Dale and Jerah finally left the northern gate, headed towards the Northern End. The Northern End was where Dale had previously emerged from the mysterious cave system where he met the black masked expert, finding the scene of Jerah and his guards battling against Lizard monsters. About 100 kilometers away from this incident, going east along the great cave wall, was the Var family Gem mine. On the way out of the city, Jerah had gathered two lizard mounts for Dale and himself.
These lizard mounts were known as Golgan’s. A Golgan was approximately the size of a horse. It was covered in lizard like scales, and shaped like a lizard, however, with a long tail and beady eyes. They usually had dark grey or murky green scales. One Golgan could carry roughly 500 pounds with ease, and could travel around three hundred kilometers in one day. They were the choice mount for all humans living in the Under Cave.
Dale clutched his legs tightly to the great lizard, slowing getting used to its rumbling gait. Thanks to his Perfect Balance, Dale quickly gained an understanding of how it moved, and soon felt at ease. Jerah noticed this and said,
“Have you ridden these lizardbacks before? The way you reacted when they brought them out made it seem like you hadn’t.”
When they stopped by the lizard stable on the way out, Dale had eagerly awaited their mounts. His eyes had filled with wonder and joy when he found out they were going to be traveling using giant lizards. It was almost like riding a dragon! He thought, his eyes shining. Dale knew that at least one Empire on the Seven Human Continents rode dragons. He had read about them in his studies, the great Draconic Empire in the west, famous for their dragon mounts and strong cultivators.
Dale snapped back to the present, responding,
“No, but it’s not too hard to pick up.” They continued riding.
Time went by, one hour blending into another, and about three hours later, they arrived at the Var Family Gem mine.
The Var Family Gem mine was absolutely massive. From far away, it looked like a massive globe of air had replaced a huge chunk in the side of the Northern End, like a bubble of existence had appeared and disappeared. The mine was set in this large hole in the Northern End. A huge number of caves intersected the Gem mine entrance, traveling in hundreds of directions.
The outside of the mine was well protected, a small stone wall raised around the site. Soldiers could be seen patrolling the walls, guarding against thieves. The soldiers were all wearing chain mail covered in tabards. Each tabard had a red sword and shield emblem sewn into it. Long blades or spears covered their backs as they walked to and fro on the wall. Dale could see several unleashed auras, placing all the soldiers in sight at the Iron or Steel levels.
The entrance of the great mine was a large, open doorway about 5 meters across. Two men could be seen standing guard here. Each man was dressed identical to the men on the walls, with a red tabard and chain mail. However, both of these men gave off powerful Silver Auras, making for a fortified exterior.
It must be said, the general level of cultivators on this continent is stronger than those on Chel. Silver and Gold Core warriors were still somewhat rare, but Iron and Steel Core warriors were much more common. This is mostly because of the abundance of cultivation supplies, namely monster cores, and the powerful families on this continent. Many powerful families recruit warriors and go to great expense to train them, in order to gain in strength.
For, while one or two Black Gold cultivators are insanely strong and Gem Core cultivators even stronger, they cannot be everywhere. Lower level cultivators and guards are needed to ensure a great families success. The Var family was powerful because of their wide network of warriors, as well as their three Black Gold Commanders, and Gem Core council member.
Dale and Jerah pulled up to the gate, their mounts breathing heavily. Steam rose off the backs of the lizards as they cooled off.
“Ah, young master!” The Silver commander on the left nodded, quickly followed by the commander on the right. They were respectful but not subservient, reflecting their powerful status as Silver Core cultivators. They looked inquiringly at Dale, noting his Steel commander badge but saying nothing.
The duo quickly walked through the gate, arriving in the main area of the Gem mine. Dale looked around in awe.
There were several large barrack like buildings to his left, with a small flow of soldiers leaving and entering. Each barrack was at least a hundred meters long, easily able to house one or two hundred soldiers. Directly in front of him was the main mine entrance, a large building that ended in several different pathways to caves. To his left was what looked like a large mess hall and an infirmary. Several clumps of soldiers grouped together, sitting around the area. Some were in groups gambling, others polished weapons and armor, while others practiced their auras and attacks.
Dale looked around, taking it all in. It was as if he was in a large war camp with so many soldiers located here. Dale had never seen a real army, he thought. Legion hardly counted seeing as it was made up of the entire Kingdom's top experts, and he had only seen them when they were on patrol. A voice in the back of Dale's head seemed to mutter for a moment before quickly disappearing. Dale paid it no mind.
Several tens of miners went back and forth into the large mine, wheeling large wheelbarrows of rock and ore out. Dust covered them, giving them a dark grey skin tone. The heaves and cries of workers filled the air.
The workers moved about with a sense of purpose, as if they knew exactly what to do, and were proud to be doing it. Dale envied them a little bit. He was still trying to figure out what his own plans were.
Jerah dragged Dale with him, avoiding the rest of the camp. They went down one of the mining caves, Jerah observing and feeling the ground. At several points, he put his ears to the walls or ground, motioning for Dale to stand still. Dale watched bemusedly, wondering if what he did was really effective.
As Dale walked with Jerah, he maintained his Perfect Balance, trying to feel the pulse of the tectonic plates. Dale's new movement art tapped into the enormous forces created when the plates shifted. Seeing as the plates were in a constant state of movement, Dale had a virtually endless energy source to draw from.
However, drawing any sort of power from this huge force was extremely difficult. It was only possible for Dale to tap into it thanks to his extremely high level senses in his Perfect Balance mode.
In fact, compared to other members of the Order of Fallen Time, Dale’s sense of balance was equal to those at the Initial Gem Core level. Dale wasn’t sure why this was, and felt it had something to do with his Time Lord’s bloodline. He knew from the books Instructor Lem had made him read that his sensibilities should not be this powerful. He also felt like his Time Lord’s bloodline was a little bit different than the ones described when Gem Core users gained one.
Because of Dale’s extremely developed sense of Perfect Balance, Dale perfectly understood how to absorb a very small amount of the energy of the Earth, and transfer it into his movement technique. Dale focused on his Shifting Earth, Broken Land Art, trying to develop it further. He stretched his soul into his balance, feeling all the nearby forces, whether they be big or small.
After walking for perhaps 30 minutes with Jerah, Dale felt as if he was on the very edge of a breakthrough in his art. He sensed that he could use much more power in his movement art, and evolve his technique much further.
However, though he could sense the enlightenment, his current level of strength was much too weak, and he couldn’t successfully grasp it. Dale focused his eyes back on reality, annoyed at himself. He would have to try again when he breached into the Silver Core level, he thought, trying to figure out why he failed.
As Dale was maintaining his extremely high level of Perfect Balance, a small tremor shook the earth, rippling through in waves. Dale, who was in tune with the energies of the earth, felt it perfectly, and his eyes went wide in shock.
This force had, for an extremely brief moment, stopped the shifting of the tectonic plates of the entire continent they stood on! Dale’s mind went into overdrive, trying to calculate the strength and power one would need to cause an effect like that. Eventually, he ended up concluding it was impossible, and it must have been some type of natural disaster or event.
Jerah, thanks to his unique senses when it came to the earth, also sensed the massive impact that stopped the very shifting of the earth. Jerah had an extremely close affinity with the earth, and could sense various elements that otherwise would have been out of sight. Thanks to this, he was able to find mines and large supplies of otherwise hidden ores.
Jerah keenly felt the earth ripple, shaking the entire ground. He looked up immediately, his eyes trailing to the west. Excitement colored his eyes as he looked back at Dale.
“Dale! I just sensed an enormous force in the earth to our west!” Jerah began, eagerly rising from the floor and turning around. He looked like he was prepared to run all the way to the area the impact came from.
Dale quickly interjected, “I felt it too. It felt dangerous.”
Jerah waved his hands, saying, “It was very powerful, yes, but that means it has to have been a Gem formation! There’s nothing else in the world that could possibly leave an impact like that!”
Gem formations were one of the many mysteries of the world. Seemingly at random, the earth would undergo a huge transformation, a massive impact shaking the very continent itself. After the shaking finished, a huge gem mine would form. No one knew why this occurred, but it was generally accepted as fact.
Jerah ran towards the entrance of the mine, Dale quickly following.
“We must get there first! After we secure the location, we can return to my father with the news! I will be hailed as a genius, and my standing in my family will rise extremely high!” Jerah’s voice cracked as his excitement grew.
Dale had a sense of foreboding, warning him of danger. However, it quickly passed, and Dale agreed. After all, he was Jerah’s personal guard now, and was obligated to protect him wherever he went. He was also very interested in the huge impact.
Jerah quickly arrived at the surface, rushing past several hundreds of miners and guards. None of the other workers seemed to have noticed the event, nor the powerful guards.
In itself, this isn’t very surprising. Dale’s sense of Perfect Balance had already surpassed those at the Initial Gem Core level, and he had barely sensed it with all of his focus. The strongest person in this mining camp was a Black Gold cultivator, one of the Var family’s three generals, and if Dale had barely sensed it when he was focusing on the earth, this powerful Black Gold commander had no chance at all. As well, very few people have the level of unique connectedness with the earth that Jerah has. And, because Jerah had been focusing his entire being on the earth, looking for signs of other mines, he was perfectly waiting for any sort of shift in the earth. To him, it was a loud message that a huge wealth of power now lay nearby.
Jerah’s eyes shone with excitement as they exited the mining camp on their lizard mounts, making a fast track to the west.
In the distance, hidden in a small cave along the Northern End, several pairs of eyes tracked the boys as they made their exit, and quickly jumped out, sneaking behind in a quiet pursuit…
Theldon Continent, The Under Cave, Roth City-State, Ruler’s Main Steet
A man in a dark mask, with a delicate number 8 carved into it, quickly walked through the streets of Roth, headed towards the Ruler’s Palace. He was wearing dark leather armor with black boots, and had a dark grey cape and hood wrapped around him. If one had been able to look into his eyes, they would have seen a deathless void, where life itself had fled. He stared out at the great city, as if lost in thought.
Roth was a large City-State to the south east of Delica. Roth was on rather good terms with Delica, one of their closest allies. Roth and Delica had a mutual defense relationship, each City-State having defended the other against various invasions from the Infested Lands.
Roth was also a huge bustling city. Home to several millions of people, Roth was set in a small cluster of stalagmites, set into the ground. Several palaces and large houses littered the ground, surrounded by powerful walls. Millions of homes and stores covered the rest of the City-State’s area, covering a massive surface area. Vendors stood among the streets, hawking their wares as passersby walked onward.
As the masked figure walked down one of the larger streets, another masked figure walked up to join him.
The new masked figure was dressed similarly to the first, wearing dark leather armor and a leather hood. However, this figure also had a dark mask, this one carved with a number 10 on it.
Otto glanced at the figure, continuing walking. His mind was flashing back to the odd youth he had met earlier this month, one who had excelled in his Aura techniques. At the Steel Core level, the youth had been very strong for his age. The figure that had joined Otto spoke, bringing him back to reality.
“Otto.” The figured began, making a small hand motion, “The Great Council is calling for all the Generals. They want you back as soon as you finish your mission here.” He nodded at him.
“Hello Dieci.” Otto said. He didn’t say anything else, just continued walking.
Dieci somehow managed to convey an annoyed look through his mask, quickly following behind Otto.
“Otto, I’m serious here. I’m getting some pretty dangerous vibes from the messages they’ve been sending me. I think something big happened, or is going to happen.”
Otto looked back at him and sighed, bringing a pair of fine black gloves from his pockets. He slowly put the gloves on, flexing his fingers. Immediately, extremely lightly, a pure Black Gold Aura covered the gloves. Otto seemed to relax for a slight moment, and suddenly, the aura on the gloves rose from Black Gold to the Gem Core level, a pure Ruby red. Otto seemed to relax even more, his eyes untightening, and an extremely tyrannical aura covered the gloves, Ruby red mixing with an Emerald green, a Sapphire blue mingling with a deep golden Topaz. These four separate auras all came together, combining into an extremely powerful aura, colored by 4 separate gems. The air near Otto’s glove faintly shook, causing tiny rips in space, before settling down.
However, no one nearby noticed anything strange. The entire strength and aura that Otto was giving off had been completely contained in the small black gloves he wore.
Dieci looked at Otto, glancing at his hands meaningfully.
Otto looked away, his attention focusing on the nearby Ruler’s Palace.
“Tell them I will return when I finish my mission.” Otto stepped forward alone, death in his eyes, as he headed directly towards the City-State of Roth’s Ruler’s Palace, the home of the leaders of Roth as well as the infamous Berserk Unit.