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189 A Coincidence or Not?

    Night town, two thousand kilometers from the capital.

    Built at the feet of a mountain, and around the territory of a solitary family, Night town was placed at the crossing point between four of the most important cities within the region.

    It housed thousands of people, and despite the lack of walls and governmental authority, it was one of the safest places in the entire planet. Untouched by bandits, and beast tribes ever since it had been founded.

    This relatively small town was mostly filled with shops, and branches of many groups which dealt in the search of alchemical materials, or the invention and production of instruments for alchemy.

    Despite the relatively small size of the family which governed the town, most people did not dare to question its hegemony on the territory around the mountain.

    Built on the wall of the mountain was the territory of the Navi family, and at the very peak of the mountain, was a large old fashioned building.

    Inside of this building was what looked like a large room where numerous middle aged and old men and women were gathered around a young girl.

    This young girl was holding what each and every spectator of the collective's games would have recognized as the prize for the champion.. A perfect fire treasure.

    This girl was the same one that had ordered for Alesia to be poisoned, and that had conducted the exchange with Daniel for the perfect fire treasure.

    Of the people around her, the majority were focused on looking at the perfect treasure. Only an old woman quietly sat on her chair in silence, and observed from the distance.

    "This is going to give our family a lot of prestige in the poisonous rose.." Said a middle-aged man with an extremely dark tan, and fingers blackened by the recent failures in alchemy testing.

    ".. Why can't our family keep it? I don't understand.." Said an extremely short black-robed woman from the tanned man's side.

    After hearing the short woman's words, a stout man with a blue cloak that covered his body from the shoulders down to his feet, said "Because it's the rules of the poisonous rose.. The various families will pay us back, but we can't keep the treasure.."

    "Alana.." Said the old woman, causing each and every person that were previously eager to say their opinion to quieten down. "Tell me about the exchange.. I want to know what happened."

    Alana was, of course, the name of Serf's vicious sister.

    "Grandmother, everything went smoothly.. What else do you want to know?" She responded with a feigned confusion. Her voice trembled slightly.. It was clear that she feared her grandmother greatly.

    The old woman quietened for a moment, then said "I will give you a few seconds to rearrange your memories and tell me what really happened.. I won't repeat myself after that."

    A shiver ran down Alana's back, which lowered her head, and said with fear "The kid changed the terms at the last moment.. He wanted an alchemical ingredient instead of a portion of the money.."

    "And why is that?" asked the old woman with a low tone.

    Alana quietened down for a few seconds, then, after gathering some courage, said "I thought that I could have saved the cost of the item by simply killing the guy, so I've used the poison of our family.. But Serf was there, and cured him."

    Her tone was filled with disbelief and distress.

    "He saved him, and caused the exchange to be delayed.. Fortunately, he didn't reveal that it was his own family's, or we would have lost the chance to make the exchange.." She then added.

    The old woman looked directly at Alana's eyes, and said "Go on.."

    "He asked for the saliva of a two hundred years old green-skinned snake.." Responded Alana plainly.

    The brows of a few of the oldest people furrowed at the mention of the name of the ingredient.

    The old woman asked with a hint of agitation in her voice "Did he say why he was looking for a two hundred years old green-skinned snake?"

    Surprised by her grandma's exaggerated reaction, Alana said "I.. I don't think so.. I think that Serf might have been trying to produce a calming pill for him, but he was totally wrong in listing the right type of materials.."

    "And do you know why Serf has used the connections of our family to obtain the saliva of a fifty years old white-scaled snake?" Asked the old woman with clear confusion.

    After hearing the old woman's words, the faces of a few more people, along with the oldest people in the hall, twisted in confusion.

    "Aunt.." Said the tanned man, and attracting the attention of the old woman. "Aren't those two ingredients.." He then added, letting the end of the phrase die out in his throat.

    "Yes.. two of the three poisons listed in the notes left by the inventor of the Poison of the Night Blue Thorn.. My mother." Responded the old woman with a hint of disbelief.

    "How is that possible? There is no way that Serf could have known exactly which ingredients we know are part of the lost cure.." Said one of the middle aged women with deep confusion.

    "It might just be a coincidence.."

    "Or one of us didn't keep their mouth shut.."

    The buzzing of discussion started to reverberate in the room, until finally, the old woman tapped the armchair of her chair, and shutted them up once again by saying "Enough!"

    She then stood up weakly, and said "As you all know, of the original recipe of the poison, we have only salvaged four ingredients, and only a small amount of the details about the remaining three.. The reach of the kid's company is regional, so, it won't be a problem to monitor them.. Make a list of the locations where the poison samples of ten years old black opal snakes, and red carp scales are sold, and if his group enters in possession of any of the two, report to me immediately."

    After hearing the old woman's words, the majority of the cultivators present in the room left, leaving only a few of the oldest family members, Alana, and her grandmother.

    "Grandmother, what is going on?" Said Alana with deep confusion.

    The old woman looked at her, and said "Send someone to observe the kid.. And report if you find anything odd.."

    Daniel had obtained two of the seven items needed to make a cure for the poison of their family, and while one item could pass as a coincidence, two were already starting to look suspicious.

    If his company were to encounter a third of the four items, that would be too much of a coincidence to be believable, and they would be forced to consider the possibility that Daniel might be onto something.

    -----

    Back in the capital, Daniel and Serf were quietly observing an impressively large tank filled with water, inside which, thousands of small fishe floated in unison, following each other's motion.

    These fishe were about five centimeters long, had colors which spanned from blue to purple, and had a body entirely covered in small thorns.

    Every now and then one of these fishe would swell to the size of a human's head, and force small needles to come out from the tip of these thorns, causing the various fishe that surrounded them to die instantly.

    Once dead, the first fish would go back to its normal size, and the nearby members of the shoal would feed off of their fallen comrades.

    These fishe possessed cannibalistic tendencies even despite the large number of different fishe present in the tank, and were known as 'Colored Puffer Fishe'.

    "How many, and which ones do you want?" Asked a man with relatively large guts, which wore classic fisherman's clothes.

    Daniel and Serf were now at a place called "The Aquarium", which was basically a market where one could find ingredients, food, and materials that were only found in seas, lakes, and oceans.

    "What do you think?" Daniel asked to Serf with curiosity.

    Serf turned to look at the shoal of colored puffed fishe, and said "This was the most particular of the ingredients of the black pill.. The poison gets stronger the closer they get to a purplish color. My family uses the blue ones.."

    "If you have to use them for cooking, I suggest you get a purple one.. The difficulty of cooking it is the same, but they taste much better. Hehehe.." Said the fisherman before letting out an awkward laugh.

    After looking attentively for a few minutes, Daniel pointed at a specific point in the tank, and said "That one.. The indigo one."

    "The indigo one?" Asked the fisherman with confusion. He was a simple fisherman.. He was not used to hearing the names of fancy colors.

    Daniel ignored the man's confusion, and instead, manipulated the water around the Indigo Puffer Fish, and pulled it out of the tank. He then paid the fisherman, and left the aquarium with Serf.

    -----

    One hour later, at the entrance of the 'Superior Alchemy' academy.

    While walking towards their room, Serf turned to look at Daniel, and said "Usually, we use the scales of finless carps as seventh ingredient.. Is that what we are going to buy next?"

    A faint smile appeared on Daniel's face, right before saying "So now you're interested? I thought you didn't care about the antidote of your family's poison.. Hehe.."

    "Maybe a bit.. Look, every single family in the poisonous rose is focused on designing a poison which can bring glory to their family.. And death to billions of people.. Our family is different. We are the only family focused on finding an antidote for the poison we already have. If actually finding a poison didn't mean giving more power to a family of mass murderers.. I would be a lot more enthusiast about this." Said Serf with a defeatist tone.

    "It seems to me that for you, the best case scenario would be to join another group.. And for your family to lose power and credibility.." Muttered Daniel with a tone just high enough for Serf to hear it.

    Without turning to look back at him, Serf said "maybe.."

    "I see you haven't stopped badmouthing our family, brother." Said a melodious voice from around the corner, just before a young girl walked into Daniel and Serf's field of view.

    Naturally, Serf recognized this voice way before his sister appeared from the corner.

    "Don't be silly, sister.." Said Serf after approaching Alana along with Daniel, and stopping right in front of her.

    Alana turned to look at Daniel, and after looking him up and down once, she looked back at Serf, and said "Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?"

    "Of course.." Responded Serf through gritted teeth. "This is my friend Daniel.. He is the head of the Golden Karma company.. You should have heard about him, our family just concluded an exchange for the prize of the collective's games.."

    A large smile appeared on Alana's face, as she feigned a big deal of realization. She then moved her hand towards Daniel, and said "Of course I have heard of him.. The youngest, most talented.. And definitely the most handsome company head we have seen in a long time."

    Serf was about to say something to prevent Daniel from touching Alana's hand, but he immediately froze when he noticed that Daniel had simply shook her hand without a problem.

    For the next few seconds, Serf expected that Daniel would drop dead at any moment, but fortunately, that never happened.

    "I never knew that Serf had a sister, it is a pleasure to meet you." Responded Daniel with a bright smile.

    After the presentation, Alana looked at the two and said "So, what were you two up to in this fine evening?"

    "I have bothered your brother to accompany me to the aquarium.. I had something to buy." Responded Daniel plainly.

    "Oh, I love the aquarium! What were you looking for?" She asked in response.

    "A purple puffer fish.. I have heard that they taste great."
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