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61 Good Things Are Never Free

    "What's wrong?" Asked Alis to the seemingly distracted Daniel.

    The girl's silvery voice woke Daniel up from his surprise. He turned towards her, and said "I must have randomly activated something.. And now I think I can terminate the formation at will.."

    Alis's eyes moved around Daniel's surroundings, and only when they ended up on the puddle of blood on which the rotting old man was lying, did a guess formed in her head.

    "It has to have something to do with your blood.." She said while indicating the puddle of mixed blood.

    Daniel, now completely aware of the structure and workings of the formation, looked back at Alis and said "It really does have something to do with blood, but not mine. Apparently, your family's blood is required to start the formation. It works like a door lock, and the sword is the key." He then paused for a moment before continuing "This formation has been created to trap someone which belongs to your family.."

    "So what now?" Asked Alis.

    A faint smile appeared on Daniel's face, as he said "Now, it seems that I have become some sort of guardian.. I think that this was once the Dark Warrior's job.. But when he activated the defective formation, he must have been absorbed by it. That should explain why I've had those visions.."

    "Does that mean that you are stuck here?" Alis asked.

    "I don't think so.. You know how the castle teleports from one place to another every ten years?.. Also, remember the large air bubble that surrounded the castle, and kept it floating in the air?.. Large wind and spatial spheres have been installed as integral parts of the formation.." Responded Daniel before closing his eyes and saying "Look at this.."

    Two minutes passed uneventfully.

    Confused, Alis decided to say something, but as she was about to start talking, she heard steps coming from the dark corridor that lead to the main hall.

    One after the other, Heimart and the rest of their group appeared within the catacomb.

    "What the hell is going on here?!" Asked Ligart animatedly.

    Each of them, like Daniel and Alis, had been isolated within the fictitious space the very moment they had set foot into the castle.

    They had challenged the various training rooms, and had been able to pass them with relative ease thanks to their decades of training.

    Daniel was the only one who had had to spent so much time inside the weapon wielding training room, as unfortunately, he hadn't been able to grow up while training in the more advanced stages of swordsmanship.

    On the other hand, the rest of the participants, being geniuses and prodigies of their respective groups, had had the chance to train since a very young age.

    In comparison, before Daniel managed to train inside the training room within the castle, he had only been able to learn the basics of swordsmanship.

    After passing their tests, Daniel's group had been forced to wander the fictitious castle, waiting for the Clear Mage to kill them, and consume them.

    It was only when Daniel had extracted the sword, that they were briefly able to see the true appearance of the castle, along with the tens of corpses, walls covered in dried blood, and bones scattered everywhere.

    Fortunately, that had only lasted since the moment Daniel took the sword out, to when he pierced the old man's body with it.

    After that, the fictitious space had been reformed, and the castle had gone back to being how they used to see it before.

    Now in control of the formation, Daniel had picked his group members one by one and directed  them towards the catacomb. Once there, he dissolved the fictitious space they were in, and allowed them to enter the true catacomb in which he and Alis were staying.

    Daniel explained everything that happened to the rest of the group.

    "So.. are you able to get us all out of here?" Heimart asked to him.

    Daniel looked back at him and said "Even better.. I think I can move the castle altogether."

    "Wait a second, before you try anything I think there is something important to discuss.. Now that you have gained control over the formation.. Where is the inheritance??" Asked Ligart with a large nasty smile on his face.

    "I have no idea.. The original formation had been tampered with in many occasions.. The first time, when the Clear Mage had hidden part of his consciousness into the coffin. The moment the formation was activated, everyone within the castle had disappeared. The only things remaining, were the key and the lock of the formation." Said Daniel disappointedly, before taking a deep breath and continuing "If there was something, it either disappeared then, or was taken by the first people who visited this place."

    "What about the rewards we got from the training rooms?" Paule promptly asked.

    Daniel shrugged his shoulders, and said "Not part of the formation. My guess is that every ten years, the Clear Mage would use the possessions of the participants he had previously killed as small rewards meant to please the participants, and lure more of them back the next time."

    Alis suddenly recalled something. She looked at Daniel and asked "You have mentioned visions before.. What were they about?"

    "Memories.. Fragments of the Dark Warrior's memories which I assume got stuck within the formation when things went wrong the first time." Daniel responded in a slightly unsure tone.

    It was Heimart's time to interject. He looked at Daniel and asked him "So what did you gain from this?"

    A large smile appeared on Daniel's face. He looked at the rest of the group and said "Follow me."

    The group walked into the dark corridor and reached the main hall. Once in the main hall, they approached the large double door.

    Daniel looked at his group members once more, then, he opened the door.

    What appeared on the other side wasn't the large expanse of murky water that they expected to see. Instead, it was the large field that surrounded the lake in which the castle had been hidden.

    "We've teleported?" Asked a visibly shocked Heimart.

    "No, I don't have the comprehension of space required to control that part of the formation. I've simply moved the castle here by using wind essence." Responded Daniel quickly.

    Another thing the group noticed, was the absence of the spiritual essence in the air.

    The tournament had been originally created by the Clear Mage as a pretext to attract as many cultivators as possible, so when the formation had been reset, its barrier had been modified.

    Originally, the barrier should have surrounded the castle, and its power should have been equivalent to the power of its activator. Specifically, the Dark Warrior.

    Unfortunately, when the Clear Mage had managed to take partial control over the formation, he had been able to use the ki barrier, along with his spiritual essence, for his own gains. Turning a once powerful ki barrier, into a selective process for the participants of the tournament.

    The spiritual essence in the air had disappeared when the formation had been reset, and the ki barrier was now weak, and barely able to stop people at Daniel's stage of martial cultivation.

    "Speaking of which, we better be on our way soon.. Because when the powerful cultivators who accompanied their young masters or children here will notice the disappearance of the barrier, they'll come for the castle.. And fast." Said Daniel in a hurried tone.

    Before any of the others could say anything, he waved his hand in the air and forced every single participant still within the castle to be kicked out.

    He then made the castle fly high up in the sky, and take off in the distance.

    The castle's speed was only as fast as Daniel's flight speed, as he was only able to control so much of that part of the formation with the comprehension of wind essence he had.

    Standing at the opened entrance of the castle, Daniel looked at the island get smaller and smaller in the distance.

    He then looked back at his group and said "What do you guys want to do?.. I can drop you off after we reach land if you want.."

    Unexpectedly, his question was answered with another question. This question came from Heimart "What are your plans?"

    "I will travel in one direction, and hope to find clues about the right way to go back home." Responded Daniel.

    After a minute of silence, Ligart said "We are in no hurry to go back. We were supposed to be on a ten years journey before going back to the school. If you would like some company, I wouldn't mind occupying one of the many rooms here.."

    "Sure!" Responded Daniel excitedly.

    He had absolutely no idea of which direction to take in order to reach the Karalis kingdom. So he might as well go in the general direction where his group members had come from.

    At least then he could have some travel companions for awhile.

    "Speaking of rooms.." Said Heimart before taking a long pause and continuing "..I want the biggest one."

    "WHAT!?" The single word bursted right out of Ligart's mouth. "Hold on a second! It was my id-"

    Before he could finish, Daniel interjected "Settle down you two.. There is still.. One small problem with the castle.." He said with an extremely uncomfortable tone.

    "It needs cleaning.." He said while waving his hand, and taking the lot of them out of the fictitious space.

    The hall was filled with bones and dust, and trails of fresh blood could be seen going in all directions.

    Ligart's tone changed completely, and after breathing in through his gritted teeth, he said "Yeeeeah.. I don't want to stay anymore.."

    -----

    One week later.

    The small group of seven had managed to clean the majority of the lower floor of the castle, mostly thanks to Daniel's water magic.

    He had also been able to drive off the nauseating stench by creating air currents which brought fresh air from the outside, to every small nook and cranny within the castle.

    Various rooms had been cleaned as well. Enough for each of them to take one.

    They seven of them were now sitting at a long and elegant table in the dining room. They slowly ate their food, and yet, the atmosphere was strange.

    Ligart brought his fork towards his mouth, and right when he was about to bite at the piece of vegetable pierced on its prongs, Heimart, which was currently sitting opposite to him, looked at him intently and said "Remember when there was a human's foot right where your plate is right now?.."

    With an annoyed expression, Ligart put his fork back on the plate, and pushed the plate away from himself.

    On the other side of the table, Heimart looked at Paule who was currently sitting to his right, and while giggling, he said "It never gets old.."

    Alis which sat next to Daniel at the far edge of the table, said "You really need to buy new furniture for this place.."

    Noticing the low morale of the group, Daniel stood up, and after putting his open hand on the table, he made thousands of small rings and bags appear out of nowhere.

    He looked at the surprised group, and said in a loud voice "This was supposed to be a surprise for after we finished cleaning, but honestly, if I hear Heimart's joke one more time, I am going to leave the castle myself.. So here we go.." He then pointed at the mountain of bags and rings, and while smiling, he continued " These are all the spatial containers of tens of thousands of years of dead participants. I haven't touched them yet."

    Satisfied by the shocked faces of the group, he sat back on his chair, and after picking a ring, he said "Knock yourself out."

    Without the need of being told twice, everyone grabbed a large handful of spatial containers and started to check out their content.

    The previous thoughts of past murders and gory scenes had disappeared completely from their heads.
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