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“Are they out of their minds?!” Helev Hetra exclaimed.
She and Boolian flew side by side in top speed, while not far behind Colonel Rijok wrapped and carried Darvajka and Cattelin in a mantle of red mist energy, since on their own they could not keep up. As for Fengar, he was being carried by Helev Hetra.
“So many auras flared and dimmed at the same time, it cannot be a mere struggle between experts. They must have trespassed into a slumbering chamber”. Boolian guessed.
“Should we keep going in that direction, Colonel Rijok?” Darvajka hesitatingly asked. Frankly, ever since he broke through the arduous bottleneck to the third realm of Martial Mortals, he regretted taking on this “continuously escalating for the worse” task. Of course, despite not having a direct superior from his Blue Sea, he will not dare to defect.
“If the numbers of auras was a single digit, then we would not have headed to their direction. A far more important matter, some of the auras possesses the energy signature of Martial Mortals”.
“Tsk! Little fellow, those two huge blasts from before, don’t tell me you believe Core Masters can generate them?!” Boolian clicked his tongue. “Besides, someone erected a Mo’s Pyramid formation in the midst of where all the wraiths emerged. Considering the resources required to erecting this formation, you might as well use them to leave the scene unscratched”.
“That’s right”. Helev Hetra concurred. “The Mo’s Pyramid formation was used as a trap, and it was triggered”.
“Everyone, refrain from using your souls from this point on. This mess might be related to the perfect dark attribute’s essence, but the cluster of wraiths over there should number in the tens thousands. We’ll have a fleeting moment to assess the situation in the Mo’s Pyramid formation and decide if to intrude or keep looking. Darvajka, Cattelin, stay close to me when we get there, unless you want to die”. Colonel Rijok summed up and raised his speed, as well as his guard, along with Boolian and Helev Hetra.
“Sister Beatriz, do you think we will find there a better dark attribute’s essence?” Sister Iaura inquired with much expectation.
“Perhaps, if The Almighty so will grant us”.
Sister Beatriz sat next to Sister Iaura in the star shaped aircraft, while His Young Eminence was situated in his front seat. After the two in her care sensed the flaring auras and compelled her to head to their location, even though she detected numerous wraiths appearing in the same far away region, Sister Beatriz insisted on using the aircraft to fly there, rather than exposing themselves prematurely.
“Mm! I can’t wait! Your Young Eminence, won’t it be great if we’ll find a second dark attribute’s essence? Then you will have one for yourself and the other Sister Beatriz can take”.
From His Young Eminence’s front seat an amused laugh was heard.
“Silly girl”, Sister Beatriz caressed Sister Iaura’s head and smiled. “A dark attribute’s essence is too precious for someone like me”.
Sister Iaura frowned. “No way, Sister Beatriz, you can’t say that! You take care of me and His Young Eminence, The Almighty will definitely look favorably at you, right, Your Young Eminence?”
“Er…” His Young Eminence suddenly coughed uncomfortably.
“Your Young Eminence, are you okay?” Sister Iaura leaned forward and lifted her head up as she worriedly asked. His Young Eminence’s backrest concealed him.
“Return to your seat, Sister Iaura, we will shortly arrive. His Young Eminence needs to prepare and so do you. This will be your last opportunity to test yourself before we go back”.
“Mm”. Though reluctant, Sister Iaura obediently listened.
Exuding an oppressing aura, Murreta dashed toward Zax.
Zax was clear about his possibility of withstanding Murreta’s assault, not to mention defeating him. He gritted his teeth and ran across the Mo’s Pyramid formation.
One long range windy mist attack after the other was thrown with each of Murreta’s punches.
“Arg!” Zax groaned involuntarily. He could ignore the pain, but the blast of each attack, even if it missed him, was strong enough to shock his recovering body.
Lady Zhuah and Kitobara joined the chase. Both had a composed countenance, but their every move was calculated to the slightest of motions and its effect on the battlefield. Now that Zax was entrapped, obtaining the dark attribute’s essence became a secondary concern to preventing one of the other Martial Mortals from snatching it.
Hereb Lish, Gong Vreil and Lurvar were contemplating on the sidelines. They were cautious, but not afraid of Zax. The reason they withheld their involvement in the one sided brawl was the fear of being caught in the three Martial Mortals’ struggle.
“Hereb Lish, alone there is no way any of us three can obtain the dark attribute’s essence”. Gong Vreil stated.
“Oh, am I detecting another one of your crafty plans, Gong Vreil?” Hereb Lish sneered. “Don’t forget the results of your last plan”.
“The goal was the defeat the wraith. Whoever won the dark attribute’s essence was pointed out from the beginning as an issue of skill”.
“What do you have in mind?” Lurvar interrupted.
“Do I have all of your ears?”
“Yes!” Hereb Lish knew better than insisting to start up a meaningless argument.
“Splendid”. Gong Vreil smiled as if her idea of their cooperation presented a long awaited opportunity. “Hereb Lish, regardless which of us will get the dark attribute’s essence, in the end, only our captains will decide how to use it. I just joined The Flying Rooster mercenary band and I doubt your father spoils you to the degree of letting you have this level of treasure”.
“Your point?” Hereb Lish said impatiently, unintentionally acknowledging the truth in Gong Vreil’s words.
“Simple, if neither of us can have the dark attribute’s essence; let’s give our captains the headache of compromising over it”.
“And who do you suggest will offer them the dark attribute’s essence?”
“That, I guess, will be me?” Lurvar said.
“Right”. Gong Vreil confirmed. “Lurvar is an independent cultivator who has no ties or enmities with our mercenary bands. Us, three, will jointly move in a formation to obtain the dark attribute’s essence and escape. If everything will work well, upon departing from the ridge, we’ll contact and inform our captains of everything, and whoever they’ll decided to walk with the dark attribute’s essence will also have to receive, unconditionally, Lurvar as a new member. A win, win, win situation”.
“You are optimistic”. While saying, Hereb Lish actually considered it. “What about you, Lurvar, are you fine with hiring yourself for the price of joining a Geared ranked mercenary band?”
“I have my reasons of applying for the High Rankers' trials, one of which is indeed joining a Geared ranked mercenary band after succeeding. Mount Rom and The Flying Rooster are both double Geared ranked mercenary bands, a free pass to either of them will be worth my compliance”.
“Hereb Lish, your decision?” Gong Vreil asked.
“It’s settled. Follow the flow of my mist; we’ll erect Six Winged Rooster formation”.
“You were taught one of the four signature formations of The Flying Rooster!” Hereb Lish gaped.
“Not to perfection, yet, but yes. Now be discreet, I don’t want them to realize what we are conspiring before the completion of the formation”.
A blue icy beam missed Zax and hit the ground, forming on it solid, spiky layers of ice.
‘I must break this formation! I must break this formation!’ The words endlessly repeated in Zax’s head.
The three Martial Mortals were after his life, but had yet to make a deceive move, as they concentrated more on subtly obstructing one another.
Zax’s most severe waist’s wound was almost fully healed, but the rest of his body was adorned by many cuts and bruises while nothing was left of his upper garments and his lower ones were torn. He tried to retaliate a few times, but a Martial Mortal was an entire league beyond what he could handle. His frame of mind was on the verge of succumbing to savagery, only to go out after giving his utmost. He did not bother with the thought of trading the dark attribute’s essence for his life. Even if the other two agreed, Murreta made a point that he wants to kill him.
He kicked the Mo’s Pyramid in an attempt to at least crack it, yet was compelled to pounce in retreat right after failing.
‘Lady Zhuah, Kitobara, if the brat will find the formation’s weak point and somehow manage to break and escape through it, I will hold you responsible’. Murreta said via his Sublime Soul Sense.
‘Hahaha, indeed you’re the strongest among us, but can you really do anything to me or Lady Zhuah if we want to run?’ Kitobara retorted.
‘Keep your empty threats, Murreta, give up the dark attribute’s essence and you can have the boy’.
‘Humph, Lady Zhuah, if the dark attribute’s essence will fell to my hand, you think that I can’t get the brat with it?!’
‘Then we continue to see which will triumph!’
Murreta, Lady Zhuah, Kitobara, Hereb Lish, Gong Vreil and Lurvar suddenly stopped what they were doing and with incredulous expressions raised their gazes up.
“I-Impossible!” Kitobara murmured.
An outside force struck the Mo’s Pyramid formation, with one blow cracking it and with the second creating an opening in its triangular top.
Soon after, six figures descended leisurely, alarming with the overbearing pressure of their auras the seven already inside.
‘What now?’ Zax panted and looked up. The instant his eyes caught a glimpse at the newcomers, his heart palpitated. ‘Fengar and… that woman!’ He hastily lowered his head.
“Second level Martial Mortals, three at that!” Lady Zhuah exclaimed. She, Murreta and Kitobara were merely at the Advance and Peak phases of the first level.
Entering last, Helev Hetra drew a series of shapes with her mist energy. Pointing up with her index finger, the shape flew above the opening in the Mo’s Pyramid formation and formed a transparent cover that repelled the wraiths who followed them.
“It will hold for couple of minutes”. She informed Boolian and Colonel Rijok.
“Preposterous! Three Martial Mortal failing to grasp one bodily cultivator and are forced to erect the Mo’s Pyramid formation”. Colonel Rijok snorted condescendingly. “The experts of clans and cities’ great families should be ashamed of themselves”. His last remark thundered in the ears of the three first level Martial Mortals.
“Five powers experts…?!” Kitobara said outloud everyone’s suspicion, only to be ignored by the lofty newcomers.
“Hey, you”, Helev Hetra lifted Fengar’s head by the hair. “The wounded man down there, is he your companion?”
Staring down, Fengar immediately recognized Zax. “Y-Yes…” Under Helev Hetra’s imperious suppression, his voice was hoarse and pain was shown on his face.
“Cattelin, is this child Him?” With arms crossed Colonel Rijok sought a more reliable second opinion.
“Yes! Yes, Colonel Rijok!” Cattelin trembled in anger and her face turned red when her gaze landed on Zax. “It’s him, Colonel Rijok! His missing arm, I cut it during our battle! He should have my spatial ring! For stealing it, for shaming me, Colonel Rijok, I beg of you, I must kill him!” She hated Fengar but abhorred Zax. Because of his interference in her and Darvajka’s task, a penalty still awaited for her in the Golden Desert Fort’s headquarters.
A glance from Colonel Rijok and the nearly mad Cattelin hushed. He was about to speak, when suddenly…
“Esteemed seniors”, Lady Zhuah opened. From the above conversation she and the rest figured that the newcomers were also after Zax. “Old me name is ‘Zhuah Maria’, mother of River Cloud’s mayor, Zhuah Lob. I and my colleagues invested our precious treasure to erect this Mo’s Pyramid formation, please be considerate”. Threatening members of the five powers was futile, more so when they had the upper hand in terms of power in the scene.
“Zhuah Lob’s mother?” Helev Hetra was surprised.
“Is he enlisted in your Blessed Army?” Colonel Rijok asked.
“Only as a honorary official. His cultivation should be higher than mine, at the Advanced second Martial Mortal level. My Lieutenant General has high expectations of him”.
“Is that so…” Colonel Rijok was a tad annoyed. The Golden Desert Fort does not pursue information about honorary officials do to it often being contrary, because none of the five powers enlist them through official channels or even bother to document them.
“Esteemed seniors…” Lady Zhuah said.
“The injured brat has offended The Golden Desert Fort and Blue Sea”, Colonel Rijok’s imposing manner surged down with every word. “For his capture, the parties associated with you will be awarded with accordance to your cultivation levels. State your names and to whom do you belong”.
Lady Zhuah composed herself, aware that they will not get a better deal. “Zhuah Maria, old matriarch of River Cloud city’s Zhuah family”.
“Kitobara, leader of Grassoar tribe, a subsidiary tribe to the Somu clan”. Kitobara was disgruntled, but knew when to stay firm in one’s place and when to take a step back.
“You”, Boolian flew forward, speaking to Murreta. He appreciated him more than Kitobara for maintaining the demeanor of a Chaoyue type beast, despite himself being a Zhihui type beast.
Clenching his fist, Murreta punched the ground.
If the Mo’s Pyramid formation did not nullify his force, a small crater would have been formed under the Silver Skin Gorilla.
“Murreta, Eperong clan!” He roared.
Nodding, Colonel Rijok shifted his gaze to Gong Vreil and the other two. “Core Masters will get lower compensation. Blame the higher ups of the organization behind your backs for sending fledglings”.
“Gong Vreil, The Flying Rooster mercenary band”. If the Martial Mortals could not do a thing about the newcomers, fair to say that no matter how clever of a plan Gong Vreil had, it was bound to fail. Luckily she was smart enough to know it.
“Hereb Lish, Mount Rom mercenary band”.
“Why aren’t you saying anything?” Boolian asked when he noticed Lurvar staying silent. Generally he did not care, but in a situation like this he could not accept letting the humans have extra reimbursements.
“Esteemed senior…” Lurvar imitated Lady Zhuah. It was his first time meeting third realm experts of the five powers and without a background, he was careful with his words.
“Lurvar, The Flying Rooster mercenary band”. Gong Vreil said, surprising both the Cyan Macaw and bald monk. “It won’t be as easy, but our captain might still give you a chance”. She said quietly and light of gratitude and understanding shone in Lurvar’s eyes.
Hereb Lish bit his lips. ‘Crafty woman!’ How could he not understand Gong Vreil’s ploy?
Since the beginning there was not a hundred percent assurance of them obtaining the dark attribute’s essence, even by working together. Now, although the five power’s compensation would probably be a fraction of the dark attribute’s essence’s worth, with Gong Vreil and Lurvar together The Flying Rooster mercenary band will receive double the amount of his Mount Rom mercenary band. Maybe it will even be enough to really convince The Flying Rooster’s captain to allow Lurvar some sort of a tryout.
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