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513 A Champion of Destiny

    After the few hours that followed Daniel's second climb of the stairway, the crowd had almost completely disappeared. In its place were the leaders of the unranked groups, and with them, was the old man whom they referred to as the Ancestor, who was also the leader of the fifth rank group that was tasked with obtaining this universe for his faction.

    The presence of a person of this calibre at one of these events was usually indicative of the fact that a champion of Competition had finally appeared, which was a joyous event that the leaders of the unranked groups would normally celebrate. However, this time, not only was there no trace of happiness, but the area was shrouded by an uncomfortable silence.

    Most of these cultivators were staring intensely at the stairway, waiting for Daniel to come out for a second time and investigate why and how he had tricked them and the Ancestor. Amongst these few hundred people, however, two individuals appeared to be much more nervous than the others. They were the elder that had led the disciples of the Half Moon sect in their journey to this planet, and the sect's Patriarch.

    During the past few hours their eyes had been constantly shifting from the top of the stairway, to the angered expression of the ancestor.. waiting for him to finally burst out in anger, and give them their punishment.

    "Tell me again about him." Said the Ancestor out of the blue, causing the two cultivators of the Half Moon sect to flinch in surprise.

    "Since the day you have given him to me, he has never spoken a single word, nor has he behaved in a way that would show rational thought. He would follow fellow disciples around, and protect himself when threatened. Nothing more." Responded the Patriarch of the Half Moon sect while making sure to put emphasis on the fact that the first person to be fooled by Daniel, was none other than the ancestor himself. With this, he was hoping that not all of the fault would be put on his sect, and that maybe, they would survive this disaster.

    Aware of the Patriarch's intention, the Ancestor clenched his jaw in anger, but did not pursue the matter. Instead, he kept inquiring, "Describe to me how he fought. Did you recognize any signature style?"

    "Based on his guardian's report, he appeared to be an expert in multiple kinds of weapons, but his method of fighting seemed to be focused on efficiency more than a style perse." Responded the Patriarch before suddenly becoming quiet. His lips were tightly pressed together, showing that he was unsure whether to share this information. It was only after the ancestor turned to look at him, that he added, "One detail that his guardian insisted on, was about how unlikely it was for any of my sect's disciples to be able to defeat him."

    The reason why the Patriarch did not want to share how capable Daniel was, was because that would only worse his situation. After all, to find the most capable amongst this universe's selected champions was the Ancestor's main goal, and if he knew that he already had him, but had let him go, wasting his chance of gaining control over this universe and raising his family's rank, he would never forgive himself.

    Unfortunately, Daniel's ability was not a secret, and a simple investigation in his sect would bring out thousands of witnesses.. So in the end, he decided to bite the bullet, and say what he needed to say.

    Just as the Patriarch had imagined, this piece of information struck a chord in the Ancestor, who raised his hand and used it to cover his face, now twisted in anger. After a few moments spent twitching and trembling, he muttered, "a month.. You had him for a whole month." Before the Patriarch could ask what he meant, the ancestor uncovered his face, and repeated with an increasing degree of rage, "You had him for a whole month.. AND NOW YOU REPORT THIS TO ME!?"

    His tone was powerful beyond comprehension. So much so that the metallic asteroid on which they were standing could not resist the shockwave it had created, and a portion of it had detached and begun to drift away in space.

    Slightly panicked, but still clear-minded, the patriarch lowered his head, and said, "Ancestor, I didn't think of bothering you for something that we all had thought you had already seen in his memories. I apologize."

    Once again, the ancestor could do nothing but repress his anger. "Have you conducted any investigation towards his family, or the family that has attacked his own? If we can at least find which group destroyed his family, we can use them to convince him to compete for our faction."

    "If I had conducted an investigation, I would have definitely reported my findings to you, Ancestor." Responded the patriarch, lying through his teeth. In his mind there was no doubt that, if he had admitted that he had already ordered for the other family's destruction, he would have died on the spot.

    "Your incompetence and lack of initiative does not surprise me anymore..��� Said the ancestor while turning to look back at the flight of stairs. He then added, "Luckily, it isn't too late. We only need to wait for him to come out.. Then.." his words began to trail off as his eyes opened with confusion. In front of his eyes, the flight of stairs had begun to disappear, showing that the time limit of the test had come to an end. "What is going on?! Where is he?!" He shouted before extending his sensing ability outwards, reaching as far as possible.

    Around him, the many group leaders shared the same degree of surprise. They had all seen Daniel reach the peak of the stairway, as well as the young women he was carrying.. But instead of coming out of it like he had the first time, the stairway disappeared as if it had been left unused until the time limit of the test had come to a natural end.

    "Has anybody seen him come out?" Asked one of the old and powerful cultivators with confusion.

    "I am positive that no one came out. My eyes never moved from the stairway."

    "Did we lose him?"

    This shared confusion and helplessness did nothing but heightened the anger that the Ancestor was feeling, bringing him close to a boiling point.. But before he could unleash his rage once and for all, the Patriarch of the Half Moon sect, worried that his sect would be the recipient of this anger, tried to reassure him by saying, "Ancestor, the guardian I have assigned to him was one of the four young women he took along. They all have talismans to make their position known.. If they are still alive, they will find a way to reach out."

    After hearing that not everything was lost, the tightened hands of the Ancestor finally relaxed, allowing for his blood to flush into them. "You better find him." He said before stomping on the ground with his right foot and using the power of his leg to shoot himself into space.. uncaring of how that simple move had created a crack on the planet's surface that, in just a few minutes, would lead to the destruction of the whole planet.

    -----

    Meanwhile, countless light years away, a weak flash of light barged out of a randomly opened rift in space, and came crashing into a comet that, for the last few millions of years, and drifted through space undisturbed. On the small crater that formed, were the bodies of Daniel, and the four disciples of the Half Moon sect.

    Daniel was currently resting on his knees onto the comet's cold surface, while the four young women had finally managed to free themselves from Daniel's power, and were assuming their fighting stance. They knew that Daniel was powerful and scheming, and now that he was the only threat left, they could not bring themselves to trust him.

    However, when the four young women turned to look at the kneeling figure of Daniel while ready to fight, they saw his face contorted in the worst pain imaginable, with blood dripping from his eyes, ears, nostrils, and mouth. "What is wrong with you?! Where are we?" Asked the young woman with the ponytail while looking around.

    "Quit asking questions and break your beacon talisman!" Said the core disciple with hurry. If only she had not wasted her own a few hours earlier, she would have already used hers to call for help.

    The eyes of the young woman with the ponytail opened in realization. She then moved her left hand near the ring that she was wearing on the right one, and with the use of a small portion of her consciousness, she fished a bracelet from its pocket dimension.. one identical to the one Daniel's guardian had broken before-A talisman given to every member of the Half Moon sect to signal their position in case of danger.

    Before she could break it, however, with a painful wave of his arm, Daniel snatched the talisman from her hand, and threw it in outer space. Then, before the young woman with the ponytail could even think of going after it, a small rift opened in front of it, and closed as soon as the talisman went through, disappearing forever.

    This simple action was extremely taxing for Daniel, who let out a mouthful of blood from his mouth and fell weakly on his stomach. On his skin, numerous black veins could be seen bulging like earthworms that had crawled out of the ground after a rainy day. This was an effect of the kind of blood poison that the blood cultivator that had possessed Saha had left in his body right after being discovered. One that had settled into his blood, and that attacked the connection that kept the atoms of Daniel's body together.

    Despite Daniel's resistance to poison, this attack was more akin to acid, and therefore, could not be stopped. It was only thanks to his extreme regeneration ability that he was able to recover almost as fast as this terrifyingly invasive power damaged him. With gritted teeth and bloodshot eyes, Daniel became unable to bear this level of pain, and finally fell on the ground, unconscious.

    -----

    ".. us here? Don't you.."

    "It's possible.. .. in danger to begin with."

    An unspecified amount of time later, the deadened sound of conversation between the four young women was able to wake Daniel up, who could still feel the blood poison ravish his body with a much less invasive power. When his eyes opened, he found himself surrounded by multiple cages, each created by different formations, and reinforced by a power that matched Daniel's level of cultivation.

    Sitting around a spark of artificial light just a few meters away, were the four young women, who were currently discussing how they had arrived there, or what they would do next. A conversation that went on until finally, the young woman with freckles and red hair noticed that Daniel had woken up, and while pointing her finger past her friend's shoulder, exclaimed, "He is awake!"

    As Daniel rose to a sitting position, the four young women stood up, and approached him. The first person to talk was Daniel's guardian.

    "These cages are created by portable talismans that contain the perfect elemental comprehension of our elders. They allow us to create cages of perfect comprehension infused with our power. You won't be able to get out of them no matter how much you try." She said in an attempt to make Daniel understand who was in control.

    Daniel looked at the first cage, one made out of a strong metallic alloy that, if not for the existence of spiritual weapons, and weapons created out of the power of dying stars, would have been the most resistant and powerful material in the universe. In it was the power of a cultivator at the very peak of the godhood stage, which made it even more resistant.

    "Just ask me what you want to know." Said Daniel while crossing his legs, and got into a position to meditate.

    "Let's start with who you are." Said the young woman.

    Daniel's lips curved into a smile. "My name is Dan. I am not from this universe, I do not belong to Competition's domain.. And I am a champion of Destiny."
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