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"I thought that my son could be the heir, I've given up my chance the day he was born. Not long after, however, you appeared. And when I heard that you tried to steal the Black Core, I had a bad premonition…" Yurnal narrated in an aggravated tone.

He raised his gaze and glared at Zax as if he hoped that mere eyesight could take a life. He may have agreed to hand over the Black Core, but was it going to be an easy exchange?

"You won't get it for free. Even without the other three Black Cores, the a.s.similation of a Black Core's dark attribute to the soul outstrips the a.s.similation by a regular attribute's essence. Further than that I did not have the opportunity to explore, the moment I could I had a change in mind corresponding to Savir's pregnancy and chose to remove the Black Core from my dantian. But if it's Yimin and he is guided properly from the beginning… who knows, perhaps he will match your absurd growth?"

"Yimin… I'm not a father, but I can understand your initiative to weigh all your efforts on him, for the betterment of his future path. However, I won't hope too much on the Black Core as an aid to his cultivation. Let us a.s.sume that it has some long lasting supplementary effect, I absorbed two Black Cores and at most my bodily refinement technique underwent couple of minor changes".

Zax purposely downplayed the influence of the Black Core. It was preferable not to praise it, but with Yurnal's knowledge it was impossible to completely deny. Maybe even the primary stages of his Infinite Transformations Altering Body were improved, at the time he had the Black Core in his dantian…?

"Moreover, even before I absorbed the first Black Core, my soul was and is unique to others. You heard the messages from the expert, so I don't need to elucidate on how or why. Also, I imagine that your soul isn't that different, unless of course someone else found the Black Core?"

As a child, during the Great Earth's Core Pursuit, Zax was the sole person to be attracted – after a series of events and with less than half consciousness – to the Essence Cave where the Black Cores were imbedded to a giant rock. Back then, only two Black Cores remained on the rock that was hard to determine if it was just a boulder or a base of a mountain. While Zax got one, his Master, Kartius, took the other. What neither of the two knows is that Kartius would never have discovered the Essence Cave, if it did not open itself for Zax to begin with! Therefore, it also could have been that if Yurnal's soul was not drown to the Essence Cave, then someone else was, and ultimately ended up losing his or her Black Core to its current owner, Yurnal.

"It takes a special soul to be qualified to receive the Black Core, but not to possess it". Yurnal admitted. "You would have figured it out yourself if we kept talking".

'So it was someone else…' Zax was not surprised, nor cared about what unfolded for Yurnal to obtain the Black Core. "Let's stop beating around the bush. For Yimin's soul to meet the criteria is very unlikely-"

"This cannot be determined before letting him absorb the Black Core!" Yurnal grunted.

"Is Savir someone from New Earth, or have you met her in Ercas Mir?"

"How is that-" Yurnal swallowed the question before it could fully come out. He knew why Zax asked and that with the truth he is bound to fall for the trap.
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"The expert's clone modified Earth's Core to aroused mutations in the residences of New Earth, to improve the successive gene. How old are you? A century old? Two centuries? Three? How much augmentation your generation experienced? Add this to procreation with someone from Ercas Mir and calculate for me Yimin's potential growth with the aid of the Black Core?"

Yurnal was incensed. Zax practically called his son and wife genetically inferior. Even if he did not intend to say so as an insult, it was too inconsiderate to be taken silently. "Right, right, Savir isn't like me and you and to Yimin the Black Core will eventually raise an insurmountable threshold, but when he will get there, he could always use the same method I used to eject the Black Core and replaced it by a regular Earth's Core or a Pure Core".

"So, then, back to stop beating around the bush, if it is an aid, for what sort of an alternative aid are you willing to exchange the Black Core?"

"Something to propel my son's Martial path that could equal the Black Core?" Yurnal snorted and leered. "A Pure Core would be fine… the Four Wings Stork's Pure Core, that is".

For a brief instant, Zax's reserved intent basted out with severe desire to slaughter. He hastily withdrew it, but it was already too later. As short as the moment was, all of Yurnal's body hair was erected in trepidation and he distanced himself with no hint of reaching to a halt before fleeing beyond sight.

The all powerful, unyielding Second Leader of the chain could not be blamed for trying to escape. To begin with, there was bad water between him and Zax, and now when they were haggling the tension they pretended as meager was actually very close to being tangible.

Before ten a hundred meters were traversed, Zax sprang from his still state and overtook Yurnal. "Is it only the Four Wings Stork, or any Overlord will do?" He asked in a controlled manner.

Ready to transform to his animalistic form when Zax intersected him, Yurnal stopped the vibrations in his body and replied in alarm to the question. "Any Overlord!" He did not feel like dragging it anymore. If Zax followed through with his intent, than it would have been his fault if Savir will become a widow and Yimin an orphan.

"Then it's decided. Handover the Black Core; after I'll absorb it and the one I showed you, I'll settle my score with the eel and will give you its Pure Core".

"First, bring the Pure Core!" Yurnal insisted. He knew from his apprentice, Huland, that Zax killed the Four Wings Stork, but killing one Overlord does not mean that he could kill another. "That's my bottom line!" He fumed.

Zax was angry, but kept his mien pa.s.sive. Although he held Ozeyn in higher regard than Yurnal, the latter had stronger ties with him, even if they were not affable toward one another. "Open the formation of the cave! When I'll get back, the Black Core will better be ready for my taking!" It was a warning, and one that he planned to keep.

With black light suffusing underneath his skin, Zax turned to a blur and hurtled up. Barely keeping up with his silhouette, Yurnal transmitted a quick message, following which a small exit emerged for Zax and he departed for the Earthly Crater.

He was not delusional. He knew that the outcome of his fight with the Four Wings Stork was due to the enemy carelessness. If he could utilize the same strategy against the Horned Eel, then that would be perfect, but was that plausible? An Overlord just died, so it is only reasonable that the remaining will have their guard up for a certain period, especially the Horned Eel! It was the closest of all Overlords to the Four Wings Stork's nest.

'If it will see me and be able to sense the tiniest fluctuation of threat, it will definitely deduce that it was I who killed the Four Wings Stork'.

Three scales Deformed Beings were extremely intelligent and the few that grew to the level of Overlord were not below humans. They could easily recall distant memories, such as an irrelevant encounter with a human during a bout with another Overlord, at the human's petty swears of revenge…

"I won't be able to catch up to with if it will escape. I'll have to make it stay. Hopefully it will work…"

It was peaceful with the silence of desolation in the Earthly Crater. Six of the seven rings had no living being inside of them. Several days ago the ruler of the crater, the Horned Eel, went on a rampage, scaring away all the cultivators and even its progenies. Afterwards, it coiled in the first ring and has not moved since then.


A striking black glow burst into the crater in an uncanny speed and crossed from the seventh to the first ring like a shooting star in sea.

The seemingly inactive Horned Eel jittered. Portion of the water in a radius of a hundred meters around it constantly solidified to ice that cracked and shattered and resumed liquidation under the pressure of the crater's gravitational force.

The eyes of the Overlord opened with a gleam of venomous antic.i.p.ation. "ROAR!" Seeing that his semi icy domain failed to hinder the black glow's rapidness, it unlocked its jaw and a blue beam discharged.

The size and intensity of the beam eclipsed the black glow's and it even managed to carry the weight of the gravitational force! Nonetheless, at the moment of impact, sharp rays of black light split from the black glow, as if the might it exuded was too volatile to contain.

Grinding sounds reverberated in the water. The black glow penetrated the blue beam as its speed finally slowed, yet its advancement has not ceased.

Gauging the power of the black glow from its clash with the blue beam, the Horned Eel a.s.sumed a notion of the risk factor and was ready to mobilize its three kilometers elongated body. Its tail twirled, its bony scales emitted freezing vapor and it lashed.


The Horned Eel's tail bounced back and dark blue scales splattered, exposing the white meat under.

The dark glow, too, was pushed back and dimmed, revealing the outline of a human figure before baring its features.

Zax wiped his mouth. Black blood spilled from his lips, as well from the ghastly gash on the left side of his face. He sneered and waved his hand, pa.s.sing the blood to the currents, while his face was healing and in breaths time immaculate.

In comparison, the Horned snarled in pain. The broken scales of Deformed Beings, even Overlord, required a pa.s.sage of time to recover and for this Overlord's tail, only a thin layer of protective membrane had managed to form.

"Yes, I killed the flaming bird and now I came for you, to return the favor of that day!" Zax proclaimed. "Now the question is… whether you'll cower in the crater, or fly along me above the clouds, where we both can engage with no restraints?!"