After asking his question, Daz released his Archreaper's Aura, giving both Bruce and Jerry a chance to breathe.
Esmerelda exhaled a sigh and then quietly returned to Mu's front shirt pocket while the four suspicious cacti stopped shivering, though one had fallen over.
Glancing over at the four disguised people, Daz silently apologised to them in thought, 'They seem like decent people if my instincts are enough to go off of. I'll handle them after I've dealt with these two.'
Bruce was holding his head as he calmed himself down via heavy breathing. "I've never sweat so much in my entire life before... It was like I was looking at God himself..." the short orc muttered.
Jerry simply got back up onto his feet and resumed combing his hair and moustache. 'It would be rude of me to say my piece now since he's clearly still busy thinking on some things and considering his options. It would be unfair of me to sway his opinion by talking, now wouldn't it? Ohohoho...'
Daz stroked his chin calmly. For some reason, he had a feeling that he should ask the system about the tremendously expensive upgrade that he'd just purchased. His instincts and wisdom both seemed to agree that doing so would be a smart move.
'Hey, system, out of curiosity, can anyone alter Earth, and whoever can, are they able to alter it however many times they wish?' Daz asked.
Ruby-level system access is required for that knowledge. Confirmed access level of the host to be emerald-level.
Confirmed. Only sovereign-candidates may alter their homeworld, and they may only do so once. Further alterations and upgrades may only be purchased once the sovereign-candidate becomes the official sovereign of their homeworld.
'Huh? And I'm one of those candidates, but didn't know about it? Well, the system does tend to not tell you anything until you ask it...' Daz held his jawline curiously. 'So, system, can you tell me how many people on Earth are sovereign-candidates, and how many know that they are, please?' Daz requested.
Sapphire-level system access is required for that knowledge. Confirmed access level of the host to be emerald-level.
Confirmed. There are currently  sovereign-candidates, of which,  are aware of their status as sovereign-candidates.
'Father is absolutely one of them... System, can you tell me who they are and if any of them have also used their chance to change the world yet?' Daz hopefully asked.
Diamond-level system access is required for that knowledge. Confirmed access level of the host to be emerald-level.
Denied. That information is restricted to you.
"Damn," the young reaper exclaimed audibly. 'So diamond-level is for rank one on the merit ranking? That bastard... Just how many points does he even have?'
Daz spent a few more seconds thinking over this matter but ultimately decided to drop it. His instincts weren't giving him any concrete answers, and neither would the system, so, instead, he turned his attention to the two men that were now calmly standing in front of him - one far more awkwardly than the other.
"So, what do you two plan on doing now?" Daz asked to gauge their responses.
Jerry stayed silent as he smiled. Clearly, he was giving Bruce the chance to speak first.
"Um, well, you won't kill us?" the orc asked with a bit of uncertainty and hope in his voice.
Daz shook his head. "I definitely want you as a citizen, Bruce. Jerry, I'm not so sure about," he said as he stared at the suited man. "What are your intentions, Jerry?"
Nodding faintly and twirling his curly moustache, the man answered, "Please, King Daz, I implore you to look at my status. I've nothing to hide from you. I'm a simple businessman, and I feel I have much to gain by aligning myself with you, so, if you'd have Bruce and myself, we'd be more than willing to serve you."
'He knows I'm a king? That's interesting... Well, I got the City Creation Token, but this guy's not a lord, so I wonder how he found out that I got over 10,000 citizens?' Daz asked himself as he pulled up the man's status with The Crystal Digger's Master Identification.
|Jeremiah Merits' Status|
|Name:||Jeremiah Merit||Species:||Human (beginning stages of evolving)|
|A very rare and very skilled merchant of all things.|
Jeremiah Merit - formerly Jeremiah McAdams - is the son of a very infamous marriage scammer, and due to this, he has inherited a lot of his father's talents.
Unlike his father, Jeremiah has always tried his utmost to stay on the correct side of the law ever since he stepped onto the stage known as adulthood. His motto upon reaching said adulthood has been and remains to earn as much money as possible while staying within the bounds of the law.
Perhaps had his father not been arrested and given life in prison when Jeremiah was but a teenager, he'd have eventually followed in the man's exact footsteps.
Now in this new age of the system's coming, Jeremiah is eager to put his talents to good use in earning as many merit points as is humanly possible for him.
He is the champion of the God of Merits.
|Charisma:||[LR] 4,000(4,800)||Charm:||[LR] 3,500(4,200)|
|Wisdom:||[LR] 2,000(2,600)||Wit:||[LR] 2,300|
|Dexterity:||[LR] 1,100||Luck:||[LR] 3,000|
|Fate:||[LR] 2,500||Intelligence:||[LR] 1,600|
|Patience:||[LR] 2,100||Ingenuity:||[LR] 3,400|
"Wow. All of your stats are maxed?" Daz asked.
There were a few things of note on Jeremiah's status, namely three things; first, his class, second, the fact that he was a champion, and lastly, his absurdly high stats. He could find out about the former two easily enough, but he felt it would be wise to ask about the third thing of interest for further clarification.
Smiling slyly, the suited man nodded his head. "Indeed. As a man who is so well-versed in the language of money, it was the first thing that I simply knew I had to do. After all, what businessman worth his weight in salt can't haggle with the best, and negotiate with the worst? Money doesn't discriminate, King Daz, and as a respectable purveyor of all things merit-related, nor should I."
Daz found himself unconsciously nodding. It took him a second to realise that he'd been swayed by the man's words and high stats. 'Dangerous. I'm immune to soul and charm magic, but his raw stats could potentially have me agreeing to whatever he wants if I'm not on my guard. Dangerous, yes, but also incredibly valuable... Is this what other people feel like when I use my Legendary Gift of The Gab skill on them?'
Daz wore a welcoming smile. "Well, consider yourselves hired. I'll have jobs for both of you back in Waterford, but for now, can you help me with the sinkhole? It's fine if you can't. I should be able to manage on my own, but the easier the job is, the better."
Bruce shook his head with a bit of worry while Jeremiah stuck his hand out. "Let's shake on an informal agreement, shall we? I don't think we can help in this matter, but as you said, I'm confident you can handle this all on your own. In the meantime, I shall draw up the first draft of an official contract offer I have for you."
Bruce nodded. "Uh, I'll stand guard? It's not likely anyone will come here soon, but you never know, Jeremy might have contacted Boss before he, uh, died..."
"Sounds good," Daz replied as he firmly grasped Jerry's hand, but didn't put in too much strength since the man hadn't upgraded his lifeforce at all.
Closing his eyes and wrapping his other hand around his and Daz's handshake, the curly-moustached snake-oil salesman-lookalike grinned. "Lovely. Please, from now on, call me Master Merit. I'm in your very capable hands now, My King."
Going back a little bit, just after Daz had cancelled his Archreaper's Aura, Antoine sighed very loudly in his family's telepathic link.
'That was insane! I almost lost control of our disguises!... Thank God the skill requires minimal concentration to maintain, 'cause if it didn't, we'd be exposed right now,' he said as he imagined wiping away the sweat on his face, unfortunately, he looked like a cactus right now, so he couldn't risk moving.
Ignoring him, the shortest standing cactus - Granny Jesabelle, spoke in a worry-filled tone. 'Are you okay, Sweetie? Try not to move. You're doing great by keeping the channel open, so don't try to do anything else, okay?'
The cactus that had fallen over trembled very lightly, but it seemed like Daz nor his friend had noticed, luckily. 'U-Um, I'll try... I... I think I wet myself... I'm all sticky. I'm uncomfortable. I-I wanna leave...'
'Me too, Sasha,' the last of the cacti - Rebecca - said. 'I can't believe how easily he killed Jeremy... That guy was a real big shot in Vegas, wasn't he?'
'Mmm, he was. I think he was, what, the third strongest person there? Only falling behind Amanda and Mayor Reeves,' Antoine replied.
Creasing her brow, Jesabelle made a decision. 'He's being lenient and kind to those two goons, and we haven't done anything wrong yet, well, maybe sitting here all disguised and whatnot, but I think he'll be nice if we reveal ourselves. Let's offer him a hand and maybe he'll take us in? You saw what he did with those other scavengers, right?'
'I'm okay with that, Nana,' Rebecca answered. While she was a little bit scared of how willing Daz was to kill someone, she was more impressed than anything else at how independent and firm he was.
Antoine held some reservations, but his mother had never led him astray thus far, so he agreed. 'Sure. I still have that short-range teleporter, and it's got a few uses left, so we can leave if we really have to. We'll be perfectly safe.'
In truth, he didn't believe that at all. The only reason he'd said that was to comfort Sasha. 'I wish we could just stay here and keep hiding until he leaves, but there's no way he didn't notice Sasha falling over. He's just willfully ignoring us, and for all I know, he could have plans for us since we're super suspicious. It's not her fault since she's just a kid, but it was a bad idea to bring her along for this quest...'
Sasha gave a weak but positive response, so Antione cancelled the effects of his skill, revealing him and his family to Daz.
As Daz was finalizing his plans on how he would stop the sinkhole, the four cacti disappeared, being replaced by two dark-skinned people a little older than himself, a young girl fair-skinned who seemed to be about six or seven, and lastly, an elderly woman with even lighter-skin who was easily in her late sixties, perhaps her early seventies.
Replacing his ponderous expression with a more relaxed one, Daz spoke to the four, "You guys finally decided to reveal yourselves? I'm glad. I didn't want things to get violent when I eventually called out to you."
All four of them were nervous, the child especially. Bruce seemed incredibly surprised at a group of people appearing out of seemingly nowhere while Master Merit and Mu had impassive looks on their faces.
Frowning softly at the lack of a response from them, Daz decided to be a little bit manipulative. Naturally, the good kind of manipulative. 'System, please give me a big bag of assorted candy. Ah, make sure it isn't harmful to teeth but is still just as tasty as normal candy.'
|Confirmed. The desired item exists. Food item: [F-rank 4lb Assorted Bag of Earthian Candy (modified to avoid dental damage)]. Price: 10 merit point. Confirm purchase?|
'Confirm,' Daz answered. At that price, it might as well have been free as far as the reaper was concerned.
A big clear bag with colourful pictures and words all over it appeared in the reaper's hands. It was filled to the brim with all sorts of lollies and candies and Daz held it out as he crouched down.
|The total merit balance of the host is now: 103,369,082 [-10].|
Looking right at the little girl, Daz smiled warmly. "This is for you. You don't need to be so scared, I'm not going to bite you."
She seemed a bit hesitant, but seeing that her family wasn't stopping her, Sasha dashed forwards and grabbed the bag. She then tried to run back to her family, but Daz lightly grabbed her arm.
"System, clean her, please," he asked, much to everyone's surprise.
The system did as it was told after Daz had confirmed the purchase of a full cleaning service on another host.
|The total merit balance of the host is now: 103,363,582 [-5,500].|
The girl's soiled underwear and shorts quickly dried and became refreshed. a surprised look crossed her face. Daz just let go of her arm and gently patted her head. "We don't want you getting a rash, now do we?"
"T-Thanks," the girl mumbled as she smiled a little then returned to her family and hid behind her grandmother's legs with only her head poking out.
"You are very welcome. Those candies won't hurt your teeth by the way, so enjoy them," Daz said in a friendly voice as he put his hands on his knees and stood back up. "Well, do you guys mind if I check out your statuses? You seem like good people if your bright souls are anything to go by, so I imagine you also wanna stop the sinkhole?" Daz asked.
'He's got a soft spot for children? Or maybe he was just trying to show that he's not such a bad person after that display with Jeremy? Regardless, this is a good outcome so far for us.' Jesabelle seemed relieved. "Please, go ahead, Sonny."
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