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435 Inevitable War

    The surviving members of each group looked at Daniel with horror. Their companions had been exterminated in a matter of moments, and the only reason why they were still breathing, was because Daniel had allowed them to.

    The fear they felt was crippling, and forced them to stand dumbfounded, as Daniel approached the young woman and placed his hand over her head. He then injected heavy amounts of healing essence, which combined with his power of Mental Fortitude, allowed him to help her calm down, and leave the panicked state she had been in for the past few minutes.

    "Are you alright?" He asked before gently cupping his hand underneath the young woman's jaw, and perking her head up. While still unsettled about the whole event, the young woman immediately recognized Daniel as the first student of Hiel academy. A young man that was considered the strongest by any of the academy's core students, despite never having shown his powers.

    "W-What.. What are you doing here.." she asked with confusion, unaware that Daniel was, along with being the first student, the founder of the academy and first outcast of Iewah's faction. The person whose planet she, and tens of millions of others lived in.

    As Daniel tried to reassure the members of his group, the three cultivators looked at one another with uncertainty. In their minds, were ideas of escaping, pleading for mercy, or even giving their all into a final attempt against Daniel. However, before they could act, Daniel stood back up from his kneeling position, and without looking at them, he asked, "You know why you are still standing, right?"

    Sure that a wrong answer to this question could easily mean their death, the three started to analyze their situation, and soon, they came to a conclusion. A conclusion which in their minds made absolutely no sense, and which they refused to mention for fear of Daniel's reaction. It was only after Daniel turned to look at them with expectant eyes, that the surviving member of the universal government said, "You want us to report back.."

    "Right on the money." Said Daniel before turning to look at him. He then added, "Apparently, killing every one of your agents was not enough for you to understand. This time, I hope that leaving a few witnesses alive will have a different outcome. Do not disappoint me on this."

    Not interested in hearing a response, Daniel quietly grabbed the wrist of the young woman, and disappeared without making a sound, or leaving a single trace of spatial essence.

    The three cultivators remained quiet for a few seconds, until finally, the silence was interrupted by the surviving member of the universal government, who said, "This matter is not something that the government will leave unsettled." he then turned to look at the surviving mental warrior and spiritual cultivator, and added, "You two are coming with me. The senate will want to talk to you as well."

    As he finished speaking, the member of the universal government touched one of the rings in the middle finger of his left hand with his thumb. This unnoticeable action caused for a simple door to appear in front of them, which they then used to reach the core of the universal government's territory.

    -----

    Back on planet Alcazar, the three presented themselves in front of the senate, who after waiting for days for a report about the result of their mission, welcomed them in the moment their arrival was perceived by those in control of the space around the capital.

    "Octa, we have been expecting you." Said the current speaker. His expression initially reflected his high expectations, which were soon put aside the moment he noticed that something was wrong,  "Why is it only you? And why are they here?" he asked.

    "Mister Speaker, senators, we have failed to fulfill the primary objective of the mission, however, we bring new information, as well as bad news." Said the surviving member of the universal government to the senators, after a faint, yet respectful hint on acknowledgement.

    The speaker quickly straightened his back on his chair, and said, "Tell us about what you have found out first."

    "Sir, we have discovered a few things about their method of cultivation." responded the member of the universal government, making the senators sit on the edge of their seats. He then continued by saying, "It is called the path of True Immortality, and contrary to what we believed, it does not allow one to become a high immortal, and a mental warrior at the same time. What it does, is to merge the three aspects of humanity into one, just like our spirit is merged with our bodies."

    While these two concepts would appear identical to a common mortal, for an immortal cultivator the difference was abysmal. After all, merging two powers not only allowed a cultivator to obtain the strengths of both paths, but changed their natural power into a more pure form of essence. A power which was believed to be unmatched in the universe, at least until Daniel's appearance.

    "Go on." said the speaker, who encompassed the curiosity of each of the senators into two simple words.

    "We have not been able to obtain a method, but we have a few hints on the origin of that power." Said the survivor of the universal government before turning to look at the masked mental warrior, whose eyes moved on each of the observing senators with fear.

    While nervous, the mental warrior remembered what he and the other two survivors had prepared, and as soon as the immortal cultivator looked at him, he took a step forward, and after bowing politely, he said, "Senators of the Universal Government. Each relevant memory contained in the target's mind has been masterfully removed. I pride myself with being one of the few who could undo such a job, but it appears that I have overestimated myself."

    It did not take long for the mental warrior to realize that the senators had close to no interest to his apologetic behaviour, so instead of waiting for words of reprimand, or consolation, he continued by saying, "While I have failed in my initial job, I was able to see the memories prior, and succeeding our target's change in powers."

    "Get to it. What did you discover?" Asked the speaker, now impatient.

    "The first unaltered memory of the young woman prior to her change in powers, showed her as a simple immortal. A week's worth of memories later, she had become a true immortal." Said the mental warrior before taking a small pause. Only after seeing the invested expressions of the senators, did he continue by saying, "Our theory is that the method of becoming a true immortal is not a path that must be followed, but the ability of the Outcast, or even an object."

    "What makes you think that it could be an object?" asked one of the senators.

    The mental warrior turned to look at the senator who had just spoken, and responded by saying, "None of the young woman's memories were altered before the point in time in which she became a true immortal, and we were able to confirm that each and everyone of those who achieved the same, did so after the Outcast came into possession of the Door to the Dream State, the artifact left to the mental factions, by the Mindhive."

    "Interesting." said the speaker while stroking his chin. He then asked after a long minute spent in a pensive state, "What news do you bring? Does it have something to do with why the majority of your groups are missing?"

    It was once again the survivor of the universal government who raised his head towards the speaker, and said, "The Outcast discovered us. We have tried to reason with him, but he started a massacre without showing signs of consideration. We were spared only so that we could report his intention to not collaborate with us."

    This news surprised the senators, who knew more than anybody else that Daniel did not belong to a major faction who could afford to instigate them. He was the leader of a relatively small group, and like the other group leaders amongst Iewah's faction, they were not at a level where they could challenge a colossal group like the universal government. Especially if supported by the other factions.

    To them, Daniel was a kid covered in golden jewels and dressed in immeasurably expensive clothes. Impressive to see, but still a kid.

    "So this is how it is going to be." Said the speaker before turning to look at the other senators, who nodded at each other, while sending messages through sound essence to one another for various minutes. Once they stopped, the speaker turned to look at the surviving mental warrior and spiritual cultivator, and said, "Report back to your factions."

    "Senator, do you have a message you wish us to report to our leaders?" Asked the spiritual cultivator, hoping to be tasked with something important enough to divert the fury of the Spiritual Emperor, after letting him down for the umpteenth time.

    The speaker suddenly stopped stroking his chin, and after crossing the fingers of his hands above his knee, said, "Surveillance and negotiations have failed.. The government and the annexed factions will be going to war against the Outcast."

    -----

    After rescuing the member of his group, Daniel went back to his planet, where he was welcomed by a grateful Fyro, and an annoyed group of people whose job was to report any sort of problem that arose in his planet during his absence.

    A few days later.

    Daniel and a few of his close friends were currently floating in mid air, observing the event that was taking place underneath them just like hawks would look at mice. What they were looking at, was the massive line that had formed in front of the entrance to the Door of Dream State, which was known throughout the entire academy as the sacred grounds of Hiel Academy.

    "Are you sure that you want to open the artifact to the public?" Asked Edmund with evident doubt.

    "Do not worry about it. I have already locked the second layer to anyone who does not fulfill the requirements of our group, and the moment someone will try to forcibly absorb the power in order to ascend, the power will solidify around them, and they will be pushed out." Responded Daniel while showing a satisfied expression.

    After merging his artifact with his own system, Daniel had discovered that the control he had over it, was vaster than what he had predicted. At the moment, he could set simple actions to the inanimate artifact, which would use its power to fulfill the orders of its owner.

    "Can I go back in? I am a step away from obtaining another one of the natural powers of us dragons." Said Xargy after seeing hundreds of young men and women rush into the place where he had cultivated for the past few weeks, and that had helped his cultivation skyrocket to a level which only a few dragons who were ten times older than him had reached.

    "Will you cut that out? We have discussed this already. Your cultivation absorbs too much power, and too quickly. Every three days you spend in there, the artifact requires one just to recover. You will have to wait for the artifact to become more powerful." Responded Daniel with irritation. It was clear that this had not been the first time the two had had this conversation.

    "Whatever."

    "Why exactly do we need the students to reach the peak of immortality?" asked Heimart with confusion.

    Daniel did not respond right away, and instead looked at the great number of students who wished for nothing but to barge into the artifact, and become one of the mythical true cultivators that only this artifact could produce. After a few seconds spent quietly, he said, "Once they reach the peak of immortality, have anyone who isn't fit for our group graduate. Then send them back to their families. The rest will ascend, and help us with what comes next."

    Daniel's tone was devoid of positivity, and that did not go unnoticed by his friends. Especially from Edmund, who looked back at him, and asked, "What comes next?"

    The response to this question, was a single word, "War".
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