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21 Inevitable Conflic

    "You know how it will end.. That's why your hand is on the hilt of your sword.."

    After these last few words were spoken, a deafening silence filled the place.

    Daniel stood just three meters behind the escort, while Garth, was still facing the fire. His hand was slowly moving over the set of throwing spears that he had left on the ground.

    A faint moonlight joined the campfire into a dance of weak lights. The only noise that broke the absolute silence was the constant howling of the wind.

    *shiiiiing* *swoooooh*

    The escort's upper body twisted suddenly, following the arm's orizzontal slashing motion. The aim was parting Daniel's body from his head.

    *fwooh*

    Daniel's reaction was fast, managing to avoid the orizzontal slash by dropping on one knee. Almost at the same time, he countered by throwing a knife at the man's neck.

    *swiiiinghh* Was the sound of Stueh's sword parrying the flying dagger. The man was clearly an experienced fighter, or at least enough to notice the approaching spear at high speed.

    *fwoooooh* *swash*

    The spear clashed against the escort's sword and was thrown to the side, but the sword didn't stop. It kept slashing diagonally dowards Daniel.

    Daniel jumped on his four limbs to avoid the diagonal slash, he then twisted his body in the air and swung his sword at the man's wrist.

    Stueh abandoned the sword and threw a punch at Daniel's body which was still in mid air.

    Unfortunately, he was forced to retreat once again to avoid a second spear that had just slashed the underside of his bicep.

    All this takes long to describe, but in reality, it had happened in less than three seconds.

    The escort's arm was bleeding, but the injury wasn't serious. He had underestimated the old man's speed and precision in throwing spears, but more than anything, he had underestimated Daniel.

    Considering Daniel's age, he believed him to be a cunning teenager at the second rank of martial cultivation. But after finding himself on the wrong side of his throwing knife, he realized that Daniel's strength wasn't any lower than the old man's.

    He was planning to fight seriously from now on.

    He lowered his upper body lightly and reached for the inner parts of his boots with his hands.

    *shiiing*

    From them, he unsheathed two fighting knives. These knives had two sharpened edges which joined into a very sharp point. The blade was thin, and one could see how a slash from one of these knives could separate a part of your body from another.

    Complete silence reigned once again..

    On Garth's hands two short spears were ready to be thrown at any moment. The rest of the spears were once again strapped to his back.. his feet moved slowly, pacing in big circles around the escort position.

    Stueh moved his body in a way that could allow him to keep track of both enemies from the corners of his eyes.

    Daniel's eyes were glued at Stueh's hands. He noticed how the fingertips of his right hand were pinching the handle of the knife.. His worries had been confirmed the very next moment.

    Garth wanted to reach the opposite side, and try to divide Stueh's attention into two, like he would have done while hunting for a beast. Unfortunately, that was a mistake. Fighting an experienced fighter was completely different from fighting a ranked beast.

    The moment the two had surrounded the escort, his body rapidly moved.

    He turned towards Garth, completely ignoring Daniel, which was standing behind him. His left hand moved rapidly, deflecting the sudden spear that was flying towards him at high speed, and with his other hand, he threw one of his knives at Garth.

    Daniel knew that, at some point, Garth would have been in imminent danger. So he waited until the very last moment, and as Stueh was about to throw his dagger, a thin blade came slashing the back of his hand.

    The damage wasn't enough to stop him, but it made him miss the correct trajectory that would have certainly killed Garth.

    As Stueh's knife flew, Daniel dashed towards him with his sword in hand. He reached the escort's back in just a moment, but as he was about to slash with his sword, an upright stab came from the left side of Stueh's body.

    The knife dug into flesh and got stuck into something solid. Stueh didn't think twice before letting go of the knife and twist his body to the right. His muscular right arm was tense as he swiped it horizontally at the height of Daniel's head.

    *Glish*

    What he expected to feel was the crushing of bones and splatter of brains when met against his powerful fist, but what he felt instead, was a disgusting noise of cut flesh which accompained a sharp pain coming from his right arm.

    He turned around rapidly, and his eyes opened wide in shock at the sight that was presented before him.

    Daniel's back was slightly bent forward as if he had received a strong punch in the stomach. At his waist's height, a grey hand which resembled stone was clutched around the sharpened part of his knife.. a few drops of blood dripped down his fingers. His other hand was holding his sword.

    What shocked him the most, was the blood dripping from the blade of Daniel's sword. It was at that moment that he looked down, and he noticed it.. his right arm had been cut cleanly off his body and was resting at Daniel's feet.

    "AAAAAARGHHHH!!! YOU BASTARD!! I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU!!" Shouted Stueh crazily.

    Daniel ignored him completely and looked past him. On the other side, Garth was clutching his bleeding forearm, on which Stueh's thrown knife had dug deeply.

    Moments later, the tents started to open slowly. The rest of the party had heard the shouts and had come out to check what had happened.

    "What is going on here?!" Inquired Legoh, which was the first one to leave his tent.

    The next voice came from the entrance of another tent, and it was Sella's "Are we under attack?!"

    He said while rushing out of his tent, bow in hand.

    "THOSE BASTARDS! they.. THEY ATTACKED ME OUT OF THE BLUE!!" Tried to explain Stueh while clutching his bloody stump.

    "What?!" Said Legoh as a stupefied expression grew on his face. He then grabbed the handle of his greatsword.

    At that moment, Fiora left her tent as well.

    An arrow was nocked in Sella's bow, and his fingers pinched the string tightly. He was ready to draw at a moment's notice.

    "He is lying.. he was heading to the mage's tent in the middle of the night.." Said Garth between grunts. His arm still bleeding copiously.

    "I WANTED TO QUESTION HER!!" Barked Stueh viciously.

    A voice was heard coming from behind the group. Yala, the mage, had just left her tent and had joined in the conversation. "Swear a Ki oath that you are telling the truth.." She said seriously.

    A Ki oath was no joke. In order to swear a ki oath, one needed to use their ki to nurture their spirit, as if they were practicing spiritual cultivation. But the thing about spiritual cultivation, was that it  required the practitioner's spirit to be completely calm. People's emotions were born from their minds, but what they affected, was the spirit. An emotion would always make one's spirit waver.

    A wavering spirit wasn't something dangerous, after all, everyone felt strong emotions at any moment in their lives without any consequence. What was dangerous, was trying to nurture a wavering spirit. Trying to connect a wavering spirit with the immense calmness of the spiritual plane would injure one's spirit, which if continued for long, would then shatter and dissipate.

    Prisoners, enslaved practitioners, dying spiritual cultivators that didn't wish to suffer during the last moments of their lives.. Countless people within the infinite flow of time had taken their own lives with this method. It was through the constant loss of lives that the mages of old, had created various methods to chain one's spirit to the body, in order to prevent slaves or prisoners from commiting suicide.

    A similar result could be seen when cultivating one's body. If one cultivated their body with a wavering spirit, their emotions would grow stronger and deeper, to a point when they would backlash and damage their minds, and in the long run, would turn them crazy.

    In order for an oath to be deemed valid, one needed to receive a neutral person's ki and use it to cultivate. The third person would then verify that the ki was in fact being used to cultivate, and if there were no negative reactions to the swearing person's body, the oath would be considered valid.

    It was a simple way to verify if one's claims were truthful or not.

    Stueh's teeth gritted at the mention of the 'ki oath'. He didn't expect for someone that knew of such a method to be here. This method was mostly used by the military and other powerful forces to verify the loyalty of their members, or the truthfulness of their reports.

    Yala rapidly explained to the group how a ki oath worken, she then looked at the wounded escort and continued "You claimed that they attacked you first.. so you should swear first.."

    After earning the agreement of everybody present, she started heading towards Stueh. The usual procedure was to place one's hand on the practitioner's back for the entire duration of the oath.. but when she moved within Stueh's arm reach, his uninjured arm flashed as fast as lightning.

    The next moment, Yala's back was pressed against Stueh's chest, and around her neck, his strong hand was wrapped tightly.

    "One move and i'll snap her neck!" Stueh growled hatefully. He had been cornered one too many times.

    The eyes of everybody present grew hostile towards Stueh. They now understood who was telling the truth.

    The only one who was calm was Daniel. He had been the only one to notice a small detail.. Yala didn't appear to be scared.

    Sella pointed his bow at Stueh, but he didn't dare to draw.. Legoh's grip to his greatsword's handle tightened while Fiora's hands reached for the bolas hung to her waist.

    "I WON'T SAY IT AGAIN!! *cough* Move.. and she *cough* dies." Stueh started to feel strange..

    A deep cold was seeping through his body.. his severed arm had stopped bleeding and his stump's color had started to darken. The moment he noticed that something was wrong, his fingers were already too rigid to tighten around the girls neck. His complexion turned paler by the second, and whenever he coughed, his saliva felt like crushed ice in his mouth.

    *pop* *pop*

    Yala's delicate hands grabbed Stueh's fingers, and after applying a bit of pressure, two clear popping sounds could be heard. She had freed herself by snapping Stueh's frozen fingers off of his hand.

    "P-pleashe.. *cough* don.." Tried to beg Sewah, but due to the frozen state of his body, he was unable to talk.

    Yala pressed her small hand against Stueh's chest, and kept forcing ice essence into it. After no more than ten seconds, every liquid within his body had been turned into ice. The last thing Stueh felt before dying, was the feeling of his blood freezing inside his veins.

    Once dead, Yala retreated her hand. She then bowed deeply towards Daniel and Garth "I was aware of his intentions since the moment I joined the party.." She said to Daniel, then while looking at both, she continued "Thank you for protecting me."

    -----

    *Just a Wandering Hero*

    Second objective completed.

    Reward: 700 Karma Points / Golden Cauldron reputation +50%

    -----

    "Woah, saving that girl was worth 50% of a group's reputation?? I wonder who she is.. You've scored big here!" Sewah's voice resounded within Daniel's mind.

    Daniel nodded at her slightly, then walked towards Garth "You alright, old man?.." Said Daniel.

    "Don't call me old man, you little monster.. just call me Garth" Responded Garth without missing a beat. His voice turned fainter as he continued "Thank you.."
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