“Cardinal Nonsup, we are ready”. A short, plump nun from Luminous Church’s crew notified with hands beneath the loose sleeves of her silver robe.
“Go ahead and wait by the pathway”. The gorgeous Bishop Nonsup instructed and when the plumped, Peak Core Master abided him, his line of sight dropped to the bloody figure at his feet.
“Sinister Chain…” He mused and revised the information he extorted from the dead Donkey.
Encountering her was pure coincidence and deciding to interrogate her was done on a whim. Nevertheless, who would have thought that he actually caught a rat in the midst of group operation to steal the cheese? ‘His grace the Archbishop’s suspicions were correct. The chain new recruit came from New Earth’.
Not all of it was conclude by solely what he managed to force out of Donkey. With the data chip the church received from the Mercenary Association, they learned a bit of Zax’s background. He was supposed to act in the High Rankers’ trials as the Sensensar family’s envoy, but abandoned his duty by basically not proceeding in the trials after the Event in Demirva Ridge. The church and the other four powers even knew some stuff on Zax before he registered in Glorious Ground. As it so happened, the earlier confirmed sighting of him was in the village, Vergil’s Pasture, when he appeared out of nowhere and practically rescued the warrior villagers and the hired mercenaries, from Mendor’s mercenary band, during a skirmish against the Black Chrome Alligator that terrorized the village.
All of that, coupled with what he got from Donkey, and Bishop Nonsup was hundred percent positive that Zax originated from New Earth.
“Mm…” Bishop Nonsup glanced at the surrounding. ‘I erected the Bewildering Archons Magic formation, exhausting all the resources his grace Archbishop Silternja and his grace Cardinal Northstar had managed to convince the other powers to contribute, all for the sake of eliminating the potential risk of an indigenous fifth level Martial Mortal. I was meant to use it in case any of the chain’s leaders would show up or that lad, Zax Walaow. To constrain or kill them, if possible, and if failing doing either, it would have been awkward, but overall fine, so long as I capture Zax’s loved ones’.
Baleful, fiery aura emanated from his body, burnt Donkey’s body until nothing was left but ashes and scorched earth.
‘I rushed to use the formation because of that heretic woman… no!’ He shook his head, knowing that he, a fourth level Martial Mortal, could not shift the blame to mere Core Master. ‘Because I got riled up… The army and troops forbade anymore Martial Mortals coming if a fourth level one is sent. They expect me to hold off Gid Chu or Yurnal alone and cry for help. Making the church losing face is ridiculously important to them as eliminating the rise of an indigenous fifth level Martial Mortal’.
It was half true. The Blessed Army and the Violet Scaled Troops had a Feather and a Lieutenant General on a standby not too far, waiting for a transmission from Bishop Nunsup asking for reinforcement. It will not take them long to arrive at all.
Rescinding his aura, Bishop Nunsup shut his eyes. When he opened them again they were lucid with a gleam of tranquility.
‘Never mind. The formation is fully operational and it can’t be stopped for eight hours, even by a Peak Martial Mortal. Besides, if that Zax Walaow really has loved ones down there, then he doesn’t necessarily have to be threatened with an exchange of his life for theirs. Though he swore, evoking The Almighty’s name, The Almighty is merciful and may spare him, if such talent agree to repent’.
Someone with so much talent such as Zax, who even though absorbed God made perfect attribute’s essence still unmistakably had potential surpassing any of the Holy Palace’s Ascended Elite, has honestly caused Archbishop Silternja contemplating whether it was worth killing than convert.
In the gathering of the five powers’ leaders, Archbishop Silternja presented a mien bent on killing Zax especially for this reason, posing him as undeniable threat so none of the five powers would consider engaging him for negotiations.
He even kept such plan from Cardinal Northstar and shared it only with his trusty Bishop. While Cardinal Northstar will gain more by pacifying His Young Eminence, Stelero Mars, with Zax’s death, those who stuck on this mud ball, Archbishop Silternja and his Bishops, will profit vastly by presenting such prospect before His Holiness. So much that he will definitely summon them back to the Holy Palace.
Bishop Nunsup sighed. ‘This will be the best scenario for us, but his grace Archbishop Silternja said not to put all hope into it. There is a high chance that Zax Walaow will forsake his loved ones if it means strengthening the forces of the indigenous, particularly now that our contact with the Holy Palace was severed’.
Turning, papering to decent to New Earth and leave the watch at Selivereb’s side of the pathway to the Blessed Army’s third level Martial Mortal Major General, Bishop Nunsup halted mid step and swiftly turned back.
Just a moment ago he used his amplified by fiery attribute energy Sublime Soul Sense to survey the area before departure and his scan caught thirteen figures approaching, actually, seconds from reaching the pathway and most likely confronting with the members of the five powers already there.
“Sinister Chain!” He clamored in complete confidence. Who else could they be? Then he realized that the strongest in the group are two third level Martial Mortals. ‘Good! Nearly alerted the army and troops for naught!’ He hastened to overtake their advancement to the pathway. ‘If that Major General will call for help, it will be even worse!’
For him, the strongest and orders giver, to be away while the rest facing the chain… what level of disgraceful incompetence would that be?!
“Bonjier, Gidon, combine forces against Bishop Nunsup, the rest of you divide accordingly!” Kloky shouted the moment he identified the church’s Bishop. As for the man named “Gidon”, it was the moniker Zax casually picked for his disguise.
Bishop Nunsup made it to the pathway a step before Zax and the twelve. He was confused as to how they located the pathway under the influence of the Bewildering Archons Magic formation. Since Yurnal and Gid Chu were not among them, he wondered whether they were given for safety some unique treasure for obstructing formations or other purposes and even more was intrigued what that treasure may be and how the chain got it.
‘Could it be? Did they uncover an item belonging to that Immortal?’ He suspected and a tinge of excitement cased the edges of his lips to curve upwards. He will not need to speculate if he will just kill them and snatch their possessions. “Major General Hei, they have three third level Martial Mortals”, he was not clear about Zax, but assumed he was since he collaborated his assault with Kloky and Bonjier, two faces he recognized from field reports regarding Sinister Chain, gathered and shared by all five powers. “I’ll deal with them. You take care of Rockwell and his companion. Don’t call for help, I repeat, don’t you dare transmit for reinforcement without my permission!”
The others could split against the enemies without his orders, so he did not bother giving any, nor did he had the time.
Bonjier transformed to her human form, a black skinned, long smooth haired middle age beauty. She did so to accompaniment Kloky’s human physique so together they could execute the Companion’s Link formation.
“Bishop Nunsup!” maintaining the visage of a lanky old man, Zax bellowed with a hoarse voice, imbued with abysmal hate. “Good, good, good”, after each good the malicious air around him intensified. “Over three hundred years ago it was a member of Luminous Church who accused my wife and daughters of polytheism in Onzengvas and murdered them. At the time I was not even a Core Master and the priest who took their lives was a third level Martial Mortal! Today, I cultivated to that priest’s level, but the one in front of me is still stronger. Hahaha! Three hundred and twenty eight years ago I thought the Gods forsook me, but now I realize that I was wrong. With my brother and sister in arms and the nurturing I received from what the church calls ‘the greatest evil’, Sinister Chain, Master Yurnal, I’ll use this precious opportunity to consecrate at dusk the graves of my wife and daughters with the rare blood of not just a mere priest, but a Bishop!”
Zax made up the story on the spot and sounded awfully convincing, all due to how amusing he found the fictitious tale. The motive behind the drama, which even the other twelve were impressed by, since they knew it was a lie and beforehand Zax did not informed that of the act, was to avoid Bishop Nunsup snooping into the unfamiliar oddball in the trio confronting him. The chain had only a handful of bodily cultivators who could compare to third level Martial Mortal. The presence of a new one should, first and foremost, raise red flags to his or her identity. A cautious person without pretext to think otherwise would even dare suspect him for being one of the chain’s leaders in disguise.
Hearing his account, Bishop Nunsup shook his head and drew back couple of kilometers while Zax, Bonjier and Kloky on his tail.
He looked pensive because such stories were not foreign to him. On one hand he agreed with them being tragic, on the other, those whose bodies were purified in the name of The Almighty, will be guided onto the righteous path in their next life.
He led them away to see what means they have to return to the pathway under the effect of the Bewildering Archons Magic formation.
‘Zax’, because of the Companion’s Link formation the voices of both Bonjier and Kloky were transmitted via the communicator. ‘Don’t forget, we will distract Nunsup as best we can, but it will be up to you to figure when to reveal your strength and how to ruin his communicator!’
The communicator was inside Bishop Nunsup’s ear and the head was a generally an extremely guarded part of the body in battle, so the task required flawless timing and judgment.
‘Got it!’ Zax sent back. He flipped his hand and a three meters long pike, completely out of metal, appeared in his hand.
It was given him by Kloky to match his disguise. Even bodily cultivators used weapons, and since he, in his true identity, already established being of the selected few who wielded only their limbs, there was no need for letting Bishop Nunsup question if it is possible for the chain to have more than one eccentric expert.
About the pike, Zax asked Kloky about it on their way. He already met experts who used weapons made from the very same metal, Fengar’s axe, for example, and receiving such weapon to earnestly fight with for the first time triggered his curiosity.
The pike was made of the popular and the diversely used Old Nature Metal. The type of metal could be found as a component in a variety of objects and across many fields, but was the sole other matter than World Gathering Bone that experts like to forge their weapons from.
It had no auxiliary properties like World Gathering Bone, but it was graded in similar manner, from low to high. Low being sturdy enough to block, without applying mist energy, a strike from Peak Mist Lord, medium was about as tough as a Beginner third level Core Master and high could only be broken, if not augmented with mist energy, by Peak third level Martial Mortal.
Old Nature Metal is said to be slightly solider than World Gathering Bone of the same grade, but the latter complement mist energy better, not to mention more beneficial for cultivation.
Zax grabbed the pike steadily with both hands and thrust. The tip of the pike pierced the sound barrier, a feat generally third level Martial Mortals could perform only by combining a good weapon to their assault.
Bishop Nunsup watched as the pike accelerated toward his heart as if it moved in slow motion. Someone as strong as third level Martial Mortal was beneath him. Nevertheless, he was not rushing to block with bare hands. A blunt weapon would not have been a problem, but unless he had the earthly attribute, the pointy edge of the pike could penetrate his mantle of mist energy if he did not employ a defensive intent.
Turning half a spin, the pike went past him. “Are you buying them time with this level of skill?” He taunted Zax. He wanted them desperate so they would run away and expose how they ignore the formation.
Zax, in his old man mien, scowled, pulled the pike, just back and thrust multiple times. He demonstrated utter reliance on his control of Kinetic Force to propel his attack as compensation to lacking mist energy and supposed meager understanding of the attribute.
Two hundred meter behind were Kloky and Bonjier. Fervent invisible energy sheltered them as if nothing in the world could harm them. In front of them was a circle composed from thirty, fist size World Gathering Bone cubes and in front of it was, again, an invisible pressure in a diameter of thirty meters.
Bishop Nunsup eyed the cubes and prodded the invisible pressure. He found them both unsightly in an uncomfortable fashion as he determined the invisible pressure being a formation erected by the coalesced prowess of the Companion’s Link formation and the cubes being projectiles that will each carry the weight of, probably, Beginner fourth level Martial Mortal the instant they will pass through the invisible pressure.
He was an Intermediate fourth level Martial Mortal and could not afford resisting all thirty cubes at once… ten would make him sustain serious injury.
With a solemn expression, Bishop Nunsup finally stopped avoid the pike. Reaching out, he grabbed it with his left hand and with his right glowing red he aimed at Zax’s chest.
‘Take it!’ Both Kloky and Bonjier sent.
Zax complied and then it all happened too fast for a third level Martial Mortal at the caliber he pretended to be to react. He received the killing blow and spewed a current of blood as his entire torso caved and his figure started to descend.
‘My whole body is burning! He broke my bones and intended to incinerate my insides… Fortunately it wasn’t his full strength, my understanding of the dark attribute is higher than his of the fiery attribute and bodily refinement technique is Grandmaster’s Three Stages Of Hyper Physique, otherwise I would have suffered a slow and excruciating death!’
Bishop Nunsup could not know that to truly harm Zax he had to put effort in his attack. Turning his back, expecting from the old man to fade from his memory together with his last breaths, he proceeded for Kloky and Bonjier in a temperate pace.
‘I killed one. Now do the smart thing and run, show me what treasure you’re hiding!’