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"Good midday sir. How may I be of service to you today?" A young looking attendant in the recruitment agency said upon seeing Zaran enter.

Zaran took a moment to look around and inspected the recruitment agency. It was a wide and high pavilion, with two distinct wooden counters. One was named "Blood contract servants" while the other one was named "Hired servants".

After looking around for a few seconds Zaran calmly replied "I would like to know the price difference between a blood contracted servant and a hired servant."

"That really depends. Some people have outstanding debts and become blood contracts as long as you pay of their debts for them. Others willingly become blood contracts for the same price as a normal hired servant, be it with ulterior motives, for safety or for an entirely different reason. If I remember correctly, the one with the highest outstanding debt will cost you nearly hundred thousand gold to hire and the cheapest is just a yearly wage."

"A hundred thousand gold? How can someone live with a debt of a hundred thousand gold? Wouldn't the loan sharks have killed the guy by now?"

"Not if we buy off their debt. Needless to say, we only buy people off such a high debt if we deem them worth the price. Every single one of the blood contract servants you can get here that has a high debt are either extremely strong warriors,  have a rare skill, a rare bloodline or are very skilled in certain areas, like a master cook or beast master for example." The attendant said with a serene smile. "Of course the amount you have to pay is slightly higher than the original debt as we obviously are not a charity and do operate to gain a profit at the end of the day, although we do pride ourselves in the quality of our servants. So, if I understood correctly, mister is interested in acquiring a blood contract?"

"Yes I recently acquired the winery east of Virul and I am dire in need of some guards and servants. About four maids, a cook and ten guards is what I am currently in the market for." Zaran said with his usual business expression on his face.

The attendant's face was filled with shock upon hearing that Zaran was the new owner of the winery, with an extremely surprised expression she asked "The winery? That place is haunted, you are very well aware of that right? Why would you want to hire people for a haunted mansion... why would you even buy it?"

Zaran smiled wryly. "The haunting problem has been solved, which is why I am here in the first place."

"Oh, really? Well, if I may be so blunt to ask, what is the maximum price you are willing to pay for a single guard or maid?" The attendant asked with a slightly colder tone. She knew the winery was far from an expensive place and thus she concluded that Zaran was not a very wealthy customer. As she was paid based on commission, she really wanted to work with wealthy customers and not someone of Zaran's wealth. While the majority of customers that came for a servant only had a few gold at their disposal at most, she still hoped that they would at least have a few thousand gold to spend. With a commission of 5% only those amounts could make her truly happy.

Zaran swiftly opened his inventory to double check the amount of gold he had. Currently he had 1021 gold in his possession and that was after selling off all the daggers he had made a few hours ago. Instead of immediately going for the employment agency, Zaran had first made a quick detour to the auction house and and after an hour he had auctioned off all of his normal Hellweaver daggers. He had done a separate hour long auction for each of the daggers, which made him 870 gold and while he could possibly have made a much larger amount of money if he made the auctions take a longer amount of time, he needed as much money as possible now and not in twenty-four to forty-eight hours later.

"Well I am looking to spend anywhere near a thousand gold total for the fifteen servants." Zaran said as he stroked his chin. 

"A-a thousand gold? I am very sure we will be able to find more than suitable servants for that amount of gold. Please follow me sir." The assistant said with a warm tone as she led Zaran to the 'Blood contracts' counter. 

"Hello Bruno, this esteemed customer wishes to acquire some blood contracts." The assistant said to the clerk behind the counter. 

Zaran rolled his eyes as he heard the assistant speak. As if I did not notice how much your attitude changed upon hearing the winery and then again when I told you how much I was willing to spend. So fake. 

"Oh, hello May, what is he looking for then and which price range?" Bruno said with a cold smile, knowing May's attitude he instantly knew that Zaran was a rather wealthy person and that he should be somewhat cordial, however he was not pleased by May's attitude towards the average customer, hence his cold attitude towards her.

May instantly noticed how cold Bruno was to her but she did not care and replied with a warm smile. "He wishes to acquire one cook, four maids and ten guards. And the maximum price for the total of them is a thousand gold."

"Oh, that is a quite sizable amount. However, sir could you please change into your real appearance?" Bruno said after sizing up Zaran for a few seconds. 

"Very well." Zaran chuckled as he changed back to his real appearance. "How did you figure out?"

"It is part of the job as we are not allowed to sell to people who we cannot identify. Still I am surprised that you know Metamorphosis. It is quite the rare spell." The clerk calmly said. "Regardless I have a few more questions for you. For cooks, which quality of food do they need to be able to create? I do need to mention that we currently do not have a lot of high quality cooks available and the highest quality cook which can create three star dishes consecutively will cost you at least 500 gold. A two star cook will cost you at least 100 gold and a one star cook will cost you at least 10 gold. The younger the cook the more they will cost you." Bruno calmly said.

"Hmm, I would like a one star cook with the potential to grow." Zaran calmly said.

"Certainly we can do that. As for maids, we have a large variety of maids and I think it is best if you read up on the various types we are able to offer to you. So please take this scroll and tell me what types you are looking for." The clerk said as he handed Zaran a rather large scroll.

Zaran opened it and his eyes instantly went wide when he looked at the possible types. Most of the types concerned sexual preferences, like what looks, cup size, age, hair colour, eye colour, etcetera while very few types actually related to skills. After talking about it with Florance for a bit, Zaran decided on the types of maids he would choose. "I would like two young and talented battle maids, one of which is proficient in healing magic and the other in proficient in hand to hand combat and sword arts, one dependable and experienced maid and finally one young, adorable and cute maid."

"Very well, now for guards, this scroll will give you an idea as to which different types of guards we have available." The clerk said as he handed another large scroll to Zaran. This scroll was a little more normal compared to the one concerning maids and only listed battle types and the minimum and maximum price of each battle type, something which was not present on the maid scroll.

"I would like six guards proficient with the shield and spear, two archers, one mage and one berserker proficient with double blades. All of them should be ranging 18 to 25, minus one of the six shield and spear guards who needs to have the ability to lead." Zaran said after quickly glancing at the battle types listed on the scroll. "If possible I would personally like to test their skill."


"It is possible. That were all the questions I needed to ask you. Give me a moment." Bruno said as he left the counter and headed to the nearby records room. A few moments later Bruno returned and guided Zaran to a small room with solely a large table and a couple of chairs. Bruno stacked scroll after scroll on the table and then calmly said. "If there is anything you require, please ask May and she will bring it to you. After you have chosen your candidates, I will guide you to the training room and deliver you the candidates whom you wish to test." Having said that Bruno left the room.

Zaran opened the scrolls concerning the cooks and read them one by one. Every scroll held a detailed description, depicting every single important fact or detail about the cook. He quickly separated the interesting ones from the uninteresting ones and then reread the ones he thought were interesting before finally deciding on Dietrich, a twenty year old cook of the tigermen race who rose to prominence at the age of eighteen due to his very experimental style of cooking.

After reading through all the maid scrolls twice, Zaran selected a few candidates and after meeting each and everyone briefly, he ended up deciding on Annika, a slender nineteen year old fairy with green hair who had a cute and adorable face and personality and Gerti a forty-five year old bear woman who had previously been the maid of a duke of the kingdom. For battle maids, he ended up deciding on a Sandra, a nineteen year old Valkyrie and Neteri, of the fox race and who was twenty one years old.

The total cost of the maid and cooks was a mere 55 gold.

Zaran suddenly ask. "May, I was wondering if it was possible to go through the blood contracts with the cook and the maids before deciding on the guards."

"That is certainly possible, if you wait here for a few minutes I shall go notify Bruno of your decision."

___________

A few minutes later Zaran stood in front of the cook and maids with five scrolls in his hands.  

"The contract states the various obligations for both sides. After both parties sign their name in respectively the contractor's or contractee's area, the contract takes effect and the both of you will be bound by a blood contract according to the rules stipulated in the contract." May said.

After reading the contracts one by one, Zaran bit his thumb until blood appeared and then signed his name in the contractor box on each of the contracts. Afterwards the cook and maids signed their names in the contractee's box.

After the cook signed the contract, the contract lit up with a bloody glow. The glow changed into a chain and connected itself to Zaran and the cook. An intense burning sensation appeared on Zaran and the cook's heart and both grunted and grabbed their chests. Zaran was able to quickly recover himself to his usual expression, but the cook was not able to do so.

Blurgh! Bluuuuuurgh! Two mouthfuls of blood were spat up by the cook and only after the contract disintegrated was he able to slowly regain his previous composure. 

May smiled upon seeing the contract disintegrate as this meant that the contract was successfully established.

Annika's expression grew faint as she signed the contract and the pain that the burning sensation caused her made her drop to her knees as she wept out of pain. Only after a full five minutes of pure agony and after multiple mouthfuls of blood was the contract with Annika completed. After completion, Zaran stepped forward and helped her up. Annika was only able to mutter "Uhh" before she fainted in his arms. Zaran wryly smiled and said. "You may sign the contract Gerti. There's no need for me to rest or recover"

Surprisingly, Gerti's expression barely changed after she signed the contract and it was completed in mere seconds.

"Uff.." Sandra said as she signed the contract with a heavy heart. She slightly feared the contract after seeing Annika's agony. The intense burning sensation caused her to grunt momentarily before recovering her expression. Still a full minute was necessary for the completion of the contract. 

Not a second had passed after the contract with Sandra was completed and Neteri already jotted down her name on the contract. After a brief flash of the chains, the contract disintegrated.

Zaran, Dietrich and the maids all went wide eyed upon seeing this. 

"Oh, what a firm and determined heart the both of you have." May said with a surprised tone. "It is only with such an heart that the contract gets completed so quickly... If you are not determined or your hear is weak, you will suffer tremendously under the blood contract.. as shown by Dietrich and Annika."

"Oh... so it was like that?" Zaran said as he stared at Neteri with a gaze filled with interest in her.  

Noticing Zaran's smile, Neteri face slightly flushed and she winked at him while biting her lower lip. 

May coughed and with a cold tone she said. "With that done, it is about time we move on to the guards.
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