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165 A World in the Palm of Your Hand

    "So that's where you keep the records.." Said a disembodied voice from behind the broker's back.

    A shiver ran down the spine of the kid-like broker, which quickly made a knife appear in his hand, and twisted his entire body, trying to cut whoever was behind him.

    Before the tip of his knife could touch anything, he felt a metallic grip around his thin wrist, and a cold and sharp blade pressed against his neck.

    "Don't push me, broker.. I don't need your head attached to the rest of your body in order to read that logbook." Said Daniel after appearing out of nowhere.

    "Hehe.. Okay, you got me.. I take it that job was not real.." Said the broker as a few drops of cold sweat streamed down his back.

    Daniel didn't answer to his question, and instead, he grabbed the black logbook, the small ring which the broker was still holding in his small fist, and disappeared once again.

    After disappearing, the broker heard Daniel's voice once more.. It said "I'll keep in touch.."

    Of course, there was no 'Shining Bright' shop in the eastern market. That was a made up place which Daniel had invented in order to sell his story better. He wanted to pass the message that he had already thought of a perfect plan to get rid of his competition, and he simply wanted someone to do the dirty work for him.

    That was what had convinced the broker. After all, the majority of the jobs he was commissioned by his various clients, were not much different than this.

    In an alley about a kilometer from the northern marketplace, Daniel reappeared in front of Alesia and Serf.

    "Did you get it?" Asked Alesia, as an unusual bright smile re appeared on her face the moment she saw Daniel, which smiled back at her, and said "Yes, I have it right here."

    Together, the three of them took a look at the small logbook.

    The dozens of pages of the logbook were filled with the jobs that the broker had been commissioned in the past years.

    The three of them frowned deeply as their eyes landed on one order after the other.

    ____________________________

    Sender: 45ish years old man. 182 cm, about 83kg, short black hair, horizontal scar under left eye (Fourth elder of The Sharp Edge company)

    Target: Five different shops that belong to Scorching Anvil company.

    Method: Bomb - Middle of the day - Frame Head Blacksmith

    Pay: 250 high crystals

    Note: I didn't think that The Sharp Edge company would be so ruthless. My research lead me to believe that the reason why they are attacking their competitors, is because the Scorching Anvil company has discovered a new alloy, which could end up being worth a lot..

    ____________________________

    Sender: 29 years old woman. 167 cm, about 55kg, young mistress of the Gath family.

    Target: Young mistress of the Helvha family

    Method: Kill guards, **** victim, Kill the victim, Stage a robbery.

    Pay: 20 High crystals

    Note: That bitch got really fired up when talking about the target.. She kept mentioning her beloved.. From what I understood from her rambling, she was dumped (and I honestly can understand why). Now she is taking her revenge on her ex-boyfriend's new sweetheart.

    ____________________________

    Sender: 'A World in the Palm of Your Hand' collective. (Impossible to find any detail, but the lack of the first two phalanxes of the ring finger in the right hand of the sender.)

    Target: 'Golden Karma' company building, market floor.

    Method: Rush hour, as big of an explosion as possible, make as many victims as possible.

    Pay: 1 perfect crystal

    Note: This company has been doing awfully good for having been just founded.. I wonder where they get all of their handiwork? Anyway, They have basically no cultivator above the fourth rank. Sneaking an explosive device in won't be hard. I'll give the job to the kid who blew up those smith shops, since he did a good job.

    ____________________________

    "This is disgusting.. The methods.. The reasons these people have for killing.. It's disgusting.." Muttered Alesia in a visibly disgusted state.

    Daniel looked at the last entry of the logbook. It was the order to hit their company..

    "A World in the Palm of Your Hand.. what is that?" Muttered Daniel to himself with a confused face.

    He then heard Serf's voice coming from beside him, say "It's a collective of groups that operate in the same field as your company. They produce and deal with essence spheres.."

    "You know them?" Asked Daniel curiously after turning to look back at Serf.

    "Yeah, they are the top dog company in that field.. There are at least a dozen of the collective heirs into The Superior Alchemy alone.." Serf patiently explained.

    "Mmh.."

    -----

    Back in the alchemy shop.

    The childlike merchant was pacing left and right inside his shop. He had already rejected new, and regular customers more than once, as he was no in mood to serve people.

    His state of mind was extremely anxious. A kid had managed to rob him of one of the most dangerous items within the capital. He had stolen the records of many of the attacks, and homicides commissioned by various powers against others, and if properly used, it could cause many different wars to start all within the city.

    If that happened, his head would be the first one to fall.

    The only reason why he hadn't tried to run away yet, was because he had a faint hope that Daniel wouldn't put him in trouble. He was figuratively hanging by a thread made out of the words "I'll be in touch.."

    Suddenly, the broker turned once again to look at the shadows present in his closed shop, from which a faint voice could be heard say "Why did you call me back, boss?"

    "It was a fake job.. I got tricked.." Said the broker with a mix of fear, anger, and irritation.

    "What are we risking?" Asked the shadow with a faint voice. "What do they have on you?"

    "That **ing kid.. The bastard took the logbook.."

    Suddenly, a third voice could be heard coming from in front of the glass door from which a large red sign with the word 'CLOSED' written on it, dangled quietly. "I would be careful if I were you.."

    The broker immediately turned to look at the entrance of his shop, and there, he saw Daniel slowly appear from nowhere.

    "As I've said, here I am." Said Daniel with a faint smile on his face.

    "What do you want?" Asked the broker with a defeated tone. It was clear that losing the logbook would spell death for him. If not for providing proof that he was a broker for killers, which there was no need to mention, was more than illegal.. also for the fact that he had gathered informations about his clients.. To whom he had guaranteed pure privacy.

    The smile on Daniel's face widened, as he said "Well.. first of all, you've played a part in ruining my business' name.. So now, you work for me."

    "What do you mean?" Asked the childlike broker in confusion.

    "You are going to keep doing your job.. But now, whenever you receive a new contract, you'll take it to me, and I'll tell you how we'll handle it. But more than anything else.. I want you to tell me if any other contracts that require you to disrupt my business arrive." Explained Daniel patiently.

    "What stops me from simply running away?" Asked the broker with increased irritation. He seemed to be willing to make a bit of resistance, but Daniel could see that that wasn't his real intention.

    "If you run away, I'd simply give the list to the government, and you'd be hunted to the ends of this world. Something tells me that you don't have the connections or power to request a passage to another world.. And even less, escape the eye of The Keeper of Key. Why not work for me?.. I might even enlarge your business.. Give you some more protection.."

    Daniel had decided to use both the stick and the carrot with the broker. After all, he wanted him to fear him, but also to want to collaborate with him.

    The gist of what Daniel wanted to do, was to exploit the man's reputation as a broker for killers, to direct each and every contract that went through him.

    He would not let innocent people die, and based on the type of contract, he would be able to decide how to handle certain situations.

    For example, if a certain family member was targeting the member of another company, he could tip off the side of the victim, so that they could render impossible for anyone to act against them. The broker could simply return the money back, and Daniel would have a new ally in the city.

    He could even avoid pointless death by staging the attacks, like when the attack on his company had taken place. By faking a fire result, he would be able to trick people into thinking that the attack had succeeded.

    The broker would keep doing his job, gain reputation, and at the same time, Daniel would have a spy into the dark side of the city.

    "What do you say?" Asked Daniel with his ever present smile.

    The childlike broker said with a conflicted face "I don't have a choice now, do I?"

    "Hehe.. No you do not. But I'd rather think of it as the beginning of a wonderful collaboration.." Responded Daniel casually, before looking at the dark corner of the shop, and raising his hand.

    A powerful light started to shine from his hand, causing the dark side of the shop to be lit up completely.

    Within the light  beam, was a dark cloud that floated in mid-air.

    "A dark elemental.. How rare.."

    The shape of the dark cloud became denser, showing the form of a large butterfly, which changed into the silhouette of a small human the moment it landed on the floor.

    "A mid-high level dark elemental.. Even rarer.." Muttered Daniel in surprise.

    The dark elemental turned to look at Daniel, and it said with evident shock "There aren't many humans that can recognize my level.. I'm impressed.."

    "You would be surprised by the experience I have gathered by dealing with your kind.. Tell me if one day you want to broaden your horizons.." Said Daniel while smiling at the human-like shadow.

    "Yeah that's all fun and dandy.. But why don't we get back to the matter at hand? What do I do now?" The broker suddenly burst out saying.

    Daniel became pensive for a few seconds, then, he said "Tell me about 'A World in the Palm of Your Hand'.. What are they up to these days?"

    "Mhh.. If you are thinking about competing with them, you better give up. I've researched your company, and even if you have high level goods, it's impossible for you to defeat the collective." Responded the broker plainly.

    "I don't want to compete.. I want to do what they expect me to do after the attack.. I'll join them.. Tell me more about them" Responded Daniel while emanating a faint desire for vengeance.

    A confused frown appeared on the broker, as he said "The collective is composed by at least five thousand groups, and operate on a planetary scale. They can even afford to hold games amongst themselves every now and then, with high prizes at stake." Responded the broker plainly.

    "Interesting.. Tell me more about these games, and how can I join the collective." Responded Daniel with curiosity.

    "In order to join, you simply need to deal in essence spheres. The only thing that is required is of you is to keep the prices at a fixed level.. You are only allowed to compete with the other groups through advertisement. About the games, there will be one in five days. All of the groups that want to participate, have to chip in in order to create a suitable reward for the winner of the competition.." The broker explained patiently.

    "What is the reward for this event?"

    The broker became pensive for a moment, then, he turned to look at Daniel, and said "A perfect fire treasure."
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