113 A Pinch of Retribution.. and a Bunch of Luck

    "What is wrong with your immortal essence, why is it split?.." Asked the dragon with curiosity.

    Daniel looked back at him, and responded "My immortal essence? What is that?"

    The face of the dragon contorted in confusion. "That's an answer I was not expecting.. What kind of cultivator are you, if you don't knowing the basics?"

    Before Daniel could even respond, the dragon looked at its surroundings. He immediately felt the presence of many other people in the distance, and that all of them had either a developed ki, or spiritual essence. "We are in the immortal plane, right? What year is this?"

    "I'm not sure what the immortal plane is, but it is the 52.636th year of the stellar calendar." Responded Daniel with a confused tone.

    "Fuck.. I haven't even heard of the stellar calendar.. Just where the hell am I?.. and how long have I been here?.." Muttered the dragon to himself. He then looked at Daniel and said "Why do you smell like my master?.."

    "I have no id-" Before Daniel could finish his sentence, he was interrupted by a low growl.

    The dragon took a step forward, and stared at him deep in the eyes. He said "The truth."

    Initially, Daniel wasn't scared. It wasn't the first time he had faced someone much more powerful than he was. At best, he would be killed once, and during his second try he would be able to attempt another approach. He only needed to understand this creature's character, and correct his behaviour in case he was killed.

    What Daniel could not stand, was the massive pressure caused by the incalculable power emanated by the dragon's presence. He felt as if he was standing at the bottom of the ocean, with tons and tons of litres of water that weighted on every millimeter of his body.

    "I r-really d-don't kn-" Once again, his words were interrupted by the dragon actions.

    Once again, the dragon started to growl louder than before.. Then, as if giving up on the idea of obtaining a truthful answer from Daniel, he parted his darkish lips, and ejected a dense stream of fire so powerful, that it turned Daniel into ashes in the span of a tenth of a second.

    When the members of Daniel's group approached the place where he was previously standing, they immediately noticed the human-like dragon, and the death of Daniel.

    Most of them dashed at him, but before they could manage to make a move, the dragon had turned back into its draconic form, and ejected another stream of bright flames. It then spun in place, while keeping on exhaling.

    A few cultivators managed to survive, but they were promptly finished off by the dragon's physical attacks the very next moment.

    Edmund, Vael and Bohn were a few of those who had survived the first attack, but unfortunately, after only a few seconds, Vael had been melted the moment he had tried to protect himself instead of running, Bohn had become a puddle of blood that drenched the ground, and Edmund had been killed in mid air while trying to teleport away.

    Once the dragon finished his onslaught, it looked around once more, and after confirming that there were no survivors, it flew high up in the air with its talons, tail, and wings still dripping with blood.

    What the dragon did not know, or even noticed, was that as this scene was taking place, the time was slowing down. It took him only a few seconds, and a few flaps of its leathery wings, to fly thousands of kilometers in the distance.

    After forty seconds from the moment of Daniel's death, time started to rewind.

    What was happening, was unbeknownst to the dragon. He flew backwards towards the death valley, and landed back on the ground unnaturally with its posterior legs.

    As his tail slashed backwards, Edmund's body connected back into one piece, Bohn's body was recomposed as he lifted his heavy hand from above him, and the flames that had dissipated in the air, were now reappearing and moving back into the dragon's mouth.

    The cultivators started to move back towards their previous positions, as the dragon's body went back to a human-like size and form.

    Finally, Daniel's ashes started to float back in the air and recompose his charred body, as a large ball of fire suddenly appeared around him, and went back towards the dark lips of the human-like dragon.

    The next scenes were a series of backwards conversation between Daniel and the dragon.

    "That's an answer I was not expecting.. What kind of cultivator are you for not knowing the basics?" Said the dragon to Danie.. Once again. It then looked confused and added "Wha.. what was that?"

    The situation was confusing for the dragon, but thanks to his impressive cultivation, he had still managed to feel that something was wrong. Fortunately, it was nothing more than a feeling for him. A feeling which he forgot as Daniel answered by saying "52.636th year of the stellar calendar.."

    "Oh.. dammit.. I don't even know what the stellar calendar is.." Responded the dragon, still a little confused by the strange feeling he had felt a few moments before. "Why do you smell like my master?.." He then asked once more.

    "Maybe your master and I are from the same place." Responded Daniel rapidly as his heart threatened to explode in his chest. He had spectated the entire forty seconds of rewinded time, and had seen, once again, how easily the dragon had turned him into ashes.

    During the forty seconds, Daniel was a step away from comprehending the concept of reverse time, and now he was sure that, in case he were to use 'Second Chance' again, he would definitely comprehend it.

    On the negative side, he had died once, and he wouldn't be able to come back alive if he were to die again. This was his last chance to survive the encounter with the dragon.

    "Why do you think that?" Asked the human-like dragon with clear interest in his yellow eyes.

    Daniel swallowed a big mouthful of saliva, then said "This world is big.. And I move a lot. Your nose probably has a divine smelling ability.. I can only assume that you've caught the scent I was exposed to the most during my life."

    "You're a smart kid.. Are these little humans friend of yours?" Asked the dragon while looking past the ring of volcanoes.

    "Yes, about that.. I apologize for disturbing your slumber. This place was isolated, And I thought it was a good place to attempt a breakthrough. Those people are my protectors." Said Daniel in a single breath.

    "Don't worry about that human. There are other things that you should worry about.." Said the dragon with a threatening tone.

    Edmund and the rest of the cultivators had already arrived at the edge of the ring of volcanoes, but as they felt the immense power emanated by the human-like dragon, they decided to stay back, and see if Daniel could get them out of trouble with words.

    After hearing the dragon's words, Daniel immediately took a step back. Since the very moment he had come back to life, he had noticed the number above the dragon's head. It was a mind boggling 421,205,772,875, and the color was so dark, that it was closer to black than red.

    It was very clear to Daniel, that he wasn't going to leave this place alive without a miracle, so, he attempted to stall for time.

    "I know you will kill us.. But since you're going to claim our lives.. Would you mind answering a few questions about cultivation?" Asked Daniel with a valiant and fearless expression.

    The lips on the dragon's face curved in a weird smile. He said "You're of that kind.. Unafraid of dying.. Seeker of knowledge.. Go on, I'll give you three minutes to live."

    It was the very moment Daniel had seen the dragon's karmic points, that he had used the system's ability called 'Karmic Retribution'.

    "Who are you?" Asked Daniel with haste. He didn't know what effect the system's skill would have, but he wanted to take advantage of the time he had.. Even if he were to die.

    "I'll save you some time and do the talking." Responded the dragon with an irritated tone. "My name is Dorgeo. A lesser dragon of the Drakarea family of Firebreathers. I've joined a war between the army of my master, The Tamer.. And that **ing sword freak.. Now that I think of it, he kind of smelled like my master too.."

    "What is the immortal plane?" Asked Daniel without losing a beat.

    Dorgeo looked around once more, then responded by saying "I'm not sure where we are.. But it doesn't seem like you've managed to find a way to ascend from your planet.. You should be happy, you were probably the closest."

    Unhappy with the response he was given, Daniel quickly asked another relevant question for his world "What is the method to ascend?"

    "You have to refine your ki with natural spiritual essence, of course." Responded Dorgeo with a matter-of-fact tone. This was the most well known and basic fact about cultivation for him.

    "We don't have natural spiritual essence here.. We can only obtain it while trading mana with the spiritual plane."

    "I've noticed that.. It's pretty odd. There is something strange with this planet.. Something that keeps it separated from the spiritual plane"

    "You've said that word twice already, what is a planet?" Asked Daniel in confusion. The world in which Daniel lived, had no concept of planets or anything of that sort. They understood what stars were, but due to the impossibility of them ascending to the immortal plane, they had no chance of discovering how immense their universe actually was.

    "I'm not even going to respond to that.." Said Dorgeo with an annoyed tone. He had lost his patience, and was already regretting giving Daniel three times to satiate his curiosity before killing him, so, he said "Enough questions. You won't need these answers anyway.. I'll just kill you quickly."

    "Sewah.. Where the hell is the retribution?!" Asked Daniel within his mind with an anxious tone.

    "That's a big amount of karma to process.. It might ta-"

    Before Sewah could finish his sentence.. The world stopped.

    No matter where, or how far in the world, time, space, and every other essence had stopped, paralyzing the world altogether.

    Humans, beasts, and other living races were still able to keep their consciousness, as this time freeze seemed to only have something to do with mana. But since the air, water and space around them was blocked, they were stuck in place.

    Daniel looked at Dorgeo, which was currently trying to free himself from the blockade.. The space around him was cracking, and it seemed that, given enough time, he would be able to free himself. But before he managed to.. A twenty kilometers tall spatial rift opened right next to him.

    From it, hundreds of massive vine-like tentacles poured into the dead valley, and started to move around. Crashing, destroying, and pulverizing anything they hit.

    Daniel stood still, feeling the the tentacles move all around him. Fortunately, all missed him.

    The same could not be said for Dorgeo, which in the span of a few seconds, had been slammed dozens of times on the ground.

    Daniel started to feel anxious. He could see that Dorgeo was receiving a massive amount of damage, but it didn't seem like he would be killed by that sort of power. If he were to resist until this rift disappeared, Daniel was sure that he and the others would be screwed.

    His anxiousness did nothing but increase with time, until finally, he started to see a change under the relentless attacks of the tentacles.

    Dorgeo had broken the blockade, and had managed to turn back himself back into his original dragon form. He started to fight back against the massive tentacles with all the strength he had, but unfortunately for him, he didn't have much luck with that, as turning back into a dragon gave him more means of attacking, but also made him much easier to grab.

    In less than a minute, his massive body was covered in thick tentacles.

    These tentacles squeezed him, breaking various of his bones.. And finally, pulled him into the spatial rift, which closed right after.

    As the spatial rift closed, the blockade on the essences was undone, and everyone was free to move again.

    The dead valley was a mess, and it looked as if a huge battle had just taken place.
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