Kinda bad at introductions, but here it is...
You guys and all who know me online can call me "Lonahora".
Earth's Core is a light novel that I'm working on to better my English and story telling.
If you'll check out my website you can find the first twenty chapters of book one and the first five of book two.
I won't post all the chapters that I written so far, please check them in my website and if you like what you read, see the very important poll and please subscribe.
What I will post in this thread are new chapters, starting with book two chapter six. However, that will be in a few days, since I release a chapter or two per week.
Title: Earth's Core
Genre: Fantasy, Post apocalypse, Action, Martial Art
A very vague, short synopsis(since full chapters are what I'm in to and anything less just don't come to mind ):
Nature’s rules have changed.
Humanity and beast had to flee under the earth to survive.
Millenniums have passed, a new force discovered.
Humanity and beast evolved.
A boy is born.
Last edited by Lonahora; June 21, 2015 at 02:15 PM.
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Book 2 – Black Core
Chapter 6 – A Bit Of Qi Utilization
Approximately three hundred meters from the hill, on which Zax was standing with a wide expression of wonder on his face that quickly changed to an expression of utmost sense of achievement, Zetsa was watching her little brother with bated breath.
How long as she being doing it, observing Zax from afar whenever she left him on top of the chosen fourth location? “Since the very beginning” was the answer. Yes, it was not in Zetsa calculation that Zax’s soul was so exceptional that it could develop a Soul Sense. Such strange occurrence has made it difficult for her to estimate when it happened, which is why up until Zax showed the severe reaction to the environmental essence in a cave that was part of the beasts’ territory even he was not fully aware of this ability.
“He actually made it”. Zetsa sighed and with no time to spend she leaped from one tree’s branch to another, toward the hill. “An F level soul that could use soul attacks and has Soul Sense… No! It was within his capabilities when his soul was at the top phase of level G! How terrifying, little Zi, your strong points differ than mine so I can only guess the benefits of naturally breaking through the juncture of level F with your soul”. Zetsa praised her little brother\Tal. “Here you are!”
“Big sis!” For the first time in a long time Zax Jumped on his big sister with the affection of a jolly little boy. His enormous achievement made him forget his sore body and Qi channels. “Hahaha… I knew you were behind me without even looking, hahaha…” Zax cheerfully declared. He was saying the truth, after just advancing to level F the condition of Zax’s soul was at its peak and his Soul Sense extended to a radius of a hundred and thirty centimeters in which his inner mind was aware of every little thing and change in the environment. Because of that, Zax was not surprised to see his big sister suddenly appear from behind him and was even the first to call aloud.
“What was that? You say that you were able to tell that I was behind you?!” Zetsa questioned the words she thought came out of Zax’s mouth and with him hugging her body like a little monkey she unconsciously touched her ears, to see if they were working right.
“What? You don’t believe me? Fine I’ll show you!” Zax got down from his big sister, turned his back to her and walked a few steps. “Do anything that you want, but don’t go too far and I’ll tell you exactly what you are doing without looking”. He urged her.
“Do something? Do what, Zax, stop playing. Your body and Qi channel went through a great ordeal of stress and tension. Come on, I’ll carry you, we are going home”. External appearance was enough for one to grasp the state in which Zax’s body was in. A little probing with her own Soul Sense allowed Zetsa to also figure the state of his Qi channels. Furthermore, what did Zax just ask of her? To entertain the idea that his Soul Sense could extend beyond skin and hair, past one meter!
How could she believe it? A Mist User in the Core Breaker level, even at the peak of the exalted level, can extend his or her Soul Sense at most to a radius of a hundred and five centimeters. Zax took it one big step farther, literally! Zetsa did not accept nor believed that. The benefits of naturally advancing to level F, in regards to Soul Sense, she expected them to be somewhat beneficial, but not to an extent that surpasses the proficiencies of a Mist User in the Core Breaker level!
“I was four steps from Zax when I arrived behind him, roughly the length of one meter. I didn’t hide my presence when I came forward… It doesn’t matter. One meter is still too long and he noticed me before I approached him. How unreasonable is it?!” Zetsa probed the scenes of a moment ago in her mind. “A skill that only Core Breakers can develop, for Zax who now has a soul at level F, a radius of ten to twenty centimeters for his Soul Sense is already beyond my expectations. Fine, let’s test it”.
Zetsa stood exactly one hundred and ten centimeters from Zax. “Which hand am I holding up?”
“Your left”. Zax replied instantly. “I can tell even if you stood a little bit farther. It’s weird, after I divided my mind I could detect, if I wanted, what’s happening around me easily. Even the threatening feeling from before, the one that hunted me…” Although he was already past that uncontrollable sensation that ran amuck through every fiber of his being, addressing it with words or in his inner mind still caused a deep distressing response to his soul, especially now that he could interpret its origins.
“Look here, Zax”. Zetsa bent her legs in a sitting position and with her finger drew a short line on ground. “This is the length of one centimeter”. She explained. “The thing that enables you to sense the environment to a certain degree is called “Soul Sense”. Try to extend the reach of your Soul Sense with the inner mind as far as you can and then count how many lines like this one you can place in a sequential order. Oh, and start from the center, where you are standing”.
“A hundred and thirty lines, big sis”. Using the perception of the inner mind, Zax needed ten seconds to count. He did not have to put any effort to the task, though at the Beginner phase of the F level, Zax benefited in more than just his Soul Sense. The quality of his soul had no parallel within the scope of the F level. To place imaginary lines and count them in a certain order in ten seconds was a plain assignment.
Even so, Zax’s unique soul was not able to process and interprets everything within the radius of his Soul Sense as fast as a Core Breaker, or even an E level Mist User, if there was one who had a Soul Sense. If Zax tried his hardest it still would have taken him at least eight seconds to count all the lines.
“That’s wonderful, little Zi”. Astonished from the conformation, Zetsa lifted her brother from the ground and held him with hands stretched. “My little Zi is so magnificent!”
“Haha…” Zax laughed.
“You’ve done well, little Zi, much better than me, I must say”. Zetsa took him close to her bosom, ready to depart from the hill. “Are you well?” She asked.
“Yes”. Zax replied with a soft smile and drained face. A warm and fuzzy feeling radiated from his big sister’s body, entered his body and slowly relived its soreness like a strong sedative.
“Then say goodbye. We won’t return here in the near future”.
“Goodb…” Zax murmured, relaxed finally and with closed eyes.
Zax woke up after sleeping soundly for twelve hours. “So GOOOOD!” He exclaimed when he realized that his body, Qi channels and soul were no longer aching, as he was already used to due to the constant anguish and forgot how it felt to wake up peacefully.
“Grughghg!” Zax’s stomach growled. “I want to eat!” Huge appetite suddenly overtook him. “Meat! Eggs! I want to drink orange juice! Mom! I’m hungry! Make me something big to eat”. He ran exited to the living room. “Mom!”
“Shhh… Quiet down, Zax”. A silent voice whispered from the living room. “Mom and dad are sleeping”.
“Sleeping?” Zax turned his head to the source of the voice, but it was dark in the living room. Actually with was dark all over the house and even outside of it. “Big sis?” Using his soul sense he made his away to the living room and the sofa on which Zetsa lay.
“Zax, are you up?” The lights in the living room turned on. Marco and Laylen stood next to each other in their pajamas.
“Make me something to eat, mom, I’m hungry!” Zax pleaded. It was night and he spoke aloud, but he really was hungry, too hungry to pay attention to the sleepy faces of his parents or slightly care.
“Zax?” Both Marco and Laylen were surprised at their son change of attitude that they continued to stand, holding each other. “Are you really hungry, do you want to eat?” Laylen asked gently, afraid of sounding imposing, afraid to scare away the spark she had not seen for a long while and now, all of a sudden, returned to her son’s eyes.
“He is well, mom, dad, Zax finished this long session of training. He got back to his usual self. His soul advanced to the level of a F level Mist User”. Zetsa informed their parents with an apologetic smile.
They returned home around ten o’clock at night and at that time their parents were already asleep. Zetsa decided to wait until the morning, but now was as good time as ever to tell them that their little boy “resurrected”.
“Will you make me something to eat?”
“Zax!” Laylen burst into tears and grabbed her son tightly between her arms. “You are okay, Zax, my Zax, my Zax. Sure honey, anything you want, mommy will make anything for you”.
“Laylen…” Marco eyes reddened. Was it not worried about his son? Was he not worried about his wife? He was. The cool head of the family, lenient in times, strict in others. He carried himself day in day out with a firm disposition for his son to turn to, for his wife to lean on, for his daughter to speak unrestrained.
At last, the pretense was no longer necessary.
Massaging his forehead and eyes, Marco exhaled heavily once, as if released from a great burden. “Our son, a coreless boy, has reached level F with his soul, Laylen”. He spread his arms around his wife and son. “Did you ever think that it will be possible… for our son, without an Earth’s Core?”
“It’s not important, Marco. Zax his back, look at him, look at his eyes”.
“And his stomach, mom, don’t forget the stomach! I’m hungry!” Zax added.
“Sure, I won’t dare. Let’s make a feast for all of us to enjoy. But don’t make too much noise. It’s still night”. Laylen laughed, clearing the streams of tears on her bright face.
After the midnight meal, Zax took a warm shower with Zetsa while Marco cleaned the dishes and Laylen prepared new sheets for his bed since the old ones were dirtied by his sweaty and dusty clothes that he wore since his last session of training and went to sleep in.
The next morning Zax woke up around seven o’clock in the morning. He was not tired, but he felt that if he allowed himself he could sleep for the fun of it for days.
“Don’t gobble. Eat slowly”. Zetsa served him a bowl of hot porridge.
“But it’s tasty!” Zax said with a full mouth.
“Your body consumed small portion of food for almost two months. If you’ll force too much too fast you’ll harm your body”. Zetsa educated, afterwards Zax’s eating pace slowed down a little.
“What are we gonna do today? Are we going the grandpa Ger’s farm?” Zax asked.
In three days he and all the other ten years old kids of cave twenty five will depart to the place where the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit will occur and even though he reached the goal of his soul training, he was a little bit anxious and did not want to simply wait at home for the awaited date.
“No, we’ll go to my place. You don’t have enough time for a new training session, but don’t you want to learn some cool techniques that you can execute with your Qi?”
Outside the abandoned construction site which was Zetsa’s incomplete apartment building, what was meant to the receiving lawn by now sprout into unruly greenery.
“Wait a moment on the paved road”. Zetsa told Zax.
Examining the open at the front of the apartment building, Zetsa shifted her gaze to a sufficient area for what she had on mind and gracefully raised her hand in a waving motion.
In the blink on an eye, silvery particles of mist energy created a wave of cutting wind that trimmed the greenery to a fine length of one centimeter tall in a space twenty meters long, ten meter wide. Right after, another gust of wind blew away the remains of the cut vegetation, leaving a nice and open field fit for an outdoor training.
“Whoa!” Zax called out, full of awe. The hasty gardening was too fast for him to perceive. In his eyes the scenario was divided into two parts, Zetsa waving her hand followed by a sudden explosion in the greenery. However it played, it still was amazing to just see the foliage rise to the air, as if the earth burped it out.
“Here is good”. Zetsa took off her shoes and walked barefooted on the trimmed and tickling grass. “Come here, little Zi, take off your shoes and socks, as well”. Zetsa invited Zax with a smile on her face. In a way, it felt like they were on a lovely picnic without anything but a lawn available to lie on and the company of each other.
“Let’s sit down for a bit, little Zi, before I’ll teach you the Qi utilization techniques, though, don’t expect much, you should finally get to know why I chose to train you in soul refining techniques instead of Qi refining techniques”.
“Isn’t it because the soul is harder to train and so the benefits are also bigger?” Zax asked quizzically.
“Close, little Zie, not “benefits”, but for just one “benefit””. Zetsa pointed up a finger. “Do you know what are the changes that convert a regular person to a Mist User after absorbing an Earth’s Core?”
“Hmm… We learned about it last year in school. After absorbing an Earth’s Core, through meditation a person needs to form the first crack on the Earth’s Core’s shell. When that happens, a person will then become a Mist User starting at the lowest phase of the lowest level. Our teacher also explained to us that after becoming an Earth’s Core holder of the lowest level, no matter whom, anyone will be able to perceive the existence of the merged Qi and mist in the body, which will be a level higher than a regular person, and similar to the Qi, the soul will also advance a level”.
“Exactly!” Zetsa shouted. Excitedly she asked Zax another question. “And if you are already in that “higher level”, what then?”
“Then…” Zax repeated, still dumbfounded from his big sister’s autistic behavior. “Then…!” He said again and his eyes widened abruptly. “Are you saying?!” Zax exclaimed.
“Yes!” Zetsa lips twisted to a broad grin. “Now that you have reached level F with your soul, after you will absorb an Earth’s Core and form the first crack in its shell, your soul will instantly advance past the bottleneck of the next level, it will reach level E!” Zetsa laughed. “And that is not even the kicker, hahaha, unless it’s a medium quality Earth’s Core, or having above average talent, even if you reach level F with your Qi, you will still not advance to the next level after absorbing an Earth’s Core! Hahaha… see why your big sister is so proud of you? See why I pressed you to train in soul refining techniques even when you were on the verge of collapse?”
“In just a few days I’ll become an E level Mist User, hahaha! That’s awesome!” Zax jumped on his feet.
“Your soul will reach the level of an E level Mist User, little Zi, in terms of mist you will still be at the lowest level”. Zetsa did not want to spoil Zax’s joy; however, misleading him would have wronged him even worse. “Nevertheless, the difficulties of wholly advancing one’s level are tied to the level of one’s soul. The soul is the nucleus of a living being, it cannot maintain control over the Qi or mist even if it’s just a level higher than it. Yet, if the soul’s level is the one which is higher, then it can support the cultivation and advancement of the Qi or mist up to it matching its level”. She hastily added.
In truth, even if Zax’s soul remain in level F, advancing the next two levels still will be far easier than naturally breaking through the bottleneck of level F. Until he will reach the bottleneck of level C, it is safe to say that the road ahead of him was paved neatly.
“Now that you understand, let’s proceed to the next matter in hand”. Zetsa got up and Zax, who was already on his feet, eagerly clenched his fists and dug into the earth with his toes.
“First, the one and only principle of what you are about to learn. What I’ll teach you shouldn’t be taken as a formal technique of any sort. To a coreless boy who didn’t even scratch the surface of this abundant aspect of himself, there is no way for you to learn in time any real Qi related Martial technique. To do that you will first need to follow a Qi refining technique, or in the future, mist refining technique. What you are going to learn are superficial survival tricks”. Zetsa clarified and made sure that Zax also understood.
Seeing his consenting node, Zetsa’s eyebrows tensed. “Good. Keep your legs steady, close your eyes and try to feel the Qi that flow through the Qi channels in your body”. Zetsa instructed.
“I feel it”. Zax said after but a few seconds.
“All of it. Once you grasp it, it is not as simple as the soul. The Qi isn’t accumulated in one place like the soul, but spread throughout your body. Take your time; verify that your consciousness reaches every nook and cranny within your body. With the level of your soul you should be capable of doing it, just don’t be rush. Even to an Earth’s Core Holder it can take hours to form full connection with whole of the mist in the body”.
Nearly two and a half hours later, Zax concentrated face gradually relaxed and a serene expression appeared in his eyes. “When I felt it before it wasn’t like this, tangible to this extent…” Maybe only in his explosive first time, though back then he definitely was not in control.
Zetsa watched him and slightly nodded with approval. “Being repeatedly pushed to the verge of life and death has bestowed many advantages upon you, Zax”. She said to herself.
“It’s the deference between grasping a portion of your Qi and all of it”. Zetsa opened. “Remember to reach this proficiency whenever you use your Qi or soul energy. No matter which aspect of your being you utilize, you should not treat it halfheartedly. When you’ll return from the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit, this will become your first method of training before proceeding to mist refining techniques”.
“Okay, big sis, what now?” Zax took to heart Zetsa’s teaching and awaited for further instructions.
“Now, Zax, you will observe and imitate what I’ll do. Move back a little and don’t use your soul sense no matter what!” After saying so, Zetsa followed her own directives ostentatiously in order for the steps to truly be engraved in Zax’s mind.
A silvery thick misty aura immerged from Zetsa body instantly. Distortions in the air signified the vast power Zetsa withheld. “I’ll use my aura to help you visualize the process, but I’ll do so only once so pat attention”. Spreading her arms to the sides she kept saying. “This is a hundred percent usage of my mist energy, gashing out from every pore of my body. Try it yourself”.
Zax watched and obeyed. Spreading his arms in the same manner, the best that he could do with his Qi was let it flow throughout his body as it did before, while this time maintaining a thread of consciousness for instant take over.
Five minutes had passed. Zax’s calmed demeanor began to frown has time passed. Even though he extended only a thread of his consciousness, it was difficult to wield over time.
“You can stop”. Zetsa said, yet she kept showing of her aura. “The quality and amount of Qi you possess is insufficient for a prolong usage. Rest for ten minutes, let your Qi channels recuperate”.
Ten minutes later.
“Times up. Get a grip on all of your Qi again”. Zetsa said since Zax ceased the thread of consciousness.
This time it took Zax two hours to gain full awareness to all of his Qi.
“Arms to the sides”. Zetsa said and spread her arms also. “The first time was to let you realize that even if you don’t execute a profound Qi or mist technique, it’s still hard to maintain for a long time. Qi is energy, any usage of it, and basically any action count as a usage, spend your Qi. But it doesn’t mean that you only have a limited amount of Qi to spend in your entire life.”
“Let me simplify it. Think of Qi and Qi channels like an extension of your body. If you run for a long time the body gets tired and weak. What then you do? You rest and nourish the body to renew its strength. Excessive use of Qi, in cases like yours even a little usage, will reduce the Qi in your body and tire the Qi channels, to recuperate what you do?”
“Rest”. Zax answered involuntarily, but he began to feel tired again and wished his sister will hurry.
“Much like what you do when the body is exhausted, you rest and nourish the Qi by nourishing the body with healthy food. Just so you know, there are other ways to nourish the Qi, but they aren’t easy to come by. Never forget, exhausting completely one of the three aspects of a living being, soul, body or Qi will result in certain death! ”. Zetsa talking pace stayed indolent.
Two minutes after.
“You can stop to rest. After ten minutes, repeat the exercise”.
Two hours and fifteen minutes later.
“Watch clearly and try to imitate the movement of my aura with your Qi”. Arms to the sides, Zetsa’s aura began to move slowly from her left side of the body to accumulate only in the right side.
Imitating his Mor, Zax controlled the Qi in his body and allocated it to only the right side of his body.
“Excellent. On to the next step”. Zetsa complimented and shifted her aura only to the upper right side of her body.
Once again imitating his Mor, it took Zax a few seconds this time to concentrate his Qi only in the upper right side of his body.
“You are doing well, Zax, two more steps”. Zetsa said. Her full aura then moved to cover only her right arm. The great concentration of silvery particles made it seem as if Zetsa’s arm was made out of pure silver.
“Urgg…” Zax shrieked. The more Qi he accumulated onto one place and the smallest that place was, the more it felt like filling a half a liter bottle with a greater and greater amount of water.
“Remember this feeling. That’s your current limit”. It was already within Zetsa’s predications and a good lesson for Zax. “If you’ll try to concentrate your Qi in an even smallest space in your body, your Qi channels may tear apart. Helping you then, even I don’t have the confidence, so don’t push yourself!”
“Okay, big sis, last step, last step”. Zax winced.
“The last step”, Zetsa smiled and decided to spare the surroundings. “Punch the ground!”
---------- Post added June 27, 2015 at 09:31 AM ---------- Previous post was June 23, 2015 at 03:16 AM ----------
Book 2 – Black Core
Chapter 7 – The Beginning of The Great Earth’s Core Pursuit
The second in April, year 5785.
Three o’clock in the afternoon.
A line of eleven parked busses stretched to a bit over a hundred meters at the entrance to tunnel seventy seven from cave twenty five.
Families from all over cave twenty five accompanied their eligible youngsters and saw them get on the busses. Approximately six hundred and forty participants were about to be sent from cave twenty five, this year.
For the second consecutive year Zetsa volunteered as the representative Guardian of cave twenty five’s participants. She walked toward the first bus, where her parents, her little brother, his friends and their parents waited.
Eight o’clock in the morning, the very same day.
Zetsa was on her way to leave her parents’ house to the cave’s management office. “Zax”, she called him. “Come here”. She asked in a low voice.
Putting down the fork on the breakfast plate, Zax got up to send off his big sister. “I’ll see later, big sis”.
“I know you will. I didn’t call you for that”. Zetsa rubbed his unruly morning hair. “Listen, Zax, I’m telling you now cause later I simply won’t have the opportunity. In the search big sis won’t be able to help you find Earth’s Cores. It’s against the representative Guardian’s event rules; at most I can appraise the Earth’s Core or Earth’s Cores that you will find. But”, Zetsa said before Zax pouted. The next part was of utmost importance for her to impart on him. “Even if you won’t find an Earth’s Core, you will still receive a compensatory one at the end of the search, that, however, is not what I want you to remember, Zax. What you should remember is that even if you will be forced to absorb the Earth’s Core that the event’s comity arranged for those who didn’t find during the search, by no means try to form the first crack or any crack on the Earth’s Core’s shell”.
Zetsa bent closer to Zax’s ear. “As long as the Earth’s Core is intact in your dantian, you can use your unique soul to push it out. Don’t do it in front of others, if you already absorbed the Earth’s Core wait for me to take care of things”.
Listening to his big sister, at first Zax wanted to ask her if it is really possibly to remove an absorbed Earth’s Core, yet when he was about to ask her, a more pressing question came out. “If I’ll take out the Earth’s Core, what then?”
“Then, although it may take some time, your big sis will do a few favors and get you a better Earth’s Core than you can get from the event’s comity”.
“Good quality Earth’s Core?!” Zax nearly jumped of excitement.
“Do not let your imagination get carried away, little Zi. Your big sis will do her best”. Zetsa refrained from promising something too good. E level Earth’s Core, if she could get the lowest quality of that level, it will already be above and beyond.
“Now that you know finish your breakfast, I’m off”.
Back to current time.
Alongside Zetsa walked a happy looking, tall and ridden man with a black wig on his head. He was the head manager of cave twenty five’s management office, Nuci Poweil. Unlike governor Edomachi, Nuci Poweil did not possess the “Governor” title and was a mere representative of the esteemed high class Poweil family that managed several other caves in El-Eden.
“This year our children are within the first groups in the queue, hahaha…” Head manager Nuci was satisfied with this year arrangement. “Their chances of finding good Earth’s Cores are a lot better than the previous years, isn’t that right, Miss Zetsa? Hahaha…”
“Who knows”, Zetsa answered honestly. “A decade ago, I remember, that there was a kid who was in the last batch and found a high quality Earth’s Core, while two years ago, within the first five groups from Tongguo who entered the search cave in their region, each and every child came back empty handed. If anything, I’d say that it is all about luck”.
“Well, luck is something that none of us can control. In this case it’s best to be among the first groups and hope the heavens and Supreme Ruler look fairly on all of our children”. Head manager Nuci was in his late seventies and managed cave twenty five for more than forty years. Over the years he sent thousands upon thousands of participants to take part in the Great Erath’s Core Pursuit. Obviously he had a better insight in regards to the matter in question, thus, Zetsa could not contradict his pearls of accumulated wisdom and had to agree with him, even if she did not believe that the “Heavens” or Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch have anything to do with the luck of the young participants.
When all the kids sat in the busses, placing their provisions backpacks on their knees and before their families waved them good luck and goodbye, Head manager Nuci, a C level Mist User, Core Breaker, amplified his voice with his mist energy and delivered a customary speech.
“Young future Mist Users and valued families members. It is a great honor for me that today I, Nuci Poweil, get to send once more and for the forty fourth time as the head manager of cave twenty five, our young ones onto their most significant journey in their life.
“Children of cave twenty five, tomorrow you will face the most taxing challenge that any coreless child faces once in his and her life that will determine how great your future is going to be.
“It is not a challenge that you should be afraid of. On the contrary, it is your moment to transcend the limitation you have been living with so far, from coreless children to full fledged Mist Users!
“Children of cave twenty five, I wish you the watchful and blessed eye of the heavens and our Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch”.
Head manager Nuci finished with a bow, turned his head to Zetsa, who sat near the driver on the first bus, and with a slight node wished her an ample journey.
Zax sat at the back of the bus with Serah, Dane, Anet and a few other kids from his old school.
“My sister participated two years ago in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit, you know”, Zushi Sarker, a short, blond hair blue eyes kid lowered his head and talked with a hand on his mouth. “She told me that no matter what, me, and my friends better form a group before entering the search cave”. His blue eyes turned to the seven kids next to him and revealed his intentions.
“Why do we need to form a group? Won’t we have a better chance to find more Earth’s Cores if we spread?” Weysey Inoki, a black hair green eyes boy raised the question before Zushi got to finish what he was saying.
“Think about it yourself. What will happen if you’ll find an Earth’s Core?” Zushi asked.
“The rules state that if a participant finds an Earth’s Core he or she has to leave the cave and show it to the attendant who stays at the entrance of the cave”. Weysey answered as if he was quoting his homeroom teacher.
“See, here is the problem. What if you will come across other participants on your way to the attendant?” Zushi swept his gaze across the understanding faces of his friends. “I’m not saying that we should form a group to steal from others, only to protect ourselves. My sister told me that the representative Guardians aren’t really there to keep us in order or so that no harm will come us, at least not from other participants”.
“I’m okay with forming a group, if it’s only to protect ourselves”. Serah said.
“Me too”. Anet also agreed and the other five, beside Zushi who came up with the idea, including Zax also nodded in agreement.
“If we form a group we need a leader”. Merly stated.
“Sure. Zax, you’ll be the leader”. Zushi said without hesitating even though the idea was his.
“Me?” Zax felt a bit uncomfortable acting as the leader.
“You were the strongest boy in pre Core School, plus you are Miss Zetsa little brother, how can you be anything less?” Truly, if not on the Martial path, then at least on the political one Zushi will most definitely have a bright future!
“Fine, if that’s what everyone wants”.
Sure enough everyone nodded in agreement.
“But how will we decide how to divide the Earth’s Cores if we’ll found any?” Dane raised up the question.
“We can do it like this”, Zushi began to explain. “If one of us finds an Earth’s Core, that is, the first to locate it with the eyes, then he or she will call “not here”, best if it would be loud enough only for the members in our group to hear, and the Earth’s Core will be his or her. If more than one member of the group calls “not here” at the same time for the same Earth’s Core, then those who called “not here” will decide who gets the Earth’s Core by a game of rock paper scissors”.
“Sound reasonable”, Dane felt the need to give his approval. “But what if you already found an Earth’s Core and locates another one?”
“Well, the only opportunity for someone who already has an Earth’s Core to find another one will be when the rest of the group will escort him or her to the attendant at the entrance to the cave. If that happens, then those who found another Earth’s Core can choose which Earth’s Core they want to keep and the rest of the group will play a few rounds of rock paper scissors to decide who will get the other Earth’s Core”. Zushi paused, to make sure that his explanation was clear to everyone. “Are we a group?” He whispered.
“We are”. The other seven whispered back, among others who had the same idea.
Cave one hundred and thirty nine was a border cave within Supreme Ruler Ariel Dauch’s region, El-Eden, and the gathering cave for all of the ten years old participants of El-Eden and their representative Guardians.
Lines of busses from all over El-Eden who carried tomorrow’s participants were parking in a giant parking lot near a dome like compound. Besides the compound, which was more than a thousand hundred meters long, six hundred meters wide and ninty meter tall, were various tents and two other square buildings that were each about a sixth of the compound’s size.
“Participants of cave eighty seven, join here in rows of forty…”
“Participants of cave three, join here in rows of seventy four…”
“Participants of cave one hundred and forty one, gather up here in rows of fifty…”
“Participants of cave twenty five, assemble here in rows of forty…”
“Participants of cave eight, join here in rows of sixty…”
“Participants of cave one hundred and one, join here in rows of thirty…”
“Participants of cave ninety nine, assemble here in rows of fifty five…”
The seven representative Guardians from the seven caves of tomorrow participants ordered the soon to be “Young Mist Users” under his or her care. Some even utilized their mist energy and with gentle touches of their aura helped the young ones to construct the rows.
When the first group was ready, its representative Guardians led it to the closest tent to the parking lot where a big sign read: “Registration Stand To The Great Earth’s Core Pursuit. Year 5785!”.
Zax and his group of eight managed to sneak themselves to the head of one of the eleven rows to watch carefully the registration process which sparked their and every other coreless child present, for that matter, curiosity.
A good looking woman, wearing blue uniforms with a white ribbon that stretched diagonally across her left shoulder to her waist and read: “GECP STAFF”, accepted Zetsa and the group from cave twenty five. Since the small tent only meant to house the woman and a small desk with a computer on it, Zetsa actually stood outside of it.
“Here, the list of participants from cave twenty five and my contact information as their representative Guardian”. Zetsa handed the woman a small rectangle yellow chip. The staff member woman inserted the chip to the computer and a few seconds later took out, from a box beneath the table, a red ribbon which read in golden letters: “GECP GUARDIAN”.
“Please wear it in all times”. The woman gave the ribbon to Zetsa, who immediately wore it in the same manner as she did. She also gave her a piece of paper, on which she wrote a few numbers. and returned the chip before directing her to the next tent.
Passing one of the medical tents, Zetsa led her group to a tent near the entrance to the compound that had a sign beside it which read: “Time Bracelets Registration Stand”.
“Tomorrow’s participants…” The man in in the Time Bracelets Registration Stand said to himself. The Time Bracelets Registration stand had a huge tent filled with sealed boxes. Like in the previous tent, Zetsa did not enter, but waited outside for the staff member to approach her.
“Serialization token”. The man, who was short with words, said to Zetsa. Zetsa gave the piece of paper she received from the woman at the initial registration stand.
The man looked at the serialization token and sighed. “This year they send the smaller group first…” He then turned his back to Zetsa. “You are good”. After so Zetsa turned as well and entered with her group to the giant compound.
Thousands of neat bunk beds filled more than two thirds of the compound. Beside them were showers and bathrooms. At one corner of the compound was a staircase to a second floor and at the center of the compound was a lectern.
Zetsa was the second representative Guardians to lead her group into the compound. The first representative Guardians to arrive already ordered the boys in his group to settle and choose bunk beds.
“Boys of cave twenty five”, Zetsa opened aloud when the last of her group entered the compound. “Choose any of the bunk beds over there and settle your backpacks on them. Keep together and don’t seek only bottom bunk beds. No one is allowed to go to the second floor and no one is allowed to occupy an empty bottom bunk bed if there are empty upper bunk beds with participants from our cave, cave twenty five, who already picked the bottom ones! Go, you have ten minutes to choose beds in orderly fashion and return.
“Girls of cave twenty five, wait for a while. Your bunk beds are in the second floor. Obey the same rules as the boys when you go up there. I’ll help you find a side for our group and when I’ll leave none of you is allowed to go to the first floor until I’ll return!”
Zax’s group consisted of five boys and three girls. Before the five boys left they agreed with the girls no to mention anything about their already formed group and that if someone would ask, either the boys or the girls, to join some other group they will say that they have to think about it.
Thirty minutes after the last of the representative Guardians arrived with her group to the compound and the last participant from her cave laid his backpack on an upper bunk bed, a stern elderly staff member with a black ribbon across his chest, reading in red letters: “GECP DISCIPLINARY SUPERVISOR”, walked into the compound and stopped in front of the lectern.
“Silence!” The elderly man, who, according to his ribbon, was the disciplinary supervisor of the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit event, amplified his voice with his mist energy and the dominating aura of a Beginner phase Mist Lord exploded out him upward.
Instantly the more than five thousands coreless participants, and even four of the representative Guardians, were paralyzed.
“Welcome to the one in a life time event, the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit”. The elderly man spoke with an indifferent tone and eyes that gave the impression that they could inspect every detail of every person in the compound, altogether!
“I’m the disciplinary supervisor of the event and the man who is responsible for overwatching the proceeding of the event in cave zero thirty nine, El-Eden’s designated cave”. The disciplinary supervisor drew back his aura but kept his harsh tone.
“Participants and representative Guardians, every year there are tens of thousands new participants in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit. To ensure a safe and bright hunt for each and every one of the tens of thousands participant, a set of rules has to be enforced.
“The rules are not complex. Starting with the first and most important one, participants are not allowed to enter the unsafe zone! Inside cave zero thirty nine are two tunnels, of which, one is a forbidden tunnel leading deeper into the beasts’ territory. The unsafe zone is guarded at all times by the event’s Guardians that will disqualify any participant who will try to go through any tunnel besides the one he or she entered from to cave zero thirty nine.
“The second rule should already be known to most of you but still require clarification. Twenty four hours after the beginning of the event, all participants, whether if you found an Earth’s Core or did not, must get back immediately to the attendant at the entrance of cave zero thirty nine to sign that you participated in the event and your finds.
“DON’T BE MISTAKEN!” The disciplinary supervisor hastened to say. The preceding part was always the cause for many misunderstandings that he had no patient to deal with. “Even if you come by with empty hands, the event’s organizers, our Supreme Rulers, directed us, staff members of the event, to keep a stock of Earth’s Cores available for distribution to any of the unlucky ones. Please realize, all of you, participation in the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit is not a chance for you to gain Earth’s Cores in order to become Mist Users. “Participation” means that you get one chance to find the best Earth’s Core out there to better your position and future prospects as dignified Mist User!”
“Best Earth’s Core?”
“High quality Earth’s Cores?”
“They definitely won’t give those who come back empty handed any good Earth’s Cores”.
“Yeah, probably the lowest quality Earth’s Cores…”
“Common Earth’s Cores like my mom’s and dad’s…”
“High quality Earth’s Core! High quality Earth’s Core! High quality Earth’s Core!”
A wave of whispers and speculation mixed with cries of excitement could not help but resonate in the compound. To the ten years old coreless children the knowledge that they will soon pass the threshold toward the greatest opportunity that they will ever get in their entire life, to receive the chance to search for those legendary Earth’s Core that only one in a million can find, made many of them drool buckets.
“Settle down, settle down…” The elderly man said mildly. Although the disciplinary supervisor, he still gave his consent, to some degree, for the children’s boisterous excitement. After all, with children the louder the noise the higher the spirit and in a pitiful event, such as the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit, sometimes high spirit was adequate to compensate the lack of fortune that many will encounter.
“Participants of cave eighty seven, quiet down!”
“Participants of cave three, stop talking!”
“Participants of cave one hundred and forty one, keep it down!”
The representative Guardians saw that the disciplinary supervisor, an A level Mist User they all respected, did not want to topple the children’s enthusiasm by force like when he entered, so they used their own aura to aid him, since their aura and voices were both familiar and, in a way, more authoritative from the perspective of the children they were responsible of.
“Now that all of you have calmed down, know that I will not accept any more interruption. Try me and I will cut hours from your time of the hunt!” The voice of elderly disciplinary supervisor sounded resolute and right after it sank in the mind of every child in the compound, a hush fell over.
“The third rule I should mention is an extension of the second rule and it is about the time bracelets. Tomorrow, before entering cave zero thirty nine, each of you will receive a time bracelet which function as a timer that will show you how long do you have in the hunt until you have to return. The time bracelets are green and in addition to time, they can also tell your geographical location in cave zero thirty nine. The time bracelet will calculate your remaining time and distant from tunnel three hundred and twelve and will turn red to notify that you should head back before the end of the twenty four hours you each have in the hunt. Anyone who will dare to be late will not receive an Earth’s Core, whether if he or she found one or not, until a month after the official end day of the event!”
---------- Post added June 30, 2015 at 02:33 AM ---------- Previous post was June 27, 2015 at 09:31 AM ----------
Book 2 – Black Core
Chapter 8 – Pursuing Earth’s Cores
“Now then, the fourth and last rule…” The disciplinary supervisor nocked on the lectern. “No one is allowed to venture outside of your residency. To those of you who have difficulties to understand, you cannot leave to compound we are currently in. And once you will be divided and transferred to the two square buildings, you cannot leave them, either, without permission! There will not be farther explanations. Disobey any of the four rules and think of it as if you brought upon yourselves the wrath of Supreme Rulers! ” The disciplinary supervisor turned and left the compound with his last warning still roaming in the air.
From start to finish the elderly disciplinary supervisor did not say anything regarding fights, thefts or even grouping many against one during the “Hunt”, as he named the pinnacle part of the “Great Earth’s Core Pursuit”. Only the participants who were in organized group took notice of it, some wondering, others secretly rejoicing. Of course, the seven representative Guardians already knew the reason why the disciplinary supervisor did not say anything about these conducts. Regardless of the young participants’ success rate in this event, in the end there will not be a child who will not have an Earth’s Core. So why not? Why not add a little bit more challenge besides the required luck? The earlier these children will learn how to safeguard their fortune, the more they will deserve to keep it.
There were not any quarrels or arguments about bottom bunk beds or who showers first when the representative Guardians finished helping the girls settle in the second floor and afterwards left the compound.
In eight o’clock in the evening, after snacking on some of their rotations, Zax and the thousands other boys and girls received one nutrition tablet, each, from a group of fifty or so stuff members which came by the compound and had white ribbons hanging from their shoulders to their waist, which read in brown letter: ”GECP SERVING STAFF”.
The tablets were orange with smooth surface and seemed easy enough to swallow.
“Listen, everyone, the nutrition tablets that you received should last you for twenty four hours. You should take them on an empty stomach tomorrow morning, so if you brought food with you, either eat it now or after the event, otherwise you’ll feel nausea and abdominal pains. If some of you still can’t swallow tablets, it is fine to also chew on them or drink them with water, however the taste will be awfully bitter so be aware and don’t waste them by spiting them out. Eat them and your energy will last till the end of your search”. One stuff member on each floor explained to the groups of boys and girls. When the stuff members finished distributing the nutrition tablets they bid the young participants good night and a bountiful search.
The next morning at four o’clock, thousands of snack wrappers were thrown around the compound. The representative Guardians who came to gather their groups were momentarily stunned by the sight of so much littering. It appeared that during the night someone managed to jam the compound trash chutes, all twenty in the boys’ floor.
The seven representative Guardians sighed in union. The disciplinary supervisor will rebuke them no doubt.
“Participants of cave eighty seven, get yourself organized and ready to leave…”
“Participants of cave three collect your backpacks and get ready to leave…”
“Participants of cave one hundred and forty one, you have ten minutes to get organized…”
The seven representative Guardians led their groups in seven long lines to the entrance of tunnel three hundred and twelve.
Tunnel three hundred and twelve was extremely large! At least three hundred meters wide and two hundred and fifty meters tall. Its length from cave one hundred and thirty nine to cave zero thirty nine was also no joke, about seven hundred meters. A white partition of identical length split the tunnel into two sides, one for the returning participants of the previous day who came in bunches, the other for the new participants and their leading representative Guardians.
Zax and his group of eight converged at the head of the row they were part from during the long walk to the other side of the tunnel.
“Did you take the nutrition tablets, Zax?” Zetsa asked.
To not seem partial she tilted her head toward the rest of the group. She did so even though she was not obligated to do more than her representative Guardian’s duties, which were similar to the event’s Guardians’ duties.
“Not yet”. Zax answered.
“Good. Take it two hours after the beginning of the search”. Zetsa respond.
“Seriously, Zax, how lucky of you to have a Mist Master for an elder sister”. Merly babbled.
“Did he say…?!”
Not many of cave twenty five’s participants knew of the special relationship between one of their peers and their representative Guardian. Because of their parents they all knew that Zetsa was actually “Miss Zetsa”, a B level Mist User, Mist Master, capable of appraising the density of the mist inside an Earth’s Core and determine its quality. Hearing what that one boy said to that other boy, who were both clenched together with six other kids, about Zetsa, a Mist Master, all the close by participants from cave twenty five wanted to puke their guts from envy.
“That boy… was “Zax” his name? Is he Miss Zetsa’s little brother?!”
“Why didn’t you try to approach him?!”
“How should I have known?!”
“That boy is cute, kinda…”
“Crap, it looks like he is already in a group!”
“See how they walk close to each other… Try convincing him to join us”.
“That girl is not his girlfriend, is she?”
“I’m much prettier than that one, urgh…”
“You try! Argh… he is avoiding stares, he can hear us, how pathetic are we…”
“You’re pathetic! He freaking has a Mist Master to his disposal!”
Silent whispers escalated to loud whimpers. Soon every participant knew about and cursed that one kid from cave twenty five who was the little brother of a Mist Master representative Guardian. Luckily, not everyone was sure who the specific boy everybody talked about was since there were thousands all around them.
In Zax’s group of eight, seven pairs of eyes looked at Merly with furious expressions.
“Argh… I’m sorry everyone!” Merly lowered his flushed cheeks. “But… but… now that they know that Zax is Miss Zetsa’s little brother, maybe nobody will mess with our group”. Merly did not have the same level of sharpness and adulation as Zushi or the confidence to look at his friends’ eyes as he made up the excuse.
“They can still follow us and grab the Earth’s Cores on our path before we do. Do you think Miss Zetsa is the kind of person to threaten children if that’ll happen?” Dane said.
“But they don’t know-”
“Yeah, I’ll bet some of them will be willing to try their chances anyway. Miss Zetsa as her own duties in this event…”
The group’s internal conversation was in low voices so that others will not listen. However, that only heightened the agitation among the eight participants.
“Stop arguing, it doesn’t matter anymore what others have heard. When the search will start just keep your eyes on the surrounding and if anyone will follow you, put a hostile front together to scare them”. Zetsa interfered. Her voice reached only the ears of her little brother’s friends. “I and the other representative Guardians, most of the time, will do patrols around the cave. If you want me to appraise Earth’s Cores, you can meet me every three hours beneath the Hooked Beak rock, it’s a forty meters tall rock, twenty meter wide from its base, seven kilometers west of the other side of the tunnel”.
Zetsa’s offer brought excited smiles on the little faces of Zax’s friends. To have the support of a Mist Master they all were utterly thankful to the magnificent Miss Zetsa.
“Zax”, Zetsa focused her voice only for her little brother to hear. “When we’ll get to the other side of the tunnel read my aura briefly with your Soul Sense. I’ll show you the exact direction to the Hooked Beak rock”.
Along the path to the other side of the tunnel nearly a hundred staff members distributed green bracelets that showed “24:00:00” in neon colors, bright orange red.
“The timer will start when you’ll enter cave zero thirty nine. Remember to return when its color change to red!” Some of the staff membered bothered to explain.
At the end of the tunnel the seven representative Guardians stopped. Right where the partition ended, a tall old lady stood. By the look of it the old lady was the attendant responsible to sign the returning participants and their findings and collect from them the time bracelets.
The seven representative Guardians bowed respectfully toward the old lady. Clearly she was not as simple as her outward appearance.
“May I?” One of the seven representative Guardians asked the other six and they all nodded or shrugged.
The representative Guardian turned to the thousands of coreless participants behind him with a deep voice. “Twenty four hours. That’s all you have. Now, there will be no pushing or shoving until everybody is out of the tunnel. You lot, head out…” The representative Guardian then began to send group, after group, after group of participants to cave zero thirty nine in bunches of fifty.
Since Zax’s group was at the head of their row, they got to be among the firsts to enter cave zero thirty nine. Zax remembered what Zetsa told him and for a split second extended his Soul Sense when he passed by her. He did not know how, but when Zetsa was in the range of his Soul Sense a minuscule portion of an environmental essence flashed in his inner mind and left a gut feeling that acted as a trail to the Hooked Beak rock, that is, as long as was willing to follow it.
“Come on, there are too many participants coming out. Let’s get far enough so no one will be able to follow!” Zax said and the other seven agreed. A warm tingly feeling spread through their bodies, the hair on their hands and legs stood on end and a shining glint appeared in everybody eyes. The hunt as began!
Cave zero thirty nine was vast like a small city cave. The shape of the cave was not a perfect square, but it was one more than it was a circle. The cave stretched far and wide, nine kilometers or so in each direction. It was more similar to the nature reserve caves than cave zero eight. Though it had its wild element in the lush vegetation and rough terrain, there were also unpaved roads, shoes footprints and unsurprisingly and quite sadly, candy wrappers…
After two hour in the search Zax’s group took their nutrition tablets. As they advanced deeper into the cave they became more pumped up for the search. They were all aware of the process of finding Earth’s Cores since it was not complicated.
Earth’s Cores were most of the time beneath the earth. In the Great Earth’s Core Pursuit to find Earth’s Core there were only three ways. The first way was the most draining and uncertain, digging. Finding a spot which pleases the eye, kneeling and hoping that underneath it there is an Earth’s Core.
The second way was venturing throughout the cave. There was not a shortage of Earth’s Cores that were partly above the surface, stuck to heavy rock or completely out of the ground. The challenge was detecting them between the dense vegetation and even the earth that had similar shades of color. If following the second way, one can find an Earth’s Core ten minutes into the search or come back empty handed. Regardless of the results, one will benefit from a bit of insight into the beasts’ vicinity and a great adventure story.
The third way was the least demanding but the most heinous and did not require any profound explanation. The third way was grouping against and stealing from other participants.
“I bet the nature reserve caves have plenty Earth’s Core scatter around”. Serah groaned. It has been three hours since their group of eight entered cave zero thirty nine and yet they could not find one Earth’s Core in this miserly cave.
“There can be hundreds of thousands of Earth’s Core in the nature reserve caves, and it still will not change anything. No one is allowed, apart from the Supreme Rulers and selected few, to go beyond the paved roads without a permit, and they don’t give any for Earth’s Cores hunting”. Zushi said aloud what everyone already thought in respond, even Serah.
In the residential caves of Kingdom Earth it had been couple of hundred years since someone, literally, stumbled upon an Earth’s Core. For various reasons, fanaticism – which can be interpreted as fear of Nature – as the most prominent, pursuing Earth’s Cores in Kingdom Earth was an illegal activity. If someone accidentally found one in a residential cave it still would have been tolerable, but if someone dared trespassing into the secure areas of the nature reserve caves, a severe punishment will be inflicted upon them.
Now, why would someone want an Earth’s Core when everyone in the general public already had one? Well, the common answer will be for money. Pursuing Earth’s Cores the conventional way in Kingdom Earth was indeed illegal, but selling and buying Earth’s Cores was the unconventional market that only the top tier of the high class of Kingdom Earth got to enjoy, since they, basically, were the only ones who could afford it.
Normally, in Kingdom Earth, Earth’s Cores are divided one per person regardless of statues. The exceptions are often Earth’s Cores that are donated to Martial or scientific research, and less often, Earth’s Cores that are found by Mist Users who ventured in the beasts’ territory.
“I wonder…” Zax said in a speculating tone.
“What’s up, Zax?” Merly asked.
“Stop everyone”. Zax did not give an answer right away. The group was deep into the forest; about two kilometers from where they came from, lifting small rocks and blowing leaves that concealed the ground.
“Did you find an Earth’s Core?” Anet was the first to ask and besides her the rest of the group waited in anticipation for good news.
“No, I didn’t”. Zax waved his hand casually, shattering the hope of his friends. “But wait… Big sis taught me something which might help…” Zax said vaguely on purpose. Anything that was related to his training could not be shared with others without his Mor’s permission first.
Focusing with his inner minds, Zax used his Soul Sense to the best of his abilities to grasp some of the secrets of his surroundings. An invisible force in the shape of a bubble released from Zax’s soul and surveyed the space in its small domain.
Zax frowned, though his Soul Sense was much more helpful than all his other senses in this situation, it was still very limited. Zax walked like a nomad, not doing his baffled friends the favor of illuminating their wondering minds of what he was doing, nor paying attention to them at all. Using his Soul Sense was very straining and demanded Zax to maintain his utmost level of concentration. Then again, after ten minutes it undeniably paid off marvelously!
“Hahaha!” Zax laughed as his hands dug into the ground.
“Show it to us, Zax, what are you digging?”
“Zax, come on. You have been quiet for some time. Did you find an Earth’s Core? What did Miss Zetsa taught you?”
“Dig there!” Zax pointed his finger without even raising his gaze from the hard soil. “Pick a sharp stone to cut it. It’s just beneath the rightmost tree’s root!”
Zax dug nine centimeters before the tip of his index finger felt the buried, roundish smooth surface. The light reflected from the smooth surface of the first Earth’s that he found mirror the exquisite mist that was trap inside.
“By our glorious Supreme Ruler!” Weysey cried. “There are two! Guys, there are two Earth’s Cores under the root!”
“What?” Even Zax was in shock. He was sure that there was only one Earth’s Core buried two centimeters under the bulk root.
“One here, two less than a meter over there!” Mi, the shyest member of the group, gasped stupefied. “Amazing, Zax, you are too amazing”. She said in total admiration and jumped on Zax’s back.
“Ah?” Zax felt awkward.
“Amazing!” Dane burst laughing. “O, almighty lord Zax, allow me to show you my deepest affection as well”. He jumped on Zax with perky lips, ready to kiss him.
Before Zax had the chance to react. “Me too, hahaha, make place, Mi, Dane”. Merly butted in with more than fifty kilos of pure fat dangling in his stomach as he prepared himself to jump on Zax.
Sensing an impending disaster, with a swift motion Zax pushed Mi and Dance off his back rolled with the newfound Earth’s Core in his right hand before Merly crashed on him.
“Stop it!” Serah reprimanded the three overexcited group members. As a matter of fact, she, too, was beyond words a moment ago. However, when she saw how friendly Mi let herself be with Zax, it pissed her somewhat.
“Are you okay?” Anet, much like Serah, felt uneasy seeing how affectionate Mi was with Zax. Nonetheless, she was too reserved to show it.
“Yeah, sure”. Zax got up with a grin. He retrieved his Soul Sense and shifted his consciousness back to the outer mind. “Look”. He lifted his hand for Anet and Serah, the two closest to him, to see the thing which everyone currently in cave zero thirty nine coveted.
“Hahaha, Zax, if you can repeat whatever you did to find these Earth’s Cores our search will end earlier than we expected”. Zushi and Weysey stepped forward together, each holding a round and brownish Earth’s Core.
“You are exaggerating, Zushi, I only found two Earth’s Cores. The third on was unexpected”.
A bit reluctant, Zushi and Weysey passed the two Earth’s Cores to Zax. “Which one are you planning to take for yourself?” Zushi asked.
Seeing the envious glances of his friends Zax sighed inwardly and looked at the three Earth’s Cores in his hands. He was interested in the Earth’s Core that he missed. Using his Soul Sense one more time, he was curious if he could perceive its existence. Oddly enough, there were no problems sensing it at all. His Soul Sense detected three round objects with smooth surfaces. Now if Zax had a soul comparable to that of a Mist Lord’s, he Soul Sense could then have penetrated the Earth’s Core’s shells to determine its quality.
“The seven of you can compete for all three”. Zax gave the three Earth’s Cores back to Zushi. He decided to relinquish is right as the one who discover them, according to their prior agreement, in favor of his friends. “We’ll find more anyway”. Though he sounded confident, Zax knew that he was insanely lucky to already find three Earth’s Cores. Soul Sense or not, it will not be easy to find another five.
“Zax…” Amazed, Serah wanted to sway his mind, but Zax turned his back before she could say anything.
“Are you sure Zax?” Dane asked.
“Yeah, don’t be overconfident. We are not the first group in this year event. More than ten thousand participants already were here before us…” Zushi reminded.
Although each of his friends tried to convince him, Zax knew that they also coveted these three Earth’s Cores very much. The chances of them being of better quality than the ones the event’s organizers have kept aside were a lot higher.
“Forget it. I’ve already made up my mind. Do rock paper scissor already, the bracelets show that we still have more than twenty hours. Who knows, maybe in another three hours we will find three more Earth’s Core”.
Having nothing more to say, the seven looked at each other and raised their hand.
“I wonder who will win…” Zax saw a big rock with flat surface and sat on it. “Let’s see if I can predict what each will do”. The eight were pretty close to him, within the range of his Soul Sense. “Eh!” Zax cried astonished beyond belief. He jumped on his feet, distracting his friends from the first round of rock paper scissor.
---------- Post added July 04, 2015 at 11:33 AM ---------- Previous post was June 30, 2015 at 02:33 AM ----------
Book 2 – Black Core
Chapter 9 – Earth’s Cores Are Peculiar
Staring at the rock he sat on, and then confirming yet again with his Soul Sense, a stupefied expression spread on Zax’s face.
A stash of Earth’s Cores! A cluster of more than one hundred Earth’s Cores! Some embedded in the rock, some underneath it.
“Such a great number! At least one must be! At least one!” Among the so many Earth’s Cores Zax nervously said to himself. “D… D… At least one golden pillow, D level Earth’s Core!” The one in a million Earth’s Core… Was it really impossible?
“Zax?” His friends asked. Looking at his fervent behavior a daring thought popped up in their mind which they were too afraid to say aloud. “More Earth’s Cores?!”
Ignoring his friends, Zax pulled his right arm to his waist. A concentration of Qi swirled in his upper right side of the body.
“Ah!” Zax bellowed, throwing a straight punch at the rook.
The rock shivered however there was not even a sign of a crack.
Seeing how solid the rock was and how his punch barely moved it, Zax did not care and readied himself to punch once more.
Zax’s punch connected with the rock. The accumulated Qi in his arm strengthened his muscles, bones and toughen his skin, yet the rock still only shivered.
The reasons for Zax’s inability to break the rock were not because the condense amount of Earth’s Cores that somehow affected the rock structure. The rock itself had nothing special to it. Zax’s inability was due to the low level of his Qi, his lack of technique in both controlling his Qi and the proper movement of his body and the use of the two simultaneously.
At the moment Zax was not aware of his gauche internal and external properties nor had the guidance and time to learn how to be more proficient in any of them.
In the third punch Zax’s fingers began to tingle.
After the forth punch all five finger were numb.
“Tell us, Zax, did you find more…?” Weysey asked.
The seven completely forgotten about the rock paper scissor and the three Earth’s Core they had to compete for. Zax wild manner upset them. Among the seven only three were familiar with Zax’s fierceness and even their hearts shook each time a “BAM” echoed. If it was them, broken bones would have bulge from their hands after the first punch, that is, if they had to guts to punch with will all of their might like Zax.
“Gather rocks, help him!” Zushi instructed the others. As the most poised he came to the decision. He trusted Zax intuition and the weird technique, or what not, that Miss Zetsa taught him in order to find Earth’s Cores.
Immediately the others started to look for sturdy rocks that they could lift, however…
“Can we even get close?” Mi hesitated.
The rock in question was big enough for one person to sit on, but not for five to hit at the same time and Zax did not leave any opening for the others to join in.
After the sixth punch Zax fell on his butt and a small crack finally appeared on the rock. Panting Zax looked at his right hand. It seems that even with the support of his Qi he could not avoid breaking skin and shedding some blood.
“Why'd you have to go so far?!” Surprisingly Anet beat Serah in being the first one to scold Zax. “Give me your hand”. She sat down next to him and from her backpack took out antiseptic spray and a bandage roll.
“It’s not hurting”. Zax said with a smile. He finally cracked the rock. Unfortunately, he dispersed too much Qi executing his unrefined technique and had to rest before his body could replenish his internal reservoirs. Thankfully, the nutrition tablet helped speed up the process.
“Try to break the rock were I cracked it”. Zax pointed at the line that appeared on the rock’s surface. “Don’t force yourself and be careful”. Since his friends could not use Qi to strengthen the skin of their hands, it was clear to him that even if by smashing rock against rock the force of the thrust will suffice to hurt their hand worse than his.
Dane was the first to check out the rock. He looked through the crack but it was too thin. “Are there really Earth’s Cores in there?” He surveyed the stone that he held, it weighted approximately four kilos. To use it to break a rock that seemed to weight ninety kilos was exhausting just by thinking of all the efforts involved.
“Trust me, it won’t take too long and you’ll see for yourself”. Zas reassured his friends. He was also sure that with the great number of Earth’s Cores inside the rock, it was not that much solid inside. The crack that he made appeared thin and meaningless on the outside, but on the inside…
Zax used his Soul Sense to assess how deep the fracture spread. “Should be deep”. He said to himself. Though the surface of the rock cracked only after the sixth punch, it was probable that the crack initiated from the inside. “Eh!” Zax sprang to his feet. “Where are they? Where are they?” He was utterly frantic. “The Earth’s Cores”, he cried. “I can’t find them… Not inside the rock. Not beneath it. There were more than a hundred. WHERE ARE THEY?!”
“A hundred Earth’s Cores!” The seven gasped. Such a ridiculous notion was on the verge of insanity.
With no regard to his current physical and internal state, Zax accumulated his Qi instinctively in the right half of his body. His face went pale, but it happened so fast. He no longer repeated the same kind of movement for a fist and a punch. He unconsciously remembered a certain move that he saw; watching the Earth’s Core’s showdowns and his inner mind gave the instruction. The fingers in his right hand stretched, his hand actually formed the shape of a spearhead, the rotation of his body originated from the toe in his right foot and from there his Qi surged up with the rotation.
“Graah!” Zax roared.
Zax’s right hand penetrated through the crack. His hand sank into the rock up to the wrist. In a scorch sound the rock split in two. The shocking thing was that inside there was truly nothing.
“It can’t be!” Zax was dazed. Blood covered his fingers and dripped from them to ground. Using his Soul Sense Zax ran around, searching for the lost Earth’s Cores.
“Stop him!” Dane called. He was sorry that he asked Zax if there were Earth’s Cores in the rock. Because of him, he thought, Zax went crazy and broke two of his own fingers, maybe more. “Help me stop him!” Dane grab Zax by the shoulders and Merly helped him. “Zax! Your hand, Zax! Stop struggling!” The two screamed at him.
Zushi and Weysey also tried to block Zax from the front, but the look in his eyes was strange, as if he did not see or hear them. To just two of them Zax was too strong to stop, but with Zushi and Weysey they managed to pin him to the ground. It also helped that he did not fight back and lost consciousness.
Five hours later.
Zax regained consciousness. Opening his eyes he saw the trees’ branches above him. Beneath his head he felt something soft, a backpack. Moving himself a little he found his friends around him, digging, moving rocks, tearing roots.
“Wha-” An excruciating pain in his right hand made him gulp his words. Zax looked at his right hand. A hardening bandage was wrapped around it and prevented him from moving his fingers. He also felt something cold covering his hand, but could not tell what it was just by feeling.
“Hey, Zax woke up”. Mi that was searching nearest to him informed the others.
“Idiot! Stupid! Brute!” Serah cursed Zax. Her eyes were red, she held back her tears. She did not want to cry for the idiot who scared her. Once was more than enough…
“What? Why did I do?” Zax asked baffled. Serah and Anet were holding each other hands. Zushi, Dane, Weysey and Merly also stared at him angrily. The seven gathered together around Zax.
“What sort of technique did Miss Zetsa taught you to discover Earth’s Cores”? Zushi inquired. He was sure that Zax’s method was more than a trick, picking up an irregularity in the surrounding that indicated the presence of an Earth’s Core. Definitely a technique!
After Zax lost consciousness they all started to speculate. A technique to find Earth’s Cores… How come they never heard of such thing? Since the seven of them enrolled to post Core School, most of what they were learning was how to prepare themselves to the greatest event in a coreless child’s life, how to conduct themselves in this event and what to do after, when they will hold their one and only Earth’s Core in their hands.
The curriculum was identical to an almost equal extent in all schools. If there was a technique, a method to better the chances of the younger generation would they been kept secret? Only if it was dangerous, the seven reached to the same conclusion.
Zax was lost of words. What sort of technique did he learn from his big sis? None that was related to finding Earth’s Cores. All he used was his Soul Sense, but he could not tell that to his friend so he had to make up an excuse.
“Never mind that”. Zax replied at last in an attempt to change the subject. “What have you done to the roots and earth?” His friends looked like minute size land workers, soiled from head to toe.
“We were searching your Earth’s Cores”. Wesey said as though it was obvious.
“My Earth’s Cores? The hundred Earth’s Cores!” Zax remembered. He was about to use his Soul Sense, but he noticed the rook that he split to two.
The insides of the two halves were completely solid. “The fracture…” Zax searched for what gave him the confidence to put his all for breaking the, estimated, ninety kilos rock. “How deep did the fracture go in? Was there a fracture at all?” There were no Earth’s Cores inside, so the internal structure of the rock could not be anything but solid. The crack that he made with his punches, it was as deep as the eyes close, that is, not at all.
One on hand Zax was extremely disappointment and confuses, he definitely sensed them, the Earth’s Cores, but after going through so much trouble, where were they? On the other hand he was absolutely astonished. “I split a solid rock in one move that I unintentionally remembered and never before practiced?”
The punches were the product of a basic Qi utilization technique that he learnt from his big sister to strengthen a specific part of his body. In contrast, the spearhead strike was a genuine offensive technique that he merely saw on screen. Zax did not even know the name of the spearhead strike and when he thought to review what he did with his inner mind it was too hazy. What he tried to remember was more than sights and sounds; it was the concerted movement of his body and Qi. To survey the past of these two profound aspects was still beyond his soul’s level.
“Forget about it”. Zushi said to everyone. “Zax awake now. Anet, Merly and Dane won each of the three Earth’s Cores, unless you do want one of them, Zax?”
“I’m good”. Zax replied, got up on his feet and picked his backpack.
“Then let’s keep searching. We have more than thirteen hours to find five more Earth’s Cores. We can go deeper into the cave, or go to the direction of the Hooked Beak rock. If we get there under a hour we might catch Miss Zetsa and she will appraise the three Earth’s Cores. Maybe we’ll find more on our way”.
“Let’s keep heading deeper. It’s not like we have additional Earth’s Cores to replace the ones we already got if their quality is bad. We should keep searching and go in the direction that Zax found the three Earth’s Cores”. Dane said. He was right on mark. With only three Earth’s Cores, even if each of them had an Earth’s Core, it was pointless to assess their quality, at most for personal knowledge.
“Everyone agree with Dane’s suggestion?” Zushi asked.
Everyone nodded. Somehow and somewhere during their search, the role of the group’s leader was passed on to him without anyone noticing. It did not even crossed Zax’s mind that Zushi did not ask for his approval, and Zushi also did not realize that he was the one who led the decisions making. Zax from the beginning was good in being just a member of the group, and Zushi just wanted a righteous search for the whole group. Taking one’s position without him dwelling on it was part of the beautiful simplicity of a child’s mind.
“A friend of mine told me that the best Earth’s Cores can be found around the unsafe zone”. Zax recalled Take’s advice. “We don’t need to enter the unsafe zone, just a few kilometers from it should be fine”. He hastily added.
A distant location but with a higher success rate for finding quality Earth’s Cores was as good or better location than anywhere around. The only thing they had to lose was time. Than again, at worse, they will return late from the search, but the Earth’s Cores that they will find will eventually still be theirs.
“Sounds good, but it’s really far. We should make haste”. Zushi smiled.
Zushi’s group of eight proceeded in direction of the two Earth’s Cores that Weysey dug out. They kept searching with their eyes alone since they wanted to move quickly.
A short unproductive hour had passed.
“It’s useless. That group went east of us-” Mi talked about a group that they encountered around twenty minutes ago.
They were a group of four girls and two boys. When they met no one bothered to exchange any words. Each group was satisfied with the number of its members and neither suspected that the other already found Earth’s Cores, or so it seemed.
“West of us”. Zushi corrected her. “East is the other side. And why are you mentioning them? Do you want us to follow?”
“We can… can’t we?” Being asked for her opinion in a matter that regarded the course of the whole group has put Mi in an awkward position to her personality. “They went northwest…” She waited for Zushi to correct her again, in case the second time she was wrong. Zushi said nothing and so she continued. “They did not look around for Earth’s Cores when they passed us. It felt like they had a place in mind-”
“We also have a place in mind”. Weysey said.
“Yes, but we are keep searching for Earth’s Cores and it slowing us down”.
“You’ve got a point”. Zushi backed Mi. “Northwest will not set us out of our course in a great margin. Actually, it’s not like any of us knows the way to the unsafe zone. Amm… I’m up with going northwest. After all, we’ll still be heading to the opposite direction from tunnel three hundred and twelve”.
“If Zushi says so…” Weysey shrugged his shoulders.
“Dane, Anet, Zax, Merly, Serah?” Zushi asked.
“I’m fine either way”.
“Of course you are. You already got an Earth’s Core. I’m fine as well”.
“Zax?” Zushi turned to Zax who strolled at the back of the group. “What’s up? You did not speak a lot since you woke up”.
Zax’s expression was fixated on the ground. When he heard Zushi calls him he raised he head as if he woke up from a dream. “What? Yes. Let’s go northwest… sorry, I’m just thinking”. He said and lowered his reflective gaze to the ground once more.
When the group changed course northwest, Zax was preoccupied with pondering at the back.
An Earth’s Core that in retrospect should have been in the range of his Soul Sense he missed… A cluster of Earth’s Cores that essentially was not there he supposedly discovered… What was there, his Soul Sense missed and what was not, he found.
“What’s wrong with my Soul Sense?” Zax pondered. “The Earth’s Cores… I was sure that inside the rock and beneath it were more than a hundred Earth’s Cores, but when I checked again they completely disappeared and then I lost control of myself”. The scenes of him parting the rock, frantically looking for the absent Earth’s Core, ignoring the calls of his friends and fainting played in his inner mind over and over.
“Did I really lose control?” As his insight sharpened Zax began to question. When it happened, was his mind not as clear as it is now? “I was fully aware”. Parting a ninety kilo rock? “Am I not the Tal of my remarkable big sis? With my best it’s not impossible”. He started answering his own doubts. Frantically searching? “How can I not look where a hundred Earth’s Core disappeared to?” Ignoring the calls of his friends? “They don’t have a Soul Sense… they could not understand, I didn’t ignore them, finding the Earth’s Core was just too urgent”. Fainting? “Big sis told me not to exhaust my Qi”.
Nevertheless, and with all the answers that he came up with, Zax still hesitated to try out his Soul Sense. There was one thing that was tied to his use of Soul Sense which scared him, one question. The environmental essence of cave zero thirty nine, a beasts’ cave. “Am I incapable of dealing with it for a prolonged time?”
After Zax’s soul advanced to level F, he did not have the time to experiment with his new found ability that he suddenly was able to control. Using his Soul Sense to search for Earth’s Core was truly a brilliant idea, but was he so wretch that he was limited to a place where the environmental essence was less wild than the most meager of the beasts’ caves, a border cave?
Zax refused to believe it. “The environmental essence of this cave, of any border cave, if not before then I’ll do it right now. I’ll surpass it!”
A shimmer glistened in Zax’s resolute eyes, his Soul Sense explosively emerged and extended to a radius of a hundred and thirty five centimeters.