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387 The Life of Humans

    As soon as Daniel was left alone, he slowly walked towards the old man Golden Cauldron, and his son, the Silver Alchemist. The latter was the one amongst them who knew Daniel the most, but from the way he had acted, he wasn't sure whether Daniel was actually back to his former self, or was still possessed by Sewah. This changed when he was able to recognize Daniel's smile the moment he approached them.

    "Where the hell have you been?" the Silver Alchemist suddenly blurted out.

    "I will tell you everything.. Just not here. Let's try to get through this event without anybody else trying to kill us." Said Daniel after reaching the two, and standing next to them as if they had never been separated to begin with.

    Back in the inner island, Nilo and the others had proceeded through a second path which had opened after the death of the Deadly Hysteria. Similarly to the previous one, this long walk had gone on in complete silence, but to its uncomfortable quietness, had been added an eerie feeling. The type of feeling people would experience when going in the ring with a person they were sure to lose to.

    Their numbers had decreased again, and this time, it was not due to elimination, but due to a definitive and irreparable death.

    "If you are going to keep those long faces through the entire competition, you might as well forfeit at the next chance you get." Said Cynna, who had spent the past few minutes walking behind the dispirited group of cultivators, and had decided to break the uncomfortable silence.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click www.webnovel.com  for visiting.

    "You might not care about it, but some of those who died were no strangers to us. Try to have a bit of respect." Said Dehlila when remembering the dead cultivators that were part of her group, and had perished when facing the oceanic warriors.

    This response was enough to stop Cynna in her path, and with an expression of disbelief, she responded by saying, "Do you even understand where we are?"

    "What do you mean?" Responded Dehlila. Her words had been clear, and yet they seemed to have shocked Cynna beyond belief, and she could not understand why.

    "Cynna.. Stop." Said Finn, who knew exactly what Cynna was talking about, but did not wish to be pitiless on a group of grieving cultivators.

    "Let her speak. They need to hear this." said the usually quiet Zack.

    "You live the lives of humans. You allow money and reputation to open doors for you, but when that 'skill' ceases to be useful, you find yourself unable to react. This is a cultivation world. Death come daily, fear is a constant, and survival cannot be bought. Wake up. Use your cultivation to keep death out of the door. Find a way to deal with loss when your survival is not at stake, because as soon as the finances of your companies start to go south, you won't have the time to cry for your own death."

    Cynna's words were harsh, but necessary to correct a mentality which, for a cultivator who at some point would have to rely on his own power to survive, was deadly.

    Emotions were not different for cultivators, but the way they differed from humans, was in what was at stake. Short and peaceful lives had been exchanged for power, and a longer lifespan. The price that they had paid, was peace. As cultivators they would constantly have to compete, fight, and even kill. Any action that moved a cultivator a step closer to the death that they had so desperately tried to delay, was poisonous, and they knew it.

    The layer of safety that resources and protection had created for these young cultivators had become their biggest limitation. It had turned them humans again.

    The following minutes went by similarly to the previous one, as after Cynna's speech, the remaining cultivators had gone back to complete silence. However, her words had not gone to waste. Had someone with a mental cultivation been there, they would have been able to see the changes that these cultivators were starting, or at the very least trying to make to their mentality.

    After about an hour, the group found itself in front of a crossroad.

    In front of them were three paths. The first one was a stone path that led to a small metallic gate to their left, behind which the path continued hidden by the thick trees. The second one was a mountain path, with seemingly unstable steps that lead up the rock wall that was to their right, and finally, the third path consisted in a cave that lead into the depts aforementioned rocky wall.

    In the middle of the crossroad was another wooden sign, on which were written the words "One talks, one flies, one crawls."

    The meaning of this sign was clear. Each path contained a different kind of being, and the participants had to choose which one to face.

    "If we have to pick one, the best choice would be to pick the one who talks. We might be able to reason with them, and if a fight breaks out, we won't be in an odd environment." Said Lorwin after carefully pondering their three choices.

    "What if they are in great numbers? I would rather face the predictable attacks of ten insects, than to face just as many warriors whose abilities I am not familiar with." Retorted Dehlila.

    After listening to her response, Lorwing shook his head in disagreement, then said, "There are millions of participants here. Even the universal government would not put such a big army that can face us just for the purpose of testing us.. Or at least not twice in a row. We aren't even sure our test will be a physical one, we might be able to reason to our opponents if we go to the left path."

    As the two discussed their next move, Nilo's group was standing aside, having their own conversation.

    "Alright. We will split this way then." Said Finn after finally agreeing to Nilo's plan, which consisted of splitting into two different groups that would take the two least traveled paths.

    The last test had reassured them that this portion of the competition was not as dangerous as one would have thought, and since they had joined the event to impress others, in order to do that, they had to branch out from the rest of the group. The first of the two groups was composed of Cynna, Zack, Nilo, and Sigg, while the other, was formed by Fyro, Finn, and Ivan.

    Not long after Nilo's group concluded their preparation, the others did so as well by deciding to take the stone path that led to the left.

    As the group of roughly a thousand cultivators took the left path, Nilo's group split into two, and took their own. However, before following Zack and Nilo into the underground path, Cynna stopped to look at the back of the participants that were dispiritedly walking into he left path.

    "You should not bother with them. You can't change years of bad teachings with a single speech, nor can you hold their hands until they manage to fix their attitude." Said Nilo, who had noticed Cynna stop her motion, and watch the rest of the group disappear into the stone path.

    "It is not their fault they were taught wrong." retorted Cynna with uneasiness.

    Nilo let out a deep breath of resignation, and after shaking his head slightly, he said, "Fine. Don't get yourself killed for them." He then disappeared into the underground path with Zack and Sigg.

    "I won't." Responded Cynna before turning towards the stone path, and disappearing.

    When she reappeared, she was at the back of the long line of cultivators who were going through the iron gate.

    The stone path did not appear different from any other. The rocks which formed it were cleanly cut, and the grass grew between them was well kept, making the pathway look like the entrypoint of a secret manor hidden within the thick jungle, so when after a few minutes they found themselves in front another iron gate, they were not surprised.

    This iron gate was bigger than the last one, and was mounted on two stone walls that stood at least three meters high, and disappeared inside the thick barrage of trees. Behind the gate, was a massive round square that one could easily mistake for a training ground, and at the opposite side of the square's entrance, was an identical gate that worked as the exit point of the closed off area.

    In the middle of the square, stood a woman with closed eyes. Her face was covered by her long black hair, and her body was clad by a leather armor that did not impede the movements of her knees, elbows, or shoulders. Her hands were gripping the handle of a greatsword which was halfway pierced into the stone floor.

    "Is that a half immortal puppet?! No way!" Said one of the cultivators with shock.

    A half immortal puppet was similar, and yet different from a normal puppet. Controlled through the injections of the consciousness of its controller inside a cultivator's empty body, a puppet could be used the power that the cultivator posessed when he was alive, to fight alongside, or in their controller's stead. However, half-immortal puppets were slightly different.

    In order to cultivate immortal essence, one needed to cultivate the spirit and body at the same time. This concept had been challenged through the many eras of cultivation, until finally, someone began to question how important the mind was in one's cultivation, and if this weak point of a being could be exploited to control them.

    Through many tests, some cultivators had discovered that, by injecting a portion of their consciousness into a cultivator at the peak of the immortality stage right after their death, and before the spirit could dissipate, they were not only able to control the body, but if they wanted, even force it to ascend.

    After many attempts, this desire to find a way to have an army of puppets that could cultivate had been destroyed by a simple fact. The mind was, to a certain extent, part of the being. While it was not impossible to substitute one's dead mind with another, this mind would never fit the body and spirit, and during the ascension, would cause the puppet's cultivation to be unable to fully advance, creating a broken cultivation at a stage that had been called "half immortality".

    A half immortal puppet was stronger than a peak immortal cultivator, and yet not as powerful as a high immortal. It also lacked any form of gift, as during the ascension, the nature of the mind, and the feelings produced by the spirit, could not sync well enough for a gift to be created.

    The way many scholars would explain this to their students, was by telling them that trying to make a puppet ascend was like removing a steel ring from a chain, and put a glass one instead. The chain could still lift a certain amount of weight, but it would be limited by its weakest link.

    Despite not being an actual high immortal, the power this woman emanated was still much higher than that of a peak immortal cultivator, and that was the cause of the shock that many had felt the moment she had appeared in their sight.

    The first ones to enter the square were the members of Lorwin's and Dehlila's groups, who cautiously walked past the opened gate, while ready to fight off this dangerous foe the moment she would move a muscle.

    However, nothing happened.

    More and more participants walked into the square, but no matter what they did, this woman would not move, and would instead pose as a statue erected out of respect for a powerful cultivator.

    A half immortal puppet was technically not difficult for such a big group to kill, but there was no dobut that there would be victims. So instead of focusing on the woman, Lorwin and Dehlila tried to approach the gate on the other side of the square in order to see if they could just leave.

    Just like they were hoping, when they reached the gate, they quickly discovered that not only it wasn't locked, but that the puppet did not seem to care whether the participants walked out of it or not. Before they could all leave, however, they heard a familiar voice that, due to the tension they were feeling, was able to send a shiver down their backs.

    "Can you talk?" Asked Cynna to the woman.

    "I can." responded a disembodied voice that came from the puppet's general direction, and yet did not seem to actually belong to her.

    Cynna had already guessed that the woman would respond if spoken to, so she was not particularly surprised about it. What she was interested in, was why a puppet placed in the middle of a square to test them, would have a spatial ring. "Why are you here?" She then asked with curiosity.

    "To be challenged, and rewarded the survivors."
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