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499 Winds of Change

    "One day you might want to keep one of them alive, and try some sort of peaceful resolution. It might earn us a couple of days of rest." Said the grand judge before putting the transcription of the interrogation away.

    After finally being able to take out the helmet in at least twenty hours, Der took a deep breath and turned to look back at the grand judge, causing him to feel the same immense pressure that a simple soldier would feel when meeting the commander of the military. He then said, "A predator doesn't respect its prey enough to give up the hunt.. Unless the prey starts biting back."

    Overwhelmed by this pressure, the grand judge was forced to use his gift just to be able to stand straight, then retorted, "But wouldn't a clear provocation, like killing their nobles, instigate them to send more at us? According to the intel we have gathered so far, it is a miracle we haven't been wiped out already."

    As the grand judge finished speaking, Der began to walk down the dark corridor that led outside of the dungeon, "Harvesting humans is only a side project for them. They are here for something else. We just need to find out what that is." he said with a matter-of-fact tone before walking through a series of corridors that lead to the main hall of the Tribunal.

    Once out of the tunnel, the two were welcomed by all the commanders, veteran explorers and grand judges that had agreed to fall under Der's control in these troubled times. They had been waiting for him to finish the interrogation and come back with new orders ever since their return from the last battle.

    Der paid no mind to the respectful behaviour of these people, and simply ordered, "Division one and seven, leave for system A19 and start building portals in the inhabited planets. Divisions two to six build a camp outside of Aquilia, the next party of blood cultivators will arrive in four days. I want at least eighty percent of the population gone by the time they arrive. Divisions nine to.."

    As he went on giving the new assignments, the generals took their leave one at a time, leaving him alone as the last followed suit.

    "Look at you.. Big boy Der, saving all those townsfolk from the big bad wolves." Said a disembodied voice within Der's head. A voice which he tried to ignore as he walked towards his room. "Still going with the silence treatment? Shouldn't you treat me with a bit of respect?"

    "..shut up.." muttered Der in response before barging into his room, where a boy no older than six, and dressed in regal clothes, was quietly observing the world from the other side of the window. Der ignored this boy and walked towards the bedside table, on which was a large bowl filled with clean water. He then scooped a handful of it with his cupped hands, and used it to wash his face.

    "Is it still bothering you?" Asked the young boy without looking away from the window.

    Der shook his head almost as if trying to throw the headache he was feeling out of his head, and said, "I didn't come here because I appreciate your presence."

    "I told you, you shouldn't have accepted his help.. Especially since you knew what the consequences would be." Responded the boy before turning around, and revealing a face with no features.

    Seemingly tired of having to listen to these words time and time again, Der lay on his bed, covering his eyes from the stressful world that surrounded him. When he opened his eyes once again, the young boy had disappeared, unlike his headache, which reappeared the moment the voice inside his head came back, "You know, dealing with an aspect of existence never fares well for your kind.. Especially Hierarchy."

    "He works well enough in keeping you quiet." Responded Der with a dismissive tone.

    "That is so silly. What advantages does being his champion bring to you? Just use the system! You would be able to force anyone under your control.. And you know what I am already, so are you really risking something?" Said the voice before being ignored once more.

    -----

    Back on his planet-shaped artifact, Daniel was sitting with his legs crossed in the backyard of his house. There, he was trying to ignore the screams of his son, who was using low level spatial comprehension to escape from his sister, who chased him while riding the demonic wolf and brandishing a training sword all around the large yard.

    On a more isolated area of this backyard, were Than, and the two children of Heimart and Alis, who had now reached their mid teen years, and spent most of their time practicing the martial arts of their families, or their comprehension over mana in preparation to join Hiel academy in a few years. Their common goal was to become as powerful as their legendary uncle, whom they admired from the distance as he meditated.

    To the people that inhabited Daniel's system, this was the kind of day where nothing of importance would happen, and life would be allowed to go on uneventfully, but unfortunately, that was not true for everyone.

    After only being able to meditate for a couple of hours, Daniel was interrupted by Edmund, who made his presence known by disturbing the layer of space that surrounded him. "It has been five years. It's time." Said Daniel right as Edmund appeared, and before standing up, and walking in front of him. The two then sat on the space which solidified under their bodies. "What did you find out?"

    Three years after Alesia's rescue, Edmund had managed to achieve a level of comprehension of multidimensional travel that allowed him to come and go from other dimensions. To best use this ability, and at the same time help him get used to this sort of use, Daniel had asked him to do what he and the rest of the group needed the most, and that was to gather information.

    While Daniel's friends wanted to use this power to find a safe universe to move their self-sufficient system into, Daniel had requested five years of time for Edmund to perfect the skill, and at the same time, give him enough time to find Roley and Der.

    Now, five years had passed, and as per agreement, Edmund had to report everything he had discovered, and based on that, they would need to decide on what to do.

    As soon as Daniel asked that question, Edmund took a set of black and white hexagonal pieces from within his spatial ring, and placed them over the layer of space that had solidified over their legs. "I'll start from the composition of the multiverse.."

    By visiting one universe after another, Edmund had discovered much about the multiverse and his gift. Starting from how the multiverse was formed, to how his unique power worked. From what he understood, the multiverse was not made up by infinite universes that existed on different planes, or at least, not all of them.

    The only planes that existed in the more conventional understanding of the multiverse, were those inhabited by aspects of existence, like the underworld, and the spiritual plain, which existed as secondary planes for every single universe.

    The rest of the universes were contained in the negative zone, and placed in ordered rows inside an infinite expanse of nothingness. A form of void that lacked any law of physics, time, and space.

    This discovery left no small amount of confusion in Edmund's mind, as he had always believed that the connection his universe had to the void was due to the fact that the two universes existed in the same place, and that the chaotic nature of the latter would randomly create an opening for people and objects to cross through, but in reality, it was only because the two universes adjacent to one another.

    The instability of the void were indeed the cause for the appearance of the ripples, but these ripples were nothing more than portals sent across the negative zone, and caught by Daniel's universe.

    In his mind, Edmund could only explain this by thinking of the negative zone as a vast ocean, and of the many universes as ships. The close distance between two universes was akin to two ships spotting each other at sea, and the awareness of not being alone was the connection between the two universes. The ripples were nothing but the messages sent from one ship to the other.

    What Edmund had discovered about his power was that his form of multidimensional travel was not a power that allowed him to shift from one dimension to another, but one that allowed him to perceive the tens of thousands of universes closest to his own the same way someone would feel the presence of an outside space when inside a pocket dimension, which was the most basic form of multidimensional travel, and only possible thanks to the advanced stage of instability of the void, which would keep the two universes constantly connected.

    That was all he had discovered about the nature of the multiverse and the nature of his power, and by exploring many universes in the past five years, he had learned about its political situation.

    For the sake of convenience, multiversal travelers had divided the universes into four colors. Grey, white, blue, and red. A universe was considered grey if it was locked to multiversal travel, and it would turn white after being exposed to the multiverse, and become a territory contested by the champions of the aspects of existence. A universe assigned as blue was one that belonged to the aspect of existence served, and a red universe was one owned by another aspect of existence. For example, to the blood clan, which served the aspect of Sacrifice, the universes they controlled were considered blue universes, while the universes that belonged to every other aspect of existence, were considered red universes. Daniel's universe was currently a white one.

    Since the power of an aspect of existence matched the presence of the aspect they represented in the multiverse, the vastness of their territories was directly proportionate to their power, and by extension, to their standing in their pantheon's hierarchy.

    "Alright.." said Daniel while rubbing his temples in an attempt to digest this large amount of information. After a good minute, he stopped and asked, "What about the other thing I have asked you? What have you found?"

    "Unfortunately, I haven't. The Blood Clan is the only power that works under the aspect of sacrifice, so his territory is their territory. With that being said, despite their weakness compared to many other groups, they are left alone because of their ability to rapidly boost their power by absorbing fallen warriors.. We are lucky that our universe is limited by your power at the moment.." Explained Edmund.

    The second task that Daniel had given to his father-in-law, was to gain a deeper understanding of the real power of the blood clan in the multiverse. From this investigation Daniel hoped to learn about some of his opponent's enemies, but unfortunately, he had underestimated the potential of the path of blood.

    "What do you think?" Asked Daniel after noticing Edmund's mental activity.

    "Leaving is impossible. We cannot rely on your luck, because if you happen to run out of Karmic points, it will take a second for them to find us, and to wipe us out." Responded Edmund, clearly prepared to give his opinion on the matter.

    Daniel tapped his fingers a few times against the solidified space under his arms in a pensive way, then, after a few minutes, he muttered, "One day word of the death of the  Murderous God will spread further than just a few upper echelons of the blood clan, and at that point, we won't be able to contain the invasion.."

    "That is the same conclusion I have reached." Said Edmund.

    "There is only one option left.." Added Daniel before standing up, and looking at the kids that were either playing or training in his backyard. He then turned to look back at Edmund, and added with a decisive tone, "It's time to make them some enemies."
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