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503 Nothing But an Argumen

    The mental pressure to which Daniel's mind was subjected kept increasing with every single step he took, forcing him to feel as if something as easy as walking had turned into something akin to an insurmountable obstacle.

    Luckily, for someone with the rare ability of mental fortitude which Daniel had learned from Aeron, this pressure was easily revealed for what it truly was... an illusion.

    An illusion which after just a few minutes, in front of the shocked and dejected eyes of the observers, he was able to defeat by reaching the top of the flight of stairs with what appeared to be no effort whatsoever.

    During this ascent, Daniel had wondered what he would find once he would reach the top. Whether it was a legacy of sorts, whether he would gain the favor of the powerful cultivators he had seen, or even if he would be killed on the spot. The language barrier had made it difficult for him to understand what was at stake, leaving him with no choice but to trust his luck.

    The moment Daniel reached the top, he found himself in a small square platform, around which four walls that were not there at first, had formed as soon as he had set foot on it. In the middle of this newly formed small room, was a shiny black pedestal on which a few words had been carved, and filled with a liquid golden substance.

    Despite being unable to understand the meaning of these words, Daniel could feel a familiar form of power being emanated from them. The same kind of familiarity he had felt being emanated by the cultivators who had managed to cultivate beyond the peak of the godhood stage whom he had encountered since reaching this universe.

    Unable to understand the complexity of this universe's alphabet, Daniel sat in front of the podium with his legs crossed, and closed his eyes. He then activated Time is Precious, and began to delve into the memories which he had observed during the march towards the testing site. There, he relived the lives of the owners of these memories, and with them, he tried to learn the language that had been taught them during their younger years.

    Thanks to his system, something that the young and fresh mind of a toddler could learn in a few years, was absorbed by Daniel in less than ten minutes... Time in which he achieved around eighty percent of mastery over that language.

    What was stopping him from learning the remaining part, unfortunately, was the fact that the older a person became, the less they would learn, and the longer the learning process would take. That had forced Daniel to have to go through dozens of times the number of memories in order to learn what his knowledge was still lacking.

    Not sure about how much time he had there, Daniel rose back to a standing position, and moved towards the podium with the intention of making another attempt at reading what was carved on it... but when he found himself in front of it, he realized that what was written on the podium required a level of knowledge that both the mortals and low level cultivators from which he had learned the language, clearly did not possess.

    However, the twenty odd minutes of meditation hadn't gone to waste, as of the few words carved on the slab of black stone of which the pedestal was made out of, Daniel recognized one word. That word was "Champion."

    It did not take long for Daniel to guess that what was written onto this slab of stone was a chant regarding cultivation, and therefore, was about something that went beyond the knowledge of mortals and low level cultivators.. or at least, very word but the one he had recognized, which was of relatively common use.

    After recognizing that word, Daniel pinpointed the pronunciation from within the memories of the mortals' minds he had explored, and soon after, "Ragora." He muttered to himself.

    "How did you get in here?" Said a voice that came from behind Daniel, in the language of his universe. Taken by surprise, Daniel instantly turned around only to find an old man clad in golden armor standing behind him.

    Thanks to his experience, it did not take more than a simple look for Daniel to recognize this man as an aspect of existence. The very personification of one part of the universe.

    Before Daniel could even respond to his question, the aspect of existence looked him up and down, and asked with confusion, "You are a champion of Destiny.. So why do I feel the mark of allegiance to Lord Conflict in you?"

    The moment the last sentence reached Daniel's ear, he finally realized why the cultivators that had broken past the godhood stage, gave off such a familiar feeling.

    Between Iewah, Conflict, and the rest of the aspects of existence that had tried to influence the factions of his universe less than a decade ago, Daniel had met more aspects of existence than most other people, and that was the reason why he felt a familiar feeling present in the power emanated by cultivators of this universe.

    At first he couldn't make out the connection, but when this aspect of existence asked him why he could feel the mark of two aspects of existence, which Daniel guessed he was referring to as his system as 'Destiny's mark,' and his connection to the demonic wolf cub that had left a trace of Conflict's mark in his body, he had realized that the method to cultivate past the stage of godhood, had something to do with a form of power granted by the aspect of existence themselves.

    "Why should I answer your questions? I don��t even know who you are." Said Daniel with a dismissive tone.. A tone which he dared to use only because of how this aspect of existence had referred to the aspect of conflict, almost as if he was a follower of Conflict himself-a behavior that had led him to believe that he wouldn't kill him easily.

    Visibly irritated by Daniel's lack of respect, the unnamed aspect of existence narrowed his eyes before saying, "I am Competition, the aspect of existence around which the cultivation of your kin revolves. Now speak, how did you get in here?"

    Something that Conflict himself had explained to Daniel, was the fact that the standing of an aspect of existence was based on the influence it possessed in the multiverse. That meant that while all of them could be considered deities of sorts, there were immense differences in the powers they possessed, which led to a clear hierarchy. An example of this was the relationship between Conflict and Competition.

    To define the aspect of competition was the drive that pushed the multiverse's sentient beings to reach the top, but at the same time, that form of competition was not only included, but also a small part of the higher aspect of Conflict, which had existed way before sentient life was born. Similarly, in the pantheon of the aspects of existence, Conflict possessed a lower standing than his older kin, entities like Fate, Chaos, and a few others, which had existed ever since the beginning of times.

    ��I am just taking a look at this universe. I would have avoided this encounter, had I known it was reserved for the champions of your universe." Said Daniel with a calm tone.

    "Such a small existence, and yet you dare avoid my questions.." muttered competition before once again looking at Daniel up and down. In him, Competition could feel the remnant power of nigh-omnipresence. A power that the aspects of existence possessed since the moment they were born, and that allowed them to move from one universe to another without having to go through the immense pocket dimension that contained the Triphort.. The grid of portals that connected the many universes together, and that was used to limit the power of the mortal cultivators who visited other universes.

    Considering that the power to move freely throughout the universe without having to use the Triphort was exclusive to the aspects of existence, Competition had no doubts that Daniel was hiding something from him. However, since taking mortals from one universe to the other was a violation of the rules dictated by the higher aspects of existence, the only reasonable explanation for Daniel's situation was that he had been helped by an aspect of existence capable of acting while remaining unnoticed, and in Competition's mind, that automatically narrowed the field to those who possessed a much status than his own.

    Unwilling to offend an older and more powerful entity, Competition looked at Daniel with newfound indifference, and said, "I have created this test to select the most talented amongst my champions. Your result, if I decided to grant you my blessing, would make you a candidate to rule this universe under my name."

    While this revelation could have been received extremely well by anybody that lived inside the universe, to Daniel, there was nothing worse. In this universe he was far from being able to defend himself, and now that he had shown himself to be able to compete for the ownership of this universe, he had effectively turned himself into an enemy in front of the eyes of tens of thousands of powerful cultivators.

    "I don't want your blessing. Can you just send me out?" Said Daniel while taking a step back.

    "As if-If you believe I would meddle into the matters of Fate just to find a ruler for this corner of the multiverse, then I have grossly overestimated your intelligence." Responded Competition after scoffing at him.

    Slightly confused by the words of the aspect of existence, Daniel asked, "I thought I was champion of Destiny. What has Fate to do with me?"

    Daniel's ignorance came to no surprise for Competition, who sighed in exasperation before saying, "Of course you don't know. Your existence as a spawn of Destiny is but an experiment.. Or more accurately, an argument."

    "What is that supposed to mean?"

    "Fate and Destiny. Many consider them to be different entities, and some think they are one and the same. Regardless of which side is right, however, we all agree that they are two sides of the same coin, with only perspective to separate them." responded Conflict before creating a single coin with blank sides, and showing its opposite sides to Daniel.

    "Your existence is Destiny's argument that the future isn't set in stone, and that with enough power, one possesses true freedom. That is how Destiny's peculiar blessing was born, but at the same time, every decision that leads to an undesired result, which would include your death, is Fate's counter argument."

    As he reached this point, Daniel could not remain quiet anymore, and asked, "If Iew... If Destiny picks us to prove that our future is in our own hands, why does he plant a personality whose objective is to kill us?"

    "We aren't certain of that." Responded Competition. "The most credible theory is that, by giving out the power to change one's future, Destiny isn't birthing another entity, but is in fact creating a smaller version of itself. A consciousness that, along with the power granted to his champions by Destiny, is able to become a demi-aspect that stands in between the kind of mortals, and mine... But this is just one of many theories."

    Competition's explanation gave Daniel much to talk about, but unfortunately, now he had more pressing matters to worry about. He still needed to find a way to avoid the complication of becoming this universe's ruling candidate.. After all, this universe was much more dangerous than his own.

    After noticing that Daniel seemed uninterested in delving deeper into the topic, Competition said, "Very well. I have aided you out of my allegiance for Lord Conflict, and I won't erase you out of respect for Lord Fate. Now, prepare yourself, I am sending you out."

    As the last sentence reached Daniel's ears, he turned to look at Competition with a face filled with panic. He had hoped that he would be allowed to stay long enough to formulate a plan but that was not the case, and before he could say "Wait!" he had already been teleported back into the city he had arrived in a few hours earlier.

    Behind him the flight of stairs had completely disappeared, and around him, what before was a crowd of young cultivators, was now a smaller crowd of just around two hundred men and women of different ages, who attentively observed every single detail of him, and movement he made.

    Left with no time to think, Daniel closed his eyes, and created a new mission with his system. One that would grant him a chance to survive this event.

    When he opened his eyes a few seconds later, the man that had welcomed the young cultivators to test themselves at the bottom of the flight of stairs just a few minutes earlier, was now standing in front of him. His arrival had been so quiet, that even Daniel had been unable to notice it.

    The moment Daniel's eyes landed on the man, he said a few words to him, words which Daniel did not appear to understand.

    Confused by the lack of a response, the man kept asking questions to him, but none of these numerous attempts were more successful than the first one.

    After a multitude of failed attempts at communication, the man placed his hand over the shoulder of a confused Daniel. Then, he closed his eyes. What appeared in his mind, were memories of a young man being raised by a traditional clan native to this universe. A clan that had been brutally wiped out by a rival family, and of which only its young master had survived after recovering from a brutal head trauma that had left him unable to talk, or to even formulate thoughts different from the thing he had desired for the most before the accident.. And that, was to participate in this event. That person appeared exactly like Daniel.

    A few moments after placing his hand onto Daniel's shoulder, the old man removed it. He then turned to look at the other warriors, and said in their language and in a tone filled with disappointment, "His head.. He is not right."
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