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515 A Cosmic Game of Wack-a-Mole

    "What.. Did he just k-kill himself?!" Asked Lilith while taking several steps back.

    Cassie, Dawn, and Rose turned to look at her, then looked at one another with just as much confusion. Less than a minute ago they had come to an agreement with Daniel, and now he had not only shown a degree of essence comprehension that only their elders had.. But he had also taken his own life in front of them.

    "Why would he do that?" asked Cassie as her pale complexion turned even paler, highlighting the freckles that covered her cheekbones and nose.

    Daniel's bones were extremely clean, without a single strip of flesh or droplet of blood left on them. If not for what the four of them had witnessed, Rose and the others would have believed that Daniel's remains were not real, and that they were made with the purpose of teaching human biology, or to be used as decoration in one of the many clinics that could be found within most of the cities inhabited by mortals.

    "His comprehension of mana is.. It was absolutely perfect.." muttered Rose as she unconsciously took a step towards Daniel's remains, while purposely ignoring the formations that, now that they had lost their controller, had deactivated and became dormant.

    "Forget that! Doesn't a formation require constant input from its creator? How could he keep it functional while going through that?! What kind of monster is he?!" Asked a panicked Lilith, who more than any other member of her group, was against the idea of following a suspicious entity such as Daniel.

    "Preaching to the choir, Lilith.." said Rose while slowly reaching for Daniel's bony hand.. However, right as her fingers were about to touch the smooth surface of Daniel's bones, a faint light emerged from his hand and from many other points of his body's remains. This light rapidly spread throughout the skeleton's entire surface until none was left uncovered.

    Once fully covered, the healing essence of which this light was made out of began to expand outwards, leaving behind reconstructed blood vessels, connective tissue, muscles, organs, fat, and lastly, new skin. From a clean skeleton, and back to a fully formed human, the process had taken no longer than thirty seconds.. A time frame which had shocked the four observing cultivators even more than what they had believed to be Daniel's successful attempt at taking his own life.

    Whole once again, Daniel scanned his newly formed body in hope to find no trace of the blood poison, uncaring of the shock of the four young women, or the fact that he was standing naked in front of them.

    A few moments later, Daniel's narrowed eyes relaxed, and he felt a sense of relief. Just as he had suspected, the blood poison acted from within his blood, and moved outwards in an attempt to devour the body from inside. If not for his automatic and extreme regenerative abilities further quickened by his system, it was possible that the poison would have reached the bones, and once it would have devoured those, it would have moved on to devour his spirit, and consciousness.

    "Good.." he muttered before turning to look at his spatial ring, which contained all of his clothes and equipment.. But stopping when he realized that his flesh had grown around the ring, trapping it between the bone and skin of his finger.

    After realizing that he had forgotten to remove his spatial ring before freeing himself of the poison, he let out an exasperated sigh, and constructed a simple blade which he held with his left hand. Then, without thinking too much about it, he thrusted it at his ring finger, chopping it right off. On his face were no traces of pain and from his mouth came no sound, almost as if the finger that had just cut off was not his to begin with.. Instead, he casually bent his body forward to pick the ring up, with a new finger reformed even before his hand could reach for the severed one.

    He then put the ring on, and from it, he took a simple black shirt, a pair of grey pants, and a pair of black boots. "Alright. Time to go." He said right as he finished getting dressed.

    When he turned to look at the four young women, however, he noticed that readiness was the last thing on their mind. Between Cassie's flushed red nose and cheek bones, Lilith's brooding expression, and Rose's and Dawn's curious looks, none of them seemed to be ready to leave.

    "If you don't close your mouths, some.. Space flies will crawl in them." Said Daniel, amusing himself more than the ones he was speaking with.

    "Hold on.. Before we go, I have a few questions." Said Rose after shaking her confusion out of her mind, and taking a step towards him.

    Daniel sighed in annoyance. He expected them to have questions, but he was hoping that, at the very least, these young women whom he was stuck with would be sensible enough to ask them once they would be safe. After all, they were being chased by powerful beings, and they didn't have much time left. "Be quick." he casually said.

    "Why did you do that?" Asked Dawn, beating Rose to the punch. She had noticed Daniel's irritation, and therefore, she had no intention of beating around the bush.

    "I was poisoned.. I got rid of it." Responded Daniel with a matter-of-fact tone while fixing his clothes.

    Fed up with all the odd things she had seen, in hope to get rid of the embarrassment she had felt when seeing Daniel's naked body, Cassie joined into the conversation by blurting out, "Just like that?"

    "Just like that." Responded Daniel. He then turned towards Dawn, who seemed to not be satisfied with this answer, and said, "No. Even though I got rid of the poison, that was not what made my presence known to the blood cultivators. They are still coming, and if we don't start moving, they'll get here soon.." As he finished speaking, Daniel turned to look at Rose, whose consciousness was brooding as if a thousand thoughts were spinning, changing and begging to be expressed through her mouth, and added, "Anything else?"

    Rose nodded weakly. "You said that we are over thirty million light years away from the sect. That means that we are in another faction's territory.. How could you possibly get us this far in just a few hours?" She asked, realizing that since that question was about the method they were likely to use to travel, Daniel would be willing to share it.. And luckily, she was right.

    "That is a good question. Have you ever been inside of a shattered universe?" Asked Daniel before flattening his opened hand, and using it to make a vertical slash about a meter long in the space in front of him. This simple motion wasn't powerful by any means, and yet, following the passage of Daniel's hand, the stable space suddenly split, forming a rift from which came the screeching sound of glass grinding against glass.

    When Daniel had escaped from the staircase, he was aware that he would never be able to outrun any of the blood cultivators who were chasing him. His only chance of escape was for him to find a shattered space that bordered this universe the same way the void bordered his home universe. Unfortunately, he didn't have much hope, as the chance of one of these universes would be there was infinitesimal.. However when Daniel tried to use his comprehension of spacetime to search for one, he was ecstatic to find that such a universe was actually present.. An eventuality that was likely to be attributed to his system-boosted luck more than chance.

    The four young women looked at the shattered space with grim expressions. Deep down, despite their lack of knowledge of spatial essence, they knew that the place that lay beyond the rift was extremely dangerous. Only Rose, who had earned the position of a core disciple only thanks to a higher comprehension of martial arts and use of mana, was aware of why the void was able to instinctively scare her companions.

    "Off we go. Said Daniel right before stepping through the rift, and disappearing in its darkness-leaving his four temporary companions alone on the comet.

    After a few seconds spent in silence, Lilith said, "So... we either stay here and die in a few minutes, or follow him, and die straight away." Her tone devoid of hope for their survival.

    Cassie and Dawn were thinking the same thing. After all, how important could their lives be for someone who would not hesitate to cut his own finger in order to recover a simple spatial ring? Ultimately, only Rose, who had spent more time around powerful cultivators was able to maintain her calm. "We have no other choice.. We can only fol-"

    "BE QUIET!" Dawn bellowed in anger. "Do not act like you care about us. Without you, we would not be in this situation!" She then added through gritted teeth.

    Shocked by this sudden outburst Rose looked at her companions, and after seeing their faces, she realized that both Cassie and Lilith shared Dawn's feelings towards her. There was no trace left of their friendship, nor any of the respect that an outer disciple would have towards a core disciple.. Only contempt.

    Unable to blame them, Rose lowered her head and followed Daniel into the rift- an action that the remaining three young women copied a few moments later, after exchanging a few words of encouragement.

    -----

    A few minutes after Daniel and the others entered the void, on the comet on which they had landed less than half an hour earlier, appeared the figures of four cultivators dressed in blood-red robes. This group was composed of two middle-aged men, an old woman, and finally, a young woman who both Daniel and his four companions would have recognized as Saha.

    "He was here, I am sure of it." said the old woman before raising her head, and breathing in deeply, as if in an attempt to catch a scent. "I can still smell the legacy.. But even with our power, we are hours away from the portal. Where could he have gone with his meager cultivation?"

    Saha looked around with a face as confused as that of the old woman, when suddenly, her eyes landed on a particularly dark and far away point in space. She then pointed her opened hand toward it, welcoming a small blood-red bead that landed into his palm as if eager to rejoin him.

    As soon as this bead appeared, the three older cultivators collectively turned to look at her. "DID YOU USE YOUR BLOOD POISON ON HIM!?" blurted out the older-looking of these two middle aged men.

    "Calm down Uncle. I have only used a first level poison. It was supposed to hurt him the moment he would get away from me, stopping him long enough for me to catch up. I would have never imagined that he could come so far with such a poor cultivation." Responded the blood cultivator that had possessed Sasha's body. From her bright red eyes, one could guess that he had given up with trying to control her, and had instead chosen to take over her body altogether.

    "AND LOOK WHAT HAPPENED! IT DEVOURED HIM!"

    "It didn't. If he was truly dead, the legacy would have passed onto my son." Said the second middle-aged man. He then crossed his arms around his chest, and said with confidence, "I can only think of two possibilities. Either another group of blood cultivators found him, and took him away from this universe.. Or.."

    The words of the middle aged man trailed into silence, increasing the curiosity of the other three cultivators. However, before any of the two older cultivators could, the one who was in possession of Saha's body asked, "Or what, father?"

    "He is freely shifting through rifts." Responded the middle aged man with a grim tone.

    "Brother, can we reach him?" Asked the older of the two middle-aged blood cultivators.

    "No.. a foot in broken space could lead you to the other side of this universe. We can only wait for him to come out of it." Responded the leader of the group and owner of his own universe. He was aware that following someone within shattered space would not be different than trying to follow someone while swimming through a hurricane, with dozens of different winds that would force a person towards just as many directions at the same time.

    To speak next was the old woman, who took a step forward, and asked, "How do we know he'll reappear here?"

    "Shattered universes are inhabited by Conclusion's beasts. They long for destruction, and once they are done with their universe, they try to reach for the closest one. Luckily, they cannot move through, even though they will never stop trying. Nevertheless, their attempts at crossing through will bind a shattered universe to the closest stable one, which I assume is this one." Responded the leader of the group.

    Uncertain about his father's words, the blood cultivator in possession of Saha's body asked, "Are you sure this is it, father? It seems more plausible that another clan of our sect might have taken him."

    The father did not bother to explain, and instead, just like Daniel had a few minutes earlier, he flattened his palm into a sword, and slashed down vertically, causing a rift in space to be forcibly opened. This rift was identical to Daniel's but while it had the same function, and showed a portion of the same shattered space, in the eyes of these four blood cultivators this rift emanated a faint red glow.. A trace left by the legacy of blood for anyone who belonged to the blood sect to follow.
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