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‘Now you understand? Ascended Elite grants you the surest path to becoming an Immortal. At which point, if you won’t recognize the generosity The Almighty has bestowed on you, then maybe His Holiness will exile you on his own accord’.
‘So I might or mightn’t be permitted to leave the Holy Palace…’ Zax got the answer he sought and the moment his mind conjured the scenarios of his future as a member of the church, before he reached a conclusion toward any of them, his heart felt the morsel of reservation he had from the beginning inflating a bit. ‘I cannot make the decision now, even if it means suffering through whatever reprisal The Almighty will punish me with’.
‘I need time to think about it’. He sent back to Archbishop Silternja.
‘…You don’t care for The Almighty’s Godly retribution?’ Archbishop Silternja sounded mildly surprised. He did not expect an immediate positive or negative response to begin with.
‘When I’ll decide, I’ll personally let you know. I gather it won’t be a big deal if I’ll then show up in the Grand Abode’.
‘It won’t be a problem, but till then let’s make a deal. I can give you ten years to decide. Until then we will publically sustain our present inimical association, but beneath the surface, you will not do something that would really endanger the church in Ercas Mir, and I and my Bishops will not peruse life and death confrontation with you’.
‘What about Cardinal Northstar? Will you be able to keep him at bay, too?’
‘He… is an exception, as well as the orders given to all priest and sisters of the church by him or His young Eminence’.
‘If they… sisters, priests or even Stelero Mars will covet my life and put me in a position I won’t like, what do you expect me to do?’ Zax did not intend to hide or disguise himself for ten years.
After a prolong silence. ‘Do what must be done to protect yourself, however, should you kill His Young Eminence, you’ll either do it in the purpose of replacing him, or dissolving all intentions of ever having amiable involvement with Luminous Church and the Holy Palace. Acceptable?’
‘Good. I truly hope that we reached an understanding. Farewell’.
‘Why?’ Zax pressingly sent before Archbishop Silternja will be out of the communicator range.
‘Why what?’ Archbishop Silternja’s voice was there, but gave the impression of someone who said his piece and now wanted solitude from the subject.
‘Why are you willing to forget my transgressions?’
‘If you’ll join the Holy Palace I’ll tell you’.
Flying back to the Western Continent, despite knowing that the convoy of his family and friends is safe, at least from the church, Zax felt only slightly relived while mostly lamenting.
‘The might say otherwise, excuse it as an approach that only some, a small part believe in, but I very much doubt that it is truly so’. Zax was thinking on one of the biggest reasons that held him from joining the Holy Palace, his disagreement with the way the church handled and handling those who do not share its faith in The Almighty. ‘That alone is enough to prevent me from signing in. The Almighty is a God, but it’s not like he or she is the only one. If I ever decide to worship a God, it must be someone who corresponds to my Martial path and not by compulsion’.
From his short time in Ercas Mir he witnessed the deeds of three Gods. First, during the funeral service in Vergil’s Pasture. Second, in Demirva Ridge. Third, the mannerism of Luminous Church’s members, most significant to the impression he had to them is from Sister Beatriz conduct in their initial meeting. From these three perspectives, the least appealing was the one he get related to The Almighty.
‘I have ten years to make up my mind, which are not the issue… say that I’ll manage to survive the Godly retribution, what of His Holiness?’ Just thinking about the topmost expert of the church made him feel a huge, cold lump weighing on his heart. ‘Senior Gid led me to believe that all it would take to confront the Immortals behind the five powers is for an expert from New Earth to accomplish Evolutionary Ascension and reach the realm of Immortality. Our adversaries aren’t at the Heavenly rank, but possibly three Mythical ranked Immortals with Heavenly and Sacred Immortals underneath them.’
The face such an ordeal a thousand, perhaps ten thousand and a hundred thousand years, will not suffice for him, or any other qualified indigenous expert, to cultivate to a good enough level of strength.
‘Senior Gid’s plan must be revised and I… if not for dealing with His Holiness and the other two, then to with survive The Almighty’s Godly retribution, should it come before them, can only rely on myself, commencing the preparations by obtaining the remaining two Black Cores!’
The pathway to New Earth.
‘There are traces of battle but no bodies nor trails that could be followed’. Zax assessed from his survey of the surrounding.
Except of Luminous Church, the other four powers currently assumed that the pathway is guarded by a Bishop of the church. General Logan was patiently waiting for a report from the subordinates he sent, word that they apprehended the family members of “Zax Walaow”.
‘Kloky? Bonjier? Linor? Rockwell…’ Zax tried to contact the members of the church sent by Gid Chu to transport his family and friends, but to no avail. ‘They cannot have reached too far. If they are alive, which they should be, the only reason they don’t respond is because something interfering with frequency’. A glint appeared in his eyes. ‘Is the bewildering formation shortening the range of the frequency?’
He got off the ground in flight, high above the formation laid by Bishop Nunsup.
‘Kloky!’ He called with extreme expectation. Should he receive a reply, he will finally get to meet every one of his friends and family, whom he owed much apologies and explanations.
‘Za- Z- Zax, I- barely hear- you…’ Kloky’s voice resounded with interferences through the communicator, which meant that they were within the range of the formation.
Figuring that, Zax did not bother with a response. Changing his mien to that of the reincarnated Gidon and expanding his dark attribute energy amplified Soul Sense, he moved as a fleeting silhouette in the Titan Kapok Trees forest, in search of the convoy.
‘There they are!’ Within seconds he located them and at the same instance used the Bone And Muscle Transformation and formulated the bearing of taciturn, lanky old man.
They traversed the Titan Kapok Trees forest by foot and eight six people vehicles that could manage the terrain of the forest, over a hundred and forty people, from infants to elderlies, men and women, escorted by twelve domineering guides\ guards.
'Kloky, come to the back of the convoy'. He got there inconspicuously. His eyes were skimming the backs of his family and friends while his Soul Sense scanned the vehicles for the young and old who lacked the strength to walk the entire journey. Regardless how charmed and spellbound they were, all of them, by witnessing the blue sky and the twelve figures that waited them on the other side of the pathway, flying! There was a tensed, though understandable, atmosphere.
He ended up lingering on his parents, sisters and Anet as he proceeded with heavy steps.
'How did it go?' Kloky joined Zax roughly eighty meters behind the convoy, asking via the communicator so the other eleven could catch up on the situation with Bishop Nunsup.
'He could not apprehend or defeat me, so we reached an agreement. I won't cross the entire planet, finding and destroying all Luminous Church's churches and he, or someone else, won't pursue us'. Zax lied, intending to share his conversation with Archbishop Silternja, in parts, with Gid Chu first.
'You trust him to keep his word?' Bonjier seemed disgruntled.
'You can bank on the members of the church, Zax, you know what they did to me, my people!' Rockwell was more incensed. 'We need to hasten the plan, Kloky-'
'We don't'. Zax interrupted.
'Of course I don't entirely believe in Bishop Nunsup'. Zax said sternly. 'But I know that he will stand by the agreement'.
'How can you be certain?' Riv asked.
'Because the five powers have plenty of experts, but very few that are capable of hindering me, and Bishop Nunsup grew very aware of it in our confrontation'.
'Continue guarding the convoy'. Kloky ordered, siding with Zax, they were his relatives anyways. "You can stay at the rear, Zax, if it makes you feel more comfortable. It's fine if you want to make interactions, but wait for us to arrive to the base before revealing yourself". He channeled his voice with mist energy, to Zax's ears only.
The hour was high noon and soon the sun will start its descent.
After hours of walking and finally getting beyond the range of the Bewildering Archons Magic formation, Kloky called for a thirty minute break, and returned the belongings of Zax's family and friends, those too heavy to carry and kept in a set of spatial rings.
For the adult it was time to converged, discuss the situation they were compelled into and trying to initiate a dialogue with any of their thirteen mystical chaperons.
For the children it was an opportunity to ran around and have fun in this more field trip than forced immigration. They were actually beneath the blue sky with guides like experts, the kind of which even in their pre and post Core schools they have not learned about, neither seen on the Screen in series and movies, or even as game characters exhibiting such skill – even if some of them were scary to behold.
'Let them'. Zax transmitted to the twelve, specifically to Peter and Lili who opened their mouths to scold overly curious, not so much cautious children. “They won’t be in danger”. He said outloud to the panic parents that chased after their young ones. “It’s safe; otherwise we wouldn’t have stopped here”.
It was a white lie. Nowhere out of a village, tribe, clan or city was safe in the Titan Kapok Trees forest. There was a great deal of Deformed Beings loitering around and a number of wild beasts. Zax’s assurances or true up to the limit of his dark domain’s scope, the distance from himself in which he could control the worldly dark attribute energy. He probably could not kill a grown Black Chrome Alligator with it, but should he discover one or something just as troubling, he would utilize the dark attribute worldly energy to pull back the playing children.
No one of the non cultivators dared contradict Zax and the few cultivators in the convoy or even more certain of the children’s safety if someone they could not assess said so.
Zax sat crossed leg, closed eyes on the ground. With his Soul Sense keeping watch on the children and with his and ears listening to the discussion of the adult, the urgency in their voices and their pleas to his sister, Anet and couple of the other cultivators to speak with the Kloky or someone else regarding what will be with them and so on…
Of course, not all the adults were in a state of crisis. Those yet captivated by the dream like notion of returning to the surface of the earth, where their ancestors lived, and the mesmerizing scenery of not a formation, but legit blue sky with white floating patches, and not a stone, but a faraway planet to represent the brilliant sun. The elderly among them looked rejuvenated while the middle aged and younger had their spirit of adventure joyfully brimming past their skin.
“I am… lowlife“. Soaking all the expressions and sounds, Zax brooded and uttered silently.
Those who wanted to return and those who wanted to stay… he wronged them once by uprooting and will wrong them twice by burying again.
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