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166 One Problem at a Time

    "Please, wait here. The coordinator will arrive shortly." Said a young and good looking woman to Daniel, Heimart, Der, Edmund, and his wife Emelnie.

    A day had passed since Daniel had visited the broker, and now he had gone, along with the rest of the leading members of his group, to see the coordinator of the collective called 'A World in the Palm of Your Hand'.

    They were currently sitting within a living room, drinking the various beverages that the receptionist had offered to them.

    A few minutes in, the door slowly opened. From behind it, a thirty-five years old woman appeared.

    She was wearing a light green dress which tightly fit her body, and an amiable expression that convinced the people that looked at her to smile.

    "Mr. Hiel.. It is a pleasure to meet you. I am Miel, the coordinator of the collective. What can I help you with?" She said after bowing her head politely towards them, and sitting on the free chair next to them.

    "Miss Miel, the pleasure is ours." Responded Daniel with a matching amiable face. He then added "As you might have heard.. We have received an attack by an unknown party a few days ago.. We were able to capture the culprit, but we did not manage to obtain any information from him, unfortunately.."

    Daniel paused for a moment, then, after he noticed that he had the full attention of the coordinator, he continued by saying "We have realized that we are not capable of defending our territory by ourselves, and that our competitive prices gave us an unfair advantage against the honest groups of which the collective is composed.. We were considering joining the collective."

    As the coordinator hear Daniel's words, her amiable smile disappeared, leaving space for a comforting one. She then said "We have heard of your company problems. I am terribly sorry that that happened to you. There is nothing that can excuse ruining the clean reputation of a newly formed company.. We are more than willing to allow the Golden Karma company to join our collective, and we would like to help you increase your standards of protection. That attack hit us all personally.."

    "Your sympathy is very refreshing.." Said Emelnie while smiling sweetly at Miel, and leaving her slightly stunned by her beauty.

    Heimart interjected by saying "Dan has been attending a school to learn alchemy lately, so we would be the figures with whom the collective would have to deal with. I just want to say, that I am extremely grateful for your comprehension." He then paused for a moment before adding "I don't want to overstep my boundaries, but we would like to show our appreciation by participating in the next games."

    "Of course. Just by coming here, and being willing to join the collective, you have now become part of it. So, there is no reason for the collective to reject your participation into this year's  games." Responded Miel politely.

    "Wonderful." Said Daniel with a bright smile "We will now leave you to your matters. Would it be possible for the rules of the collective, and the regulations of the game to be delivered to our company building?"

    "Naturally. We really appreciate your goodwill, and hope to see you soon." Responded Miel before bidding farewell to the leaving party.

    -----

    Back within the Golden Karma company building.

    Daniel and the rest were sitting inside of a conference room. In front of Edmund, were a few parchments on which a few writings could be seen.

    "It's like the broker said.. We have to follow the prices set.. We can spend as much as we want on advertisement, and we can expand however we like.. As long as we don't lower our prices." Said Edmund with a matter-of-fact tone.

    "What about the rules for the games?" Asked his wife Emelnie with curiosity.

    "A ranking system based on points.. Up to two members for each company are allowed to join the games. These members will be tested on each type of essence for their comprehension, and the level of control over them. The percentage of control and the percentage of comprehension establish the points given. For example, forty percent of comprehension and seventy percent of control grants a hundred and ten points.." Explained Edmund patiently.

    Heimart looked back at him, and said "That's easy then, there is no way that somebody has a higher comprehension than Daniel."

    "That's the problem." Edmund said before taking a slight pause, and continuing "People in administrative positions aren't allowed to join. That means that Daniel, as the owner of the company, cannot join.."

    Daniel turned to look at Heimart's annoyed face, and said "It's alright. Roley and Jerigh can join. Roley has a high comprehension of many essences, and Jerigh has almost caught up with him due to his.. Absurd talent.. Are there any age limitations?"

    Edmund moved his eyes on the game's regulations once again, then said "Under fifty years of age.. So they will have to face people with dozens of years of experience."

    "I'm sure they will make it. What about the participation fee. How much is it?"

    "Mhh.. that's another problem.. fifty perfect crystals.. That's about ninety-five percent of all the money we've made so far.." Said Alis after peeking at the parchment which Edmund was holding.

    "We have started with nothing just week a ago.. It won't be a problem.. Just be sure to use the remaining money to pay for the people's work. I'll find a way to get back the money by dealing with the fire treasure." Responded Daniel calmly.

    The reason why they needed to put money to participate, was part of one of the regulations of the collective.

    Once a perfect treasure was found, the company that possessed it could sell it to the collective. The collective would then use it as a prize for the next editions of the games.

    The money that the companies would spend in order to join, were simply part of the payment that the collective owed to the company that had found the treasure in the first place.

    In this case, about twelve hundred companies had decided to join the game, and since the price for a perfect fire treasure was set to sixty thousand perfect crystals, the price to join in was fifty for each company.

    If more companies were to join in, the excess money would be re distributed, and returned to the companies.

    "Are you sure that they can make it?.. I've went back into the records of the previous games, and there were always a few cultivators with a surprisingly high amount of talent.. Jerigh and Roley are talented, but don't think that their talents are unique.. Especially Roley's.." Said Der with a matter-of-fact tone.

    He was right. The world they were in contained trillions of people, and thanks to their connection to distant worlds, they were much more evolved than the people from Daniel's original world.

    Prodigies would certainly be born once in a hundred thousand people.. Or even one every million, but when seen in proportion to such a large number, it meat that there were possibly hundreds of people in that world alone, which could be considered prodigies.

    Even if half of them died at a young age, and ninety-nine percent of the remaining never got to learn about their talent, one person was all it took to lose the competition.

    Despite this reasoning, Daniel appeared calm. In his head, a large window had appeared.

    ____________________________

    Group of the Karmic System's Wielder.

    Name: Group of the Karmic System's Wielder (Provisory)

    Number of members (Details): 19,808

    Overall Karma: 921,595,223

    Karmic effects:

    Karma X Luck (Group)

    Karmic Aura Lv.150

    Time is Precious Lv.60 (Group)

    Reap What You've Sown (Group)

    Group Base (Basic-Unused)

    Universal Compass

    ____________________________

    Shared Karmic effects (Details)

    Reputation (Details)

    ____________________________

    "If you could see what I can see, you would not worry about people more talented than them appearing.." Muttered Daniel to himself. He then opened his eyes, and said "Send the two of them into the pocket dimension.. Have them spend the next few days raising their comprehension.."

    -----

    It was now late evening, and Daniel was sitting once again in balcony, right outside of his room. He was slowly massaging his temples with his fingertips to try to ease the headache that had been torturing him for the rest of the day.

    Suddenly, a faint smile appeared on his pained face, before he said "Don't stay there.. Join me.."

    From behind him, the familiar slender silhouette of Alesia passed by him, and occupied the seat next to him.

    "How are you doing?" She asked with a worried tone.

    "I'm doing fine.. Just a hint of an headache.. There is just so much to think about, to do.. It's getting to me." Responded Daniel with a bit of resignation in his voice.

    "One problem at a time.. We can solve anything." Said Alesia with reassurance.

    Daniel lowered his hands, and after looking at her worried face, he smiled, and said "You're right. I just need to close my eyes for a bit.. I know that we don't need to sleep much.. But I kind of miss it.."

    "I'll let you sleep then.." Said Alesia while preparing to get up from her chair and leave.

    Before she could get up, Daniel said "Wait, stay.. I didn't mean that I wanted to sleep now."

    After hearing Daniel's words, Alesia made herself comfortable on her chair once again.

    The two stayed in silence for a few seconds.

    It was only after she noticed Daniel move his long hair away from his face, that she turned to look at him, and said "Your hair have become too long.. Would you like me to cut them for you?"

    "Do you know how to?" Asked Daniel with a hint of worry.

    "Of course." She responded with pride.

    Daniel looked at her prideful face, and couldn't help but smile. He had no choice but to accept. "Okay.."

    After Daniel accepted her offer, Alesia got up from her chair, and took a couple of steps closer to Daniel's seat. She then sat on his armrest, and made a small knife appear in her hand.

    One lock at a time, she started to cut Daniel's hair.

    Daniel kept quiet for awhile, looking at her focused expression, and her attentive movements.

    It didn't take long for him to close his eyes, and feel Alesia's perfume enter his nostrils as she came closer.. Her long platinum blonde hair brushing against his face as she tried to cut the hair in the back of his head.. Her breath on his skin..

    Before long, Daniel reached a point where his mind was about to drift into the sweet embrace of sleep.

    Right after feeling something soft press against his lips, he gradually fell asleep.

    -----

    When Daniel woke up, he was alone in his balcony. The sky within the pocket dimension was clear, and gave the hundreds of thousand of inhabitants the warm feeling of a peaceful morning.

    He looked at the clear blue sky, and brushed his fingers through his now short hair. Then, he disappeared from where he was standing.

    When he reappeared, he was inside of a dark metallic cave.

    The place was cold, and empty. The only things present, were the metallic sphere in the middle of the den, and an extremely cold wind that glided over the metallic walls and cooled the place continuously.

    Suddenly, a series of red flashes illuminated the area.

    Daniel turned around, and running towards him, he saw Wolfie, which had grown up in its wolf-like shape, and was now in the middle between a wolf cub, and an adult wolf.

    Of course, Daniel was aware that elementals would grow a knowledge of the world the same way humans did. On the other hand, they grew in power thanks to the natural element of which they were made of.

    The presence of a perfect metallic sphere had granted him a chance to grow faster, but unfortunately, did not help his mentality to age as well.

    "Hey pup.. How are you?"
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