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521 Catch Me If You Can

    For the following few hours, Daniel and the others kept sampling drinks and testing the traditional dishes of the civilizations that Daniel had visited.. two habits that would not bring any benefit to their bodies, but in which they indulged regardless.

    What they ingested would be processed by their metabolism in a matter of instants, leaving them unable to feel the familiar feeling of fullness that a mortal would experience after a meal, no matter how long they kept eating.. But at the same time, their abilities allowed them to, if they so wished, keep eating forever.

    While only able to taste food, however, that was not the same for the drinks, as drinking was a habit that had been brought from mortality into the pseudo-immortality that humans would obtain from cultivation, and alongside which it had evolved.

    In order to bypass the enhanced abilities of a cultivator's body, these beverages would be brewed and embedded with different forms of essences, which would give them peculiar abilities. The feeling of warmness that a mortal would obtain from ingesting a warm cup of tea was replaced by a wave of benevolent fire essence, the dizzying power of liquor was replaced by a mild form of mental attack aimed at numbing one's mind, and so on.

    Differences in power, comprehension, ingredients, and preparation, had turned the act of brewing into an art of which every practitioner had their unique style and flavor. With such a vast degree of choice, many cultivators had found a habit in experiencing and collecting wines, teas, and other forms of what were referred to as 'immortal spirits'.

    Daniel was not a stranger to this habit, as he and his wife Alesia shared many moments in each other's company, while trying the most peculiar drinks they could get their hands on. But, alas, times had changed, and ever since Daniel had learned the ability of mental fortitude from Aeron, he had lost this weakness.. Limiting his experiences with alcohol to taste alone.

    While unable to feel the dizziness, when in the company of Rose and the others, who were currently giggling while jovially spluttering their confused thoughts to one another as if they were colleagues in the midst of celebrating their biggest business contract to date, Daniel played the part.

    He sat quietly, staggering on his own chair as if way beyond his tolerance level.. And yet, still attentive towards his surroundings, where he could see some people look at him while trying to appear inconspicuous.

    *Clink* "You are a baaaad pershon." said Lilith after tipping over an empty bottle with the finger that she used to point at Daniel. She then jerked her head from side to side, where her companions were sitting, and asked "Ri-Right? Am I right?"

    "Yes.." responded Cassie with eyes narrowed in a piercing stare which was opposite to her usual warm and friendly behavior. After a few moments, her serious expression softened, and with a relaxed smile, she added, "He is so cute tho-.."

    Before she could finish speaking, Dawn leaned over the table, ignoring as her bust pressed against what was left of the food, and moved her fingers against Cassie's lips, shushing her. "No.. Stop. Lilly is right, he is b-what.. What is in this cup?" She mumbled before grabbing a half-filled cup that she found next to the hand she was leaning on, and downing its content before receiving an answer.

    While Lilith, Cassie and Dawn enjoyed their first intoxication, Daniel played the part of the reserved drunk alongside Rose, with whom he kept ordering bottles and drinking for hours while pretending not to notice the increasing number of cultivators who were paying attention to his table.. either because of the ruckus Dawn and the others were causing, or for a more serious reasons.

    As the time for them to use the portal approached, and the number of cultivators with astronomical amounts of negative karma increased, Daniel slouched on his chair, and remained in that position for a few minutes.

    Once the observing cultivators got used to his new position of choice, Daniel moved his leg underneath the table, and reached for Rose's.

    When Daniel's leg touched Roses, a faint wave of mental fortitude poured into Roses body, and reached her mind, clearing it completely from the numbing mental power contained in the liquor she had consumed. This wave was followed by a voice that resounded in her head, and warned her by saying, "Do not make any sudden movement, and don't look around.. Keep acting like you have been for the past few hours."

    After a moment of surprise, Rose grabbed an empty glass and brought it to her mouth, but when she realized that it was empty, she went into a fit of lazy anger before dropping the glass on the floor.

    Satisfied by her acting, Daniel added, "In a few seconds, express your complaints towards this tavern, and try to convince me and the others to leave in order to find a better one."

    "Are we in danger?" Rose thought, aware that Daniel could read her mind. The seriousness in his voice was deep enough for her to forget that she was wearing a mental protection, and that somehow, Daniel had managed to break through it, and reach into her mind.

    "I have a plan."

    Still worried, and yet oddly confident in Daniel's words, Rose turned to look at her friends, and after catching their attention with a few chaotic gestures, she said, "I am tired of drinking this.. This *hic* rat piss.. Let's leave."

    Lilith, who was enjoying her time more than any other among her group of friends, moved her lips into an upside down curve, and said with disappointment, "But were we hav.. No.. eheh.. We were having fun here."

    Her disappointment seemed to be shared by Cassie and Dawn, who were ready to support her in her pleas to stay, but before any of the two could could say anything, Rose pinched Lilith's rosy cheeks, and while squeezing, she said, "We can *hic* get more b0tros.. botsles.. We can get more drinks in another tavven!"

    At the mention of more drinks, Lilith's eyes light up with a never-before-seen happiness. "YES!" She shouted before springing up on her feet. Then, while holding onto Rose's arm, she marched towards the door.

    Before being pulled away, Rose was barely able to grab Cassie's wrist, who after letting out a faint surprised cry, followed her out of the tavern with Dawn.

    Daniel pretended to be surprised by his companions' sudden exodus, so he stood up, and began to walk towards the door, but he was stopped by the waiter, who reminded him that he still needed to pay for what they had ordered.

    During the time Daniel had spent in this city, he had learned that most services did not require to be paid with coins or valuables. Instead, the cultivators would be asked for a form of identification, and once verified to which group they belonged, the bill would be sent to the group, which would then pay for it.

    Despite knowing this, Daniel frantically apologized to the waiter. He then started to rummage into his spatial ring, taking out a few random items that had no apparent correlation with one another, but that in this universe, would still have some value. High level essence treasures, exotic potions and various manuals fell on the ground along with a medallion that depicted the crest of the Half Moon sect.

    Once done, Daniel apologized once more while casually cleaning his greasy hands on the clothes of the waiter, and stumbled out of the tavern.

    As soon as Daniel left, the waiter dropped on his knees and began to pick up what Daniel had left as payment. In his mind, he was overjoyed about the idea of sending the bill to the half moon sect, and at the same time, keep Daniel's items as a tip. He was so over the moon, that he failed to notice as a dozen or so of the cultivators who had spent the past few hours in the tavern, stood up in unison, and followed Daniel outside of the tavern.

    -----

    Once outside, the first of these cultivators instantly turned to look at the sky, where Daniel, Rose, and the others were floating.. Almost as if constantly aware of his position. "They are heading towards their ship." Said the cultivator to his companions, who had come out right after him.

    "Do we try to capture him now that he is intoxicated? We could pretend to help him to his ship.."

    "No. There is no way for us to leave with him without being noticed." Responded the first cultivator before entering a pensive state. "We follow the first plan. We use the portal with him, and capture him in the Trigate. Let's go back to our ship." He then added after removing his hood, revealing his identity as the son of the leader of this group of blood cultivators.

    Next to him was the hooded figure of Saha, whom he had used to obtain a permission of their own to use the portal at the same time as Daniel.

    -----

    For the following few miles Daniel and Rose ignored the complaints of Dawn and the others, who kept protesting, and demanding to know why they couldn't visit another tavern to get some 'supplies' for their journey.

    Luckily, thanks to Rose's peerless acting, she was able to mumble something that would only make sense to the ears of an intoxicated person, alternating them with reminders that their turn to use the portal was about to arrive, and that if they did not hurry, they would be forced to wait there for a few more days.. An eventuality that Dawn and the others did not seem to mind as much as Rose had hoped.

    Unable to use his senses without being discovered, Daniel purposely flew into Rose, around which he wrapped his arms as if unable, or unwilling to fly by himself any longer. "Slap me." he said with a wisp of sound essence that passed through the contact of their skin.

    Rose seemed prepared for this eventuality, and as Daniel touched her body, she pushed him away in anger. Then, as his face was within range, her hand flashed through the air, and landed squarely on Daniel's cheek, causing his head to jerk to the side, and towards the group of blood cultivators that were following them.

    After scouting his surroundings, Daniel tried to apologize before going back to flying towards the ship, "S-sorry I did-"

    However, before he could finish, Rose slapped his other cheek, and with blind rage, she shouted "You pervert! Y-You have been *hic* grazing me all night! Enough if enough!!" Dumbfounded by Rose's dedication, Daniel moved his hands in front of his face in an attempt to parry the next blow, but when he didn't feel it coming, he once again mumbled an apology.

    As Rose turned towards the ship with an angered expression, she resumed moving in its direction along with Dawn and the others, whose faces showed enough satisfaction to irritate Daniel, who could do nothing but follow them reluctantly.

    Once Daniel and the others managed to stumble their way into the ship, they disappeared below deck.

    "What is going on?" Asked Cassie with worry after Daniel dispelled the effect of the liquor they had consumed.

    Daniel ignored Cassie's question, and instead, he took control over the spatial formation of the ship, and controlled it so that the ship would turn irregularly and in random directions, almost as if a drunken man was at the helm. He kept doing that until the bow of the ship was pointed towards the deep and empty space, and the stern was facing the portal. Then, he commanded the ship to advance.

    -----

    "Young leader! They are leaving!" shouted one of the blood cultivators.

    The eyes of the young leader had never moved from Daniel and his ship, so when it started to move away from the portal, not only was he the first one to notice, but he had already formulated a plan. As long as Daniel would maintain his course, while still in the stable space, Daniel would not be able to teleport away.. And that meant that he had a chance to capture him at the border of the stable space that surrounded the inter-dimensional portal, and leave before anyone could notice.

    "Follow them.. Keep as much distance as we can." Said the blood cultivator while barely keeping his calm.

    -----

    Back in the ship, after setting the course, Daniel waved his hand, forcing hundreds of metallic chests to leave his spatial ring, and land gently onto the patch of grass that lay in front of him.

    Each of these boxes was entirely made out of metal, and from the chink underneath their lids, came out a few strands of hay. Embossed on the top of these chests, were a series of symbols whose meaning Rose and the others could not comprehend, but which they guessed formed a word, or a sentence in Daniel's native language.

    Daniel ignored the confused expressions of the four young women. Instead, he knelt in front of the closest one of these chests, brushed his hand over the words 'Virgil Tech', and with lips curved into a malicious smile, he opened it.. revealing its content.
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