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164 How to Hire a Killer

    Three days had passed since the attack to Daniel's company, and now, he, Alesia, and Serf were peacefully walking around the large market in the northern part of the city.

    The excuse that Daniel had prepared for being so far from the part of the capital in which his shops had been set, was that he wanted to expand his reach through the entire city, and his main goal, was to open a shop within each and every market.

    "Your ability in alchemy surprised me.. From what I understand, ten minutes is already very little even if you possess early experience.." Said Daniel to Serf, while Alesia picked items from a nearby stall.

    Serf looked back at Daniel, and with an embarrassed expression, he responded by saying "Well.. I come from a family of alchemists.. We had our own tests while growing up.. Making a sugar pill is a joke, really.. Of course, my experience cannot be compared with your talent. I can't even smell any sort of alchemical smell on you..?"

    "My second teacher was.. Well, is an Alchemist.. But he never taught me alchemy.." Said Daniel with a melancholic tone.

    A bit of confusion appeared on Serf's face, as he asked "What did he teach you then?"

    "Comprehension of essence, skills through the use of spi.. Immortal essence, and some other things.."

    "It's quite strange that neither you or our master were able to discover this side of you.." Responded Serf with surprise in his voice.

    "What about you? Any reason why someone at your level still hasn't gained a crest at a level higher than your own background?" Asked Daniel with curiosity. He had wondered about this for awhile now.

    Serf sighed gently, then said "They don't consider previous experience as much as you think they do in the academy.. Being from a prominent family of alchemists has penalized me more than you would think."

    "But you're a copper-badged student like us.. No offence, but your family business shouldn't be that big.."

    "This is where you're wrong.. My family business is well more than deserving of the platinum badge.." Responded Serf with a bit of annoyance and irritation.

    Daniel's brows furrowed in surprise, as he asked "What? Why don't you have a platinum badge then?"

    "Because my family believes that it is through competition that we grow better.. So, they made an agreement with the school. They send four students to 'The Superior Alchemy' each year, but instead of getting a platinum badge each, we only get one platinum, one gold, one silver, and one copper.."

    The explanation made sense to Daniel. He expected that the school would be willing to accept a few request from the most prominent groups to which their students belonged. After all, if not for the fact that they were part of 'The Poisonous Rose', they would simply be a school for the elite like any other.

    There was still something missing, so, while Serf was in a sharing mood, Daniel said "You've joined the school last year, and you're the one student of your family to which the copper badge has gone to.. But why do others treat you like that? By logic, a golden-badged students wouldn't fear your badge, but they would certainly fear the repercussions from the group behind you.."

    "They don't fear my family, because they don't know about it. Only the owner of the platinum badge can boast their belonging to our family.. We are only able to claim however much our badges allow us to." Responded Serf with indifference. He didn't seem to be too bothered by all of that.

    "What about your family members? Why hasn't anybody helped you?" Asked Daniel with a seemingly everlasting curiosity.

    Serf shrugged his broad shoulders, and said with a dispirited tone "You've already met one of them.. The girl that first insulted me when we went into the mess hall.. That's my cousin. The guy you've messed around with is just someone who has been trying to get close to her.."

    "What are you two talking about?" Asked a Alesia from behind them.

    Daniel and Serf turned to look at her, and noticed that she was holding a brown leather belt with elegant carvings on its surface.

    "Who is that belt for?" Asked Daniel with curiosity.

    With an expression of embarrassment, she responded by saying "For you.. I thought it would look good on you.."

    "Oh.. thank you." Responded Daniel with evident gratitude and a bit of embarrassment.

    The situation went completely over Serf's head, as a big smile appeared on his face, and said "What a nice couple of sibling.."

    A deep frown appeared on both of Daniel's and Alesia's face, as the two of them turned to look at Serf, and said in unison "We are not siblings!.."

    This caused Serf to come to a sudden realization.

    -----

    A few minutes later, the three of them arrived in front of a peculiar-looking shop. From outside, the place looked like a mix between an horticulturist, and a florist.

    Many different pungent odors could be felt coming from inside, and they were powerful enough for tears to form in the corner of the eyes of most people that passed near its entrance.

    Daniel and Alesia immediately deviated the air which contained alchemical elements in order to prevent it from entering their noses, or touch their eyes. They then walked in.

    Once inside, the smell became so heavy, that despite not being able to feel it with their sense of smell, they could still taste it as a bitter and sour aftertaste, which left them uncomfortable.

    The only one that didn't seem to be affected by it, was Serf, which compared to them, looked quite comfortable in this environment.

    "Oh, no.. you can't do that.. You have to breathe in deeply! How else are you going to get your nose hair burnt away! Hehehe" Said a disembodied voice that came from behind the counter.

    Daniel, Alesia and Serf walked all the way up to the counter, and behind it, they saw what looked like a kid who was barely over ten years of age.

    "What can I help you three with?" Said the kid with a dirty grin on his face.

    Thanks to his spiritual sense, Daniel could feel that this kid was not as old as he appeared to be. He had a cultivation of at least a peak third stage immortal cultivator, which if paired with his age, would make him the most monstrous cultivator in history.

    In reality, he was probably a middle aged man, or even older. Alesia and Serf had made the same guess, so they made sure not to treat him as a kid.

    "We are from 'The Superior Alchemy', we would like to poke around your inventory, if you don't mind." Said Daniel with a faint smile.

    The smile on the kid's face grew wider, as he said "Ohh.. Wealthy customers.. My father said to welcome you with a big smile. Please, go ahead!"

    "Spare us the theatrics, merchant.. Treat us with as much respect as we treat you." Said Alesia with an annoyed tone.

    "Hehehe.. My apologies beautiful lady, just.. child's play.. Hehe." Responded the kid in between chuckles.

    Alesia ignored the merchant's joke, and said "Why did you even decide to stay at that age?.. Doesn't it create more trouble than necessary when practicing alchemy?"

    "Oh, you should have seen my father.. Bald at the age of twenty.. I'm very scared of letting myself grow a day after ten.. Hehe"

    "Okay, that's about enough jokes for a single visit.." Said Daniel with in annoyance. "We are here to commission a hit on a rival company."

    Daniel decided to cut the interactions with this merchant short, as there was something in the way he spoke to Alesia that annoyed him greatly.

    The moment the words 'commission a hit' left Daniel's mouth, the smile completely disappeared from the kid's face. "I don't know what you are talking about, kid."

    "You are going to play it like that?.. Fine, we'll find another broker then.. We'll make sure that others know that you're out of that kind of business.." Said Daniel before turning around, and walking towards the store's entrance.

    "Hold on." Said the kid behind Daniel's back. "Let's talk about this."

    Despite how the broker acted, he couldn't afford to leave people badmouth him behind his back. He worked for rich people, and he was more than aware that his word was worth less than dog's ** in front of the word of each of the customers he had to deal with.

    If Daniel went to spread the voice that he wasn't operating anymore, or talk about the fact that he was a broker for killers, people would definitely stop going to look for his services.

    "Who told you about me?" Asked the merchant with curiosity.

    "Another client of yours.. Look, we are only looking for your services. This will either be a smooth transaction with a new customer, or a major loss for you.. I'll get the job done either way." Responded Daniel with a matter-of-fact tone.

    He wanted to convince him that it was better to simply comply than to shut them down.

    Luckily, he succeeded.

    "Very well.. I need a target, a method, and a payment. Just so you know, I get ten percent of the pay for referral." The demeanor of the kid had changed completely. He now conducted himself seriously, and looked like an overly mature kid.

    "In the eastern market, there is a shop called 'Shining Bright'.. It's a shop that belongs to an old couple, and deals in the sale of refined oil lamps and stuff of that sort.. I want you to find somebody to burn that shop down. I also want the fire to spread to the store to its left."

    "So, the target is the second store.. What is the payment?" The broker was pleasantly surprised. He was still nervous about this matter, but the more he heard Daniel talk, the more he was reassured that the job was real.

    "Five perfect crystals. It has to look like the fire started from the 'Shining Bright' shop.. And do it at night.. The old couple will be sleeping in the shop, the streets will be empty, and there will be lamps on." Responded Daniel with indifference.

    From the price offered for the job, the broker was able to confirm that Daniel belonged to a rich group.

    The job was easy, and there was no reason not to do it themselves, or not to offer less. Only the filthy rich kind of people would abuse their wallets for trivial matters such as this.

    "I have the right person in mind.. The pay is in advance, as we'll never see each other after this encounter. I'll handle the payment." Responded the broker, as a faint smile appeared once again on his childlike face.

    Daniel casually threw a ring which contained five perfect crystals to him, then, he left the shop as if nothing had happened.

    Once alone, the broker said "Follow them, and find out to which group they belong."

    A shadow-like figure disappeared quietly from within the shop.

    The broker was not stupid. He had dealt with a lot of people like Daniel, and he knew that betraying him was nothing for them.. He had long taken the habit of gathering information about his clients, so that he could use them in case someone tried to silence him, or accuse him of anything.

    Once his spy left, the kid-like broker walked all the way into a room to the back of the counter, and grabbed a metallic box he had placed on one of the shelves.

    This metallic box was covered in formations that prevented people from peeking inside with their senses, and it could be opened in two ways.

    One was to open it like a normal box, while the second, was to know the secret method to unlock the secret compartment on one of its metallic walls.

    Once unlocked, the kid took a small book bound in black leater. He then opened it, and started to write a few information in it.

    "So that's where you keep the records.."
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