Third morning of the forced immigration.
Zax watched as his relatives and friends woke up and got out of their tents while Zechariah allocating time for quick preparation before breakfast.
Despite not being famous in the commoner's circle, as a prominent son of one of the three big families of Kingdom Earth, the Takeda family, among cultivators there were quite a few who still remembered the young promising prospect who vanished couple of years ago. Some of these cultivators were precisely four of the seven in the convoy. For this reasons, in addition to his genial temperament, Zechariah was chosen by Bonjier to manage most interactions with the little over hundred and forty people under their care.
'The sleeping curfew lasts from nine to five in the morning. In this period of time they disparage in the crowd to their families', Zax inspected the seven cultivators, frowning. 'But the instant it comes to an end the discord begins…'
Of the seven cultivators, Zax knew three. Other than Anet and Zetsa, there was his childhood friend, Weysey Inoki, who was also part of his group of eight during the Great Earth's Core Pursuit event and now, to Zax surprise, as used to proclaim… Peak phase, C level Mist User, Core Breaker!
Two of the remaining four cultivators were a pair of twins in their late twenties, brother and a sister, advanced phase Core Breakers. They apparently were distant relatives of his that recently made a breakthrough from the Peak of the D level Earth's Core Holder and since then were received by the same Mor, a cultivator of a high class family who helped them overcome quite fast the Beginner and Intermediate phases of their new level.
The sixth cultivator was actually at the Advanced phase of the Mist Master level, a gray haired, hunchbacked grandma. As it so happen, she was the relative of another of Zax's friends from the Great Earth's Core Pursuit, Mi's – who by the way was consistently accompanied by anther of Zax's friends, her husband, Merly and a three years old toddler with pigtails. Though they did not talk about it, Zax could still deduce that Mi's grandmother had a sorrowful story behind her. She was a Mist Master with a five hundred years lifespan, yet looked like she is half foot in the grave. Zax could not judge her age for certainty that she lived that long, but from the gruesome old wound on her back, he was sure that she didn't and in her past suffered an injury that drained her life force through the years, from which she had yet to recover.
The last and seventh cultivator was, most astonishingly – from the perspective of New Earth's native – at the second realm, Intermediate first level Core Master! He was a middle aged man who few years back married Serah's – probably Zax's closest friend – aunt. A formerly reclusive expert, who fell in love and decided to hide his Martial achievement in order to live normal life with his new wife.
Zax did not think much about the guy's decision, but a remark that Xiao Kirin in the open channel of their communicator, made him wonder, as well as revaluate him.
In Xiao Kirin's opinion, the first level Core Master either chose to settle down, or more probable, was merely indulging himself in love and passion that could only be expressed toward a unique significant other and will mostly definitely resume his training when his wife will reach old age and die.
"Reclusive experts who lived long enough and still have thousands of years ahead of them would often change ambience to purify their state of mind". Xiao Kirin noted at the time of the conversation, along with stating that her preferable preference was to seek another cultivator for a spouse. To which her husband, Gadgel, only smiled wryly, as if feelings were not part of her consideration, which was not truth, but still sounded like it.
Getting back to Zax's attention on the seven cultivators, his line of sight fell on the woman by the Core Master expert, Kade's side. His wife initiated and led the discord among the seven and a tight group of the people in their midst.
In essence, her issue was with Zetsa. Since they all were forcefully converged and ordered to depart from New Earth, it was Zetsa who calmed the tensed and received the deference of the group as a whole. Kade's wife and Serah's aunt, Linda, argued that everyone listened to Zetsa because most people were either part of the Zel or Walaow families and those unrelated who followed suit were only exhibiting herd mentality – "Because they don't have a reliable cultivator to rely on in their situation" – at the very least she had to sense to pick her words carefully, to avoid giving the impression of inciting a disturbance that would involve their thirteen "wardens".
In Linda's opinion, sure Zetsa was a remarkable person with great powers, but her husband did not fall short from the young Miss and if mentioning his much longer life experience, was more apt for the task of representing everyone in talks with their "leading guardians".
As far as Kade's desire to be the one at the forefront of the one hundred and forty or not… well, initially he did not care and also felt confident when he met the renowned Zetsa, after being brought by several black suited experts to the pathway to the world even he had never believed of stepping into. However his feelings to his wife were not trivial thing, as a matter of a fact, in ever day gone by he became, beyond his control, more infatuated with her. Due to this, despite realizing that his cultivation was inferior to Zetsa's, he took the pedestal beside his wife.
If Xiao Kirin would have known the depth of his fascination to wife in his heart, she would have declared on the spot that her second assumption was the correct one. That a cultivator such as Kade, investing and staking a long term, resilient relationship on his next breakthrough.
'Does anyone have communicators?' Zax transmitted to the twelve, secondarily asking from being sick of the charade and primarily because he was driven by another motive.
'How many you need? I have two'. Lili said.
'Why? What do you intend to do with them?' Bonjier asked suspiciously. 'Remember-'
'Lend them to me, Lili'. Zax ignored Bonjier and continued speaking to Kloky while letting the rest hear. 'Kloky, Anet and my sister… this crap has gone far enough. I need to reassure them that everyone is going to be fine so they won't have to feign their credibility'.
'If you'll complicate things any mishaps that might occur would be on your head, Zax'. Kloky gave him an ultimatum.
'Lili, the communicators'.
'Adjust their frequency'. Zechariah prompted.
'Here'. Lili created a separate channel for both communicators, sent the frequency to Zax and flung them faster than anyone beside them, thirteen, could perceive, using a bit of mist energy to shelter them.
Zax caught the two communicators and in the same instant they reached his hand, his figure vanished for a brief moment that was even faster than Lile's throw.
He got next to Anet and then next to Zetsa, placed the communicators inside their ears, they were small and undetectable to external view.
He returned to his post as if he always been there.
Feeling an itch in their ears, Zetsa and Anet were about to react simultaneously when a voice echoed in their sea of consciousness, shooting instructions in quick succession.
'Don't be alarmed. Big sis, Anet, it's me, Zax. I placed a device in your ears. Don't probe into it, try to respond, look for me or do anything out of the ordinary, just listen'.
At the center of crowed composed of thirty something people, most with breakfast bowls of porridges, two young predominant females felt a jolt running down their backs.
'Zax!' The thought flashed in both Zetsa's and Anet's minds.
"…So? Are you going to say nothing? Kade would've known how to reply". A short haired, blond woman in her early thirties remarked.
"Linda", a tall, black haired, brown skinned man, Kade, put a hand on her wrist, implying for her to let him speak now.
Linda placed a hand on her husband's and moved back a step.
"Miss Zetsa, today marks the third day since we all were evacuated from our homes, the life we knew. It's a strenuous task to over watch a hundred and forty people, but you accepted it along with everyone's, mine too, deepest appreciation. However, that was when we were still in New Earth and passing through caves and tunnels. Now, things have changed. This is an uncharted territory. Yes, we are guided and safeguarded by experts, I admit, with powers behind my imaginations, but anything else, including comprehending our situation, was left for us to process on our own. I will not boast about why you should understandably step down for me to take charge of our people and talk with the experts accompanying us, between us, you are already aware of several of my accounts in the Basement Floor and Valgarel. Your approach got us thus far, safe and sound, but only as clueless sheep. Although I have no delusions of doing any better with regards to our chaperons, nevertheless I am adamant that it is time for a change in our internal leadership".
As Kade preached, the crowd around them grew bigger. Despite being related to most people and known by everyone, in the past three days Linda did what her husband refrained from and flaunt his accomplishments. Bragging how their home was visited by his old acquaintances – men and women that some were public figures discussed nearly daily in large papers and various Screen's channels. As a result, the majority of the people tilt toward the idea that perhaps someone more experienced should take the responsibility of managing their situation.
"The world beneath the blue sky, above our home, is called Ercas Mir". Zetsa uttered all of a sudden.
Silence! Not just from the surrounding people, but everyone whose ears were perked, listening from afar while busy with morning activities. Grasping that just now the first bit of information on this new world was shared, the sense of helplessness brewing in them since they were taken from their homes, schools and workplaces slightly stirred with minute alleviation.
Even Linda and Kade stood with stupefied expression, not realizing that their silence was out of expectation for more of Zetsa's revelation.
Anet glanced at the crowd, a hint of a smile on her face, half of it because she was happy knowing that Zax nearby, the other half for the shift in behavior by everyone.
Zetsa took a breath and the crowd around felt their nerves being sucked in.
Roughly twenty minutes Zetsa spent reciting every word that Zax transmitted to both her and Anet. In short, all that was revealed was elementary knowledge about Ercas Mir, such as its dangers and division of power to forewarn the crowd, and natural treasures and Pure Cores to incite a positive view. Eventually, Zetsa arrived to a halt as Zechariah ordered everyone to peck their stuff and get ready to proceed with their journey.
'It's not enough, Zax, not fair to them, to us, to me!' Zetsa complained after being taught how to work the communicator.
'You must give us an explanation, a real one and not a distraction! You have no idea what we been through!' Anet, too, admonished. 'Everyone is confused and worried…' She grieved 'I need to see you'.
So many variables were unknown and it took a mental toll that could be ignored, but not forgotten.
'I…' Zax stopped himself from apologizing. He already did it, not so long ago… and though they deserved it, words were insufficient this time. 'I'll tell you everything'.
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