Earth's Core by Lonahora B9 C5 OUT!

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  • edited February 2018
    http://www.lonahora.com/

    Book 9 – Eruption

    Chapter 1 – Stirring The Elite Tryouts’ Preliminaries Finals


    Onzengvas… its lands, before the Age of Catastrophe shifted continents, before it reshaped the planet and before Luminous Church unified it in the name of The Almighty, were known as Africa and South and East Asia.

    At the center of the south eastern lands of Onzengvas an enormous and marvelous, mountain like capital city was erected, named after the land itself, “Onzengvas city”, and powered by a formation of twelve floating pagodas crafted from twelve third realm Pure Cores. It knew no walls, for it had no enemies, and stretched for tens of kilometers, for it was copious with devoted lives.

    The buildings, from the outskirts to the center of the city, be they small or tall, homes for commoners, aristocrats or servants of the Lord, shone with the same pearly white glamor when the sun hit them.

    The architecture of the city’s streets was adorned by ascending columns of stairways, and more advanced technological means of elevation, from the lower class, to the higher ones, up to the summit of a sole, monumental structure, the Grand Abode.

    The people, humans and beasts alike, walked day by day proudly on two, their hand or paws against the ground only in rituals, private or public, of worship. They dressed in clean clothes every morning and rinsed themselves every evening. The customary attire at the base of the city was a tad strict for women, included dresses, long skirts and robes, typically neat with one hue. Men could daily choose between suits, loose work clothes and robes, as well. At the higher levels of the city, the dress code was even harsher to servants of The Almighty. Women were obligated to wear robes, permitted to expose their faces and hands alone. Men had their own clerical clothing. Most prominent members of society, the aristocrats, secular tools of The Almighty, could dress however they want, most often than not flamboyantly.


    Down the base of Onzengvas city, walking at a vendors’ avenue, a young man, seemingly at his early thirties and dressed in a white cleric robe with golden ornaments and a young lass wearing a sliver robe with a metal plate across her small chest, were chatting with the latter emitting a radiant ambiance.

    “Your Young Eminence, it’s almost been a year yet many cultivators still arriving to our Luminous Church’s main city. How wonderful is it? Even if they won’t have a chance to enter to top hundred, I’m sure many of them will find redemption by the exposure to the teachings and values His Holiness his passes”.

    “My sweet and innocent Sister Iaura, you are too optimistic about these people. You can’t allow the goodness of your heart blind you from seeing their true nature before making judgment”. His Young Eminence kindly instructed.

    “But the brilliance of the people, the beauty of the city, they are all consequential to His Holiness’s quotes imprinted on the surrounding structures, Archbishop Silternjan said so himself. How can all of it be ignored? It’s like visiting someone’s home and ignoring the ethics of the house”.

    “Where did you learn to speak like this, Sister Iaura?” His Young Eminence smiled. “Did my word no longer carry meaning that it can be argued for the sake of heathens and heretics?”

    “No… no, Your Young Eminence, I did not mean to insult”. Sister Iaura hurriedly said. She could not bear disrespecting His Young Eminence when he was so good to her from the moment they met, even if she paid him all too much back when she saved his life by applying the potion His Holiness personally granted her.

    “Good Sister Iaura, forget it, how can I ever be angry at you?” His Young Eminence’s hand quivered behind his back, restraining the urge to caress her head. “But you must understand, here is not the Holy Palace, nor your parents’ home. Although this planet has some importance to His Holiness, the resources here are scarce and deficient. When you offered the Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element as prizes for the Elite Tryouts and Archbishop Silternjan explained their purposes to the cultivation world of this planet, all the experts were stirred to the point of most coming to the city just to watch those prizes when their winners receive them. I still think that you should’ve kept these treasures, if you want it is not too late to take them back”.

    Sister Iaura shook her head resolutely. “Mom gave them to me to share with friends or trade. Your Young Eminence already consumed Diluted Element, another won’t be of use to you. Shame I wasn’t given Illumination Dew… a fiery physique will contradict your light attribute. And instead of trading them with someone in the Holy Palace, even if it’s because of greed, see how many people arrived to our city. If one of them does obedience to The Almighty, then it’s worth it”.

    Passing by the entrance of glass figurines’ shop, His Young Eminence caught the interest that was piqued in Sister Iaura’s eyes.

    He stopped, casing her footsteps to halt. “If there is something you like, pick it. I’ll buy it to you as a souvenir”.


    Zax entered Onzengvas city with no obstruction or someone asking for identifications. With the help of the Bone And Muscle Transformation he altered his body to be a head shorter, extremely muscular. Even his face he changed to look rougher with an added scar up and down it, which he will heal after the tryouts. Overall he looked like a barbaric youth with inimical disposition.

    ‘Tomorrow the Elite Tryouts’ finals will commence’. He read from signs hanging from building to building and posters in stores’ windows.

    It was also currently the talk of the city and numerous people were seen making their way to the Grand Abode for early seats.

    Contemplating the show he will put up, a hideous smile stretched on Zax’s face. He followed the mob up the stairways. The public carriers and elevators were pecked full and had long lines that were tedious to wait in.

    Climbing the hundreds of stairs, moving between stairways, there was a stifle taste to the air.

    ‘Non cultivators don’t notice’. Zax retained an aloof expression as he paid attention to some of the notable experts around; as he was sure others were also keeping an eye on him. ‘I wonder how many had come explicitly for the prizes and who among them belong to the other four powers?’

    In this Elite Tryouts occasion, the other four powers dare to send the members under the third realm to participate precisely because the prizes. However, should one of their members reach the top ten and Luminous Church will have the credit of discovering as well as first recruiting him or her to their Elites, it would be a great loss of face. Therefore, the leaders of the other four powers had sent envoys to attend the tryouts, keep an eye on their members and retrieve them should Luminous Church will express interest. Naturally, any one of those members who will prove to him or her future prospects will not be neglected upon their return.

    ‘Nineteen hundred and eighty’. Zax finished counting. It was not the undivided number of stairs from the base of the city to the Grand Abode, only of the stairways he chose to climb.

    The Grand Abode had a zone entirely of its own at the summit of the city with a circumference of eight kilometers. If one will describe it in one word it would be “dreamy”. At the highest point, which was not necessarily the most central, was the building itself where only Archbishop Silternjan could reside day and night. Encompassing were a nuns district and a clerics district as well as lavish gardens, a church and a huge square for congregation when the Archbishop himself expound on The Almighty.

    For the Elite Tryouts the square was arranged as the arena and was provided with stages of tens of thousands seats.

    Zax knew that people who came to view had to purchase day tickets at the base of the city for low and medium seats and at the aristocrats’ upper parts of the city for high seats. The number of tickets sold was equal to the number of seats but only high seats were reserved for their tickets holders.

    Just as he was about to enter the booths at the periphery of the square for late registration, which was available till the end of the finals, although participation was not promised, a large commotion erupted from the direction of the arena and seating stages.

    “In the name of The Almighty I ask respected Archbishop Silternjan to forgive this one’s insolence! My name is Denver Posniov of the Northern Icecaps! I came to challenge the strongest participants that appeared in the preliminaries, shatter his bones and surmount to the overall first place of the Elite Tryouts!”

    A deep voice roared and immediately a hubbub ensued.

    “The first late contenders appeared, and he dared to challenge Greimor from the get go!”

    “Greimor? This Denver’s facial features are so young, he probably want to challenge First age group’s Neyrar, that boy the Golden Desert Fort sent openly”.

    “The age groups don’t matter after the preliminaries, and both Greimor and Neyrar exhibited spectacular strength. Does it matter which one of them fights him?”

    “My God! Look at him; he is nearly three meters tall! Is he a human or a beast?!”

    “What was his tests score?!”

    “Late contenders must be tested, but now is not the time, yet. Did he just enter the arena and except for everything to work as he wants?!”

    Late experts among the crowd, such as Zax, frowned, displeased for being a step slower than Denver.

    Non contenders gossiped and speculated.

    The adults mutually agreed that arriving early for tomorrow seats was a splendid choice; they will get to see premature action without paying a dime!

    The children were just as glad. Their little faces were brimming with anticipation. When their parents told them that The Almighty treat dearly good children who pray in his name, they were doubtful, but now they wholeheartedly believed them. The day after tomorrow, after the preliminaries’ finals they came to watch, when they return to their schools they will be able to boast in front of their friends, tell stories on the Icecaps’ Gigantor who wrecked the preliminaries.

    The Elite Tryouts were advertised throughout the planet, but the prizes were not elaborated too much to the general public. For them it was a recurring Martial competition a person could only attend once in a life time, if they are lucky. Topping it with an advanced performance made it all the more awesome!

    ‘Neyrar!’ Zax’s ears perked. ‘He is also participating…’ He smiled again that hideous grin.

    Although he followed his Mor and joined Golden Desert Fort, for Zax those he encountered in New Earth, had a good impression on and are also in Ercas Mir were still his compatriots. It is not that they knew the background of the powers, so they cannot be blamed for taking the opportunity to join them.

    ‘Well… that Cattelin should also have been from Ercas Mir, by her weapon of choice and technique, probably a descendant of senior Gid. I should ask him when I’ll complete the task’.

    He was not concerned with telling Gid Chu that he killed a member of his family. Cattelin was cruel and desired his life just to silence the news on the Event in Demriva Ridge, while Gid Chu had relinquished his familial duties to Supreme Ruler Ar Yen. Before complaining he should take responsibility for the poor upbringing of his descendants, not all of them could turn out like Zechariah.

    He proceeded through the crowed toward the arena, not paying heed to the Ticket Checkers before the seating stages.

    BOOM!

    An armored, bald, white skinned woman crushed in the arena, triggering the protective formation meant to keep it intact.

    “Archbishop Silternjan, my name is Els Joli Nembus Clad, I traveled the oceans from the Clad clan of the Western Continent. I’m here to win your Elite Tryouts. From this moment on, any Core Master who enters the arena forfeit their lives!” Her voice bellowed triumphantly.

    ‘How domineering!’ Zax admired. ‘But another later contender got ahead of me…’

  • edited February 2018
    http://www.lonahora.com/

    Book 9 – Eruption

    Chapter 2 – Sweeping Away The Competition, Assassin’s Style



    BANG!

    BANG!

    BANG!

    BANG!

    Four more figure stepped into the arena.

    BANG!

    Zax got to be the seventh.

    The five exchanged looks, calling the Archbishop and challenging the other participants at the same time will be awkward.

    BANG!

    BANG!

    BANG!

    Three more fellows followed Zax and surprisingly the sum of all late participants reached a round number.

    “If all the laties presented themselves…” A woman voice resounded from the Grand Abode.

    WHOOSH!

    A figure clad in a golden robe and with a head covering that revealed only the features of her stern, black face flew from the Grand Abode and halted midair above the arena.

    The third level Martial Mortal nun gazes at the late arrivals as everyone, including the crowd, fell quiet.

    “Good”, so no other person, human or beast, entered the arena, the stern nun nodded in partial satisfaction. “No more interruptions, then. I won’t bother with too many words. The ten of you, to participate in tomorrow’s finals, have two choices. First, receive a casual strike for me composed from roughly one percent of my power. If you won’t die, you may participate in the finals. Second, fight a group battle. Now choose”.

    “I pick the second option”.

    “A group battle”.

    “Me, too, a group battle”.

    “Senior nun, please be gentle on me”.


    All ten made their choice. Eight, Zax among them, selected a group battle. Two dared to face the stern nun.

    “Two actually dared to accept a strike from a Martial Mortal? Aren’t they all Core Masters?”

    “They are, and she is a golden robed nun, that is a third level Martial Mortal in the church”.

    “Mom, mom, mom, the lady nun… is she really the legendary Martial Mortal?”

    “Sshh, child! Don’t speak nonsense… even mother not verse with what beyond the Core Master cultivators”.


    ‘An attack containing one percent of a third level Martial Mortal…’ Zax mused, glancing at the two who made that choice.

    One was the armored woman, Els Joli Nembus Clad. She was a human but actually originated from a beast clan. Another was an actual beast in humanoid form, a reptilian named Sioul. His appearance was similar to Raroen and Rarahel in their humanoid forms, only his scales had an earthly luster, were a size larger and those shielding the vitals looked like tiny mounds.

    ‘It should be enough to flatten a Peak Core Master. These two are in the Beginner and Intermediate phases of the third Core Master’s level’. Zax noted without an ounce of belittling. Who knew what abilities they concealed?

    “Brave choice”. A trace of appreciation was visible for an instant in the stern nun’s eyes. “The rest of you eight, stand back”. She ordered and they complied, stepping out of the arena. Fixating her line of sight on Els and Sioul, a breath of windy attribute exhaled from her mouth. “You can receive it together”. She permitted and the two did not hesitate to accept. “My name is Sister Mafita. Remember, should you survive, you have The Almighty to thank!”

    Els drew a great sword from her spatial ring, from the tip of its long and wide blade to the other end of the hilt it was consecrated by bizarre formations, which gave the impression of a vicious paw. She squinted in deep concentration as a white, poised aura manifested around her body.

    Sioul transformed to his animalistic form. His body rested on all four, and grew to the size of a twelve stories building, a forty one meters colossal, while his tail on its own was sixty meters long with eight meters tall six razor sharp spikes rising out of it. Luckily the arena was four hundred and fifty meters in both width and length; otherwise it could not contain the beast.

    “A Chaoyue Armed Land Dragon? Where did you come from?” Sister Mafita inquired.

    “Fieldland Island”. Sioul’s draconic voice rumbled. His aura did not extend like far from his immense body, but its brown hue was apparent and made the earthly hue of his scales more vibrant.

    Fieldland Island was a small patch of land near the center of the Eastern Continent, were the European Continent used to be.

    “Mm… you might have a chance. As for you, young lady, show me what your sword is capable of”. Sister Mafita raised her arm with an open palm as green aura surrounded it. Two streaks of emerald light shot, aimed at the two on the arena.

    Els swung with her great sword. The formation engraved on the blade shone in a white, practically blinding, light. Mustering all of her strength, the edge of her blade collided with the emerald streak coming at her.

    Sioul whipped with his tail. His swift movement issued gales of wind that without the protective formation of the arena would have sent flying the nearest spectators.

    Els’s great sword cut three millimeters into the emerald streak before it overpowered her. Seeing her blade being forced back, threatening to cut its master, she sent it to her spatial ring and slapped her armor, which instantly shone with the same formations, only now they appeared more like the back of a paw.

    BANG!

    The beam hit the armor and sent her spiraling in the air until finally she slammed against the invisible formation encompassing the arena.

    Sioul’s fate was slightly better. His tail managed to divert the emerald streak’s trajectory, but at the price of losing four of its spikes and receiving a big hole near its tip. Despite not losing his position, his complexion was as light as Els’s. He was incapable of performing quick movement and so unleashed all of his mist energy in countering the emerald streak. Now he was more drained than he ever had been in his life.

    Sister Mafita smiled. “You survived. Thank The Almighty and get down from the arena. Tomorrow are the finals, you better recover as best as you can”. She averted her less content gaze to the other eight. “Enter the arena”.

    “Sister Mafita”, one of the eight, a short middle aged, bearded man with scars over his bald head called. His clothes were plain as Zax’s, but to his fingers he kept four spatial rings, which indicated that he is not as poor, or rather far from being.

    “What?” She harshly asked.

    “Excuse me, Sister Mafita, but just now you said that those who pick the second option will have to bear one percent of your strength”.

    Upon hearing him the expression on Sister Mafita’s face turned sour. “So?”

    ‘Fool’. Zax thought and got as farther away from the bearded middle aged man as he could. The other six followed suit.

    “Sister Mafita, your attack just now… it looked as if you divided it to half percent against for each of them. Isn’t this a bit unfair? If you said half percent from the beginning-”

    “You dare say that you can assess my strength?” Sister Mafita snapped. “Can determine what percentage of my strength in any given strike?” She glared. Although there was not killing intent emanating from her, she still gave off a dangerous feeling to the seven who watched from the side and the middle aged man.

    “I had no intention to insult-”

    “Fine”, Sister Mafita did not let him to finish. “If you want, I’ll give you a chance to change your choice to the first one, and I’ll even use half percent of my strength like you want”. She pointed him with her index finger; green spark hovered in front of it.

    “Half percent…” The middle aged man repeated as his eyes examined the tiny spark. Somehow he got the feeling that it would be in his best interest to refuse even if she offered a tenth of one percent. “I’d like to stick to the second option”.

    Sister Mafita lowered her finger, the green spark vanished. “Begin the fight. Last one to survive gets a place in the preliminaries’ finals. Also, great Archbishop Silternjan would prefer if you avoid delivering killing blows, but if severing life is already integral part of your fighting techniques, you will not be criticized”.

    The first melee was too short with no one expecting much of it due to the differences in cultivation. The group battle, however…

    The crowd flocked to the seats like an ever growing tide. Soon thirty thousand of the nearly one hundred thousand seats were occupied by those who showed up a day early.

    The eight late contenders picked their spots on the arena. The middle aged man who tried to argue with Sister Mafita looked at some of the face mocking him with scorn. He was and Advanced third level Core Master, naturally he will not risk it against someone of Sister Mafita’s caliber, but toward those of the same realm… he will kill all those who oppose him!

    Slinece.

    While outside the arena was a hubbub of heavy breathing, whispers and cheering, inside there was not the most minute of sounds.

    Three beasts, two in animalistic form, one humanoid. They were Zhihui Two Headed Sparrow with seventeen meters pink wingspan, Shenghuo Unicorn Taurus third the size of Sioul with thick crimson hide and Zhihui Angler Fish, tall as an average human but terrifying like an incarnated nightmare.

    Five humans, three men, two women. Zax, Denver, the middle aged Funwa.

    Of the women, one, Namia, was young, not far for being called a “teenager”. She had an almost orange skin, blue eyes and light brown hair. The other woman, Orlin, had a similar size structure. Due to cultivation or perhaps it was her actual age, she looked even younger than Namia. Her pink skin tender like a newborn’s, her long blond hair bright as the sun and her big blue eyes mystical like the very depths of the sea.

    ‘Seven…’ Zax gouged them. ‘I’m supposed to emulate assassination’s technique, which means being deceived with precise strikes to the vitals’. He deliberated in order to decide whether to kill his rivals or not. ‘I’ll kill only those who point their killing intent at me’. He compromised on eye for an eye. Although good assassins should hone their skill to the level of nothing but execution when they strike, the novice Zax insisted on thinking otherwise. ‘Assassins sometimes need to catch their victim alive, right?’ It was a fairly founded observation, referenced from a movie he saw as a child…

    The tension was approaching its climax.

    A transient stalemate….

    WHOOSH!

    WHOOSH!

    WHOOSH!

    WHOOSH!

    WHOOSH!

    WHOOSH!

    WHOOSH!

    WHOOSH!

    ‘Oh? The big bull wish the impale me?’ The first opponent was already out for his life. Zax’s legs moved in a strange rhythm.

    The foot technique he learned from Linor was not the most advanced in her arsenal, but was excellent nonetheless. On the same realm, when levels were not far apart and others do not have prior experience dealing with such obscuring moves it would be impossible to follow them, and currently in the arena Zax posed as a bodily cultivator, supposedly in the second level of the second realm.

    In a few strides he suddenly showed up on the opposite side of the arena, between him and the Unicorn Taurus were four contenders obstructing the way.

    The fair Orlin’s heart missed a beat. The eight formation poles encircling her detected Zax in their range, and that she was in his, too.

    Alarmed, she utilized all of her fiery mist energy to her formation poles, but before they were able to generate a charge, she felt a sharp pain at her nape and lost consciousness.

    TAP!

    TAP!

    TAP!


    The eight formation poles fell knocking on the arena’s floor.

    ‘That’s one’. Zax grabbed Orlin’s arm and tossed her out. An opening in the protective formation allowed her to exit the arena. ‘Next’. His eyes locked on the slick humanoid Angler Fish who was in the midst of confrontation with Denver’s pickaxe.

    “You!” Both Denver and the humanoid Angler Fish were shook by Zax abruptly showing up between them.

    “Me”. Zax grinned. The two were third level Core Masters, in fact, every contender but him was a third level Core Master and none were bodily cultivators. They were all doom to fall in his hand, some with a bit more effort than the others. “Die!” Sensing his killing intent, Zax’s poked a hole in Denver’s throat, vanished, reappeared behind the Angler Fish and knocked his head, sparing him.

    His action were not missed by the four still fighting, and as they realize he defeated three in just couple of second since they all moved, their hearts turned cold and their faces ugly.

    “Kill him first!” The Unicorn Taurus bellowed.

    “He is too dangerous, kill him!” Namia assented.

    The pink Two Headed Sparrow and Funwa also acknowledged that although Zax’s strength was not exceptional, his speed and technique were fierce.

    They swooped on him four versus one.


    Outside the arena everyone in the crowd jumped from their seats in loud, excited voices. The arena had a temporal formation which enabled them to better perceive what is going on inside, though they mostly saw colorful flashes. If it was a group battle of third realm experts, then there was no formation in all of Ercas Mir that could have help them see a thing.

    “An assassin? No. He is too goodhearted”. Up in the air, too high for the fighting to reach, Sister Mafita evaluated.


    “Careful!” Funwa shouted.

    Zax agilely evaded the concentrated assault, arriving to Namia’s side.

    “How could his movement be so-” Namia’s voice quieted. She could not speak with a hole in her throat.

    “Damn!” The Unicorn Taurus roared, rose on his back hooves, intending to stomp.

    WHOOSH!

    Zax jumped, in a flash reaching below the Unicorn Taurus’s neck and with a claw like hand ripped it with so much force his small arm nearly tore the huge head off the rest of the body.

    Blood spilled like rain, but not a drop landed on Zax. “Do you, two, also want to kill me?” He asked Funwa and the pink Two Headed Sparrow.

    The two froze in their places on the ground and in the air, swallowing the saliva in their perfectly intact necks, their heads initiating a minute tilt.

  • edited March 2018
    http://www.lonahora.com/

    Book 9 – Eruption

    Chapter 3 – The Official Elite Tryouts Start



    Everyone in the crowd froze in a various array of postures. Moments after they got to their seats the group battle ended, and in both ghastly and bloody manner, at that.

    “Is… is that it?” Someone asked in a barely audible voice.

    “In just a few seconds he took out five of the eight of them, killing three of them, not less…” Another person mentioned waveringly.

    “How terrible, he even didn’t spare the woman…”

    “Dad, dad, what Martial school this expert belongs to? Please sign me in!” Among the crowd, several of the most invigorated voices were of children, either crying in fear or full of admiration.

    “You wish to learn this expert’s method, boy? Do you wish to die?”

    The common people shared mix emotions as the group battle appeared to reach its conclusion. The Elite Tryouts occurred in the same location every couple of centuries, so of course they could not remember and compose themselves to the ferociousness and slaughter that were regulated in the fighting matches of the entertainment industry.

    “Anyway, if this is just a quick skirmish for a new addition to tomorrow’s finals, then it was worth the trouble of getting early to save seats”.

    Slowly more people were influenced by the hype. As horrifying as this group battle was, in the past year of the preliminaries there were many matches that ended gruesomely and then talked about in details in newspapers and all sort of establishment around the city, even in some of the congregations, and no matter how scary were the participants, the common people always felt secure due to the presence of the church and The Almighty in their hearts.


    “I…”  Funwa gritted his teeth. “Surrender”.

    “I, too, give up“. The pink Two Headed Sparrow lowered both his heads in resignation, as well as discontent.

    “Then leave the arena”. Sister Mafita’s voice rang in the ears of everyone within encompassing square. With a wave of hand she disintegrated the three bodies on the arena, sending four spatial rings to Zax.

    Disgruntled, Funwas and the pink Two Headed Sparrow left in a walk and flight.

    “What’s your name, contender?” Sister Mafita asked Zax.

    “Karim, no last name, from everywhere in the Western Continent”. Zax answered, assuming the identity of a vagabond since it was easier to reply when being asked specific questions.

    “Karim the wonderer, than. You are a bodily cultivator…. Not many appeared up till now in the preliminaries, and you also combine assassination techniques to your style”. She loudly assessed as if describing him to someone far away.

    Zax stretched his lips to his hideous smile as means of confirmation.

    “Go to the registration booth. If you registered as a ‘Later Arrival’ change it to ‘Participant’ and make sure to get a number”. Sister Mafita instructed and averted her attention to the crowd below. “All you, late Martial Mortals, who were patient for your turn and wish to join the Holy Palace, must first join Luminous Church and accumulate enough merit. Though Elite Tryouts are for Core Masters, during this time’s tryouts, staying with us as an esteemed guest is Cardinal Northstar. In his benevolence, Cardinal Northstar agreed to receive and take with him to the Holy Palace Martial Mortals who will prove their skills by either hunting the Pure Core of a Deformed Being comparable to fourth level Martial Mortal or ten Pure Cores of a Deformed Being comparable to third level Martial Mortal. These conditions also extend to Core Masters who may dare to accept them, be only sure to remember that The Almighty does not aid the foolish“.

    Letting her words sink in everybody’s attentive ears, Sister Mafita held her hands in a praying gesture. “May The Almighty bless you”.

    “May The Almighty bless you”. The common people, residents of the great Onzengvas city, repeated in union.


    The registration booths closed in the evening, though after Zax, Els and Sioul no late arrivals, tested or not, could register.

    The three that made it to the finals vanished from the Grand Abode’s zone quickly after registering. A large number of people desired moment of their time for interviews and signing signatures, but for the three the Elite Tryouts was not that type of event. If someone wants to capitalize on it, it had nothing to do with them.

    Back at the base of the city, inside a two rooms unit in a cordial inn, Zax sat on his bed with the four rings lying on the white sheets. He rented the unit because he had to lay low, Onzengvas city had a curfew between ten at night to six in the morning and only people with permit, mostly business owners, could stay out late or leave their homes early.

    ‘All together two hundred and ten thousand Splinters, two second realm Pure Cores useful for cultivating to the third Core Master level, useless scrolls and weapons’. Zax viewed the items in the four spatial rings. Other than the Splinter even the Pure Cores were not worth giving to others or going through the trouble of selling. He stored them the spatial rings in his pocket, the spaces inside them were reasonable in size, so they might be useful in the future.

    Lying with his hands behind his head, deliberating and his eyes gazing at the wooden ceiling of the room, Zax recounted the zone of the Grand Abode. ‘It’s extremely large, but the structure is actually accessible to the public. I assume through specific corridors and rooms…’ It was helpful to know that if he would change his appearance he will be able to enter the Grand Abode inconspicuously. ‘Tomorrow the finals start and will continue for a seven days. Eight hundred contenders who passed with the best marks the preliminaries’ initial tests of ability and combat and two hundred who seeds of the church‘.

    From what he was told in the registration booth, the preliminaries will hold three advanced tests of ability and will officially end after an inevitable Martial competition, which afterwards the top hundred participants will be selected.

    ‘A test of understanding the attribute, a test of soul, a test of Martial art and a fight’. Zax counted them, closing his eyes. It had been a long time since he allowed himself just a regular rest, not cultivation of the body or the soul, not pursuing the sixth bottleneck of insight. Leaning on his left side, his last thought before falling asleep was halfway discarded. There was no point overthinking what tomorrow would bring.


    The ascension to the Grand Abode was as pecked as the day before the finals. Zax did not mingle with the masses, which forty percent of came from the base of the city, residents, travelers of all statuses. The remaining thirty percent were the aristocrats’ circle of Onzengvas city, whose seats nobody could touch.

    The one thousand and three participants had a designated open area, which consisted of a spacious resting place, a varied catering and prayer corner, should they seek The Almighty’s favor in their endeavors. Only they and members of the church could enter, while those who came to spectate could cheer and shouts whatever they wanted from outside. The church did not invest in a muting formation for the designated area, any one of the participant could erect it on their own for intimate peace of mind.

    ‘Neyrar!’ Zax caught a glimpse of the extremely handsome twenty looking fellow, which was half a head shorter than his real appearance, had long black hair and green eyes. ‘Back then, after I’d broken thought the sixth gate of the Seven Stages Of Bodily Refinement, senior Ariel said that we are fairly equal in strength. Senior Gid also holds him with much regard. However I’m much stronger than three and a half years ago. If you are still able to match me, then I wonder what sort of lucky encounters you had…’ Zax did not disparage Neyrar’s talent. From his perspective if Neyrar had found the Black Core, then he would have just as better chance as he has to inherit Legacy Of The One’s Path.

    ‘He noticed me’. Zax turned his head.

    Neyrar’s senses alerted him to his gaze not because only he looked at him. During the preliminaries his performance drew a lot of attention and many of the contenders viewed as a threat. The eyes which Neyrar sought back were those whose glare ticked him off.

    ‘Eh! They are also here!’ Zax was surprised when his line of sight intersected with the familiar figures of Benni, Shila, Nirik Je, Hason, and Bin Bin. ‘These guys also here’. He thought of the other four member of the group, Liminton, Vals, Enderta, Zenkai but ended up not looking for them, assuming the four Martial Mortals are in the crowd somewhere.

    He also recognized the nine lucky contenders of the Martial competition of back than in Kingdom Earth, those who joined the five powers with Neyrar, however they were at least a grade or two lower than the latter and other than seeing them as compatriots there was not a more intimate connection left between them and Zax.

    The spectators filled their seats, and even the centralized seating stages for members of the church were nearly at full capacity.

    A figure, first level Martial Mortal priest, seemingly thirty years old, stepped into the arena and an amplified voice rang in a customary opening, welcoming the crowd, sharing with them a prayer of gratitude to The Almighty, recapping notable displays during the preliminaries, describing the phases of the official tryouts and mentioning some do and don’t for the spectators before finally calling the contenders to the arena.

    “All participants asked to enter the arena; the first trial is soon to begin!” The priest announcer’s voice boomed with excitement as a white, semi transparent dome shaped mantle surrounded the arena.

    Zax and the thousand and two contenders entered the arena, the beasts among them in either human or humanoid form. Some of them responded to the cheering, most were busy examining the mantle. Other than the noticeably light attribute energy making it, it gave no indication of its purpose.

    “Please allow me to welcome”, the priest ecstatically directed the crowd’s attention to the highest stage and the two highest rows of empty seats. “Our Luminous Church’s holy Bishops, The Almighty’s blessed shields and swords!” Following his announcement those in the crowd who were residents of the city or members of great families in some of the other cities belonging to the church burst in applause as six figure flew from the Grand Abode, four women and two men, the fourth level Martial Mortals of the church, and took the second highest row of seats.

    All six had cordial auras radiating from them, like warm rays of light after a storm. They were beautiful and enchanting, had the kind of appearance that others will keep evoking in their minds for many days.

    ‘Sinister Chain has two members comparable to fourth level and Luminous Church alone has six…’ Zax ruminated.

    The priest announcer continued. “Next I want to welcome the two prominent figure we all been waiting for! Our Luminous Church’s holy Archbishop Silternjan and Cardinal Northstar!” His tongue halted as he did not dare presume himself knowing Archbishop Silternjan’s and Cardinal Northstar’s echelon as servants of The Almighty.

    Two figures flew from the Grand Abode, two elderly men. Archbishop Silternjan had a bald head, a long white beard and mustache. He looked as old as a ninety years old man, but his blue eyes and expression on his face were brimming with vigor. Cardinal Northstar resembled a man in his sixties whose white hair still retained dark areas. His resting expression was stringent but the lightest twitch of his lips gave the impression of a forming heartfelt smile.

    Behind the Archbishop and Cardinal flew two more figures, a young nun and a young man in clerical clothing.

    Zax recognized them immediately as the postulant, Sister Iaura and the Ascended Elite, His Young Eminence. His eyes skimmed the seating stage they headed to together with Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar and at the third row he discovered Sister Beatriz.

    Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence joined Archbishop Silternja and Cardinal Northstar standing next to the four highest seats.

    Archbishop Silternja opened with amplified voice. “May The Almighty guide us through our path”. His words resonated as if they actually had the powers to direct the poor through the ups and downs of life; although only second level Core Master and below were influenced. “Thank you, participants, spectating guests, for sharing your presence with us in the first official day of the Elite Tryouts”. He smiled and countless faces involuntarily did the same. “You all heard the rules repeatedly during the past year and priest Armin, in his kindness, helped us remember them again, so I won’t bore you with further discussing them. May we have prosperous tryouts and good luck to everyone!”

  • edited March 2018
    http://www.lonahora.com/

    Book 9 – Eruption

    Chapter 4 – Shelter Of Heroes




    After wishing good luck to the participants, Archbishop Silternja sat in his middle seat, at the left end seat sat Cardinal Northstar, His Young Eminence sat in the other middle seat and Sister Iaura at the right end seat.

    Priest announcer Armin exited the arena, leaving only the one thousand and three participants inside. “Thank you, Archbishop Silternja”, he said with no hint of intention to address the two youngsters sitting together with the holy Archbishop and Cardinal, as if he was asked to from the start to be reserved about them.

    The crowd was a bit confused. An unknown youth sat not only at the highest level of the most central church’s seating stage, he actually sat in a middle seat, pushing the holy Cardinal himself to the edge!

    A bright light shone from the mantle covering the arena. Armin held a small crest with the word “Light” on it, which resonated with the mantle and apparently could control it.

    “Everyone, as I explained earlier, the official tryouts commence with a test of understanding the attribute. As those excelled expert among you know, in our planet, Ercas Mir, there is a number of danger zones where the attribute energy of the world is very unbridled and oppressive, even experts of the third realm could easily encounter perilous situations there”. He described and pointed at the white mantle. “This covering you see around the arena is called ‘Shelter Of Heroes’ and is a replica of a minor danger zone, our Luminous Church uses to enrich the worldly attribute understanding of young prospects. It has seven levels of tempering, in which the first five are within the understanding’s range of a Peak Core Master, the sixth level require the understanding of a Peak first level Martial Mortal and the seventh level require the understanding of a Peak second level Martial Mortal. To pass the attribute test, our brave participants will have to withstand the challenge of the Shelter Of Hero by proving their level of understanding. The trial will start in the first level of the shelter and every hour will rise to another level. If a participant feels that he or she cannot bear anymore the pressure, they can leave the arena and forfeit their place in the Elite Tryouts. However, be very thoughtful of your decision, only the two hundred participants who will last longest will proceed to the next day’s trial!”

    “What? Eliminating a fifty of the participant in the first day?”

    “Too harsh, too harsh!”

    “The tryouts will only submit the top hundred participants to the church, top ten to the Holy Palace, there are enough days to meticulously evaluate each participant, why the rush?”

    Armin gave a breath of time to the crowd and contenders to ready themselves, especially those of esteemed background who had better idea than most about the church and Holy Palace. “Begin!” He shouted, the crest in his hand glowed and from the dome shaped Shelter Of Heroes, human size monstrous looking constructs of light were conjured.

    The thousand and three constructs pounced separately at each contender, rousing the crowd cries of fear and amazement.

    Zax stared at the construct targeting him. It had a humanoid figure and was actually smaller than him by two heads. It had bulging big, round, pupils less eyes and no other facial features, a horn at the back of its head, four arms with razor sharp claws, two legs with long talons and two tails.

    “Humph!” Zax snorted, raised his hand and slapped the construct, which spiraled in the air and exploded. His understanding of the worldly attribute energy is superior to Gid Chu’s, just a bit of it is needed to ruin the seventh level of the Shelter Of Heroes. ‘Still, I can’t draw too much attention to myself. Who knows if they will suspect that something amiss because of me…’ He glanced from the corner of his eyes at Sister Beatriz, Sister Iaura and His Young Eminence. ‘The first four levels, I suppose, meant to separate the wheat from the chaff. If I’ll solve them all with brute strength I will still be safe and make a reasonable impression’.

    Zax was right. The first level of the Shelter Of Heroes had been solved quite quickly by ninety percent of the contenders. The remaining ten percent put a little effort before solving it and the crowd watching their mesmerizing, flashy techniques sure enjoyed the spectacles.

    By the end of the first hours only seven contenders left the arena. They all could continue to the second level, but did not want to embarrass themselves by leaving shortly after it begin.

    “You did good withstanding the first level, as expected, brave participants!” Armin declared. “Now, as promised, let’s push it to the second level!” The crest glowed again and the Shelter Of Heroes conjured those same familiar light constructs.

    ‘A bit bigger and with a mouth…’ Zax clenched his fist. The poor thing coming at him did not seem to have an ounce of intelligence, so there was no need to put much thought in the manner of getting rid of it.

    BOOM!

    It exploded to countless sparkling fragments that dissipated and were absorbed by the shelter.

    ‘The mist energy of a typical third level Core Master will barely suffice to destroy it…’ Zax assessed by the feeling in his hand. ‘Maybe the fourth level will already require utilization of dark attribute energy, otherwise I might really stand out…’

    Cheers and conversation slowly developed in the crowd. Non cultivators were continuously shouting for more gripping displays while the experts sitting in their midst and those from the great families and aristocrats’ circle in the reserved seating were eyeing specific figures that aroused their interest during the preliminaries.

    Only the high levels of the church’s seating stage, where the second level Martial Masters and above were situated, maintained a placid view on the arena.

    The second hour nearly passed. Zax stood with arms crossed and eyes closed, presenting a disinterested front to work with his facade. He could feel eyes browsing him. The identities of him, Sioul and Els were known to the other contenders and the crowd as the three “underdogs” of the tryouts, but up until now there was a deeper concentration on the other two who dared to accept a blow from Sister Mafita, a third level Core Master!

    Before entering the third hour thirty seven contenders left the arena, all with the ability to stay, but not long enough to save face when forfeiting first.

    Time continue to elapse.

    At the third hours the monstrous light construct were a size bigger than Zax’s true appearance, they were muscular, had an additional pair of arms, a second horn, a third tail and slightly ugly definition to their face.

    Zax punched the living out of the third construct. Like him, who could beat it with one strike, were about five hundred of the nine hundred and fifty nine contenders. When the hour passed a hundred and two contenders left the arena, most beaten in no way to sustain a second of the fourth hour.


    “I’m confused, You Young Eminence”, Sister Iaura said. “How is that a way to test or temper one’s understanding of the worldly attribute?”

    His Young Eminence laughed upon hearing her innocent inquiry. “You haven’t figured it out because you never experienced the Shelter Of Heroes. Other than being a test and means to temper the understanding it is also a challenge of various degrees. The first four level of the shelter can be counted as easy, hence having more than one method to go about them. See that participant over there, the humanoid beast with the spotted red fur and wings?”

    “Yes”.

    “And can you see the blue haired woman several meters of him?”

    “Yes, Your Young Eminence”.

    “Both of them are examples of the two methods of solving the first four levels. When the fourth level will release the light construct watch these two and you will get the answer to your question”.

    Nodding obediently, Sister Iaura resumed her attention on the arena, her eyes deeply concentrated on the red furred, winged humanoid beast and the blue haired woman.


    When the Shelter Of Heroes conjured the fourth wave of light construct, the mood in the arena became solemn.

    The constructs descended at the eight hundred and fifty seven contenders in new form, a lower body of a snake and a humanoid upper body. They retained the three sets of arms, but now held chains of light in each hand. Their round, bulging eyes were clearer with a trace of sentience. Their horns were larger, their faces long, their mouths spewing inscrutable words in husky voices.

    In the arena at least seven hundred contenders released their auras. Some revealed their weapons, others, beasts, transformed.

    ‘It’s as strong as a Peak Core Master. To take it out in one hit will be an exaggeration, if I want just a measure of attention’.

    Dragging this time’s confrontation for almost ten seconds, Zax eventually destroyed the light construct with a few tens punches and even frowned for a fraction of a second in the process, since the construct had no vital spot he could exploit. From top to bottom it was fully conjured from light attribute energy.


    “I get it, Your Young Eminence. The blue haired woman overpowered the construct with mist energy alone, while the red furred humanoid beast uses his understanding of the fiery attribute worldly energy to match the profound making of the construct”.

    “Even if a puzzle is easy, it is still a good mind exercise”. His Young Eminence remarked in affirmation.


    “You finished quickly”. Ten minutes into the fourth hour a tanned youth approached Zax.

    “You, too”. Zax told Bin Bin. ‘And he hadn’t even exposed his understanding of the worldly attribute… what mist cultivation technique does he practice to generate such strength?’ Zax was really amazed, not even his sister Zetsa’s Radical Fiery Icy Provocation Qi Refining Technique could compare to Bin Bin’s cultivation technique, and he had not reached yet to the Peak of the Core Master realm!

    “Say, what’s your name? Although your killing techniques are useless against the constructs, your brute strength deal with them even better”. Bin Bin, like many others, found Zax as one of the intriguing contenders due to how quickly they destroyed the fourth construct.

    Benni, Shila, Nirik Je and Hason also beat their construct sooner than most, within the first twenty minutes. Neyrar was even faster. He defeated the construct in a little over four minutes.

    “Karim”. Zax replied.

    “Oh… what a strange name. To me you look more like ‘Gorth’ or ‘Morlord’, something with ‘O’ sound. By the way, mine is ‘Bin Bin’”.

    ‘This guy really doesn’t know how to restrain himself…’ Zax inwardly sighed. “Leave me alone”. He said and closed his eyes as if in meditation. He was not in the tryout to make friends or reacquaint himself.

    “Hey”, Bin Bin scowled. “That’s rude. I was just sharing my opinion. If you didn’t like it you can say. Hey, Karim, are you listening?” He pestered Zax until Benni and Nirik Je dragged him to their group in fear of him crating a scene.

    The fourth hour reached its conclusion after six hundred and eighty contenders were forced to use their attribute with either their physique or mist. Four hundred and fifty departed from the arena in the end.


    “Everyone, a recess of thirty minutes will take place before the fifth hour will start. Participants are permitted to leave the arena to their designated area”. Armin announced.

    Gradually the crowd of almost hundred thousand people got up and dispersed to restroom breaks, stretching their legs and buying food and drinks.

    ...

    ‘Leaving to the designated area?’ Zax skimmed the arena, gouging the condition of more than two thirds of the contenders still in the trial. Of the four hundred and seven, about three hundred were in need of rest by meditation that could perfectly be accomplished and the arena. Why should the waste a second by changing location?

    Keeping to himself, he pretended to rest. ‘The fifth hour will probably be the last’.


  • edited March 2018
    http://www.lonahora.com/

    Book 9 – Eruption

    Chapter 5 – Earlier Than Expected



    “After the fifth level’s hour everything will be determined”. Archbishop Silternja said.

    “Yes”. Cardinal Northstar affirmed. “Understanding of the attribute might be the first trial, but of all the four, soul can be cultivated, Martial art can be taught and battle experience can be acquired over time. Although there are celestial supplements, in the end, to perceive and comprehend the six bottlenecks of insight and understand the worldly attribute energy one can only rely on himself…” He had a desolate expression when stating that. Sighing, he shifted his gaze to the four hundred and seven contenders preparing themselves in the arena. “Soon we will know who has the potential to become an Ascended Elite and if; perhaps, among them there is already a hidden gem”.

    “Don’t expect too much from a group of cultivators stuck on a mud ball in practically nowhere, Cardinal Northstar”. His Young Eminence scoffed.

    Although he paid a measure of attention to the tryouts, he frankly was not interested in them at all, much less in the supposed young prospects of Ercas Mir. He preferred to return to the Holy Palace. If it was not Sister Iaura who asked to stay for sightseeing, which eventually resulted in holding prematurely the Elite Tryouts, than even Cardinal Northstar would have been forced to arrange their departure at a moment notice.

    “Your Young Eminence has truth in his words”. Cardinal Northstar concurred. “But it is in remote and undiscovered places that there are treasures still to unearth”.

    “That’s correct, Cardinal Northstar, His Holiness said the same thing!” Sister Iaura happily reminded. The person she held the greatest respect toward, even as much as she had for her parents, was the religious leader of the Holy Palace, His Holiness.

    “That is His Holiness’s direct quote, and indeed, its truth surpasses mine”. His Young Eminence admitted. In the mentioning of His Holiness he could be nothing but servile.


    Thirty minutes recess ended. The crowd returned to their seats and the contenders finished their rest.

    “Four hundred and seven participants are left. The fifth level’s hour is soon to commence, so let me help you all to remember…” Armin announced, smiling at the spectators, gesturing with appreciation at the contenders. “Regardless how many participants will sustain in the upcoming fifth hour or the remaining two, with no discrimination over your performance, the top two hundred will progress to the succeeding trial’s day”. He presented his Light embroidered crest and the Shelter Of Heroes emanated a blinding hue as it conjured the new wave of constructs.

    “Raow!” The constructs descended roaring. Their size was four meters tall and two meters wide. They huge bat wings and absurdly muscular. The appearance of their lower and upper body had not changed, but from the neck up their faces were a bit refined, less coarse – each will interpret in their own way – and between their round big eyes there was a slit that opened to reveal a third eye with two pupils.

    Zax’s body exploded forth with force. His hands darkened as he cupped them to the shape of two dark attribute energy’s sickles. This battle he intended to drag for the better part of the hours, pretend as if he put his all to the defeat the construct.

    CLANG!

    His brandished his hands against the chains of light the construct was holding. ‘Incredible!’ He was stunned from its strength. ‘A Core Master who could beat this thing should be the cream of the crop of the second realm!’ Zax was more and more at awe as once in a while he caught glimpse at the contenders fighting the other constructs.

    What their struggle represented that shocked him, was that this time no one could hold back the utilization of attribute, and that exposed how profound the understanding of many of them was, despite their low cultivation, and how many bottlenecks of insight they supposedly comprehended.

    ‘In Kingdom Earth, as one comprehends the bottlenecks of insight, they gain enlightenment into what they refer to as “worldly energy”, which they learn to taste, hear, touch, smell and see, not bound by this order’. Zax mused while feigning exertion.

    ‘In Ercas Mir, wherever there is at least a third level Martial Mortal to guide, than cultivators can become aware that the “worldly energy” is actually an “attribute energy”, similar to the one they might have added to their mist, soul, bodily cultivation by consumption of attribute’s essence, but harder to recognize…’ Two chains wrapped around his arms, separately, another around his right leg and three more were about to whip him. He howled, dislocated his joints, executed his foot technique and escaped before being hit.

    ‘The more bottlenecks comprehended, the more of the worldly attribute energy can be understood. However, the bottlenecks are not enough; there must be a pinch of enlightenment to correlate the two. I made the connection quickly with the help of God Demirva’s attribute’s essence. Those who have teachers to guide them take longer and those who have only themselves, take much, much, much longer!‘

    By the display of attribute energy attacks at the light constructs, it appeared that roughly hundred contenders were enlightened to the connection between worldly energy and worldly attribute energy, and by their proficiency using it around forty clearly comprehended four bottlenecks of insight that help their understanding make large strides.


    “Look”, Archbishop Silternja told those sitting next to him with complicated expression. ‘That boy Neyrar who came from Golden Desert Fort brigade, this level of understanding… I don’t know what fortuitous encounters did he have or what they spent to cultivate him in the fort, but he should have comprehended five bottlenecks of insight’.

    “He did, but the understanding her gained from them is still negligible”. His Young Eminence remarked. “If he’ll stay on this planet he will need a miracle to advance his understanding in a short period of time”.

    “Indeed”. Cardinal Northstar creased his brows. “They probably sent him for the Diluted Element. Does General Beking think that he could use it to perceive the last bottleneck and reach Evolutionary Ascension?”

    “That’s too difficult”. Sister Iaura quietly said to herself.

    “He is already qualifies as an Ascended Elite, but she aims for even greater merit…” Archbishop Silternja shook his head. “Anyway, we can’t help nurture the Planetary Battalion’s young ones and we can’t bluntly deny him the first place, should he deserve it”.

    “This should not be a problem. There are three more trials. Among the participants there are good seeds of the church, which comprehended four bottlenecks and understanding of the worldly attribute is at the Peak of their insight. We will give them a little help before the next trials and all will be fine”. Cardinal Northstar had it all planed, most likely since Sister Iaura generously offered the Solar Basil Leaf and Diluted Element.


    “Eighteen minutes are left of the hour, two hundred and seven brave participants are still in the arena, should seven more forfeit before the hour’s end, out top two hundred of the first trial will be determined and their evaluation will be publicized along with their results in the following trials!” Armin explained in great elation.

    “Come on, Enji, you can do it!”

    “Don’t give up, Saber!”

    “Show them what you’re made off, El Tikon!”

    The cheering of the crowd intensified. A scarce number of them had tickets for the rest of the tryouts, most, for various reasons, had only purchased the first day’s tickets. Now was the optimal time to wholeheartedly encourage their favorite contenders.

    “Eleven minutes left and we are three eliminations from the top two hundred!” Armin continued to stir the crowd.

    When there were eight minutes to the end of the hours, Armin held the crest up and raised his head, on his face a jubilant countenance. The crest shone and the Shelter Of heroes suddenly began to collapse and dissipate together with the remaining constructs. “Everyone, please congratulate our top two hindered participants!”

    Zax watched as the construct he fought against vanished and pretended to finally catch his breath. Of the top two hundred, twenty one beat their constructs, eighty had the upper hand, among them Zax, and a hundred struggled or were on the verge of defeat, looking pretty miserable despite making the cut.

    ‘Neyrar defeated the fifth construct. Bin Bin, that nuisance actually won, too! Did he comprehend the fifth bottleneck?’ Zax started to suspect the background of the tanned looking youth as well as that of his eight companions.

    Benni, Shila, Nirik Je and Hason also were among the top two hundred. Four of the nine representative of Kingdom Earth, besides Neyrar, who joined the five powers also made it as part of those who barely sustained.

    Armin let the crowd a few minutes of clapping and more cheerful shouting before opening his mouth in order to finish the day.

    “Thank you, everyone, for being with us in this blessed day. May The Almighty bless you all!”

    “May The Almighty bless you!” The crowd answered back.

    “Participants, if you will”, Armin turned to them. “The day after tomorrow will be the second trial day of the Elite Tryouts. Until then, you are all invited, by his grace Archbishop Silternja, to stay and rest in the Grand Abode”.

    ‘Invited to the Holy Palace, so soon?!’ Zax composed himself from showing signs of over excitement. The information about the Grand Abode’s layout instinctively resurfaced in his head.

    The Grand Abode had a total of nine floors, a hundred and eighty one rooms and a hundred and twelve hallways. Among them, the first four floor, seventy two rooms and thirty six hallways were open to the public on specific days and hours.

    ‘The communication room should be at the fifth floor’. Although it was only one upper floor to infiltrate, it was uncertain whether the contenders would be allowed to wonder within the first four. ‘Well… it should not be my only chance. The trials take place every other day. If we are invited after today’s trial, the Archbishop will probably repeat the invitation after the following trials to draw the contenders to the church’.

    “Brave participants, my name is Sister Juliet, please come with me if you are willing to accept the Archbishop’s invitation”. A nun with the cultivation of a second level Martial Mortal flew from the church’s seating stages and landed outside the arena. She smiled cordially, waiting to get the acknowledgment of all the contenders who wish to follow, turned and showed them the way.

    ‘There are participants who aren’t interested in staying in the Grand Abode?’ Zax noted when he saw Neyrar, Bin Bin and his group and a few others leaving to someplace else.

    “Hey you, Karim, what’s the name of your bodily refinement technique?” A humanoid beast with a tortoise’s shell, golden eyes and rough gray skin walked next to Zax.

    Unlike the gray tortoise, Zax did not know the other side’s name, only that he is a bodily cultivator from his performance in the arena. “What benefits are there in telling you?” He snorted. His pretense was that of someone taciturn who is hard to get along with, so giving a response that was out of his real character did not bother him.

    “Humans…” The gray tortoise muttered to himself. “Your dantian is crippled or something similar, correct?” He brusquely guessed. Most bodily cultivators used this arduous path because of inability to cultivate mist, for one reason or another. “My Borvornd clan specializes in bodily refinement; I dare say is even the most verse in the subject, northern of the continent. When I saw you fight I wasn’t able to discern the principles of your refinement technique. If you are willing to have a short discussion with me I don’t mind compensating with Splinters. You might also gain some good ideas…”

    “I’ll think about it”. Zax said, genuinely interested, but of course not showing it.

    “Think. By the way, my name is ‘Bogon’ If not today or tomorrow we’ll probably be invited a few times more to the Grand Abode. After that we’ll have a chance to talk only in the Holy Palace or back in my clan”. Bogon said, openly admitting that he will rather return home than be one of the ninety losers joining Luminous Church.




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