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129 The Wasteland World - Hope

    "Daniel.." Said the strongest of warriors from behind his back. "It's time we start thinking of how to leave this place.."

    Of course, Daniel knew that the strongest of warriors was right. They had stayed within the mages' stronghold twelve times the amount they were supposed to.

    Unfortunately, the monsters that awaited for them on the other side of the shore were not decreased in number. In fact, the various small and larger groups that surrounded the mages' stronghold, after the retreat of the army of warriors, had focused on creating a perimeter around the lake.

    Daniel was feeling depressed at the moment. Not only because he was stuck here indefinitely, but also because he had disappointed this group of people, that wanted nothing more than to have a chance to conduct a better life. Even worse than that, he had given them false hope.

    But before he could collapse into self loathing, he heard a few words from the old warrior which left him shocked.

    "We will fight our way out of here.. So that at least you can leave and report back to the tribe." Said the old man without a hint of hesitation.

    Daniel turned towards him with a face of absolute shock, and asked "Why?.. What worth does my life have to you after this absolute failure?"

    The old man sighed softly, then, he placed one of his hands on Daniel's shoulders, and said "I know what you are capable of. We know you didn't lie to us, and that you had good intentions.. All we want is for you not to give up trying."

    Daniel felt a lump in his throat, as his eyes started to turn watery due to the mixture of intense feelings he felt at the moment. He was really tempted to dash out in the sea of monsters and unleash all of his frustration on them..

    The old man noticed Daniel's state. He gave him a gentle slap on his shoulder, and said "Come on.. It's time." Then, he turned to walk outside of the white castle.

    Without moving from his place, Daniel said "No.." Then, as the group turned to look back at him, he added "This is not how it ends.."

    Suddenly, a window appeared in his mind.

    ____________________________

    *Primary Quest started: Just a Wandering Hero*

    -Description: Save those in need.

    Fourth objective set: Help the tribe warriors to escape from the island.

    Optional: Avoid any additional death.

    Reward: Karma +500,000 (+250,000) / Tribes reputation +65% (+15%)

    Time Limit: The party of the system's wielder will die of starvation in 7 months, 19 days.

    ____________________________

    Daniel had purposely started this quest, as he had no other way to turn to but his karmic system.

    After reading the details of the mission, Daniel said in his mind "My options, Sewah."

    ____________________________

    Open approach

    Difficulty: Easy

    - ???

    Time limit: 7 months, 19 days.

    (Requirements: Perfection of the immortal path stage, and of the spiritual merging stage.)

    Reward: ???

    ____________________________

    "What the..? What is that" Asked Daniel in surprise after seeing the description of the suggested approach. The reward and the description were hidden, and only the requirements were visible.

    "Oh, that's odd.." Said Sewah from within Daniel's mind. He then added "It appears that the system doesn't always know what to do.."

    "Fine.. I'll start with cultivating then." Said Daniel to sewah before turning towards the survivors of his party, and saying "I need you guys to trust me once more."

    -----

    Within the cave where the triumvirate and the other leaders had gathered, the head scholar, along with the leaders of the other four tribes, sat around the large bonefire.

    "We have to go back and het them.. Create a distraction.. Anything!" Said the head scholar with frustration.

    "You have to calm down.. We understand what it means to lose your brother and your sister-in-law.. But try to be realistic. The monsters will get to them sooner or later.. And that is if they aren't dead already.." Said the middle aged man which had agreed to join the alliance first during the previous gathering.

    The chief scholar looked at the middle aged man with a saddened expression, and said "I.. I can't make it on my own.. If they die.. My tribe will be finished."

    "Don't worry about it. We won't let your people die. We are all willing to welcome a portion of your tribe into ours. No one will become homeless. I promise." Responded the middle aged man with a reassuring tone.

    -----

    Back within the mages' stronghold, Daniel was sitting quietly. In front of him, were large portions of mid level corrupted meat.

    This meat came from the monsters which Daniel's party had killed on their way to the stronghold. It mostly belonged to monsters at the leader level, which could be compared to beast cores between the sixth and ninth rank.

    Since Daniel had decided to cultivate, he spent almost two millions of karma points to upgrade time is precious from the tenth level, to the twentieth level. Maxing it.

    He now was able to cultivate at two thousand and one hundred times his normal speed of cultivation.

    The rest of the group was looking at him with visible doubt in their faces.

    Without thinking too much about it, Daniel started to eat the various types of meat.

    He had started a process of which only he was capable of. He would eat the contaminated meat, absorb the power which would be split and used to refine his body and spirit, and finally, the essence of corruption within the meat would be expelled by his body, thanks to the presence of his powerful spirit, which worked as the bane of essence of corruption.

    This went on for two days.

    The floor of the room he was in was covered in black liquid, which, to Daniel's unbeknownst, was slowly being pushed away from the middle of the castle.

    After two Days, Daniel had finally managed to reach the peak of the ninth stage of cultivation. He knew that he would lose consciousness if he attempted to cultivate further, so, he took the meat of the strongest monster he possessed, and ate it in half an hour.

    Once his stomach was full, he took a deep breath, and resumed his cultivation.

    As expected, in a matter of seconds, he lost his consciousness.

    The vortex would not form unless he tried to break through to the following stage of cultivation. Unfortunately, he didn't know how, as there was no real proof that his race of human would be able to reach such a height in cultivation.

    After Daniel lost his consciousness, the power within the meat was absorbed at such a speed, that it was completely consumed in a matter of seconds. Even the power within the meat that had been lied in front of Daniel was slowly being absorbed without even needing for him to eat it directly.

    These pieces of meat quickly lost power, and became simple lumps of contaminated meat.

    Within Daniel's body, the two types of power were trying to merge further.. But unfortunately, there was no spiritual essence which could me mixed with his ki.

    Suddenly, an odd event started to take place.

    A small grey vortex had appeared right in the middle of the white castle.. Right behind the portion of a wall on which a painting had been placed.

    This small and grey vortex didn't forcibly absorb anything. Instead, it started to quietly and slowly grow in size.

    The members of the group were only able to notice it after it had become large enough to enter the room they were staying in.

    This grey vortex kept becoming bigger and bigger.. And at the same time, it was approaching Daniel's position.

    "What is that?!" Asked Gai'ha with visible panic.

    The strongest of warriors said "It doesn't seem to be dangerous.. Its power is.. It's comforting.. I.." He then started to slowly approach it.

    The chief hunter tried to stop him, but the more she looked at the grey vortex, the more she wanted to approach it as well.

    Gai'ha and the head hunter tried to grab their clothes and pull them back, but the two just kept walking, until they disappeared within the grey vortex.

    Daniel was still sitting in the middle of the room, still unconscious.

    The vortex kept expanding.. And approaching him..

    The moment its edge touched Daniel's body..

    Suddenly..

    *WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM*

    A deafening and constant sound resounded through the entire wasteland world, causing the monsters and warriors of any sort of power to fall on their knees, and cover their ears in pain.

    In a castle within the prohibited land, inside the throne room.. A human-like being suddenly turned his head towards the direction of the island, and stood up from the throne he was sitting on. He then disappeared from the throne room the very next moment.

    The deafening noise kept going for numerous seconds, until finally..

    *CRACK*

    An extremely loud cracking sound could be heard.

    The grey vortex had disappeared, and within the room, the strongest of warriors and the chief hunter had reappeared unscathed.

    In the middle of the room, Daniel was still cultivating.. But something had changed in him.

    If Daniel were to be awake right now, he would be shocked.

    Half of the power he had absorbed by the monster's meat was currently turning into spiritual essence, which was in turn, merging with his ki.

    The two powers became closer and closer.. And from a 'sand soaked in water' feeling, the two powers joined into a single cream-like power.

    They were now one and the same.

    Daniel's  breakthrough took him to the perfection of immortal path stage, and to the perfection of the spiritual merging stage at the same time.

    As the breakthrough was concluded, he slowly opened his eyes.

    The world around him was completely different.

    "Daniel! What happened?!" Asked Gai'ha, still shocked by the many odd events.

    "We did it.." Responded Daniel while smiling gently at the members of the group.

    What Daniel had felt from the very moment he had woken up, was not only a simple connection to the spiritual plain and his spirit, but the omnipresent spiritual essence in the elements, space, and time.

    Unfortunately, he was still able to feel the essence of corruption.

    "What do you mean? I don't feel anything.." Responded Gai'ha in confusion.

    Once again, Daniel smiled at her.. And without saying anything, he made various spheres of different kinds of essence appear around him.

    They orbited around his body like small planets made of hot stone, limitless oceans, deadly gales.. And brilliant lightning..

    "What are those?!" Asked the chief hunter through a shocked expression.

    "Spiritual essence.. It's so powerful.. And deep." Responded Daniel in delight. He couldn't help but inhale deeply, and take in the large amounts of natural spiritual essence.

    He then approached the chief hunter, placed a hand on her stomach, and started to inject copious amounts of healing essence.

    The woman felt the pain caused by the two conflicting powers within her body, but what really shocked her, was seeing small amounts of black liquid drip down her healing injuries.

    In a matter of seconds, she was fully healed, and the corruption in her body had decreased by a small amount.

    The strongest of warriors looked at Daniel's actions.. And couldn't help but tighten his fists hard enough to pierce the flesh with his own fingernails. In his eyes, two large tears had formed, and were threatening to stream down his cheeks at any moment.

    He hadn't realized, until now, how much he really hoped for all of this to be true. And now that he was witnessing it with his own eyes, he couldn't help but feel his emotions well up in his throat.

    The rest of the group weren't much slower in realizing.. In a matter of seconds, they were all on the verge of tears.

    Noticing how overjoyed the tribes warriors were, Daniel couldn't help but smile. He looked at the lot of them, and said "Come, let's talk about this back to the tribe's territory."

    He was about to teleport them right out of the prohibited land, but before he could.. Two large portals opened above the small island.

    A black one, and a white one..
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