Book 7 – Ercas Mir
Chapter 22 – Dark Attribute’s Essence
“Zax…” Fengar said solemnly.
“I know”. Zax said without shifting his attention from the wraiths.
The upsurge of mist energies by Luze’s party, inevitably attract experts who laid low and surveyed the situation from a far. When the conflict ended, a few experts departed from their hideouts, aware, like Luze and her companions, that things are way over their heads. Nonetheless, there were still around forty pairs of prying eyes left, ready to make a move for the dark attribute’s essence.
Zax was on the tips of his toes. Since the surrounding experts did not attack or try to monopolize the dark attribute’s essence in advance with a show of strength, he could not afford to be bothered by them.
‘It must be any moment now! Both wraiths torn each other to pieces, I imagine that the surviving one should barely have the soul energy to match a newly promoted Martial Mortal, much less being besieged by tens of greedy opportunists’. Fengar thought up on the mound.
He wondered whether Zax was too consumed by the desire to obtain the dark attribute’s essence to disregard all variables or was he prepared to handle what will happen the moment only one wraith will remain.
The tension was almost tangible. The two wraiths exchanged what seemed as final blows. Experts who conspired to betray, work together, issue a surprise attack or maintain their position until the chance to safely get the dark attribute’s essence will arise, were observing the two damned creature with rapt attention.
Four colorful and destructive rays of mist energy shot at the two wraiths, unable to harm their soul and dark attribute based bodies, producing a towering lasting explosion upon impact with the ground that masked the vicinity with blinding light.
Seven figures, clad in khaki garments, simultaneously stepped out from behind a mountain pass. Aligned with one another, the same green aura engulfed them as they breached the explosion’s area of eruption.
They moved fast and unexpectedly while it was still undetermined which wraith will survive.
“Bastards! They are trying to steal the dark attribute’s essence!” Someone from a nearby mountaintop shouted.
“Zax!” Fengar yelled at him, right when he was about to enter the strife.
“What?!” Zax was livid. Even he, who was the closest to the two wraiths, could not react in time and was pushed back by the explosion.
From the glimpse he caught of the seven figures, it was more likely that they used a joint formation than had an individually strength beyond the second realm, as fluctuated from their green aura.
“The wraiths aren’t dead yet and many experts, not necessarily weaker than me came out from their hideouts, don’t be rush!” Fengar summed up, not really expecting Zax to postpone his charge, but hoping for him to be vigilance with it. After all, he also was aching to move!
Shrilling screams resounded from the still tower of turbulent energy. The blast could not hurt them, but the extreme and abrupt change in the environment affected the wraiths mobility. Incorporeal as their ghostly physique was, they were very sluggish and had to struggle awfully when moving through solid objects, which is why they had an innate tendency to avoid from doing so.
Seven figures, emanating hostile intent, swooped in between them, carried by a green gale.
“Remember, we have twenty second, at most. Shizu, Bathar, obstruct the wraith at our back!” A man with long, black hair informed and directed two of the seven.
“Yes!” The two replied and hurried to erect a dome of green energy around one of the wraiths.
The man proceeded to lead the other four toward the weaker wraith Zax chased.
The green energy that originated from the seven’s formation had mist energy and soul energy intertwined, suppressing both wraiths.
“Tie it up!” The black haired man commanded.
He and the four with him swayed their arms rhythmically. A green rope of energy, like living snake, wriggled in the air and coiled around the wraith.
The wraith screamed. Unable to escape, missing a kin to destroy itself, it could only resort to retaliating. With not much power left, it stretched its bony arms, grabbed the green rope and tried to expand its envelopment.
The five were sweating profusely. “Come on! Others had crossed the explosion’s range. Shizu, Bathar, get back here and help us, we are leaving!”
Shizu and Bathar increased the output of green energy on the dome, buying a little bit of time to hold back the other wraith. They converged with the five and followed their movements.
The green rope began to press on the screaming wraiths.
“It’s captured, we are going!”
The captured wraith madly struggled to get free. The seven ignored it and bolted flying, pulling it at their tail.
Zax dodged a dagger shaped mist attack that was aimed at his throat. The sneak attack failed and the culprit ran away.
Zax gritted his teeth and continued onwards into the receding explosion. There were, in fact, four dagger shaped mist attacks, but only one was after his life. The other three were aimed at other experts that joined the strife and only one croaked.
Where the wraiths were swallowed by the explosion, a blast was heard. Not caring anymore, Zax used his Soul Sense, discovering a lone wraith with residues of green energy dissipating around it.
‘They are escaping!’ He was shocked to detect the seven early birds already hundreds of meters far and getting farther. ‘They got him!’ He did not care what formation or technique they used to fly, but that they captured his wraith, which he could tell apart by its injuries.
Similarly to Zax, about two thirds of the experts around decided to utilize their Soul Senses. A minority elected to chase the seven, one figure was actually flying after them, a Martial Mortal!
“Zax”, Fengar caught up to him, holding his axe. “Have you seen him? It was a Martial Mortal from the Stone Clawed Bear clan! The major clans and families stopped standing idly on the sidelines. Pick a direction, but keep in mind that if we fail to obtain a dark attribute’s essence, I won’t halt anymore until we, or I alone, will leave the ridge!”
Zax heard Fengar, yet said nothing in response. He already took in consideration other Martial Mortals emerging when the flying giant bear appeared, so he was not completely oblivious to the situation, mostly furious for having his target, the dark attribute’s essence that a while ago was nearly in his hands, being taken away.
“None of us wished for this assignment to be more than we bargained, Fengar, a tough trial to become Ranker mercenaries, one you encouraged to accept”. He finally opened. “Things changed. And don’t tell me you don’t desire the dark attribute’s essence, as well. I’m not looking to die in the ridge, but I won’t give up before doing everything I can to get the dark attribute’s essence… or killing enough of those who prevented me”.
Zax went after the wraith the seven left behind. It was stronger and encircled by more than twenty experts and who knows how many still lurked, however it was within reach!
The wraith swung its hands in ripping fashion. A handful of experts were already struck to death by its torrential soul attacks. It looked for routes for escape; however it was guarded too tightly.
There were five prominent experts that the rest either listened to or did not mess with. Zax was among them. His young countenance and severed limbed may had made him look non threatening, but his demeanor, coupled with how easily he brought to submission Luze’s party, caused the spectators to rethink the value of aggravating him.
The explosion completely faded, turning the battlefield to a deep crater.
A bony left hand thrust like a spear head. Zax bent his back and could feel the wind of the missed strike blowing his hair. He withdrawn, eyeing if the wraith still after him and raised his vigilance at the chance he will be sneakily attacked, again, by the surrounding experts.
“It won’t do. In its condition, its soul energy is deterrence to even first level Martial Mortals. It will sooner run away than let us obtain the dark attribute’s essence”. A thirty years old looking woman with shoulder length bleached hair noted next to Zax.
She approached after he fell back. Having a concentrated expression, she examined each and every movement of the wraith. Zax recognized her as one of the five prominent experts and happened to hear someone saying her name is “Gong Vreil”.
As eager as Zax was, at the moment, to kill any expert who come by his side, he restrained himself. He ignored the “Us” in Gong Vreil’s second sentence and strove to assuage the unremitting influence the dark attribute’s essence had on him.
“What’s your plan?” He asked. Snatching the dark attribute’s essence after killing the wraith was, perhaps, a better way to get it, less exhausting.
“My name is Gong Vreil, what’s yours?” Gong Vreil asked in return.
“Well, Zax, we all know what would be the follow up of defeating the wraith. To even reach that point, we must put those thoughts aside. I already discussed my idea with Lurvar, the Cyan Macaw, and she agreed to convey it to Kirik, the Six Legged Stallion. What I mean to say, before getting into details, the plan I concocted is already in motion”.
‘What you say is “participate or get lost” before even sharing the details…’ Zax thought, not putting much care to it. Besides, he could just take his word back after hearing the plan. “I have a friend here. I’ll help, but you have to include him in your plan”. Although they were not seeing exactly eye to eye, he could not abandoned Fengar.
Gong Vreil snickered. “No one came here alone, but that doesn’t mean that all of our companions are useful. Your friend is the guy with the axe, right? I saw you talking to him and felt his level of cultivation. I can let him play a role, but it would be risky”.
“Enough! Tell me your plan”. Zax insisted, not in the mood to prolong the discussion.
“Very well, assuming your friend will partake in the plan; the gist of it is utilizing a Boundary formation to limit the wraith’s movement and weakening it, followed up by a joint attack to kill it. You, me, Lurvar, hopefully Kirik and two more will coordinate to bring the wraith down and take the dark attribute’s essence. Twelve other cultivators, your friend among them, will be responsible for the Boundary formation”.
“Oh… So when it would be just the six of us against the wraith, the other five wouldn’t mind who gets the dark attribute’s essence?”
“If I’ll say they won’t, would you believe me?” Gong Vreil stuck to being honest.
Zax did not answer. In truth, he was already prepared to kill and take the dark attribute’s essence from any of the five, even while presenting the question.
Seeing that he is saying nothing, Gong Vreil proceeded to say. “Ask your friend if he is willing to participate and give me a sign if he is. I’ll send someone to guide him. The plan will commence in four minutes”. She finished and departed.
“Don’t underestimate Gong Vreil. I heard that she was already recruited to a Geared ranked mercenary band. Becoming a Ranker mercenary is only a formality for her”. Fengar cautioned.
“I won’t. Will you join her plan?”
“Yes”. Fengar frowned. “Only to keep an eye on your troublesome ass”. He growled.
An azure mantle descended on the wraith in a radius of sixty meters. Twenty three experts were on the battlefield, yet only eighteen were part of Gong Vreil’s plan.
“Don’t interfere!” The main six warned the remaining five and entered the range of the Boundary formation.
“Careful, his strength is still above the Core Master realm”. A bald man in monk’s clothing, Hereb Lish, said.
“Work together and we will win!” Gong Vreil affirmed.
To refrain from damaging the formation, the six engaged in close quarters combat, maneuvering with the boost of mist energy, attacking in every possible way with soul energy.
Some noted Zax’s solitary use of his physique and soul energy. Some, Zax noted, were not weaker than him, particularly Gong Vreil and Kirik.
The wraith was on the brink of collapsing, more than half of its body was obliterated by constant soul attacks.
The six were gearing up for the aftermath, the internal war for the dark attribute’s essence.
‘He’s down!’ The same thought reverberated in all six minds.
Zax unleashed all the buildup of Kinetic Force from the fight as a thin defensive layer around him and dashed forward.
Gong Vreil and Kirik were the only ones able to keep up with him.
Kirik had to transform to his human form to get a grip on the dark attribute’s essence, which slowed him down.
Two hands pierced the wraith’s head, a male’s and a female’s.
‘I got it!’ Zax yelled inwardly and hastily retracted his arm. His sea of consciousness felt like stars of ecstasy exploded in it. He could not get over the intemperance when something suddenly blasted him.
“Zaaax!” Fengar yelled. He separated from the formation, which caused it to breakdown, and threw his axe at Gong Vreil.
The taste of blood in his mouth brought Zax back from the stupor. He found himself buried thirty meters in the ground. ‘The dark attribute’s essence!’ It was painful, but though injured, his left arm was intact and still holding the white, mesmerizing dwarf.
‘You IDIOT!’ He barely had the time to think when he sensed five incoming attacks.
“The five… No! Every cultivator present is after my dark attribute’s essence!” He turned, sheltering his back with Kinetic Force and dug into the ground.
Locating him with Soul Sense through the earth and stone will slow his pursuers down.
As the hunt for the reaped dark attribute’s essence commenced and everyone, hidden or on site, frantically came after Zax; a small portion of experts, who managed to maintain the clearness of their minds, retained their positions.
They saw the tens of experts and even three Martial Mortals get involved in the chase, that the precious dark attribute’s essence and the one who obtained it had hidden underground, but none of these matters bothered them. They felt like something far more amiss than losing the dark attribute’s essence or being hunted by Martial Mortals is about to befall everyone in the ridge.
Their gazes shifted casually to where the wraith was last seen.
“Still there!” Their pupils contracted.
Only the head, transparent, lying on the ground in calmness, not uttering a sound, not disintegrating as expected.
Back pillar descended from the heaves on the wraith’s head, spreading blackness across the sky.
Demirva Ridge, Selivereb, Western Continent, Ercas Mir… all life stood still.
“God Demirva… It is God Demirva…!” A voice whispered in fright.