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5 Mishap Turned into Blessing

    The sudden death of the Shadow Tracker, had left Daniel worried to say the least. He expected that the crocodile would turn its attention back on him at any moment, so in his mind, dozens of ideas on how to escape were made and discarded.

    What he did not expect, was for the Yellow-striped Caiman to collapse on the ground. Fresh blood oozed from its injuries, which were way more severe than Daniel had thought.

    For a few long minutes, the crocodile stood still. Its large belly pressed on the ground, and its leathery eyelids blinked slower the more time passed.

    When Daniel noticed how the swelling of the big crocodile's chest turned slower and gentler, he understood that it didn't have much to live. It took him a few seconds to gather the courage to crawl out of the nest of sticks and roots that protected him.

    His eyes directed at the crocodile with hostility and a still lingering fear. He had risked his life more than once because of this beast. It would have killed him more than once, had he made a single mistake.

    The longer Daniel stood in front of the dying crocodile, the less fearful he felt. He thought about how his sister would have been worried sick about him missing, about how she would be unable to pay the next installment of their debt.. how she would have ended in the hands of that disgusting man, which would have used her, and then forced her into prostitution.. or worse. His anger grew by the minute. He didn't know much about beasts, but even though he was fairly sure the beast did not have long to live, he was unwilling to bet on it.

    As this thought crossed his mind, he grabbed a large rock with both hands, approached the giant crocodile, and bashed it over its skull.

    *Thump*

    The rock hit the head of the crocodile hard enough for its flesh to flatten, and its scales to cave in. Daniel's anger grew bigger after the first hit. He didn't know why such a powerful beast would follow him for hours.. he wanted it dead.

    *Thump* *Thump* *Thump*

    The crocodile's skull started to chip and splinter under the bloody mess that was once a layer of durable scales.

    *Thump* *Thump* *Thump* *Thum-cruh* *Crr-squelch* *Squash* *Squash* *Squash*

    Blood and brain matter flew everywhere, as Daniel brought the large stone down against the crocodile's large skull.. over and over again. Before he could notice, he was covered in thick blood. Pieces of brain and flesh were spattered over his arms, chest and face. The stone was so deeply sunken into the Yellow-striped Caiman's head, that in order to get it out, he would need to tuck his hands inside the small pool of blood and gore inside its skull and pull.

    Daniel sat on the ground. His lungs swelling and deflating at an astonishing rate, as he looked at his blood covered hands. The first thing he tried to do, was to clean them by brushing them over his clothes, but since his clothes were also drenched in blood and brain matter, that was of little use.

    After calming his mind, Daniel got up and looked at his surroundings. When his eyes met with the Shadow Tracker's body, his face turned into one of relief. He was afraid of that beast, but it happened that this panther had saved his life, so he didn't feel any hate towards it.

    Daniel was standing, trying to calculate the direction, when something caught his attention. No further than two meters from the giant crocodile's head, an egg sized pearl was resting on the ground.

    The pearl was covered in blood, with small pieces of brain matter stuck on its surface, and splattered all around it. Daniel would have never noticed it if not for the dim glow it emitted, which was made dimmer by the gory coating.

    Daniel didn't know much about ranked beasts, since he had lived all its life inside the city walls, and went out only to scam rich merchants into hiring him as a tour guide, he was unfamiliar with high ranking beas cores. Of course, that didn't mean that he had never seen one of a lower level. The various marketplaces weren't only places for common citizens to buy pottery, clothes or other items of common use. In fact, most of them had a vast choice of weaponry, armory, elixirs and even beast cores.

    When he was a kid his father had teached him that cultivators were able to use beast cores to strengthen their own bodies. A practitioner of the Martial Cultivation would absorb the core essence and turn it into Ki. The ki would then be used to refine the various parts of the cultivator's physical body, as opposed to cultivators of the Spiritual Cultivation, who turned the core essence into mana. Differently from Ki, Mana could be used to strengthen the cultivator's connection of his spirit with the Spiritual Plane, which would allow them the use of elements, illusions and various other kinds of magic.

    Becoming a practitioner of both types of cultivation was impossible, as Ki reinforced the practitioner's body to a point where it would become a cage for the spirit. Trying to connect the spirit to the spiritual plane at that point, would be like trying to push the end of a thread through a steel wall.

    Daniel had only heard from his father about Martial cultivation, as he himself was a practitioner, as member of the Karalis's army. He wasn't aware, though, about the reason why practitioners of the Spiritual cultivation couldn't strengthen the body afterwards.

    What a practitioner of the spirit would tell him, is that the spirit isn't bound to any part of the body. A person's spirit would extend to the entire body. Laws of space didn't matter for the spirit, which had no need to reach a determined place to connect to the spiritual plane. The spiritual plane was wherever the spirit was, so the entire connection between the two was the practitioner's body.

    If the body was too resistant, the spiritual plane would be cut off from the spirit, making it impossible to connect the two.

    The critical point was the peak of the third rank.

    At the peak of the third rank, the body was not durable enough to cage the spirit, so most practitioners had to choose which path of cultivation to follow, before advancing to the fourth rank. One example of this were the captains of the guards, which having cultivated to the fourth rank of martial cultivation, were unable to use magic.

    Daniel didn't know the first thing about absorbing beast cores. Losing his parents at a young age and the responsability of keeping himself and his sister free, had forced him to grow up earlier, and work for the past four years, so he had never had a chance to go to school. Nonetheless, he was fiercely intelligent. With the first few copper coins that he managed to save, he bought books and clothes for his sister. She was two years older than him, and he made sure that she could go to school.

    Before their mothers died, he had promised her that he would have worked hard, taken care of his sister, and done all he could to prevent his sister from losing all prospects of building a good life for herself.

    His expression while making that promise, was so determined that his mother believed in it, without the shred of a doubt.

    The egg sized orb that rested on the ground, for Daniel, meant more opportunities for himself and his sister.

    One should know that a ranked beast core's price would increase exponentially depending on the rank. A rank 1 core could be sold for ten silver coins, which was what he would require to pay every month to his creditor. A rank 2 core would be sold for one gold coins, which was equivalent to a hundred silver coins, and finally, a rank 3 beast core would be sold for fifteen gold coins, which was double of what he owed to the hotel owner.

    Daniel had seen rank 2 beast cores, so, after noticing the difference in sizes, he could guess that it was a rank 3 core.

    "HA HA HA HA HA!"

    A loud laugh bursted out from his lungs. If one were to see daniel now, he would believe him to have gone crazy. His face was one of joy, and the loud laugh resounded for hundreds of meters.. yet two big teardrops were streaming down his bloody face, and he laughed with a heavy heart.

    He had always been so worried about not being able to keep himself and his sister free.. for four long years. And yet, now he had enough for both of them to live a comfortable life.

    It took Daniel a few minutes to calm down. He had felt the warmth of his tears all the way down his chin. His first instinct was to brush his face with his hands, but that only made him cover his cheeks back in red, as his hands were still covered in blood.

    After noticing the blood still on his hands, he crouched on the ground and brushed his hands against the grass. He was far from the pond, so he was unable to wash his clothes, not to say that he wouldn't do that even if he could. He didn't know if there was another crocodile waiting underwater, and he wasn't willing to end up like the rabbit.

    After fixing his hair and brushing the pieces of brain and flesh off his clothes, he got up and started to walk towards the beast core.

    He never felt as exhausted as he was right now, and couldn't wait to get back to his sister and show the core to her. Dozens of thoughts were forming in his head. Thoughts like having a giant feast with his sister, buying her all the clothes she wanted, or even learn how to cultivate.

    "Maybe it isn't too late for me to go to school.." thought Daniel happily as his hand reached for the core. "I could use sis's old book an-"

    *thump*

    The exact moment in which daniel's hand touched the beast core, the dark gold light in his pupils shone, and he fell unconscious.

    A comical scene with no witness, was taking place in the middle of the forest. A young man laid with his face pressed on the ground and his arms stretched to his sides. His knees dug lightly against the ground, while his hips were lifted. If someone were to see Daniel now, they would believe he was trying to imitate a caterpillar. Hadn't been there a bloody battle just a few minutes ago, even the trees would start laughing at the funny scene.

    In his palm laid the egg sized beast core.

    Time passed slowly. Two hours had gone by already, while Daniel kept laying on the ground until.. "Nngh..ghh" A soft groan could be heard.

    Daniel's arms moved back near his chest, his palm flattened against the ground before pushing his upper body up. His face had pebbles stuck on the skin, and a blade of grass had entered his mouth when he had fallen into unconsciousness.

    The first thing Daniel did was look around.. His state of mind turned from being annoyed to total anxiousness. He couldn't find the beast core.

    He searched and searched for nearly an hour, but the dimly brightness of the beast core was nowhere to be seen.

    In a surge of exasperation, he lifted his arms and brought them down against the ground like hammers.

    *BOOM*

    A could of dirt and dust was lifted all around Daniel. His fists, which came down like meteors, and left two small craters on the ground. It took Daniel no time to remember how, the last thing he did before passing out, was to touch the spirit core,

    He started to think about how it was possible for the beast core to disappear, and for his strength to increase that much. He then made a wild guess..

    "Did I.. absorb the core??".
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