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540 Champion of Karma

    Primary universe of Horror's domain, four days earlier.

    After almost a month of uninterrupted travel, Daniel's ship finally approached its destination, which from the current distance, appeared like a glaring light of a light blue color. The closer the ship came to this light, however, the dimmer it became.. until finally, it revealed what appeared to be a planet-sized mirror of water surrounded by a ring of starmetal- A construction that most would have been able to recognize as an interdimensional portal.

    From his previous experience with the portal of Competition's domain, Daniel had learned that these stable and extremely ancient rifts were the only known pathway that allowed people to travel from one stable universe to another. As such, they were a natural hub for information sharing, communication and commerce, as well as house to the offices that regulated the transit of millions of cultivators each week.

    Due to their importance, these portals were usually extremely well guarded, sporting the strongest entities and clans of each domain as their protectors.. Or at least, that was the case for Competition's domain.

    By the time Daniel had come this close to the portal of Competition's domain, he had already been able to sense tens of thousands of ships traveling back and forth from the area.. But that was not the same form the portal that appeared in front of him. To his surprise, as well as that of his companions, Daniel had failed to sense a single living being, no matter how far away he tried to extend his sensing abilities. Even the planet located right next to the portal, that was lit up all year round and usually full of life, was now dark and uninhabited.

    "What.. the hell.." muttered Rose with a dumbfounded expression.

    Just as surprised, Dawn turned to look at Daniel, who was standing on the helm of the ship, and staring at the portal with narrowed eyes, and said, "I know you've said we would be able to easily go through the portal.. But I wasn't expecting this."

    More suspicious than confused, Daniel closed his eyes, and once again summoned the system window on which were written the instructions that he had been following until now. He wanted to make sure that this was not a trap made with the use of another champion of Destiny, the only entity capable of changing the course of history predicted by his system.. However, as he read through the window's text, his mind was put at ease by the realization that nothing had changed.

    "The plan doesn't change. We leave." He said before resuming his journey.

    It was not difficult for Daniel to imagine why Horror's domain would let him leave their domain freely. In fact, being allowed to leave did nothing but confirm Daniel's suspicions regarding the intentions of the Overlord of Horror's domain.. He had indeed decided to make a public enemy out of him.. Letting him leave Horror's territory was the only way to prevent his domain from taking responsibility for Daniel's survival, as well as avoid turning their territory into the hunting ground of the other domains.

    Not sure whether Daniel's confidence could be trusted, Rose hugged her own chest defensively. She knew that, as the primary universe of Horror's domain, the entities that should have protected this portal were much more powerful than the ones they had escaped from in the universe she was native of, but since she did not have Daniel's certainty, she could not help but but feel nervous. Similar thoughts were occupying the minds of Dawn and the others, who were expecting thousands of cultivators to suddenly come out of their hiding place in the dark side of the planet, and attempt a last minute capture.. But that never happened.

    The ship kept approaching the portal undisturbed for several hours, until finally, it reached the edge of solidified space.. Inside which the control of spatial essence was severely limited, if not impossible for most cultivators.

    The closer the ship came to this area of solidified space, the more Rose and the others felt reassured about the fact that, for how odd it seemed, the portal had indeed been left completely unattended.

    This sense of reassurance, however, was destroyed the very moment the ship breached the outer layer of the solidified area, after which a powerful voice that seemed to come from every direction at the same time, and that was capable of piercing straight into their spirit of those who heard it, announced, "An Exalted Assembly is in progress. Anyone found leaving or entering the universe will be exterminated. This warning will not be repeated." This voice was fueled by the full power of a true champion of Horror, and as it struck the ears of Rose and the others, it caused them to drop on their knees, with goosebumps covering their arms, and cold sweats oozing out of their pores.

    "Is this normal practice?" Daniel asked Saha, who was the only one who seemed to have any kind of information regarding this rare event. His voice was charged with the calming effects of his mental power, which quickly dispelled the crippling and horrifying pressure that was weighing on the hearts and minds of those who heard it.

    Saha slowly stood up, and after regaining her composure, she shrugged in response. What she knew about the Exalted Assemblies was only what her grandfather, the elder of an unranked family of Competition's domain, had decided to share with her. But, alas, even her grandfather did not know everything.. After all, even though he had lived long enough to hear of several such events, he had never participated, let alone organized one.

    Unable to obtain an answer to his question, Daniel once again checked the current state of his mission to make sure that nothing had changed-After which, the confusion present on his face was replaced by a relaxed smile. Now sure that no harm would come to him in this universe, he regained control over the ship, and after making a few slight modifications to its formation, he shot through the solidified space, past the gloomy and abandoned planet, and straight into the ocean-like surface of the portal, creating a single ripple which propagated in every direction, and only stopped the moment it touched the metallic edge.

    -----

    The experience of interdimensional travel was nothing like what Daniel had ever experienced before.. Be it traveling at superluminal speed, going through time, spatial portals, or even mental teleportation. He had always been able to feel a degree of connection to nature or mana wherever he went, but as the ship went through the portal, he felt detached from reality, almost as if the very existence of space had been turned inside out. This feeling only lasted a few moments, after which the ship emerged from the other side of the portal, revealing a sight that forced its passengers to open their eyes wide in shock.

    The place in which the group appeared was the exact opposite of a conventional universe. An infinite expanse of white, with small black orbs in the distance that instead of reaching outwards with light, projected a darkness that Daniel had only seen in the depths of collapsed space. The word nothingness could not even begin to describe how cold, empty, and somber these dark stars were.

    To distract Daniel and the others from thinking over their first impression of this place, were the thousands of ships and cultivators that flashed past them, heading someplace to their left. When Daniel and the others turned to look where all of these cultivators were going, they noticed that, behind the ship, was an endless wall that extended in every direction with no apparent end in sight. This wall was not a simple solid surface, but instead, a construction formed by uncountable interdimensional portals, all stacked together like the pods of a honeycomb.

    Most of the portals in sight, just like the one from which Daniel and the others had just come out of, appeared like calm mirrors of water, identical to their other side.. While some others were either closed by a thin gelatinous layer, or appeared as pits of eternal darkness. It did not take long for Daniel to guess that these three different kinds of portals represented the open universes, the ones that had yet to open to the multiverse, and finally, the collapsed universes.

    "So, this is the Trigate.." Daniel muttered while turning to look at Saha, who was covering her eyes and shrieking in disgust, deeply disturbed by the appearance of what was in front of her. Cassie was behaving in a similar way, but thanks to her boosted capabilities, she was able to somewhat get used to the horrific sight. Luckily, Rose and the others did not seem to share this phobia, and simply looked at their surroundings with amazement.

    When Daniel turned to look back at the Trigate, he realized that, somewhere on this endless wall, was a portal that could lead him to his universe. However, that was not where he was headed. He had left his people behind because of the danger posed by only a portion of a lower domain.. He could hardly imagine the degree of danger he would bring to his people if the entire multiverse learned about their connection to him.

    What Daniel needed the most right now, was to gather information. He needed to know whether Horror's domain would make a target out of him, and if that was the case, which domains would show interest in his capture, and what kind of powers he would have to face.. But most importantly, he needed to learn how the multiverse worked.

    Aware of what he needed to do, Daniel focused the majority of his mental fortitude into removing any of these distracting thoughts from his head. Then, before the desire to see his family could come back stronger than before, he steered the ship towards the direction where all the other ships and cultivators were heading, and after giving the right command, he shot in the distance.

    -----

    Portal to Order's domain, ten hours later.

    After an excruciating wait in a seemingly never-ending procession of odd ships, Daniel and the others were finally able to reach the interdimensional portal of the universe that everyone was hurrying towards.. A portal which they were able to go through without a problem.

    When Daniel's crew emerged on the other side, they suddenly felt the familiar surface of the ship's hull disappear from underneath their feet. Before any of them could react, however, their bodies landed safely on a stone pavement.. It did not take long for them to notice that they were not standing on Daniel's ship anymore, but inside an extremely large and empty room.

    Surrounded by the room's cold metallic walls, and globes of light that floated around in circles, stood a middle aged man in heavy armor. On his face was a well kept grizzled beard, which he uncomfortably stroked against the chest piece of his armor as he looked down at the clipboard he was holding.

    "NEXT." He said with a domineering tone, making no effort to hide the irritation he was feeling.

    Daniel briefly looked at his companions, who shrugged with confusion without saying a word. He then approached the grizzled man with a steady pace, stopping just a few steps away from him.

    "Go on." said the man, showing how little patience he had left.

    "I am the first champion of a new domain. I am afraid you will have to tell me what you need me to do." Said Daniel while straightening his back, and looking directly into the man's eyes.

    The guard lifted his head, and looked back at Daniel with curiosity.. but the moment his eyes landed on Daniel's golden pupils, his heart skipped a beat, and he felt the immense desire to fall on his knees, and prostrated himself to Daniel's presence.

    This man was a leading champion of Law's domain.. A mid level domain that, instead of taking part in politics and wars, was subjected to the domain of Order, under which they would maintain peace as security for these types of large events. As a being devoted to law first, and order next, when this man had perceived the nature of the aspect of existence contained within Daniel, he had felt an unspeakable feeling of reverence-Almost as if the aspect of existence that Daniel championed had a fair claim towards the allegiance of Law's domain..

    This feeling, however, did not last long. Daniel's immediate attempt to hide his nature, as well as the vast cultivation of the grizzled man, allowed the latter to shake these feelings out of his mind. Once back to his senses, the man looked at Daniel with a significantly higher degree of respect, and said, "Apologies for my rude behavior. I only need to record your name, and to which domain you belong."

    Daniel took no offence towards the man's rude behavior, and after a polite nod, he said, "Dan.. champion of Karma's domain."
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