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233 Going Home

    Illuminated by the feeble green flame placed right underneath the small golden cauldron, the old man focused on controlling its intensity. Inside the cauldron, various ingredients floated on the surface of the brownish liquid, while being slowly boiled.

    Exactly five minutes later, the old man grabbed a simple wooden bowl, and used it to scoop a good amount of the finished product, filling the bowl almost completely. He then moved the bowl closed to his nose, and after inhaling the thick aroma emanated by its content.. He made a metallic spoon appear in his hand, and started to eat it one spoon at a time.

    No long after, the bowl was completely empty.. "It needs a little more salt.." muttered the old man with dissatisfaction.

    Just as the old man finished speaking, the door of his rocky room suddenly opened, and from behind it, a middle aged woman barged in. The first thing she did, was to look at the cauldron with enthusiasm, but then, after she saw that it contained a simple vegetable soup, she said "Master.. I could have cooked for you.." It was clear from her tone that they had had this conversation more than once before.

    "I am getting good at it." Responded the old man with a dismissive tone. "What is it?" He then asked.

    Almost as if recalling something extremely important, the middle aged woman said "The spatial illusions have been broken. The coalition's army has discovered the general area where we are hiding."

    Not particularly shocked by the report, the old man slowly stood up, and said "Which ones?"

    "The ones on the east, south-east, and north. Should we retreat further west?" Responded the woman.

    The old man became pensive for a few moments "No. If they had approached us from a single side, it could have been possible for us.. But since they came from three different directions, it means that they know we are here, and that the path west is a trap.. Come with me." he then said before walking out of the stone room along with her disciple.

    Once outside of the stone room, the old man and the middle aged woman found themselves in what looked like an underground city. Extremely similar to that in which the tribes of the wasteland world lived. The only difference between the two, was that while the tribes in the wasteland world had made the caves inside the mountain their permanent homes, this one looked a lot more like a big military encampment.

    Dozens of tents were placed orderly in the area, and in between them, kids could be seen playing around. The powerful clink of iron against iron resonated through the cave constantly, as numerous blacksmiths forged one rudimentary weapon after the other.

    From a single look, people would infer that this camp was, in fact, a refugee camp. And that the people in it were hiding from something or someone.

    The old man kept walking slowly towards the entrance of this massive cave, and the closer he got to the entrance, the more armored warriors he saw. Many of these people were injured, and were receiving medical treatment.

    The buzzing of conversation could be heard in the surrounding, and while the old man was not paying particular attention to what these warrior said, he could still hear their dissatisfied words.

    "Can't we just tell them that he is not with us?"

    "Are you stupid? Would they believe it?"

    "To be honest.. Even I don't believe that he isn't with us.."

    Their dissatisfaction seemed to be caused by something they had no control over, or that at the very least, they found unfair. The talking only stopped after these people noticed the old man and the middle aged woman walk through the tents.. Sight to which they responded to by springing up on their feet, and saluting politely.

    The old man and the middle aged woman ignored these people completely, and kept going until they reached a tent larger than the others. Inside it, was a massive table with a tridimensional map constructed by the use of earth, water, metal, and wood essence, and around this table, numerous heavily armored warriors of a rank clearly higher when compared to the previous ones he had seen.

    "Lord Golden Cauldron." Said one the men that was standing in front of the large map.

    The old man nodded slightly in recognition, and said "General Olmi, how is our situation?"

    "Not better than what you would expect, unfortunately.. The Empty Pocket, the Hawk Eye, and the Marauders mercenary companies have refused to work for credit, and abandoned the service of the Golden Cauldron company.. We suspect that they have sold the information regarding our hiding spot to the coalition.." Responded the general with a grim tone. He then added "Lord.. we have heard from a few of the coalition scouts that the coalition force amounts to thirteen empires and eighty-four independent kingdoms now.. If we are caught, we will face destruction."

    After hearing the report from the general, a young and injured warrior dashed into the tent in hurry.

    "General Olmi, Lord Golden Cauldron.. I have important news!" Exclaimed the young man. Without even waiting for the general to allow him to speak, he continued by saying "Lord Silver Alchemist and Lord Kye have been attacked while in the neighbouring Kingdom.. They sent me to ask for reinforcements!"

    "Damn it." Responded the general in anger. He had worked for the Golden Cauldron company for almost twenty years now, and he was fully aware of how these kingdoms were used to give up their dignity to ask favors, and collaboration of the company, and now, not only were they refusing the same treatment, but they were also being betrayed. And that was despite the company had risked enough to send the current second in command as a sign of respect.

    "Commander Hora, take your regiment and go to support the two lords." He said through gritted teeth. "Lord Golden Cauldron.. We have to evacuate the mountain immediately.. The departure of thousands of warriors will definitely not escape their eyes.."

    "Leave the army here.. I'll go myself." Responded the old man before leaving the large tent, and a couple of minutes later, the underground cave.

    When he re-emerged, he found himself in the middle of a large forest. He had stopped right underneath a ray of bright sunlight, which hit his wrinkly face gently.

    -----

    Millions of kilometers away, Daniel was currently sitting in what only hours earlier, was the throne of an emperor. On the marble floor in front of him, were dozens and dozens of maps placed in a way which allowed him a more comprehensive sight of his surroundings.

    This map included the massive continent which they had just finished conquering, the mountain ranges up north, the oceans by the sides, and the near infinite desert in the south. Past the oceans, the map included the borders of a few other continents.

    His eyes were pointed towards a specific part of the map, on which the big word "Nestreia" was written.

    Without announcing his departure, Daniel turned to look at Der, which was standing next to him, and after noticing an expression as eager as the one on his own face, he said "What do you say, want to go home?.."

    He then directly opened a portal that lead him to a completely different scenery, followed by a second, a third, a fourth, and many more afterwards. This chains of portals were placed at one meter of distance between one another, and each brought them tens of thousands of kilometers closer towards their destination.

    -----

    Back in Nestreia, in a large expanse of grass ten thousand kilometers by the underground encampment, was a relatively large spatial blockade.

    This spatial blockade was only able to allow about a hundred people in, and surrounding it was a second one that had been placed for a reason completely different from the reason why the first one had been created. One would easily be able to feel that the two blockades were controlled by two different people.

    The internal one had been placed as a protection, while the second one, had been placed as a cage.

    Around this cage, hundreds of thousands of cultivators were standing quietly in wait. They wore a variety of different heavy armors, and were divided in five big groups. These five armies were part of the coalition, a power which had been created by the powerful kingdoms and empires which had the common objective of obtaining Daniel's secrets.

    One of these five armies was the very army of the Karalis kingdom, and was currently led by the leader of the School of Everlasting fury, as well as his oldest son.

    Inside the cage, were no more than thirty individuals, amongst which, numerous injured.

    If Daniel had been here, he would have recognized a few of these cultivators.

    Standing in front of the group, was a distinct old man which Daniel would instantly recognize as his teacher of spiritual cultivation.. The Silver Alchemist. Next to him, slightly older-looking than the first time they had met, were the attentive martial artist Nilo, the handsome young man Finn, the spiritual cultivator adept in ice magic Yala, the two sisters Miri and Riri, and finally, Daniel's sister Reila.

    Nilo, Finn and the two sisters were now powerful practitioners at the sixth stage of martial cultivation, while Reila and Yala, were spiritual cultivators of a similar rank.

    They were currently standing within the cage in wait for reinforcements, and while looking at the various armies with hateful eyes. It was clear how negatively they felt towards the opposite side.. And they had a good reason for that.

    After the small-scaled battle had taken place in Phyrri, the King of Karalis had been forced to make a choice. He had to choose between the safety of his kingdom, and the possibility of having to go to war against an entire world.

    When the various kingdoms and empires had come to know of the existence of Daniel and his discovery, the king had decided to give up the ownership over this discovery in order to prevent an all-out war. Instead, he had claimed that the owners of this discovery were the members of the Golden Cauldron company, as Daniel was a known student of the Silver Alchemist.

    His claims were supported by the fact that the Silver Alchemist had defended Daniel from the attempts of kidnapping of the other countries, and after that small-scaled battle had ended, they had moved Daniel's family into the Golden Cauldron.

    At that point, the Karalis kingdom had escaped destruction at the ends of the rest of the world, and instead, it had become one of the first parties to to contribute to the founding of the coalition.

    This coalition existed for the sole purpose of obtaining, and sharing Daniel's secrets amongst them.

    Unfortunately, along with Daniel's teachers and family, the other students of the old master-at-arms, as well as their families, had been shunned by the kingdom too. That had forced them to either withstand heavy restrictions and control from the coalition of kingdoms, or face destruction.

    Those families which had no choice but to escape and join the side of the Golden Cauldron, were those whose children had befriended Daniel.. Amongst them, were Nilo's school of the Swift Palm of Oppression, and Riri and Miri's Folding Crane Sect.

    Of Master Kye and Mea, there was currently no trace.

    "Master.. What do we do?" Asked Reila with eyes filled with worry. She was aware of the fact that their barrier had a limited duration, and that the blockade placed by their enemies, would not allow them to teleport to safety.. They were sitting ducks here, and if support did not arrive soon, they would be doomed.

    -----

    Just a few thousand kilometers away from the scene, the Golden Cauldron old man was dashing through the skies thanks to his near perfect control over wind essence. His expression was calm, and he was mentally prepared to face a large number of cultivators.. When suddenly..

    A portal opened just fifty meters in front of him, forcing him to stop immediately.

    He quietly observed as a young man in his early twenties and a middle aged man walked out with a strange expression on their faces.
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