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297 The Next Stage of Immortality

    After the Universal Government had destroyed the Garden of Death as a response to Daniel's threat to deliver his recipes of the poison immunities to them, Iewah had reintegrated the rule that stated that the only encounters allowed amongst his children, were the casual ones, and the programmed ones.. And that his children were not to use their powers in order to track one another.

    The reason for that, was the unnatural desire for conflict that his children felt towards each other.. A desire which had caused his earliest offspring to kill each other until only two of them had remained..

    In an attempt to indirectly affect his life, and the life of his friends from the massive distance that separated them, Daniel had decided to gain as much karma as he could. The more karma points he possessed, the more he could be sure that his family and friends would be safe. That, was the driving factor behind his wars against the factions.

    Now that he was free from the pursuit of Sewah's four brothers, Daniel had picked his second target for his karmic crusade. That target, happened to be the Church of Damnation..

    Contrary to what part of its name suggested, the Church of Damnation was not a regular church devoted to the worship of a superior being, or a god. Instead, it had been founded by a particular race amongst the demonkin whose entire growth revolved around the absorption of the suffering caused by emotional, physical, and mental abuse.

    Even amongst the demonkin, while not the most dangerous, the race which had formed the Church of Damnation was considered the most evil.. And were despised to a point where the more moderate races of the demonic family, which despite the name were not necessarily evil, had tried to destroy the Church of Damnation in order to avoid their kin's name from being attached to their acts.

    The political aspect of the Universal Government was a game which all factions played, and for the demonkin to be directly linked with a race formed by the most evil and depraved beings in the universe, was something that had tarnished their reputation greatly more than once in their history.

    So, Just like the human races would kill the worshippers of death on sight, the other demon races would not see the demons of the Church of Damnation as companions to be proud of.

    However, for how despised of a faction the Church of Damnation was, it was still a faction which possessed the same power and rights as any other.. So after being targeted by Daniel and his companions, they were still in the position to demand to be added in the list of factions that had a legitimate right to Daniel's head, and the permission to put a bounty on him.

    -----

    For the past few weeks, Daniel had traveled through the shared galaxy in order to kill the demon to which the unlucky planets that belonged to the Church of Damnation, were assigned to. After ridding the planet from these demons, he would move on to the next planet before any of their strongest members could appear.

    While traveling through the galaxy, Daniel had learned something extremely interesting from Xargy. He was curious about the reason why the mercenaries and merchants were so obsessed by the gems which Virgil had found, so once they had escaped the void, he had taken a water gem out of his spatial ring, and asked to Xargy and Aeron whether they knew what mana gems were.

    While Aeron became pensive and tried to recall whether he had read or encountered a similar object, Xargy's large eyes had opened as wide as they could. "Is that a gift for me?! Hahaha!" He said in enthusiasm while looking at the nail-sized water gem present on Daniel's hand.

    Daniel looked at the gem in confusion, before turning to look at Xargy once again, and saying "Maybe.. Tell me what it is, and you can have it."

    "DEAL!" shouted Xargy in happiness before breathing in heavily, and forcing the gem to fly off of Daniel's hand, and into his mouth. "Gems are cultivation resources.. While crystals are formed by large amount of pure natural essence.. gems are even better. You need the power of billions of crystals compressed together for a ridiculous amount of years, in order to form a single gem."

    Daniel ignored Xargy's actions, and while hiding the shock and happiness that he was feeling, he asked "Sounds like an awfully rare item.. Why shouldn't people simply cultivate with perfect crystals?"

    "Because at some point in cultivation, your body will become too resistant to be effectively refined by perfect crystals.. Why do you believe the universal government keeps exploring new galaxies? Perfect crystals are not that rare.. Or they wouldn't be used as currency." Responded Xargy with a matter-of-fact tone.

    "When will Aeron and I need them, then?" Asked Daniel. He had felt the effectiveness of perfect crystals become lower the more his cultivation rose, so he had no problems with believing what Xargy was saying.

    Instead of responding, Xargy hid the water gem underneath his large tongue, and after moving his massive head next to Daniel, he inhaled deeply once again. He then asked "Do you have any more of these?" His tone was that of somebody who had finally been able to find a piece of bread after starving for weeks.

    "I might have another one.. If you keep talking."

    "Fine.. Gems are better used for high immortals. My cultivation is the equivalent of a human's high immortal cultivation, or someone who is beyond the ten stages of lower immortal cultivation. This means that these gems are useless for your current stage." Responded Xargy while directly looking at Daniel's eyes.

    After hearing Xargy's words, Daniel narrowed his eyes in curiosity, and asked "Won't using them now simply fasten my cultivation?"

    "HA! If you had the body of a dragon.. Maybe. You use hundreds of crystals at the same time to cultivate.. But what if you were to use billions at the same time? Your tiny human body would not be able to handle it."

    "Alright.. Tell me about high immortals then." Asked Daniel with curiosity. The last lesson he had received about human cultivation had been during the beginning of his immortal stages, and now that his cultivation was at the ninth stage of immortal cultivation, he was as strong as he was ignorant.

    "I'll take it from here.." said Aeron while standing beside them. He had finally recalled about the wars he had once fought for the possession of an expert's ring, which was supposed to contain high level cultivation resources.

    The words 'High Immortal' were also familiar to him, as the matter had been explained to him by one of the stronger elites of the Psionic Dimension, along with the reason why they had fought for those resources. "High Immortality is the state that humans can reach after they pass the tenth stage of immortal cultivation.. Only humans who don't have a gift can reach it.. And it is a level of cultivation introduced by the universal government itself."

    "What do you mean?" Asked Daniel, more confused than ever.

    "Gifts will change the nature of humans.. I am a mental warrior, and once my mind will grow to a certain level, I will merge with my avatar, and become a being made out of mental power." Responded Aeron while walking towards a tree stump, and sitting on it. "Beings like beasts and humans can use their essence to reach a higher level of cultivation.. That is the high immortal stage."

    For a moment, Daniel reflected on what Aeron had just told him.. Then asked "If humans have the potential to grow that powerful on their own, why do they accept gifts?"

    Aeron faintly shook his head, then responded by saying "Aside from the immediate gain in power.. It's disputable that a human's full potential will be stronger than a developed gift.. It took a single one of Iewah's children to force the entire dragon race to their knees.. Also, there will never be enough gems for everyone.."

    "How was the universal government able to stay on top then? Shouldn't they be only one amongst the many factions?" Asked Daniel in confusion. According to what Aeron had said, a high immortal was powerful, but not enough to keep in check an elite member of thousands of factions at the same time.

    "The universal government is the group that discovered all of the other factions. They explored the universe for millions of years.. You can say they are the oldest faction, and therefore, they happen to have the power to stay in charge."

    What Aeron had said made sense. Essence gems were too rare to be used by the entire Human race. The majority were monopolized by the universal government, while a smaller amount was used by factions like the merchant faction, and mercenary faction.. whose power did not revolve around a being capable of bestowing gifts, but around the use of money.. Making them two of the few factions whose strongest members were cultivators at the high immortal stage.

    "What is the strength of a high immortal? What makes it as valuable as a gifted human?" Asked Daniel. He wanted to know whether it was worth being one, as opposed to look for a gift from one of the many other factions.

    This time, it was Xargy who responded. Other than being someone at that stage, he was the only one amongst them who had studied humans at the high immortal stage before, so he said "Aside from an increase in power, It depends on the individual.. My grandfather, the king of dragons, grew to a mind boggling size.. It is said that he was able to swallow planets if he wished to.. While what my father's gained, were impenetrable scales.. What I developed after reaching that state, was a special kind of flames. I know that it is the same for humans.. Some become faster, others gain advantages in raw power, or sharper senses.. When I was a youngling, I have heard that there was an explorer who could hit a target from millions of kilometers away, and another who could travel faster than the speed of light.."

    Satisfied by Xargy's explanation, Daniel smiled at him, and said "Fine, you've earned it." He then moved a wisp of immortal essence into his spatial ring. When he appeared inside it as a shadow made out of consciousness and immortal essence, he was standing in front of a chest about a meter in width.

    Daniel kneeled in front of this chest, and opened it with care.. What was inside this chest, would have sent a shiver down Xargy's spine.. As the chest was completely filled with multicolored essence gems.

    After casually picking one up, he exited the spatial ring, taking the gem with it.

    When he opened his eyes, he was back on his planet, and he was holding a small red gem which emanated a strong heath. "All yours." Said Daniel while throwing the gem towards Xargy, which quickly took it into his mouth, and left in a hurry.

    While leaving, he said "It will take awhile for me to use these two.. Do not disturb me!"

    It took more than a second for Daniel to recover from Xargy's enthusiastic escape, but once he did, he turned to look at Aeron, and said "It will take us another month before we will reach the next planet.. Same bet?.."

    "No way.. You are too lucky to lose, and I can read your mind? I'd rather have the kid pick which one of us wants to keep him company." Responded Aeron while looking at the quiet Virgil, who was sitting on the ground next to his small house, and using his basic comprehension of metal essence to change the shape of a sword in order to turn it into one of the components of his latest trinket.
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