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25 Achieving Perfection

    The moment the big boulder was moved aside, Daniel went into hiding.

    One rock after the other started to roll down the pile, as the figure of the Commnader Steel-back Scorpion crawled out of it.

    Its body was a complete wreck. The thick tail was broken in three parts and dangled without control, the side of his waist had been smashed, and the scorpion had been forced to rip that part of his body altogether, along with the leg connected to it, in order to free itself. Huge chunks of white meat dripped out of the impressive looking injury.

    After Daniel was looking at the scorpion's conditions, he noticed a couple of moving legs hooking onto the pile of boulders, and dragging the body of the centipede out of it.

    The centipede wasn't in better conditions when compared to the scorpion, in fact, it seemed to be faring worse. While the scoprion's body was compact and resistant, the centipede's many thin legs which spanned almost ten meters each, were not as resistant, and even if it didn't die from the fall, it still couldn't avoid losing all of its legs but four.

    It could still crawl, but the scorpion's poison had taken effect long ago. Without an external intervention, the centipede would die soon, and the scorpion will be able to consume its core and recover.

    The two beasts started to weakly attach eachother once again. The centipede tried to pierce the scorpion's body with its remaining legs, while the scorpion tried to smash the centipede's body with the only part of his body that was left unharmed.. its only arm. Each attack did little damage, but Daniel could still feel the ground under his feet tremble under the pressure of the mighty blows.

    There was no doubt in Daniel's mind that allowing the scorpion to recover meant sure death for him. Daniel started to look for a way to finish the heavily injured scorpion, and after looking around for awhile, he had an idea.

    He suddenly dropped on his knees and pressed one hand against stone, and one against the soft soil. He then focused on the feeling of the earth essence, and for a moment, he lost himself into that feeling.

    A few long second passed, before a faint earthquake made the ground shake once more, but this time, the earthquake hadn't been caused by the two battling beasts.

    From the rocky ground in front of Daniel, a bunch of small sized rocks started to converge. They formed a small pile that increased in size at each moment, only stopping after they reached the height of two and a half meters.

    These piled up rocks stopped piling up, but kept moving, while still remaining attached together, they started to shift into specific positions.

    Soft soil made its way from underneath Daniel's feet, joining the moving pile of stones, and filling the empty spaces between shifting rocks.

    The stones and ground took the shape of a rudimentary golem. This was one of the elementals which Daniel had learned how to summon from one of the books he had found within the belongings of the bandit mage.

    The golem described in the manual of summoning should have resembled the summoner completely, but that was only at the stage of mastery. This had been the first time Daniel had summoned an elemental, and the final product was a humanoid giant made out of stones and soil.

    If Daniel had had enough practice with -Fire Element: Flaming Whisp- he could have tried to summon a lava elemental similar to the one the bandit mage used.

    Daniel unshethed his sword and stayed in hiding. He wanted to finish off the scorpion, but he had no intention of going against two rank 4 beasts at once, even if injured.

    It didn't take long before the Commander Steel-back Scorpion clawed the remaining four legs of the centipede and ripped them off one by one, leaving it helpless with hundreds of bloody stumps.

    Uncapable of moving, the centipede could do nothing but squirm and wait for the scorpion to finish him off.

    Without missing a beat, the scorpion raised his only remaining arm, and smashed his big claw against the centipede's back at full strength, right where he had puctured it with his aculeus. The centipede's body split in half, and gooey green paste flew in every direction for tens of meters.

    The moment the scorpion dropped in front of the centipede's body, right as he was about to shove its face into its insides and recover the centipede's core, a sharp throwing dagger hit the broken part of its dangling tail, and cut it off completely.

    The scorpion let out a shrill cry and turned towards Daniel. It then bent its knee and propelled itself against him at an amazing speed.

    Daniel saw the body of the commander scorpion gliding above the ground while approaching him, and for a moment, he thought he was done for. But before the beast could reach him, a big stone golem dropped from above a large boulder and nailed the scorpion's body on the ground just a few meters before Daniel.

    The scorpion felt the hit, but that wasn't nearly enough to finish it off. It managed to pick itself up with its leg as if he was covered in soft sand, but that was enough time for Daniel.

    While the dying beast was pushing itself up with its remaining claws, Daniel rushed at him at full speed and slashed at its shoulder vertically.

    Normally, a rank 3 warrior could hardly injure a rank 4 beast, but this was no normal attack. If one could look closely, they would notice a thin blue light shine through the edge of Daniel's sword.

    Daniel had learned this sword skill right before departing for the hunting grounds. The skill's name was 'Splitting Ki', and Daniel had spent a good part of the previous night practicing it.

    The slash had left a lingering thread of blue light wherever the blade passed, and luckily, it didn't stop when it enountered the hard shell of the scorpion, detaching its arm from the rest of its body.

    The scorpion, which was still trying to free itself from the soft ground and rocks, let out the loudest of the screams he had let out so far. Daniel felt his eardrums about to burst and panicked. He let go of his sword and covered his bleeding ears with both hands.

    Too weak to fight back, the dying scorpion gave its all with a final screaching screem, hoping that Daniel would choose retreat. The scream was so loud, that at a certain point Daniel couldn't take it anymore, and its eardrums finally ruptured.

    Under an immense amount of pain, Daniel decided to give up protecting his ears and instead, grabbed two knives from the sheaths strapped to its thigh, and used the second skill he had learned, 'Through Stone and Steel' to stab them into the screaming head of the scorpion.

    The pointy ends of the knives shined with blue light and perforated swiftly into the scorpion's human-like head. The hit was effective, but unfortunately, it didn't finish the struggling scorpion. The screeching sound kept going as Daniel picked his sword from the ground, and after focusing all his remaining ki on the edge of the blade, he used 'Splitting Ki' once again to decapitate it.

    Only after the scorpion's head rolled on the ground, the sonic attack finally ended.

    Daniel's face was purple red at this point. He could barely keep himself from falling on his knees, and his ears were bleeding profusely. He felt like he had been hit in the head with a sledgehammer and couldn't help but feel like he could vomit the entire contents of his stomach at any moment.

    Daniel was about to fall unconscious, but before he could drop on the ground, a soft layer of cool soil wrapped around his legs. Daniel couldn't move on its own, so he needed the support of the stone golem. He slowly walked towards the Scorpion's body and sticked his entire arm inside the large hole left by its missing leg.

    There were no bones, nor muscles.. The scorpions insides were completely made out of a fatty white liquid that held no resistance against Daniel's arms. Daniel pulled out handful after handful of gooey paste, and after reaching the contents of the beast's chest, he finally felt a solid bead-like object with his hand.

    He rapidly took the bead-like core out of the scorpion's carcass, cleaned it with his shirt, and observed it carefully. There were no major differences between a rank 3 and a rank 4 beast core, except for one.

    The density of color of a rank 3 beast core was dense, almost opaque, while a beast core of the fourth rank resembled more a transparent bead filled with dense smoke.

    Daniel felt the terrifying beast essence contained within the beast core, and realized that its purity wasn't nearly comparable to that of a rank 3 beast, but of course, he expected that much.

    Reaching a different major stage wasn't didn't simply grant a quantitative change to one's essence, but also a qualitative one.

    Daniel pocketed the rank 4 core and walked slowly towards the centipede's body. Luckily, the beasts thorax had been smashed into pieces, so finding the beast core wasn't as hard.

    By looking up towards the big hole on the roof, Daniel could guess that various hours had passed since he had fallen into that sinkhole.

    He had good reason to believe that, even if the head hunter agreed to send a searching squad to look for him, they would most certainly wait for the morning after, as beasts became relentless during the night.

    Also, the head hunter couldn't force anyone to go look for him, and even if a good pay was offered, nobody would risk their lives to find a bronze hunter, which had fallen into a hole in the ground alongside two rank 4 beasts.

    Daniel's only option, right now, was to cultivate and recover.

    For the following minutes, Daniel forced all the remaining spiritual essence within his body out and turned it into earth essence. He summoned the stone golem once more, and ordered it to wrap around his body. He then let go of the control over the earth essence, and the stone cover became a solid cavern that surrounded him completely.

    He finally fell on his behind, and with a few painful movements he sat in a lotus position. In his hands, were the two rank 4 beasts cores.

    Daniel calmed his state of mind, and after activating 'Time is Precious' he started to cultivate.

    His aim was, of course, to reach perfection within the third rank, so instead of pushing for a breakthrough, he guided the beast essence into refining his body once again.

    A few minutes into the cultivation, and Daniel realized how difficult controlling the pure essence was. No matter how much he focused, a good half of the beast essence would end up wandering inside his body without control, and consequently ended up being absorbed by his spirit.

    -----

    seconds turned into minutes, and minutes turned into hours. Until suddenly, five days had passed.

    While lost in his cultivation, Daniel hadn't noticed that the injuries on his body had long disappeared, and the two beast cores were now a fifth of the sizes they had been before. Something else he hadn't realized were the changes within his body. His muscles, bones, blood vessels and organs, were stronger than ever, and almost on par with a rank 4 warrior.. His spirit had evolved as well, in fact, it had become so dense that it could hardly be distinguished from his physical body.

    What was strange, was that his powerful body, which radiated pure ki, was in no way an obstacle for his dense spirit.. It felt like they had been made for one another.

    Daniel's focus had been interrupted abruptly by the familiar and intrusive appearence of a window within his mind.

    -----

    *You Can't Do Good Without Strength!*

    First objective completed.

    Reward: 1500 Karma Points

    -----

    *Primary Quest started: You Can't Do Good Without Strength!*

    -Description: Obtain enough power to protect those in need.

    Second objective set: Cultivate to the "Surrounding Awareness" of the martial cultivation, or the "Profound Spiritual Synchronization" of the spiritual cultivation.

    Optional: Reach "perfection" before breaking through the next stage.

    Reward: Karma +5000(+10,000)

    Time limit: 1 year and 6 months(2 years)

    -----

    After Daniel finished reading the content of the two windows, he felt estatic. He immediately focused on his profile, and a new window appeared within his mind.

    -----

    Dan Hiel - Karmic system's wielder.

    Age - 14

    Rank

    - Peak rank 3 of Martial cultivation (Perfect Body)

    - Peak rank 3 of Spiritual cultivation (Perfect Connection)

    Karma - 1602

    -----

    Weapons Masteries (Details)

    Martial Arts (Details)

    Skills (Details)

    Spells (Details)

    -----

    Reap What You've Sown

    Time Is Precious Lv.1

    System Upgrades (Details)

    -----
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