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508 Between a Rock and a Hard Place

    The two weeks that followed Daniel's encounter with the inner disciples of the half moon sect, were spent by him mindlessly roaming the sect's territory. The reason for that was that he needed to gather as much information as he could regarding two specific topics, which were the method to cultivate past the godhood stage, and any rumor regarding the appearance of the blood sect in the territory of the Half Moon Sect.

    Unfortunately, due to how the system had encouraged Daniel to present himself to the sect, the only source of information left for him to draw from, were the rumors passed around from one student to another.. which unfortunately, were all but reliable. Unluckily, If not for the person that had been tasked with keeping an eye on Daniel, and whom he had noticed almost immediately, he would have already explored other means to gather information.

    After two uneventful weeks, what Daniel had learned could hardly be considered much. Aside from the confirmation that multiple parties of blood cultivators had been spotted visiting the various sects of the current universe, Daniel had learned a few things about this universe's cultivation method.

    Every student of the Half Moon Sect belonged to a rich cultivation family, and as such, all of them had gone through a treatment created specifically to produce high level cultivators. This treatment was called the Refined Birth, and consisted in creating a gentle vortex, and placing it into the body of a newborn at the moment of their birth. These children would then be placed into a pocket dimension created solely with time, healing and spatial essence, and filled with uncountable cultivation resources. In the pocket dimensions, thanks to a specific combination of time and healing essences, these children would be put into a long period of stasis that would keep them from aging.

    During the stasis, the immense power contained in the resources would be slowly absorbed by the vortex left inside the children's bodies, and would gradually condense into an object called a "cultivation core."

    A cultivation core was nothing but a condensed reserve of mana that belonged to the cultivator inside which it was formed. An immense source of power that could be absorbed to cultivate throughout the years. Its use was in no way different from the crystal that Daniel had encountered in his universe.. But differed from them due to the immeasurable difference in power between the two. Every bit of power contained inside it would refine the bodies of its owner with nothing of it going to waste, allowing for anyone who possessed one to cultivate at a speed that went beyond the limits of talent, and easily reach the godhood stage twenty or so years of age.

    The way in which talent was measured in this universe was not based on a cultivator's speed in absorbing and refining their bodies with mana, but instead, by which age they would be able to reach the godhood level. With the most talented being barely over twenty, and the most average being older than thirty.

    After learning about this method of cultivation, Daniel had realized why these students possessed such an abysmal mastery of martial or spiritual training. By never needing to pause between cultivation sessions due to their nearly infinite core, these cultivators would spend every bit of their time absorbing power, and rising through the stages as quickly as they could. This path would inevitably turn them into extremely powerful, and yet inept fighters.

    It was only after exhausting the pool of essence contained in their bodies, that these cultivators would start learning how to wield weapons and control the essences. Unfortunately, a person's ability to master weapons and comprehend the elements of mana was something entirely dependent on someone's perception, which made it in no way easier to learn when compared to the cultivators of Daniel's planet.

    While he could see how this method of cultivation could increase the overall power of a faction as time went by, as a father, Daniel could not imagine freezing his children in time inside a pocket dimension for thousands of years. But, alas, this was the tradition of this universe, and he had no intention of meddling in it.

    The only thing that had bothered him during the past two weeks, was his inability to find any information regarding the ascension to the stage beyond the godhood stage.. Something that even his system refused to reveal to him. It quickly became clear to him that his existence as the board on which Destiny and Fate played their game, was much more peculiar than what Competition had revealed to him.

    -----

    While Daniel spent his days waiting for the Blood Sect to make their move against him, behind a distorted patch of space that worked as the entrance to a pocket dimension, was an enormous camp that contained tens of thousands of tents inhabited by ten times the number of warriors. On these tents was the insignia of the Blood Sect.

    "Father.. This is madness. It is a miracle that we haven't been found yet, and you want us to attack an already claimed universe?! Have you lost your mind!?" Asked a young looking man dressed in blood red clothes and partial heavy armor.

    The man that this young man called father, and that was currently staring at his army's camp from his elevated tent, was the current owner of one of the universes that belonged to Sacrifice, the aspect of existence that the Blood Sect represented. He was a man who appeared to be in his mid forties, and whose left eye appeared to be blinded by a vertical sword slash. Despite his injury and his refined clothes this man's appearance was forgettable, but just like his son, he had stopped counting years after his age had reached the seven digits.

    This man did not appear to be angered by his son's tone.. Instead, what was shown on his face was disappointment. "You are old now.. But still so foolish." He said before taking a deep breath. He then turned towards his son, and added, "The final step of the path of blood is the only thing that kept the champions of the other aspects of existence from wiping us out.. Even if we, as the direct disciples of the Murderous God felt no greed towards it, we would still need to recover it.. You have no idea of the amount of enemies that the Murderous God has accumulated for the Blood Sect throughout the eras."

    "Father, we are trying to suffocate a fire with a paper box! A war will start before we'll ever get close enough to see the legacy." Responded the son with anger. From his tone, it was clear that being treated as an ignorant fool by his father had bothered him more than he cared to admit. "And to make things worse, we don't even know if the brat is hiding, or if he is a refugee. For all we know, the champions of Competition are already aware that the Murderous God has died."

    "He won't tell them." Said the middle aged man before once again turning to look at the tents of his army, at the bottom of which countless pools of blood were forming as a result of the cultivation of those who occupied them. "If he did, we would already be dead."

    "Why shouldn't he? If his plan is getting rid of us, wouldn't it be logical for him to reveal that the Murderous God has died and that our sect is weak?"

    "He won't because his gift won't allow him to do that." Responded the middle aged man with a matter-of-fact tone.

    The young-looking cultivator raised one of his brows in confusion. "What is that?"

    "You wouldn't know.. The power that was given to him by Destiny. It expands on his free will by revealing the future. Consequences, options, and other details." Responded the middle aged cultivator before taking a seat behind a large wooden desk. He then added, "That kind of power makes these champions extremely resilient and dangerous.. If allowed to grow. That is why they are wiped out whenever one is found."

    The young man had clearly never heard of such a peculiar type of champion, and that was because the last of Iewah's children had been eliminated from his universe by his father and the Murderous God thousands of years before he was even born.. Right when they had taken over the universe. "So that is why he won't expose himself.. The moment they'll learn about his identity, they will kill him.. But isn't the information he has on us worthy enough for him to keep his life? He is just a little cultivator at the godhood stage."

    "A little cultivator who killed a man that was feared by most overlords in the multiverse.. A man who could have killed you and absorbed you with the same effort it would have taken him to absorb a handful of mana. Do not underestimate him.. There is a reason why these beings are hunted." Responded the middle aged man.

    The young man appeared to learn from his father's words.. After all, while he had never known the Murderous God, his father was one of his direct descendents, and there was no one whom he respected more than him. "So.. what is our next move? Do we storm the Half Moon Sect before they can call for reinforcements? Every attempt to infiltrate the sect's territory so far has failed."

    The middle aged man remained quiet. While he could feel Daniel's exact position even from millions of light years of distance, something that he could cover in a matter of hours if necessary, he still could not help but feel pressed for time. He was aware that many of his peers were on their way to claim the legacy, and not all of them were allies.

    After spending a few minutes immersed in a pensive state, his brows finally raised in realization, almost as if he had remembered something. He then turned to look at his son, and said, "A possession."

    "What is that?" Asked his son with confusion.

    "Amongst the abilities of the path of blood there is a practice called 'Blood Thrall'. It is an ability that master took from the blood sect from whose ashes our sect has risen. It allows us to possess a cultivator with a weak consciousness with our own." Explained the middle-aged man.

    "You want us to possess the disciples of the sect and attack them from inside?"

    "No. It only takes one cultivator to notice that something is wrong for the whole universe to realize that something is going on.. It's too risky. I have a better idea.." Said the father before placing his hands over his son's shoulders. He then added while looking straight into his eyes with what looked like an expression formed by fifty percent confidence, and fifty percent obsession-fueled insanity, "You'll go in alone. Possess a disciple, infiltrate the sect, and once you find the kid who stole the legacy, find a way to kill the disciple and take over his body instead. You might not be able to take the inheritance from him, but finding a way to bring his body out of the sect should not be a problem."

    For the first time the younger-looking cultivator was able to see the sort of obsession that the legacy of the path of blood created in its inheritors. However, as a champion of sacrifice, he was not only keen to take innocent people as sacrifices to strengthen his power, but also, ironically enough, to sacrifice himself for what he considered to be the right cause.. Which in this case, was to prevent the legacy from falling in the hands of a hostile inheritor, or worse, make it known to the champions of Competition that they were now at the weakest they had ever been in the last few million years.

    In the end, the young man had no choice but to take the risk, and agree to his father's plan with a reluctant nod of his head.

    -----

    While the Blood Sect made their preparation to extract Daniel from the Half Blood Sect's territory, back in the patriarch's room, the young man called Iacob finally came back from his assignment.

    "What have you found out?" Asked a voice that came from within the darkness of the large room.

    "Patriarch, I have something strange to report.. I have traced back his family. They were a medium sized cultivation family called Yen, which belonged to the third sector of this universe and was barely able to nurture one of their progeny with the Refined Birth. They found their demise due to their family head, which had some old animosity with the head of a rival family. They were wiped out around twenty-five years ago." Explained Iacob patiently to the darkness in which the patriarch was hiding.

    "Your report seems to match the history that the ancestor read in his mind.." said the disembodied voice with curiosity.

    "Well.. the strange thing is that the Yen kid, the one who survived, is currently roaming the streets of the city where the stairway last appeared. The one that he climbed to the top."
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