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491 Hit and Run

    \"Greetings Master Klio, we are looking for Lady Arrin. She disappeared right after the forum.. I wonder if you would happen to know where she could have gone, or who could have wanted to take her while on the way to her residence?\" Asked a guard with politeness to the same old man in red robes who had invited Daniel to sit next to him during the forum.

    The high degree of respect that the guards were showing towards this old man was justified by the fact that, while virtually all of them belonged to a group that was co-owned by the major clans of the spiritual world, and used as a form of policing force for the Laboratory and most of the dimension's biggest cities, this old man was the one who had personally created each and every one of them.

    Contrary to many others, the old man did not get angry by the sudden visit, and simply shook his head from side to side, a simple action that was a source of great discomfort for each of the guards. After a few moments of silence, the captain lowered his head, and said with a low tone, \"Would you mind if we took a look inside your residence?\"

    The red-clothed old man reacted to this question by showing a warm smile, and with a gentle tone that someone might mistake for that which a grandfather would reserve for their grandchild, he said, \"I don't think that there is a need for that.\" His voice was raucous, and if not for his cultivation at the peak of the godhood stage, the guards could have mistaken him for an amiable and feeble old man that was hoping to avoid a long and annoying procedure.

    The group of guards looked at one another with uncertainty, until finally, a voice resounded in their ears. \"I am afraid that we have to insist, Researcher Klio.\" Said the man with glasses as he appeared next to the captain of the guards. He then added with a serious tone, \"We are controlling every residence with no exception.\"

    Surprised by the appearance of the man with glasses, the red-robed old man lost his amiable attitude, and said with a threatening tone, \"You know.. I could disassemble their bodies before they could even set foot into my laboratory.. Maybe then I would be able to get back to work.\"

    The man with glasses was not offended or threatened by these words. \"Let me remind you, Researcher Klio.. Despite your contribution to the Laboratory, the city belongs to the major clans. So, let me do my job, or I will be forced to show you that your presence here is only valuable as long as you don't interfere with the major clans' business. Please step aside.\" He said with a matter-of-fact tone while showing a power identical to that of the old man.

    Unfortunately for the old researcher, the man with glasses possessed a backing infinitely bigger than his own, despite him being the patriarch of his own clan and the strongest entity in his circle. The man with glasses had been appointed as the keeper of the Laboratory, and his word was law.

    Before the old man could respond to his threatening words, the man with glasses showed a polite smile, and said, \"We will be respectful of your research. Deactivate your formations and allow us to walk in. It will be just the six..\" As he reached this point, the man with glasses stopped talking with the old man, and instead turned towards the captain amongst the group of guards, and asked, \"Why are you only four? Where is your fifth?\"

    -----

    Purity district, building eighteen.

    *knock knock knock*

    \"Who the hell is there? I have asked not to be disturbed!\" Shouted a muffled voice through the thick door with anger.

    In response to this question was nothing but silence. A silence which lasted for a few more seconds, and was once again interrupted by the irritating and familiar knocking sound. \"Damn it!\" shouted the muffled voice once again before turning into an incomprehensible muttering that became clearer and clearer the closer the resident walked to the door. \"What the hell do you want?\" Asked the owner of the voice, a scrawny man in his late forties and dressed in loose robes, to the single guard that stood on the other side of the door which he had angrily forced open.

    On this guard the man could feel the faint presence of the fragment of a pathway that connected one of the physical universes to the spiritual world.. something that a clan would only give to their worthy members to keep, but that was odd to see on a guard. However, since he was new to the Laboratory, and he was unaware of what was normal or not in this city, he ignored it, and instead waited for this guard to state his business.

    After a few moments of silence, the guard stepped confidently towards the door, and said, \"A researcher of the Soul Clan has disappeared. I was ordered to inspect your residence. Please disable your formation, and step aside.\"

    Yaqi, whose soul now inhabited a new body, was taken aback by what he had heard. He was an extremely old entity, and he had never heard of a disappearance within the Laboratory. The nature of his job had always been to visit new universes, and train their residents into opening a path to the spiritual world, but while this request sounded suspicious, what the Laboratory's guards were allowed to do or not, was beyond his knowledge.

    Due to this, he took a step back, and said, \"Let me store away my research, and I will let you in.\" He said with the intention of complying with the guard's request.

    However, while collaborative, Yaqi's words did nothing but rile up the guard, who got closer to the door, and said with an authoritative tone, \"Disable your formations first. I will wait for you to store away your research afterwards.\"

    Yaqi was slightly confused by the guard's behaviour, but since he could somewhat understand why the guard would ask something like that in this situation, he found no reason to doubt his intentions. Unfortunately, before he could comply with the guard's instructions, a second guard appeared around twenty meters down the road. \"HEY! What are you bothering a member of the Soul Clan for this? And why are you carrying..\" The words of the second guard trailed to silence as its suspicion towards the first guard turned into alertness.

    Aware that something was wrong, Yaqi immediately tried to close the door and retreat into the safety of his residence.. But despite his higher cultivation, he was too slow. In the blink of an eye an immense power surged from within the body of the first guard, which instantly shattered the formations that kept Yaqi's residence isolated from the outside. The second guard could not react in time, and by the moment he made the conscious decision to sound the alarm, Yaqi's residence had already exploded, and the guard had disappeared, taking the confused researcher of the Soul Clan with him.

    Hundreds of guards hastily reacted to this breach of the security measures by immediately giving up what they were doing to regroup on site, where they saw but a single one of their colleagues standing in front of a destroyed residence. Amongst these hundreds of guards was the man with glasses, who had appeared next to the lone guard instantly after the event, and asked, \"What the hell is going on here?\"

    The lone guard looked at him with confusion, \"I don't know.. There was someone suspicious here wearing a guard's attire, and as soon as I questioned him.. he just disappeared..\"

    The man with glasses took a look around, and soon put the pieces together. Instead of coordinating a reaction, however, he reached for his pocket with his left hand, and from it, he pulled out a small ocarina which he moved up to his mouth. As he blew air into it, an unidentified white smoke emerged from the item's small holes, and expanded until becoming a mist that surrounded the whole area.

    This artifact, commonly known in the spiritual world as a 'Spiritual Dissonance Revealer', was a product of spiritual manufacture that allowed the user to see the disharmonious movement of the omnipresent spiritual essence, in the shape of a stain in the otherwise calm surrounding power. This dissonance could only show recent movements, and was used in the spiritual world to find, and follow someone's trail.

    As the smoke emanated by the artifact reached past Yaqi's residence, a faint black path formed within the white smoke.

    Compared to the other smaller black spots that surrounded the guards to highlight the dissonance that their teleportation had created, this path was much more evident, and yet, it had already started to dim down in intensity, showing that the suspect had left for a longer time than the guard had reported.

    Once in possession of a direction, the researcher with glasses turned to look at the closest guard captain, and ordered, \"Find a member of the Omnipresent Spirits, and request an emergency teleportation to their base. Once there, demand for the intervention of one of their ancestral souls.. If they refuse, tell them that our suspect has a comprehension of spacetime.\"

    \"Sir, what if they refuse to help after that?\" Asked the captain with urgency.

    \"Then tell that you'll go to the Soul Clan next to report that they have refused to lend a hand.\" Said the man with glasses before turning into a flash of light, and shooting into the sky in the pursuit of the suspect.

    -----

    Millions of kilometers away from the city, Daniel, still dressed in the Laboratory's guard attire, was flashing through space and time at a speed that not many would be able to even explain, while carrying two bodies in his arms.

    Carefully wrapped by Daniel's right arm, and placed over his right shoulder was the spiritual form of Alesia's body, which after being separated from her consciousness, had been dragged into the spiritual plain where Yaqi had found her. The purity of her spirit had allowed her to maintain her original shape, and not be processed by the recycling nature of the spiritual world, which would have turned her into a faceless element of its environment until she would finally have a chance to reincarnate.

    In his left hand, Daniel was dragging Yaqi, which he was dragging by his ankle right outside of the bubble of morphed space that he was using to skim through the sky at superluminal speed. Forced to face the attrition of the air at such a speed, Yaqi's new body did not hold, and rapidly disintegrated, leaving only his soul to be levigated by the surrounding spiritual essence.

    Daniel was moving towards the direction from which he had originally come from, the swamp with which the universal key left within his body after his arrival was resonating. In his mind was the uncertainty of having chosen the wrong path, and the worry that soon he would be caught, and that both him and Alesia would have to face a fate worse than death.

    -----

    A few tens of thousands of kilometers away from the Laboratory, the researcher with glasses was flying through the sky while following the path highlighted by the ocarina, a path that became fainter and fainter the longer he followed it. The disappearance of the path left no doubts in the mind of the man with glasses that he would soon lose the trail, but he did not appear to be worried about this eventuality.

    After various minutes spent diligently following the trail, right when it seemed that he would ultimately lose it, two men dressed in white and golden friar robes appeared next to him.

    The appearance of both of these two individuals was covered by the baggy hoods of their robes, which were unwrinkled thanks to the fact that, instead of shooting through space in a hurry by releasing massive amounts of power, they had calmly arrived here by using the essence of space time.

    What the man with glasses noticed before that, however, was the fact that one of these two individuals was carrying a severed head, which only seconds earlier had been attached to the rest of the body of the captain of the guard, and was currently still dripping with fresh blood.

    \"Was it necessary?\" He asked while looking at the remains of the man he had sent to die.

    The cultivator on the left, who was the one holding the head, released his hold on it, allowing it to fall on the ground before saying, \"I didn't like his tone.\"

    The man with glasses seemed to have an answer ready for that, but before he could say anything, the second cultivator said, \"Enough. Just show us in which direction the suspect went.\"
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