Book 7 – Ercas Mir
Chapter 1 – Explosive Entrance
Even after getting couple of kilometers away from the passageway to New Earth, Zax could still feel several Soul Senses sweeping him from afar.
‘These Curators are really annoying. Especially that Blue Sea guy, he seems to hold a grudge with me for what happened before…’
After a certain distance, the Soul Senses gradually disappeared, all but the Blue Sea humanoid beast’s. He pestered Zax for quite a while even after all the others settled down.
‘He is gone’. Zax stopped in his tracks, surrounded by the hundreds of meters tall tree in this giants’ forest. “That Blue Sea Curator probably got tired of bothering me”.
It did not leave Zax in a good mood. There was another thing on his mind that made him feel even more uncomfortable than nosy Curators he could do nothing to put in their places.
‘This damned marks they left on him. I can tell that they are somewhere on my or inside my body, by even my soul energy cannot detect the exact places they are at’.
The marks felt to Zax like a vexing itch under the skin, impossible to subside. To live with them until his day of return to New Earth or enrollment to one of the five powers, if he so chooses, would be something he will have to get used to.
‘There should be a village near by and another at that direction. If you go to any of them I might encounter a language barrier… But I rather not enter a human city without familiarizing myself with the proper conduct’.
Zax was in a bit of a dilemma. He knew the city named “Glorious Ground” of the Blessed Army was his desirable destination. But if he will go there not sure how to handle himself, it would be difficult to get around and make it a good starting point for his venture.
“Mm?” A distant sound caught Zax’s attention. Turning his head to where it came from, the tree obstructed his field of view. As for using his Soul Sense to see what is going on…
Zax decided to refrain from using his Soul Sense all too often in Ercas Mir for two reasons. First, as attractive as the new setting was and as interesting as it was to capture every bit of it, it would just tire him mentally if he will get absorbed in it with his Soul Sense for an extended period of time. His eyes, ears and other senses will do just well on this department. Second, when a cultivator uses Soul Sense and accidentally sweeps a cultivator of the same level or higher, the other party will know about it. In this new environment, Zax preferred to rather not reveal much of himself without knowing who might take notice.
“A calf?” When he got closer to the source of the sound, enough so he could detect it with his Soul Sense without spreading too far and wide, Zax finally released it. What he found was a frantic calf like creature.
It had the shape, the common color of the fur, white with brown stains, sounded the same, but from a deeper observation there was something off about it, apart from the reason it was screaming and running around frightened. Its skin was not skin and it fur was not fur, its entire exterior was a smooth shell like body armor and at the back of its neck was a thumb size pale looking scale.
“A Deformed Being!” Zax realized. “Could it be a baby? Its energy level is so pure and high! Already at the Core Breaker level!”
The calf bellowed in horror, and from a place not too far more similar sounds could be heard.
Zax jumped on one of the surrounding trees and began to run toward from above by crossing the magnitude of long branches. ‘Something chasing it?’
If the calf was separated from its herd or chased by another Deformed Being, Zax would not have much to worry about, but if it was a cultivator or a group of cultivators that are responsible for the commotion he will not expose himself before finding and examining them first.
It must be mentioned that Zax was not afraid from the Deformed Beings or cultivators in Selivereb, not even from the five Curators, but he did have compelling reasons not to show off...
A loud explosion resounded. Accompanying it was the sound of a falling tree.
Zax retracted his Soul Sense. His ears picked up human’s voices, though he could not understand their meaning, more so due to the mixture of earth shaking bellows and roaring from the same direction than the chance the language spoken was native to Ercas Mir.
As he rushed ahead, the more cows like Deformed Beings Zax saw running away.
‘What’s that!’ Zax halted, standing on a tall branch in a spot where he found a clearing in the foliage for his field view.
The scene that took place, roughly two hundred meters from him, was outright brutal!
A group of humans with cold weapons, forty seven in number, a massive bull like Deformed Being and an even bigger alligator looking Deformed Being were in a bloody skirmish.
The battle transpired in an open field, near the tree line to the forest and less than five hundred meters from an alarmed village.
Some of the humans, the minority, by their dressing were most likely residents of the village, perhaps its warriors. The majority seemed to be, by their actions, armors and level of cultivation, hired mercenaries. They, along with the bull, were doggedly attempting at killing the injured alligator.
‘Could that creature be a Black Chrome Alligator? It is written in Earth’s Records that at adulthood a Black Chrome Alligator can reach a step from the Peak of the second realm. This one, however, has the level of strength of an Intermediate second level Core Master. It should be a juvenile. Still… it’s very vicious, to be able to fight these guys to a state of even losses… The bull is near the Peak of the first realm, eight of the humans also in this level. The rest is lower and only two are in the Beginner phase of the first Core Master level. Moreover there are almost twenty human bodies, who know how strong they were?’
The skirmish continued with horrendous effort from both sides to try and persevere as red dyed the field of battle.
The wounds inflected on the body of the Black Chrome Alligator were constantly bleeding and its escape route was cut off by fallen down trees. Of the forty seven humans still living, most were exhausted, more bitter as a result of the casualties friends and kin than their own injuries. One of the horns of the bull was broken, and it gave the impression of staying on its hooves by sheer will, rage and wild instinct, as its eyes were completely red and around it were the half eaten carcasses of the cows Deformed Beings of its herd.
The Black Chrome Alligator slammed its tail in the bull, lifting it from the ground and throwing it tens of meters.
The terrifying blow deterred many in the humans group, but their core expert saw it as it opportunity to strike the alligator when it does not pay attention to them.
A composition of various types of attack landed on the exoskeleton armor of the Black Chrome Alligator, some via weaponry embedded with mist energy, others were pure mist attacks.
The Black Chrome Alligator cried in pain.
It madly brushed with its claws, piercing in its wake more of the humans.
Looking at the battle from afar, Zax could tell that the bull and the alligator were truly unintelligent as it was mentioned in Earth’s Records about Deformed Beings, which made it easy to assume what was the initial motive of the battle.
‘The Black Chrome Alligator should have come here to hunt for the cows Deformed Beings. Intruding on the bull’s territory, furthermore managing to grab members of its herd perhaps aroused its fury. The humans entered the fray either because the close proximity of the village or maybe the bull and cows Deformed Beings are their cattle’.
The presence of the supposed mercenaries indicated that there was more to the story, Zax guessed, but the knack of it he believed that he got.
Zax grimaced. Mostly living with beasts for the better part of his life, he was used to slaughter for survival, regardless which species died, but if the battle will be dragged to the village, where there probably were normal weak human, a senseless tragedy will unfold. Besides, it appeared that it was the Black Chrome Alligator a stepped out from its hunting zone, since there was not seem to be any body of water around.
Having a greater measure of sentiment toward humans – the wild alligator was far from what Zax considered beasts on the same level as those in his Martial family – Zax decided not to sit still.
Wait for the right moment, Zax searched for the opening for a deceive blow that will kill the Black Chrome Alligator without exposing much of his strength.
Jumping down from the branch and mustering Kinetic Force, Zax’s speed erupted and with his proficiency, without causing a sound.
“Dammit, dammit, dammit, dammit!” The middle age first level Core Master cursed as he led the assault against the Black Chrome Alligator.
He brandished his two handed saber and bit his lips in frustration. There were many deaths, far beyond his calculation, and in this point of the battle, his armor was too damaged to amount for a protective wear and equally was the state of the men following him.
“That fucking lizard! No matter what, keep attacking it! If it will escape everything would be for naught!”
Shouted all of those who still had fighting spirit in them.
“Garnet, your village hired my mercenary band to kill a Black Chrome Alligator at the Peak of the first Core Master level, not this monstrosity! When the battle is over if you don’t give us another raise, god help me…!”
Somewhere on the battlefield, another middle age man, holding an axe, had a deep frown on his face but no words came out from his mouth. His attire was much different than many of the surrounding men and the so called “captain” of the mercenary band. His armor was plain, made from bits and pieces of what appeared to be a white and brown exoskeleton that was put together sloppily.
The man was Garnet, the leader of the in experienced warriors from the nearby village.
The Black Chrome Alligator was banished from its congregations by the dominate male, and for the past months hung around the periphery the village, hunting the cattle and sometimes basically putting the residents of the village under siege.
The head of the village tried, at first, to ask the other village in the vicinity to group together and have their warriors kill the menacing Black Chrome Alligator. But for the time being the Black Chrome Alligator only concentrated in the one village, and so the other refused to risk their warriors. Eventually it became unbearable and the village head submitted to his people request to hire outsiders to deal with the Black Chrome Alligator. Thus, the Mendor mercenary band whose base is situated in the not far Glorious Ground city accepted the job.
Nevertheless, things only became more complicated after the Mendor mercenary band arrived to the village. Garnet, who estimated the strength of the Black Chrome Alligator was vastly wrong, and changes had to be made in the agreement of the village head and Mendor, the captain of the mercenary band. There was a fifty percent increase from the original fee, the village warriors had to support the mercenary band during battle as the rearguard and most importantly, the mercenary band will keep two thirds of the Black Chrome Alligator’s corpse.
“Eh? Who’s that?!” Mendor squinted as an unrecognizable silhouette came out of nowhere in high speed toward the alligator.
Zax aimed for an open wound in a vital area in the body of the Black Chrome Alligator, and a good one was right at the side of its neck, where its head was connected to the rest of the body.
Zax punched his way inside the wound, shoving nearly his entire arm in.
The Black Chrome Alligator roared in agony, but was too slow to react as Zax channeled kinetic energy and converged it to Kinetic Force.
A garish explosion blew the neck of the alligator, turning half of its skull to raining mush and the other half disconnecting from the body.
The Black Chrome Alligator’s headless body lost power in its feet and fell. Seconds after its death the bloody rain also stopped and Zax dirty figure was somewhat clear.