“Thank you… Zax”. A middle aged woman with a combed black hair and a bit of weight around her waist walked toward him with hands down and holding one another.
“You shouldn’t, Mrs. Inoki ”. Zax shook his head. The woman was the mother of his childhood friends, Weysey Inoki.
Mrs. Inoki came to stand beside him, but her view was on the large group of children having the time of their life fighting the living snowmen. “Our home is at the periphery of us, newcomers’ huts. The hut next to us is where that ginger girl lives with her family”. She pointed for him to see. “Willy”, her nine years old, “Has a small crush on her, but is too timid to approach to other village’s children, much less try to speak with her”. She did not say more; only look how her youngest was now side by side with the girl he likes, acting gallantly as they played in the same team.
Zax also remained quiet and kept watching the kids, as well as his snowmen. Everything evolved as he wanted and he was gratified. This all Invaders game he instigated was more than just him fooling around. It had two goals. The first who made him think of the idea was the desire to test his small accomplishment in dark attribute energy formations…
A day after he decided his cultivation path for the time being, Huland provided him free entry to the stock of formations scriptures in Green Snow village, which were divided to three categories: Mist Formations, Soul Formations and Bodily Formations.
Of the bodily formation there was very little to read with nothing that he could not recognized at a first glance as below inadequate. It was the aspect he was most versed in, in this world that placed more attention on the soul and mist energy. Whether his original creations, such as the Dark Titan Storm form or Dark Blast, were of any worth was not up to debate since regardless they were cream of the crop at least in Ercas Mir. Even others’ techniques of attribute physique could not really be compared since it was highly likely that Zax was the sole cultivator in Ercas Mir who attained his, through the combination of only dark attribute energy and the body.
Soul and mist energy formations were the field he put his finger on. Dark attribute energy can be used by all aspects as is or as a boost to the unique capabilities of each aspect. Zax wanted to advance his understanding in soul formations, but realized that his inability to currently utilize mist will make half his studies a waste of time; he chose the former type of usage of dark attribute energy.
The Control formation was a little something he came up with and was put to a test run via the snowmen. Despite having a lot more templets of impressive concepts in his head for experimental dark attribute formations, he dedicated himself to reestablish his foundation and start from small, to avoid the tiniest blemish on later works. Besides, this was also the first time that he delves deep, for a long period of time, to the field of formations on his own, without his Master or Grandmaster to contemplate together.
The second goal was to make the scenery he, Mrs. Inoki and quite a few nearby adults were so much happy to watch.
Since their arrival to Green Snow, the interaction between the young generation of Kingdom Earth’s newcomers and native young generation of the village was too restrained by both parties and being put in designated place for themselves made the integration even more difficult on the Kingdom Earth’s children’s part. As for the village’s children, even though they were curious and friendly, most felt uncomfortable entering the area set aside for the newcomers and initiating interaction with the new group of children seemingly already fine on their own.
Zax’s instigation managed to bring both parties together, a feat their parents failed to achieve but right now were grateful to spectate.
About two and a half hours after the battle began; the snowmen stopped regenerating and the last ice Core Zax imbued in each snowman was shattered to dissipating fragment. What took a very short time for the children to realize as a game was over and they all were hot and sweaty, lying on the snowy earth.
They got up gradually, smiling and still energetic. One of the youngling beasts raised its head and roared.
“Green Snow village is saved!” An eleven years old girl shouted triumphantly.
“We beat all the snowmen!”
“Good job, our parents are saved!”
“We should be awarded with no homework for a month!”
The hubbub went on as the group of over twenty children and juvenile beasts seemed to forget the reservation they had.
Zax did not interrupt them – he did not need to.
“Us who already accepted being ordinary people and find it too hard to alter the foundation he was can’t stand in the cold for a long time”. Mrs. Inoki noted and turned to Zax. “How about you join me for hot chocolate?”
“I will love to”. Zax took the invitation without hesitation, as this was his first connection toward rekindling his old childhood friendships. As of now, he had yet to speak with anyone of his longtime friends. Anet and Take were the exception only because she was romantically involved with him and he was his big sister’s Tal.
In the hut that was sizeable, furnished and not the least lacked the air of common living standards as in any home in Kingdom Earth, Zax sat alongside Mrs. Inoki, Weysey and his longtime girlfriend, Mr. Inoki and two more of their Weysey’s siblings.
Mrs. Inoki summoned everyone. The initial atmosphere in the room was awkward, but Mrs. Inoki thought that it is even more ridiculous that if children can, apparently, so easily get along, they, adults, will struggle to also do so. Hence, she domineeringly forced the ice to break.
They held small talks about their adaption to the new environment that soon developed to what lies beyond the green valley that is encompassed by tall mountains and impenetrable fog.
Half an hour into the sit together the Inoki family attentively listened to the flow of stories and discerptions Zax had to share from his personal accounts and stuff he heard from others.
Weysey and his girlfriend, Din Her, were both cultivators and their Mist Lords Mors also knew each other for many years. Cultivating in New Earth was much harder than in Ercas Mir, even though a great quantity of the inhabitants of the world beneath the ground had passible aptitude for the Martial path. For those with no baking or alignment, good resources could only be obtained through taking on missions in the Core Breaker Guild’s Basement Floor or venturing to Valgarel. Both options would more often than not lead to disastrous consequence, a fact that inhibit many, among which Weysey and Din Her.
The couple somewhat resented Zax for practically abducting them from their homes and the care of their respectable Mors. Unlike Weysey, Din Her family were left in Kingdom Earth and this caused her to be even more aggravated. But after being presented the opportunity to broaden the horizon of their Martial path, the two became less indignant by the day and up until today only a tad of uneasiness around Zax remained.
By the time everyone dispersed to their business, the weight on Zax heart lessened by six portions.
‘I… made the right choice’. He thought to himself as he headed to the decent abode Huland arranged for him. ‘I can keep going like this’. He meant with this life style that mixed becoming integral part of society and cultivation. ‘The windows to meditate and temper are short and in between, so breakthroughs take longer to achieve, but the feeling in my heart… it’s like having the joy of enlightenment every day’.
Following days and weeks, months also started to pass in succession.
As the first year lapsed the people from Kingdom Earth finally adjusted to Green Snow village being their new home. Simultaneously, Zax made amends with the majority of his relatives and friends. The few who still held a grudge were those family members of his friends that had no real relationship between him, and them and the life they had in Kingdom Earth was the life they worked hard to achieve and wanted. Apart from this matter, the rest was wonderful.
Zax was hanging out with his friends and new people they introduced to him or he got to meet in Green Snow village. His relationship with Anet was back on its original track. His big sister met someone, a first level Core Master and a member of Dark Glare. They had not married, yet, but Zax accompanied them to Valgarel for the second approval from the Martial family and Zetsa’s Master. By yearend she was two months pregnant!
The number of people who passed all the tests and preparations in order to move outside the village to a city or clan was on the low side. In the days before the second year commenced, four people received a favorable evaluation from Dark Glare and were sent to a clan in the southern part of the continent, where the organization had a measure of influence.
Most joyous was that the designated newcomers’ area was no longer treated as such; due to almost everyone identifying themselves as Green Snow’s people.
In an another ground chamber, atop a stone mat that released wisps of cold, black fumes, Zax’s figure was sitting crossed legged, naked.
He stayed like this for fifteen minutes and will go on for full five hours before his eyelids will pull up and his training session will come to close. It was his nightly routine in the past three months. The chamber was naturally the basement of his abode and the mat was of tropical volcanic rocks of a dormant volcano whose fiery attribute’s essence was overwhelmed by dark attribute’s essence after a natural phenomenon.
The overall volcanic rocks of the mat were impregnated with around eight hundred kilograms worth of dark attribute’s essence that could be absorbed. However, Zax was in the yet to be officially completed second stage of the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique, and even if he could begin to cultivate it, seven hundred kilograms was too little to even consider and will be of more use to his Maser or Grandmaster Kartion. That being said, Zax kept the mat because there was more to it than a source to dark attribute’s essence. The natural phenomenon responsible to the formation of the volcanic rocks imprinted a morsel of residual dark attribute’s property only those with high understanding of the dark attribute could vaguely perceive and make something of it. Zax was not sure yet if the property in question was Swallowing. He sensed the Devouring nature and a grain of Swallowing, but also an additional thing or things – He could not pin point – that was or were new to his understanding.
‘A crossroad…’ On his Inner Panorama the black fumes sipped to his sea of consciousness and circled his manifested naked self.
Before him was a notion, the crossroad, from which he sensed two directions he could thread, but had no clue of what on the other side of either.
‘One way has a blockade before it that in order to pass I’ll have to break through it. Another way is an open road, supposedly affirmation of the path I had taken till now… which should I pick?’
Days and weeks went by and he has not decided.