341 A Long Way Back Home

    "Can you do that 'shrink and move in between molecules' to get us out of here?" Asked Edmund after finally calming himself down.

    After a long silence, a disembodied voice came from the other sphere of stable space, and said, "I can't. There is solid space that keeps the molecules of these colossal monsters joined together. If there wasn't, the shattered space would rip them to pieces."

    "Damn it.." muttered Edmund with disappointment.

    More than two years ago, Edmund had been separated from the rest of his family right after being thrown into the void. While his son was safe within the world contained in the pocket dimension, his daughter and wife had been pulled into two different spatial rifts, splitting his family apart.

    After that happened, Edmund was left alone in the void for a few minutes, protected by his comprehension of spatial essence.. when he was rescued by a group of cultivators that belonged to a faction called 'Void Dwellers'. This faction had found a home in the void, and their gift consisted in spatial manipulation and creation. Their isolated nature made them a relatively reserved but peaceful faction, and the moment they had seen Edmund by himself, they had recued him and taken into one of the planets which, thanks to their powers, were able to keep from collapsing.

    Once safe, Edmund had desperately tried to find a way back to find his family, but no matter to whom or for how long he asked, he was always met with rejection.

    While experts about the shattered space, the void dwellers had no control over where they would arrive when entering the stable space. Whenever they would have to reach the territory of the universal government, they were required to form a canal that was big enough to remain stable, and that pinpointed the general area of stable space in which they would appear. Once there, they were allowed to use objects similar to those owned by the high level elites of the other factions to move around the territory of the universal government.

    Unfortunately, while Edmund had found some people that wouldn't have minded opening a portal to send him back home, no one was willing to teleport him back into the territory of the universal government.. as the cost for that, was not only beyond what Edmund could ever pay, but also limited by the agreement between the Void Dwellers, and the universal government.

    After meeting with multiple rejections, Edmund's mind entered a dark place. He was used to being separated from his family for long periods at a time, but for cultivators, months of research were as long as a few hours. Back home, he could interrupt his research to go and see his family whenever he wanted, but now, he was not sure whether he would ever be able to see them again. His worries quickly turned into anxiousness and depression, causing him to wander around the territory of the Voild Dwellers like a ghost, bound to the world of the living due to unfinished business.

    It was at his lowest point, that Edmund had met the spatial elemental. A being who moved through the shattered space of the void, as if its chaotic motions had nothing to do with him.

    Edmund's passion and comprehension for spatial essence were above what someone at his level of cultivation, and that didn't belong to the faction of the void dwellers, should have possessed. This passion was enough for Edmund to pick the interest of this elemental, which in the end, bonded with him over their shared passion over this complicated and powerful type of essence. During one of their many conversations, Edmund had recounted the story about how he had ended up into the void, and about how he was looking for a way back to his family.

    It was right then, that the spatial elemental took pity on him, and revealed to him that there was indeed an option.. A dangerous one.

    This method consisted in finding the pocket dimension which contained the world created by Daniel. Once found, the spatial elemental would be able to feel the feeble connection that the pocket dimension had to the outside universe, and create a bridge for him to reach the wielder of the ring.

    For that to be possible, there was a requirement. While the spatial elemental could teleport anywhere he wanted, the void was in no way smaller than the stable universe, and it contained uncountable pocket dimension. Without knowing exactly which one was the right pocket dimension, there was no way for him to find it. Edmund needed to provide an items which could match the power that marked the spatial essence of which the pocket dimension was made out of, so that the spatial elemental could recognize it.

    Luckily Edmund was still in possession of a ki flag that contained Daniel's immortal essence. The rest had been used in a fruitless attempt to call Daniel back when Jerigh had returned along with Thien, Mea, Nilo, and their son, and brought back the news that Daniel was back to his former self.

    Once in possession of the ki flag, the spatial elemental turned into a finger sized sphere of spatial essence, and jumped into one of the fragments of space, disappearing a moment later. As soon as he disappeared, he was immediately teleported to the fragment of space that, when the space had been as stable as the other universe, bordered the one he was currently in.. then into another, and another.

    His figure appeared in trillions of different points in space in a matter of minutes, until finally, he stopped. Thanks to his nature, he was able to feel any form of space around him, and the moment he approached an area that was close enough to a pocket dimension whose essence was marked by the same power contained within the ki flag, he turned into a humanoid being of spatial essence, which was unaffecte by the chaotic nature of the shattered space, and looked around.

    Nothing could be seen from where he was, as the pocket dimension was still billions of kilometers away, but since he knew that this point was likely the closest he would come to it in a short amount of time, he decided to teleport back.

    When he reappeared only ten minutes had passed, and Edmund was waiting for him while sitting on the ground, and with his eyes closed.

    After finally finding a lead that would take him back home, Edmund began his travel towards the pocket dimension along with the spatial elemental, which turned into a protective sphere around him, and teleported both of them in the place where he had felt the presence of Daniel's pocket dimension.

    The path was long, and in between them and the pocket dimensions were many dangers, but that did not stop Edmund, which instead kept going while also assimilating as much knowledge about spatial essence as he could from the spatial elemental.

    Now, more than two years had passed, and Edmund and the spatial elementals had been swallowed by one of the monsters which, until now, they had been able to avoid so carefully. This had been caused by the spatial elemental, which by not knowing much about these monsters, had become cocky enough to play around when in their presence.

    Once into the monster's stomach, however, he had quickly discovered that the body of the monsters was made so that they would be protected by the shattered space, and that meant that their bodies were natural barriers of spatial essence which did not allow for anything to teleport in or out of them.

    "Sorry, my mistake." Said the disembodied voice apologetically. His intention was to help Edmund, but in the end, a moment of distraction had possibly put him further away from going back to his family.

    "Don't apologize.. Just help me find a way out." Responded Edmund in a dismissive tone. All he could think about was to See his wife and children, and not even a spatial monster would be able to distract him from that goal. He looked around in an attempt to find a sign that could simbolize the two things that would always be present within a stomach, an entrance, and an exit.. But the area was too large for his sight to cover.

    The sphere of stable space that floated next to Edmund's, quickly turned into a humanoid with features as clear as a steamy mirror. He then turned his expressionless face towards Edmund, and said "I didn't even know that these things had a mouth."

    "It's fine, if they have a mouth, that means that they have a digestive system. Let's split. Look for anything that looks like a gigantic hole on the walls." Said Edmund with a disgust that grew bigger the more he reached the end of the sentence. He then floated away, while protected by the sphere of spatial essence that he had learned how to create from the spatial elemental.

    After more than a day spent floating within the monster's stomach, Edmund had been able to see a lot more than he had expected. Floating within the large stomach, were objects that appeared to have come not only from different civilizations, but also from different levels of development.

    Large boulders with villages in ruins, spherical masses of water, prairies with huts made out of hay and dirt.. It was clear that these monsters did not have a specific diet, and that they would swallow anything that they could put their tentacles on.

    The objects that Edmund had seen, were likely to be the unlucky surroundings of randomly opened rifts, through which these monsters would reach for with their tentacles, and grab anything they could before pulling them into the void, and swallowing them whole.

    What made exploring the monster's stomach a tedious task, was the fact that due to the lack of gravity, the monster had developed a perfectly round stomach, and there were no flat walls that could indicate that he was close to the roof, or the floor of it.

    The more time Edmund spent exploring the monster's stomach, the more worried he became. Amongst the many object that floated in this stable space, were such a large variety of objects, that it caused him to start questioning whether, once ingested, these items would ever be digested. This hypothesys was also supported by the absence of gastric fluids.

    His search kept going for a few more days, until finally, he saw something out of the ordinary.

    Instead of the usual bright red wall, halfway buried into the wall, was a massive clump of pulsating yellow meat. The way this organ pulsated made it seem that this clump was the monster's beating heart, but the horizontal slit that split its mass in half, made it look closer to a shut eye.

    What was odd about this, was how the number of objects would increase the more he approached it, almost as if the floating objects gravitated towards it at such a low speed, that it made their motion almost invisible to the eye. The pulse rate of this organ was slow as well, and was just a bit faster than a pulse per minute. However, each of these pulses sent a shiver down Edmund's spine.

    In hope that his companion would know more about it than he did, Edmund formed a small construct of spatial essence. This construct was simple, and had no particular use, with exception made for attracting the attention of his compainon, which was exploring the other side of the monster's stomach.

    After the constructed was formed, the spatial elemental appeared next to Edmund.

    "Nova, take a look at that. Do you think that's our way out?" Asked Edmund with a tone filled with doubt. His feelings towards his discovery were leaning towards fear more than happiness.

    The spatial elemental observed the pulsating organ for a few minutes, trying to examine the odd feeling that each of them would bring, but he was unable to learn anything but one thing.. "That is definitely not our way out."

    "What do you mean? How do you know?" Asked Edmund in confusion. He had felt fear in Nova's voice.

    Nova remained quiet for a few moments, before finally responding by saying "I can't explain it.. A portion of my being is screaming to get away from that thing, while the other is telling me that I don't need to fear it." He then began to stare at the mass of yellow flesh with rapture, only able to move his eyes away after a few long minutes.

    After his eyes moved away, they landed on a clump of dirt, above which rested a curled up mass of pointy red scales. "What is that?" He asked with curiosity while pointing at his finger at it.

    Edmund turned to look at what the elemental was pointing at, and after closing his eyes a few times in hope to verify if he was imagining things or not, he exclaimed, "What the.. I think that is.. A dragon?"
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