The door to the Soul Tempering Chamber opened abruptly. Nikita who waited outside, pondering if she should stay or go as nothing else that was not related to obtaining the Sky Blooming Orchid seemed worth doing, jumped in fright and stumbled backwards.
"Senior sister Anet?!" She looked at her hastily departing figure. "He training session isn't over. Did something happen? Should I tell cousin?" She picked up her Caller and typed the number. She might not be able to tell Grent where Anet left to, but there were only so many places she used to hang out at. With his contacts, Grent will not have difficulties locating her in Kingdom Earth.
"Damnable brats, do you think this Soul Tempering Chamber belong to your father?!" Superintendent Ten's yapping voice resounded from his maintenance building.
"Err…" Nikita's complexion paled. "It wasn't me!" She yelled and ran away.
Though it was a habit resulting from the frequency of her absences, this time it was intuition that pulled Anet out from her meditative state to check the messages in her Caller.
The sender's number was familiar, His mother, but the message was strange.
"Please come tomorrow to the Zel's farm. It's important, can't be talked to on the Caller, had to be done face to face!"
It was not Laylen's typical writing style. In previous dialogs she phrased herself patiently via extended wording and with repeated interest to her health and daily activates, as if she actually was her daughter in law.
Anet had a Sun K version, bike like vehicle that was particularly made for the rough and woodland terrain of Valgarel. Its top speed could match a Peak phase Mist Lord and was sustainable for seventy two seconds. Because of its extremely expensive, quickly depleting energy source, she drove it only when leaving for the distant Savage Caves.
That strange gut feeling she had from Laylen's message made her uncomfortable, goaded to see her as soon as possible. Nevertheless, she did not dare speculate what matter was so pressing. She feared that beneath the deception of wishful thoughts she will find yet another painful tragedy.
Zax watched from the side as Liz munched the meat of a sauced, short rib. She and grandpa Ger seemed most enthusiastic for having barbecue and surely intended to eat for their hearts content. As for him? After his mother notified him that Anet on her way, he had no appetite, for the sake of it or otherwise.
"You've been through a lot above ground. So many challenges and discoveries, yet I feel that you haven't told us everything". Zetsa came, offering a plate spicy sausages and wings.
"I still don't want to". Zax refused.
Zetsa shrugged and began to eat on her own. "In Master's cave I hope you tell everyone all that you experienced and not feel like there are things to hide from us".
"Be at ease. I also brought a few things to aid your cultivation. Shame I could not find anything to strengthen the physique of non cultivators…" Although there were natural treasures to improve the physique of people in the lowest level of cultivation, they were not easy to find and those on the market, either in New Earth or Ercas Mir, had requirements for before and after consumption.
Glance at their parents, grandparents and little sister, Zetsa released a deep sigh. "If grandpa Ger was younger… I tried once to diluted the juice of a certain medicinal plant that wild beast eat to prolong their life, though it's not my a lot. Grandpa could barely handle one drop of it and in the end I had to help him circulate his mist energy to spread the nutrients of the drop. Eighteen hours passed before he got better and to this very day I'm not sure the distilled drop did anything to his lifespan".
"It's complicated". Zax said and lowered his voice. "When I'll return to Ercas Mir I'll ask around. There are some people who might be able to help". Gid Chu is one. "She is coming!" The Soul Sense he used now and then in waiting for Anet, at last detected her.
She just crossed the tunnel to cave twenty five and if his perception was not in enhance state; by the speed she was driving he would have seen her with his own eyes within couple of seconds.
"Be subtle. It's a Sun K-RV2. If you'll startle her she'll lose control of it".
"Don't worry; I won't let anything happen to her". Zax said impatiently and vanished.
"I know, stupid". Zetsa said, talking to herself. "But this Sun K model is pretty pricy".
Her driving speed was alarmingly fast, yet when he showed up next to her, it was as time stood still.
'She changed haircut'. She loved her long hair, he loved it too and he loved the new cut just the same. 'Mm? This troubled intent…' He touched her hand and sensed the burden she carried by the undulation of her soul. It was massive, weighting more than his parents', Liz's, grandparents', even Zetsa's. 'I wrong her'. He channeled his soul energy, just as he did for his family, and let go.
Time gradually resumed its standard pace.
Anet felt an air of enigmatic calmness blowing on her face and her Sun K-RV2 slowing without her using the brakes, till it reached a stop. 'Am I out of fuel?' It did not seem the be the situation, but how could she, a Peak Mist Lord could sense the attribute energy of the world, specifically dark, holding in place her vehicle?
She lightly frowned, realizing that something is wrong. 'It's stuck'. Could not be that she was being pranked by a passerby Core Master, right?
A strong throb pulsed throughout her body. A foreign energy intruded into her sea of consciousness and by the time she noticed it already encompassed her soul. Despite that, instead of being disturbed or alarmed, she sunk into familiar comfort.
A second strong throb derived from the revelation. 'What is this energy? Why is it feels like him?' The comfort waned as doubts arose and she suddenly found herself submerged in what have been all her bottled up emotions, as they were in the midst of swelling, about to explode.
A third strong throb issued an indescribable hunch to check the surrounding, with no reason she could pinpoint why. She released her Soul Sense and it could not reach far, just enough to appease herself when she discovered nothing in the farm fields around, at best a few inconspicuous worker, yet not fully to pacify the obscure hunch.
'What am I missing'. She bit her lips, not knowing that he was waiting in plain view, yet evading her perceptive abilities until the barrier around her heart will begin to crack and it would be possible for him to enter it again without harming her.
A fourth strong throb heavily knocked against her chest and it hurt. Something, perhaps the soothing foreign energy, wanted her reminisce, confront and surpass, not ignore and suppress.
A figure flashed at the depth of her mind, mute as always, someone it pained her to think about, yet could not escape or expel.
"Zax". Her voice uttered in aggravation. She leaned on the handlebars, wondering why now the dam had to burst. Was it because of the message? Its urgent tone? The sender? The immovable Sun K-RV2? The feeling of presence, his? Something else entirely?
She bent her back and rested her head as tear flowed. The more of them raining down from her eyes the greater was the relief that followed.
"Zax". She called once more, longingly, a last attempt for her voice to reach him, his figure in her mind, and he will answer back.
"I'm here". A hand appeared, almost out of the ether, hanged about and then landed on her shoulder. "Not dead. Alive. Had needed to deceive some people and inadvertently caused a grievous misunderstanding".
She cried, listened and felt the weight of his hand, had yet to decide if it was her imagination or reality. She did not want to shatter the illusion, should it be the former, which is why she was afraid to check.
The tension in her muscles revealed to him her thoughts.
He squeezed on her shoulder. "I'm here, Anet, please, raise you head so I could kiss you".
She was tempted. The clasp pressed and her clothes stretch, but he said all the things she would have wanted to hear and admitted of deceiving… how well she could deceive herself? Maybe the immobile Sun K-RV2 was also her fault? Could the message be, too?
"You don't believe me?" He stood beside the Sun K-RV2. His hand slid to her right shoulder and another touched her left. "If you still love me, don't resist". He said resolutely.
She did know what he meant, but the touch of two hands and the rub on her back made him feel that he is more real than ever before.
He hoisted her off the Sun K-RV2.
She did not jump and she could not deny him anymore. Excitement erupted inside. She opened her eyes and looked for his face. "Zax!" He was so much real that any resentment that might have been was washed away and all she cared was to embrace and give the kiss they both yearned for.
He pulled her, accepted her hug and everlasting kiss. He controlled the dark attribute worldly energy to conceal them both, actually did so from the moment he detected her arrival, to preserve the intimacy of their reunion from the field workers.
"Zax". She cried as lips kept pushed against his. "Zax, Zax…"
He kissed her cheeks, every millimeter of them. "Anet, my beloved Anet", warmness spread from his chest, boiled his blood and made his head spin from ardor. "Stop crying. I'm here, alive and nothing can kill me". He kissed her more in between the gaps of each word.
The passion for one another outweighed reason as they both were about to succumb to bodily desire.
Their one room loft was a few caves away and he was oblivious to the current situation over there. Nevertheless, there was another place he could always count on being void of people, especially now, Zetsa's apartment building!
"Hold me and don't let go".
"As if you have to tell me!"
The place was just as abandoned and incomplete as Zax remembered it. Still, it was reclusive and by utilizing dark attribute energy he could supply all the comfort needed.
What was fortunate, Zax's family, who expected that they are together, did not call or message, acknowledging their necessity for time alone.
And so, just like that, hours kept on passing…
"Sir, a few hours ago tunnel seventy six's high speed cameras caught the miss's vehicle crossing cave twenty four to cave twenty five and by the amount of time that passed, it's feasible that she was heading to one of the few known destinations in cave twenty five and not Valgarel through tunnel seventy eight". The driver voiced said from the intercom of the long, luxury, eight wheels golden vehicle.
The man sitting at the back, which looked in his late twenties due to achieving high cultivation at young age, wore an olive pinstripe suit and had white skin, brown hair and green, piercing eyes, which intimidated those weak minded who dared to stare at them.
His lips gave the indication of a perpetual smile. He crossed one leg atop the other and stacked his hands on his knee. His smile grew genuine as he opened his mouth. "Find where she went. If it's her home, get there immediately. If it's a place related to Him, call for reinforcement. I don't plan to intrude or impose, but if His sister be there again, I'd rather be prepared. Last time's humiliation I was willing to forget, for her. If she doesn't want to give me a chance, yet, fine, I'll leave, but on my own terms".
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