"It's good that your body is so adequately cultivated. It would have been a waste of time teaching you the first segment of Infinite Transformations, Altering Body. Then again, you wouldn't have been here otherwise". Gid Chu remarked. He watched Zax holding the earring shaped communicator and expounded on the device. "It's not your typical violet stone".
It was round and its size tinier, which meant that it had a short range, so how could Zax think of it as better than the one he already had?
"Wear it. I removed the restriction so be sure to activate them after instilling your soul energy".
Zax followed the instruction. Placed his old communicator in his spatial ring, at the moment he could only commune with Fengar and his other associates through it, should he get back to the Western Continent.
The instant the communicator activated, Zax's mind reeled in surprise. "This range… An A grade communicator! It covers a third of the continent!"
"It's not a regular A grade communicator. For safety it was modified so its frequency would be impossible to decrypt, therefore its range somewhat short. Anyway, search for folder 'BMT', don't move". Gid Chu tapped Zax's forehead with his finger, "It's the formation password". He explained so Zax will not block the stream of soul energy. "Copy and channel it to the folder".
Zax was about to retort, ask Gid Chu how he expects of him to erect it without prior practice. Then, the complicated formation sent to his sea of consciousness deconstructed, revealing its entire layout and rebuilt itself. 'So it's only a shape'. Zax understood. There were no insights into the way of formations that had to be comprehended before using the one sent to him, only a well deceiving, complex structure with a few hidden features.
He opened the folder and looked at the file titled "Bone And Muscle Transformation" inside it. In an instantly a flood of information streamed to his sea of consciousness, anatomy pictures of the human body with detailed concentrations, further explanations, elaborated applications and more.
"This is incredible!" Zax got excited. Aside from the bodily maneuvers, which had a different goal, he never viewed a bodily technique nor considered the manner in which it can be compiled. It was not mystical or had the first impression supernatural vibe like soul and mist technique possessed. It was more… "Realistic" some would have probably said before the discovery of Earth's Cores. It literally looked like a section of an anatomy book – at least in a first glance.
"Maybe this is the correct way!" A spark of insight illuminated his eyes as he immediately thought of the results of implementing additional focus on the overall anatomy of the body to the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, beyond its three principles of Pain, Destruction and Rehabilitation. 'Too difficult'. He groaned inwardly. 'I can sense every cell and fiber in my body, control it, the way it is, perfectly, but I don't really understand it. Mm?' He halted the flow of thoughts as he skimmed through the information of the Bone And Muscle Transformation technique and realized something.
"This technique can only alter a small margin of the body".
"What, did you think that you would be able to transform your body like I do? Let me tell you something, transforming the body isn't as easy as it looks, regardless of the technique. Infinite Transformations Altering Body is the best in the field and even I had to spend long periods of time learning and thoroughly understanding the anatomy of the Armored Squid and the Golden Steel Behemoth". Gid Chu sneered. "Besides, this is not the Infinite Transformations Altering Body bodily cultivation technique. It's a technique the me and Yurnal devised so members who aren't interested or did not have an affinity to bodily cultivation technique could master to disguise themselves by only cultivating the first flexibility segment. Since your cultivation technique isn't inferior, you can skip the first segment and start right away to learn the Bone And Muscle Transformation".
"For disguise… it should suffice". Zax had to admit that his expectations were unreasonable.
"It would. You don't use mist energy to conceal your true self, so there aren't fluctuation. As long as your blood isn't being matched, not even those from the Martial competition's top ten who were recruited by Luminous Church or Beatriz, who know you face, will be able to recognize you".
"I suppose. But it will take me a long time to master it to a satisfactory level. Half a year, if I won't let anything else to distract me". Zax could tell that the requirements of the Bone And Muscle Transformation were not low. On the contrary, it seems that he will have to compensate the essential lack of flexibility by reconstructing the alterations in his body.
"It's enough. The preliminaries of the Elite Tryouts will last about a year and there are still more than two weeks before they start. As long as you'll eventually appear and give a tolerably rowdy performance, they will give you a chance".
"And then? Even if I'll fool them by disguise, without relying on dark attribute energy, my physical strength can only compare to an Advanced or Peak second level Martial Mortal".
"You don't have to worry about that. As long as you won't disclose your cultivation technique, it is fine to dominate by physical strength alone; at most they will assume that your mist cultivation and attainment of the attribute are poor". Gid Chu apparently thought of everything. "Let's return". He concluded and made the first step to leave. "You can stay in the cottage or find somewhere else. Zechariah and the others are staying in different hotels in the city. You can join them if you want to".
"What about the thing you want me to retrieve from the Grand Abode?"
"It's not a pressing issue. While practicing the Bone And Muscle Transformation, see folder 'C#100' about computing. You won't be able to help me before understanding particular thing and you best learn everything, anyway".
'Computing…' Zax examined the content of the folder. 'Interesting'. He grew up in a fairly modern society and in cultivator's time it was not long ago that he was playing computer games with his friends.
It was early morning. Vendors began to open their shops for business and the streets were being cleaned before the early rush hour and the rise of the hot burning sun.
Up front of Zax was a five storey building, "Sanctum Oasis's Desert Palace", a hotel shrouded by a Soul Sense obstructing formation.
'Linor, come out here'. Zax munched on a prickly pear he bought from a greengrocer in the price of a Splinter for two and contacted her via his new communicator. It was Gid Chu who told him where she and Zechariah are staying.
Soon, a seemingly muscular figure of a woman unhurriedly exited the main entrance of the hotel. Looking at her, Zax wondered about the nature of love and how it could bring two people so different together.
As a woman, ignoring her frame, Linor was not top beauty or anything close, and though Zax noticed that there were less than when he first met her, the scars on her face and arms were still obvious. As for her temperament, on the outside it was aloof, made it hard for others to approach her, when staring into her eyes a sense of sharp coldness would fill those beside her.
Zechariah's background was far different than hers. He was a son to one of the three biggest families in Kingdom Earth, descendant of Gid Chu himself. At a first glance, when he was being casual, he gave the air of an apprentice scholar. He was polite, affable and even possessed the qualities and descendant of a leader. It was only when he held his scythe that others would recall his exceptional talent as a Martial cultivator.
'The fierce loner of the Basement Floor and the bright heir of a prominent family'. It sounded to Zax like a cliché love story, yet one that he will not dismiss. He missed Anet.
"You became a member of the chain. Welcome". Linor first greeted. Her tone not the warmest, but those how were familiar with her, knew that behind the veil laid by her profession was a kind woman. "What do you want?"
"Gid Chu gave me a task, but it would take a while before I'll be able to commence it. So until then, I want you to teach me your craft".
"You want to be an assassin?" Linor revealed no particular emotion, but Zax felt like was on the verge of turning away and leaving before he will get the chance to explain.
"I need to disguise my identity. Senior Gid showed me the Bone And Muscle Transformation technique, but I also want to change my fighting technique, otherwise I'm afraid I'd still be found out".
"Is it about the Elite Tryouts?" Linor guessed.
"Yes, to partake and later steal something from the Grand Abode". Zax did not mind telling her. If Gid Chu him to keep it between the two of them he should have told him. Beside, after sharing the fighting stage a sense of fondness sprout in the hearts of at least him and Zechariah's for the other two. It the type of fondness that Zax was willing to put his trust in, to a degree, and feel fine making a request from.
"You are a brawler, if assassin is north than you are south, on the furthest side of the spectrum. I cannot help you".
"On the stage your technique didn't differ from mine by that much".
"That because my attacks are eruptive and face to face I don't find the reason to hide them. It also wasn't an assassination". She said as if it would have made a different.
"Well than, Zechariah and I were lucky". Zax joked to ease her outward temper. "I would still like you to teach me, if anything for future references. As for using it on the stage, I'll decide what I want".
There was a mixture of appetizing aromas in the air. Bakeries took out the first trays of pastries from the ovens and put them on the display and even the hotel kitchen was in the midst of preparing the breakfast buffet.
Though he was not feeling hunger nor had the need to eat, it has been a long time since Zax got to smell the scents of fresh food in the morning.
"I want omelet, sausage, bread and sweet pastry for dessert".
"What?" Linor was confused.
"I haven't had a proper breakfast in a long, long time". He passed her, heading to the hotel. 'Zechariah, come down, I'm joining you and Linor for breakfast'.
'There is half an hour before they open the dining room. By his voice Zechariah apparently was aware of Zax's visit. 'Wait at the lounge'.
Seeing that Linor remained quiet and followed him, Zax assumed that she and Zechariah were communicating since his arrival.
"Don't worry, he is one of us". Zechariah reassured the young woman and her baby boy, Savir and Yimin.
Zax also did not expect to meet the pair. He thought Lenrah and Duthur accompanied them to their hotel. Nevertheless, he felt bad for frightening her, almost as much as he felt for not taking the Black Core. "Please accept my apology. I returned the spatial ring to senior Gid".
"Elder Master". Zechariah interpreted.
"Him". Zax confirmed in a better mood than he thought he would have after learning so many disheartening from Gid Chu. "They are opening the dining room. Zechariah, will I have to pay?"
"No, with the increasing number of cultivators stopping in the city, the hotels and inns make an exception for those have reservations and want to bring no more than one guest, but I suspect that they won't make a scene even if a large group of cultivators will barge in".
"Can that happen?" Savir asked meekly.
"Even if it will, no one will dare to bother you and Yimin". Linor said firmly.
Savir nodded, seemingly more confident beside Linor than Zechariah.
They found a round table near the dining room's glass wall, which viewed the fountain and small garden at the east wing of the hotel.
The food was oily and fatty but extremely tasty. The ingredients were good but not as cultivation resources or stuff that only cultivator could consume since most of the diners were non cultivators.
"Bone And Muscle Transformation…" Zechariah did not conceal his envy. He placed a mantle around the table so nobody would hear their conversation or be able to read their lips. "The first segment of Infinite Transformations, Altering Body is the minimal requirement for practicing this technique, but the shortest time it took someone, other than Elder Master and Second Master, to complete the first segment is seven years, the average is forty. You are really lucky for already being a bodily cultivator".
"I know, but it's still not enough. I need to change my fighting style to avoid arousing the slightest suspicion; otherwise even applying kinetic energy to my attack will be dangerous".
"You can learn better things". Linor insisted in a moderate tone.
"It's not about what I can learn, but whether if you are willing to teach me". Zax persisted.
"Fine then". Zechariah declared, attracting an unhappy look from Linor. "You don't need to initiate him. Show him basic techniques, teach him the principles and leave the rest for his perception". He knew she hated to cut corners, so he simplified the request as compromise.
"Okay". Linor said after deep consideration. "I'll give you one hour".
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