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384 The Tension Increases

    For companies that were as active in the universal government's market as the ones that formed the conglomerates, a hundred, a thousand, or even ten thousand essence gems were not of much value. However, that was not necessarily true for the cultivators in it. After all, most of the funds of a company were kept for business purposes, and each conglomerate had to nurture millions, if not tens of millions of cultivators at the same time.

    What had shocked Gannet and the others, was not the amount of essence gems they had received, but the amount that each of the top five cultivators would receive. Such an amount could be compared to what high-end companies made in a year, and was generally much more than a single cultivator would consume in their life.

    Naturally, the looks of greed and envy did not stay for long on the faces of these thousands of cultivator, who instead of following Gannet into the tunnel, waited for Nilo and the others to walk in.

    During the time spent in Cato, and in close contact with the members many merchant families, Daniel's group had come to learn about essence gems. They were the only form of cultivation resource that would work for cultivators at the stage of high immortality, along with being used as a high-end currency. This knowledge allowed them to recognize these objects the very moment they had appeared in the spatial box which contained Gannet's reward.

    Contrary to the reaction of everybody else, Nilo and the others were not happy about what they had seen. After all, these rewards were awarded in front of everybody else, and if the contest did not allow them to deposit them, that would mean that, for the following tests, they would become the target of twelve thousand cultivators.

    Slightly annoyed by the attention they were receiving, Gannet gathered his reward, and walked past the second barrier, which immediately turned into a solid wall of space behind his back.

    Aware that nobody else would take a step through the first barrier before them, Cynna snorted with disappointment before walking towards the tunnel's entrance. Once in between barriers, a much larger spatial box began to form. Once complete, just like had happened with Gannet, one essence gem started to form after the other. This time, only stopping when the number of gems was exactly ninety thousand seven hundred and sixty.

    Following her, were Nilo who received nine thousand two hundred and twenty, Zack who received nine thousand seven hundred and twenty, Finn who received nine thousand five hundred and forty, and Fyro, who received ten thousand and eighty gems.

    When compared to them, the rewards received by the rest of the cultivators were quite scarce.

    Due to the limited number of oceanic warriors, the number of cultivators who had been able to perform a kill during the previous test was drastically smaller than that of any other island, so when any of those cultivators passed the first barrier, instead of being allowed through without a reward, they would directly be teleported out of the One Above All, meaning that they had failed the test altogether.

    Unknowingly, the feat of Nilo's group had reduced the numbers of their island's participants to a tenth of what it was originally, turning the spectacle of Volcanic Island into one of the most shocking results in the One Above All so far.

    Of the twelve thousand cultivators that had started in the Volcanic Island, barely more than a tenth had remained, who along with their different ranges of rewards safely placed in their spatial containers, marched through the extremely long tunnel that lead to the inner island.

    From what the participants could see from afar, the inner island was more than double the size of Volcanic Island, and connected to it through bridges, was not only their island, but also the one to their right, which likely meant that their next test would include the participants of the temple island. Similarly, the other inner islands were connected by two outer island each.

    After an oddly quiet walk through the tunnel, the group of around twelve hundred participants found itself in front of a gate similar to the one that had blocked their path before. As they approached it, they noticed that on its surface was a circle formed by six hundred and sixty-six small bulbs of light.

    This circle of shining bulbs was, however, not complete. Two of the bulbs appeared to lack the shine that the others had. One of which lit up the very moment the tail of their group reached the open area in front of the gate.

    "This seems to be a waiting room." Said Lorwin, the green-clothed cultivator in dark brown leather armor that had managed to realize what the objective of their first test was, before it was too late. He then added, "Six hundred and sixty-six island, twelve thousand cultivators each. Eight million participants.. Impressive."

    "Since we have to wait, we might as well rest for a bit." Said Dahlia before taking one of her essence gems, and a white velvet glove out of her spatial ring. On the palm side of the glove, was what looked like a hollow part that was just the right size to fit the gem.

    After wearing the glove, she stuck the gem into the hollow part of the glove, and sat in meditation with her eyes closed.

    "Since when do you carry an essence extractor?" Asked Lorwin with curiosity.

    An essence extractor was, just as the name implied, an item that was of great use to the merchant groups. Its objective was to test the purity of the gem, as well as verify whether the gem was real, or a construct of pure essence produced by a cultivator with perfect comprehension.

    The way this object worked, was not exactly by extracting the essence from the gem, but actually by gathering the imperceptible emanations that the gem would lose in the air, and automatically redirecting them into the body of the cultivator. The amount of power gathered by this equipment was too scarse to culivate, but was enough to allow a cultivator to quickly restore the lost immortal essence.

    Another use of this object was its military one. The portion of the army that would support the infantry with ranged elemental attacks would usually have multiple of these extractors installed in their armor, allowing them to increase their rate of recovery of immortal essence.

    This type of technology was extremely widespread, and through time, had developed in other ways that could fit the cultivation lifestyle of the majority of the universal government.

    One of the most notorious examples of this, was the staff of the explorer who had participated in the Xeno Protocol mission a few years earlier. A prototype weapon on which multiple perfect essence spheres had been mounted, and that allowed him to increase the power, and speed of his elemental attacks by manyfold.

    The most common use of this technology, however, remained the essence extractor.

    "I have prepared for this. Maybe you should have too." Responded Dahlia with arrogance, before adding, "Now shut up. Stop distracting me."

    Lorwin stopped bothering with Dahlia, and instead turned towards his companions, who now counted in the hundreds. He wasn't particularly worried about losing so many of his group, as much as he was about going back. After all, his quality had always been his quick wit and intelligence, but his performance in the last test had been less than satisfactory.

    "Are you guys not going to recover?" he then asked to Nilo and the others, who contrary to the rest of the cultivators, stood around casually.

    "We are fine." responded Finn with a polite smile. Next to him, were Sigg and Ivan, who by miracle, had been able to finish one of the already injured oceanic warriors, and therefore, were barely able to pass.

    "I can see that." Responded Lorwin while narrowing his eyes with suspicion. He then asked, "How the hell is it possible?"

    The moment he asked this question, the attention of each of the twelve hundred cultivators present, included Dahlia and Gannet, was suddenly moved on them.

    The same situation was taking place in Cato, where the three leading groups of the three conglomerates had begun to focus more on the old man Golden Cauldron and Silver Alchemist, than the contest itself. One amongst them, appeared to be particularly annoyed.

    All of the conglomerates were aware of the connection between Daniel and the golden karma company, but according to the rumors, the students of Hiel academy could only pass as particularly talented prodigies. It was only after seeing their performance in the first test, that they had reached the same conclusion the leader of the Egregious Mercantile Ethics had come to.

    A new items which belonged to one of Iewah's chosen ones had appeared. One that could turn cultivators into never seen before prodigies with seemingly unlimited immortal essence.

    The three leaders of the conglomerate looked at each other with understanding. While the Egregious Mercantile Ethics had lost its opportunity to obtain this object before anybody else could learn about it, not everything was lost.

    As of now, only three conglomerates knew about it, and with a single look, they were able to agree to keep the matter quiet before they were able to put their hands on whatever it was that Daniel had left them.

    "Those damn kids. If it was not for them, our group would not be so small. With their numbers like this, they will all be eliminated in the next test!" Said one of the two leaders with disappointment, and anger.

    When it appeared that the third leader was about to support him, however, the calm voice of the old man Golden Cauldron interrupted their teatrics by saying, "If not for our students, nobody would have a chance to be eliminated in the next test. It is not their fault the other participants were late to understand the purpose of the test. They can only blame themselves."

    The observers were taken aback. All of them knew that if three different conglomerate leaders would, for some absurd reason, decide to collaborate, it would be to get rid of someone. So while they were unaware of the exact reason why they would do such a thing, they still knew that what they were saying did not need to make sense, but just to be said by them.

    However, there was no doubt that what the old man Golden Cauldron had said, was the truth.

    The man with light blue and red clothes, who was the one who had spoken before, as well as Dehlila's grandfather, was about to respond to his words, but before he could, the old man Golden Cauldron said, "If you are not convinced of that, I am sure that we can find someone within the universal government to whom we can ask an opinion."

    Unable to retort to the old man's words, the three conglomerate leaders turned to look back at the illusion. Thousands of culivators were observing each and every one of their actions, and while all of them worked for their three conglomerates, there was no way for them to be sure that none of them would ever say a word about an unjust killing.

    Naturally, they could have simply killed the two and apologized later, but while they did not need a good reason to do so, they needed a reason nonetheless.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click www.webnovel.com  for visiting.

    "I would gladly tell you, but then again.." Responded Nilo before turning to look at the circle of lights of which the last light had yet to turn on. He then added with a hint of embarrassment, "I was hoping to get saved by the bell, but.."

    Finn could barely hide the smile that had formed on his lips, when out of the blue, he burst out laughing hysterically. When the attention of those who surrounded him turned in his direction, he kept laughing while pointing his finger at the circle of lights, where the last light, had actually turned on.
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