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539 In Plain Sigh

    While he had complete faith in the Karmic system, after being told by it to simply reach the inter-dimensional portal and leave, as if there would be no opposition, or even a simple obstacle that he needed to avoid or go through, Daniel could not help it but feel perplexed. Luckily, this feeling did not last long, as Daniel's enhanced thought process only required connecting a few dots in order to match his previous guesses to what was likely going on.

    He had harassed Horror's domain for quite a while now, and he had already guessed that, sooner or later, the Monstrous Clan would either have to focus all of their attention on him, possibly calling for allies from other universes and domains.. or would simply let him leave. From what it looked like, after almost twenty failed attempts at capturing him, the Monstrous Clan had finally opted for the second option.

    Unfortunately, every one of Daniel's previous attempts at creating a way out of this universe by using his system, had failed to present a good opportunity.. Or at least, not one that did not require him to reach a level of cultivation that made him unstoppable. Now, however, that had changed. The system had found a simple way for him to escape. One where he would not have to fear the millions of true champions of Horror that were eager to put their hands on him.

    While for anyone with little to no awareness this could have been a good news, Daniel was not stupid. He knew that Horror's domain would not simply forgive his constant harassment, or allow his existence to go unnoticed in the multiverse. If they were letting him go, it was only to see him jump from the frying pan, into the fire..

    His identity as an evolved champion of Destiny was sure to spread far and wide, possibly in the whole multiverse, and that meant that he would become enemy number one wherever he would go.. A possibility that, to Daniel's own surprise, he neither feared, nor hated.

    As a slight smile formed on his lips, he remembered. The feeling that would creep down one's spine and under their skin when faced with uneven odds. The focus that only a hare that had been spotted by the hunting dogs would understand. The thrill he had felt when hiding his existence as the first dual cultivator of his world from everyone around him.. An odd form of excitement that coursed through his veins, making him look forward to his future adventures.

    Surprised by his own emotions, Daniel threw these feelings out of his mind with a quick shake of his head. He then took over the spatial formation of the ship, and effortlessly made it turn around, and head towards a direction almost opposite to the one they were heading towards only moments earlier.

    "What is going on? Why has the ship suddenly turned around?" Asked Rose with a calm tone only a couple of seconds later. A calmness that was betrayed by how she fixed her hair, and shifted her weight from one foot to the other.. Two actions that she had the habit to perform whenever she was nervous.

    Behind her were Lilith and Saha, who along with Rose, were the only ones among Daniel's current companions to not fully trust in Daniel's abilities. A lack that caused them to fail to join his group. For the past months, the three of them had felt abandoned by their other two friends, Dawn and Cassie, who had become part of Daniel's group and whom, by supporting him in every decision, had distanced themselves from the others. This feeling of abandonment had caused them to become each other's support.. A circle in which their suspicions would find enough support to at least be kept alive.

    After months, Daniel's direct and unchanging actions had become a routine for the group. Heading towards a system, eliminate the monstrous cultivator, passing out from the sudden pressure that would appear whenever a group of monstrous cultivators would appear in the distance, and waking up safe an unspecified amount of time later. That was the norm, as opposed to the sudden change of course.

    "We are leaving." Said Daniel before taking a small coin from within his pocket, and tossing it on the deck's surface. When the coin landed on its rough side, made of bronze just like its rim, it suddenly flipped around, revealing a smooth black surface that covered the other side.

    Mere moments after flipping around, the black surface of the coin lit up brightly, projecting a large upside down cone of light in mid air. Inside this cone, formed an illusory tridimensional map of the universe-One that Daniel had obtained from one of the worlds he had freed from Horror's champions.

    "What do you mean 'leaving'? They kept sending people at us for months.. What changed?" Asked Lilith with a doubtful tone.

    While looking at their position in the map, which was marked with a nearly invisible speck of white light, and the inter-dimensional portal, which was instead marked with a brighter blue orb, Daniel muttered, "It would appear that hunting us has become more costly than it is worth to Horror's domain. We are free to leave from the inter-dimensional portal.. They will not stand in our way."

    Daniel's words were received with no small degree of doubt by Rose and the others. How could Daniel possibly know the intentions of Horror's domain, when he had never left the ship?

    To create these doubts was the extremely limited knowledge that the three of them possessed regarding the powers of a champion of Destiny. The existence of an omniscient system that could accurately predict the future was beyond anything most cultivators could imagine.. Let alone a few disciples of a low level sect who had hardly ever left its grounds. Nevertheless, while they still did not trust Daniel's motives, the three of them had still seen him perform enough miracles to know that he was not simply lying.

    "Does that.. Does that mean that we can g-go back home?" Asked Saha emotionally in one of her rare utterances.

    Saha's words landed on Lilith's ears like the first rainfall of autumn on dried up soil. "We can go home!?" She asked as a faint mist formed in front of her eyes. She then looked at her companion for confirmation, but when her eyes landed on Rose's face, the enthusiasm she was feeling completely disappeared. "What is it?" She asked her more serious companion.

    Trained by her family and teacher to look at the broad picture, instead of what was right ahead, Rose had immediately realized the same thing that had occupied Daniel's thoughts for the past few minutes. "Too costly for them.. alone.." she muttered in response to Daniel's words.

    As Lilith and Saha came to understand what Rose's words meant, Daniel finally turned away from the map and towards Rose. Then, while pointing his finger initially towards her and towards Saha right after, he said, "You and her have connections to the leaders of your sect, so you must know about the multiverse's politics. If you were in the Overlord's position, how would you turn us into a problem of the entire multiverse."

    "It's not possible.. Destiny's champions are a responsibility of their domain of origin. If the others knew that Horror's domain was having trouble with.. One of your kind.. They would lay an embargo on them, isolating Horror's domain until they manage to get rid of you." Said Rose with a matter-of-fact tone. As a core disciple, she had been raised to become an elder, and among the specific teachings required to prepare her for the job, was the notions regarding how to deal with the possibility of such a sneaky existence appearing in her territory.

    "That makes no sense.. Why would they let us out, then?" asked Daniel while pensively scratching his chin.

    Rose shrugged in response. While she believed Daniel's words, she could not find a way how Horror's domain would be able to get rid of Daniel, without having to face the anger of the rest of the multiverse.

    To clear both her and Daniel's confusion, was Saha, who stopped nervously biting her lips just to say, "They might have summoned an assembly.." As she finished speaking, both Daniel and Rose turned to look at her, causing her to flinch. After noticing their desire for her to elaborate, Saha turned to look at Rose, and said, "You might not know this, because that is something even my grandpa knows little about.. But there is a sort of event that the domains use to organize and act together towards a common goal.. An Exalted Assembly."

    "What is that?" Asked Rose with a confusion that could barely hide the bitterness she was feeling due to her ignorance on the matter.

    "From what my grandpa told me.. It is a counsel of-" After a quick explanation, Saha joined her hands together, and remained quiet, waiting for both Rose and Daniel to digest the information.

    Rose was the first one to speak up. "If what you say is true, then Horror's domain is throwing away a massive portion of their universes just to denounce Daniel. Why would they do that?" She asked with no small degree of skepticism.

    While it was clear to her that Saha had a guess ready, before she could say anything, Daniel muttered through a faint smile, "They will leak the death of the Murderous God.. They are throwing away their allies, just to make me the common enemy. Ahahah!"

    "WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING?! Do you understand what that means? There won't be a corner in the multiverse where you'll be safe!" Said Rose with a matter-of-fact tone which had also relied on the shock she had felt from Daniel's sudden outburst. "You can only stay here, and hide in this universe."

    "Who said I am going to hide?" Said Daniel as his smile widened. "On my planet, they say the best hiding place is in plain sight.. Don't you think that, as the first 'champion of Karma' I should participate in this.. Exalted Assembly?" As he finished speaking, Daniel injected a portion of his power into the outdated spatial formation, upgrading it to the new level of cultivation he had reached. He then redirected all the power to increase the ship's speed, causing it to accelerate to a point where the visible stars turned into even thinner strings of light, only to be left behind immediately after.

    -----

    During the following few days, hundreds of invitations marked with Horror's stamp and distinctive power, made their way through the primal universes of the most domains, warning their leaders of the Exalted council that would take place a month after the arrival of the invitation.

    Some domains threw these invitations away in indignation, while others received it with appreciation, prideful of being part of the domains that were considered worthy of such an honor.. Yet no matter which reaction to this invitation a domain had.. None would ever dare to refuse to participate. Not because they feared Horror's domain, but because an Exalted Assembly was more than just an event in which to share information and coordinate multiversal-level cooperative efforts, but also to spy, form alliances, and if at fault, gain universes from the domain that had organized it.

    The only domains that had ignored these invitations right away, were the primal domains, which did not exist as powers that possessed a vast territory made out of several universes. Instead, since the influence of the aspects of existence that the inhabitants of a primal domain championed was omnipresent, and not something that was increased through human effort, a universe to operate was more than enough for them.

    With a solemnity that increased as the day of the event approached, the invited domains held their own selections, granting their champions the opportunity to participate in such an historical event to the quota of ten thousand champions per domain.. An opportunity that became the source of an immeasurable amount of greed and envy wherever the rumors about it would reach-and that would keep spreading through the multiverse even years after the end of the assembly.

    Each day thousands of heroes were chosen, uncountable plans were made, alliances were formed.. Until finally, in what felt like the blink of an eye, the day of the Exalted Assembly had finally arrived.

    -----

    Exactly one month after the arrival of the invitations, the universe of Order's domain, whose natural life had come to an end an uncountable number of years ago, and that was mostly empty with exception made for a single planet, and a star that had been kept alive just to supply light for it, was now full of life.

    On the lone planet that existed right in front of the inter-dimensional portal, the champions of Trade's and Commerce's domains had established their offices, and set high-end markets that displayed their domain's most valuable assets for other domains to place bulk orders on.

    In the sky, all kings of vessels, massive flying beasts, highly technological ships, palaces of starmetal, smoky platforms, and even large asteroids occupied the upper atmosphere, almost cutting off the source of light that came from the only star that had survived the natural lifespan of the universe, and that along with the planet, constituted the only surviving system in the universe.

    The streets of the one and only enormous city present on the planet were flooded with the thousands of champions of Law's domains, which were tasked with keeping a semblance of order-Be it in the streets, markets, or arenas, which were filled to the brim with spectators as the warriors of enemy domains challenged each other for honor and glory.

    Walking through one of the city's busiest streets, which was currently hosing several newly built auction houses, marketplaces, and high-end shops, were the figures of Daniel, Ashura, Rose, Dawn, and Cassie whom, among the hundreds of thousands of powerful cultivators who emanated the mark of the aspect of existence they followed, appeared like a group of lost children.
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