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92 The Gathering of Experts Part 5

    "You've scared me for a second.. Thought you'd be stupid enough to actually attack the imperial family.." Said Edmund with a relieved tone, and sweat still sticking his clothes to his back.

    Daniel couldn't help but smile at his reaction. He then said "I just wanted to leave a good impression."

    Edmund felt slightly irritated by Daniel's response, as he had gambled on his family's face. If the emperor hadn't appreciated the show, his very family could have ended up in trouble. "I don't know about good.. But you've definitely left an impression. What do you want to do now?"

    "Do you have anything else to teach me in spatial essence?" Asked Daniel with high expectations.

    Slightly embarrassed, Edmund responded "My comprehension of space is one of the highest in  the empire.. And yet you've almost caught up to me.. The only things I have left to teach you are density and unstable space."

    "Unstable space? The one you've left Roley into for days?.. Doesn't sound fun." Responded Daniel without his previous enthusiasm.

    Edmund shrugged with his shoulders and said "Your choice.."

    "Can I borrow your time sphere once again?" Asked Daniel with a cheeky expression. He wanted get the best out of his stay in the capital. And if he could learn the most while he was still under the terms of the agreement with Edmund, then he would.

    Edmund looked back at Daniel sideways, and said "Fine.." He then tossed three items to him. A small ring, a golden locket, and the now familiar time sphere.

    The reason why Daniel had asked to use the time sphere despite having comprehended the very concept of speeding time, was because of his level of cultivation. His power was similar to that of a seventh rank spiritual cultivator, and yet, he could only speed time by an additional fifty percent.

    It was clear that whomever had created the time sphere was at a much higher cultivation stage than he was.

    After a small nod, he teleported back into his room. But before he could jump into the ring, he heard knocking at his door.

    He immediately got up from his bed and went to open the door. Behind it, was a large group of people. These people were, of course, Heimart and the rest of the group. But there was another person amongst them. A platinum blonde girl that he immediately recognized as Alesia.

    "Before you go and train for the next two days like a total cultivation freak, let's go grab something to eat." Said Ligart without holding back anything.

    After hearing Ligart's words, Daniel said with a sarcastic tone "Need someone to pick your meals Lig..?"

    Lig was an abbreviations that Daniel had gotten used to call Ligart with in the past year they had known each other. Just like the rest of the group had slowly gotten used to call Daniel with his real name, Dan.

    Daniel was a sort of alias that he and his sister Reila had gotten used to give people whom they didn't want to know their birth names and family, and it was much less personal to him than being called simply 'Dan'. Only his sister called him Dan, and only he and his sister's friends called her Rei.

    "Come on, be good.. We've already picked the food.. We were just thinking of eating in the castle. We have guests!" Responded Ligart with a plaintive tone.

    Daniel sighed in resignation, then said "Alright." he then teleported all of them inside the ring and entered it in the form of a wisp of spiritual essence, and consciousness.

    The reason why he hadn't entered it physically, was because he didn't want to leave the ring without protection. It would take nothing for him to feel the arrival of a third party. He could then leave the pocket dimension and defend himself.

    Once inside, the first thing Daniel did was to lower the output of the perfect earth essence sphere.

    Alesia, as a martial cultivator,  wouldn't be able to recognize the power of a perfect sphere, but Daniel didn't know what secret methods she could have, and didn't want to risk it.

    After a quick tour of the castle, Daniel and the rest sat in the living room, and started to eat.

    "So, how did you guys met?" Asked Alesia with curiosity written all over her face.

    Heimart looked at her and said "On the way to the tournament of the Clear Mage and the Dark Warrior.. All of us except for Jerigh and the two kids were in the same ship. In fact, Dan, Alis me and him were in the same cabin." He then paused for a moment, and continued "We then met Jerigh at the border of the Krehan empire.. And the two kids in Drester."

    "You've joined the Lost Inheritance Tournament?!" Asked Alesia excitedly. "I really wanted my father to allow me to go.. But he was so bent on not allowing me to."

    Heimart then started to explain the truth about the lost inheritance tournament, how Daniel had found himself in a place that he didn't know, and how they ended up meeting with the earth elementals during their first assignment from the legion.

    He of course omitted any secret detail, like the perfect earth treasure, the fact that the castle they were currently in was the ancestral home of the Dark Warrior, Alis and Clear Mage's family, and that Daniel was a cultivator of both the martial and spiritual path.

    "Wow.. you guys went through a lot together.." Said Alesia with an amazed expression. She couldn't help but envy the rest of the group. She didn't get to travel the world and go through this kind of adventures with her friends.

    She always had to stay in the city where her parents were, and had to live her life up to their expectations.

    Not because her parents weren't supportive, but because they were extremely well known, and she was forced to carry the burden of not sullying the family name.. Especially during events like the Gathering of Experts.

    After a good hour, the group left the ring. But instead of leaving Daniel to comprehend spatial essence peacefully by himself, they forced him to go out with them.

    The only reason he had accepted, was so that he could find a cartographer.

    -----

    Within the imperial palace, in the throne room.

    "What does His Imperial Majesty think of this year's contestants?." Asked a middle aged man dressed in very refined clothes, in an extremely polite tone.

    The question had been asked to the emperor himself, which with a deep and powerful voice responded by saying "It's always the same. They are young and talented.. But aside from a few, none of them can be compared to their teachers."

    The middle aged man nodded at the emperor, then followed up with another question "What about the two disciples that are representing the Saullet couple? Alesia and Dan?"

    "The girl has good talent.. She also comes from a good family.. Add her to the list of the possible spouses for the third prince." He then paused for a few moments. Then, with an amused expression he continued "That kid was pretty funny.. And his high level of comprehension of four different essences proves his prodigious talent.. Find out where he came from.."

    "Yes His Imperial Majesty." Responded the middle aged man with a deep bow, before leaving the throne room.

    -----

    "What do you mean that you can't sell me a map?" Asked Daniel to the old man behind the counter inside the cartography shop.

    The old man looked back at Daniel with an annoyed expression and said "There are regulations. Maps the size of what you've asked me are not only expensive, but also made by the military. They belong to the empire and not everyone can have them."

    Caught by surprise by the regulations set to protect the empire's property, Daniel's tone turned softer, and with a pleading voice, he said "Can you at least let me look at one?"

    "I cannot." Responded the old man plainly.

    "Fine. What do I need to do to be able to purchase a map?" Asked Daniel with an audibly irritated tone. He would do all he could to find his way back home.

    A smirk suddenly appeared on the old man's face as he said "Become a member of the Krehan empire's nobility, and you can buy one."

    "I'll buy one then." Said Alesia from behind Daniel.

    The rest had gone to visit the capital, and the only one that had remained of the group, was Alesia. She had stayed behind to avoid Daniel from losing sight of his friends. Unfortunately, the rest of the group went on his way without even thinking about him.

    This action had made Alesia curious about Daniel. He was an extremely powerful young man, but he couldn't be all that strong by himself. Wouldn't they want to be sure that, if something happened to him, he would have someone to watch his back?

    After the rest of the group walked out of sight, Alesia heard the loud conversation between Daniel and the person behind the counter.

    She listened to what was happening, and after just a minute, she found out what the problem was. Daniel wanted to buy an extremely large map. Unfortunately, these kinds of maps were progressively made by cartographers and explorers employed within the empire's army.

    They would scout the new territories before the army would arrive, so that they could find the best paths, and eventual kingdoms or forms of civilization.

    These maps had been created out of thousands of years of sacrifices and effort, and contained so many informations that limitations to those who could acquire them had been put on them.

    Just asking about one of those maps would put someone in the list of possible spies from other empires.

    "Come again?" Asked the old man with a surprised tone.

    "I said that I want to buy the map that he asked you to sell him." Responded Alis with a confident tone. She then added "I am the young lady of the Saullet family. I don't think there will be a problem with my clearance."

    The old man took a book from under the counter. In this book, various noble family names were listed, along with a depiction of the family crest, and a small genealogical tree which went from the founder of the family, to the oldest living member.

    He then looked at Alesia and said "Your family crest miss?"

    Alesia immediately took a medallion from inside her spatial ring. It was a simple medallion, on which a shield split into four had been carved. Into each part of the shield was a different picture. These pictures were an arp, a sword, a drop of water, and a mirror.

    The old man took the crest from Alesia's hands, and after confirming that it matched with the one depicted in the book, and that the remains of ki inside it belonged to her first rank self, he bowed politely to her and said "Very well miss, the map costs two million gold coins."

    Daniel immediately woke up from the surprise, and said "I'll pay for it." He then handed over a spatial ring to the man which contained the exact amount of gold coin he had requested.

    The old man went to the back of his shop, and after a few minutes, came back with an enormous rolled up parchment.

    Daniel was surprised by the enormous size of the map, so he looked at the old man in confusion.

    The old man harrumphed coldly, and pointed at a large and empty table at the side of the room.

    Daniel grabbed the map messily and took it to the other side of the room. He couldn't help but bump into some of the items a few times. Making them fall from the counters.

    His heart was beating in his chest. He hadn't seen his sister in more than a year, and what he would see after opening the map, would give him a clear idea about how much longer it would take him to see her again.

    He nervously opened the map, and what appeared in front of him left him with his eyes wide opened in shock.
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