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532 No Time Like the Presen

    Compared to the feeling that a person would experience when opening a rift in space, a rift in time was much more extreme. Similarly to how one would slowly sink to the depths of the ocean when tied to a rock, time forced Daniel and the others into its eternal flow, dragging them through the billions of years that separated his present, from the past he had spent the last two weeks in.

    The difference between this portal and the one that had been forced open by the momentary collapse of the inter-dimensional portal, was that this time, Daniel was in full control over the power that had created it.. And while the process was still as violent for him, at least now he was prepared for it, allowing him to maintain his consciousness, as well as protect the painted warrior, who as a mortal, shouldn't have been able to survive this violent process.

    The closer Daniel got to the present, the more he felt as if he was emerging from the depths of an abyss in which he had spent what felt like an eternity in complete darkness.. And was only now starting to see the light. The surroundings became warmer, and brighter, until finally, his head emerged and he was able to take a deep breath.

    When his eyes opened Daniel realized that he was standing on a foreign planet, on whose surface he had slowly descended as if he was a god visiting a world of mortals. As his feet touched the ground, and he observed his surroundings, Daniel saw a valley of malachite-colored soil and gravel, littered with clean bones, and rusty weapons. In front of him, was the figure of the painted warrior, who was still kneeling on the ground while holding the remains of his daughter's body, which Daniel had taken along. It almost seemed that, to the painted warrior, the change in scenery was nothing when compared to his grief, and Daniel did not need to read his mind to know that that was likely true.

    Of Dawn and the others was no trace, but thankfully, when Daniel decided to use his group system to make sure that they were okay, and not lost in time, he was able to see Cassie's and Dawn's names amongst the tens of thousands of people that were part of his group. That meant that while they had ended up somewhere else, they had successfully made it safely to the present, and were probably somewhere in the same system or galaxy.

    With this massive weight lifted off his shoulders, Daniel was finally able to take a deep breath in relief. Being stuck in a mortal's body was bad enough, but it was nothing when compared to the realization that he was stuck in the past, with no chance of ever being able to see his family and friends again. Now that he was back in his time, and he had the assurance that the people he cared about were safe and sound, he could not help but feel relieved.

    Now calmer, Daniel decided to let the painted warrior grieve in peace, and instead, he turned to look at his surroundings. It was at that point that he realized that the two of them were not alone.

    The valley he had landed on was in the middle of two different biomes. An immense forest to the east and an endless ocean to the west, separated by two large mountains placed in front and behind him, which were joined into a single mountain range that encompassed the entire planet, splitting the entire planet into two. At the opposite edges of this malachite-colored valley were two massive armies, which had converged in this relatively small opening as if prepared to use it as a battlefield.

    The army on the forest side was composed of pale and thin humanoid creatures with pointy and long ears, and big light-colored eyes. Each of them clad in armor made out of amber, and armed with a sword that hung by their waist, a shield strapped to their back, and a longbow held in their left arm. Their battle formation was extremely compact, and ready to obscure the sun with an endless shower of arrows before engaging the survivors in melee combat.

    The army that had emerged from the sea was also composed of humanoid creatures, but instead of having pale skin, their bodies were covered in grayish lucid scales, with holes where their ears were supposed to be, and gills in between their clavicles and the bottom of their necks. Their armor was entirely made out of the salvaged carapaces of dead sea animals paired by spears made out of large fishbones.

    While poorly equipped, their bodies were much more impressive than those of their counterparts, as each of them were tall, muscularly built, and had broad shoulders capable of sending those spears flying at incredible distance.. But the differences were not limited to their build and equipment. Their formation was not that of a traditional army, and instead, they stood like an horde, accompanied by massive crustaceans that they used as mounts.

    Both armies were led by the two most impressive specimens of each race, who had already prepared to lead the charge into a battle that was delayed by the sudden appearance of a small, yet visible portal.. Which had formed above the ancestral battlefield, and spit two people right in front of them.

    In the surroundings, Daniel could feel the presence of the many kinds of mana, as well as the innate powers of these two humanoid races. Before letting himself be engrossed by the feeling of being surrounded by the powers of nature, or even think of extending his senses through the whole system in an attempt to find Cassie and the others, the leader of the eastern army shouted a command to his army-to which the warriors responded to by immediately tightening their formation, and pointing their bows at the sky in unison.

    The general of the western army reacted similarly to Daniel's presence, giving an unspecified command to which his soldiers reacted by pointing their spears forward, preparing themselves to charge through the rain of arrows, and towards the eastern army. Both of these actions were a warning directed at Daniel, intimating him to move away, or be treated as part of the enemy army.. A threat which he ignored.

    Instead of bothering with the two armies, of which he could feel peculiar powers that were of no threat to him, Daniel approached the painted warrior. He then pointed his finger at one of the trees of the massive forest that lay behind the eastern army, and from the distance, he pulled it right out of the ground, and towards the middle of the battlefield.

    The tree floated in mid air for a few moments, before breaking into a set of perfectly cut boards that, moments later, took the shape of a coffin. One that Daniel could have made to easily fit the head and torso that were left of the man's daughter, but which he made big enough to contain her whole body, had there been one.

    Both armies looked at what Daniel did with shock. Neither of their respective races practiced cultivation, and their entire lives were spent in their element.. Reason why they were strangers to a level of cultivation high enough to allow them to control objects from thousands of meters in the distance.

    While spectacular to see, Daniel's actions were displayed when both armies were ready for battle, so when he began to show his spectacular abilities, the leaders of each army began to wonder whether Daniel was a secret weapon deployed by their enemies.

    Daniel kept ignoring the two armies.

    For some reason, despite the painted warrior not being a cultivator, he couldn't help but feel the deeply sorrowful aura that was emitted by the body of the painted warrior. A feeling similar to the one he had experienced when in the company of spiritual cultivators, but that contrary to spiritual essence, felt more primordial and violent.. Almost as if the painted warrior had brought with him the primordial and chaotic form of essence that Chaos had gifted to the multiverse billions of years in the past, into the present.

    Unaware of this, Daniel recalled the funeral rite that was depicted in the memories of the painted warrior, and replicated it by creating a coffin which needed to be buried into the soil, and under a pile of rocks. Once he finished creating the coffin, he let it float beside the painted warrior, who kept looking at the mauled body of his daughter while wailing in sorrow.

    As the coffin that landed in front of him was noticed by the painted warrior, he turned to his right, where Daniel had quietly appeared, and realized that this odd young man he had met a few days ago was now helping him bury his daughter.. Grateful, the painted warrior turned to look down at his daughter one last time before putting her into the casket.. Only to find her body whole again-An illusion that Daniel had created after seeing her original appearance into the warrior's memories.

    The warrior looked fondly at his daughter, who now looked asleep. If not for the fact that he was holding her, and he knew that her heart was not beating, he would have gladly let himself be fooled by the illusion that she could have been saved.. But, alas, despite how magical this all seemed, he knew better than that.

    Confused, and yet grateful towards Daniel, the warrior lifted his daughter's body, and gently placed her into the open coffin, which Daniel approached moments later.

    Before the painted warrior could close the casket, Daniel removed the necklace which the father had made for his daughter from one of his most rare kills, and handed it over to him as a memento.. One which the warrior observed for a few moments before tying it around his wrist. He then closed the casket.

    As the casket was closed, a patch of clean dirt appeared next to the warrior, along with a bunch of rocks that needed to be used to mark the grave. Daniel observed in silence as the painted warrior moved the casket into the grave, and slowly set the pile of stones on top of it, as his people's traditions dictated.

    Once done, Daniel used his essence to lift the entire grave, which he shrunk through the use of spatial essence to the size of a finger, and stored into the memento that he had given the painted warrior. He then shared with the painted warrior the method on how to use his newly acquired powers to visit his daughter's grave whenever he wished to.

    It was only at the end of this long process, that the painted warrior was able to find some peace, releasing Daniel of the forceful feelings of empathy he had inadvertently found himself stuck into.

    Grateful for what Daniel had done, the painted warrior looked down at his daughter's pendant for a few moments before finally putting his mind at peace. When he looked up, the warrior turned to look at Daniel, and after speaking a few incomprehensible words and slamming his fist against his chest, the name Ashura Jabali appeared in the list of members of Daniel's group system.. An action that caused a sudden surge of chaotic power to travel through his body, and settle permanently into each atom.

    Before Daniel could realize that the painted warrior had sworn to repay his actions with his life and joined his group, a loud battle cry came from his right side, where he saw the army of pointy-eared soldiers advance as a whole towards them. This battle cry was followed by a second one, which propagated through the whole army of scaled warriors like thunder through water, causing them to throw caution to the wind, and charge through the malachite-colored valley as if uncaring of Daniel's existence.

    Daniel did not react to the two approaching armies. Instead, he slowed the surrounding time, and let out his sensing ability, which spread through the entire system. It only took a few seconds for him to finally understand what was happening.

    When his senses reached orbit, Daniel noticed the presence of a single cultivator, who appeared to be sitting around, waiting for the battle between the two races that inhabited the planet to begin. He also noticed the presence of two perfect essence treasures. A wooden one, buried in the deepest part of the ocean, and a water one, hidden in the fittest part of the forest.

    It was clear that the observing cultivator had caused the two civilizations to go to war against one another by stealing their respective treasures, but the reason why he had done that, escaped him. What he had learned from the number of remains scattered through the valley, as well as the soil of the valley itself, whose color was a mixture of the dark blue blood of the oceanic army, and the green blood that flowed into the veins of the pointy-eared kin, this process had been repeated many times in the past.

    Originally, Daniel wouldn't have bothered with this, and would have simply left with the painted warrior.. but in the body of the cultivator that was guarding the system, Daniel could feel the power of an aspect of existence which had tried to harm him billions of years in the past, which to him, were mere minutes.. The aspect of Horror.

    In a fit of pettiness, Daniel snapped his fingers, causing the two treasures to teleport from the edges of the world, directly next to him.. An action which caused the two armies to stop their charge, and kneel in reverence as soon as they noticed their sacred relics appear in front of them.

    "What are you doing?" Asked a voice that resounded through the entire planet, and that was accompanied by the sudden appearance of a tall and muscular humanoid creature, which to the surprise of both Daniel and Ashura, appeared exactly like one of the monstrous warriors that had hunted the kin of the painted warriors to extinction. A race whose brutality had created Horror billions of years ago, and that after gaining sanity, had thrived as the first champions of Horror.
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