495 A New Generation

    \"DAD! YOU ARE BACK!\" shouted the two jet-black haired kids with joy while running towards their father. Before the two could reach Daniel, however, their motion was interrupted by the demonic wolf, who instinctively stepped in front of his companion and sat on the ground in an attempt to showcase its majestic appearance.

    The appearance of the demonic wolf seemed to be enough to attract the attention of the little girl, who jumped into the softness of its absolute-black fur with a bear hug. Her twin brother, on the other hand, ignored the demonic wolf and ran around it to reach his father, who welcomed him with open arms.

    While feeling the small arms of his son around his neck, Daniel could not help but feel both happy and bitter. What made him bitter was the fact that his adored daughter had chosen to welcome back her father's companion rather than himself. If that was not enough, this bitterness was turned into irritation the moment he noticed the wagging tail of his beast companion, which waved left and right in satisfaction, and tapping rhythmically against his leg.

    \"Dad, when did you get back? Where have you been?\" asked the young boy right as Daniel wrapped his right arm around his son's legs, and lifted him above his waist, making him match his line of sight.

    \"Nowhere important. We just came back.\" Said Daniel after kissing the side of his son's head. He then reached for the left pocket of his pants, from which he took out a pink bead the size of a fingernail. \"Here, for your collection.\" He said while handing over the bead to his son.

    \"Cool! How did it form?\" Asked the kid while looking at the many shades of color hidden within the pearl.

    Overjoyed by his son's reaction, Daniel said, \"I've seen the entire process personally. A huge meteorite fell onto the planet I was visiting. The explosion flash-melted an entire beach. I cut this one just for you.\"

    The young boy looked at his father with interest, but this interest did not match his previous enthusiasm. \"That is awesome, but I want to start a new collection. Grandpa said he'll take me to collect gems from different dimensions!\" He said with enthusiasm.

    \"Did he now?\" said Daniel while turning to look at Edmund with narrowed eyes, not looking away even when the latter pretended not to notice his grim look. A few moments later, Daniel turned to look back at his daughter, and asked, \"Lia, Where is your mother?\"

    The little girl who had dived face first into the fur of the large demonic wolf suddenly emerged from it, and said, \"She left Eli and I to grandpa before going to the academy. She said she had to test the students before they could graduate.\" As she finished speaking, the little girl pushed herself away from the demonic wolf, and walked in front of Daniel. She then extended her arms, and opened her palms.

    \"What?\" Asked Daniel with feigned confusion.

    Lia looked at Daniel with bright eyes, and said, \"What did you get me?\"

    Daniel wanted to pretend to have forgotten his daughter's gift to get back at her for not greeting him first, but seeing his daughter's expression, his intentions quickly fell apart. He put down his son, who ran straight into the house with the new additions to his collection in his hands, and reached for his spatial ring, from which he slowly pulled out a white fencing sword with a light pink blade.

    The very moment Edmund noticed this sword, he prepared himself to scold Daniel for giving such a dangerous weapon to his mortal daughter, but he quickly stopped the moment he noticed that on the pink blade of the sword were engraved numerous small spatial formations. The purpose of these formations was to deaden the impact of this sword, be it piercing or slashing, turning it into a completely useless weapon.

    \"So cool!\" Said Lia while examining the sword like one would expect a kid of her age would.

    Daniel looked at his daughter's reaction with satisfaction, and after a few moments, he fell down on one knee next to her, and said, \"What do you say?\"

    The little girl immediately lowered the sword, and said, \"Thanks dad!\" She then kissed Daniel's cheek before going back to focus on her new toy.

    \"Good.. now go back in. I have to check on your mother. Grandpa will take care of your dinner.\" Said Daniel before standing back up on his feet, and turning towards the academy, which was built on the other side of the planet.

    Daniel was ready to leave, but before he could, his daughter's voice reached his ears one more time, relying on the words, \"Aunty Rei already cooked us dinner. She made some for you too.\" By the time Lia reached the entrance of the house and turned to look back towards her father, however, he was already long gone, leaving Edmund to stare at the empty space where he once was, by himself.

    \"Your dad is a quick thinker..\" muttered Than before gently pushing his younger cousin in the house. In his heart, he hoped he could have skipped this meal as well, as he, more than anybody else, was familiar with his mother's cooking.


    During the last few years, Hiel academy had grown to a size larger than that of a normal empire. Its students now numbered in the tens of millions, who occupied half a dozen cities interconnected with one another throughout easy and free-to-use spatial formations.

    The increase in the number of students, however, along with turning hiel academy into the biggest educational institution in the whole universe, had brought certain difficulties. An example of this was the graduation ceremony, which took place every year on Daniel's planet, and required the presence of hundreds of teachers to test the overwhelming number of young cultivators which had relied on the academy for their education.

    Luckily, those who had managed to graduate from hiel academy were always free to participate in the guardiation ceremony by acting as examiners. Along with helping the staff of the academy handle the large number of graduates, the chance to represent such an important institution was a source of great honor for the former students, who would hardly ever miss a chance to participate.

    The day Daniel had come back happened to be the day of the graduation ceremony, to which he would usually take part to as the academy's champion, a role appositely created for him to defend his title as the first student of hiel academy from the hundreds of thousands who, for the last few years, had one day hoped to take that title from him.

    At the moment, on one of the endless fields that surrounded hiel academy, a massive stadium capable of holding hundreds of thousands of people had been built. These seats were all occupied by the relatives of the graduates, whose number of guests was limited to two per person. That was due to the massive number of participants that would graduate every year.

    In the middle of this stadium were built as many small stages as there were examiners, and they were constructed not only in neat rows, but in suspended floors as well. On each of these small stages was a single examiner who tested the abilities of one of the graduates, who gave their all to showcase their ability while their opponents limited their cultivation to their own level.

    On the uppermost stadiums were the figures of Alesia, Nilo, Finn, Fyro, Yala, and others. They were the first graduates of Hiel Academy, and their job was to test those who had excelled in their studies, and had come out of the academy as its most talented prospects.

    For more than ten hours, the former students tested the abilities of their juniors. Starting from their understanding of elemental essence, all the way to their mastery of weapons, and after more than fifteen hours, of the hundreds of thousands, only a tenth had passed. These students were officially qualified to graduate from the hiel academy, and allowed to proudly say that they were students of the biggest educational institution to ever exist. However, for a hundred of them, the test had yet to end.

    These hundred cultivators were the most capable students of their year, and as such, they had the right to challenge Daniel for his spot as Hiel Academy's top student. As long as they would be able to defeat him in a discipline of their choice, they would be considered the best of the best, and bring honor and fame to their planet.. be it as elementals, as beastfolk, as demons, or as humans.

    Overjoyed to have this opportunity, the students stood in wait.. But seeing the faces of the few examiners left on stage to wait with them, they began to feel that something did not seem right.

    On stage with them was the figure of the Silver Alchemist, the director of the Alchemical Padillion of hiel academy, the name with which one of the various cities that composed Hiel Academy was known as. On his old and amiable face was an expression that hinted embarrassment and unease. Daniel had yet to arrive, and he wasn't sure whether he should simply conclude the ceremony, or keep on waiting.

    Luckily, he would never have to make that decision.

    Suddenly, the space a few meters next to him cracked like a spiderweb. This crack, originally the size of a fist, quickly grew in size, releasing a screeching sound in the surroundings that forced many to cover their ears. This crack kept growing in size until finally, when it reached the ground, and around two meters in diameter, its innermost part collapsed.

    Unlike what many thought would happen, this portion of collapsed space did not naturally expand, and instead remained as a hole in suspended in space from which, soon after, two hands emerged. These hands hooked onto the shattered space-like glass that, with a bit of pressure, broke apart, revealing the rest of Daniel's body, who walked out of it as if walking out of a shallow layer of mud that had been laid over his body.

    After Daniel emerged from this hole, the surrounding shattered space automatically repaired and rejoined over the hole, sealing it in mere seconds.

    The hundred young cultivators looked at Daniel with reverence. They had seen his statue everywhere in his system, including the surrounding planets. He was as much of a myth as he was the person that every single student aspired to be, and dreamed to become.

    Glad that Daniel hadn't forgotten about this little tradition, the Silver Alchemist cleared his throat, and said with enough power to resound throughout the whole arena, \"These hundred students have shown dedication towards what defines the path of a cultivator. Not the sheer power we obtain by blindly strengthening our bodies, spirits, and minds.. But the disciplines that make us different from everybody else. The disciplines that define us as cultivators.\"

    \"Through hard work they have developed and tempered these paths, and now, the day they are recognized as true cultivators, they have earned the opportunity to challenge the crown. A fair chance to test their power against the best our academy could offer since the day it was funded.\"

    As he reached this point, the Silver Alchemist asked for the students to move into a line, and to approach Daniel one at a time, stating the discipline that they wished to be tested on along with their names.

    The first person to approach Daniel was a nervous-looking young man with dark brown hair. Hanging by his waist were two short swords, which he unsheathed as he stepped towards Daniel's confident figure.. However, despite his desire to present himself to his idol, no words left his mouth.

    Before the test could begin, Daniel suppressed his power to that of a peak immortal, which matched precisely the power emitted by the mid stage of high immortality of his opponent. He then said, in an attempt to calm him down, \"Chances do not come by often, so don't waste yours. Leave everything on stage, and you'll go home happy regardless of the result.\" As he finished speaking, he constructed two blades identical to that of the young man, and with a respectful tone, he added, \"My name is Daniel.\"

    These few encouraging words were enough for the young man, as well as those who stood behind him in wait, to get rid of their nervousness, and feel their competitive spirit reignite to the state it was when they had competed with one another to earn those hundred spots.

    \".. my name is Viktor.\" Said the young man before bowing politely, and assuming his fighting stance.
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