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41 Inhibitory Runes

    Daniel kept cultivating for the rest of the evening, and when the two rank 4 beast cores had disappeared from his hands, two hours later, he had consumed six hundred karma points.

    "Woah.. I should be careful when using the second level of 'Time is Precious'". He thought.

    As Daniel was in the middle of his thoughts, his two old teachers appeared within his room.

    They both wore satisfied expressions, as they had found Daniel cultivating instead of wasting his time like many talented individuals did.

    Daniel noticed them immediately. He rose up to his feet, and greeted them with a light bow "Greetings teachers." He said.

    The old master-at-arms looked at Daniel and responded "Sorry to interrupt you. We have come here to talk to you about something.." after a brief pause, he continued. "For the next few weeks, it would be best if you don't leave the building."

    "Why?" Daniel arched his eyebrows in surprise, and asked.

    This time, it was the old alchemist who talked first "Your situation is.. Unusual to say the least. You have discovered something that many dreamed of discovering for tens of thousands of years.. You just don't understand it's significance yet." He said while observing Daniel's expression. After noticing the lack of fear in his eyes, he couldn't help but smile gently.

    The smile disappeared in the blink of an eye, and was replaced by a serious expression.

    The old master-at-arms continued from here. "We are aware of Mea's situation." He said.

    Daniel was surprised by the sudden revelation. He looked at the old master-at-arms and said "Since when?"

    "I've recognized the daughter of my student from the very first moment i've seen her. She is the reason why i've allowed the three of you to live here." He responded

    Once more, Daniel's face was filled with stupor. He almost couldn't believe the coincidence. "Then, can't you ask the king to stop the extermination of her family?" Daniel asked with faint hope hidden within his voice.

    "The influence of those who want her and the rest of her family dead, is now bigger than mine.. I've done all I could.." Said the old man dispiritedly.

    Daniel observed the facial expression of the old man. He noticed guilt, and he was barely able to look at him in the eyes. He had a bad feeling about this, so he asked "And what is that?"

    The old alchemist looked straight into Daniel's eyes, and said "We've picked her and your sister on their way to the Folding Crane School.. They are now directed to the main branch of the Golden Cauldron.. In secret."

    "WHAT?!" Exclaimed Daniel. He had now understood why the guilt within the old master-at-arms eyes, didn't seem to be directed at someone not present, but at him instead.

    The old master-at-arms, after mustering some courage, looked back at Daniel and said "Try to understand.. The very moment word of what you did will reach the other countries.. A war will start. There is no doubt about it."

    The old alchemist added "When people will start investigating about you, and will find out about your relationship with the two girls, they'll be far from here." He then paused for a few moments, and trying to comfort Daniel, he added "My Golden Cauldron is a powerful organization. Our domain reached more than one kingdom.. Plus, my father is one of the few hundred rank 9 spiritual cultivators within the continent. He'll be able to keep both of them safe, I promise that."

    Naturally, Daniel couldn't disagree with the reasons given by the two old men.

    If a war did break out because of him, any power that wouldn't be able to get hold of him, would go after his sister instead.

    And yet, the news had hit Daniel hard. This had been the first time he had been separated from his sister, and even if he trusted in the old alchemist words, he still regretted not being able to say goodbye to her.

    Suddenly, Daniel thought of something else. He briefly told his father's and uncle's story, not leaving any detail out.

    The old master-at-arms said "That's a small matter, i'll solve it for you."

    Daniel felt mixed emotion about what he had learned. One one side, he was sad for being separated from his sister, while on the other, the two old men had solved all of his unfinished business. Not in the way he would have prefered, but they still did.

    The two old men gave Daniel a few minutes to digest all the changes and informations.

    After no less than three full minutes, the old alchemist took two items from inside his spatial ring. The two items had the shape of two pills, but on their surface, they had two different symbols. One, was was a simple clear circle, with a just as clear dot in its center. The second pill, had a semi-transparent circle, from which multiple clear waves pushed through the circle's border.

    He showed the two pills to Daniel, and said "These are for you."

    Daniel looked at the two items with confusion. Then asked "What are these for?".

    The old alchemist looked at Daniel with a slightly sorry expression, and then said "These are called 'Inhibitory Runes'.. They'll slowly absorb all the essence within you, unless you stop it." He then pinched the one with the clear circle, and said "This one is for ki, while the other, is for spiritual essence."

    "Why do I need that?" Daniel asked in confusion.

    "It will help mask your cultivation stage.." The old alchemist responded, then, after a short pause he continued "Usually, a cultivator would only use one in their life.. The one corresponding to the path they chose.. But" He then stopped, letting the rest of the phrase thread off.

    Daniel took the two pills from the old alchemist's hands, and as he was about to swallow them, the old alchemist stopped him "Wait!" he exclaimed. The sorry look appeared in his face once again as he continued "Maybe it's better if you take them.. One at a time."

    After noticing the strange behaviour of the old alchemist, Daniel decided to follow his instructions, and only take one of the two pills. He pinched the pill with the waves coming out of the semi-transparent circle, and put it in his mouth.

    The moment he swallowed, he didn't feel a thing. Yet, he noticed the grim looks on the faces of his two teachers.

    "What's wro-" But before he could finish, he felt himself about to pass out.

    The sensations he felt were awful. It was as if all the sickness in existence had made their collective goal to kill him.

    He didn't feel physical pain, but it still made him wish to die.

    For the next twenty minutes, Daniel couldn't help but hope to lose consciousness soon, as this general feeling of complete discomfort, was one of the worst things he had ever felt.

    After the twenty minutes were over, the feeling started to abate.

    For a few more minutes, Daniel couldn't even get up on his feet.

    Once he did, while still discombobulated, he immediately inspected his body. He was feeling his spiritual essence behave strangely within his body. All the spiritual essence he had accumulated, was now slowly being attracted towards the middle of his chest, where it would then disappear.

    If Daniel could examine his organs, he would notice a mark, similar to the one he had seen on the pill he had ingested, tattooed on the right side of his heart.

    The absorption was extremely weak, and every single one of Daniel's commands was able to counter it, making his spiritual essence his own once again. But the moment he stopped, the spiritual rune would start absorbing it once more.

    Daniel remembered the past twenty minutes with terror, but then, after he calmed down, he turned towards his two teachers and asked "I understand why I would need these, but won't this make me unable to accumulate spiritual essence?"

    The old alchemist was extremely happy that the first thing that came out of Daniel's mouth weren't curses, and instead, was a practical question. So he smiled happily and answered "Don't worry, you can deactivate them for about an hour by simply forcing your spiritual essence into the rune.."

    The old alchemist explained all of the rune's functions to Daniel. Basically, the rune wasn't only used to absorb spiritual essence. Its purpose was also to store a part of it. For example, if a cultivator had reached the fourth rank of spiritual cultivation, and consumed one of these runes, the rune would absorb most of the spiritual essence, forcing him back to the peak of rank 2. The essence stored within the rune would be locked, while the one being produced, would be directly consumed by the rune.

    If a spiritual cultivator forced their spiritual essence into the spiritual rune, they would deactivate it, unlocking all of their contained spiritual essence within, and allowing them the full use of their power.

    The same was for the other rune.. The Ki rune. There was only one difference between the two.. While the formation of a spiritual rune gave extreme discomfort.. The formation of a ki rune was instead.. extremely painful.

    "Uhm.. Do i.. Really need to take this one as well?" Said Daniel, with a hint of fear in his voice.

    "No!" Said the old master-at-arms immediately. The memory of the time where he had taken the pill himself was still vivid in his mind.

    "Yes! He does.." Said the old alchemist, looking at the old master-at-arms in a scolding manner. "If you don't take that pill, you'll never be able to simply pass as a spiritual cultivator anymore. Not unless you find another way to mask your ki.." The old alchemist added.

    Daniel looked at the pill very unwillingly, then, after mustering all the courage within his body, he put it in his mouth, and swallowed it.

    Once again, Daniel couldn't feel anything at first. It took a good minute before..

    "AHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Suddenly, Daniel started to shout in agony. The pain he was feeling was so excruciating, that he wasn't even able to pass out. It felt like every bit of his body was being cut into small pieces, and those small pieces were being burned to a crisp, before being cut again.

    For the second time, Daniel found himself lying on the ground.

    For the next twenty minutes, the only sound within the room was the sounds of Daniel's gasps for air, and his screams.

    As the pain started to lessen, Daniel lied on the ground for a few minutes, heavily gasping for air. He then slowly got up on his feet, and while looking at the two old men, he said "Please, tell me there isn't a third pill.."

    The two old teachers smiled at Daniel's joke, then checked him out.

    From their point of view, Daniel looked like a common teenage kid at the second stage of martial and spiritual cultivation, and unless they closely examined his spirit and body, they would be unable to see Daniel's true cultivation level.

    The old master-at-arms looked at Daniel, and with eyes filled with pride, he said "I've seen people much more powerful than you lose their mind when forming their martial rune.. You're no common kid."

    The old alchemist, unwilling to be left out, said "Alright, let's go.. We should let him get used to the two inhibitory runes within his body. He must be feeling really strange now." After that, the two old man recommended Daniel to have some rest, then left.

    Daniel was feeling very weak at the moment. He had just gone through two very different yet just as awful experiences, and all he wanted to do was to get some sleep. But then a thought came to his mind.

    "Sewah.. Can the system help me get used to the runes in my body faster?" He asked within his mind.

    The very next moment, Daniel heard the familiar voice of Sewah, the strange personality of his karmic system "Of course! I'm still surprised that you haven't used it to shorten the formation of the two runes.. You are a bit of a masochist, aren't you? Hehehe" Sewah said.

    Only a few words managed to form within Daniel's mind.. "I'm such an idiot.."
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