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474 The Bishops Plan

    "Let him in." Ordered Daniel with a domineering tone that came from the main hall of his designated residence. Normally, Daniel would have never talked to Edmund like that, but in the eyes of the spiritual faction, he was one of Iewah's children, and therefore, he had to act like one.

    Edmund quickly understood, and after a forty-five degrees bow directed at the place from which the voice had originated, he turned to look at the first bishop, and said, "Please, come in." He then led him in, but not before noticing how, before entering the residence, the first bishop had observed his surroundings in an inconspicuous manner.

    When the two reached the main hall of the residence, they found Daniel sitting in front of a fireplace, and scrolling through one of the historical books on which was written in detail the history of the spiritual faction. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Outcast." Said the first bishop before following Edmund's directions, and sitting on the armchair placed on the opposite side of a small table that was right next to Daniel.

    "The pleasure is all mine, Mister Yuto." Responded Daniel while slowly closing the book, and placing it over the small table. He then twined his fingers over his already overlapped legs, and added, "To what do I owe a visit from one of the notorious bishops of the spiritual faction?"

    "Ahah" chuckled the first bishop before pressing his back over the internal back of the chair. Then, right after mimicking Daniel's action of twining his fingers, he said, "My name doesn't have a fame that can precede my persona. You are even more impressive than people give you credit for."

    Daniel did not respond to the compliment. He had already felt the power of the first bishop, and he knew that a cultivator at a stage comparable to the two hundredth phase of high immortality, could not be a simple gate keeper for his faction's event. To connect him to the figures called bishops was the least Daniel could do, and therefore, he did not feel that he deserved to be praised.

    As he noticed that his words were received coldly, Yuto straightened his back, and asked with a more serious tone, "Your desire to participate in my Emperor's marriage is a surprise to say the least. Are you perhaps willing to share with me why you have decided to come?"

    Daniel let a faint smile curve his lips. "Your faction and I have a troubled history. I thought that paying my respects on such an important day would.. Ease things between us." He said calmly.

    Yuto was well aware of what Daniel meant. The punishment they had received when competing against the Sovereign of Corruption for Gai'ha's planet of origin had hurt them, and since then, based on the vindictive behaviour of Iewah's children, Daniel had been assumed to be hostile to their faction. What Daniel had said now seemed to show otherwise, but he wasn't yet convinced.

    "So, in the spectrum of craziness of which your kin belongs, you are on the smart side." He said before moving his twined hands closer to his stomach. He then asked, "Does your decision to pick a peaceful resolution over an all-out war come as a result of the progress of my Emperor's cultivation?"

    Daniel confirmed the bishop's suspicions with a smile.

    The bishop let out a dry laugh, and said, "I reckon that a year ago, with your power, you could have gone hand to hand with him, and maybe even defeat him. Now, I can understand why you'd choose this path." Then, almost as becoming nostalgic all of a sudden, he muttered, "Power sure attracts friendship.. But sometimes, there is a cost to that."

    "I cannot imagine what could be worrying someone of your stature." Said Daniel with feigned confusion.

    The first bishop was waiting for this question, and as soon as Daniel asked, he showed a troubled expression, and said, "I am the closest my emperor has to a family member, and in this matter, I feel like the voice at the back of his head that is telling him to reconsider this whole wedding."

    "You do not approve? I have heard that the bride-to-be is as talented as she is beautiful." Asked Daniel with undeniable curiosity. He more than anything wanted to hear the bishop talk about Alesia, and this was his first chance.

    "I don't deny either her talent or her beauty.. But two cultivators can only bear each other's presence for a few decades, and will inevitably end up separating.. and regretting the time wasted on one another instead of focusing on their cultivation." Responded the first bishop with a matter-of-fact tone.

    What Yuto had said was not entirely wrong. While it was true that successful marriages were hard to find in the world of cultivation, that had more to do with the fact that cultivators would marry for power, and not for love. Those kinds of marriage would usually end in a divorce the moment the two parts would stop gaining benefits from one another.

    Daniel could not deny Yuto's words, but he also knew that there was more to it than what he had heard. "I haven't heard any rumors about the power behind the bride. For what reason but love would the spiritual emperor decide to marry her?"

    "I have no doubt that my Emperor loves the woman.. But I know him. One day he will realize this marriage was a mistake, and will get rid of her." Yuto said with a hint of disappointment. He then sighed slowly before adding, "Instead of both of them wasting time, it would be better if this marriage wouldn't happen to begin with."

    Here it was. The true reason why the first bishop had personally come to visit one of his faction's enemies. Expressed in the form of an outspoken random thought which no one would take seriously.. Were his true intentions. He wanted Daniel to kill Alesia.

    Both Daniel and Edmund realized what the intentions of the first bishop were, and in their hearts, they felt a strong anger surge through their bodies and invade their minds, but thanks to Daniel's mental fortitude, he was able to calm down right away. But, unfortunately, that was not the case for Edmund, who looked at Yuto with what looked like the intention to start a fight.

    If that happened in front of anybody else, nothing would have come out of it.. But the person they were facing was a spiritual cultivator, and a high ranking one at that. The first bishop immediately noticed the fluctuation in the spirits of both Daniel and Edmund, and after looking at Edmund from the corner of his eye, he turned to look at Daniel with a fair amount of suspicion.

    Daniel gave Edmund a minute to calm down before looking back at Yuto, and with an embarrassed expression, said, "I apologize for his bad behaviour. He probably thought that you wanted us to do your dirty work by killing the spiritual emperor's bride-to-be, only to blame us when things would get serious."

    As soon as Daniel finished speaking, the suspicion disappeared from Yuto's mind. Instead, he suddenly started to feel more at ease. The first obstacle had been crossed, and Daniel did not appear to be completely against the idea, so in his mind, there was hope to convince him.

    Yet, he needed to maintain appearances. "I would never do that!" He said with evident indignation.

    "Once again, our apologies." Said Daniel with a faint nod.

    After Daniel's apology Yuto pretended to vent his anger with a few deep breaths, then sat back down on his seat, and with what felt like exasperation, he said, "I will admit, protecting the emperor's beloved has been a nightmare so far. By tradition, she is kept on the opposite side of Anima, and the two need to meet halfway to celebrate their marriage.. Can you imagine how many things can go wrong until that moment?"

    "I can only imagine.. But why would anyone hurt the future bride of the most powerful entity in our universe?" asked Daniel with curiosity. He knew that Yuto was trying to rope him into assassinating Alesia, and in order not to appear suspicious, he needed to show interest towards anything that could be gained from it.

    "Apparently, after hearing about the odd nature of the young woman, the envoy of the soul clan has started to show a particular interest in her." Said Yuto with feigned worry.

    Daniel did not leave the bishop waiting, and after straightening his back, asked with an even deeper interest, "But why would they want her dead?"

    "For her body. The soul clan cultivates something that they call soul, which to us is a power similar to a mixture between consciousness and spiritual essence. One of their main abilities is possession, and I fear that someone with such a peculiar body will do nothing but entice the envoy of the soul clan.. I cannot imagine what kind of treasure they would offer in exchange of the woman's body.." Responded Yuto with a tone filled with worry.

    For the following few minutes the two kept discussing different matters, but Daniel never entirely dropped Alesia's topic. Every few exchanges he would pretend to care about the possible rewards that the soul clan could offer, whether the arts of the soul clan could be taught to high immortals like himself, or whether the spiritual emperor would accept that his bride-to-be would be offered to the envoy. The bishop would respond to each of these questions by keeping a vague tone, pretending that the entire matter was a bother left for him to bear, and that making sure that nothing like happened in the next two days, would be a real headache.

    After more than twenty minutes, when Daniel appeared to be more pensive, and less interested in keeping company to his guest, Yuto decided to leave.

    Daniel decided to accompany the bishop to the door, and when they reached it, the latter covered his head, and before leaving, he said, "I hope that what we have discussed will remain between us."

    "Of course." Said Daniel with a solemn tone.

    "It was a pleasure making your acquaintance, Outcast.. and in case we won't see each other again, goodbye." Said the bishop before walking out in the rain, and disappearing behind one of the residences built right next to Daniel's.

    After closing the door, Daniel walked back into the main hall, where Edmund was waiting for him with hands trembling with rage. "We have to kill them all.. Kill them all, take my daughter, and leave." He said while stomping towards Daniel.

    Daniel could see a blind rage build in Edmund's mind, so he approached him, and placed his hands onto his shoulders. "We can't. You have felt it.. The source of all spiritual essence. If we start a fight here we'll die, and no one will be left to save your daughter. We have to follow the plan." He said while using his mental fortitude to try and calm Edmund's spirit.

    Edmund had complete trust in Daniel, so his reassuring words were all that was needed for him to go back to his calm and collected state of mind. He then decided to ask what their next move would be, but right before he could speak, Daniel took a black set of clothes out of his spatial ring, and began to put it on.

    "What are you doing?" asked Edmund with confusion.

    Daniel did not stop, and while putting the black top on, he said, "Do you think we are the only one he tried to convince? We are lucky if we were the last one he asked to. We need to protect Alesia until the wedding date.. There is no other option."

    What Daniel had said was right. Before coming to them, Yuto had had a similar conversation with the entourage of many different groups and factions, and amongst them, were some of the other children of Iewah, whose moves, due to their conflicting systems, Daniel could not predict.
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