385 Fear Greed and Death

    As soon as the gate opened, a mechanical sound began to resound from within its interiors. The participants instinctively remembered about the explosion of the gates that had blocked the entrance of the tunnel, and took a few steps back, but their worries were put at ease the moment the mechanic sound ended with a loud click, and the two massive doors parted from one another.

    The world that stood on the other side of the island, was that of an extremely dense jungle. The trees were not particularly big, but their roots prevented any natural path to form, with exception made for an artificial dark path that led deeper into the jungle.

    Just before the beginning of the path, was a wooden sign planted on the ground. On it, were the words "The prospect of fear, greed, and death may be confused with caution, aspiration, and survival. What tips the scale, are circumstances. Chose well."

    The content of this sign was the first hint towards the next test.

    Not sure what the meaning of these words was, the group had no choice but to walk down the path as carefully as they could.

    The thick jungle they were in was not unlike any other they had seen during the years, with exception made for the density of its trees. With trunks as thick as carriage wheels, and crowns big enough to bloat the sun with their arm sized green leaves, exploring this jungle was a logistical nightmare. The space in between trees was barely wide enough for a man to move through, and the density of the jungle was so incredibly high, that on the other side, only more trees could be seen.

    After about thirty minutes of walking, the participants found themselves in an open space within the jungle. The area of this space reached around a thousand square meters, and inside it was nothing but a beautiful long-stem flower, with petals colored with different shades of yellow, orange, and red.

    The smell of this flower was oddly appealing, and the tightly packed trees seemed to have created a natural dome for its perfume to saturate the semi-closed environment.

    "That is a Star-Fed flower!" Exclaimed one of the participants with shock. The company of his family was part of the Egregious Mercantile Ethics, and specialized in alchemy, which had led to his deeper understanding of rare, and expensive herbs.

    The Star-Fed flower was an extremely rare and useful plant which was used for the production of a pill called "Insight of Adiral". This pill was extremely useful for every cultivator who was preparing himself for ascending to high immortality, as it allowed the cultivator who consumed it, to enter a state of full concentration. This state was known to increase the chances of obtaining a better version of the gift that one would receive during their ascension to high immortality.

    The characteristics that dictated the possibility of a gift to appear were present in every individual, yet in different intensity. The level in which that characteristic was defined within a cultivator, would allow him or her to gain a more powerful version of their gifts.

    An example of this, was the will to protect and serve. This quality was crucial to allow an individual to have a chance of obtaining the soldier's gift. However, when found with more intensity, this quality could allow one to become a general, or more.

    The Insight of Adiral would help a cultivator in repressing the other qualities, and focusing one's entire cognitive ability towards the ones in which he excelled in. The main ingredient of this pill, was the Star-Fed flower, and thanks to its unique use, its value had only exploded upwards through the years. Currently, the price for a thousand years old Sun-Fed Flower was close to five thousand essence gems. An outrageous price justified by its single use, that could potentially change the entire scope of the cultivator's strength.

    "Look at the dark red color at the base of the petals! It must have at least ten thousand years!" Said the young alchemist to Gannet, who was completely oblivious on the matter regarding alchemical plants or herbs. What he understood, however, was a tone which implied "money".

    "Go pick it up." Said Gannet to the young alchemist, who followed the order while beaming with joy.

    "Hold on.. Are you sure this is a good idea?" asked Lorwin. For some reason, he could not take the words fear, greed, death, caution, aspiration, and survival out of his mind.

    Used to compete for resources with others, the first idea that came to Gannet's mind, was that the others would try to claim the flower for themselves. That was unless his group picked it before the others could even recognize it. "We saw it first, so we will be keeping it. You can fight with her for the next item we find." He said while turning to look at Dehlila.

    "Why is the flower called Star-Fed Flower?" Asked Nilo loudly with curiosity.

    "Are you stupid? Because it's fed by starlight, of course." Responded the young alchemist with arrogance, while keeping on walking towards the flower.

    "What light?" Said Nilo while looking up, where a thick dome of leaves prevented any light from passing through. The area was so dark, that if not for their extremely acute sense of sight, they would be walking in complete darkness.

    This question was enough for the young alchemist to stop his motion, and turn to look back at Gannet with doubt.

    "What? They probably planted it here for the test. It's unlikely that it was grown here." Said Gannet, managing to convince the young alchemist to smile with embarrassment, and proceed.

    The group of cultivators looked attentively as the young man approached the flower, and with experienced hands, remove the whole body from the fertile soil. He then turned to look back at Gannet, and said, "You were right. Nothing wrong." with a wide smile.

    "See? Not a problem. We will be taking this one." Said Gannet while showing a satisfied smile. However, when he turned to look at the young alchemist, he noticed that he had stopped walking in his direction. "What is it?" he asked.

    "No problem." Responded the young cultivator while keeping his head down, and resuming his march. After a few seconds, the young alchemist had reached Gannet, who moved his hand outwards, expecting him to hand over the flower.

    Even outside of the One Above All, Gannet's grandfather was overjoyed about their discovery. A ten thousand years old Star-Fed Flower could be used to create hundreds of pills, and its value was exponentially higher than its younger counterpart.

    However, while he and his offspring were keeping their minds busy counting money, instead of placing the flower on Gannet's hand, the young alchemist placed his own hand on it. He then gripped it tightly, and said, "This is a great flower. Is it not? It's the best flower." His eyes were bloodshot, and the veins of his wrists seemed ready to pop at any moment.

    Gannet was taken aback by the scene, and tried to take a step back and pull his hand away, but before he could even place his right foot down, the confusion disappeared from his face, and in its place appeared an oddly wide smile. "This is the best flower. Take a look at it." he said before walking towards his other companions.

    Lorwin immediately noticed that the two of them were acting strangely, so he shouted, "DON'T TOUCH HIM!"

    Shocked by Lorwin's sudden outburst, Gannet's companions instinctively took a step back, and observed the almost obsessive expression on his face. His lips were constantly moving, and he seemed to be muttering the words "this is the best flower" over and over again.

    "He has been acting strangely since the guy who picked the flower touched him!" Added Lorwin after noticing the quiet young alchemist who was still holding the flower, and smiling happily.

    "SHUT UP!! YOU ARE JEALOUS! THIS IS THE BEST FLOWER!!" Screamed Gannet with fury, before unsheathing his sword, and walking menacingly in Lorwin's direction. If someone did not know their relationship, based solely on Gannet's expression, they would guess that Lorwin had killed his entire family, and that one of them had to die for the other to be at peace.

    "Gannet, wake up!" shouted Dehlila. "What is wrong with you?!"

    Almost as in response to Dehlila's words, Gannet disappeared from where he was standing, and reappeared in front of Lorwin.

    Lorwin was barely able to unsheathe his own sword and parry the attack that had threatened to split his body in half. "Don't intervene!" He shouted to his companions, who were about to come to his rescue. The two exchanged numerous blows, and from an outsider's perspective, it was clear that Gannet was giving his all, while Lorwin was desperately trying to keep him from touching his skin. "Dehlila, help me stop him, but don't let him touch your skin!" he then said.

    It was at that moment that Fyro stepped in their direction, and pointed his fist towards the enraged Gannet.

    Suddenly, the ground underneath Gannet's feet turned into thin sand, on which he sunk into, and fell over. As soon as his body touched the ground, the sand turned into a metallic liquid substance that spread all over his body before solidifying completely.

    The speed of Fyro's actions were of a great shock to each of the observing cultivators. After all, none of the members of Nilo's group were at their stage of cultivation, and yet, they had the power to subdue any of them at a moment's notice.

    However, that was not all. After he finished binding Gannet to the ground, Fyro approached the young man who was still holding the flower, and said, "This is a beautiful flower. Show it to me."

    The young alchemist was overjoyed by Fyro's comment, and immediately raised the flower up to his face with ecstasy. "Is it not beautiful?" he then asked.

    After the young alchemist showed the flower to him, Fyro started to release waves and waves of immortal essence. So much so, that in a matter of seconds, the entire open area was filled with it. The other participants looked at his actions with confusion, but the young alchemist did not appear to be bothered by it in the least.

    The immortal essence Fyro released was overbearing, and it masked the presence of the other cultivators from the sensing abilities of the young alchemist.

    Something changed when Fyro's immortal essence turned into fire essence, setting the whole area ablaze, and yet staying away from the bodies of the other participants.

    As soon as the surrounding area was filled with fire essence, the flower started to change. Its shape became slightly irregular, and its surface began to bubble.

    Seconds later, the shape of the flower had changed completely, and what remained in the hands of the young alchemist, was a scorching hot rock that emanated perfect comprehension of fire essence.

    The spectators were shocked by what they had seen, but were also able to understand. The item they had found was not a star-fed flower that had been left to them as a reward, but a fungus called 'Deadly Hysteria', a sort of parasitic organism that changed its shape into what would increase the chances of being picked.

    After being touched, the Deadly Hysteria would leave spores that would seep into the skin, and reach the victim's brain through the bloodstream. Once there, they would limit a person's thoughts into positively presenting the fungus to other potential hosts, which it would use to spread the spores through touch.

    Fyro had only heard about this kind of fungus, and its existence only came to his mind when he started to think about why would the government waste that many rare ingredients, for cultivators that could as well be eliminated minutes later. After all, the contest had just begun, and such treasures were better spent on the winners, then on random participants. The only reason why there would be an item that every single one of them needed so early in the event, was clearly for a test.

    All of them were emanating immortal essence at the peak of immortal cultivation, meaning that nothing was of more value than a Sun-Fed flower. However, the moment he changed the surroundings into a world of flame, the fungus tried to adapt, and transformed into a perfect fire treasure, almost as if aware that as such, he would have the highest chances of being picked up.

    The Deadly Hysteria was widely known as one of the most dangerous fungi in the known universe due to its peculiar way of spreading, and most of all, deadliness. In fact, it was known that there was no cure from having one's brain controlled by it, and that the cultivator's life would untimately last only as long as the parasitic spores were kept in charge of their brain.

    Knowing this, Fyro focused the fire essence around the young alchemist, and set him on fire along with the fungus.

    The young alchemist looked back at him with his usual bright smile, almost as if being killed, was not a problem for him in the least.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click www.webnovel.com  for visiting.

    After killing the young alchemist, Fyro approached Gannet, and said, "There is no need for you to die while being angry. That flower, was truly beautiful." He then waved his hand in front of him, causing multiple metallic spikes to protrude from the internal surface of the metallic blanket, and pierce his organs.

    As a few drops of blood came out of Gannet's mouth, and a smile appeared on his face, he said, "B-Beautiful.." then his head fell on the ground.

    "Aspiration without caution turns into greed, and greed lead him to his death." Said Fyro as he slowly stood up, and walked towards Nilo and the others.

    Standing right next to Gannet's corpse, in the illusory version of the island, was his grandfather. His arms were draping down his sides, and his fists were as tight as rocks. His teeth pressed tightly together with enough power to produce an ominous sound that reached the far ends of the illusion.

    "Your students killed my grandson.. I will kill every last one of you, and burn your company to the ground." He said while showing the full extent of his cultivation at the hundredth and sixth phase of high immortality, and showing how deep his hatred was for the members of the Golden Karma company.

    While at first him and the other two were hoping to find a good reason to destroy the golden karma company just so they could obtain their treasures, the death of his grandson, had turned this into a personal matter.

    However, before he could even take a step towards the old man and his son, a young man had appeared right next to him.

    "Don't do anything stupid. Your family already has enough to mourn today." Said Daniel while casually placing his hand on the man's shoulder.
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