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54 Management Problems

    Daniel had managed to assemble a small army of spiritual cultivators.

    Their job was an easy one. They needed to follow Daniel into the crack he would create in the water, and create a tunnel made of stone. The stone needed to be large enough for a small party to move through.

    The rest of the cultivators who had been granted passage, would stay on the shore, and guard the construction of the tunnel from the small army of resentful cultivators whose passage had been refused.

    For as simple as the idea was, there were a few problems.

    For example, more cultivators had started to approach the lake since Daniel had come up with the plan. Secondly, these cultivators would tend to join the group of refused cultivators, unless granted passage.

    Daniel only had one choice to solve this problem, and that was to leave someone to the shore, and continue to offer passage in exchange of tolls to the newcomers.

    Unable to personally presentiate to the selection between those who couldn't pay, Daniel had thought of the perfect person for the job. That person, was Ligart.

    Since Daniel had met him, he had noticed that this martial cultivator didn't have the most attentive eye for details.. But what he had instead, was an extraordinary ability to distinguish between people of good morale, and not.

    Proof of this, were the 6 people amongst their group.

    These people were those who had formed the closest relationship with Ligart and Heimart during their traverse to the island, and to Daniel's surprise, they were all people with good karma.

    For this reason, Daniel had decided to leave Ligart and the rest on shore, so that they could collect tolls and protect the construction of the tunnel, which would take about a day.

    The second problem Daniel had found, was the possibility that one of the participants with a bad karma he had taken money from, would destroy a section of the tunnel right after passing it. That would doom all the people in line behind him to either drown, or be devoured by the many tiny leeches that inhabited the water.

    Naturally, Daniel would never be able to be everywhere at the same time to repair every damage, and yet, he had thought of a simple solution. He would place a spiritual cultivator who had comprehended earth every tot meters, so that they could restore any damage to the tunnel as soon as possible.

    In order to prevent the spiritual cultivators from betraying him and destroying the tunnel, he had thought of two additional preemptive measures.

    First, he would keep all the money collected, and be the last one to enter the tunnel. That meant that, in case any of the spiritual cultivators attempted to destroy the tunnel, the economic interests of every other cultivator around would convince them to intervene.

    Second, he would place every worker with good karma, and or part of a group, at the last section of the tunnel, as they were those who had the most reasons not to destroy the tunnel. Either for moral reasons, or to protect their teammates.

    Also, he would allow passage to people with good karma first, so that in case someone tried something, most of the people trapped would be those with a questionable morale and bad karma.

    It was late evening when the last few details had been set. Two large camps had been erected in the huge field around the lake. One belonged to the paying, while the other, belonged to the rejected.

    -----

    A full day of preparations had passed

    It was very early in the morning of the next day, and yet, everyone was wide awake and currently observing Daniel, which was quietly standing at the edge of the lake.

    He turned towards the group of mages, and said in a loud voice "Remember, five meters large, two meters tall.. Don't worry about speed of construction, just make it sturdy! I don't want to remind you that if any part breaks, many of you will likely die."

    With this recommendation, Daniel focused on his job.

    The next moment, the observing crowd was once again able to see Daniel's mastery of water essence at work. The water split, and a twenty meters long crack formed in the murky waters of the otherwise calm lake.

    One spiritual cultivator after the other stepped forward, and after turning their spiritual essence into earth essence, they started to build the tunnel.

    Stones started to raise from all directions, and join into the shape of a large circular tunnel. One meter at a time, the underwater tunnel was slowly being built.

    The construction needed to be completed within ten meters from Daniel's back, or the water would start to close on the uncompleted tunnel, flooding it entirely.

    Time passed as the construction steadily proceeded.

    More than once, Daniel had found dressed skeletons at the bottom of the sea. People he had assumed were part of the groups which had entered along with a spiritual cultivator who used water essence.

    One time, he had even found a still living spiritual cultivator. This young man was sitting on the ground, almost completely out of spiritual essence, and in state of shock.

    Daniel had learned from this man, that he had witnessed how, after one of his teammates slipped on the ground and cut his palm on a sharp stone at the bottom of the lake. The bubble he had created caved in and made him lose control over the surrounding water.

    He had only been able to focus a bubble around his own body, and when things calmed down, he expanded the bubble once more, and found his team's skeletons right next to him.

    Once sending him back to the shore from the partially built tunnel, Daniel proceeded with the construction.

    -----

    Two kilometers from the shore. 15:00

    "Okay, let's go back. You guys are clearly out of spiritual essence. We can continue later.. We don't need daylight for this anyway." Said Daniel after noticing a significant reduction in the speed of construction.

    One by one, the spiritual cultivators entered the tunnel, before Daniel shut the end tightly.

    The many spiritual cultivators were shocked. Not only was Daniel able to such an impressive level of control over water essence, but he seemed to never get tired as well.

    With shocked and confused expressions, the group slowly walked back toward the shore.

    Back to the shore, Daniel immediately noticed something different. Both of the two large groups had grown in size.

    The number of cultivator whose passage was been accepted, was now 4600, while the number of the rejected group, was close to 2500. Not to mention, everybody was starting to get tense.

    Unfortunately, Daniel could do nothing about it, as he couldn't suddenly change his mind about refusing people's passage. Or the paying cultivators might revolt.. Or worse, he might be asked to give the money back.

    The numbers were still different, but if this kept going on, there would be a war as soon as the tunnel would be finished.

    -----

    After two hours of rest, Daniel recalled the spiritual cultivators, and went back to complete the construction.

    Progress weren't made as fast as when they had just started, but the speed had picked up once again.

    At about 21:00, Daniel and the couple hundred odd spiritual cultivators, finally found themselves facing the huge, back castle.

    A large air bubble surrounded the entirety of this castle completely, and this left the many spiritual cultivators with faces filled with awe and greed. Nobody knew more than them what a water bubble like this one meant.

    Somewhere around the castle, a high level essence sphere of the wind element was hidden, possible by the Clear Mage. Finding it, would mean having a chance to reach the comprehension of wind essence to the same level the Clear Mage did.

    Of course, that would take them decades, but it was still an amazing opportunity.

    A very small number of spiritual cultivators, decided to give up on their share of the money, and dashed into the castle instead.

    The rest looked at those few with rage, as they really wanted to do the same, but for one reason or another, they couldn't.

    With the tunnel now completed, Daniel and the rest walked all the way back to the shore. There, they found something they didn't expect.

    The two groups of cultivators were in the middle of an all out war.

    Thousands of cultivators were engaging each other. One group defended, while the other attacked.

    One would think that the army with highest numbers would maintain the advantage, but that wasn't the case. Most of the spiritual cultivators had been taken away from the defending group. Only a few flame and wind users had been left to defend along the martial cultivators.

    On the other hand, the attacking group was aware of their lack of defences, and attacked relentlessly.

    Daniel was furious. In front of the completion of the tunnel, most of the rejected cultivators had let go of their humanity, and started to attack in a frenzy state.

    Hundreds of injured lied on the ground, belonging from each side.

    Daniel walked across his group's line of defence. Around him, various large spheres of murky water fluctuate in the air while rotating rapidly.

    Whenever someone tried to attack him, he would send one of the spheres of water to engulf them, and then recall it back to him, leaving behind only their skeleton.

    "ENOUGH!" Shouted Daniel to the top of his lungs, while standing between of the two small armies.

    The battle stopped for a moment, as his deadliness made him the center of attention.

    "We have made the tunnel! We decide who uses it!. If you want to force your way through, you will have to kill me first." His tone was ice cold. The spheres of murky water started to rotate around his body faster and faster.

    The expressions of the enemies were conflicted. They couldn't accept that the only reasons they could not proceed in the Lost Inheritance Tournament was simply because they couldn't afford a toll, or because of the whims of a brat like Daniel.

    On the other hand, dying only for the chance to traverse this tunnel, wasn't really worth it. In fact, the battle hadn't started because the army of rejected wanted to take control of the tunnel.

    They understood perfectly that, once inside, any of the spiritual cultivators would be able to make the tunnel collapse.

    The reason why the war had started, was the constant taunting and complaints coming from the army of rejected cultivators.

    They wanted the permission to pass just like everybody else.

    Unfortunately for them, the cultivator's whose passage had been granted had just the same reasons to follow Daniel's orders.

    He, along with any other spiritual cultivator under his orders, would easily be able to destroy the tunnel in case they didn't protect it from the non paying and undesired cultivators.

    "Here are your two options. We will traverse the tunnel right now, and if you guys want to stop us, none of you will survive this night. OR.. you think of another way to enter." Said Daniel, exploiting the state of mind of the cultivators. He then continued "You know where the castle is, and there are at least forty thousand more people in the island.. Any of them might be able to help you enter it."

    He then breathed out and with his loudest tone, he finished by saying "Die to prevent us from proceeding, or live to find a way to advance yourself."

    These last few words, hit the enemy army right where it hurt. Part of them were already unconvinced about the gains they were fighting for.. So, when someone stronger than them explained it in a rational manner, many amongst them understood and retreated quietly from the battle.

    The remaining cultivators were only two hundred, and such a small number was too small and irrelevant to pose a threat to Daniel's group.

    Clearly in a disadvantage, they then retreated as well, leaving the area of the lake.

    Daniel looked around, and noticed some injured people amongst his group. He couldn't afford to let anyone with a bleeding injury to enter the tunnel, or a large amount of leeches might force a hole in the tunnel, and drown them all.

    A few injured cultivators with red names caught his eyes.. And suddenly an idea came to his mind.

    "Everyone who needs healing.. Come here.." Said Daniel.

    The group looked at him with admiration, but before long, they heard a few more words that made their opinions of Daniel drop once again.

    With a big smile on his face, Daniel continued "I'll decide who won't need to pay me.."
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