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424 Claiming the Spoils in Advance

    "DON'T YOU DARE!" Shouted Akkah with panic. In his mind, he was already planning to cancel his agreement with the universal government, and use his former artifact to recover his power to the peak, but Daniel had seen through his intentions. "STOP HIM!" he then added after turning to look at the explorers.

    This time the explorers did not move, and instead, waited for Daniel to speak.

    "What is the problem, brother? You have discarded this artifact years ago, so it should not bother you." Said Daniel before closing his eyes, and creating a quest that gave him a method to gain control over the artifact that was created by the mind system.

    It did not take long for Akkah to realize what Daniel was doing. He had already lost his system during the destruction of his body, but since he had lived with one all his life, he was able to think the same way as Daniel did.

    His need for the artifact was critical, since without it, his cultivation would have to rely on his talent. At the same time, without his full powers, his greatest rivals would easily find him and settle their oldest scores. If not them, he would lose his life by the hands of the Brutal, or the universal government itself the moment they would realize he would not be able to comply with their request like he had promised.

    While extremely nervous, Akkah was still an ancient cultivator, and his mental fortitude was amongst the strongest in the universe. So, before his escort could think that something was wrong with him, he calmed himself down, and said to the head explorer, "We have come here for a reason. I need my artifact to defeat the Brutal. Without it, I am unsure of the result."

    Naturally, the explorers had never thought that someone like Aeron could exist. Someone which could match the talent in mental cultivation with that of one of the monstrous children of Iewah. A person which the Mindhive would want to kill personally.

    At the same time, the true motives of the Mindhive for coming there had remained a mystery to them, and this lie, fit perfectly the empty void which had caused their confusion.

    "Outcast. I am afraid I have to insist that you take a step back." Said the head explorer as his knife started to glow with a dark power which Daniel recognized as the concept of isolation of dark essence. A concept which allowed one to deprive the senses of their opponents, and that this explorer clearly used to fight.

    Despite the clear menace, Daniel was not willing to budge on this, so instead of giving up, he said, "This isn't a discussion. This artifact is already mine. It does not matter what you do. You should instead focus on why Akkah needs the artifact, and whether he will be able to follow your agreement if he manages to get a hold of it."

    While he spoke, an invisible streak of darkness moved out of Daniel's shadow, and into the cracks of the cobblestone road. It then stretched towards the closing entrance of the artifact.

    "What is he talking about?" Asked the general of the government's army to the weakened Akkah.

    Instead of answering the question, Akkah shouted, "DON'T LET HIM FOOL YOU!!! LOOK AT WHAT HE IS DOING!"

    These words were instantly elaborated in the mind of the explorers, which immediately released their quickest attacks, tearing both Daniel's and Aeron's bodies into shreds.

    After killing the two of them, the explorers did not lower their guard. They were headed to fight one of Iewah's children along with another, and they were more than aware of how slippery they were when their lives were threatened. Unfortunately for them, the only traces of them left, were two streaks of consciousness which hid beyond their scouting abilities.

    It was only when Daniel's body tried to reform, that the explorers struck again, turning him one more time into bloody shreds.

    "The minds you idiot!! Kill their consciousness!" Barked Akkah with panic as Daniel and Aeron hid into the thread of darkness, and jumped back into the artifact. He could only look in horror as the words 'come back in, if you dare' reached his ghastly ears.

    The explorers were starting to feel reassured that no odd event would befall them, but due to Akkah's tone, they were unable to relax. What Akkah's tone suggested, was that both Aeron and Daniel were still alive, and that they had escaped after they had offended them, which was against the original orders of simply keeping an eye on Daniel.

    Regardless of what happened, the head explorer kept his calm. He quietly turned around, and stopped when his eyes met with a young looking woman with dark green hair, and eyelashes. "What did you see?" he asked.

    The young woman quietly closed her eyes, and after thinking for awhile, she said, "Hundred and fortieth phase, mind, spirit, and body developed at the same level, can preserve his life as long as one amongst his consciousness, body, or spirit isn't destroyed."

    "Do you have a guess about what his unique power revolves around?" Asked the head explorer right after.

    After focusing one more minute on her thoughts, she responded, "Based on this small amount of information.. It could be many things. The highest probability is.. Balance."

    "Weaknesses?"

    "After we have destroyed his spirit and body, they reformed around his consciousness. It is possible that killing him will require the help of a mental cultivator." Said the young woman, whose gift was similar, yet weaker to that of the Teacher himself. Her ability to take in and elaborate information was unparalleled, and had made her known as the most perceptive explorer in the universe, even superior to the Teacher's students.

    "Very well." Responded the head explorer before turning to look at the weak ghastly image of the Mindhive. He then added with a threatening tone, "By your own words, this was a small stop from our primary objective. You have now fallen into dire straits, and we will help you recover, but if you do not fulfill your promise, we will notify your brothers of your current state, so even if we can't kill you, they will."

    Akkah was fuming. Not only had he lost his system and ended up in the same state Sewah had been in the past, but now he was at the mercy of a group of people whom he would have easily been able to escape from. Unfortunately, he did not have that opportunity anymore, and as a simple mental warrior, regardless of how powerful his mind power's potential was, he had no hope of resisting if he did not recover.

    Left with only the permanent effects of the system and his own life, Akkah swore to take his revenge on Daniel. In his mind, the images of him ripping Daniel's consciousness out of his body and taking his system for himself, were forming rapidly.

    At the end, the only thing that was left for him to do was to accept his situation, and unwillingly say, "Very well.."

    As soon as Akkah finished speaking, the head explorer turned to look at the area in front of the entrance of the artifact, where the current leaders of the Proponents of Deep Sleep had now appeared. They were currently witnessing as their faction's members were pushed out of the artifact one by one.

    Able to guess that Daniel had already started to take control over the artifact, he threw a small pouch towards one of the other explorers, and said, "Go buy ten thousand mental stones. We will leave right away."

    The presence of the explorers and soldiers was quickly noticed, causing the patriarchs of the Proponents of Deep Sleep to disappear from where they were standing, and reappear in front of them.

    "We greet General Gora, and the noble explorers." said the oldest and most powerful of them before noticing the weak wisp of consciousness that they were protecting. He then added, "Lord Mindhive, the artifact you have given us to safekeep is being stolen. Please instruct us."

    Unfortunately, there was no response.

    Slightly nervous, the patriarch of the Proponents of Deep Sleep turned to look at the general, whom in absence of a Judge, was considered as the holder of peace, and said, "General Gora, we are sustaining an unsolicited attack. Please lend us your strength." In his voice, a faint trace of panic could be heard, after all, without the Door to Dream State, their faction was a weak one, with a weak method of cultivation.

    "This matter has nothing to do with us. It is a matter between a faction, and their outcast. There is nothing we can do." Responded the general with an emotionless tone.

    For the Proponents of Deep Sleep, there was no hope. The artifact around which their entire value revolved was being stolen, and the only chance to stop this was to meddle in a fight amongst legendary figures. One which had made them, and one that could likely destroy them.

    Soon after the general finished talking, the explorer came back from his task while holding the same pouch he had been given, but that instead of being filled with essence gems, was now filled with mental stones.

    However, they did not leave right away. Instead, they moved further out of the planet's atmosphere, and observed Daniel's actions. The chance to gather more information about not only one of Iewah's children, but one that looked special at that, was a chance they were not willing to let go.

    The mental warriors kept walking out of the artifact's entrance, until finally, no one was left inside but Daniel and Aeron. It was right then, that the seemingly unstable entrance of the artifact stabilized, and its opening turned into that of a normal door frame.

    Many tried to enter the door frame the moment it stabilized, but for some reason, they found themselves unable to go through the door, just like they were unable to walk through the threshold which prevented them from entering the layers which required a talent they did not possess.

    The explorers and soldiers looked down at the event with curiosity, but their curiosity was soon caught by the eyes of the many disgruntled mental warriors, which instead of looking at the door frame with dejection, were now looking past them with eyes opened wide with shock.

    "What.. where did that come from?!?" muttered one of the explorers, causing  the others to turn to look at him, and soon after, towards the thing he was staring at with so much shock.

    What they saw after turning around, was a flourishing planet whose size was closer to that of a star, and that had appeared behind them as quietly as a cat on the hunt.

    Standing between the planet and the observers, were two individuals. A scaly and robust man with reptilian eyes, and a man with long hair, and an expression filled with indifference.

    "Brother, how low have you fallen. Your appearance does not fit the stories I have heard." said one of the two while looking at the wisp of consciousness that was desperately recovering through the use of one of the recently acquired mental stones.

    "Brother?!" Barked one of the explorers as their group immediately prepared to battle. Not many knew that Iewah's children considered themselves siblings, and amongst the few of them who did, were the present explorers.

    The sudden appearance of another one of Iewah's children was always an important matter, even more so when nothing was known of them. However, despite their preparations for battle, Sewah did not appear to be willing to fight. Instead, he appeared to be waiting for someone.

    Almost as if on cue, from the door frame emerged two cultivators which the observers immediately recognized as Daniel and Aeron.

    The fact that the two had left the artifact was of comfort to the members of the Proponents of Deep Sleep, who thought that they had failed to take control over the artifact, but their hopes were shattered when the door shrunk into a small green gem, which immediately after floated towards Aeron, and lodged itself firmly on the forehead of his mask.

    After the gem lodged into Aeron's mask, the two floated past the group of explorers and soldiers, and joined Sewah and Xargy.

    "You have one month." Said Daniel to Akkah before disappearing along with his friends and planet, as if they hadn't been there to begin with.
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