Book 7 – Ercas Mir
Chapter 32 – For The Road Ahead
It seemed as if the sky turned black, but in fact it was his dark domain becoming visible, encompassing a radius of three kilometers.
Zax uttered a groan while smiling. In his Dark Titan Storm, he felt both stranger to his body like he was in some coarse and heavy battle suit, and exceptionally strong.
Moving his arms and legs and even nudging his head was taxing, but utilizing the dark attribute domain to float and soar was as easy as just imagining the feat.
As she built up the green, swirling gale within her gauntlets, Sister Beatriz's torrential barrage grew more intense, to quash his monstrous transformation, yet all that those attacks could do was slightly impede Zax's advancement and a bit shake his grand physique.
'It's going to be short, less than twenty seconds'. Zax thought to himself, deciding not to waste time.
Lifting his massive black arms with great effort, all the dark attribute energy making his domain fluctuated in response, giving the impression of a terrifying monster opening its eyelids after a long slumber.
"This vibrations…" Sister Beatriz's mug fell. "Suppressing my windy attribute!" The windy attribute mixed with her mist energy and situated in her green soul was oppressed, unable to fortify the two aspects. "Oh, no!" She hastily shifted her gaze to Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence, shouting to the former while concentrating on the latter. "Sister Iaura, hurry! Use whatever in your and His Young Eminence's possession to erect a shelter!" She instructed and threw from her spatial ring another piece of a building model, only smaller than the first one and white in color.
The white radiance of the new building model shot toward the two, upon arrival creating a small, semi transparent manifestation of the source's shape around them, which tried to subdue the overbearing dark attribute under Zax's control.
Sister Beatriz's concern was that with His Young Eminence's light attribute being suppressed and the dark attribute around him becoming wickeder, his wounds will worsen, placing his life in risk despite applying the potion His Holiness granted Sister Iaura.
"Ha!" Zax hurled his arms down.
"Die!" Sister Beatriz released the green gale.
A grandiose explosion ensued.
"Run!" Rockwell and Riv bellowed simultaneously and run to the edges of the surround dark attribute domain, escaping it and proceeding to the boundaries of the gray building manifestation.
Though slower, Murreta and the rest also attempted to escape the shockwave and destructive fluctuations, all the while not forgetting to unite their mist energy in a protective formation around Gong Vreil and Fengar, hopefully to later appease Zax.
Sister Iaura frantically used all components suitable for erecting a protective formation, any item and treasure in her spatial ring before apologetically rifling in His Young Eminence's. Her attainments in formations, in addition to the several unique items she received form her parents and what she found at His Young Eminence, allowed her to replicate the undulation of the white building manifestation, choosing to strengthen rather than creating a second, insufficient layer of protection.
As everyone else sought to avoid or defend from the shockwave, the only two in its epicenter actually strived forward.
Sister Beatriz performed a set of fist technique, coordinating with the green gale which did not dissipate.
The green gale whipped Zax rapidly, too fast for his slow movement.
Each strike bore a deep, resonating sound.
Incapable of keeping up with the green gale, Zax endured the excruciating pain of his fracturing bones, but that was not the end of his sorrows. Due to the straining amount of dark attribute energy and mental effort it took to transform into and maintain the Dark Titan Storm form, the pace of his recovery ability has slowed down significantly. Adding injuries to his unstable form, the time he could support it shortened by close to half.
'If my fist land directly on her body, I'm certain of severely wounding her, perhaps even taking her life. Shame, even with all this strength, an opponent like her, Advanced third level Martial Mortal is still too troublesome to deal with'.
Other than having to maintain focus on the Dark Titan Storm form, his mind was clear and composed. Considering that his advantage sprout from superior insights and not cultivation, he could accept the fact that even though he could not beat third level Martial Mortal, they in return could not kill him, at most suppress him.
Sighing satisfactorily, the urge to prolong the battle gradually disappeared.
"You can't beat me, how about we end this small strife here?" He offered.
"Vile heathen, it is apparent that this form of yours is too strenuous. Seeking clemency for your fiendish behavior is too late!" Sister Beatriz snorted.
"Is that so…" Zax scoffed. Throwing a casual punch, a dark ray shuttled through the air and clashed with the white building manifestation protecting Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence.
The fortified white building manifestation trembled, its radiance dimmed and flickered.
"Shameful heathen!" Sister Beatriz might have been quick and her green gale quicker, but neither as fast as the dark ray. When she saw that Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence were still safe within their waned protection, she shifted her eyes to Zax and cursed with a bitter taste in her mouth.
If it caught up with her, the dark ray would have been something that she herself could withstand, but to guard other from it was another entirely.
Flapping his arm, three more dark rays shot toward the cornered pair. Being more alert this time, Sister Beatriz's green gale whipped one ray, reflecting it away, but the other two rays were too fast and proceeded to their destination.
The two rays landed roughly hundred meters from the white building manifestation.
"This time I did not bother aiming and my arm wasn't moving that fast, yet you were only able to halt one dark ray and even that was by reflecting it. Should we try again? If not, then you better get lost, otherwise, if you'll wait for me to assume my original form I'll be sure to beforehand blast your two companion to the eight heaven!" Zax taunted with a cold countenance.
Aggrieved and powerless to change the circumstance, Sister Beatriz wordlessly retracted the green gale, rescinding it. "Tell me your name!" She demanded.
"No need. If I'll ever have to find you, I'll just pay a visit to the places of your Luminous Church".
Frowning, Sister Beatriz ignored the subtle warning and flew back to Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence.
"How is His Young Eminence?" She asked. Gesturing with her hand, she created a mantle around the two as the white building model absorbed its radiating manifestation. On its small frame several deep fissures suddenly formed, unrepairable damage by Sister Beatriz's despondent expression.
"He… is improving". Sister Iaura said softly.
Nodding, relaxed, Sister Beatriz gestured again and the gray radiance that blocked the obstinate wraiths was sucked back to the gray building model.
Thousands of the detestable creatures brandished their bony long fingers and hastened in for Zax and the rest.
The instant they crossed into the active dark attribute domain, their raging screeches turned miserable and as if they recalled the fear and pain they suffered in their previous lives before being merged and molded by God Demirva into what they pitifully currently are.
Zax, of course, took note of the odd reaction the wraiths add, which consequently brought a smile to his face.
'So now I'm also free to roam places that inhabit dark attribute beings?' He wondered and whether there are more places worth visiting in Ercas Mir that he should go to test this theory.
Entering the star shaped aircraft, Sister Beatriz, Sister Iaura and the unconscious His Young Eminence finally left.
Zax, too, returned to his regular form. Immersing in the worldly dark attribute energy, the wounds Sister Beatriz inflicted his Dark Titan Storm healed.
Locating Murreta's group and Fengar, Zax vanished and appeared in front of the lot.
"Great Expert! Good, good! You managed to even banish an Extreme Expert! I, Hereb Lish, truly find your prowess admirable!" Hereb Lish said in a complete straight face, his despicable conduct raised waves of scorn in the hearts of the others.
"Your friend, Fengar, he is doing better. After couple of days of rest, he should wake up". Gong Vreil hurried to explain.
Zax picked and engulfed Fengar in dark attribute energy. "When I leave, those wraiths will return. Choose yourselves if you want to stay here and greet them or leave". He said to Gong Vreil, ignoring the rest.
He was in a good mood. Taking in part in this High Rankers’ trials benefited him more than he could imagine. This ordeal with Murreta and the rest did not interest him anymore.
"Excuse me…" Just as he was about to depart, an old woman voice resounded from behind.
Zax turned, facing Lady Zhuah, questioning her with his eyes.
"Sir, please forgive my impudence", Lady Zhuah firstly asked. "But, you defeated members of the five powers and… obtained their spatial rings". Before she even completed her sentence the other seemed to realize.
"Dark attribute's essence". Lurvar murmured.
Zax creased his brows, also understanding Lady Zhuah's meaning. "I haven't properly checked, yet, but even if there are, they are not for sale or trade". He resumed his leave, only before disappeared he added. "And if words will spread about today event, it will be for the best that you, all, omit the dark attribute's essence part".
Demirva Ridge was long and vast. Crossing it, finishing the trials would still take some time, however Zax was not in a hurry and he also wanted to give Fengar time to wake up. Thus, after finding suitable, former residential cave in the belly of a random mountain, Zax decided to make camp and examine some stuff in himself he was not feeling comfortable with.
'These are the marks left by the Curator’s Mark…' As a result of his enlightenment, using both soul energy and dark attribute energy, Zax could better sense and gauge the situation of his body.
The five marks appeared glowing.
'Are they letting the five powers know that I broke through the second realm of bodily cultivation?' It was most likely the case. 'Humph! My business in Ercas Mir is still not over. When I'll want to return to New Earth, let's see them stop me. Considering the Curators' level of cultivation, they won't be able to perceive me entering the passageway, anyway. Till then, think of me as dead'. He made up his mind and utilizing both energies along with the devouring nature of the dark attribute, he eradicated rather than expel the supposedly untouchable marks of the grand five powers.
Moving on to the spatial rings on his person. Destroying their insignias and scrutinizing them… 'There are actually three dark attribute's essences!' he cried inwardly. 'their size vary, all smaller than the one I used, but they did say a lot "perfect dark attribute's essence"… One of these I will give Fengar'. It did not matter that he got them all by himself. A companion is a companion. "Besides, I need to figure how to refine the other two before consulting Master and Grand Master on how to divide them. Fengar might have an idea on how or who can teach me the refinement method". That was his plan.
"Well, you waited patiently". Zax said, smirking and glancing toward the cave's entrance.
"Hahahaha, you looked as if you were preoccupied with some important introspection. Didn't want to bother you". A tall, black skinned and joyful middle aged Rockwell crossed the threshold of the caver, accompanied by the olive skinned, brown long haired Riv.
"Initially you gave us a scare, but luckily you pulled through". Riv smiled amiably.
"Oh, hey, if it isn't the try guys…" Zax said sarcastically.
"We did try". Rockwell said, grimacing yet still smiling. "Can you blame us that an Advanced Extreme Expert showed up?" He said sincerely.
If he was honest with himself, Zax had to admit that in their shoes he would have probably acted the same.
"Fine, I won't bicker with you. Why, then, are you here?" The dark attribute's essence was one reason that came to his mind.
"We want re extend the offer of joining Sinister Chain". Riv said in courtesy. "Naturally, you won't have to be tested, only get the approval of the leader". She wanted to express full transparency. As for the dark attribute's essence he obtained, both she and Rockwell knew that even in the Companion's Link formation they are not Zax's match, and also it was not like they were empty handed before intruding on the Mo's Pyramid formation.
'Joining Sinister Chain…' Zax mused.
The only reason he still considered joining a Geared mercenary band was for the information network of a well established, prominent faction that will help him investigate the ins and outs of the five powers, their roots and intention as rulers of Ercas Mir and also a clear path for the Black Core above the surface of the earth.
'At this point, it doesn't matter if I'll join a Geared mercenary band or a criminal organization. Moreover, an invitation to the most notorious criminal organization does not much differ than being recruited to the best Geared mercenary band, I supposed…'
Seeing that he was seriously thinking his reply, Rockwell tossed him a crimson, hexagonal token with two letters printed on it in Netherling, ”S.C”.
“Don’t make the decision now. I propose that you will wait until after settling all your affairs regarding the trials and your friend, here. Afterwards inject soul energy to the token – you will only get one chance, so be prepared – a surge of information will flow to your head, a date, time and location for a meet up with a representative of our Sinister Chain. Should you decide to join us; the representative will clarify the rest of the details. Should you have any other, inimical ideas, then you will lose your chance of ever becoming one of us”. After a short pause, Rockwell added. “Don’t forget that we are already bounded by our common enemies”.
His tone was poised,non threatening nor showing any weaknesses. In complete agreement with his partner, he expounded about everything Zax needed to know until he will made up his mind.
Tacitly nodding, Zax placed the token in his spatial ring.
“We will take our leave now, we will save proper introduction for if and when you’ll join us”. Rockwell said and turned to depart the cave.
“Goodbye”. Riv followed from behind.
“Well”, seeing their backs disappear, Zax thought outloud while glancing at Fengar. “It seems that I have some important decisions to make…”