519 An Annoying Encounter

    As they entered the atmosphere, Daniel and the others joined the immense number of cultivators who turned into a stream that descended into the only visible city on the planet's surface.

    This city was not unlike many others that Daniel had seen. In fact, it was quite similar in its architecture and in how it was constructed, to the one he was born in. Round in shape, surrounded by a twenty meters tall wall, and separated into sections that belonged to each different faction that contained the offices of their strongest groups.

    These separate sections were built around the city's core, which contained the buildings of the independent factions-The place where every cultivator would go to ask for the permit to use the inter-dimensional problem.. but only after reporting their arrival to their faction of belonging.

    "Can any of you get us into the core area?" Asked Daniel after landing on the sector of the Blackrose faction, which existed to manage the territory of the first ranked Blackrose family, and to which the Half Moon sect belonged.

    In response to Daniel's question, Rose, Dawn and Lilith turned to look at Cassie, who said timidly, "My family is only a branch of a fifth ranked group who resides in another universe. I should be able to get us a permit to visit the main family."

    Cassie was not the only one amongst her friends who had this type of connection.. After all, each of their families had not always existed in this universe, and instead, had been sent to support another fifth ranked group in their task of winning the competition, and adding this universe to the Blackrose Faction's territory. Nevertheless, Rose, Lilith and Dawn knew that their connection to other unranked families was much less valuable than the one Cassie could provide, and for that reason, they chose to remain quiet.

    "Very well." responded Daniel as the group of five reached the office of the Blackrose faction, which was surrounded by what looked like taverns, hotels, and gamble houses.

    Before they could join the line that reached all the way outside of the building, however, a group of a dozen male cultivators approached them, led by a well-dressed young man with short blonde hair, and who showed an aloof expression and arrogant mannerism. "Beautiful ladies, where are you going all dolled up like that? Somewhere I should be invited in?"

    Lilith's cold personality took the better of her, and she turned to look at this young man in order to tell him off, but when she noticed the insignia that was sewn on his shoulders, she immediately closed her mouth. That was because she had recognized the insignia as the crest of the fifth ranked family that was in charge of the Blackrose faction in this universe, and therefore, recognized him as someone that not only her, but the patriarch of the half moon sect would need to show respect to.

    "We are only here to request for a permit." Said Cassie, who was the recipient of most of the lustful stares from this blonde young man, and his companions.

    "In that case, why don't you join us for a cup of tea? If losing your place in line is what is bothering you, I can speed things up. It will save you a few hours of waiting." Said the blonde young man, unwilling to give up on his attempt yet.

    Cassie turned to look at her companions, unsure of what to say, but before she could think of anything, Daniel responded by saying, "How arrogant. Why do you believe that a cup of tea with you is more enjoyable than waiting in line? Don't you know that some people like this sort of thing?"

    "What did you say?" Asked the blonde young man, baffled by what he had just heard, and yet too proud to believe in his own ears.

    "See? You can't even listen when people are talking to you. What makes you think that your company is worthy of the time of a cup of tea?" said Daniel, embarrassing the blonde young man even more than he had before.

    As the latter closed his hands into fists, and began to tremble in anger, Cassie turned towards Daniel, and said, "Stop, he is someone from a fifth ranked family." Her tone filled with worry.

    Daniel's narrowed eyes moved towards Cassie, then back towards the young man. "Can he stop us from getting a permit?" he asked.

    "I.. I don't think so." Responded Cassie. What was worrying her, were the rules of this universe which allowed cultivators of similar level to challenge one another because of the smallest slight.. and while the young man from the fifth ranked family had no rights to stop unranked groups from traveling to see the groups to which they were related, offending him would possibly slow the process.

    "Ignore him then. At some point he will get bored, and will leave along with the rest of his pack." Said Daniel while making the subtle comparison between this group of cultivators, and a pack of wild dogs.

    Originally, Daniel would have preferred to avoid finding trouble, but he knew that the intention of these young men wasn't to simply have a cup of tea with his companions. In fact, having a cup of tea was only an expedient to get them to accompany them to a tavern, and once there, they would use their position and reputation to convince them to concede more and more. This was a behavior that Daniel had seen many times in the past, and knew that the only way to stop it, was to force them to give up.

    "Did he just call big brother a dog?"

    "Dead man walking over there."

    ".. he had guts, at least."

    The companions of the blonde young man commented on Daniel's behavior, and as the nasty ticks they were, they did not fail to instigate the blonde young man to act-Something that he could have not avoided unless he would have wanted to appear weak in front of others.

    However, contrary to what Daniel had predicted, the blonde young man kept his composure, and after taking a few steps closer, he joined his hands in a traditional greeting, and said, "My invitation has been met by the rude words of someone at which it was not directed. Before anything happens, tell me who you are."

    "I am their bodyguard." Said Daniel, once again using the word that, because of his accent, sounded very similar to the word used to indicate a lover.

    After hearing Daniel repeat what he had said a few minutes earlier, Rose and the others couldn't help but lower their heads in embarrassment. However, since they were unaware of the fact that Daniel did not mean what he had said, they chose to remain quiet.

    "Which one's?" Asked the blonde one young man, surprised by Daniel's frankness.

    "What do you mean 'which one's'.. All of them." Responded Daniel with a matter-of-fact tone. One that caused the surrounding cultivators to turn to look at him with looks of envy, surprise, or a mix of the two.

    The blonde young man looked at the four young women, unsure of what to say, but when he saw their faces flush red from embarrassment, and their unwillingness to contradict his words, his face contorted in disgust. He then said, "I regret giving attention to these tramps, but I cannot allow your insult to go unpunished. Will you accept my challenge, or will you act like a coward?"

    As soon as he heard the insult directed at his companions, paired with their embarrassed expressions, Daniel was finally able to put the piece together, and understand what had caused the misunderstanding. However, instead of correcting it, he chose to say, "There is nothing honorable in fighting a weakling. I accept your apology.. Leave us to our day, or I will slap you once for every time that I have felt annoyed by your intrusion."

    "A WEAKLING?!" barked out the blonde cultivator in anger. In Competition's domain, being called a weakling would be at the top of a list of insults, and whoever would be willing to take that insult without acting, would basically forfeit their dignity, as well as the respect of those around them. As a member of one of the fifth ranked groups that were competing for this universe, that was something that he could not allow. "You went too far. I won't give you a chance to back away now." he then added while putting on a pair of gloves with metallic claws mounted in between the knuckles.

    Daniel shook his head in annoyance. "Keep the spot in line." he said before stepping out of the line, and summoning an identical pair of clawed gloves.. A move that, in the eyes of the blonde cultivator, was made to humiliate him, but in reality, was a choice made on a whim, as Daniel was a master at wielding many types of weapons, and pantera claws happened to be one among them.

    From a single look at the young man's posture, Daniel could see the difference between him, and a disciple of the Half Moon sect. It was clear that despite their identical cultivation, this young man had better teachers as well more resources to learn from, and therefore, was a more experienced cultivator than even the core disciples of the half moon sect.

    However, to him, or even for most of the disciples of his Hiel academy, this difference was as relevant as choosing whether to fight a five years old kid, or a six years old one. A kid was a kid, and to Daniel, the young cultivators of this universe were infants.

    "When I'll win, you and your buddies will stop bothering us. Deal?" Said Daniel while fitting his right into one of the pantera claws.

    Too deep into his outraged state of mind, the blonde cultivator couldn't help but smirk, and say, "When I'll win, I will take your li-"

    His conditions were suddenly interrupted by Daniel's indifferent voice, as he said, "Whatever. Let's begin." He then scratched the side of his head with the tip of the knives mounted on his left pantera claw, and taunted the blonde young man with his other hand.

    The blonde young man did not wait for a second invitation, and with the use of a very basic comprehension of time essence, he dashed towards Daniel at a speed that, for people at his level, was unmatched. As he reached the three steps of distance from Daniel, the young man pushed a large amount of his essence into his pantera claws, crossed his arms, and made a cross attack by slashing his arms in perpendicular diagonal lines.

    Trained in fighting with an initial outburst of strength aided by the use of the rare time essences, this young man was sure that Daniel would not be able to avoid this attack.. However, this conviction was shattered when the sole of a boot appeared in his field of vision.

    Before he could react, the young man dove face first against the bottom of Daniel's foot, causing him to wave his arms and legs aimlessly before inevitably falling on his back.

    As he lay on the ground, shocked about Daniel's instantaneous reaction and speed, as well as embarrassed, Daniel took his claws off, and while standing next to him, he said, "I do not like to bully the weak. Leave now, and avoid further humiliation.. Or wait enough to see the slapping start."

    The competitive spirit of the blonde young man was completely broken. As dictated by the fighting style of the blonde young man, the cultivators of his family would start a fight by giving their hundred percent to gain the initiative. That was the reason why his clan had shown enough promise to be promoted as a fifth rank group. However, when this young man found himself lying at Daniel's feet, he realized that his cockiness was not a facade, and that like the young talents that belonged to higher ranked groups, Daniel was a better fighter than he was.

    As he came to this realization, the dishonor in the loss disappeared, and instead of showing resentment, the blonde young man stood up, bowed respectfully, and left along with his companions.

    A competition of strength was the only way to solve a conflict in Conflict's domain, and along with that, came the disrespect towards the weak, and the respect towards the strong. To be able to humble oneself and accept a defeat was something peculiar for entities as proud and entitled as cultivators, and that was something that Daniel could respect. That was the reason why he had not insisted in humiliating the young man.

    At the same time, he had succeeded in his second objective, which was to gain visibility to prevent the blood cultivators that were observing him in the shadows, from simply kidnapping him.

    Once the group of cultivators left, Daniel walked back in line. He then turned to look at Rose and the others, and said, "A personal guard. That is what I meant."
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