Book 8 – Element
Chapter 16 – Finding The Third Black Core
“When are you going to cheer up, Benni? You know that even if we invited Zax to join us, when we had to leave he would stay”. Hason, the brown fox, tried to show the depressed Benni some reason.
The nine lingered in the Earthly Crater for a month and a half. Most of them wished to stay longer, but time was not on their side. They had to reach their destination in the Eastern Continent within twenty days and though it sounded like plenty of time, factoring certain obstacles, it turned out pretty short.
“Leave he alone. I can’t believe she actually fell for a guy she knows nothing about”. Vars glowered.
“Don’t be a jerk, Vars”, Bin Bin, who regained his freedom by learning his lesson, or at least pretended to, pitied Benni for knowing how it feels when everyone choose to make an unreasonable discoing, while the poor individual is the only sensible one – even if that was not accurately to say on the current case.
“Don’t mess with a Martial Mortal, ‘Bin Sprout’” Vars retorted. Her mood worsened since leaving the crater and the cause was, again, Zax.
Seeing him starts at the seventh ring while she at the sixth inflated her ego, but before she could sneer at him in her heart, he got up on his feet and moved to the sixth ring and then barely half a month later he proceeded to the fifth, where Enderta, Zenkai and Liminton were the only ones in their group capable of staying.
“What will you do, eh? Beat me up?” Bin Bin was not afraid, though also not stupid to neglect assurances. “Did you hear her, uncle Liminton? Vars said that she will beat me, does she even care about giving you face?!”
“It’s not what she said”. Liminton truly did not want to involve himself in Benni’s lovesickness, Vars’s bitterness and Bin Bin’s boredom. “But depend on how hard she will hit-”
“No, my bad, uncle Liminton, I misheard. She really did not say that she will beat me!” Surprisingly, the fear of Liminton allowing Vars to actually beat him, was the push needed for Bin Bin to make the first honest stride on the path of reflecting over one own mischief.
“Right, I won’t beat you, Bin Bin, never. I require healthy specimen to test my formations on”. Vars reminded Bin Bin that although he was previously tied to Liminton, it was her formation the constrained him and more importantly, silenced his voice.
“Wonderful big sister Vars, please don’t get angry. Little brother Bin Bin was just worried about your reputation getting tarnished by others’ misconception”. Bin Bin slowly drew to the back of the group.
“Well, it was you who associated her with the noun ‘Jerk’”. Zenkai held back his laugh, aware how much the lad wished to curse at him, which made him more amused.
“Hahaha”. Bin Bin laughed awkwardly, getting behind Liminton, trying to recall how that thing he always calls “keeping your mouth shut” works…
‘The problem is my soul. If I challenge those with superior cultivation, while my cultivation is at a halt until I’ll comprehend the sixth bottleneck of insight, I need to come up with a technique to compensate over the inferiority’. He assessed that his soul defensive formation could support no farther than the third ring, as well as not be much of help against the soul attack of forth level Martial Mortal and up.
When he exited the Earthly Crater he left though the Nidbuk Ocean, but as he followed the direction his gut feeling told him he will ding the third Black Core, he soon crossed to and proceeded to fly above the Seer Don Ocean.
‘Land!’ After a day of flight in moderate pace he finally saw it. It was not an island, like he wondered a while back, but a piece of earth that stretched far beyond his eyes could see, despite his distance from it.
Unbeknownst to Zax, he arrived to the middle part of the Eastern Continent.
‘Halt!’ A deeply voiced command sounded and a group of five beasts in animalistic forms, ranging in size from that of a human to that of a five storey building, flew from the continent to greet Zax.
The five were respectfully a Desert Cobra, Golden Sand Mink, Short Ears Caracal, Long Ears Caracal and Red Sun Oryx – though to Zax it did not matter since he was oblivious of their species’ names.
“Another one arrived so soon. The Overlords’ quarrel is making it too easy for experts to cross the sea”. The Golden Sand Mink growled, his bestial nature coercing him to expose his sharp teeth. “Look what he is wearing, are these clothes made out of seaweeds…?”
“Maybe it is the humans’ fashion in the Western Continent”. The Desert Cobra suggested. “Though it doesn’t seems to be much of a protective wears, like what the others were wearing”.
After the White Coat was shredded, Zax indeed made himself something out of the sturdy seaweeds he found in the bottom of the sea, eventually coming up with clothing similar to the tunics that were common in the villages around Glorious Ground.
“State your name and intent of intruding on the Beasts Union’s territory!” The Red Sun Oryx ordered Zax. Since he could not sense fluctuations of mist energy from the human, he assumed that he was a Peak Core Master utilizing substandard flying technique.
‘Five Martial Mortals, that is more than the five powers bother to invest on the passageway home’s Curators’. The five exuded hostile fluctuations of four first level Martial Mortals and one second level Martial Mortal, so Zax did not need to use his Soul Sense to probe. ‘Moreover the speak Netherling’. From his welcome in Virgil’s Pasture and the things he learned there, he thought that Netherling was a language indigenous to the Western Continent or at least Selivereb. What he did not take into consideration was that his Intel originated from a simple village, while even most of the second realm experts in the Western Continent spend their lives never crossing the sea. ‘On second thought, knowing a few languages is not a big deal for cultivators’.
“My name is ‘Zax’. I didn’t come here to cause troubles to your Beasts Union or whatever, so move away and let me carry on with my business”. Zax paid back with his own hostile intent, just as a threat, and flew past them.
The five beasts’ faces turned grim. The foreigner was an expert stronger than they encountered thus far. Their leader, the Red Sun Oryx, realized that they have to be careful with their temperaments and following response.
“Ignore him. Because of the outcome of the conclave, many strong experts will keep coming, as long as they admit to not present an ill intent toward the union, everything else if fine”.
The earth was a desert with thorny vegetation, mostly bushes, and the forests were few, much shorter and smaller than in Selivereb.
Zax observed the vicinity with his eyes and Soul Sense, detecting some desert types Deformed Beings and several tribes of beasts, from them he reached the understanding that Netherling was probably the spoken language in all of Ercas Mir and his previous frame of thought spawned from ignorance.
He continued to fly for a long time, sometimes curious to land and explore the cultural diversity of the eastern tribes. Unlike their counterparts in the Western Continent, here they all maintained their animalistic forms and only change to humanoid when entering their humble abodes and few establishments.
‘It’s in this city’. Zax determined, pleased that finally got to where the third Black Core is.
The city clearly was beyond the territory of the Beasts Union. It was bigger than the cities he had been to in Selivereb, couple of time larger like a small country surrounded by tall walls.
The steampunk air was absent and the peak of technological advancement appeared to be decades behind places like Glorious Ground. Nevertheless, where the city fell behind it also beautifully shined with its openness, bright coolers and overall joyous atmosphere. To Zax the city reminded the middle eastern’s king cities of the old history, where today they were only mentioned in museums and children stories.
Hovering above the city his presence was noticed by its guards. They wore military uniforms with golden, cinderblock badges embedded with the words “Golden Desert Forte” on their shoulders.
Their commanders reported his presence in their communicators and resumed their duties. Although it was against regulation to let someone into the city without processing and identity checkup, not mention flying without a permit, they too were informed of the great amount of expert on their way to the Eastern Continent. If some of them chose to make a rest stop in their city until the appointed date, it was better to let them and leave them be as long as they do not disturb the peace.
Descending, Zax chose an inconspicuous spot between two buildings, to avoid alarming anyone. He vanished fast from the sky and appeared on the ground wearing the local’s fairly humble, extremely comfortable garments of dark fabric shirt and pants, which he “picked up” from a clothesline. He still was barefooted, but that was also dealt with after a quick rummaging with his Soul Sense.
The streets were wide, yet full of hubbub. There were vendors, kids playing, street performers, busy pedestrians, large vehicles pulling larger carts and much more that supplemented the energetic ambiance.
Zax got to a three story building that its ground floor was a rustic restaurant.
‘The second floor’. Unexpectedly, there he sensed the Black Core. He used his Soul Sense in an attempt to pinpoint its location, only to be met with obstructive formation, which he could break, but for now he preferred to be subtle in his approach.
At the side of the building was the entrance and staircase for the upper floors. He climbed, clenching his fist. With the third Black Core almost in his hands, he was one Black Core short from officially becoming the true heir of Legacy Of The One’s Path!
Less crucial but also intriguing was the question of how the third Black Core got to Ercas Mir from the first place. Since detecting it, it never moved, which meant that it was not used. Maybe someone carried it from New Earth, or perhaps a potential heir died in Ercas Mir and someone from above the ground find it?
He waited for someone inside the respond.
The door opened, apparently it was not locked. A brown skinned, native looking young woman in a beige blouse, long red dress and flowing brown hair draping over her shoulder appeared on the other side.
Zax examined whatever he could from her. It was easier to determine her cultivation without breaking the formation, once the door was opened and the occupant was close to him.
‘An E level Earth’s Core Holder’. He was taken aback, while she was in the midst of pronouncing the first word. ‘In her dantian there is also an Earth’s Core!’
The majority of the humans and beasts population in Ercas Mir uses low quality Pure Cores, inherit a Seed from a strong ancestor that continue to pass for generations, or cultivate publicly available Qi and mist refinement techniques.
Earth’s Cores were nearly unheard of, an exclusive commodity to New Earth. To find them in Ercas Mir was very rare and bluntly signified the existence of some sort of relations to New Earth or someone from there.
“Yes?” The woman said in an inquisitive tone. “Who are you?”
“Don’t be scared”. Zax replied as he intruded without an invitation in, alarming anyway the woman in the process.
“Sir, please, there is nothing of value in the house”. The woman stepped back in fear until she reached the edge of the living room and entrance to the veranda.
Zax looked around. In the house the formation was not effective in any way. In the second room in the hallway there was a toddler sleeping in a cradle, beside it was a dresser and in one of its drawers, tucked between a layers of baby clothes, was the precious treasures of them all, kept inside a Blue Stone!