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535 Weight of an Active Conscience

    Rose and the others were not the only ones to feel the oddity of Daniel's presence, as shown by the twenty odd cultivators who, after catching up with the first one of this long trail of pursuers, had also found themselves looking at him with confusion. Three of the cultivators present were members of the Blood Sect, while the rest were members of Horror's domain, who after learning about the predicament of one of Sacrifice's strongest factions, had been ordered to help their allies in their effort to recover their legacy.

    In Daniel, these cultivators felt a power that resembled that of an aspect of existence. Absolute in form, but also of smaller magnitude, like a sharp kitchen knife that reminded others of a sword.. Both sharp, potentially deadly, and yet weaker. While less threatening, however, when the observing cultivators compared the feeling emitted by Daniel's body with the immense powers they had developed through countless years of cultivation, but that only contained a trace of the aspects of existence they followed, they could not help but feel an extreme sense of inferiority.

    "Move a finger or look at the wrong direction, and we will kill you." Said a woman of stunning appearance, and dressed in a red attire that left her shoulders uncovered, but that compensated with a flounce that extended past her feet for several meters of red fabric that was left to slowly wave around in space as she moved. "We have a method to take the legacy from you without killing you.. So unless you would prefer to keep escaping for the rest of your life, it is in your best interests that you follow me." She said, lying through her teeth.

    "Why waste time? Kill him, before he escapes again." Said a second female cultivator dressed in a red and black cultivator attire, while trying to suppress a devious smile. "To personally deliver the legacy to our leader.. Along with your life. There is no bigger sacrifice." She then added. It was clear to the eyes of everyone present that the two blood cultivators, while allied and part of the same faction within the blood sect, were not on friendly terms. Both of them were aware that killing Daniel meant taking the burden of a legacy which they would be unable to inherit. Once that would happen, their lives would be doomed to end soon after.. Either by the hands of the other direct disciples of the late Murderous God, or the hands of the one they followed.

    The two female cultivators exchanged a few more words, filled with sharp comebacks and veiled threats, but were soon stopped by one of the monstrous cultivators of Horror's domain. A scrawny humanoid being with grey skin tainted by black blotches, who interrupted their bickering by saying, "We don't allow entry to members of other domains anymore. You should be worried about how he got into Lord Horror's domain, and whether he can leave it just as easily."

    As if spoken to by someone worthy of respect, the two female cultivators immediately stopped arguing. As followers of Sacrifice, they could not contest the dominance of Horror.. After all, when the cruelty of their ways was turned into the influence that gave strength to the aspects of existence, much of it went to Horror himself, as sacrifice was what reaping lives meant to the blood cultivators, while horror was what appeared in the hearts of their victims.

    Seeing how these two women were hesitating in taking the legacy from Daniel, and were instead hoping to find a better outcome for themselves, a third blood cultivator, completely covered in a dark red robe, stepped forward, and with a crisp and heroic tone, he said, "If you two won't do it, I will." He then removed his hood, uncovering the face of a malformed man."

    The two women let out a breath of relief. They knew that this particular member of their faction, due to his malformations, had always found ways to show his gratitude and devotion towards his faction. If there was someone willing to sacrifice his millions of years of cultivation for the greater good of the blood sect, that person was him.

    "Nothing would make the lord happier.." Said the first woman.

    "Your courage shames us, brother." Added the second one, steeling the resolution of her companion, who straightened his hunched back as much as he could, and approached Daniel.

    Before he could attack, however, Daniel's lips curved into a smile. "The legacy.. Yes." He said before closing his eyes.

    Believing that Daniel had decided to surrender, the malformed cultivator moved closer, while staring at the legacy with soaring pride and joy. He knew that while he would never be able to cultivate it, recovering it for the entire blood sect was an immeasurable contribution. The future leaders of the sect would sing his praise for eons, recounting how he had been the one to make the ultimate sacrifice, so that their sect could remain a feared power all across the multiverse.

    As the malformed cultivator came to arm's reach, however, the clear and brilliant Legacy that could be perceived from the other side of the multiverse, and had pointed to Daniel's position for years now, lost its luster. At the same time, its shape started to gradually disappear like an old tattoo, and kept on disappearing until finally, in a matter of moments, it vanished completely.

    When Daniel opened his eyes, revealing two irises as brilliant as lighthouses and more golden than gold itself, the observing blood cultivator felt their hearts drop. On his forehead there was no visible trace of the legacy anymore, nor could they perceive its brilliance and power.

    "W-What.." muttered the female cultivator in the red dress before instantly appearing next to Daniel, and mindless grabbing his head. She touched his forehead as if trying to find a secret compartment, unbothered by violating Daniel's personal space. Her mind mudded by thoughts that left her wondering.. if the Legacy was truly gone, that meant that her indecisiveness had caused the destruction of her sect, and if that was the case, she could not even fathom the degree of suffering she would have to endure before being granted the most painful of deaths.

    While the malformed cultivator, stripped of the chance to become a beloved hero of his faction, stood to watch in disbelief.. the second female cultivator joined the first one, and with a broken voice, she asked, "D-Did you f.. Find it?" After noticing that the first female cultivator was too shaken to bother with her, however, she turned to Daniel, grabbed his arm, and with her fingertip, she made a small cut in which she injected a bit of her blood essence.

    The blood essence washed through Daniel's body, mixing with his own blood, and analyzing it to the smallest molecule.. A thorough search that came out with the most dire of results.

    "What is going on?" Asked the monstrous cultivator who, not being able to perceive the legacy to begin with, had only noticed that something was wrong due to the odd behavior of the three blood cultivators.

    "It's not.. Here.. it is not here.." muttered the first female cultivator before grabbing Daniel's throat and squeezing just enough for his neck not to break. An action that seemed to be unable to bother Daniel, on whose face was the usual smile which he had maintained throughout the entire encounter, as if unaffected by the behavior of the two blood cultivators, or the danger he was in.

    Daniel's confidence was a direct hit to the morale of the blood cultivators, who would have loved to kill him right there and then, but couldn't, since they did not know whether they would be able to recover the legacy if they killed him now, or if Daniel had somehow hidden it. "We'll take him back to our universe.. Kill the others." Said the second female cultivator to her companion, in whose face she saw a deep anger that she would rather see her satisfy with Daniel's friends, then with him.

    However, things were about to change.

    As soon as she finished speaking, the female cultivator felt a lump in her throat.. A feeling that a cultivator of her level should not have experienced, and that left her confused. Nevertheless, she tried to clear it with a few dry coughs but the feeling did not disappear. Instead, it started to grow, and spread through her skin, muscles, and blood. The more this feeling spread into her body, the more it turned from a feeling of uneasiness, and after that, to one of doom. When she realized that something was wrong, a few seconds later, her body was crippled by an immense pressure.. Similar to drowning, being squeezed to death, being cut into a billion pieces, turn into an ice statue, and burn alive and all at the same time, but a thousand times worse.

    As panic blossomed in her heart, she turned to look at her companions, whom she was hoping would support her, but from their panicked faces and erratic behavior, she could guess that they were experiencing the same horror she was.. With some of them experiencing something even worse.

    *Cough* "What.." muttered Lilith who, along with the others was still hiding inside the ship, and feeling an odd sense of uneasiness go through her body. "What is this?" she asked as a sharp headache made its appearance in her head. The others seemed to also be affected by this feeling, but less so, as they cleared their throat in hope for this mild feeling to pass.

    The only ones who were unaffected were Dawn, Cassie, and Ashura, who were experiencing a refreshing and calming feeling that invaded their minds, allowing them to enter a state of enlightenment that helped them make clarity over several of the issues that had impeded their progress. including concepts of certain essences that had turned into obstacles, or the most complex sections of their martial arts.

    Outside of the ship, Daniel observed as the pressure increased within the bodies of his pursuers, to a point where it had become an unbearable torture. If interrogating them had been Daniel's purpose, they would have revealed the weak spots of their own mothers, were they given a chance.. But that was not the case.

    As the hand of the first female cultivator left Daniel's throat, he quickly grabbed it, and moved it close to his chest, preventing her from floating away in space. He then pointed his bright golden eyes at her, and asked, "Is it heavy?"

    The woman, terrified by Daniel's cold and indifferent expression, tried to grab his shirt while looking at him with imploring eyes. She desperately wanted him to stop whatever he was doing to her. Now close to losing her mind, her lips moved in an attempt to beg for mercy, but before she could speak, Daniel added, "I am not doing anything.. Stop fighting it. This is the weight of your own actions. This is your karma."

    Despite being already unbearable, the pressure kept increasing exponentially.. Until finally, unable to bear it anymore, the bodies of the affected cultivators cracked under its might, turning to a dust that disappeared in the darkness of space immediately after.. leaving Daniel to float alone.

    Once the last of these cultivators perished, the pure golden glow emitted by Daniel's eyes began to dissipate and the peculiar feeling of an aspect of existence retreated back into his body, turning him back into a normal cultivator who had just ascended into the true champion stage.

    Daniel spent the following few minutes in silence, while contemplating the nature of his newly acquired abilities, among which was the one he had just used-an evolved form of Karmic Retribution called 'Active Conscience', which at the cost of every single point of karma he had, would turn the karma of every person in the proximity, into a power that could benefit them, or destroy them. The more karma was used to activate this power, the higher was the chance of this ability being truly beneficial to those with a positive karma, or truly deadly.

    Before Daniel could fully realize that he had just spent trillions of karmic points, a voice pulled him out of this train of thoughts. "What happened? Did we escape somehow?" Asked Rose after leaving the ship, and approaching Daniel along with Cassie and the others, who shared a similar level of confusion.

    The only one who was showing more amazement than confusion was Dawn, who, by being in control of the ship's spatial formation, was sure that they hadn't moved. "D-Did you.. Kill them all?" she asked.

    "No, one of them.. He chose not to fight me, and instead used all of the power in his body to send a message outside." Said Daniel with a calm tone before looking at the spot in which, a few seconds earlier, the malformed blood cultivator was floating proudly. He then added, "Truly worthy of a champion of Sacrifice."

    Daniel could feel the confusion deepen in the minds of his companions, but before they could overwhelm him with questions, he floated towards the ship while saying, "They won't find us for a while.. But we need to prepare for when I won't be able to hide the legacy any longer.. Let's go." As he finished speaking, he closed his eyes, and formed a quest that pointed him towards the biggest, and closest source of karmic points.
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