"Fuck off!" Zax roared. Dark attribute energy swirling around him. He clenched both his fist and straightened his arms as he rocketed on a collision course with the two fourth level Martial Mortals.
The two Bishops cursed resentfully. They knew that Zax is a bodily cultivator, which meant that his strongest attacks were not when he projected outwardly dark attribute energy, but when it was channeled to his limbs. In contrast to him, not only did their strongest attacks were projections, but they also could not execute them, so long as they remained in the Grand Abode.
"Block!" The shouted together.
Rods of violet lightning and a wall of crimson flames rose between the two Bishops and Zax.
Zax's fists slammed against the rods. Thought they seemed fine, Zax felt currents of electricity cracking the shell of his Dark Titan Storm's second stage, plaguing his insides, rupturing them and popping his blood vessels. It was a ridiculous pain to bear that a low level Martial Mortal would lose his mind over. Fortunately for Zax, he was accustomed to even greater pain and the electric rods were a defensive measure, which main purpose was to startle into buying time.
Next, Zax plunged to the crimson wall of flames. His black skin lit up as if it was covered by oil, rather than fused with dark attribute energy. It crackled and peeled off, in mere instant the immense heat spread and boiled his internals, further damaging those hurt by the violet rods.
"Bough!" Zax spewed mouthfuls of blood, but he did not halt for a heartbeat.
Whatever his fists encountered was obliterated soon after contact since neither of the two's attacks meant for assault and neither electric attribute and fiery attribute were suitable for defense in settings such as this.
Battered from head to toe, Zax's fists blasted a passageway through the daunting hurdles with a grim look on his face. 'This is bad. I'll not be able to escape like this'. Even though the exit was right in front of him and going past it was definite, Zax had a bitter taste in his mouth that exceeded the taste of blood. 'If I'll have to do it, senior Gid, no matter the treasures the chain obtained over the years, you will owe and give me anything I want as compensation!'
The Bishops stared with dismay and cleared the exit from the Grand Abode, instead of dragging Zax's into a hand to hand combat. Without utilizing their best techniques, they were uncertain of their ability to postpone his advancement for Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar to arrive and were wary of both meeting failure and risking their life for nothing. Besides, it was not like the pursuit will end when Zax will leave the abode. Quite the opposite, if any of them will come across him outside, he will be done for.
Zax exited the Grand Abode, a black streak that scooted underneath the night sky. While his body went forward, his head constantly looked over his shoulder. 'The church has six Bishops…'
Despite getting outside, Zax was not complacent with himself in the least. In the Grand Abode he might have been trapped, but he did not need to worry from Sublime Soul Sense or the unbridled assault of the church's experts. Now that the playfield had changed, although he gained freedom, so did his adversaries as they no longer had to be restrained.
The instant his figure departed the Grand Abode, the two men Bishops burst with vigorous auras and got on his tail. A breath of time after, two more figures joined, women, another pair of Bishops. They were outside from the beginning, guarding the locations where the defensive formation of the abode was the weakest, spots which would be easy for an intruder to make an exit from the inside.
Their Sublime Soul Senses detected Zax the moment he left the abode and shot after him immediately, second only to the two men.
"Despicable villain", a bellow that shook the sky and earth reverberated from the entrance to Grand Abode and an elderly figure of a man with angelic white skin and eight wings flew out in an alarming speed.
Archbishop Silternja showed up in a form similar to Zax's Dark Titan Strom and Gid Chu's Lightening Marvel, only more stable than the latter and a bit less cohesive than the former, a physique of light attribute technique.
He came alone since after finding Stelero Mars on the brink of death, even though he was livid by the stupidity of the casing's formation dismantling and the theft of Sister Iaura's benevolence, Cardinal Northstar had no choice but to stay back and save His Young Eminence's life.
"Your grace!" The four Bishops shouted in salute. It took less than ten seconds for Archbishop Silternja to catch up with them.
'A fifth level Martial Mortal!' Zax's heart sank. The four Bishops had not achieved an attribute's physique, so he could cross great distances, maybe reaching somewhere he could lose them, but Archbishop Silternja… not only did he possess a higher level of cultivation, his attribute's physique was faintly inferior to his.
'I'll have to use it…' Zax gritted his teeth. He was not out of options, not yet. There was one that stood out more than the rest, but to use it was a price he was dejecting from paying. 'It would have been better to even trade two thirds of my body, but this…' Unwilling to resort to that solution, he weighed his estimated chance of survival in any of the optimal places to ran away to. 'The Earthly Crater is too far and who knows if that eel is more territorial than miser. I'll have to go past the second ring, getting myself between the hammer and the anvil, to set them against each other. The Northern Icecaps also have an Overlord, but are just as far. The Down Ocean is closer, but I'm not familiar with the risks there, which supposedly even Peak Martial Mortal will prefer to avoid. Last place to go to is the Golden Desert Fort…'
Perhaps, by knowing that Admiral Hamumni is situated in General Beking's Golden Desert Fort, Archbishop Silternja will rather retreat than trespass and give them a reason to gang up on him.
"The four of you, return to the Grand Abode. I don't need you to catch him. Go explain Cardinal Northstar the situation". Archbishop Silternja and accelerated ahead.
The four did not argue, aware that the Archbishop will not send them back if that state of affairs in the abode was not serious, requiring indigenous care, which the Cardinal could not provide.
Pursuing Zax, for every kilometer crossed, Archbishop Silternja shortened the gap between them by a hundred to a hundred and fifty meters.
"You can't run away, surrender to me now, ask forgiveness for desecrating the house of The Almighty and your spirit will be spared!" With only four kilometers separating them, Archbishop Silternja was bound to overtake Zax, but as a man of the church, regardless how furious he was, he had to give him leeway. As four taking his life anyway, will, not every death has to be absolute.
"Old man", Zax snorted. "Being a fifth level Martial Mortal doesn't give you the ability to slaughter fourth level Martial Mortals as you see fit. First you have to catch me. If you'll succeed, good for you, but if you'll fail then I'll be the one chasing every member of you Luminous Church across the planet. In that case, do you think that you and a mere six bishops will be able to prevent me from making this threat a reality?!"
"Will you make an enemy of one of the five powers?!" Archbishop Silternja sullenly retorted, clearly unaware yet that Zax had stolen the Galactic Communicator, otherwise there would not have been the slightest room for talking.
"Aren't I already?" Zax ceased the Bone And Muscle Transformation, revealing his true appearance, figuring that sooner than later the church will identify him from the clues he left in the heat of the moment.
"You are…" Archbishop Silternja recognized the face Sister Beatriz drawn for him and a trace of astonishment flickered in his eyes. 'How did he become so strong?! During the Event in Demirva Ridge he was barely equal to Beatriz, now he is about as strong as a Beginner fourth level Martial Mortal. And this dark attribute's physique… it doesn't look like what Beatriz described and makes me feel uncomfortable. Is his understanding of the attribute higher than mine?'
Inwardly he felt conflicted. After the occurrence in Demirva Ridge, though the church labeled Zax as a hazard, they did not pursue him nor were in a hurry to investigated his origin because salvaging the perfect dark attribute's essence was impossible, Stelero Mars submitted to Sister Iaura's ingenuous excursions to encourage him, and someone as capable as Advanced third level Martial Mortal as an enemy for vengeance not entirely was worth the trouble.
"You twice assaulted His Young Eminence, you pretended to be a participant of the Elite Tryouts and learnt of his statues. Even if I'll let you go, this won't be the end. Cardinal Northstar will be less merciful!"
"I'll have to be first apprehended!"
Getting nowhere, Archbishop Silternja had nothing more to say. Sparing Zax's spirit was an honest benevolence on his side, even if it was still killing him. Nevertheless, it was not appreciated and so why Cardinal Northstar should receive the credit of offering Zax's spirit and not him?
Mountains, deserts, rivers, forests, when there no more than hundred meters separating the pair, they had already traverse a sizeable portion of the Eastern Continent.
'I'll have to use it!' Zax indignantly thought. 'Afterwards, no matter where I'll escape to, I'll be completely spent'. He made countless contemplation on where he should go. 'The Overlords are too unpredictable'. Ultimately he rejected the Northern Icecaps and Earthly Crater. 'Golden Desert Fort's and Blue Sea's relationship with Luminous Church might be adverse, but eventually they are nothing more than tools of greater powers. It's possible that Silternja will convince them to help for the sake of discarding of potential future threat. The Down Ocean…' He ruminated with heavy heart the gambles of the unknown he was all too familiar with. "Had I known in the begging that it will come to a fifth level Martial Mortal on my tail, I would have demanded assistance from the chain!"
Originally the plan was to wait for the cleansing day, generally a harmonic date for the church. However, in this year's Elite Tryouts the church added new variables – Cardinal Northstar, His Young Eminence and Sister Iaura – which required reorganization. Typically on this date, to the outside world the church gives the impression of lowering their guard in respect to His Holiness and devotion to The Almighty, which was accurate assessment. This time, though, for the sake of its three guests, the church had already prepared severe precautions for every scenario that will jeopardize its reputation in front of the Holy Palace's envoys.
Whether by intuition or a chance, Zax calculation of when to execute his task was indeed better to do early than later.
"Archbishop Silternja, this is an oath for The Almighty, unless you'll retreat, should you fail to catch me, your church and life, I'll decimate them all!" Zax shouted, his voice resonating with booming echoes. "Bough!" His blood surged and he coughed yet another mouthful.
"Fool". Archbishop Silternja chided. "You take The Almighty's name in vain!"
Zax felt a sudden weakness in his entire body, soul and even dantian. His speed reduced, allowing Archbishop Silternja to be trifling two meter away from grasping him.
'Why?!' He wondered. In his sea of consciousness the dark sky, sea and land were trembling as if an invisible force oppressed them. 'Not good!' He realize that he is about to get caught.
Resolute to meet the worse only after giving his all, Zax drew all the dark attribute energy accumulated in the Three Stages Of Hyper Physique's pond and then some from what little nourished his physique, he boosted his speed by a bit more than sevenfold for the duration of three to five minutes, enough time to reach Down Ocean.
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