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Chapter 558 - The Power Of Karma
Since time immemorial, the outcome of an Exalted a.s.sembly had always been immeasurable. Used as a means to resolve conflict between a few domains at first, it was now used to solve an acc.u.mulation of thousands of years worth of slights, debts, and quarrels.. Most of which were bound to change the future of entire universes.
For that reason, most of the leading figures within the multiverse did not consider the a.s.sembly in itself the hardest part, but the few centuries that followed its conclusion.
While initially only felt on a cosmic scale, as time pa.s.sed, these changes would start to affect the minuscule lives of intelligent life forms as well.
The unluckiest universes, taken over by the most malicious domains, would see their inhabitants go through what they could only describe as the end of times.. Apocalypses that would bring a terrible end to everything they knew and loved, providing only endless sufferings in exchange. On the other side, the luckiest ones, taken over by benevolent domains like the domains of Peace and Hope, would see the birth of a new era, and flourish under the new management.
Between the two gargantuan ships that navigated this immense sea of change, however, was a minuscule raft, on which stood the very few domains whose control over a universe had no visible consequences.. Domains whose aspect of existence represented something beyond the control of time, s.p.a.ce, or life.
Once only occupied by the two sides of one coin, Fate and Destiny, this small raft now had a new pa.s.senger.. The aspect of Karma.
Among the uncountable universes, hidden within a blanket of stars, was a relatively small planet. Light blue and green were its main colors, with clouds dancing around almost protectively. Along with seven others, this planet orbited an impressively vibrant sphere of fire.
While from s.p.a.ce this planet appeared like the most amazing of marbles, what was truly worthy of notice was the impressive variety of life forms that populated it. Wild animals occupied its lands, forming a balanced hierarchy which challenged that of the creatures which inhabited the sea.. Both overlooked by the feathered creatures that ruled the skies.
The dominant species of this planet, however, were humans.
For hundreds of thousands of years, humans had evolved into the invasive and tenacious creatures that they were. Like ants, they built increasingly bigger colonies, and created societies where each of them could live their lives in the illusion that they were the center of the universe, and that nothing mattered more than their own lives.
This planet full of life was adequately given a name that represented the source of all life and caterer of needs. Its name was Earth.
Almost as if created to be in the core of any cartographer's work, hiding in the middle of a closed up sea surrounded by vast lands, was a boot-shaped peninsula. This peninsula, while relatively small in size, was considered the center of the world, as it housed the capital of the most powerful force currently present on this world, a sovereign state known as the Roman Empire.
This empire, through military power, economic expansion and political flexibility had expanded beyond the territory of its capital, with which it shared its name, and obtained the right for its presence to be recorded in the history books for millennia to come.. A fame that came at no light cost, be it of money or blood.
While extremely long lived, this empire saw close to no peace. The people who lived at its borders would be standing on roads paved onto blood-soaked ground, and beyond them, the sound of swords clashing, and of legions marching through mud and dirt were as common as the sound of rustling leaves and rushing water.
At the other side of this endless conquest were the battles between politicians, fought through ink and coin, and the constant threat of civil wars, and slave revolts. However, not every corner of this empire was at war, as a vast number of people were able to enjoy a safe life within its confines.
Currently, Daniel was one of them.
Clothed in a white and brown toga made out of wool and linen, and a pair of simple sandals, Daniel casually strolled through the streets of the capital. His presence attracted a fair amount of attention, due to his significant height and fierce appearance, yet, thanks to the diversity of the Empire, he did not appear too out of place. To many, he appeared like a soldier on leave.
With no interest in the reasons that made him so eye-catching, Daniel seemed to be entranced by his surroundings. Specifically, the tens of thousands of humans that would conduct their lives in complete absence of any form of cultivation. Mortals through and through, who lived by the day.
Boys, playing in the streets with wooden swords, pretending to be foot soldiers of the famous legions that had conquered the entirety of the world they had ever heard of. Elderly engaged in political discussions in nearby marketplaces.. Rich men and women haggling to lower the prices of the slave they had set their eyes on. Everything was a world beyond Daniel's knowledge and experience.
Yet, what had caught Daniel's interest, weren't the actions of these plebeians, but what surrounded them.
After every action these people took, a minuscule yet brilliant sparks of golden light would emerge from their skin, only to be liberated into the air. There, it would loom around the body of that person as if being an independent, yet inseparable part of it. What was most peculiar to Daniel, however, was the fact that each of these lights felt extremely familiar to him, almost connected.
Created by every small action taken by tens of thousands of people, these lights increased in number at an impressive speed, making him feel as if he had found a new form of energy that he could use to cultivate.. One that had nothing to do with mana, or common methods of cultivation, and whose sheer presence brought him an unexplainably refreshing feeling.
It did not take long for him to realize that these lights were nothing other than the power of Karma.
With a warm smile on his face, Daniel occasionally waved his hands in the air, allowing for the golden lights to dance around his body as he walked past the people they were connected to. To him, it felt like these lights were as pleased about his presence as he was about theirs.
To explain why Daniel walked among the people of this specific world, inside that specific universe, one needed to go back to the Exalted a.s.sembly, which had ended six months earlier.
During the Exalted a.s.sembly, Daniel had bet with the domain of War his knowledge regarding the concepts of the essence of s.p.a.cetime In exchange for a universe that his newly formed domain could call home. Bound to the name of Fate, refusal to pay would mean challenging the high domain of Fate itself. This bet had been won by Daniel thanks to the incredibly powerful abilities of his newest follower, the warrior Ashura, last of his tribe, and being from the past.
Forced to pay up, the domain of War, in an attempt to stem its losses, had decided to work around the wording of the contract by offering Daniel a variety of universes to choose from. Among these universes, only one fit the intended description for an, "untouched universe," which was a universe that had yet to be affected by the influence of its ruling domain. The rest, while still technically untouched by the domain of War, were universes that had already felt the devastation of other domains, from which they were acquired.
When forced to choose, Daniel had successfully managed to pick the untouched universe, forcing the domain of War to bear an incredible loss.
What the championess of Conquest, tasked with presenting Daniel with the choice, considered an incredible stroke of luck, however, was not. The method Daniel had used to discover which universe was truly untouched, was to feel the presence of a power that only he could see or recognize.. The power of Karma.
From each of these universes Daniel could feel the extremely familiar power of Karma, but while in some universes this power was extremely faint, or muddled by different forms of similar yet unfamiliar power, in one universe the power of Karma shone the brightest.
Once the Exalted a.s.sembly ended, left with nowhere to go, Daniel decided to visit the universe he had acquired in an attempt to learn more about this new power.. And after months of traveling past and observing thousands of inhabited planets, he finally found one where his presence would not be an oddity, where he could observe the birth of this power from up close.
A few days had pa.s.sed since he had arrived on Earth, time which he had spent walking around, observing, and taking in the power of karma which seemingly bowed down to its presence as if a particle of water encountering an endless ocean.
"Tu illic! Tu a legionarius?" A commanding voice broke Daniel's entrancement, and caused him to turn around. This voice belonged to a stern-looking man who appeared to be in his early thirties. He was dressed in a slightly loose red toga, iron belt, and shoulder armor made of iron strips. In his left hand this man carried a curved leather-covered wooden shield that reached from his shoulder all the way down to his calves, while his right hand rested on the hilt of a short sword barely two feet in length.
Next to the red clothed man was a second individual. Slightly shorter in height, yet much burlier, he stood valiantly while holding his slightly shorter rectangular shield, and a javelin. His torso and upper legs were covered in a similar red toga, but on it rested a plated armor formed by rows of iron strips.
The only piece of clothing which these two men's equipment shared were a pair of heavy-soled hobnailed sandals, and a shiny iron helmet which covered the entirety of their heads except for their mouths, noses, and eyes. On top of these helmets were various-sized ridges of red filaments, which would have made them stick out in any crowd.
"Responde de quaestione." Barked the first man with an even less cordial tone than before.
Completely oblivious to the meaning of this man's words, Daniel let a wisp of his essence drift into the taller man's mind. In it, he dug through the memories of a little boy learning how to write and read in small rooms made out of curtain walls, while under threat of being caned for the slightest offence by their harsh teachers.
"Iterare quaestio.." Daniel muttered in a low tone, and no recognizable accent.
"I asked you, are you a legionnaire?" The taller guard repeated, as the hold on his sword's hilt tightened slightly in an instinctive manner.
Daniel shook his head.
"What is your name?" Asked the second man, now alerted by Daniel's presence.
Daniel's tall stature and athletic build had led the two guards to believe that Daniel was a soldier on leave, which explained why he would spend his time gazing at his surroundings in such a trance, as many of the empire's soldiers had never had a chance to visit the capital.. Yet, Daniel's confused gaze left them uncertain.
"My name is Dan." Daniel said, as per use in his own language. He already knew that this would cause him some problems, but he did not care, as he was there to observe the power of karma in its natural environment, and not affect it.
Just as Daniel had guessed, the two guards narrowed their eyes in suspicion, after all, a single name was the mark of a slave. Around them, several people had stopped browsing through the marketplace and had begun to observe what was happening.
Too clean to be working in factories and mines, and too in shape to live the life of a simple slave, the suspicion of the two guards began to grow. They had been tasked with gathering the legionnaires that were granted leave by their Legate, as they were needed to start a new campaign, and Daniel's appearance and behavior fit more that of a deserter, than of a slave.
After a few moments spent deliberating, the shorter guard turned towards Daniel, and uttered, "You will need to come with us." His tone was imposing, indicating that what he had stated was not a request, but an order.
Clearly unbothered, Daniel nodded in agreement, but right before he could be escorted away, the two guards were stopped by a stout and greasy man in his mid-forties, accompanied by a woman half his age. "Stop, guards!" Said the man. "That is our family's slave, where are you taking him?"