100 Troubling Times
"Cole… are you seeing what I'm seeing?" An old man asked another equally old-looking man. Both were exuding the subtle pressure of Sages.
"Yeah… it looks like a group of kids from the cultivation academy..." Cole said as he stroked his long white beard. He almost couldn't believe his eyes. He continued "Moe… to think that the academy has grown bold enough to let their kids run around at a time like this? I think we should send them a message..."
The two old men stood still in the air as they awaited for Jam's group to get a bit closer. As the key moment slowly approached, Moe hurriedly said "Wait! Isn't that Alexander from the Packer branch?"
Cole took a closer look at Alex and also gave out a surprised gasp. He turned to Moe and said "I'll send him a message to separate from that group and we'll eliminate those that remain."
Moe gave him a nod and used a mysterious Dao to make both of them disappear, blending into the environment even more seamlessly than before. Now turned into what looked to be ghosts, no semblance of energy escaped from the Sage duo's bodies, so much so that even Jam's normal eyes couldn't pick up a sign of them through their cultivation. Cole used an illusion technique to cover his divine sense as he sent Alex a message.
"Alex, stand down and move away from that group discreetly. We are in a precarious situation against the Cultivation Academy and can't afford to be associated with them at the moment." As this message hit Alex, it came from nowhere an with no chance for him to safeguard against the effects of the illusion the message carried with it.
Luckily, Alex knew a thing or two about Illusions, so apart from blanking out for just the slightest second, he didn't suffer any other ill effects. Alas, blacking out for even the slightest second meant that he had stopped moving with his group, thereby granting the Sages a chance to launch a sneak attack.
Alex didn't have time to think as his body moved instinctively. As soon as he caught a whiff of that divine sense, he recognized it to be Elder Mo from his Clan. Elder Moe was famous for his Phantom Dao, which made him a highly skilled assassin. Alex knew of this Elder Moe more than others, so much so that he understood Elder Moe's key quirk; he overused euphemisms.
Hearing that they couldn't afford to be "associating" with the cultivation academy made him think of the worst possible scenario, so Alex just did his best to summon a barrier anticipating a nasty sneak attack. Unfortunately, even though he had called it correctly, Alex wasn't a match for a Sage's direct attack; a Greater Sage's attack to be specific.
He had used his Foundational Domain's secret ability to keep up the barrier of solid earth against Moe's attack in exchange for direct damage to himself. As a result, Alex's body was wrecked through and through. From the outside, all he showed was a bit of blood through coughing, but internally, everything had been jumbled up. His blood vessels and meridians all but cracked, his Dantian even had some shards break off, and some of his organs had been displaced.
Alex lost consciousness right after receiving that attack and fell down from the skies only to be picked up by the two culprits of the attack. Ironically, the only person they wanted to not harm was the only person harmed. This left Moe in an especially downcast mood as he had made a fool of himself and several fronts right in front of his peer, Cole.
His prized illusions and assassination skills looked to be a joke as a mere Saint Grandmaster not only detected them, he directly blocked them!
The two enemy Sages didn't have the luxury to dilly dally as Danger Noodle and Dai Mingzi's seperpant companion were emitting auras that could threaten even them. Not to mention Jam's even more ridiculous demonic killing intent. He had been left out of the killing game for eight years now, but his Demon Dao remained as strong as ever. Having one of his friends get taken out right in front of him and then get captured reignited that desire to kill Jam hadn't felt in a while.
Still, even though the deaths of the two Sages floating before him was the only sight he currently wanted to see, Jam didn't just go berserk and begin a bloody battle to the death. He very well could have, but instead he took a more mature approach to the situation and investigated why his Innate Eyes had failed him.
Jam's eyes were shrouded in a potent illusion as Detection Form scanned the two Sages before him. Even after finding out that they had past him undetected because of the effects of a mysterious Dao, Jam didn't rush into a fight. Instead he took Alex's situation in consideration, and decided to first find out why they had been targeted for an ambush.
Jam told Danger Noodle to stand down and said "Now, why would two prestigious Sages like yourselves attack weak little juniors like us?"
Cole didn't like Jam's sarcasm, so he responded in a likewise manner, saying "Why would a group of ignorant juniors like you leave the safety of your damned academy while a full out war is playing out?"
War? Against the Cultivation Academy? Who was so reckless that they would start a war against the Cultivation Academy?! And in their own home planet too!
Jam narrowed his eyes as he let this information sink in, but through an energy transmission Cynthia said "Jam! That man is Grand Elder Cole! And the man standing next to him is the Grand Elder Moe! They're from Alex's family, so they probably didn't intend on harming him."
Jam knew that Alex was only harmed because he forced his superpower to guard them against the Sages surprise attacks, so he felt a bit more confident in trying to fight to take Alex back. However, as he thought more about the situation a certain conflict arose. If Elders from Alex's family were attacking them, wouldn't that mean that Alex's family had joined the enemy's side and were against the Cultivation Academy?
Should they even bother trying to take Alex back into their ranks? Who's to say whether or not Alex would choose to be with the Cultivation Academy over his own flesh and blood. Even if he did choose to join the Cultivation Academy's side, who's to say that the Academy won't just label him a spy and ostracize him anyways...
Caught between rock and a hard place, Jam didn't know what the right course of action was that needed to be taken. What he did know was that all those things could be further discussed at a later time. What he needed to do right now was take Alex back from the enemy and at least heal him from the damage he self inflicted.
Jam transformed into his demonic counterpart deck out with yang flames and thunder, a sure fire sign to everyone else that a fight was inevitable. But before much of anything happened, Moe could be seen clicking his tongue as if he was annoyed by something, and the two enemy Sages started teleporting away.
Now, with Jam, Cynthia, Danger Noodle, and even Evangeline they could have easily led on a chase towards those two Sages; all of them had Space Dao Domains after all. However, it was better both for them and for Alex to let the Sages leave, as their group needed some information about this new war, while Alex needed medical attention ASAP. Jam just hoped that the next time he met Alex they wouldn't meet as enemies…
With this situation coming and going, Jam stepped up his security by constantly having his Detection Form playing underneath the illusion casted over his eyes. It as a pain being able to see all instances of cultivation at all times, but if he had started out with this annoyance, Alex wouldn't have been harmed at all. It was a harsh lesson Jam learned about never being too overconfident in his sensing abilities, as there would always be some way he might get sneak attacked.
The group continued their teleporting journey across the world, though now a general sense of loss was present in their hearts as one of their close allies had been abducted. Even Dai Mingzi and his serpent companion were melancholy from Alex's departure, as they felt partially responsible in not being able to detect the two Sages' attack.
Eventually, the group stood in the skies a couple hundred kilometers away from the Cultivation Academy and even from so far away, the depressing atmosphere of warring times permeated all over the academy's "campus." Since they were currently in troubling times, the group knew better than to approach the academy by the skies; much less by teleporting in…. So, they all descended to the ground and proceeded to walk to the academy.