53 Two Birds with One Stone

    Two hours had passed since Daniel had rescued Heimart's team. Enough time for Ligart and Paule's team to arrive.

    The eleven of them were now standing near the shore, observing the water's slow movement.

    "If it's not corrosion what do you think it is?" Heimart asked to the masked petite girl.

    Since the night she had accompanied Daniel, the petite girl had become more talkative. She would still only talk when consulted, and would keep her phrases brief and concise, but at least she wouldn't keep quiet.

    "I saw movement in the water.." She responded with a peaceful tone.

    After a moment of thinking, Heimart looked at Daniel and asked him "How many trips would it take you to get us all there?"

    Daniel didn't respond, as he wasn't sure. Instead, he approached the water and decided to try something. His feet were slowly immersed into the water, as he closed his eyes for a moment.

    During the next minute, the slow motion of the water turned into rough movement, then waves started to appear on the surface of the water.. What was strange, was that these waves went in two opposite direction.. They seemed to be moving away from one another.

    After a minute, the water started to split, stopping only after a twenty meters long crack had been formed.. Between the two sides, a clear path at the bottom of the lake had been made.

    The feat that Daniel had just performed had taken a huge toll on his accumulated spiritual essence. Nonetheless, he was still able to maintain the consumption through the use of 'Time is Precious', which was able to speed up the conversion of ki into spiritual essence.

    "Woah.. That's impressive" Said Ligart. He then walked into the crack in the water, and started to admire the still, yet slowly moving walls.

    Every cultivator present on the scene, looked up in astonishment.

    Being from the various powerful forces amongst the kingdoms all around the sea, they had been able to see many young geniuses. Some even prided themselves to be part of them.. But for someone under twenty-five years, to reach such a comprehension of water essence, was beyond their imagination.

    Water was a difficult essence to comprehend, and its use could barely be considered adequate when put into the perspective of a battle.

    Most spiritual cultivators focused more on offensive essences like fire and lightning, defensive essences like earth and metal, and essence that could increase their mobility, like wind.

    While the few spiritual cultivators who had decided to comprehend water's essence, where those who inhabited port cities, often traveled through sea, or that wanted to master it to such a degree, that it would allow them to create ice.

    Ice was still considered water, as it didn't require the combination of two essences like lava did, and yet, it was still considered one of the best offensive and defensive elements to gain comprehension of.

    Unfortunately, creating ice required an amazingly high comprehension of water essence.

    Daniel himself, with a comprehension two hundred times faster than that of a normal cultivator, had still taken an entire evening to reach the level of comprehension he was at.

    Not to mention, that that had only been possible thanks to the high quality samples of essence he had had access to, which made comprehending water essence, hundreds of time faster than learning it from a simple body of water, like a lake or a sea.

    Daniel had only known another young cultivator who was able to use Ice magic, and that was Yala. He wasn't aware of how complicate using ice magic was at first, but before he could understand it, he had found out that his spiritual teacher, the old alchemist, was in fact, Yala's grandfather.

    It wasn't strange for her to be able to use it, as she had probably practiced for years, with the help of powerful essence spheres such as the one Daniel had practiced for 5 hours with.

    The sheer number of cultivators around the lake was huge.

    Even considering the few of them who had been accompanied into the lake by spiritual cultivators, or those who had managed to find the help of one afterwards.. The number of the remaining solitary cultivators and parties, was still in the thousands.

    With a loud voice, Daniel said "Let's check out the water.. If something dangerous hides within, we can rush back" He wanted to make sure nobody would attempt to follow them in, as in case something dangerous happened, he didn't want to have to take care about some freeloader's safety.

    The group of eleven entered the rift in the water, and started to observe the walls carefully. Unfortunately, the water was too murky to clearly see through.

    After half an hour of pointless observation, Daniel thought of something.. He turned towards Heimart and asked him "Wait a second.. Tell me again in what state did you find the corpse in?"

    "No blood.. Every bit of tissue had been consumed. Only bones and clothes remained." Responded Heimart after thinking it through.

    Suddenly, a small knife appeared in Daniel's hand. It was one of his throwing knives.

    Daniel stabbed the extremely sharp end of the knife into his fingertip, then, just as a single drop of blood came out of his hand, the water became darker, and it started to bend out of his control. "OUT OF THE WATER! NOW!!" Shouted the alarmed Daniel.

    The group didn't stop to think, and instead, started to run towards the shore.

    Daniel was only able to create a passage about twenty meters long, so the group had no problem in dashing out. What shocked them, was that the bent part of the water followed them all the way until they got out of the water.

    Once outside, Daniel gave up on the control over the two walls, which immediately shut close, and instead extracted a small ball of the murky water, and made it fly towards him.

    Under everybody's eyes, Daniel started to slowly remove the water bit by bit, until only a pearl-like amount remained. He then moved the pearl between his eye and the sun, and looked into it.

    What Daniel saw inside this small pearl, were hundreds of tiny worms, frantically twisting in the small bead of water.

    One side of the bead was still bent towards Daniel, as if the worms had been trying to push through the water and assault Daniel's bleeding finger.

    To confirm his theory, he started to move his fingertip around the bead, and as expected, the worms followed.

    "I know what those are!" Said someone within the crowd. "Those are Sharp-nosed Leeches.. But they should not be that small.."

    Daniel turned toward the girl who had just talked, and asked her "What do you know about these things?"

    The girl immediately answered "They are voracious creatures. They smell blood in the water from miles away, and are even capable of smelling it out of the water, if nearby. Once found a prey, they not only eat the blood in the water, but they also devour their bodies."

    Daniel threw the bead of water right back in the lake, and started to think.

    "What do you want to do?" Asked Heimart after a few minutes.

    After pondering over a few ideas, Daniel looked around and said in a loud voice "Raise your hand if you have comprehended earth essence."

    Just as he expected, most of the present spiritual cultivator raised their hand.

    The reason why Daniel had expected this result, was because of how common earth essence was. In fact, other than being very useful in battle, earth essence was so common that it could be trained anywhere there was earth or stones.

    Once again, in a loud voice, Daniel said "I'll split the water.. And you will make a tunnel at the bottom of the lake."

    The eyes of the many cultivators present opened wide in surprise.

    The castle wasn't as close as it seemed. In fact, it was about three kilometers into the lake. So far, that it took for the sun to be obscured before someone could barely manage to get a glimpse of it.

    The spiritual cultivators immediately agreed, but then, a large number of voices started to resound in the air. These voices, belonged to the rest of the cultivators.

    "How are we going to pass?!"

    "..our group has a spiritual cultivator who knows earth essence, if he goes, we want to come too."

    "If we can't come, we won't allow you to pass either."

    These demands, threats and complains lasted for a very long time. Daniel could only patiently wait for them to finish while thinking of a way out of this mess.

    Suddenly, a wicked smile appeared on his face.

    He raised his hands, and lifted his body a meter above the ground, putting himself above all others, and with the loudest volume he could muster, he shouted "SILENCE!"

    The shouts of the crowd quietened rapidly, until there was silence once again.

    Daniel took the chance to expose his plan "If you want to enter the castle, you either comprehend water or earth.. RIGHT NOW!" he then paused slightly, before continuing "OR!.. You pay a toll."

    The crowd was dead silent.

    Daniel didn't want them to start shouting in outrage once more, so he quickly added "Fifty gold coins to cross through the tunnel."

    The price wasn't excessive, as most in the crowd could easily afford it. Yet, a loud voice still reached everyone's ears.

    "And who should take all that money?! We would be working too!" Said one of the spiritual cultivators which had raised his hand before.

    Daniel had been prepared for this question.

    He looked at the man, and said "I get half, the rest gets split between the rest of you."

    "THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS!!" Said another of the spiritual cultivators.

    Daniel looked at the second man with disdain and said "IS IT?! Then ask somebody else to open a rift in the water for you! Let's see if he or she will not get drained of spiritual essence within a minute!." Once again, he paused for a few moments, then continued "I've made one hundred percent of the discovery, i've put one hundred percent of the idea, and i'll still make fifty percent of the work! Getting half of the money is the least."

    The large crowd immediately shut up. Daniel's logic couldn't be refuted.

    "What about those who don't have the money to pay the toll?" Asked an embarrassed solitary cultivator.

    Daniel turned towards this man, and said "Form a line to the side.. I'll decide if you can cross for free or not." The crowd was about to explode once more, but before they could say anything, Daniel quickly continued "If I let you through, then i'll pay half of the toll to the spiritual cultivators that will help with the tunnel, out of my own pocket."

    Daniel's idea was brilliant. Originally, he wanted everyone to pay 5 gold coins. But after considering it for a bit, he decided to increase the prize to 50 and at the same time, give himself the chance to earn a bit of karma points, by letting those with good karma through for free, and refusing those with negative karma.

    At this point, nobody had anything to say.

    To those who could afford it, 50 gold coins weren't much for a chance to advance in the Lost Inheritance Tournament. So they quickly paid their tolls, and separated themselves from those who couldn't pay.

    In total, 3200 people had paid the toll in full.

    Two thousand people remained who weren't pay for the toll. They stood in line in front of Daniel.

    Daniel took a quick look at the numbers above these people's heads, and either refused them if they had bad karma, or allowed them through if they had good karma.

    Many of these peoples had tried various speeches, and some girls had even prepared to seduce Daniel, but in the end, they were dismissed before they could even talk.

    The whole procedure took almost four hours, and in the end, about four thousand people were allowed passage, while to twelve hundred the crossing had been denied.

    Everyone could see the displeasure in the eyes of those Daniel had refused, but the numbers of the two armies of people were too unbalanced. The remaining twelve hundred people could only stay back.

    In just a few hours, Daniel had earned 80,000 gold coins, and 16,000 karma points. After paying 25 coins for each one of the eight hundred cultivators he had allowed in, the large treasure chests that Daniel had found inside the captain's spatial bag, were now 60,000 gold coins fuller.

    With an extremely pleased expression on his face, Daniel turned towards the group of spiritual cultivators, and said "Let's begin."
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