Book 9 – Eruption
Chapter 5 – Earlier Than Expected
“After the fifth level’s hour everything will be determined”. Archbishop Silternja said.
“Yes”. Cardinal Northstar affirmed. “Understanding of the attribute might be the first trial, but of all the four, soul can be cultivated, Martial art can be taught and battle experience can be acquired over time. Although there are celestial supplements, in the end, to perceive and comprehend the six bottlenecks of insight and understand the worldly attribute energy one can only rely on himself…” He had a desolate expression when stating that. Sighing, he shifted his gaze to the four hundred and seven contenders preparing themselves in the arena. “Soon we will know who has the potential to become an Ascended Elite and if; perhaps, among them there is already a hidden gem”.
“Don’t expect too much from a group of cultivators stuck on a mud ball in practically nowhere, Cardinal Northstar”. His Young Eminence scoffed.
Although he paid a measure of attention to the tryouts, he frankly was not interested in them at all, much less in the supposed young prospects of Ercas Mir. He preferred to return to the Holy Palace. If it was not Sister Iaura who asked to stay for sightseeing, which eventually resulted in holding prematurely the Elite Tryouts, than even Cardinal Northstar would have been forced to arrange their departure at a moment notice.
“Your Young Eminence has truth in his words”. Cardinal Northstar concurred. “But it is in remote and undiscovered places that there are treasures still to unearth”.
“That’s correct, Cardinal Northstar, His Holiness said the same thing!” Sister Iaura happily reminded. The person she held the greatest respect toward, even as much as she had for her parents, was the religious leader of the Holy Palace, His Holiness.
“That is His Holiness’s direct quote, and indeed, its truth surpasses mine”. His Young Eminence admitted. In the mentioning of His Holiness he could be nothing but servile.
Thirty minutes recess ended. The crowd returned to their seats and the contenders finished their rest.
“Four hundred and seven participants are left. The fifth level’s hour is soon to commence, so let me help you all to remember…” Armin announced, smiling at the spectators, gesturing with appreciation at the contenders. “Regardless how many participants will sustain in the upcoming fifth hour or the remaining two, with no discrimination over your performance, the top two hundred will progress to the succeeding trial’s day”. He presented his Light embroidered crest and the Shelter Of Heroes emanated a blinding hue as it conjured the new wave of constructs.
“Raow!” The constructs descended roaring. Their size was four meters tall and two meters wide. They huge bat wings and absurdly muscular. The appearance of their lower and upper body had not changed, but from the neck up their faces were a bit refined, less coarse – each will interpret in their own way – and between their round big eyes there was a slit that opened to reveal a third eye with two pupils.
Zax’s body exploded forth with force. His hands darkened as he cupped them to the shape of two dark attribute energy’s sickles. This battle he intended to drag for the better part of the hours, pretend as if he put his all to the defeat the construct.
His brandished his hands against the chains of light the construct was holding. ‘Incredible!’ He was stunned from its strength. ‘A Core Master who could beat this thing should be the cream of the crop of the second realm!’ Zax was more and more at awe as once in a while he caught glimpse at the contenders fighting the other constructs.
What their struggle represented that shocked him, was that this time no one could hold back the utilization of attribute, and that exposed how profound the understanding of many of them was, despite their low cultivation, and how many bottlenecks of insight they supposedly comprehended.
‘In Kingdom Earth, as one comprehends the bottlenecks of insight, they gain enlightenment into what they refer to as “worldly energy”, which they learn to taste, hear, touch, smell and see, not bound by this order’. Zax mused while feigning exertion.
‘In Ercas Mir, wherever there is at least a third level Martial Mortal to guide, than cultivators can become aware that the “worldly energy” is actually an “attribute energy”, similar to the one they might have added to their mist, soul, bodily cultivation by consumption of attribute’s essence, but harder to recognize…’ Two chains wrapped around his arms, separately, another around his right leg and three more were about to whip him. He howled, dislocated his joints, executed his foot technique and escaped before being hit.
‘The more bottlenecks comprehended, the more of the worldly attribute energy can be understood. However, the bottlenecks are not enough; there must be a pinch of enlightenment to correlate the two. I made the connection quickly with the help of God Demirva’s attribute’s essence. Those who have teachers to guide them take longer and those who have only themselves, take much, much, much longer!‘
By the display of attribute energy attacks at the light constructs, it appeared that roughly hundred contenders were enlightened to the connection between worldly energy and worldly attribute energy, and by their proficiency using it around forty clearly comprehended four bottlenecks of insight that help their understanding make large strides.
“Look”, Archbishop Silternja told those sitting next to him with complicated expression. ‘That boy Neyrar who came from Golden Desert Fort brigade, this level of understanding… I don’t know what fortuitous encounters did he have or what they spent to cultivate him in the fort, but he should have comprehended five bottlenecks of insight’.
“He did, but the understanding her gained from them is still negligible”. His Young Eminence remarked. “If he’ll stay on this planet he will need a miracle to advance his understanding in a short period of time”.
“Indeed”. Cardinal Northstar creased his brows. “They probably sent him for the Diluted Element. Does General Beking think that he could use it to perceive the last bottleneck and reach Evolutionary Ascension?”
“That’s too difficult”. Sister Iaura quietly said to herself.
“He is already qualifies as an Ascended Elite, but she aims for even greater merit…” Archbishop Silternja shook his head. “Anyway, we can’t help nurture the Planetary Battalion’s young ones and we can’t bluntly deny him the first place, should he deserve it”.
“This should not be a problem. There are three more trials. Among the participants there are good seeds of the church, which comprehended four bottlenecks and understanding of the worldly attribute is at the Peak of their insight. We will give them a little help before the next trials and all will be fine”. Cardinal Northstar had it all planed, most likely since Sister Iaura generously offered the Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element.
“Eighteen minutes are left of the hour, two hundred and seven brave participants are still in the arena, should seven more forfeit before the hour’s end, out top two hundred of the first trial will be determined and their evaluation will be publicized along with their results in the following trials!” Armin explained in great elation.
“Come on, Enji, you can do it!”
“Don’t give up, Saber!”
“Show them what you’re made off, El Tikon!”
The cheering of the crowd intensified. A scarce number of them had tickets for the rest of the tryouts, most, for various reasons, had only purchased the first day’s tickets. Now was the optimal time to wholeheartedly encourage their favorite contenders.
“Eleven minutes left and we are three eliminations from the top two hundred!” Armin continued to stir the crowd.
When there were eight minutes to the end of the hours, Armin held the crest up and raised his head, on his face a jubilant countenance. The crest shone and the Shelter Of heroes suddenly began to collapse and dissipate together with the remaining constructs. “Everyone, please congratulate our top two hindered participants!”
Zax watched as the construct he fought against vanished and pretended to finally catch his breath. Of the top two hundred, twenty one beat their constructs, eighty had the upper hand, among them Zax, and a hundred struggled or were on the verge of defeat, looking pretty miserable despite making the cut.
‘Neyrar defeated the fifth construct. Bin Bin, that nuisance actually won, too! Did he comprehend the fifth bottleneck?’ Zax started to suspect the background of the tanned looking youth as well as that of his eight companions.
Benni, Shila, Nirik Je and Hason also were among the top two hundred. Four of the nine representative of Kingdom Earth, besides Neyrar, who joined the five powers also made it as part of those who barely sustained.
Armin let the crowd a few minutes of clapping and more cheerful shouting before opening his mouth in order to finish the day.
“Thank you, everyone, for being with us in this blessed day. May The Almighty bless you all!”
“May The Almighty bless you!” The crowd answered back.
“Participants, if you will”, Armin turned to them. “The day after tomorrow will be the second trial day of the Elite Tryouts. Until then, you are all invited, by his grace Archbishop Silternja, to stay and rest in the Grand Abode”.
‘Invited to the Holy Palace, so soon?!’ Zax composed himself from showing signs of over excitement. The information about the Grand Abode’s layout instinctively resurfaced in his head.
The Grand Abode had a total of nine floors, a hundred and eighty one rooms and a hundred and twelve hallways. Among them, the first four floor, seventy two rooms and thirty six hallways were open to the public on specific days and hours.
‘The communication room should be at the fifth floor’. Although it was only one upper floor to infiltrate, it was uncertain whether the contenders would be allowed to wonder within the first four. ‘Well… it should not be my only chance. The trials take place every other day. If we are invited after today’s trial, the Archbishop will probably repeat the invitation after the following trials to draw the contenders to the church’.
“Brave participants, my name is Sister Juliet, please come with me if you are willing to accept the Archbishop’s invitation”. A nun with the cultivation of a second level Martial Mortal flew from the church’s seating stages and landed outside the arena. She smiled cordially, waiting to get the acknowledgment of all the contenders who wish to follow, turned and showed them the way.
‘There are participants who aren’t interested in staying in the Grand Abode?’ Zax noted when he saw Neyrar, Bin Bin and his group and a few others leaving to someplace else.
“Hey you, Karim, what’s the name of your bodily refinement technique?” A humanoid beast with a tortoise’s shell, golden eyes and rough gray skin walked next to Zax.
Unlike the gray tortoise, Zax did not know the other side’s name, only that he is a bodily cultivator from his performance in the arena. “What benefits are there in telling you?” He snorted. His pretense was that of someone taciturn who is hard to get along with, so giving a response that was out of his real character did not bother him.
“Humans…” The gray tortoise muttered to himself. “Your dantian is crippled or something similar, correct?” He brusquely guessed. Most bodily cultivators used this arduous path because of inability to cultivate mist, for one reason or another. “My Borvornd clan specializes in bodily refinement; I dare say is even the most verse in the subject, northern of the continent. When I saw you fight I wasn’t able to discern the principles of your refinement technique. If you are willing to have a short discussion with me I don’t mind compensating with Splinters. You might also gain some good ideas…”
“I’ll think about it”. Zax said, genuinely interested, but of course not showing it.
“Think. By the way, my name is ‘Bogon’ If not today or tomorrow we’ll probably be invited a few times more to the Grand Abode. After that we’ll have a chance to talk only in the Holy Palace or back in my clan”. Bogon said, openly admitting that he will rather return home than be one of the ninety losers joining Luminous Church.