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96 The Gathering of Experts Part 9

    "Quite down young man." Said the black-cloaked man with an irritated tone.

    Daniel quietened down, but before the man could resume speaking, he heard the voice of the emperor coming from behind him. "I'll allow it." He said while showcasing his power through his voice.

    The black-cloaked man turned to look at the emperor, and with surprise in his voice, he said "Your Imperial Majesty.. The traditions.."

    "They are competing on whose comprehension of spatial essence is the highest.. There is no point in making them compete one against the other. Let them all fight at the same time, and the one that will come out on top, will be the winner." Said the emperor calmly.

    The black-cloaked man turned to look at the other masters, and after confirming that none of them had anything to say against this decision, he turned back to look at the disciples and said, "You all know what to do.. Let the battle commence." he then disappeared.

    The moment the words were pronounced, the many disciples started to wrestle with their spiritual essence to gain the control over the surrounding space.

    An intense battle had started.

    Portions of space started to become thicken, getting a few cultivators stuck into a denser space that slowed them down greatly. Other portions shattered, and forced the cultivators trapped within the fragments to teleport constantly, and spin in confusion.

    The battle was chaotic, but within the group of cultivators, there were a few who had managed to get the upper hand.

    Daniel, the princess, and a few others were the only ones that had managed to maintain their composure. They were carefully looking at each other. Each in their own safe and stable bubble of space.

    The disciple of the man who had attacked Daniel during the presentation stage, had decide to target him during the competition. So, he looked at him, and started to bark insults and taunts.

    Unfortunately, his insults were received without any reaction.

    The princes had decided to target Daniel as well, but for a different reason. Since the beginning of the event, she had been deeply impressed by this young man. And after she heard that he might become a candidate for marrying his younger sister, the second princess, she had decided to test him out.

    She introduced herself politely, but just like the other young man, she received absolutely no response.

    Daniel was simply standing in place within his bubble of space.. Looking at the his surroundings with a relaxed expression.

    Both irritated by Daniel's indifference, they decided to attack.

    The young man was extremely competent in hindering other cultivators movements through space essence. Therefore, his strongest concept of space were density, gravity, and the creation of secure pocket dimensions.

    He immediately tried to overpower Daniel's control over the surrounding space, and after managing to erase Daniel's mark over it, he created an artificial space that surrounded his body completely.

    This artificial space was completely devoid of any connection with the outside world. It was like a pocket dimension without container, but with such a thick barrier, that finding a connection to the original world would take hours.

    He then thickened the space within, and increased the gravity inside it to the maximum possible level.

    Daniel was now lying on the ground, nailed by the near unbearable pressure, and unable to move due to the dense space all around him.

    With a proud expression, the young man looked at Daniel and said, "You don't look that carefree now."

    -----

    The princess' strengths were in the concepts of transportation and stability. She was able to teleport to long distances safely by taking large chunks of space along with herself. She was also able to shatter space, and force those stuck within into a never ending cycle of chaotic teleportation.

    She was currently looking at Daniel, which was standing peacefully on his spot with his usual carefree smile.

    Meanwhile, all around her, the rest of the cultivators, including the other young man, had already been caught by her shattered space and were currently teleporting left and right in a panicked state.

    Her cultivation was at the peak of the sixth rank, which was the most powerful rank amongst the spiritual cultivators that had competed for the title of Ruler of Space.

    It wasn't much compared to the overall rank of disciples that had joined the gathering, and yet she had found herself able to easily overpower the other spiritual cultivators.

    This had given her confidence.

    She looked at Daniel, and said "You will have to show me your worth before I'll approve of you becoming a contender for my sister's hand."

    She then shattered the space that surrounded Daniel, and stuck him into a never ending cycle of teleportation, just like she did with the others.

    -----

    Many different scenes were currently taking place within the stage.

    Some competitors that, after managing to gain the upper hand over the space essence in the surrounding, were able to render their targets unable to continue fighting by locking them in place.

    A few others stood like gods in the middle of groups of cultivators that lied helplessly on the ground, completely pressed by the heightened gravity.

    And even some that looked at their victims, which teleported from one fragment of space to another in a nauseous state, and begging desperately for it to stop.

    But these scenes did not matter.. only one did.

    In the balconies, the various masters of space were looking at the stage with faces filled with shame. Some were even covering themselves with their hands in order to prevent others from noticing their expressions.

    From their perspective, on the stage.. The situation had taken a much more embarrassing turn.

    The various cultivators seemed to have gone crazy.

    Some stood proudly, as if they had just won the competition, other lied helplessly on the ground, shouting and begging. There were even a few that were pointing at the empty space at talking to themselves.

    An example of this, were the princess, and the young man. Which were currently looking at the empty space and saying "..becoming a contender for my sister's hand." or "You don't look so carefree now."

    The only cultivator with a normal behaviour, was Daniel. He was currently sitting right in the middle of the stage, and giggling at the show that was taking place around him.

    "For crying out loud.. Put an end to this already.." Said one of the embarrassed masters of space.

    The rest of the masters looked at the masters of space in confusion, and one of them even asked "What do you mean? What is going on?"

    After brushing his forehead with his hand, the master of space who had previously talked said "That brat created a fictitious space the very moment the fight started.. The brats didn't even notice."

    "That seems impossible. What kind of spiritual cultivator wouldn't notice the lacking of essences within a fictitious space.." Asked a master of wind essence with a dubious tone.

    Highly irritated, the master of space responded, "The little bastard simulated every type of essence perfectly.. Wind, water, earth, light.. He even simulated sound and time.."

    "He is using different types of essence? Isn't that prohibited?" Asked the master of wind essence with a curious tone.

    "Do you feel any change in the wind of the area!?.. He isn't really using it.. He just mixed his comprehension into the fictitious space." Responded the master of space angrily. He became angrier the more questions people asked to him.

    The various masters couldn't help but look at Edmund in shock, looks which he welcomed with satisfaction. It couldn't be said that Daniel was his disciple, as he never had the chance to directly teach him or instruct him in anything. But Daniel's comprehension of space had been formed by his.

    It was the same kind of feeling that someone would have when seeing one of his relatives become incredibly successful. They would not be able to take the credit for it, but just the idea of having contributed to that success, was a morale boost to them.

    While the masters conversed, the situation started to change on the stage.

    The cultivators that were lying on the ground or teleporting in panic, were now getting back up on their feet, and leaving the stage. Their expressions were filled with disappointment.

    At the same time, the few cultivators that were standing proudly in the square, included the young man and the princess, were currently walking towards Daniel.

    In their perspective, they had just finished fighting against the other cultivators, and had came out victorious. They were currently walking in the middle of the stage to bask in their moment of glory.

    They each stopped at a certain point around Daniel, forming a full circle. Then, they started to bow deeply towards him.

    After bowing at the one whom they believed to be the emperor, they all teleported out of the stage, and next to their respective masters.

    The moment they teleported out of the stage, they looked at their masters, and instead of pride and joy, they saw embarrassment on their faces.

    They immediately turned to look at the stage, and in the middle of it, only Daniel and the black-cloaked man were standing. The latter said with his usual clear voice. "The title of Ruler of Space goes to The Mirror Shifter, master of Daniel."

    Deeply shocked, the competitors who had just finished seeing the black-cloaked man announce their victory, turned to look at their masters which quickly explained what happened to them.

    The concept was simple. The very moment the fight had started, Daniel had created a fictitious space for each of the other competitors.

    To those who did not have any chance of winning, Daniel had created a scenario in which they would be losing badly. That was a result that the contestants themselves had expected. While for the few more powerful ones, he had created a scenario in which they managed to defeat the rest of the competitors, and were announced the winners of the competition.

    The reason for this trick, was to play on fear and dreams of the disciples. The weakest ones feared to be trashed, while the strongest dreamed to overcome all others.

    Using this trick was all part of making things more realistic, and increase the chances that they would believe the scenario to be the real one. At the same time, he had perfectly replicated the flow of time, the sound of the outside world, and the elemental condition to a perfect similarity.

    His timing had been so precise, that none of the other contestants had even noticed that they had entered a different space.

    The disciples couldn't help but be skeptical towards their own master's words. After all, it required an impressive and constant output of spiritual essence to pull such a trick.. A quantity that a sixteen years old kid at the peak of the spiritual synchronization should not have.

    Unfortunately for them, they weren't aware that Daniel had reached the perfection of the sixth stage of cultivation, and had a hastened production of ki to exchange with the spiritual plane.

    In any case, they had lost, and they had done it spectacularly.

    Oddly enough, the emperor hadn't taken offence in seeing his daughter being played with like a puppet, and instead, had a satisfied grin on his face.

    Still in the middle of the stage, the black-cloaked man said "The Competition stage of the gathering has terminated. The Evaluation stage and premiation will take place two days from now."

    As always, after the final announcement of the day had been given, the stage, the black-cloaked man, and the platform on which the imperial family sat disappeared.

    The masters then left the square along with their own disciples.

    -----

    Alesia was currently looking at Daniel talk with her parents.

    "Had I known there was a premiation, I would have taken things more seriously." Said Daniel with a slightly annoyed tone.

    Edmund looked back at him and muttered, "You damn freak.." he then paused slightly, and continued "Back to our deals.. You still owe me something" he said while tossing a small piece of glass to Daniel.

    From within this piece of glass, Daniel could feel a faint stream of spatial essence. It didn't take long for Daniel to reach the conclusion that, this piece of glass, was undoubtedly a low level spatial treasure.
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