While time was of the essence, and only a few days were left before the beginning of the Exalted Assembly, proper research needed to be done, so while waiting for their presence to be reported, and for the domain of Karma to be officialized and recorded, Daniel decided to spend time trying to prepare himself for the first apparition of his fictitious domain, and it so happened that he knew where to start.
On the leather parchment given to him by the grizzled champion of Law's domain stationed at the universe's entrance, and that he was currently holding in his hands, were listed the names of every single domain that had been invited to this event. The vast majority of these names were written in faded black ink, withered due to the thousands of years that had passed since the list had been written-while the remaining names were written in a vibrant gold ink, which seemed to be alive, and constantly moving around, confined by the borders of each letter.
As time passed, and more of the invited domains made their way into the universe, their names on Daniel's list came to life. It quickly became clear for Daniel that the names written in black indicated the domains that had been invited, a color which would turn to gold the moment they would arrive. To differentiate between differently ranked domains, was the vivacity of the color, whose vivacity became more accentuated the higher the standing of the domain was in the multiverse.
Of the many listed names Daniel could only recognize a few, all written in golden ink of different intensities. Among these were the domains of Ingenuity and Competition, which were considered low-ranking domains, and the domains of Evolution and Conclusion, which belonged to the mid or mid rank.. The brightest names of the list belonged to domains that Daniel had never encountered in the past, with an exception made for the one that was written at the top, and listed as the organizer of the event-the domain of Horror. What made Daniel curious, however, was the fact that the domain of Sacrifice, with which Horror's domain had allied itself with in order to hunt him down for the past couple of months, was not in the list.. Be it among the names of invited domains, or those that had already arrived.
"What are you looking for?" Asked Ashura in his native language, and with an inquisitive tone. He had spent the past two hours trying to get used to the stage of high immortality, which he had been able to cultivate to thanks to Daniel's help while on his way to the Trigate.. and now that he had started to feel comfortable with his new strength, he was itching to move around, explore, and meet new people-A behavior that Daniel could only expect from a person who had spent years by himself, hiding from a barbaric race of monsters that had hunted his kin to extinction.
Daniel ignored Ashura's question at first, and instead began to read each name one after another, using the index finger of his left hand to increase his reading speed. Once he was halfway through the list, he asked without stopping, "Your people lived in tribes, correct?"
"Clans." Ashura responded with a cold tone and a nearly imperceptible nod of the head.
"Right… clans. Well, what would you expect a green hunter to do, once given the chance to join the veterans hunters of the clan?"
In Ashura's clan, a job was assigned to an individual from the moment they were born, and could never be changed. For that reason, Ashura had always been a warrior, an occupation that, before the appearance of the brutal Monstrous Clan that had destroyed life in his world and killed or changed most of his people, had allowed him to see many young men join the ranks of the small army. Daniel had already seen all of this in his memories, so he knew that it would not take long for him to understand.
Right on time, only a few seconds after Daniel had finished asking the question, Ashura responded by saying, still in his native language, "Prove themselves."
Daniel shook his head in disagreement. "Maybe that was a bad example." he said after stopping the motion of his eyes and finger. He then turned to look back at the ancient human, and added with a matter-of-fact tone, "Allies. We need allies." As he finished speaking, he once again turned to look at the list, and resumed what he was doing. "The domains exist within a set hierarchy based on each aspect's influence.. Or at the very least, potential influence. That means that each domain has a specific position and natural allies.. I am looking for our own."
Daniel's finger kept moving down the list for several more seconds, until finally, it stopped. His lips curved into a smile as the tip of his eyes moved onto the words 'Domain of Morality'. Of the many names Daniel had read, only a few had the potential to be allies to a domain of Karma. Domains like Vengeance's, Forgiveness', Penitence', and Punishment could all be considered domains that, had the domain of Karma existed in the past, would have been subjected to it. However, Daniel chose to ignore them.
Each of those domains had a problem that Daniel was unwilling to deal with, like the violent nature of vengeance and punishment, or the passive nature of forgiveness and penitence. Morality, on the other hand, was something created purely out of empathy, and could be pursued peacefully, or if necessary, violently. This made the domain of Morality the best candidate to become the first allies of Karma's domain.
Ashura noticed the satisfaction on Daniel's face, but before he could ask, Daniel folded the parchment just in time for a loud and powerful voice to resound throughout the entire small planet.
"Law's domain requests an audience with the representative of lord Karma." Said a familiar orotund voice.
"Please, enter." Said Daniel in a calm and polite tone that seemed to come from the very clouds and air that covered the planet's surface. He then opened a portal big enough for the middle-aged cultivator he had met after arriving to the universe, to comfortably walk through.
As soon as the grizzled man noticed Daniel's familiar figure, which was now sitting onto a cushion with his legs crossed, almost as if right out of meditation, he walked through the portal and stepped into the room. Once on the other side, the cultivator said while looking confusingly at the odd planet, "I.. I have reported the presence of Karma's domain to the representatives of Order. Unfortunately, the organizers of this Exalted Assembly were too busy. We will make sure that Horror's domain is notified of your presence by the time the assembly starts, you don't have to worry about it."
"That is great." said Daniel with a genuine smile that uncovered two rows of pearly teeth. He then added, "And I apologize if my sudden appearance was an inconvenience to your domain."
The grizzled man shook his head dismissively. "Not a bother at all. Making first contact with your domain was the highlight of my task, and a good distraction from weeks of holding the doors." He said right before taking a slow and deep breath, and adding, "Which brings me to the reason why I have not left yet. I was tasked with asking a few questions to you, if you don't mind?" As he finished speaking, the grizzled man noticed Daniel's calm reaction, which led him to believe that what he had just asked was completely within his expectations.
"I was just about to ask the same thing." Said Daniel before standing up on his feet.
Before the grizzled man could ask whether there was a place where the two could sit to have this talk, the dull and empty walls of the room expanded, allowing the room to double in size. Immediately after, on the wider side of the room, a massive window opened, letting the rays of constructed light shine into what was now an empty hall, and allowing for those inside it to have a full view of Daniel's paradisiac planet. At the same time, two clumps of wobbly matter emerged from the floor, and took the shape of two large and refined wooden chairs.
"Please." Daniel said right before taking a seat on the closest of the two chairs, and ignoring how several more wobbly clumps of his personal essence emerged from the wall, and began to form a set of furniture that matched the style of the two refined chairs.. By the time Daniel's guest approached his seat, the room had turned into an aesthetically pleasing living room.
"What a spectacular.." said the grizzled man with amazement before occupying the second chair, whose size was perfect for his tall and muscular stature, to a point where it felt that the chair had been made specifically for his armored figure. "What is this? I can't feel any of the mechanical workings of a formation. How are you controlling such a massive construction??"
"Is that your first question?" Daniel asked with narrowed eyes.
Slightly embarrassed, the grizzled man gave up his curiosity towards the magical nature of Daniel's base, and said, "Of course not. Let's start with your domain.. Is it stationed in a specific universe?"
"Not at the moment..."
"... by a sect?"
Orbit of planet Kosmos, Vessel of Horror's domain.
Inside the black asteroid-looking vessel of Horror's domain, was an underground residence currently occupied by the leader of the biggest faction within Horror's domain, and organizer of the Exalted Assembly-The Overlord of the Monstrous faction.
From inside this residence, the Overlord of the Monstrous Clan had spent the past month organizing the Exalted Assembly, a task that included the restoration of Polis, Kosmos' only city, to provide the working force for its hundreds of restored venues, to set the schedule for the main event of the Exalted Assembly, and finally, to grant the permissions to operate within the city to merchants and domains. These were all tasks that, according to the regulation agreed upon by the ancient domains that had conceived the Exalted Assembly, the organizers had the duty to fulfill.
The only tasks that were entrusted to the same two domains, no matter which power had organized, or called for an Exalted Assembly, were to provide a neutral universe, which fell on the shoulders of the domain of Order, and to make sure that the rules were respected, a task that had always been entrusted to the domain of Law, whose millions of champions lay hidden within the universe, waiting to intervene at a moment's notice.
Many domains over the years had lamented the unfairness of these privileges, claiming that this sort of power needed to be shared among all participating domains, as an Exalted Assembly was one of the few events which would grant a nearly infinite number of opportunities for trade and business. However, all of these complaints were ultimately ignored, as only the organizers were required to put a huge portion of their universes as a deposit, and if the matters to be discussed turned out to be unworthy of everyone's time, they would be the only ones to pay.
Nevertheless, all of these privileges made what was for most domains an enjoyable and entertaining few weeks, the most stressful day in its organizer's life, as was shown from the irritate demeanor of the Overlord of the Monstrous clan who, from his large throne made out of clean bones and monster's teeth, observed the hundreds of champions of Horror waiting for their turn to report problems, or give updates regarding unfinished preparations.
Now almost out of patience, the Overlord rolled his eyes in exasperation at the sight of the umpteenth elder who, with panicked eyes, approached the throne with bad news.
Luckily, before the elder could contribute to the stress that the Overlord had accumulated in the past month, a warrior clad in black armor, and that was wearing an iron mask that covered the entirety of his monstrous head, barged into the hall, and approached the throne while ignoring the many elders of the Monstrous clan and leaders of the other factions that belonged to Horror's domain.
"Overlord. Shh-We heard back from the shh-seventh Elder. Messenger-shh of Order butchered before reaching shh-Sacrifice's domain. Shh-they won't participate." Said the warrior with a deep and guttural voice that was regularly interrupted by the sound of heavy breathing and of condensed humidity and greasy sweat being breathed in, that came from underneath the uncomfortable mask.
The Overlord, whose body was covered in a more traditional brutish armor made out of humanoid dirty bones, and adorned with animals' teeth and bone fragments, looked down at the warrior from on top of his large throne. "Nothing yet from Doom Palace?" He asked with a hint of impatience.
The warrior tightened his hold around the shaft of his black spear, and after once again sucking air loudly through his pointy rows of teeth, he said, "The portal was used. Shh-No witnesses.."
Hopeful that, just like he had planned, the champion of Destiny that had killed so many of his warriors had left his domain's primary universe, the Overlord smiled maliciously underneath his mask. He then waved his hand dismissively. When the warrior refused to leave, the Overlord leaned forward, and asked, "what is it?"
"Order'shh domain requests an audience as.. shh-soon as possible."
"What for?" Asked the Overlord angrily.
"Unexpected arrivals. Shh-An unknown domain."
At the mention of additional work, the Overlord slouched over his throne, momentarily unwilling to hear anything more of this cursed event.
Back on Daniel's planet, more than an hour after the arrival of Law's champion, the portal that united Daniel's room to the outside opened once again. From it emerged the figures of Daniel and the grizzled warrior. On the face of the latter was visible uncertainty. It was clear that whatever question the grizzled warrior had been tasked with asking Daniel, the answer he had received was anything but satisfactory. Nevertheless, there was no trace of negative emotions in his puzzled expression.
With a respect that before was aimed at the aspect of existence whose domain Daniel was claiming to represent, but that now was aimed at him personally, the warrior said, "This was my first time questioning someone capable of giving such exhaustive answers, and yet saying nothing at all. Luckily, I got what I needed."
"And that is?" Asked Daniel with curiosity.
"All sorts of contrasting domains participate in these events, and that means that newcomers are just minutes away from meeting those whom they'll regard as enemies for the following million years. It's unavoidable.." Said the warrior with a matter of fact tone. "At least now I can report that you don't seem to be looking for trouble.. Although I suspect you would not shy away from any trouble that will come to find you."
"I'll try to stick to the trouble that comes my way." Daniel said with a smile that caused the grizzled man to instinctively crack one of his own. The two of them had had many similar exchanges during the past hour, so the grizzled man decided not to bother Daniel any further, and after a respectful nod of his head, went back to report his findings to the domains of Law and Order.
Once alone, Daniel took control over the essence present near the ears of his companions, who were currently training on the small planet, and said, "It's time to go.. Join me."
The first person to arrive was Ashura, who emerged from the portal that was still open a few meters behind Daniel. "What is the plan?" he asked.
Daniel, seemingly in high spirits, said through a content smile, "This is sort of a party, is it not? Let's mingle."
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