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'Now if you wonder, potential heir, why the mere trials of the mortal’s second realm shoulder such immense significance in the eternal Martial path, you first need to understand what the six bottlenecks of insight are.
‘First five bottlenecks may vary in order but overall are equal and the same among all who aspire to traverse the Martial path; they are elevation from the small minded material, a comprehension of the worldly. If a cultivator denounces any of the bottlenecks in the appropriate time, his or her chances of Evolutionary Ascension will drop drastically. It is virtually impossible for cultivators who broke through the Martial Mortal realm by perceiving and comprehending just three bottlenecks of insight to achieve Evolutionary Ascension. At the best, after fifteen thousand years of livelihood they will reach the pinnacle of their path in life. Martial Mortals who comprehended four bottlenecks of insight… should they be lucky enough to reach the Peak of the Martial Mortal realm and should Nature look upon them favorably, perhaps will have one to ten percent chance for Evolutionary Ascension. Lastly, five bottlenecks of insight Peak Martial Mortals, they are the cream of the crop among mortal cultivators, titled as ‘Ascended Elite’, they possess between ten to fifty percent chance for Evolutionary Ascension.
‘That being said, potential heir, don’t miscalculate and think that all Evolutionary Ascensions are the same. The more insights you comprehend, the more… forget it. Some knowledge should be left alone until you acquire it yourself; it would be less bitter if you’ll fail…
‘At any rate, these are the basics of the six bottlenecks of insights. I haven’t mentioned the sixth bottleneck, since wherever you search in the three Valleys, their infinite Plains and myriad stars, to encounter someone who comprehended it is nearly impossible even for the all can Gods. In fact, for the piddling perception of a mortal to fully comprehend the sixth bottleneck of insight is an incredible wonder even Gods will find difficult to compare to with their most striking feats!
‘So, potential heir, are you starting to understand the magnitude of this one of two conditions you have left for cultivating Legacy Of The One’s Path?’ The expert’s voice sounded provocative, as if challenging Zax to answer, whilst indicating in his tone that he did not finish speaking and rather have not an heir who reacts like a robot.
Up to this point Zax was listening attentively, so much that he brought himself to halfway open up his mouth to utter “Yes”, when it dawned on him that it is meaningless. The expert was already dead and this was just a message. Moreover, as excited and enthralled as he was by the informative content of the message, Zax was more trembling by the realization that if the expert cultivated Legacy Of The One’s Path then it means that he was none other than one of those extremely spectacular individuals who comprehended all six bottlenecks of insight!
‘Passible’, a positive shift in the expert’s temperament was noticeable as he continued with barely the space of time for his listener to reply rashly. ‘Although I did not complicate things, if you had casted the slightest hum, potential heir, then with accordance to how I formulated this message, it would have sensed it and end the message there. Regardless of why you held your tongue, here is the reward you earned, which is something I would like to stress out for you, potential heir… that is, much like when trying to perceive the bottlenecks of insight is a task you must do on your own, essentially, there is no really such thing as Master and Decuple relationship or external guidance on the Immortal Martial path. Yes, you can find assistant in all kinds of various and unique ways, profound or shallow, but ultimately the path to greatness is something that you should forge by contemplating understanding without others asking you for it, be it immediately or hereafter’. The expert’s voice tuned down, as if he reminisced personal mistakes. ’It may seem an obvious thing to do, but I do not expect nor believe that you can get the small wisdom of these words until the day of your Evolutionary Ascension, should it be reached accordingly, thus I will not expound on the sixth bottleneck’.
‘Is it over?’ Zax wondered after a moment of silence on the expert’s side.
‘These are the last of my words, potential heir’, finally, the expert began to conclude. ‘Legacy Of The One’s Path is what all believe to be the summit. In my life I was fortunate to find it and meet its conditions. It brought me far and beyond my peers, then my elders, eventually those ancient ones… but as you got to know, it did not make me invincible and could not compensate for my carelessness and poor judgment…
‘Outside of the earthly star, past the eddying Plain, encompassing is the lower Valley. Here is where you are. Do the best to carry yourself onward‘.
The expert’s voice dimmed, as for now and forever there was nothing more for him to say.
“Evolutionary Ascension…” Zax let out a sigh. “Did he have to be so obscure about it on purpose?”
He got that it is a sort of transformation that preceded the realm of Immortality and what the overall conditions to meet it are, but there were still some unknown factors the expert hinted toward before deliberately leaving behind.
“Star, Plain and Valley. In the first message I could not interpret certain words, now they are clear, but their meaning… I suppose its self explanatory that by Stars the expert meant Earth, Sun, Moon, etcetera… Plain and Valley, though…”
The subject of space was in decline since humanity and beasts immigrated to New Earth. Whatever was taught in schools or shown in games and other forms of entertainment was even less educational. At best, Zax could only assume that “Plain” is probably a synonym to “galaxy”. As for “Valley” or even more confusing “lower Valley”, he had no idea what the expert referred to.
His eyes lingered on the horizon as his doubts were slowly put to rest. After a while, his body began to shiver and he had to place his left hand on top the clenched right to restrain it.
“Perfect mortal path, transcending tribulations that are in concert with all six bottlenecks, of which I comprehended five”. Zax voice was shaking in ecstasy. “I want to know, what percentage for Evolutionary Ascension would I have after comprehending the sixth? If it’s truly like the expert indicated... fifty? More? Hundred?!”
Never encountering those legendary existences known as “Immortals”, Zax impression of them was, mostly, by the small stuff he learned in the expert’s messages and recent events in Demirva Ridge, which showed him the scarifies many cultivators are willing to make to improve their chances for Evolutionary Ascension.
As for the eagerness to stride forward onto such realm, as someone so young yet bordering the mortal Peak whilst being so close to surpass it, it was unavoidable for his blood to boil for desiring to further the Martial path he all his life was immersed with.
Standing up abruptly, the nest shook along with some of the branches making it issuing cracking noises under the force of his feet.
“Two things, that’s all I got to do!” Everything else will unravel as he progresses, so no point letting it bother him.
“The sixth bottleneck of insight required time, effort and patience. The dark attribute is absolutely the catalyst to comprehending it”. The relations between the two were so close he spared no second thought to the notion. “The last spark of insight is only partial; to completely grasp it my best chances are by utilization and exhaustion of the Dark Titan Storm form, that’s when I’m most in sync with it”. The prerequisite for that were foes who can actually challenge the Dark Titan Storm form, therefore just transforming was insufficient, and also why he decided to concentrate on the other thing…
Jumping off the nest, Zax followed the direction his instincts told him where the third Black Core was at.
Speeding through the forest of Titan Kapok Trees, skipping entire lakes, rivers and small hills in one leap, he wanted to get the third Black Core as soon as he could, hoping it will supplement the last spark of insight, and so allowed nothing to impede his advancement.
As to why he did not fly? Quite simple, Zax was not far from Demirva Ridge, roughly six kilometers in its vicinity. Should the five powers send people to search the area, if they sensed his dark attribute domain then he was fairly certain that next thing to follow will be a relentless pursuit by their most formidable experts.
One Sister Beatriz was enough to satiate Zax’s urge for a life and death battle, if by any chance more are on his tail, then he has the slightest desire to deal with them several at a time.
“A troop…” Zax whispered as he noticed on his way a group of monkey looking, two scales Deformed Beings. The young were not bigger than a human’s palm and the adults were child’s size, seemingly around the Advanced phase of the second realm’s third. Two particular monkeys were at the Peak of the second realm.
The sight of the tranquil troop made Zax speculate that the number of types of two scales Deformed Beings is pretty abundant. On his venture he saw many different two scale Deformed Beings, some in groups, others were the solitary type.
“Nearly all one scale Deformed Beings are in hiding, without my Soul Sense it would have been hard finding them”.
There were quite a few two scales carnivore Deformed Beings, some, due to certain physical features or traits, were stronger than the others despite both types having two scales and at full growth.
Zax could only assume that those carnivore, two scales Deformed Beings were able to be so domineering over the rest of the Deformed Being around because the lack of three scales Deformed Beings to put them in their place. Actually, even if it was reasonable to think that three scales Deformed Beings are scarce, Zax had yet to encounter even one such Deformed Being even with his long range Soul Sense.
“Maybe it’s for the best. A three scales Deformed Being is too dangerous even in my current state”. He wanted to challenge himself but he was not delusional.
Selivereb was the small part of the smaller of the two continents. Not long after Zax began to run, while descending from high up cliff, he could see the distant coastline and the city situated near it.
The white waves, the salty air, the shimmering blue expanse… If Zax’s personality was less callous and his age just a bit younger he was certain to yell mind blown “WOW”. Instead, he halted on the ground the moment his feet slammed down. The first real image he had of the sea was vivid in his mind and he tried to recall its end, but could not. As a result, the hairs of his back bristled and a tickling sensation in his stomach shot a wave of novel excitement that surged to his rapidly beating heart and heated his body.
From what he could tell, the third Black Core was somewhere on the sea, if not across it!
A violent gust of wind blew, causing the vegetation to stir wildly.
In a blink of an eye Zax crossed hundreds of meters; in couple more blinks he entered the city, disregarding the checkpoint at the entrance of its great wall, not that any of the officers or bystanders noticed.
The city had less of Glorious Ground’s “steampunk” atmosphere and more coastal colorfulness. Zax was curious about what it had to offer, but forgo the idea. The sea had a bigger allure and the third Black Core still far, far away to waste time on sightseeing.
The city’s crescent walls encompassed a wide range of land, starting from the western part of the city, where the entrance for those traveling the continent on foot was at. The eastern part of the city was exposed to the open sea, there; one could long harbors with many docks and a quantity of ships in many sizes, as well as beaches packed with humans and beasts.
‘It would be nice…’ Zax mused. ‘Coming here with Anet, Liz and everyone’. He has not seen them for a long time and upon adding the close call he luckily managed to avoid, a while ago, he missed them even more.
‘In the future. I don’t need to wait till I become Immortal, only strong enough to fight with fifth level Martial Mortals’. This thought amplified his determination to not stop until finding the third Black Core.
The sea of a handful of steps away. Zax did not need a boat to cross it; he was fast enough and had plenty of power to do it on his own, whether by swimming, stepping on the water or flying. With no mishaps, so long as there was dark attribute in the world, be it above or below sea and ground, even in space, his peak physical condition was sustainable.
“Liminton, hey, Liminton, have a look!” A short haired, tanned youth tapped the knee of the middle aged, black haired, gray skinned man beside him, who lay on a wooden crate.
Liminton’s back rose up sluggishly. Rubbing the back of his neck he tiredly glanced at the impatient youth.
“What, Bin Bin? Is the ship ready to set sail?”
Unlike the youth, Bin Bin, Liminton did not look like a regular human. His gray skin was definitely not normal for a human, not to mention his razor sharp teeth and scaly cheeks, which one need to stare hard in order to discern. Liminton was undoubtedly a beast in human form.
The pair was dressed as if they were also among those who came to enjoy the beach in this sunny day, but instead of getting down to the shore, they were waiting on a dock, around several crates and a crew who loaded them onto a charter ship.
“Hahaha, look at this guy, Liminton, another fool trying to avoid the cruise fee, hahaha!” Bin Bin laughed out loud, acting like a mischievous ten years old.
“Mm?” Liminton’s curiosity finally was piqued. “Hahaha”, he laughed, though more subtly.
Their behavior caught the attention of the crew members, yet none of them dare approach to ask what so funny.
“Oh, well, that’s enough, Bin Bin”, Liminton said as he noticed the crew members sneaking glimpses at them. “Let’s not attract troubles”.
“What are you saying, Liminton?” Bin Bin tilted his head to the side. “You think the captain will fire us because the crew members can’t concentrate on their job?” He asked in dissatisfaction.
“No”. Liminton shook his head and nudged his chin up. “We don’t want to fell into conflict with this guy”.
Hearing this response, Bin Bin was even more baffled. “This guy doing something stupid, see, Zenkai and Ina over there also laughing at him. The girls in the second dock also making fun of him, why we can’t?”
“Because this guy is strong”. Liminton answered solemnly.
“Strong?” Bin Bin raised a brow, acting in a manner that asked: “then what are we?”. “Does this speed even count as that of someone strong?”
“I can tell, he his holding back, by a lot. This guy should very, very strong and dangerous”. As his tone turned grave, his words started to sink into Bin Bin’s brain. “Have a look, Zenkai and Enderta also calming down their groups”. He continued to say, placing a finger at his nose. “Like myself they are aquatic beasts, and us, three, sense of smell in almost unrivaled. It’s indistinct, but my nose can still smell it, the odor of blood, both beast’s and human’s, of high cultivation level!”
“Uncle Liminton, even stronger than you?” By this point, Bin Bin reverted to mannerism of a disciplined child.
Quietly watching the well built, tall figure stepping on the water and bursting with propelling physical strength, Liminton contemplated before averting his gaze back to Bin Bin, the look on his face is unyielding. “Let’s pretend that he is. Does it matter? In a short time he will be dead, anyway”.
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