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55 The Castle Part 1

    "You are starting to get greedy.. That's how it's done! Hahaha" Said Sewah inside Daniel's mind.

    With the newly acquired coins still in his hands, Daniel couldn't help but giggle at Sewah's words. He couldn't admit it, but since he had found out how to abuse the system, his first solutions to a matter would always be those who that allowed him to earn more.

    The fact that earning karma went along with helping people out, was only a bonus.

    Once he finished healing the injured, Daniel proceeded to set the spiritual cultivators in position, and then, opened the tunnel.

    Surprisingly, on his way to the other side, nobody created any problem for him. They all quietly crossed through the underwater tunnel, just like they were supposed to do.

    And so, almost a tenth of the participants of the tournament had finally managed to pass the first obstacle.

    They all regrouped in the air bubble, just outside of the castle.

    Not many had an idea of what the next tests would require them to do. So, since they had managed to find the castle this early, many of them started to set tents in the surrounding.

    They planned to wait and see what others would do.

    Daniel wasn't one of those people. Since the moment he had entered the tournament, he felt the overwhelming need of competition. He wanted to explore, he wanted to fight.. And he wanted to win.

    Most members of his group thought of it the same way. The only ones who disagreed to rushing into the castle, were the martial and spiritual cultivators of Heimart's team, and the two spiritual cultivator's of Paule's team.

    Under Daniel's suggestion, they had decided to join another group which intended to take it slowly, leaving the group with Daniel, the petite girl, Heimart, Ligart, Paule, Imblen and finally, Roley.

    The seven of them approached the entrance of the castle, and immediately, they felt the stale air coming from inside its semi-opened double door.

    They were not the first people to enter, as some of the teams accompanied by water cultivators had probably managed to reach the castle before them. Not to mention the spiritual cultivators who had defected Daniel's team of tunnel workers.

    Behind the large black double door, was a huge hall.

    Two large files of columns, which divided the hall into three even parts. At the sides of this hall, were four corridors, while in the opposite side of the door, were two large sets of stairs that separated until halfway up, then joined again to the second floor.

    Between these two sets of stairs, was a dark corridor whose destination was impossible to discern.

    This hall's roof was made of a large crystal ceiling, while the columns reached all the way up to support what looked like rooms of the second floor.

    The walls were made of dark stone, and the poor illumination made the place look unearthly.

    "Does anybody know what we are supposed to do here?" Asked Ligart all of a sudden, scaring the tense Roley out of his wits.

    Paule was the first to respond. "I have heard that we are supposed to find the chambers of the two masters.. And then, pick an item that truly represented.. Their inheritance, or something like that.. Then take the item with us into the treasure room."  He said.

    "Wow.. that's good information." Said Ligart sarcastically.

    Slightly irritated, Paule responded in an animated manner "Hey! What do you want me to tell you.. It's not like the place is filled with people who passed this test before.."

    Paule made a good point. In fact, the participants who could reach the treasury every decade, were no more than a few dozen. And of course, reaching the treasury was not enough to enter, otherwise many every ten years would have been able to receive the two old master's inheritance by now.

    The moment Daniel and the rest took a step into the hall, their view turned black and white.

    Behind them, the door had closed shut, and their companions had disappeared from their view.

    "Did we shift through space again?.. I hate when it happens.." Said Sewah in Daniel's head.

    After hearing Sewah's words, Daniel asked him curiously "What do you mean?.."

    "We aren't where we were before.. Last time I felt like this was when that wrinkled old man threw us into that portal.." Explained Sewah, sounding almost nauseated.

    Completely devoid of color, the hall looked even more ghastly. The total lack of sound would make a person go mad in time, as not even a slight wiffle of air could be heard moving through the corridors.

    "I wish Paule mentioned this earlier.." Daniel muttered, before entering the first of the two corridors on the left side of the hall.

    -----

    Past the first corridor, Daniel entered a small training room. Inside it, were two men sparring. Calling these two "men" was a bit of a stretch, as in truth, they were two training dummies.

    These training dummies were performing the art of the sword and the art of the spear. According to what Daniel had studied, there were no flaws in their movements. An instead of sparring partners, their function appeared to be closer to a demonstration.

    On the walls to the side of the rooms, various sets of weapons were placed in order. Each wall perfectly mirroring the other.

    On the floor, right in front of the walls covered in weapons, were two small altars, on which, two small stone hands grew.

    One of them was currently holding a simple sword, while the other, was holding a spear.

    The moment Daniel entered the room, The door behind him and on the other side of the room disappeared, while instead, the dummies kept practicing as if nothing had happened.

    Daniel knew that this room was part of a test.. He simply didn't know what the test was about. So he sat on the ground, and observed the two dummies spar.

    What was interesting, was that the two dummies weren't on a loop. Daniel had now observed them for at least an hour, and yet, they had never repeated the same movement twice.

    They would always variate their attacks, and defend just as well.

    Despite of how long he watched, none of the dummies could manage to gain the upper hand against the other. No matter how close to hit a dummy was, the other would always counter perfectly and proceed with the spar.

    He tried to approach the dummies, but when he got too close to them, the dummies became incorporeal, as if they belonged to another space. He was unable to touch or interact with them.

    The only real things in the room, seemed to be the weapons on the walls, and the two altars.

    Daniel approached the altars and observed them up close. He immediately noticed that the two weapons weren't originally part of the altars, and that they had been placed there afterwards.

    He then looked at the walls, and on them, he saw an empty slot on each one.

    Daniel looked at the corresponding spot on the opposite wall, and sure enough, on the wall behind the altar with the sword, a sword was missing, while on the wall behind the altar with the spear, a spear was missing.

    A wild guess formed inside Daniel's head. He moved towards the sword altar, and removed the weapon from the stone hand.

    The moment the stone hand was removed, the sword wielding dummy disappeared, while the spear wielding dummy assumed his combat stance, and waited patiently.

    Another change, was that the spear wielding dummy had become physical.

    "Oh.. I get it now.. This is a trial to test my weapon mastery.." Thought Daniel.

    *shhwing* The sound of Daniel's sword being unsheathed could be heard all through the deafening quiet room.

    He then walked right in front of the dummy, and the moment he entered the circular borders of the training ground, his ki was forced at the bottom of his feet, and extracted by the floor completely.

    Daniel's guess had been confirmed. During weapon mastery testing, no martial skills were allowed.

    The spear wielding dummy was standing above a black spot on the right side of the arena, while on the other side, was a white spot on which the sword dummy was previously standing.

    Daniel immediately guessed that he needed to stand on the white spot, in order for the test to begin.

    He recovered himself from his discombobulated state of having his ki forcibly absorbed, and slowly walked above the white spot.

    The moment his feet ended on the white spot on the ground, a spear thrust almost pierced a hole in his throat.

    Fortunately, Daniel had sort of expected something like this, so he was able to immediately avoid the attack by sliding to the side of the spear, and slash horizontally against the dummy's stomach.

    The dummy immediately lowered the body of the spear, and deflected Daniel's attack. It then twisted his arms, and slashed diagonally, trying to hit Daniel's neck.

    The sparring session went on and on for awhile, and the more time passed, the more shocked Daniel became.

    No matter how fast he attacked, no matter how rapidly he reacted, or how much fantasy he put into his moves.. The dummy would always be slightly better than him.

    It was at this moment that a sudden realization hit Daniel hard.

    This wasn't a simple weapon mastery testing room. This was a weapon mastery training room, and most probably, part of the Dark Warrior's legacy.

    Eager to prove his theory, Daniel activated 'Time is Precious' and continued his practice with the dummy.

    With his ability to learn and train fastened by hundreds of times, Daniel's progress could be seen with a naked eye, and yet, the spear wielding dummy kept besting him.

    The smile on Daniel's face grew brilliant, as he made a decision within his mind.

    -----

    Four days had passed.

    Inside the training room, Daniel stood still while proudly looking at the sword that stuck out of the dummy's back.

    He had already noticed the two doors that had just appeared on the sides of the room, but he didn't care. He was too excited, as he had just defeated a dummy with whom he had sparried for the past four days.

    After only four days, thanks to 'Time is Precious', Daniel had accumulated four and a half years worth of combat experience with the sword. His mastery had reached a point where not even all the books regarding the art of the sword given by the old master-at-arms could do anything to help him improve.

    He could feel his ki entering the sword just like he felt it being part of his body. It was an amazing feeling, which made wielding a weapon almost indistinguishable from hand to hand combat.

    For four days, Daniel kept changing his sparring partner's weapons, as he wanted to gain experience fighting against the many types of weapons.

    In his mind, regardless of the tournament's inheritance, this room could possibly be the best place in the castle.

    Unfortunately, the moment he defeated the dummy, and the doors appeared, all the weapons in the wall, along with the two altars, disappeared altogether.

    This had been a major disappointment for Daniel. He still had many karmic points, and if possible, he would have stayed here and improve his mastery of every weapon.. but instead, he was forced to proceed with the tournament like anybody else.

    Taken by curiosity, Daniel opened the details of his weapon masteries within his profile, and what he saw, was that his mastery of double edged swords, had increased to 86%.

    The gains, just from staying inside one of the two master's training rooms, were simply amazing. But since he was unable to stay here, Daniel decided not to proceed to the second room, and instead went back from where he came from.

    Now back to the main hall, he crossed it from side to side, and entered the corridor opposite of the one he had just came from.

    He was a double cultivator, and if he could gain something from both paths of cultivation, he would not miss the chance to do so.

    After a minute of walking, Daniel found himself into another room. This room was simple, and its walls were made of stone. Inside, was a square pyramid of rotating spheres.

    Underneath these spheres, was a small altar with with a roundish carving in the middle. The size, seemed to be the same as the floating spheres.
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