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It would be a lie to claim that Zax’s imperious dark physique form, the Dark Titan Storm’s second stage, managed to utterly cover the stir that rippled from his heart.
‘Eliminating Luminous Church…’
The oath was made in the spur of the moment, but it was not as if he was unware of the words coming out of his mouth or had no intention of following through with them. Simply, he was too weak and also had to consider the real chiefs which each of the five powers could turn to for help, the Immortal powerhouses behind them. Eliminated the church should be done progressively.
‘No! The church is wicked, vile to those who don’t share its fate’.
Rockwell’s background was just one story that can be told about the church’s intent toward those they label as “Heathens”.
‘It and the other powers are a constant threat to those who oppose them. They are dominating behind the scenes the inhabitants of New Earth, imposing rules that implicate our rise to beneath the blue sky. They… will certainly go to any length in their search for the ‘something’ left by the Immortal expert, previous owner of the Black Core. And if Legacy Of The One’s Path is what they want, then I’ll never be able to resolve the concern of them either using my loved ones against me or openly employing all other means available to them to capture me’.
Zax reflected on the pros and cons of reconciling, at the very least, with Luminous Church, the only power, currently, to have a force that could hinder the relocating of his family and friends.
“You said that repenting is the first thing I’ll have to do”. Depend on how, he really intended to consider this. If The Almighty is going to make his life a living hell because of his oath, then he would rather do anything possible, and within his principles, for absolution. The blood and weakness from back then were enough scare for him to not dare disregard the attention of a God, now that he knows better.
“First thing I said was the most important condition. Second is much simpler… join the Holy Palace”. A genuine smile bloomed on Bishop Nunsup’s face. He could be wanton, greedy and merciless, yet when welcoming another soul to the righteous path laid by The Almighty, he was nothing but candid and affable.
‘All animosity can end right now’. By the change in fluctuations in Bishop Nunsup’s aura, Zax believed that submission to the church would undoubtedly bring about closure for both parties. “Would I be limited? I won’t become a servant of the church or the Holy Palace”.
“The word ‘Servant’ is of personal reference. Any member of the Holy Palace is rather an ‘Envoy’ of The Almighty. Some just choose to categorize themselves differently out of humbleness. Typically cultivation level and ascendancy over the holy teachings are what determine your position, but for selected few with exceptional potential such as yourself, exceptions can be made”. Bishop Nunsup encouraged upon seeing Zax not refusing right away, perhaps even getting comfortable with the idea.
“That’s not what I mean. Cultivators from New Earth who joined the five powers are obligated to make oaths of several degrees of severity. So let me rephrase myself, will I be free to leave the Holy Palace whenever I’ll feel like it without consequences?”
“That’s…” Zax’s blunt question caused Bishop Nunsup a tad awkwardness as well as slight irritation. Either he was not explicit enough or Zax was too dense to understand that it was not an olive branch extended to him, but the entire tree!
Should he be received as a member of the church and be admitted to the shortest session of holy studies, then with his talent that surpasses an Ascended Elite’s, in a short while of handful years even figure like Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar would be obligated to show him respect.
‘I can’t tell if his interest is genuine or if he is just stalling for those Sinister Chain’s members…’ It would be awful if he will return to the Grand Abode, only to confess to Archbishop Silternja that he failed in both tasks due to being played with. “Once you will observed the holy studies, you will not want to leave the righteous path of The Almighty. I know I never regretted my decision, nor anyone else who ever joined the Holy Palace or the church, here in Ercas Mir”. Bishop Nunsup said in a resigned tone. He raised his palm and a rolled, white parchment appeared in it. He gestured and the parchment flew to Zax.
“What’s that?” Zax asked, all the while still in the Dark Titan Storm’s second stage.
“I won’t be able to answer you, but his grace Archbishop Silternja can. This is an Oath Parchment of the Holy Palace. When making deals it’s more proper, less adverse to use such methods than involve Gods or Nature”.
“You want me to make another oath?!” Zax frowned.
Ariel told him that he made an oath of secrecy for the Blessed Army and could renege it with no immediate penalty, only that the five powers can detect apostates, which is the real problem. Then again, Gid Chu made an oath of service and loyalty to the Blessed Army, which resigning cost him his mist cultivation. Since he was oblivious as to how every oath was made, Zax naturally was wary of complying with Bishop Nunsup’s white parchment.
“We both will make. You will follow me right now to the Grand Abode, to meet Archbishop Silternja to get answers to all the questions you would like to ask. I will swear that whether you will join the Holy Palace, after talking with his grace the Archbishop, or want some time to think about it, you will be granted safe departure from Onzengvas, the territory”. Bishop Nunsup decided to cut all further explanation short.
‘Safe departure from Onzengvas…’ Zax sneered in his heart. ‘What will happen when I’ll leave Onzengvas? If the church won’t send someone to chase me, it can always alert the Golden Desert Fort’. He did not argue outloud. Bishop Nunsup could not guarantee matters beyond the Onzengvas or speak excessively for what treatment Archbishop Silternja’s will give him. Not to mention that he might encounter Cardinal Northstar or Stelero Mars, which neither even Archbishop Silternja cannot go against.
“I can agree to meet Archbishop Silternja, but not in Onzengvas, in a neutral location, the Earthly Crater”.
“There… fine!” Bishop Nunsup compromised. He flickered with his index finger and the white parchment opened. “Condense an oath made with soul energy into a drop of blood and drip it on the parchment”. As he spoke, a drop of blood sipped through his index finger’s skin, flew and landed on the parchment. In moments, the blood red letters appeared on the parchment.
“Should Zax Walaow accompany myself, Bishop Nunsup of Luminous Church, to Ercas Mir’s Earthly Crater, without misdemeanors and to meet and discuss with his grace Archbishop Silternja, I swear with my life that at the end of the engagement Zax Walaow will be granted safe departure and journey to his preferable destination”
The writings read.
“See, Zax? You can do it like this. Don’t worry, though, you can swear a loss of cultivation, if you want, not necessarily your life”.
‘Zax Walaow!’ Zax restrained the shine in his eyes by reverting back to his normal form. He mimicked Bishop Nunsup and soon his own blood formed a text on the white parchment.
“I, Zax Walaow, swear upon my life to follow obediently Bishop Nunsup to the Earthly Crater, where I’ll stay until Archbishop Silternja will arrive to negotiate the possibility of me joining the Holy Palace”
“Is this good enough?”
“Yes”. Bishop Nunsup nodded in satisfaction. The white parchment rolled and returned to Bishop Nunsup, which he then stashed it in his spatial ring. “Let’s go”. He took charge in leading the way. As for the entanglement in the pathway to New Earth… if he will get involved, affronting Zax in the process, then all this time spending talking about burying the hatchet with the church would have truly been for naught.
‘Kloky, Bonjier, I managed to get rid of Bishop Nunsup, but I can’t return for a while’. Zax transmitted via his communicator, deliberately not elaborating so there will not be misunderstanding.
‘Okay, Zax’, Kloky sent, his voice separate from Bonjier, apparently they no longer used the Companion’s Link formation. ‘We destroyed all communicators and only have to finish off the Blessed Army’s third level Martial Mortal and one more first level Martial Mortal. The convoy transporting you family and friends had not arrived, yet’.
‘When they do, bring them as fast as possible to the chain’s base. I need to go. If there is nothing else, then I’m about to be out of the communicator range. I’ll contact you when I can’. With that, Zax ended the conversation and proceeded after Bishop Nunsup, onwards to the Earthly Crater.
The Horned Eel became irritated when he sensed the undulation in the water ensuing from Bishop Nunsup’s resistance to the gravitational force.
The few cultivators that also been there similarly reacted to Bishop Nunsup’s presence, but in a different manner. Some of them were of the church, first level Martial Mortals meditating on the sixth ring of the crater. They greeted Bishop Nunsup in reverence from afar since he and Zax landed past the border between the fourth and third rings.
The cultivators who were not from the church mostly tried to stay low key. Bishop Nunsup was a renowned expert and no cultivator at the moment in the crater could rival him. At best, two or three had their eyes glued on his direction, or rather at the person next to him.
Saulalu, the aquatic expert who Zax approached to when he first trained in the Earthly Crater, after a bit more than eight decades has finally reached the fifth ring - where he now stared dumbfound at Zax who was in the company of an actual fourth level Martial Mortal and not peeking from afar like back then...
“You ruined my communicator”. Bishop Nunsup reminded Zax, mildly blaming him. “Wait here while I’ll go inform his grace the Archbishop”. He said and left, not waiting for Zax’s response. He already swore.
‘Now is my chance to leave…’ Zax mused when Bishop Nunsup’s figure was too far to be seen. Nevertheless, he stayed rooted to the third ring like the sole tree in a glade, ogled by a few cultivators from one side and glared by the Horned Eel at the other.
‘I used mom’s maiden name in the registration office at Glorious Ground and now in an oath. I felt nothing particular afterwards, like when I used The Almighty’s name. It can be because my real last name is “Zel”, or that using an Oath Parchment isn’t onerous like Bishop Nunsup claimed’. The problem was having the confidence to test which is true.
‘I should stay. Moving everyone will take around a week. Even if nothing will happen to me by reneging on the oath, Archbishop Silternja might come in person to the Western Continent, and him there is no way that I’ll be able to deter’.
“You stealthy returned and asked for me to erect a formation for privacy, Nunsup, I assume it’s related to the thing we talked about?” Archbishop Silternja inquired, stroking his white beard and mustache.
Both he and Bishop Nunsup were in an alley of Onzengvas city, imperceptible by all who pass them, regardless of cultivation.
“Speak fast. I bequeathed an inkling of my aura in my residence and no one should come seeking for me, but as long as Cardinal Northstar and His Young Eminence and Sister Iaura still stay in the Grand Abode, I cannot be to certain before making appropriate arrangement for confidential absence”.
“Yes, your grace. It is as you suspect. I have him waiting to meet you in the Earthly Crater, willing to listen, with an interest… I believe should be worth you efforts”.
“Of all the places he selected the Earthly Crater…” Archbishop Silternja contemplated and smiled. “Good. This planet is already divided. Although there are eyes and ears in the Earthly Crater, they are not a problem to elude and an Overlord’s territory is better than one of the other four powers’”. He patted Bishop Nunsup’s shoulders with both hands. “Good, Nunsup. If this will pay off, it would be thanks to yours smart thinking”. Obviously he could determine key points of what transpired in the Western Continent. “Wait for me here. I’ll go cover my absence and then we’ll head together to the Earthly Crater”.
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