Author's notes: counting down the days until I have internet again. Only now that is gone do I realize how much I actually use it.


Within the mayor's office enormous stacks of paper sat on the mayor's desk. Endless sighing and muttering could be heard from behind the stacks of paper, every now and then a sheet of paper disappearing from one stack and another sheet of paper getting added on another stack.

Suddenly loud cursing could be heard from behind the stacks of paper. "Argh! Where did all these blessed children come from! Damnit! Do they not realize the amount of extra work I get due to them?!?!? So troublesome ugh!"

KNOCK! KNOCK! Two loud knocking sounds resounded through the office. The mayor who was hidden from view by the huge stack of papers, lifted his head which was filled with a weary expression and bellowed "Enter!"

The captain of the mayor's guard, a Minotaur, entered the room.  "Milord!" The captain of the guard said before kneeling. "The beast master has returned and wishes to meet with you."

The weary expression was lifted from the mayor's face and an excited expression replaced it. He waved his sleeve and bellowed. "Why haven't you let him in yet! Go! ... Go!"

The guard immediately left and moments later the guard came back with Zaran in tow.

"Milord! I have brought the beast master!" The captain of the guard respectfully said to the mayor.

"Good. Good! Leave us!" The mayor said as he flicked his sleeve, signalling the captain of the guard to leave the two of them alone. After the guard closed the door, the mayor beckoned towards a chair and warmly and respectfully said. "Please take a seat master Zaran! I pray you bring good news?"

Stroking his beard, the mayor sat down on one of the two seats in front of the desk. Zaran followed suit and calmly said. "Well, that depends on what you might view as 'good' news. I did find the cause of the guards' disappearance and at the side I was able to fix the rat infestation problem, but the reason behind the guards' disappearance... well... I will just let this speak for itself."

Zaran took out Sir Durkhe's ring and diary and passed them over to the mayor. The mayor took the ring and diary and had a pained expression on his face. He had instantly recognized this ring as sir Durkhe's ring, one of his most strongest and most loyal guards that he had ever had at his service. Unless he had died there was no way for Zaran to have this ring. This fact caused the mayor to let out a depressed sigh.

"So he has perished after all. I feared for this." The mayor said before opening the diary. When the mayor got to the last few pages his expression turned extremely ugly to behold. "A necromancer... DARNIT! GUARDS!"

A moment later two guards stormed through the door, both kneeled and yelled "Yes milord!?".

"Go to the mages guild and tell the arch mage he is expected to be here within the hour! If he's not there the next in line! GO!" The mayor angrily yelled. After the guards left the mayor angrily said "My apologies for my sudden rage but I never knew we had a necromancer in town."

A business smile was pasted on Zaran's face. "Don't worry, I understand very well how you feel."

"These should serve as proof that I solved the rat infestation problem." Zaran calmly said as he took the rat king and queen's head from his storage ring.

"Yes, yes i-it suffises, please t-take them back i-into the ring!" The mayor said while shivers were running through his spine. "Now for the matters retaining your payment. I was so free to already draw up the buying permit. As for the monetary reward... Clearing our city from a necromancer is worth more than a measly hundred gold so I will increase the reward from a hundred to five hundred gold."

The mayor took out a scroll from his storage ring and a sack of gold and handed them over to Zaran.

Fame + 500
God's merit + 50
You have gained a level.
You have gained a level

"You're too kind mayor!" Zaran said as he accepted the rewards. "Before I take my leave, do you know of any properties for sale with a large garden and a large basement, that are in a somewhat secluded location?"

The mayor stroked his chin as he thought for a few seconds. "Hmm, there are three I know of from the top of my head that fit your requirements... Two of those are mansions and the other one is a pavilion that would more than suit your needs. If you wish I can set you up with a tour for each of the houses."

"Please do."

The mayor called for one of the maids and told her to go to the nearby broker's office and set up Zaran with a tour of each of the three properties.

Ten minutes later the maid returned. "Master, as soon as your guest is ready we may head over to the broker's office to start the tours."

"Very well, I guess it is time to say our goodbyes then." The mayor said as he stood up.

"I look forward to our next meeting, if you ever have need of my services again feel free to summon me." Zaran respectfully said.

Zaran followed the maid out and took a tour of each of the three properties. Although he did take a tour of the pavilion Zaran instantly decided that it was not what he currently wanted. While it would allow him to officially start his sword school, he felt the time was not quite right to do so. Moreover he currently preferred a mansion with at least a few bedrooms as it then could serve as a base for himself and his party. Moreover, the pavilion's price was not something he could afford at the moment.

As for the two mansions, while the two of them perfectly fitted his needs, the decision on which one to buy was rather easy as only one of the mansions was in his price range. An hour after returning to the broker's office, Zaran was the proud owner of a mansion in Virul.

The mansion was located just outside of the city walls and was positioned on a hill. A ten thousand square meter area on the top of the hill had been flattened in the past to create sufficient space for the mansion. The square area was completely enclosed within five meter tall stone walls. The single gate in the walls led to the small outer courtyard, which had access to the main gate and the guards and servant's quarters. Upon entering the main gate one would set foot within the large inner courtyard and could enter the various buildings the mansion consisted off. Like most of the other buildings in and around Virul it had a Chinese architecture.

The only reason Zaran was able to afford this mansion was because no citizen in Virul dared to set even a single foot within the villa. The place had long since been marked as haunted. If not for this, this mansion would have long been bought by someone else as the surrounding vineyards had been a more than profitable business for its first owner. Zaran had chosen not to buy the vineyards just yet but had taken the option to do at a later date, unless someone else took the opportunity to buy them before he had the chance to do so.

As for the story about the mansion being haunted, Zaran simply did not care. If a ghost wanted to come after him... then let it come! Furthermore, most ghost stories turned out to be nothing more than the howling of the wind.

The party opened the doors to the mansion and stepped inside. After everyone took a room in the house, they had a meal together and trained for a few hours before going to bed.

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