"Little freak, are you awake?" Gid Chu sat on a boulder inside the small crater Zax's crash created. After exchanging pointers, he felt more liberated with the junior and comfortably shed the excessively cordial, elder demeanor. He was not feeling like much of a worthy elder anyway with their strength not that far apart.
"Yes". Zax replied and got into a sitting position.
"All lasting damage healed after less than ten minutes, while my chest still throbs with bursts of pain". Gid Chu said miserably. "If Kartion and Yurnal could share and integrate the insights…" He shook his head. That was asking for the impossible as it was already immensely difficult for the two to develop their respected techniques to their current state.
"Did I exaggerate?" Zax asked apologetically. Understanding from Gid Chu that he has not fully healed, yet, while was back to peak condition.
"It's my fault for not taking seriously Rockwell's and Riv's report, though with this level of strength I'm not sure why you could not dominate Beatriz, unless…" He preferred to stop talking. For this junior's strength to advance so quickly was partly as a result of luck and partly due to ability capable of disheartening the best and brightest of the same generation. He could only recall one other junior's name with comparable skills.
They both stood up.
"In the Earthly Crater I was enlightened and consequently came up with the second stage of my Dark Titan Storm".
"Let me rephrase, your luck can also drive a person mad! How long have you been above the surface, and yet you still experienced two fortuitous opportunities the rest of us require years by the hundreds and thousands to come by".
"It did not come easy".
"You are alive".
Zax closed his mouth. In this discussion he knew he has no right to complain.
"So how do you think I can do against Yurnal?"
"You better not break the soul seal. I already told you that he is a bit stronger than me, but that's not the problem. If you were faster, not by a lot, then you might have had the chance to escape from him with most of your body intact".
Zax frowned. The third Black Core… does he really has to restrain himself for a while longer before taking it?!
"Don't be dejected. Though Yurnal has strange affection and belief for the object inside, he keeps it for his son to use in the future. I gather that if you'll present him a fair trade, there is a chance that he'll accept it".
'A fair trade…' Zax mused. Depending on how much Yurnal know about the Black Core, it can be complicated obtaining something he will be interested in exchange as its equivalent. 'An Overlord's Pure Core?'
With heavy heart he grabbed the spatial ring from his pocket and threw it to Gid Chu. "Keep it. I have no reason to stay, so give it back to him for me. Also, tell him that I won't give up on the thing inside, though, if he plans for that baby boy to use it I don't need to be in a hurry".
"Smart thinking". Gid Chu smiled. Yurnal never told him what so special about the black sphere inside, other than claiming it as the catalyst for him inventing Infinite Transformations, Altering Body. Eventually he assumed it to be a Black Core or something of the sort Yurnal discovered in Valgarel and had yet to figure how to properly use. "In my opinion it won't be long before you'll have the competence to negotiate with him on equal ground".
"Am I that strong?" Zax laughed, choosing not to let misery affect him.
"Do you want to know? Your place among the top hundred experts on the planet".
"Not including the Overlords, first in the list are, naturally, the five leaders of the five powers with the strongest being Horn Kikon of the Violet Scaled Troops, followed by Golden Desert Fort's General Beking, Blessed Army's General Logan, Luminous Church Archbishop Silternjan and lastly Blue Sea's Admiral Hamumni. Then, after them, the only other fifth level Martial Mortal on the planet, Mercenary Association's Fifth Ranker mercenary Sheldon. Moving to the fourth level Martial Mortals: Valgarel's ruler Ozeyn and by a small, easily covered disparity, big brother Ariel. Then there are forty or so names that are unimportant, not including mine and Yurnal, of course. Finally, there is you, ranked at the top fifties".
"Top fifties…" Despite it being a great achievement for someone at his age, and the list of names was not that long, relative to the number of experts in both Kingdom Earth and Ercas Mir, it was not fulfilling like the arching skyline view. Rather, irrefutable testimony of how week he still is.
"You don't appreciate it?"
"Are there third level Martial Mortals ranked lower than me?"
Zax sighed. "Then I can accept it".
"Are you doing anyone a favor by giving your acknowledgement?" Gid Chu criticized. "In terms of age the gap between you and those ranked closed to you separated by at least hundred years. The leader of the five powers, thousands. And luck. You got to be born at the golden age of cultivation, with thousands of roads and guidelines to show you the right direction, paved and forged by the painstaking trial and error of magnanimous elders who could just as well keep their knowledge to themselves".
"And they have my deepest respect". Zax said candidly to avoid any misconceptions. "But when I think of traversing farther, past the Mortal stage and unto Immortality, I cannot help but feel that my current accomplishments are deficient".
"That's… not a wrong way to look at it, but you risk the chance of exhausting yourself before ever realizing fulfillment. On this matter I can only advice you to take a break once in a while… the Eastern Continent is beautiful, with all kinds of remarkable places and communities. When possible, mingle in the urban population. You might end up relieving yourself from tensions you weren't aware of".
"I plan on that". Zax averted his gaze as his attention was captured by a number of figures he would like to share the world above ground with. He glanced back at Gid Chu. "Till then, is there something you want me to do? I noticed the gathering of many experts when I journeyed to the Eastern Continent. Is something important, like in Demirva Ridge, taking place?"
"That unexpected occasion…" Gid Chu recalled, wearing thoughtful countenance. "Do you remember the two juniors accompanied by Beatriz in the ridge?"
"Yes". How could Zax forget the innocent looking lassie and arrogant young fellow who he used to threat Sister Beatriz?
"They are a postulant and an Ascended Elite (an exceptional prodigy) of Luminous Church and were brought over by Cardinal (fifth level Martial Mortal) directly from the Holy Palace. Considering the timing of their arrival and immediate trip to Demirva Ridge, we came to discover that the Cardinal was acting as a protective escort, rather than being the leading man".
"When I consumed the dark attribute's essence, the guy I think you mean is the 'Ascended Elite' was seriously injured. Is he dead?" Learning that His Young Eminence was actually a prominent figure made Zax wonder if he is now being hunted by a fifth level Martial Mortal nanny, although to his recollection Sister Beatriz and Sister Iaura did help him escape death.
"It would have been nice, but no. A few of our members are stationed in an approximately close residence to the Grand Abode. From their sources over there they heard that the Ascended Elite survived and doing well, which is reasonable considering the astonishing resources kept in the Grand Abode. That being said about the health of the Ascended Elite, there is a bizarre matter about him. It was expected that after the Event in the ridge he, the postulant would return to the Holy Palace. Not only did they stay, there are sighting of the Ascended Elite and the postulant touring Onzengvas and the southern region of the continent. Because of that, it's an assumption and also the important part, the Cardinal decided to hold Elite Tryouts for all the experts around the world".
"A test for joining Luminous Church?"
"Yes, in the Holy Palace. The Elite Tryouts take place every fifty to hundred years, depend which of the five power hold them. They are where the chosen ten of Kingdom Earth's and Valgarel's Martial competitions will face the second and last phase of the screening to the elite groups of the five powers. Experts from above the ground are also invited to partake, but of course it is organize for separate age groups so there won't be unfair advantages. Top ten contenders who will exhibit best talent and potential would be received, this time, by the Holy Palace while the eleventh to hundredth runners will have the chance of joining the elite of Luminous Church here on Earth with the possibility, and maybe in the future have the opportunity of going to the Holy Palace".
'If my path did not hang on collecting the Black Cores and I wasn't one bottleneck of insight away from for qualifying for Legacy Of The One's Path than I would have had a lot to lamented about right now…' Zax ruminated. "Is the absence Yarnus and the many other members of the chain due to the Elite Tryouts? Do you hope to plant someone in the Holy Palace?"
"Nothing of the sort. There are complicated oaths that are being forced on those who join for such lucrative positions in the five powers. Unless you really intend on being loyal to them or attempt mist detonation, best you forgo the idea of joining". Gid Chu refuted. "If not for the Elite Tryouts their mission indeed would have been impossible, however it's in a location much more distanced". Knowing that he was dragging, Gid Chu directly got to the point. "Yurnal and twenty more members are in a mission to assault Blue Sea's Deep Sea Navy in the Zenvir Ocean. With Luminous Church, for the time being, having two fifth level Martial Mortals on the continent, Admiral Hamumni, who serves the same Immortal powerhouse as General Beking, relocated to the Golden Desert Fort, temporarily".
"Than this is a golden chance to create ruckus for Blue Sea!" If fourth level Martial Mortals are the only menace, Zax wanted to attempt an operation at the heart of one of the five powers. If anything, he could sneak and find something good the steal. There was no need to go as far as causing mayhem.
"You are offering?" Gid Chu smiled. "Don't presume that by joining Sinister Chain you can instantly take part in any of our missions. Besides, this is a group mission, I won't have running around solitarily, regardless how much you promise to contribute or not interfere. Even if you'd agreed to work together, you are still a new member who the rest need to assess to satiate their doubts before putting their trust in you".
Zax grimaced. Who knows what treasures he could find at the only power to rule an entire ocean?! "Then, if I'm not needed-"
"Oh, I didn't say that. The Elite Tryouts, I want you to register as a candidate, make an impression, and before being made to take an oath, get something for me from the Grand Abode".
"Senior Gid, do you want me to also ask Archbishop Silternjan for his blessing and see how that sister, Beatriz, is doing?" For knowing he will throw his life by going there and yet still asking from him without elaborating how should do it, ticked off Zax, which is why he intentionally responded like that.
"It's merely an identity issue. Here", Gid Chu retrieved from his spatial ring a communicator and gave it to Zax. "Check out the saved data in its memory. There are two things that should be of use to you. The first is all kinds of computers and programing guides. It would not take you a long time to memorize the essential stuff, but you should find a place to practice. The second is a bodily technique created by both me and Yurnal. Learn it and don't pass it to anyone! Its name is 'Bone And Muscle Transformation', a solution to your identity problem".
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