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28 Background Developments

    "What do you mean?" Asked Kier curiously.

    After Daniel realized what he had just asked, he explained himself. "I've explored the caverns underneath the canyons, I wasn't really aware of the time.."

    Kier's eyebrows arched slightly "Ah, that's what happened. Your party members said there were two beasts battling.. What happened to them?.. Well, to the other one at least"

    "The two beasts were grabbing each other when the ground.." Daniel started to tell what had happened the day of their first hunt, of how the two beasts came out of a wall, how they battled fiercely and made the ground collapse, exposing the massive cage underneath it. "I'm not too bad with throwing knives and using a sword.. plus, the scorpion was heavily injured."

    Kier was amazed by Daniel's survival ability, and after a minute, with a thoroughly impressed expression on his face, he said "Well, if you want to sell the beast cores to the guild, I can pay for them.. But if you want to keep them, then go ahead. You didn't accept a mission for the hunt of rank 4 beasts anyway, so you have no obligations to hand them over"

    At that moment, A robust looking woman appeared next to Daniel's table. In her hands, she held two plates filled with food.

    "Can I ask you something?.." Kier asked to Daniel, as he rudely started to scarf food down his throat "How did you manage to get the attention of both the previous Master-at-arms and the vice president of the Golden Cauldron?"

    "Coincidence." Said Daniel with his mouth still full. He then swallowed heavily and said "I moved into the Master-at-arms building.. And about the vice leader of the Golden Cauldron.. I guess it's because I saved the mage from bandits."

    "HA! Talk about luck.." Exclaimed Kier, once again surprised. "I'll let you eat in peace.. Come find me tomorrow morning and i'll give you your money. Also, i've been asked to send you back home.." Said Kier, right before getting up from his chair and walking out of the tavern.

    The moment Kier left the tavern, the majority of the remaining hunters sprung up on their feet and approached Daniel. They occupied the free chairs or crowded around him.

    "Hey kiddo, tell us about the battle between the beasts.."

    "..How in the hell did you manage get out of that cave?"

    "Wanna play those cores in a game of cards? Hehehe"

    For the rest of the night, Daniel became the star of the base camp's tavern.

    -----

    The following day, Daniel woke up on a bed inside of his tent. He washed himself up and put on some fresh clothes. Then sat back on his bed and started to think about his situation..

    "It's been almost ten days since i've been home, and i've made enough money for now.. I should go back.. Plus, I have points to spend.. I wonder if the old man would still want me as his student.." On Daniel's face a faint smile grew the moment he thought about how many skills a kingdom's Master-at-arms would have to teach.

    With his first thoughts of greed still lingering in his mind, he walked towards Kier's office. Right outside of Kier's office, the beautiful girl that was laying naked on his bed the night prior, was now completely dressed. Her expression was a professional one.

    "Dan Hiel?" She asked

    "That's me." Replied Daniel.

    The woman got up from her chair and walked towards Kier's office. She then opened the door and made a gesture with her arm, inviting Daniel to enter.

    Inside his office, Kier was sitting behind his desk. "Dan! Come, sit down." Said Keir.

    Daniel entered the office and sat on a chair in front of Kier's desk. Once comfortable, he looked at Kier and asked "Yesterday you said that you've been asked to send me back.. Was it a request from the old man or the vice leader of the Golden Cauldron?"

    "Both actually.." Responded Kier. He then started to rummage inside his desk's drawer, until it took a small bag out of it. "Here's your gold and the bounty for the rank 4 beasts. I've selected a few guards that can escort you back to Phyrri."

    Daniel was about to get up and leave, but before he could, a thought flashed through his mind. "I have something to do here.. Do you know where I can find someone from the Silver Peak mining company?"

    Kier's face turned awkward for a moment "Actually, yes.. But you won't like it.."

    "What do you mean?" Asked Daniel confusedly.

    With a matter-of-fact tone, Kier answered immediately "Remember the young master who wanted to kick you out of the tavern?.."

    "Ah... Fuck." Said Daniel dispiritedly.

    Kier couldn't help but ask "Why do you need to talk to someone from the Silver Peak Mining company?"

    "I wanted to buy one of their slaves.." Daniel's voice grew more depressed by the word. His hand brushing against his forehead.

    Kier started to write something on a piece of paper, and then handed it over to Daniel. "Well, if you want to avoid the guy, go directly to their main base. This is their address within the Learned District.. But I doubt you'll be allowed in." He said.

    Daniel kept the piece of paper inside his new shirt and said "Thank you, I owe you one."

    Kier smirked and said "I'll collect that debt when one of your favors will be worth something hehe.."

    -----

    One hour later, Daniel had reached the base camp's border. Waiting for him, was a group of people. Amongst this group of people, was a familiar face.

    Wearing his usual mimetic attire, and carrying his usual bunch of throwing spears, Garth sat quietly next to a tree, ignoring the rest of the chatting members of the group.

    Most of the group's members were silver rank mercenaries, while the remaining few, had a gold badge hanging from their belts.

    "So that fall didn't kill you.. I owe a few copper to the youngster with the weird nose.." Said Garth with a fake disappointed tone.

    Daniel looked at him and smiled, he then said "If you thought I was dead, what are you doing still here?".

    "Long naps.. Mostly" Responded Garth while smirking.

    After a couple more back and forth, the two approached the rest of the group. They then departed for Phyrri.

    -----

    Phyrri, Master-at-arms hotel

    In the lobby, sitting around a table, were the old achemist, and Reila.

    Two days had passed since the old master-at-arms and the old alchemist had received the news of Daniel's return. Since then, they had started a sort of competition about who would manage to take him in first.

    They were opposites. The Master-at-arms was an expert in all kinds of weapons, and a powerful cultivator at the 7th rank of martial cultivation, while the old alchemist, was a known alchemist, a powerful mage, and a 7th rank spiritual cultivator.

    Both of them had learned about Daniel's prodigious talent in cultivation and learning, either by witnessing it themselves or, like in the case of the old alchemist, witnessed from his granddaughter.

    Both of these figures had built huge reputations within the Karalis kingdom.

    The ways of the master-at-arms had always been honest and direct, while the old alchemist's ways were more cunning and calculative. During their many years of friendship, they had challenged each other more than once, and this time, the challenge regarded gaining a talented disciple.

    Naturally, they were more than aware that the decision would depend on Daniel's choice regarding his path of cultivation. Path which the Master-at-arms, was fairly convinced to be martial cultivation. And yet, the old alchemist still tried to put a few fast ones on his old friend. Like befriending Daniel's sister, Reila.

    "..had always been a good kid" Said Reila to the old man, with eyes filled with unrelenting pride.

    The girl's pride made the old alchemist smile warmly. He had talked to this diffident and sharp teenage girl for the past half an hour, and he had understood one thing. Gaining her trust was a feat.

    "I am sure he is, I can't wait to thank him personally for saving my granddaughter's life." The old alchemist finished his tea and added "It was a pleasure talking to such a bright kid, and my apologies for interrupting your studies, i'll leave you to them.. Excuse me"

    "You didn't disturb Sir.." Said Reila while smiling politely and blowing gently.

    After bidding farewell, the old alchemist left.

    -----

    Back inside the master-at-arms room, the two old men were sitting and chatting like they often did.

    "What a couple of freaks!" Said the old alchemist with an annoyed tone. "I've talked to that girl for half an hour and I know less about that kid than I did before!"

    The old master-at-arms clearly enjoyed seeing his old friend in that state. He decided to poke the bear by saying "Oh, she is just protective towards her brother.. Which older sister wouldn't be worried if a suspicious old man started to ask questions about their little brother?.."

    "Who's a suspicious old man?! You're one to talk.. Opening a school on your own.. Attracting kids from left and right.. You're the one that they need to be on the lookout for!" Retorted the old alchemist bitterly.

    The old master-at-arms didn't take the comment at heart, he instead giggled and went back to sipping his tea.

    A look of realization flashed on the old alchemist's face. He then looked at the old master-at-arms and asked him "Didn't the brat come here with two girls?" Who's the other one?"

    The faint smile on the hotel owner's face disappeared completely. He stared at his teacup for a full minute, before saying in a low voice "Der's daughter.."

    The old alchemist's eyes flashed open. "Are you kidding? How in the hell did she end up in your hotel to begin with?! That's too much of a coincidence." He inquired with an everlasting surprise in his voice.

    "She had been taken as a slave.. The brat bought her at an auction, and then freed her before even leaving the building.." Clarified the old master-at-arms.

    The old alchemist smirked and said "Smart kid.. He can see the big picture.. Think of who's going to owe him a favor when.. If.. his father will come back.."

    "He didn't know who she was when he bought her.." Said the old master-at-arms, correcting his old friend's train of thought.

    Once learned the truth, the smile on the old alchemist grew two times larger "The more I hear about this brat, the more I like him! Hehehe"

    After the old alchemist's laugh, the two finished their tea in silence.

    Two quiet minutes passed before the old alchemist broke the silence by asking "You are keeping her here?.."

    "I have to.." Responded the old master-at-arms.

    The old alchemist's brows narrowed as he looked at his old friend. "Students of the School of Everlasting Fury will sooner or later make their way here.. You haven't refused anyone since you've taken in the three.. you can't start with them.. it'll look suspicious. What if they send someone who can recognize her?" He asked with a dead serious tone.

    The old master-at-arms looked lost for a moment, then, he seemed to have made a decision within his mind. He turned to look at his friend, and said "Nobody touches one of my students."

    "You better hope it doesn't come to that.. i've heard that the master of the School of Everlasting Fury has been trying to breakthrough to the eight rank for days now." Said the old alchemist casually, trying to scale back his old friend's resolve to fight it out with his student's old enemy. He then added "Plus, you're not the master-at-arms anymore.. if His Majesty finds out.. he'll never take your side over his."

    The room turned quiet once more, and after a few minutes, the first to break the silence, was once again, the old alchemist.

    "Where the hell is that brat!? I feel like i've been waiting here forever." The old alchemist complained in a way most would define 'slightly childish'.

    "He'll be here by tomorrow." Responded the old master-at-arms.
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