“A fourth level Martial Mortal?” Kloky was so bewildered that he could not believe. “Where is he or she? Can he sense us?” Whether it was true or not, it was more important to stay safe.
“It’s a He, surprisingly a Bishop of the church. I thought unless they receive permission, Martial Mortal members of the five powers aren’t allowed to intrude on each other territory”. Zax said as he concentrated on making sure his dark attribute energy enhanced Soul Sense remains at an undetectable range.
“A Bishop in Valgarel?” Bonjier had an incredulous look.
“Let’s retreat out of the boundary of this makeshift natural occurring formation”. Kloky instructed, despite they being on a schedule.
“We can’t! I won’t! My family and friends are soon to arrive from New Earth. I won’t let them get caught by the forces of Luminous Church and Blessed Army!” Zax lividly responded. From his perspective, everyone sent by Gid Chu for this operation had obligation to ensure the wellbeing of his loved ones, otherwise, they can get lost!
“Zax, tell us what do you see”. Zechariah interrupted.
“How many members of the five powers can you count? What their level of cultivation?” Linor added.
“Can you see Donkey? She has long face and short blond hair. Age wise her appearance is similar to late thirties non cultivator”. Soybam Peter described.
“Give me a moment”. Zax replied and resumed his attention on the groups from Luminous Church and Blessed Army, as well as searching whoever seemed not to belong with accordance to the discerption of Donkey.
“There are the five Curators. Apart from them, there are eight Blessed Army’s experts; five Peak Core Masters, two first level Martial Mortals and a third level Martial Mortal. Luminous Church seems to send only four of its personal, three Peak Core Masters and the Bishop… they are all around the pathway to New Earth, next to the Bishop there is a dead figure of a woman-”
“Is it Donkey?” Varinka asked hysterically. Giant Havreim similarly had an ugly expression. By their behavior they probably had good relations with Donkey, better than the rest, at least.
“It looks like it”. Noting the two’s reactions, Zax said gently.
“Can the Bishop sense us, Zax? If it’s a possibility, immediately cease the exploration!” Bonjier commanded.
Zax knitted his brows, but refrained from retorting. “I can only guess that… no. The odd formation in the forest is obstructing even his ability to sense my probing. Unless his understanding of the attribute is sufficiently high and he is intentionally guarding from Sublime Soul Sense and Soul Sense, he won’t notice. Equally, if I’ll withdraw my Soul Sense, than I won’t be able to tell if he will use his. I think the formation is their doing, and for some reason they are willing to pay the price of disabling their detecting capabilities for catching us”.
“How did they know that we come?” Xiao Kirin asked.
“I don’t know”. Zax shook his head. “Am I supposed to answer everything just because I can still use Soul Sense?” They kind of exaggerated with their expectations for every answer from him.
Zax really could not know. How could he had guessed that while he was having his review, the leaders of the five powers finished theirs, leaving Archbishop Silternjan the trouble of verifying his connection to New Earth. For this task, Horn Kikon and General Logan allowed for a one time, temporary breach in the agreement between the five powers, consenting to Archbishop Silternjan request of sending a Bishop to oversight the investigation.
Although Horn Kikon was told to send his own beasts, if he does not trust the group from Luminous Church, he refused. Ultimately, both he and General Logan served the same Immortal.
With regards to Donkey’s dead body… The Bishop sent by the church received a peculiar set of wide range obstructing formation with the orders to erect it in its maximum scope with the pathway to New Earth as the center, should the need arise. As for the so call “need”, it was the case Sinister Chain will somehow figure the church investigation into Zax’s origin and one of its leaders will arrive on scene, not caring about admitting the truth, meaning to relocate possible relatives of the newly recruited prospect.
The Bishop, one of the four male Bishops of the church, got wind of Donkey soon after she conversed with Bonjier. Capturing her when he realized her destination was the pathway to New Earth, and then making a quick interrogation, her excuses and meek behavior did not convince him. First, a Peak Core Master such as her should have noticed the five powers’ Curators and know to stay away. Second, if she was a denizen of New Earth then she broke the rules, anyway, by not joining any of the powers or returning before her breakthrough to the second realm.
Hence, he killed her and erected the formation, just in case she was a scout of the chain.
“Kloky, by the timeline senior Gid gave me, my family and friends will arrive in a few hours”. Zax reminded.
“I’m aware”. Kloky grimaced. Using the Companion’s Link formation along with Bonjier, in terms of mist energy they could compare with a Beginner fourth level Martial Mortal, but as far as insights into the attribute… they were unable to match.
Seeing Kloky toiling internally yet not coming up with a suggestion, while the others were also stumped with what they could do, Zax steeled his resolve. “I’ll take care of the Bishop”.
He was not yet at the level of reaching a standstill against a Beginner fourth level Martial Mortal, more like prolonging the imminent, nor was he certain about the phase of the Bishop on scene, but there was no other solution. If he will be clever…
The twelve instantly turned ugly faces. On one hand they were nervous by the current risk; it was supposed to be a grand scale escort operation with not much to worry about. On the other hand, even if they were not close with Zax, they knew better than standing by while his loved ones bear the consequences of his service to the chain.
“The moment he will see you as a threat, not necessarily to him. Just someone weirdly strong that he could not identify, the Bishop will notify the church, perhaps ask for reinforcement from the army, in case he will suspect of Leader’s or Second Leader’s presence here”. Rockwell forewarned.
“That’s right”. Bonjier concurred. She was adamant with barring Zax’s emotions from dictating how they should conduct the operation. “It will take less than thirty minutes for a lieutenant to arrive here from the Blessed Army’s First Base at the north of the continent. And if that’s too much time, they can ask for Violet Scaled Troops to send a Feather, instead. Can you handle two fourth level Martial Mortals?”
“I thought about it”. Zax said in a reassuring tone. “First thing I’ll do is breaking his communicator, I’ll be quick”. He added and proceeded to elaborate before being asked more refuting questions. “I’ll act like Donkey’s companion, show up searching for her. I’ll let the Bishop probe my soul level and made him think that I’m another Peak Core Master”.
“You are a bodily cultivator. What would you do if he won’t find adequate mist coursing through your dantian and channels?” Bonjier rebutted, not doubting the level of his soul, which she believed was at a high level.
In contrast, she was unaware that Zax’s soul was actually at the second realm because Leader Gid Chu told everyone about his feats, which could not possibly have been accomplished by someone who any random first level Martial Mortal can kill with one soul attack. In addition, she was oblivious to the matter of Zax’s soul uniqueness and how much his level of understanding of the dark attribute helped strengthen his soul.
“It’s fine if he’ll believe I’m a bodily cultivator”. Zax persisted.
There was not much to deny here. One may not encounter frequently bodily cultivators, but it was not like they were uncommon, every one of them should go through a severe background inspection, just because the opposite side is members of the five powers.
“We can move on with this plan”, Kloky decided to end the debate.
There was no point in continuing to argue. They were not prepared to abandon the operation together with Zax, to fend his family on his own. Moreover, when the convoy from New Earth will get here, who will distract the five powers so they will not be able to trace and eliminate them?
“We can’t be sure how much and if Donkey said anything to the Bishop. Deceiving him by showing up alone would work only if Donkey maintained till death a cover. Since nothing can be left to chance, we will assume the Bishop know Donkey is a member of the chain and speculate that there are more of us”.
“Kloky”, Varinka could not hold herself from snapping. “Donkey would not have revealed-”
“A Core Master, regardless of level and phase, will not be able to hide anything from the interrogation of a third level Martial Mortal, much less a Bishop”. In a voice that was on the verge of admonishment, Kloky reminded Varinka and Giant Havreim, before the big fellow could back his companion and lover.
“Donkey had to suicide to not break under the pressure of the Bishop”. Riv reasoned in a more sympathetic tone.
“Continue with what you have to say, Kloky”. Bonjier requested. If there was someone whose critical thinking she could accept, even if she did not like it, it was Kloky’s.
Nodding, Kloky opened, particularly aiming his words on Zax. “Confronting the Bishop under these conditions is not a one man job. Check the surrounding again and tell me if you find someone approaching”. He asked of Zax.
“None are coming”. Zax said after a brief moment.
“This means that the Bishop did not request reinforcement. Probably is reluctant to call the Blessed Army and Violet Scaled Troops before he is certain the situation too dicey for him to handle, otherwise he will lose face for the church. If all thirteen of us will show up in a group, it is likely that he will think that we decided to take him and the others on with everything we have, hence not saving anyone behind, which he will also be able to verify by using his Sublime Soul Sense, like you Zax.
“A bunch of experts with the strongest being two third level Martial Mortals, at the very least, the Bishop will waver before making up his mind for contacting the other powers. This will be your window, Zax. You, I and Bonjier will pretend to combine our forces to fight him while you”, Kloky looked at the rest. “Will fight the third level Martial Mortal from the Blessed Army and the Core Masters”. His expression hardened. “It’s imperative to not expose you true strength, always be on the defensive. When the opportunity will arise for Zax, you will erupt with your full strength, first destroy the Bishop’s communicator and then do what you can to pull him away from here, but not escape! This will also be the signal for the rest of you to erupt. Exploit the shock of the members from the five powers to attack them, targeting their communicators first, second, their lives”.
“Won’t the members of the Blessed Army or Curators will transmit the five powers before the Bishop?” Soybam Peter asked.
“You haven’t seen before fourth level Martial Mortals do battle before, Soybam Peter… In comparison to third level Martial Mortals you can say that the disparity between them and us is even wider than the disparity between a fifth and a fourth level Martial Mortal. Knowing the enemy doesn’t has a fourth level Martial Mortal to deal with the Bishop, the five powers will wait for further situation report before taking matters to their own hands“.
‘It’s an understatement’. Zax refrained from saying outloud.
From the fourth level of the third realm, experts are more measured by their understanding of the attribute than mist energy and till now he have not met or heard about a fourth level Martial Mortal with deficient understanding. Yes, a cultivator could reach the fifth level of the Martial Mortal realm without ever dwelling on the attribute, but at such levels, the soul reaches a state where it is capable of recognizing the value of worldly attribute energy and that it is outweigh mist energy.
“Are there more questions?” Kloky glanced at each one of the twelve before him.
“Good, take this, Zax, use it as part of your disguise. Let’s go!”