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143 Torture Until Proven Not Guilty

    "HEY ZACK!.." Said a voice that came from behind the crippled young man.

    A shiver run down Zack's back as he immediately turned around, but before his eyes could land on the person who had called him, he was already on the ground.

    *Thump*

    Due to his crutches, he wasn't able to put his hands in front of himself to mitigate the fall, and the kick on the back had caused him to fall face first against the hard rocky floor.

    As soon as the crowd heard the name 'Zack', they turned to look at the scene, and formed a large circle around him.

    Within this circle, only he and six other individuals were standing. Five of them were clearly over twenty years of age, while the last one, was a girl between fifteen and sixteen years of age.

    All of these people had similar looking clothes, but of different colors. The color of the robes of four out of six people in the group were dark green, while the robe of the younger girl, and one of the younger men, was of a much lighter shade of green.

    The person in front of the group, and the one that had just kicked Zack's back, was a twenty-five years old man with dark green robes.

    "Do you remember what I've said I would have done to you, if I ever saw you inside the city again?" Asked the young man with a vicious and taunting tone.

    -----

    When Daniel entered the large building, he found himself in a large and circular room. In the middle of it, was a round platform elevated to ten meters in the air.

    At the edge of this platform, was a flight of stony stairs, and at the bottom, was a distinct middle aged man, and two guards which stood behind him at all times.

    Over this platform, a large symbol, which Daniel recognized as the teleporting formation, had been carved on the floor. In various spots in this formation, many spatial treasures had been encrusted.

    All around the platform, thousands of people were walking around, and buying items on the high-end stalls that had been set up.

    Daniel approached the bottom of the flight of stairs right away, and stood in front of the middle aged man.

    "I would like to teleport to the Capital." He said with a polite tone.

    The middle aged man looked back at him, and after looking him up and down for a few moments, he said "The formation is deactivated. Come back in two days."

    "Very well, how much does the travel cost?" Asked Daniel, so that he could prepare for the travel in the meantime.

    "Five mid-level crystals. And a thousand contribution points." Responded the man plainly.

    "Contribution points? What is that?"

    The man looked at Daniel sideways, and said "Too many people were using the formation every year. After an attentive calculation, the government realized that the price for each use couldn't cover the expense in the long run. Therefore, they decided to add contribution points. The government will cover the rest of the expense, but citizens will have to contribute to the public well being."

    "Is that a new thing?" Asked Daniel in confusion. He couldn't recall Zack mentioning this at all.

    "Fairly new.. But you should have known this unless you live in the slums right outside of the city." Responded the man casually.

    "Okay, I'll be back in two days, tha-"

    *AAAAAAAARGH!!*

    A sudden pained shout came from outside of the building, and caused those who were strolling around to turn in the direction of the entrance.

    Daniel wasn't an exception.

    He walked out of the building to take a look at what was happening, and once he crossed the double door, he found a large crowd grouped in a circle.

    Daniel made his way through the crowd, and when he reached the edge of the circle, he saw Zack on the ground, screaming in pain.

    Both of his arms were broken, and the bones came out of his flesh. His crooked legs had been shattered once again, and his feet were bent in an odd direction.. His ankles were clearly broken as well.

    Next to him, was a young man of about Daniel's age, along with a few other people that appeared to belong to the same group as him.

    Daniel observed the scene for a few moments, as he didn't know what, or why that was happening. So, he pushed his spiritual sense outwards, and heard the people talk.

    "..he deserves it.."

    "Him being allowed back in the city is already shameful enough for their sect.."

    "..they should kill him, already and be done with it."

    "..on't believe he actually did it.."

    The conversations sparked all around the crowd, and Daniel could only hear bits and pieces. What he had understood, was that Zack was a generally hated guy.

    Something else that he had noticed, was something within the people in the middle of the group.

    Of the seven people that were in the middle of the circle, Zacks karma was steady at a neutral level, just like that of three others amongst the group.

    What was interesting, was that the karma of the man that was hitting Zack was decreasing, but not as fast as the karma of the youngest girl, and of the one that looked like the oldest of the young men, which went down the more Zack got hit.

    Each kick gave the girl and this man a hundred or so negative karma points.

    Daniel's train of thought was interrupted by the sight of a kick, which if it connected, would have probably killed Zack.

    He was about to intervene, but before he could, one of the two guards stationed in front of the building which contained the teleporting formation, had already appeared, and stopped the attack by putting his shield in between him and Zack, and parrying the blow for him.

    Daniel immediately noticed the guard's karma increase positively.

    "Mind your own business guard, you know what this vermin has done?!" Barked the young man furiously.

    The guard stood quietly, and looked at the young man through the holes of his helmet, then, he turned around and went back to his post.

    The young man smirked, and turned to look back at Zack. He wasn't going to kill him, but he wanted him to suffer some more. But, as he turned to look at him, next to his broken body, he saw a young man standing quietly.

    This young man was, of course, Daniel.

    The man turned to look at Daniel, and said "If you want to hit him, stand in line, pal."

    Daniel completely ignored him, and instead, he reached with his hand for Zack's body, and pressed it on his chest. Then, he injected a heavy stream of healing essence inside him.

    *Crack* *Snap*

    Sounds of snapping and cracking bones could be heard, as waves of warmness quickly spread through Zack's body.

    People looked at Daniel with shocked expressions, as Zack's crippled body was quickly restored to what was supposed to be a normal human's shape.

    After a minute of shock, the young man that was observing Daniel's action shouted "HEY! YOU!.. What the hell do you think you are doing!?" He walked towards him, and put a hand on Daniel's shoulder.

    The moment his hand touched Daniel's shoulder, a weak current of electricity ran through his body, causing him to immediately pull it back in shock.

    While still healing Zack, Daniel turned to look at the young man, and with the coldest voice he could manage, he said "Touch me again, and you'll end up in the state he was in when I've started treating him."

    Daniel's threat did nothing but anger the young man more, which shouted with a higher-pitched voice "Do you even know who that little ** is!? He is a rapist!"

    Daniel's brows furrowed immediately as he heard the man's words. He then said "That's a severe accusation. What's your proof?"

    "PROOF?! My sister came to me! Crying! Saying that she couldn't marry because she had been defiled by that piece of **!!" Shouted the man while indicating at the young girl whose karma increased negatively whenever Zack was hit.

    The pieces of the story were quickly put together in Daniel's mind.

    Of course, it was only a matter of whose word people decided to believe.. Zack's or the girl's. Unfortunately for this guy, even if Daniel hadn't heard the entire story from a crying young girl herself, he already knew which one to believe.

    He had access to an indisputable proof, which no one could see, nor deny. That proof, was karma.

    Daniel's hypothesis, was that the girl had lied to get herself out of a marriage she didn't approve of. The second guy whose karma rapidly decreased was probably on board with the lie.

    Her brother, whose karma decreased at a much slower pace than theirs, was likely unaware of the truth, and the only reason why his karma decreased, was because he was hitting an innocent person.

    "That's your proof? My sister told me?.. I wonder, if somebody's sister claimed you had raped her, would that make you a rapist too?"

    The young man could believe Daniel's words. He had never been doubted before, and to him, his sister was the victim.. Her being called a liar, was the biggest offence he could ever receive.

    "YOU BASTARD!" The young man shouted angrily as he unsheathed his sword, and dashed towards Daniel.

    As he reached him, he brought his sword down on Daniel's body with as much power as he could muster, but the moment before the sword could strike, he found himself in the entrance of the city, exactly where Daniel had met Zack for the first time.

    Witnessing the young man's disappearance, the group of cultivators which belonged to his faction reacted quickly. They unsheathed their own weapons and attacked.. But they too found themselves being teleport various kilometers away from the point there the fight was taking place.

    The only two people that had remained, were the teenage girl, and the young man which Daniel believed was part of the girl's lie.

    The latter turned to look at the girl, and said "Call her." with a look of urgency.

    In response, the girl rapidly grabbed the small stone encrusted in her necklace, and broke it.

    The moment the stone broke, Daniel felt the activation of a small spatial formation. This spatial formation created a portal, from which a thirty years old woman came out.

    This woman, just like the rest of the group, was dressed in green robes, but the color was much darker than the others, almost black.

    She had straight and long black hair which reached all the way to her lower back, and was taller than the norm. Right above her behind, she kept two sheathed short swords, which she could easily unsheathe at any given moment.

    "What is it?" She asked with a serious tone through a just as serious expression. Her beautiful features seemed locked into a cold, and almost scary setting.

    The teenage girl turned to the woman that had just appeared, and said "Elder sister.. This man attacked my brother and three more members of the sect.. To defend the guy that.. That.." she then started to cry.

    Seemingly unimpressed, the woman turned towards Daniel, and approached him quietly.

    Once in front of him, she said "Is what she said true?"

    Zack, which had just recovered, sprung up on his feet and said "Elder sister, please, he did nothing wrong!.. He simply defended me.. He only defended himself!"

    The woman ignored Zack, and looked at Daniel with a stern expression.

    It had been a long time since Daniel had stopped being scared by people stronger than him.. And stronger she was.

    If he were to guess the extent of this woman's strength, he would say that she was slightly stronger than one of the ten commanders, and weaker than the king. She was at the early king level of power.

    With a calm that not many could manage to maintain in that sort of situation, Daniel said "No, it's not true."

    "What happened then?" Asked the woman, slightly curious about Daniel.

    "Are you sure you want me to answer?.. If you end up finding out that she is lying about this, you might start wondering if there be something else she lied about.." Said Daniel casually.
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