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178 I Agree.. But Only If..

    Daniel spent the following few days directing the expansion of the company to a regional level.

    He sent his group members to most cities, where they purchased multiple shops in several location, and confirmed their position in the area.

    The reason why they were able to do that despite the massive decrease in earnings after joining the collective, was because more and more people, after becoming employee of Daniel's company, had subconsciously joined his group.

    After joining his group, each and every cultivator within the pocket dimension would receive a boost in their abilities, which also increased their speed in the production of essence spheres, and in turn, increased the cultivation resources they would receive.

    Slowly, the city within the pocket dimension was becoming richer, and its cultivators were growing more powerful by the day.

    Daniel and Alesia still attended the lessons for alchemy, as they had yet to be noticed by the people that worked as the links to 'The Poisonous Rose', within the school of which they were part of. Luckily, ever since Daniel had won the collective's games, his company had become more and more known within the 'The Superior Alchemy'.

    Simply for the fact that they were part of the school when they won, they had been given a silver patch which increased their level to that of a silver badged student, despite not having a company that operated in a continent scale.

    The school had also proposed to give them better lodgings, but both refused.

    The same had happened when word got out that Daniel wasn't a simple company heir, but the actual founder and head of their company. The school had decided to increase the level of his badge, but Daniel had decided to lie, and say that while he was indeed the founder, it was others that took care of his company..

    He wanted to advance in rank within the school not thanks to his rank, but thanks to contributions brought by his knowledge and achievements of alchemy. He knew that he would not impress the 'The Poisonous Rose' in any other way.

    Daniel had received a truly large amount of offers in the past few days. Unfortunately, most of these offers were below what he hoped to obtain.

    There were a few that offered just a bit more money than the treasure was worth, various that proposed that their company absorbed Daniel's, while also claiming that it would give his company value, and even one where the head had tried to set up marriages with heiress and heirs of continental and planetary-scaled companies.

    If the proposal was offered from a company of interplanetary level, Daniel would have accepted it in a heartbeat. After all, all of this was done for the sole purpose of going back home. If he could simply exchange the perfect treasure in exchange of being taken to their planet of origin, he would have.

    Of course, he could have offered, but he wasn't sure what people would have thought or done if they knew where he actually came from.

    There was also an additional reason for why Daniel did not request for that specifically.. He didn't know why an habitable planet as close as Daniel's world of origin had been left alone for so long, so, he did not want to end up in a bad situation without even knowing how he got in it.

    He had a lot of questions that needed an answer before he would dare to go around throwing names and pointing at directions.

    There hadn't been any offer to exchange a perfect essence treasure for another, nor an offer that could match double the value of the perfect fire treasure.

    He assumed that it would take awhile for the news to reach the various interested parties, so, he stored the second perfect treasure into the pocket dimension in which the first one was currently lying in wait, and went on with his daily life.

    -----

    Three months later.

    In the past three months, Daniel had spent most of his time taking care of his business and cultivating. After three months, he had managed to break through into the fifth stage of immortal cultivation, and had reached the mid stage of it.

    Along with a radical increase in power, his life span had also increased by another hundred and fifty years, taking him to a capacity of three hundred and fifty years of age.

    The reason why he hadn't progressed any further, was not because he lacked resources. In fact, ever since he had won the collective's games, he had gained an impressive amount of resources, and other than a portion of them being spent on the development of the group, Daniel had never found himself in the spot where he had to stop cultivating due to running out of resources.

    What he had started to lack, were karma points.

    A consumption thousands of times faster than the normal speed had started to weight on him, and since close to ten thousand points were being spent every couple of minutes he cultivated, he had started to realize that he needed to slow down, or he would run out of them soon.

    No matter how much he wanted to cultivate, to have enough points to use his most powerful weapon at least a couple of times, was his bottom line.

    On the other hand, the cultivation of his group members had rose by leaps and bounds.

    Jerigh's cultivation had already reached the late fourth stage, while Roley's, Alesia's, Edmund's, and his wife Emelnie's, were now at the early fourth stage. The lifespan of each of them had reached the two hundred years of age, just like Daniel had before breaking through to the fifth stage.

    What many of the members of Daniel's group had found out, was that reaching the ninth rank in the second path of cultivation was a joke, when done while using high or perfect crystals.

    Heimart, Alis, and Imblen had decided to grow a bit older in appearance before advancing in their cultivation. Be it birthed themselves or adopted, they all had children, and they didn't want them to grow enough to see their parents look their age.

    The same could not be said for Edmund and Emelnie, which looked like a normal middle age group, with a daughter in her twenties and an infant.

    -----

    Daniel's relationship with Alesia had evolved since the day they had spent together. A faint veil of embarrassment had tainted each and every one of their encounter after that night, and yet, in a matter of weeks, their need to see each other had increased to a point where they could do nothing but forget the embarrassment.

    They would often spend however much free time they had during the day, either by showing a friendly behaviour, or secretly behaving like a couple.

    The two of them were now walking in a large greenhouse within 'The Superior Alchemy' school. Their instructor had taken the class to study the change in behaviour and effects of the plants to temperature change, or change in environment.

    "..dicinal effect is contained in the liquids.. If left in a dry and hot place, the plant will die in a matter of hours. But that is also the only method to extract the liquid from the stem and leaves, without having to drill a hole in the root." Said Serf with a tone that seemed to show annoyance more than interest.

    "..Correct." Responded the instructor with slight surprise, before turning towards Daniel, and ask "Mr. Hiel, what about its use?"

    The tip of Daniel's finger started to glow with a white, and warm light, as he lowered himself in front of the plant, and brushed his finger over its green leaves covered in red veins. "If the liquid is injected into a person's heart, it will send periodical painful electric waves, which have a good probability of reanimating the person." He responded while looking almost obsessively at the plant.

    With a curious look, the instructor asked "What if it's used on someone whose heartbeat hasn't stopped?"

    "It will have the opposite effect, and mess up with the electric signals that our brain uses to control our entire body.. This plant is poisonous." Responded Daniel, showing an intentionally exaggerated interest for it.

    "Correct." Responded the teacher while looking at Daniel sideways. He then turned around, and walked to the next area of the greenhouse, where a furry purple-colored cactus came out of the ground, and stood still.

    "You do learn fast.." Said Serf from Daniel's side.

    Daniel chuckled and said "You seem to know an awful lot about poisonous plants as well.. Are you sure your family is only a family of alchemists?"

    While unwrapping a piece of candy and popping it into his mouth, Serf responded by saying "From my experience, there is no alchemist that doesn't become a poison master if the price is high enough.." He then turned to look at Daniel, and asked "Why? Are you interested in poisons?"

    His voice was high enough for the rest of the class to hear. The teacher was, of course, no exception.

    Daniel's expression remained calm, as he answered with a tone just as loud "Why not. The difference between poison and medicine is dosage, right? What's wrong with studying the deadly part of nature?"

    This conversation had been prepared by Daniel long ago.

    He had already assumed that one of his teachers would belong, or at the very least, would be the link to 'The Poisonous Rose', so, he had to start showing interest for poison.

    In order to do that, he needed Serf's help, otherwise he would seem too obvious and almost forced in his attempt.

    Once the teacher heard Daniel's words, he turned around, and said "While it is true that they are two sides of the same coin, and there is nothing wrong in studying them, I would keep my opinions about the righteousness of the act to myself.." He then turned around, and kept walking.

    Daniel actually had no idea if this teacher was one of those connected to the poisonous rose or not. He was simply fishing.. But the fact that the teacher hadn't scolded him, but instead had told him to avoid speaking openly about it, was actually a sign that he might have been.

    In order to make sure of it, he pushed it a step further.

    He quickly approached the teacher, and from behind him, he said with a righteous voice "I don't care if people disagree with me, or if people believes that studying poison is amoral. Even if I have to research in the dark.. A man's pursuit for knowledge shouldn't be limited to another man's morals."

    His face showed a righteous expression, as if he was the bringer of truth, and everybody else had to listen.

    A faint smile appeared on the teacher's face. He said nothing, and kept walking.

    The lesson proceeded like usual for the next two hours, then, it ended.

    After the lesson ended, Daniel was about to take his leave along with Serf and Alesia, but before he could reunite with the two, he was called by the teacher.

    "Mr. Hiel.. wait a moment please." Said the teacher with a hint of respect. It didn't matter that he was his teacher, Daniel was a prodigious company head after all.

    Daniel stopped, and turned to look at the teacher, which after approaching him, said "I have been a asked to deliver an offer to you, Mr. Hiel."

    "I am listening." Responded Daniel calmly.

    "The parent company of our school, 'The Poisonous Rose', has put me in charge to make an offer for the perfect fire treasure that we have learned ended up in your company's hands." Said the teacher before taking a small pause, and observing Daniel's reaction.

    After noticing Daniel's curiosity, he said "The company offers a hundred thousand perfect crystals."

    A dubious expression appeared on Daniel's face, before he looked at the teacher, and said "I agree, but only if they agree on demonstrating a perfect comprehension of fire to me.."
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