Chapter 1: Green Scales, Purple Mane Raroen
"Gaklin, the tribe leader ordered us not to cross to the next cave without at least two elders of whichever tribe, and the Basement Floor's humans don't have any expert at the same level as an elder with them". A grim looking large man with lemon skin, wearing a blue scaled robe said to a similar looking man, Gaklin, who wore a brown fur robe and led five of the fifty three pursuers in the pursuit after Zax, Zetsa and Tularg.
"It will take them three quarters of an hour to reach the next cave". The brown fur robed man responded and turned to the men behind him and the other groups that converged out from the total fifty three experts. "Moreover, that's just a temporary setback. What's currently bothering me is an eyewitness testimony that I received from two Mist Lords in my group. We were the closest to the two targets and when they emerged from the Pawed Woodpecker's nest, a third figure was with the two. Have you detected a third entity with your Soul Sense?"
"No, I'm still only spotting two. One is the woman the tribe leader said to do our utmost to capture alive, another is a Core Master on our level. But I can't tell if he is a human or a beast. Are you confident in those Mist lords' words? Though they are at the same level as the woman, in reality, they cannot be compared..."
" ... Mirph", Gaklin turned to the other Core Master in his group of six. "Take command on the group. Gu", his gaze shifted to his tribesman in the blue scales robe. "You and Mirhp, relay a message to the other eight groups behind us. Let them know about the possibility of a third target just in case it's an expert above our level. The two are running at a moderate pace. Among the five Core Masters in our two groups I'm the fastest. I'll go alone to scout ahead and if there is a hidden expert I'll extend a signal to let you know and stop". Gaklin said and look at the other Core Masters for their approval.
The four exchanged gazes, all in human form, none of which was actually a human, and nodded toward Gaklin.
"Then I'm going". Gaklin said. Azure mist energy blew out from his last breath in human form and in the next moment a six tails, three meters long, completely yellow fox lurched forward like an azure yellow streak with a brown furred robe tied to one of the six tails.
Zax traversed the distance to the last cave, before his designated cave, in but couple of minute after separating from his big sister and Tularg. Up till now the reason he was not discovered as the third member of their small party was because none of the Core Masters pursuers had a Soul Sense more formidable than Zax's since none was in the second level of the Core Master realm or above.
Only when they exited the Pawed Woodpecker's nest, two of their pursuers managed to make visual contact and see Zax.
Now, Zax was too far to detect Gaklin with his Soul Sense, and so proceeded as his big sister instructed him.
About twenty minutes after he entered the cave a terrible sense of danger emerged in his sea of consciousness and a terrifying presence invaded his person, inspecting every millimeter of it, including his dantian and soul.
'Crap!' Zax froze in his place and forced all of his soul energy to expel the foreign Soul Sense. It was futile. The opponent was too strong. 'RUN!' Zax only choice was to sprint to the entrance of the tunnel to his big sister's Master's cave.
Several tens of meters from the location he was spotted, Zax felt a surge of wind bellowing from up ahead and the next thing he saw was a green flash, aiming to strike him.
Zax gritted his teeth and defended the attack, of what he perceived as a green scaled palm, with a counter of a double Kinetic Force fists.
Making contact with the green palm, Zax pupils widened. His fists felt as if they met an immovable construct, while he was thrown back from the impact.
'Impossible!' Zax bewailed as his body crossed a nearly hundred meters distance through the dense vegetation, which only helped to lessen the force that sent him flying while being smashed.
'Is that it for me?'
To be unable to cause harm to his opponent even while extracting his Kinetic Force, indicated that his opponent was an expert above the second level of the Core Master realm. And taking into account that beasts were the enemies of his big sister's Master, he already assumed that the one to strike him was at least a Zhihui class beast. He did not believe that a human or a Shenghuo class beast, even with the mist energy of the third level of the Core Master realm, could so impeccably block his fists.
A large tree trunk finally put a stop to his flight and Zax spun his body to land on his feet. Other than the lack of sensation in his hands, Zax was mostly unhurt.
'So much power in one slap of hand ... was it a Martial technique? What kind of beast has such tough scales?' Zax's mind worked hard to decipher the blurry image of the palm strike's owner. At most, he was certain that it was not a human because he recognized green scales covering the hand that struck him and vicious claws at the tip of each finger.
'He is coming!' Another surge of wind alerted to the second arrival of his mighty foe. 'Hold your ground!' He ordered himself. He knew that at the moment he cannot outrun whoever was after him. He was undoubtedly also weaker, so a fight was out of the question. Nevertheless, he was not feeling hopeless, if his opponent would meet him in the same manner as before, Zax believed that he could redirect the impact to send him to the air and as long as the beast attacking him did not have wings, he could use the Kinetic Force to escape through the air.
For his plan to succeed, Zax stood vigilantly, prepared for a second clash.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk". Three clicks of a tongue were carried by the coming wind before it dispersed a few centimeters from Zax. "If that was your best way to counter my palm strike, you are still missing the point of the proper usage of your power, little brother Zax". A voice that was low and proud preceded the appearance of a somewhat familiar figure.
Out from the wreckage of smashed vegetation a humanoid beast, over two meters and thirty centimeters tall with green scales, purple mane and two silver horns, calmly approached Zax.
"Eh?!" Zax was dumbfounded by the words of the humanoid beast, which had similar horns to Rarahel's. 'Could he be... ?' Zax wondered and then asked. "Are you eldest Martial brother?" He was supposed to meet either his big sister's eldest Martial brother or eldest Martial sister. Put aside the surprise attack, Zax believed that the one in front of him should his big sister's and also his Martial brother.
"Who else?" The green lizard head replied. "For you I am Silver Horns Dragon, big brother Raroen". Raroen introduced and then looked questionably at Zax. "Now that we greeted each other, would you tell me why you arrived alone? Sister Hagen brought brother Tularg to escort you in sister Zetsa in your return precisely so you won't return by yourself. Could it be that you were worried about your appointment with Master that you hurried on your own?" Raroen asked in dissatisfaction.
'Was what happened before a greeting?!' Zax did not know what goes on in the head of this dominant big brother that he just formally made. He kept his doubts to himself and answered. "Big brother Raroen, on our way here, in the cave next to this one, a group of fifty three expert began to pursue us. Twenty one of which are first level Core Masters, the rest are a bunch of Mist Lords. The enemy were to numerous for us to fight with, so after we avoided their collaborated formation, big sis sent me to find you or eldest Martial sister". Zax explained in a quickly.
Although Zetsa had an unperturbed demeanor when he left her and Tularg, Zax still did not feel comfortable leaving them behind. He did not want to let them bare anymore risk, but for Raroen to head with him back to them immediately.
"Oh ... little Zetsa decided to inflict some damage to their underlings". Raroen mused amusingly. "Losing twenty one Core Masters will be a significant blow to these tribes and might ease some of Master's indignation".
Raroen raised a heavy hand and put it on Zax's shoulder.
"Before their deaths, let's make them know who their executioner is".
His grip on Zax's shoulder tightened and with a horizontal movement of his arm, he flung Zax fifty meters to the air.
As Zax tried to comprehend what happened, his vision settled while still in the air, and when he caught first glimpse of what was beneath him, also in the air, his complexion paled.
"Grab my scales". The voice of the hundred meters long dragon resonated in his brain.