve ever got myself into’. He had to admit. ‘Although the Horned Eel and Four Wings Stork were the same as fifth level Martial Mortal, at least they stopped chasing outside of their territories. If he could, this geezer would have continued to pursue me to the end of the world. Luckily, luckily there are places like the Down Ocean on our planet to run to, where even Peak experts have to be cautious’.
Still, Zax was not naïve enough to think he was in the clear. ‘He is probably waiting outside… He said nothing about the Galactic Communicator when we talked. If he had known that I stole it, he would not have sent back the four Bishops. I have a short window before of most likely minutes before someone will inform him, and then, imagining the consequences of the connection to the three Immortal powerhouses being jeopardized, all five powers might unite to hunt me’.
He made the calculation in his mind, the most probable scenarios that could unfold every minute now.
“Argh!” He suddenly uttered as all the muscles in his body convulsed. His condition was worsening while he did not have the energy to heal or shelter himself from the seawater.
‘Oh no!’ His eyes widened in shock. As he was thinking the drop of Diluted Element in his mouth slid the direction of his throat. As it happened he unconsciously shifted his tongue to hold it at bay, since he was not ready to absorb it, however the drop, almost like it had a life of its own and a purpose that could not be obstructed, still slid down from his mouth.
Afraid of what might happen, should he consume the drop, without finding a secluded place for safety from interruptions, like the elderly green mustached guard of the two prizes recommended in his explanation, with madness in his eyes Zax dashed down and back the direction of the Eastern Continent in search for somewhere solid he could dig a hideout in.
‘Why can’t I block it?!’ He contracted his throat muscles to halt the drop of Diluted Element, but the thing just slipped through in the same relaxed pace.
‘Dammit! I’m should be already forty five hundred meters deep, the Eastern Continent isn’t that far, and I still can’t reach the bottom!’ Worse than that, the deeper he got, the harder it was to see in the turbid water, the more corrosive they were, too.
‘Right, I can do that…!’
Drawing his arms back in the initial motion of a punch, he threw them forward and discharged long range Kinetic Force rays.
Kinetic Orb could not withstand the seawater and pressure.
Unlike dark attribute energy, his body could generate kinetic energy and, even injured, Kinetic Force was no longer something that could hurt him whether used correctly or not.
One of the rays hit something tough and the undulation in the water indicated the direction.
Zax hastened toward where the undulation ensued, simultaneously keeping track on the drop that was about to enter his stomach.
‘It’s dispersing’. When the drop landed in his stomach and made contact with the gastric juices it finally responded to a bodily function, though not in the way Zax had hoped.
The drop turned to gas that channeled, again by itself, up his body.
‘It’s heading for my sea of consciousness!’ Zax scowled. He already comprehended five bottlenecks of insight; the drop could not assist him with the sixth. Using it for its common purpose was a waste of rare resource he might never encounter again, unless he will achieve Evolutionary Ascension, and by then it will be useless to him.
‘Move!’ He commanded as he tried to redirect it while proceeding downwards. ‘Move!’ He concentrated on each particle separately, since as a whole despite being gaseous they felt heavier than the entire planet!
Gradually, one particle after another started moving in accordance of Zax will. ‘Go!’ He pushed them into the vortexes of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique.
His head rang from the collision. He finally reached solid something. A rock, perhaps, since it was flat but there was no sand but it was simply too hard, so much that he nearly got concussions and barely could dig through with his cultivated physique that on its own was as strong as an Advanced or Peak second level Martial Mortal.
The particles were sucked by the vortexes to the creeks, which then carried them to the almost dried pond physique he had, where merely scarce drops of dark attribute’s essence worth of energy were left.
Zax ignored the two broken fingers, not even wondering how come the rock is so hard, or if it is actually the bottom of the Down Ocean. Once a cavity large enough to accommodate him was forged he entered inside and began to seal it while expelling the seawater with veils of Kinetic Force that by a whisker did the job.
‘The first particle enters the pond’. The long awaited moment has arrived.
He did not want to do it like this. In fact, despite weighing the Diluted Element’s suitability for cultivating the first stage of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique from when he initially heard about it, he still deliberated on what he would do if he will really get it. He had a lover, Master, Grandmaster, sister and others he cared for who strode the path of Martial cultivation and could better use it, especially those whose souls had yet broken through the third realm and had bottlenecks of insight still to perceive.
“I have to think about myself and the bigger picture”. He said outloud to himself, resolutely and then mused. ‘Even if my life wasn’t in risk, in order to accelerate the progression of my Martial path, there are no other methods left for me’. He felt selfish phrasing it so, but considering that he obtained the Diluted Element on his own, it was fair. ‘Then there is the hard fact that the stronger I get the more likely I will be able to take the remaining two Black Core without worrying about their owners. I’m a bottleneck of insight from Evolutionary Ascension and my understanding of the attribute is even superior to fifth level Martial Mortals’.
The Dark Titan Storm form’s second stage was more profound than Archbishop Silternja’s Angelic Emissary. Otherwise he would not have gotten away. The only reason the Archbishop gained speed on him was because his mist cultivation was much higher than Zax’s bodily cultivation.
‘With the complete Legacy Of The One’s Path who knows how strong and close will I become to Evolutionary Ascension, to assuring the safety of my family, friends and all denizens of New Earth!’ It sounded in his mind like ego speaking, but in his heart he knew it as the honest truth of their situation.
Even the Solar Basil Leaf, although it can immensely contribute to someone among those he cares for, trading for dark attribute’s essence, enough to push his cultivation even just one step forward, might help change the confinement status of New Earth’s citizens. After all, he is not far for comparing to the apex of the planet.
Bit by bit the particle sank to the bottom of the pond. Zax followed it attentively. Should it be rejected or will not do much than dark attribute’s essence, then he really did nothing but wrong his loved ones.
The drop dispersed to ninety eight particles. As the first was about to reach to the bottom of the pond, the second was already hovering above.
The particle fell on the remnants of dark attribute essence and merged with them.
Zax felt the pond, his body, trembling.
‘Well?!’ He waited with anticipation. Will it be the din of disaster or celebration?
The portion of dark attribute’s essence merged with the first particle began to swell and pale in coloration.
Seeing the quantity of dark attribute’s increase did not make Zax happy. On the contrary, dark attribute’s essence was black and now it was changing to the original gray of the Diluted Element. By building his pond by dark attribute’s essence and energy, it improved his absorption rate of the attribute and, maybe in the future, his understanding. If his pond will turn into a source of Diluted Element he will severe all connection to the dark attribute.
‘I can’t allow it to happen!’ He ground his teeth. ‘Transform!’ He beseeched the last remnants of dark attribute’s essence to service him and initiated the transformation to his Dark Titan Storm form’s first stage. ‘Why the Black Core can’t send streams of its energy now?!’ It did so in the past, it only meant to instill the dark attribute in him. It did all it could and today his ability exceeded the practicality of the streams.
The space inside the cavity instantly turned cramped, but the moment the transformation was done, the gray matter in the pond changed back to black and moreover, did not decrease in quantity!
“It expanded! It expanded!” Zax shouted in ecstasy, meaning not the amount of dark attribute’s essence, but the pond itself!
With a fuller pond than before, dealing with the rest of the particles was stress free.
Step by step Zax approached the total capacity of dark attribute’s essence the pond could storage in the first stage of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique.
One percent… four percent… nine percent…
The rise was steady, not as rapid as it could be if he had absorbed dark attribute’s essence, but in short minutes Zax skipped decades of tedious absorption of dark attribute energy.
Twenty percent… thirty percent … forty percent …
By this point around half of the particles were in the pond and Zax struggled to keep calm from excitement.
Sixty six percent… seventy percent… seventy nine percent…
‘Ninety eight point nine percent!’ The sum caused the black sea and sky around and above his Inner Panorama, and even the massive land itself, to shake as expression to his euphoric state of mind.
That left him with only eleven hundred kilograms of dark attribute’s essence to complete the first stage, zilch compared to the primary one hundred thousand!
‘This power!’ With the pond expanding, its nourishment evolved and Zax sensed his body strengthening. ‘And it’s merely a piecemeal. As close to completion as it is, the bit more that I need is the catalyst for the pond’s evolution. When the first stage will reach perfection, I should be able to defend myself against Advanced fourth level Martial Mortals!‘
Immersing in the intoxicating feeling of new strength, Zax sat in the cavity with a smile on his face, familiarizing himself with the changes in his body for soon he will come out.