Book 9 – Eruption
Chapter 11 – Down Ocean
Seeing Zax drastically accelerating and getting away, Archbishop Silternja’s assured expression turned ghastly as he racked his brain for explanation. ‘This technique is why he negotiated, it probably cost him dearly’. He quickly realized the cause for the odd phenomenon, yet his countenance remained abysmal despite guessing that this speed could not be sustained indefinitely. ‘He made an oath to a God and, because of his understanding of the dark attribute, it actually reverberated through the shackles of Nature. Even if now he doesn’t know the implication, soon he will... I must not lose sight of him! No matter what, he must die!’
‘What the hell happened?!’ Zax coughed the last drops of blood stuck in his throat. After making the oath he felt like a powerless blade of grass encompassed by a storm of magnitude he could not fathom. It persisted for a single breath and when he came to his senses, he put aside the fearful incident and hastily utilized his last resort to escape from Archbishop Silternja’s clutches…
Spending the dark attribute energy he accumulated over the past year and plunging the development of his body, it was only a matter of time before Zax will arrive to Down Ocean.
Where the seawater was the shallowest, in contact with the eastern periphery of the Eastern Continent, there was the Down Ocean.
In that periphery of the Eastern Continent the earth was gray with ashen flora. Ravenous, solitary, one scale and two scales Deformed Beings loitered the vicinity, seemingly struggling to survive yet by some invisible attraction cannot bring themselves to leave to a more prosperous area.
This side of the Eastern Continent, for kilometers upon kilometers, from north to south, was void of all types of beasts’ and humans’ societies.
An ominous cloudiness covered the sky and cold winds blew from the ocean, as waves surged in a disquieting manner.
In a first glance, it looked to Zax as nothing more than a gloomy day at the beach, when in fact it was the perpetual state of the region bordering the Down Ocean.
‘This ocean is giving me a bad feeling’. Zax grimaced, sensing a minute coercion infiltrated his soul. ‘Do I have to enter it?’ He looked over his shoulder, spotting a persistent white dot at the distance.
Even if Archbishop Silternja was wary of the Down Ocean’s dangers, he was bent on eradicating Zax.
His outburst of speed was diminishing faster than it boosted him. With no other choice than to strive forward in order to survive, Zax entered the domain of the Down Ocean. ‘No Overlords showing up in territorial pursuit?’ He glanced around, perking his ears but did not see nor hear anything approaching other than Archbishop Silternja. He continued to fly above the waves in complete alertness. ‘Being in the open will keep giving him my position’. He lowered his gaze to the seawater, but seeing through them, to the dire mysteries below, was akin to staring at mercury. ‘My Soul Sense is going haywire’. It was still influential, but barely, able to distinguish unstable shapes that could either be creatures that live underwater or the restless currents of the ocean.
In a graduate fast pace, his skin lightened and muscles shrank fifth a size. The Dark Titan Storm form’s second stage reached its limit and Zax no longer had the energy to support it. ‘Oh no!’ The weakening in dark attribute energy lowered the defense of his soul and for a brief moment Zax hovered between clouds and waves muddleheaded.
Gathering his resolve, Zax plumped into the silver gray ocean. ‘In this turbid water Archbishop Silternja won’t be able to rely on his eyes to detect me. I don’t need to go too far or deep, just find a safe place to recuperate’.
When Archbishop Silternja entered the domain of the Down Ocean, Zax dived into the depths.
‘His dark attribute physique dispersed. He is now weaker than a third level Martial Mortal’. He said to himself to stimulate the drive to plunge after Zax to the mercury waters, he would rather avoid.
‘Fifteen minutes, that’s the longest I’ll be able to sustain the Angelic Emissary light physique, afterwards the risk factor will multiply exponentially!’
‘The water is poisonous… I can’t control the worldly dark attribute energy, fighter’. Zax discovered in the eight hundred meters mark to his dive. Luckily he was not complacent as he was when he entered the Seer Don Ocean. He sealed his pores and used what little dark attribute energy left in his reservoir to shield his soul. A bit after the nine hundred mark he could also not expend his Soul Sense past his body, not that it did him any good. ‘There are undulations not of the oceans currents’. He still could use his sense of touch to determine.
The undulation shifted from the bottom of the ocean, sometimes ensuing from south, sometimes from north of his position. They came from too far for his eyes to see through the turbid water.
‘Whatever is the source of the undulations, I didn’t arrive for exploration’.
Carefully diving deeper, Zax looked for a grove, a cavern or even just a place to dig into in order to hide. ‘Oh? There are undulations coming from above, Archbishop Silternja?’ Zax was incredulous.
Before he entered the seawater he assumed that he will have to venture for a long, perilous period of time before losing the Archbishop, after diving he found out that not only Soul Sense was useless underwater, even his excellent eyesight as a bodily cultivator can hardly make up the surrounding in a hundred or so meter radios.
Looking up, toward the direction of the undulations, his pupils constricted as a flicker of light shot like a bullet, hitting his right shoulder and exited through the armpit, before he could react.
The light attribute bullet did not leave residues of attribute energy, but the bone and muscle it damaged failed to regenerate instantly, due to his shortage of dark attribute energy. Furthermore, the poisonous seawater permeated through the wound and began to slowly corrode it.
Another light bullet shot, grazing Zax’s left cheek. ‘How does he know where I am?!’ He fled, before a third light bullet could hit him. ‘Can Sublime Soul Sense work in these waters?’
Even if it could, there still had to be limitations for it. After all, his Soul Sense was equivalent in range to a fourth level Martial Mortal’s, minus the unique telekinetic and telepathic abilities. How much better could a fifth level Martial Mortal’s Sublime Soule Sense be in comparison? Thinking about the answer was too distracting as he also had to continually evade light bullets.
Finding a place to hide when he could only look so far was vert difficult. Moreover, light bullets were constantly shot at his general direction and although not all of them were pinpointed at him, those who were hit the mark.
‘I’m less than a kilometer from the Eastern Continent, how come the ocean is already this deep?!’ Zax sank roughly thirty four thousand meters and yet could not see the bottom of the ocean. As he got hit by more and more light bullets and had his wounds worsening be seawater, he felt powerless in the open. ‘How? How? How? Can he know where I am?! In this depth it should be impossible for any Sublime Soul Sense to function, how?!’ His teeth bit in frustration.
He could go farther and deeper in the Down Ocean, but was reluctance to risk himself if he could make use of the turbid seawater to lose Archbishop Silternja.
‘I… I can’t anymore! I must give it a try!’ He persisted thus far and ignored his physical condition because he had means to recover, or at least attempt a recovery, but it was a wager and so he wanted to first find a place he would have some peace and quiet in, to moderately give it a go. ‘Wait a minute!’ A flash of realization emerged in his mind. ‘Is it possible?!’ He gestured with his hand and retrieved from his spatial ring a small bead.
The clear crystal bead containing the drop of Diluted Element was illuminated by a minuscule formation, engraved on its surface.
‘That is how!’ Zax was furious at himself for not noticing earlier. If he was a little late… if a light bullet hit his finger and he would have lost the precious Diluted Element and Solar Basil Leaf… all because of idiotic negligence… than he might as well should had let the ocean to take him.
Skimming the content of the spatial ring, checking the Galactic Communicator and Solar Basil Leaf for similar formations, Zax was relived not to find any. Archbishop Silternja only knew that he stole the two prizes and unlike the Diluted Element, the Solar Basil Leaf did not have a container.
Zax threw the crystal bead to his mouth and bit. The gray drop of liquid sipped to his oral cavity and tasted like lukewarm water. He spat the fragments of the crystal beads and waited to see if the light bullets would stop.
‘Damned infidel! Of all the places, he chose the Down Ocean!’ Archbishop Silternja held in his palm a flat piece of glass with a compass shaped formation glowing in it. Wherever the shining gold needle pointed he aimed a long barrel gun a pulled the trigger.
Without a sound or an impact, a light bullet shot and disappeared in the turbid water.
‘He hasn’t gotten far. He is probably vigilant of what farther in the Down Ocean. As long as he doesn’t reach the bottom, it is safe for me to pursue him’.
Suddenly the golden hue of the formation compass faded, causing Archbishop Silternja to change countenance. “He broke the crystal bead!” That was the thing he most hoped that will not happen. Without the formation compass to guide him, deducing Zax’s location in the Down Ocean, or even knowing if he resurfaced back to the Eastern Continent’s shores, was extremely problematic, not to mention that he had less of the previous estimated to for sustaining the Angelic Emissary form.
‘By breaking the crystal bead he forwent the only container on this planet capable of holding the Diluted Element. This thief’s soul should already break through the third realm; hence, consuming the Diluted Element will not help his insights’. Archbishop Silternja’s hand squeezed in anger, shattering the formation compass that lost its purpose. ‘The Diluted Element was bestowed to Sister Iaura by her revered mother. A precious treasure that Immortals has to assiduously labor in order to refine just went to waste!’ His white eyes released beams of light that got swallowed in the seawater.
Shooting a barrage of light bullets over the last location the formation compass’s needle pointed, Archbishop Silternja lowered his long barrel after five minutes.
He canceled his Angelic Emissary form and flew up and out of the ocean, halting midair a few hundred meters from the Eastern Continent, intending to wait, as long as he needs to, for Zax to come up.
‘By the undulations of the water, I’m sure I hit him couple of times. Severely injured he won’t be able to recover in the corrosive water of the Down Ocean. Even as a bodily cultivator there is nothing for him to absorb there…’
In other words, Zax had to choices… dying in the ocean or returning and dying in Archbishop Silternja’s hands.