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“This obstacle called the Gentic Belt”. Benni explained to Zax, “It encircles the planet, like a very long belt, and can only be safely crossed through the Emerald Cross, on an equipped vessel. Imagined it as the sole punch hole on this large belt”. The girl was very patient and the closeness she maintained to Zax signaled the development of a certain interest. “The buckle is where we’re heading, the Earthly Crater, there- Eh, look! The eruption is finally over”. She pointed at the wall of whirlpools that showed waning signs.
“Everyone, the Gentic Belt resumes its calm, but since we already agreed and the Horned Eel’s absence makes it a rare occasion, I say that we should still proceed to the Earthly Crater”. For fairness Zenkai raised the matter up for a second vote, but no one seemed to change their mind.
They were a tad reluctant to prolong their journey, but the last eruption was fresh in their minds, an experience that should decline from their heads before revisiting.
“The ‘Earthly Crater’, is that the home of the Overlord eel?” Zax asked, would have halted if the others were not going even faster now that the Gentic Belt’s whirlpools were receding.
“Its home? Did you honestly crawl from under a rook that you don’t know?” Vals was speechless, annoyingly comprehending to what degree Zax’s lack of knowledge is and the sort of troublesome situations they will get into if the will not part ways with him in the Earthly Crater. Without waiting for an answer she continued. “No! It’s not its home! It’s no one’s home. The Horned Eel takes to this place as if it’s its holly ground, but it will never obstruct entry to it, otherwise all the experts in the world will untie to retaliate against it. Like Benni said, the Earthly Crater is similar to a buckle for the Gentic Belt; it’s where the undulations, which are responsible for the belt itself, originate from”. Vals stopped talking. She would have continued to speak if it did not look that they reach their destination.
‘The Earthly Crater…’ Zax got an ounce of understanding the moment he laid eyes on it.
It had a circumference of forty seven kilometers and was thirteen kilometers deep from the bottom of the sea, which left Zax stupefied and wondering whether it is a collapsed cave from New Earth that got sealed by rocks and sand or goes between the network of tunnels and caves?
The number of experts, humans and beasts, and Deformed Beings was staggering – some were even land type!
Some seemed to be meditating; others were encircling the crater from within. Actually, the Earthly Crater appeared to have inner rings in it, seven in total, and by their look they were made by some great external power.
‘The Horned Eel?’ Zax thought, post noticing that his Soul Sense cannot extend out of his body and the closer he gets to the crater his control on the dark attribute worldly energy weakening. Currently, approximately two hundred meters form the crater; he could only muster twenty seven percent of his full capacity. “The undulations here oppressing that naturel stableness of the dark attribute. Do any of you feel the same?” He wanted to know if it was just him, in such a case he would rather not risk relying exclusively on his tempered physique to cross the crater in one of its rings as he sees quite a few experts and Deformed Beings doing down below.
“My fiery attribute feels the same. Enderta, why is that?” Hason asked. As it so happened, it was not just Zax’s first time in the Earthly Crater.
“It’s not just your fiery and dark attributes, it’s all attributes and it affects everyone”. Nudging her hound muscular neck, she gestured at the crater. “It’s this thing fault... Somewhere in the unreachable center of the crater there is an earthly attribute’s source or essence, it’s all within speculation since not even a being such as the Horned Eel Overlord had managed to get there, that suppresses all attributes, including earthly, and even some long range soul and mist techniques”. She whipped her tails, trying to generate a purple electric charge with her mist energy and lightning attribute, yet what came out were several finger thick five meters long currents that turned her expression bleak. “See the severity to which my Lightning Tail has weakened? And we are merely at the outer perimeter of the crater”.
“Right”, Liminton finally opened his mouth, for Bin Bin to pay attention there was no other way for him but to get involved. “The moment we get down to the initial ring we will be oppressed by a gravitational force, not as strong as that above the Gentic Belt, but one still hard to handle, for Core Masters, and it’s even worse in the succeeding rings, but if we came here seeking an opportunity, I supposed it doesn’t matter. The closer a cultivator is to the center of the greater the strain, but same are the benefits. It is especially so for those with keen perception, if they are in peaceful state of mind”. The last remark was for Bin Bin to not blow away any good fortune he might obtain because he did not want to come to the Earthly Crater to begin with.
“Zax”, Zenkai took liberties to call him in a tone less inviting than he sounded thus far. “Please don’t take offence, but from here our group has personal stuff to attend to. As an apology to my rudeness I’ll share with you the rules of the Earthly Crater, so nothing out of order will occur to you”.
Inwardly taken aback by Zenkai’s sudden change of attitude, Zax figured the group has business they do not want to share with him, which was completely reasonable. “I understand. We’ll part ways after you clear the rules for me”.
Smiling apologetically, Zenkai opened straightforwardly. “Frankly, it’s quite simple. The seven rings inside the Earthly Crater, they said to be created by the Horned Eel when he stumbled upon this place. If you wish to cross the crater, the easiest way to do so is by going along the seventh ring, it’s the widest one but the earthly attribute strain and gravitational force are the least offensive there. Then again, since you’ve been through so much and are the main cause the Horned Eel isn’t here to limit us, you might as well follow the majority and try to gain some insight into your attribute. The oppression on the worldly attributes is very bizarre and yet fascinating. I don’t think you’ll find a second place like this that influences the worldly attributes on the entire planet. If you wish to mediate, just remember two crucial things. The ring closest to the center of the crater is the most dangerous to stay in, and generally the Horned Eel forbids third level Martial Mortals to go past the third ring. Now that it doesn’t here is a chance for those who can, to enter the second and maybe even the first ring, but you should stay alert of the Horned Eel’s progeny. It won’t permit them to properly mature; therefore the strongest of them are equal to fourth level Martial Mortal. On the other hand, they could also regard this rare chance as too important to bother with the likes of us, so they won’t necessarily attack, should you disobey the rules”.
“Is that all?” Zax asked.
“That is all”.
“Alright, thank you”. He said and left, heading toward the seventh ring.
“That was ugly of you, Zenkai, and more despicable of you, Vals!” After Zax departed, Benni stopped holding back and berated the two.
“Stupid little girl, if you fell for this dark star, why won’t you go accompany him!” Vals shot back.
“I didn’t fall for anyone, but maybe you did if it’s so hard for you to stay near him!”
“Suffice!” Enderta Barked. “Benni, we don’t know him well enough to let him join our group, accept that!”
“Little girl, are you listening now-”
“You, too, Vals, do you think Zenkai, I or Liminton need us to whisper us what to do?!”
“Enderta, I think the two had gotten the point”. Zenkai rested a hand on her shoulder. She let the matter go, and like everyone else averted her attention to the Earthly Crater, just as Zax entered the seventh ring. Well… almost like everyone.
Bin Bin could not hold it back anymore, he tried to when they met Zax, Liminton warned him of the guy and he knew firsthand how crazy he can be… But he was ignored for far too long and in the end not once was he addressed.
“The hell is wrong with you?!” He shouted at Zax, though not even those close to him could hear his voice. “A person is tied and getting dragged into the butt whole of the planet and you don’t have spare a glance or ask what’s wrong? Good riddance, you inhumane bastard!”
‘This is the seventh ring and it’s already roughly thirty percent of the gravitational force above the whirlpools, moreover I can narrowly control ten percent of the dark attribute worldly energy’. Zax grimly thought.
He did not know how second realm experts were supposed to cross the crater along the seventh ring if he, a bodily cultivator whose physique broke through the second realm, is having troubles. Looking around he saw that he was right. No second realm expert was present inside the crater, at least not alone. They were either accompanied by two or more Martial Mortals or were in a group of no less than twenty Peak Core Masters. Together, they erected protective formations and those few Core Master who insisted on trying their luck gaining insights from the Earthly Crater, they remained at the outer perimeter, at a safe distance from where whirlpools might emerge in another eruption.
‘Third level Martial Mortals are my limit, and when my Dark Titan Storm wears off, my best efforts would mean nothing against them’. He noticed members of the five powers in the Earthly Crater. Possibly because this was the domain of the Horned Hill or perhaps because around were stronger cultivators, they were keeping to themselves. ‘Were they sent here to train after the two Overlords began to brawl?’ It was not that important for him to know, it is just that for a short moment he felt conflicted about the threat he made to Debuk. Killing members of the Blessed Army was not the issue, killing those he had no enmity with, were not blocking his way or doing something that goes against his principles… that, somewhat, felt wrong.
He let out a breath composed of dark attribute energy that dispersed the instant it left his lips. He closed his eyes, sat down and began to figure what is so unique about the Earthly Crater.
The world inside his sea of consciousness, beyond his Inner Panorama… The sea surrounding it was dark and black, clear from the frailest of ripples. Similarly was the sky over it, dark and black with not the tiniest clouds. The patch of land that was the Inner Panorama was the size of a continent, the entire flourishing flora that bloomed atop it was no longer part of the vicinity, replaced by dark ash that shimmered, reflecting the light shone it from within the dark sphere at the center of the land, the soul.
‘Since that day’, Zax reminisced to his rebirth by the dark attribute’s essence, ‘I was here only couple of times, preoccupied by learning about the dark attribute worldly energy. I knew that things change‘; he turned his head in his nude manifested form, looking at the dark sphere. ‘Most things, anyway, but… that was just a shallow observation’. He understood now that he entered his sea of consciousness with the intent to perceive the mystery of the Earthly Crater. ‘In comparison to a first level Martial Mortal’s soul, mine still inferior with its current cultivation, or it should have been. When I was enlightened about the dark attribute, its worldly energy merged with my soul, strengthening it exponentially and transforming my sea of consciousness in the process’.
To a bystander, a soul expert who Zax would allow a view at his sea of consciousness, the scenery could be seen as solitary and cold despite its vastness. Zax, however, did not think so. To him, after wholeheartedly assimilating with this dark world, which he should have done long ago instead of relying too much on his body, the sensation he received progressed his connection to the worldly dark attribute an unexpected step further!
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