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104 Trapped like Mice and Rats

    It was night time, and the various groups of cultivators from the Tiyar empire were still roaming the city. They were on high guard about any sort of suspicious behaviour or sudden teleportation.

    A spiritual cultivator would always be able to recognize the mark left behind an instance of teleportation, therefore, they kept their attention focused on the spiritual marks of each instance of teleportation within the city.

    The only reason why Roley hadn't teleported out of the city yet, was because he wasn't sure if the chasing spiritual cultivators had been present to the previous battles, and would be able recognize his spiritual mark.

    If that was the case, they would be doomed.

    One thing Roley had learned from Edmund, aside from his full comprehension of spatial essence, was also his calm and composed state of mind.

    Despite having the lives of all of his friends on his shoulders, Roley didn't let himself fall under pressure, and instead, tried to find the most optimal way to make Imblen and himself pass as a normal couple.

    Unfortunately, both of them had ended up in that situation too suddenly.

    The moment they had been teleported out of the ring, they were busy doing other things. So, their attire wasn't something one would see a strolling couple wearing.

    A second detail the betrayed their act, was that they kept avoiding to face towards whomever they believed to be part of their pursuers. Of course, they knew very well that that was a mistake, but there was still a small chance that someone might recognize their faces, so they had no choice.

    It didn't take long for a particularly perceptive spiritual cultivator to notice that something was wrong with the two of them.

    Thanks to the sensing of the wind and water essence in the air, Roley was able to find out that someone was quietly following them in the streets.

    He did not panic, and instead, he kept his act going despite the possibility of being attacked at any given moment.

    After a few minutes of quiet pursuing, Roley took a sharp turn into one of the alleys, pushed Imblen against one of the walls, grabbed her wrists, and wrapped her arms around his neck.

    "What are you do-" Her words were interrupted by Roley's lips, which suddenly pressed against hers.

    He could sense that the pursuers were about to enter their field of vision, so he took a step towards Imblen, pressed his body against hers, and put his hands on her waist.

    The very next moment, a small group of three middle aged cultivators appeared from behind the left corner of the street.

    One of the three middle aged men looked at Roley and Imblen with a sideways expression, and then, kept moving while pretending that he had seen nothing.

    The three didn't stop, and instead, left Roley's field of vision.. But secretly, the spiritual cultivator within the group kept his sensing ability locked on the two of them.

    Roley had imagined that that could have happen, so, despite Imblen's attempt to push him away, Roley kept pulling her lower body towards him, and nailing her upper body against the wall with what looked like a passionate kiss.

    It was only after half a minute that Roley finally took a step back, and grabbed Imblen's hand.

    They needed to look like a couple in love who had just finished kissing, so he couldn't simply robotically step back and start running away from the pursuing group.

    In order to appear even less suspicious, after they left the alley hand in hand, Roley moved in the same direction the small group of cultivators were going to.

    This was enough for the three cultivators to rule them out as targets.

    Logically speaking, when someone was being followed, they would try to shake off their pursuer, but this wasn't an actual pursuit. This was a matter of convincing the other party that they were not the people that they were looking for.

    They had managed to convince them by acting calmly and behaving exactly like a couple of young people in love would. They had managed to avoid all kinds of suspicious behaviour, even when out of sight, and instead of creating more distance between them and their pursuers, they shortened the distance between them.

    This was Roley's plan to trick the three cultivators, and it had worked.

    It also helped that after their kiss, Imblen couldn't help but stare at the cold and quick witted Roley, which was currently walking two steps ahead of her with eyes mixed with many different feelings.. anger being only one of them.

    For two more days, Imblen and Roley pretended to be a couple. Then, they bought a passage into a carriage that went towards another city, and left their unsuspecting pursuers behind.

    -----

    Twenty five days later, Daniel, and the rest of the party had finally arrived at the edge of the Tiyar empire.

    Daniel's method to backtrack his friends had worked, but the trail had ended abruptly. It seemed that after creating a massive enmity with the Tiyar empire, they ended up disappearing.

    Not one increase in overall karma, nor an increase in reputation with new or old kingdoms, empires, or powerful groups.

    The six of them were currently sitting at a table within a cheap restaurant. This was the first time since their escape that they had stopped to relax for a bit, so they couldn't help but drink and eat until their clothes started to stretch.

    On their way to the Tiyar empire they had managed to encounter a few bandit groups which they had not refrain from robbing.

    Once out of their limiting chains, they had immediately used constructed water to clean themselves from the disgusting filth they had accumulated in the time they had spent in prison.

    Now wearing clean clothes, the six would have looked like quite the group of gentlemen, had it not been for their long beards, and their badly done haircuts.

    "What do we do now?" Asked Weiss with his usual serious tone.

    "Now, we look for informations. My group was here last month.. I want to know if something important happened thirty days ago." Responded Daniel while chewing on something that looked like a chicken leg, but that twenty times as big.

    From the other side of the table, Rexx said "Can we at least stop for a night or two.. I remember there was talking about taking baths with multiple women in case we got out.."

    "Cut it out Rexx.." Saiid Roland suddenly. He then looked at Daniel, and said "Why are we looking for this people, Dan?"

    "They are good people.. They are my people.. Plus, they are carrying all I own.. My home included." Responded Daniel with a matter-of-fact tone.

    "Alright then.."

    After finishing their meals, Daniel and the rest went to ask around, and it didn't take much for them to hear a few interesting stories.

    According to one in particular, near the Tiyar kingdom, there was a forest. Inside this forest, just a couple of months earlier, a group of hostile wood elementals had been discovered.

    Apparently, those elementals were vicious, and had responded to human's courtesy by imprisoning and killing the noble ambassadors of the Tiyar empire.

    In an attempt to save the captured explorers, the emperor had mobilized a large chunk of his army to wage war on the evil races that inhabited the forest.

    To Daniel's current party, this news was irrelevant, but to him, that was actually the trail he was looking for.

    After being separated for a full day, Daniel and the rest met back in the restaurant where they had eaten before.

    "..and they escaped from the forest." Said Rexx, finishing to list all the events he had heard in the past day..

    "Wood elementals.." Muttered Daniel to himself. "It's definitely them."

    "How do you know?" Asked Weiss with a curious tone.

    Daniel looked back at him and said "Because elementals are peaceful in nature. I'd rather believe that they were attacked because of something they possessed. That's not the first time I've seen something like that happening."

    "Okay, so what now?" Asked Roland while cleaning his well trimmed mustache from his beverage's remains. "How are we going to find them? The empire is flaunting a victory.. They'll never admit that they are still on the chase."

    "I have an idea."

    -----

    One month later.

    Things hadn't gone better for Daniel's group. While it was true that Roley had managed to escape from a particular group of pursuers, the empire still had a few tactics prepared.

    When Roley and Imblen were playing couple in the streets of a populated city, the Tiyar empire had sent various other groups in the cities closest to the one in which their actual target were suspected.

    At the same time, they had filled in the spaces between cities, and formed an impressive net of spies and troops.

    Each party had spiritual cultivators in them, along with someone adept in spatial essence.

    Roley and the rest had found this out in the worst way possible. Thinking they were safe once left the area, they had tried to teleported in the distance, but unfortunately, a party was stationed within a nearby city.

    Their teleportation had been felt by this party, and once again, the chase had started.

    This had gone for awhile, and every time the group managed to slip out of the empire's current pursuing party, and out of their reach.. at some point, they would be found out once again.

    If that wasn't enough, every time they were found out, the extremely capable military commanders would reform the pursuing net to move along with their target.

    To Daniel's group, this felt like they were a fish in the sea which was being chased by a moving net.

    In the past months, more than once had Roley and Edmund risked being caught. Mostly because they were the only two adept in spatial essence within the group, and if they didn't manage to escape the pursuit before their spiritual essence ran out, in the end, they would reach a point where they would both have no spiritual essence left.

    At that point, not only would they be unable to teleport to safety, but they would also be unable to defend themselves.

    The local authorities had long started to feel the sent of something fishy going on in their territory. A few skirmishes had even started because of a few local powerful cultivators, which had stopped various of these odd parties as they came and went through their territories.

    It had been a long month for Daniel's group, and Roley and Edmund were down to their last leg.

    Unfortunately, for as useful as teleportation and portals were, the traces they left were too obvious. So obvious in fact, that if someone was present to spectate to a spiritual cultivator's teleportation, they would be able to feel the connection between the two point in space, and easily be able to use the same dissipating connection to follow them on the other side.

    That feeble connection in space was called Spatial Residue, and it was the main reason why teleporting wasn't considered the best way of escaping, especially when being followed by other spiritual cultivator adept in the use of spatial essence.

    The two essences that were considered the best to escape were, ironically enough, earth essence and water essence.

    When Roley had entered the pocket dimension, right before Daniel was imprisoned, he had immediately understood what he meant when he said that "he had a surprise for him".

    Good part of the two and a half years that they had spent apart, he had spent in the core of the earth elemental's territory, studying earth essence.

    Unfortunately, using earth essence to escape would only work if others weren't adept in the use of earth essence themselves. As long as someone was adept in the use of earth essence, and possessed a higher cultivation that Roley's, they could easily end up being trapped underground.

    At that point, nobody would be able to leave the pocket dimension, and they would be easily captured.

    The ones who were wearing Daniel's pocket dimension at the moment, were Ligart and Heimart, which were casually entering a clothing shop in order to pretend to be customers in search of a new martial attire.

    The two weren't as cold and prepared as Roley was, so, at some point, they had ended up being discovered.

    The moment they got discovered, Roley came out of the ring, and teleported immediately along with Ligart and Heimart, starting the chase once again.
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