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27 No Need for a Searching Party

    "Hey.. is the tavern still open?.." Daniel asked to the unbelieving crowd of guards. Then, without even waiting for a reply, he walked past them and in the direction of the tavern.

    The guard on duty turned towards one of the patrols and said "..Notify the head hunter, now!"

    The patrol turned around and ran towards the head hunter's tent.

    Five days had passed since Daniel's last meal, and he didn't feel like talking to anyone, at least until he put something in his stomach. He made his way across the base camp's quiet streets, and reached the tavern in just a few minutes.

    In front of the head hunter's tent, the patrol was standing politely. "Sir, there are news about the kid you've sent us to look for.."

    The tent opened immediately, and inside it, a bare chested man appeared. The half naked man was very large, with well defined muscles, and a few deep scars which marked them in an unmistakable way.

    Behind this large man's body was a bed, above which, a naked and flushed woman could be seen laying confusedly. This large man, was the head hunter Kier.

    "What about him?! Have you found him?" Kier asked in agitation.

    "No sir.. he came back on his own.." Responded the patrol awkwardly. He then composed himself and added "He asked if the tavern was open.. he should be headed there."

    The head hunter grabbed a shirt from above his dresser, and put it on messily. He then left his tent and headed towards the tavern.

    -----

    Daniel entered the tavern in awful conditions. His clothes were a wreck, and in his hand, he carried the decapitated head of the commander scorpion, with knives still stuck in it.

    Despite the hour, the tavern was full. Most of the tables were occupied by a large number of people who wore the same type of armor. A full black leather armor with a mountain peak carved in silver on their chest, and left shoulder.

    The rest of the tables were occupied by a few hunters, which for some reason, looked intimidated to a point where they keep their tones down. The only empty tables were those immediately next to another isolated table.

    At this isolated table, four people were sitting. Two of these four people, were beautiful girls in their late teens whose revealing clothes left little to imagination. The mission of the two girls seemed to be to seduce the man in his early twenties next to whose sides they sat.

    This man's clothes were refined and elegant, and were marked with the same silver peak carved on the armors which many people within the bar wore. On his chest, was a golden brooch which had the shape of a pickaxe crossed with a shovel. The hairstyle of this man alone showed a rich upbringing.

    The last person, was a rigid looking middle aged man. This middle aged man wore the exact same black leather armor that the rest wore, and long cape of a dark grey color. On the left corner of this cape, a symbol identical to the other man's brooch was sewn in silver, while on the right corner, a silver mountain peak was depicted.

    A silver pattern on the edges of his armor pieces, aside from the cape, was the only thing that differentiated this man's armors from the rest.

    Daniel slowly approached the counter and asked for any dish that didn't require a long time to prepare. He then walked towards one of the few empty tables, placed the scorpion's heads on it, and sat quietly.

    "WHAT'S THIS REEK!?" Shouted the rich young man, now sitting less than two meters away from Daniel.

    One of the two girls giggled and responded in a coquettish manner "Young master Jite is right.. such a foul stench!"

    The other girl, trying not to be left behind, added immediately "I believe it is the tramp that just sat behind you, Young master Jite" She then giggled, while squeezing her soft peaks together with her arms.

    The young master turned around, and noticed Daniel quietly sitting at the table behind him. He immediately got up, but as he was about to make a scene, the middle aged man's voice resounded within his ears. It said only two words "Young master.."

    The young master immediately turned to look at the middle aged guard, and as their eyes met, the guard shook his head lightly.

    "He is just a brat!" Complained the young master.

    The guard sighed and added "That's the head of a rank 4 beast."

    "SO WHAT?!" Shouted the young master. "Aren't you a rank 4 warrior?! Kick him out of here!" He then ordered.

    The middle aged guard sighed once more, then got up on his feet and approached Daniel's table. "I have to ask you to leave." He said after getting only two meters away from Daniel.

    Daniel looked at him, and immediately, he realized that this middle aged guard was no simple goon. Nevertheless, he had no intention of leaving. He had spent too much time without touching food, and even if he didn't feel the passing of time while cultivanting, he still felt the built up hunger when he woke up.

    The fact that he hadn't jumped on another person's table to steal their food, was already a miracle.

    The guard had no weapons on him, which told Daniel that he probably was a martial artist. He would have usually avoided a fight he had few chances of winning, but this time, Daniel decided to be stubborn.

    While looking at the middle aged man, he said "I'm going nowhere until I eat something." He then turned around once more, and kept waiting quietly.

    The entire tavern quietened, and every single one of the soldiers in black armor turned to look at Daniel.

    The middle aged guard didn't take it personally, he simply added "This camp belongs to the Mining Conglomerate.. My master is the young master of one of the thirteen mining companies of which the conglomerate is composed. Leave while I am still asking."

    Daniel ignored the man's warning completely, and kept waiting for his food to arrive.

    The middle aged guard raised his arm and tried to grab Daniel's shoulder. He didn't want to fight this kid, but he still had to follow his orders, but as he was about to put his hand over Daniel's shoulder, his cloak suddenly caught fire.

    The guard promptly took his cloak off, and watched Daniel with a surprised expression. He was about to say something, but Daniel spoke first.

    "Your should be careful around fire.. your armor may not catch fire easily, but can you say the same about your master's robe?.. what is that.. silk?" A faint smile grew on Daniel's face when he reached the end of his sentence.

    The rest of the guards rose up to their feet, and grabbed the weapons hanging at their waists.

    The middle aged guard reacted by raising his closed fist. This action calmed the numerous soldiers, and forced them to sit back down.

    "You don't think that, as a martial artist.. close as we are, I would be able to take you down before you can cast a magic spell?" Said the leader of the young master's guard.

    Daniel, grabbed one of the knives stuck inside the Commander Steel-back Scorpion's decapitated head, and pulled it out. He then used 'Through Stone and Steel' to force the knife back into the scorpion's head from another angle. He then said "You can try.."

    Quietness reigned within the tavern for a few endless moments.. until..

    "HAHAHAHA!" The middle aged guard started laughing out loud "What a funny guy!!.. Peak Body Strengthening and peak Spiritual Connection.." He then sat on a chair at Daniel's table and asked with a smile on his face "How many 'Safe Youth' pills did you take to still look like a 14 years old? Though it's kind of weird.."

    Daniel was surprised by radical change within the old guard's behaviour. He couldn't help but smirk and talk back "Talk about weird, a middle aged man that talks like a 14 year old kid.."

    "I have a young soul! Hahaha!" Retorted the middle aged guard before starting to laugh once again.

    The young master sprung on his feet once more, and started shouting "ARE YOU DONE?! I said to kick him out! NOW!!"

    The middle aged guard looked back at his master, then said with a humble yet firm voice "Young master, we should go back to your tent so you can rest. We have to take care of the master's assignment by tomorrow morning."

    The few hunters that were talking and eating quietly at the other tables, couldn't help but giggle at the scene.

    Humiliating wasn't enough to describe the young master's feelings. His orders had been ignored in public, and if that wasn't enough, he had been sent to sleep by his own bodyguard. That was an unbearable humiliation for him.

    As he was about to start yelling at his own guard, he noticed a massive yet messily dressed man entering the tavern. "Mister Kier!" He had found a way to vent his anger, and restore some of his face.. the Head Hunter. "We don't lend our camps to hunters so that they can fill them with trash!" He said out loud while pointing at Daniel.

    "I'm sorry young master Jite, but that young man is a member of the huntsmen guild, and you have no authority to order a hunter around." Kier retorted immediately.

    This wasn't the first time that Kier had to handle one of the young masters of the thirteen mining companies. The thirteen companies owned all the mines situated in the canyons that the Huntsmen Guild were tasked to clear, so every now and then, one or two would appear during the hunting season, and act all high and mighty against a few hunters.

    The young master's face turned purple in rage. He sent a deadly look at Daniel, and turned to face his bodyguard. "Let's go!" He barked through his gritted teeth. He then stormed out the tavern in large steps.

    The middle aged guard followed the young master, and behind him, the rest of the guards.

    After the young master left, Kier approached Daniel's table, and sat on one of the chairs.

    "You're Dan Hiel, right?" He asked, almost too politely.

    Daniel looked back at him and nodded.

    "I'm Kier, the hunter assigned as head hunter of this Steel-back Scorpion's hunting season." In the five days that Daniel had been absent, Kier had received various communications from Phyrri's huntsmen guild branch. He had been requested to conduct a search party to find the disappeared member of a hunting party.

    At first, Kier had believed that this young man was simply the son of one of the high ranking hunters, but after he reported his failed attempts in to find him, he had learned that the request came from two external powers. One came from the Golden Cauldron's upper echelons, while the other, was none other than the previous Master at arms of the Karalis kingdom.

    This information, at the time, had left him shaking in his boots.

    "You're not here to ask me to leave the tavern, right? I'm starving." Said Daniel, before looking at the rank 4 scorpion's skull and adding "Do you think I can pay with this?"

    Kier smirked, and then said "There is no need, your party members left your part of the pay with me.." He then looked at the decapitated head above the table, and added "I'll also give you the bounty for the rank 4 scorpion that the guild gave me as a reward for the incoming rank 4 hunters."

    "Is the rest of my party fine?" Asked Daniel.

    Kier's impression of Daniel increased exponentially after he heard him mention his teammates "The mage left right away, the old man should still be around and the others left at some point during these past 5 days"

    Daniel's eyes opened in surprise, and then asked "Five days?.. Is that how long i've been gone?"
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