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 The shop was fully stocked with armaments since I had spent so much time forging cursed weapons. I decided to make cursed weapons my shop's specialty. My normal devil armaments were still weak.

But my Curse Dao was strong! Every weapon had a powerful effect with a curse attached to it. The mischievous cat turned out to be a good salesman. Hawking off my cursed weapons left and right.

He swindled the local halflings well. Making them spend much more than these cursed weapons were worth. I gave him full management rights to the shop.

The cat had survived a long time in the depths of the Wesser Forest. He knew how to pull the wool over people's eyes. He even swindled me to be his chef. My shop was left in his despicable paws.

This young devil lord should find an apprentice to make weapons. Even though I was away from my clan, my mindset as a lord who rightfully ruled the masses had not changed. I must have loyal lackeys! The Hudson Estate is just the most stable place for [Libra] to develop. That doesn't mean I can't recruit new ones.

At the Hudson Estate they had the Wesser Forest to explore and were not in danger of being invaded by other powers. If my organization traveled with me, it would stifle their progress.

I decided to take in an apprentice! I sought one who could learn my specialty of blacksmithing and curses. I put up a sign on my shop window 'blacksmith seeks capable apprentice'. Maybe this devil can teach a halfling my craft.

I did not receive the overwhelming amount of applicants; I thought. It turned out the local halflings were afraid of me! They bought my cursed weapons, but I had a reputation of a murderous devil.

That damned Osmin! He must be spreading rumors about this veritable young devil lord after feeling my \u003cHollow Aura\u003e.

I am a righteous, honest, hard-working devil! I only cleansed one pocket world. How could this honest young devil be the murderous type?

I immediately headed to Osmin's office to get him to squash these rumors. An honest, handsome young devil lord like me can not have falsehoods spread about.

"Osmin, you have been speaking ill of this young devil lord?" I said.

"Of course not your grace. I told the local halflings that you should never be offended! A devil such as yourself should be respected," said Osmin.

Osmin felt he was in hot water. Of course, he was the one who had spread the rumors. As soon as he got the chance he let his community know.

'We must buy from the devil smith, he is a bloodthirsty murderer. If his weapons don't sell, he might slaughter our town!' Osmin told the other halflings.

None of the halflings even wanted Soulless' cursed wares, however, they patronized his business to maintain the status quo. Even paying the ridiculous prices the 'evil cat', as they had dubbed him, would spout out.

"Know your place halfling, this young devil lord needs an apprentice. Send me the most talented halfling you know to learn my craft," I said.

"Devil, this is not fair!" said Osmin.

He felt like this devil was coming to take his firstborn! How were halflings supposed to send their most talented descendant to the claws of this devil?

"It is their serendipity to learn from this young devil," I said as I released my \u003cHollow Aura\u003e.

"I expect an apprentice at my door by tomorrow morning."

I turned around and left burning Osmin's papers once again. Short and direct was the best way to deal with puny halflings.

~~~

Osmin gathered the local halflings for a forum after meeting with Soulless.

That damn devil! Does he think papers I keep on my desk are just for show?

"That devil is mad! He wants our firstborn!" said Osmin after explaining the situation.

"How can Viscount Xanoth let some random devil bully us?" asked one elderly halfling.

Osmin frowned, he knew his dark mistress told him to 'Treat the devil well and make sure his needs are met'. But taking their firstborn, this was crossing the line!

"My dark mistress told me to make sure his needs are met until she can make time to visit our small city," said Osmin.

"We must send him someone, how about that girl Alura, she was promising but her parents were lost at sea," said one hook-nosed halfling.

"She should rightfully be sacrificed for our community! Our orphanage has fed her for years, it's now time for her to repay us," said another.

"Yes, this will work," said Osmin.

Sacrificing an orphan instead of sending some elders talented descendant. It was the perfect compromise.

~~~

The next day I saw a pitiful halfling girl outside my shop. She was trembling for some reason. I guess it might be a little chilly outside. Silly mortal still affected by the elements.

I looked her up and down.

What was once a dress is now nothing more than dirty pieces of fabric barely held together, hanging from her shoulders like a discarded old towel.

A big piece has been ripped from the right side and there are holes all over, leaving much of her exposed to the elements.

She's wearing an old coat over her dress. It's almost the right size, but dirty, smelly, and torn, but at least it helps her stay protected from the wind, even if only for a little.

Her pants are in terrible shape as well. The left side is torn up and nothing more than a bunch of shreds. But at least she has shoes to protect her feet. Although they're old, a size too big and a hole in the sole of the left shoe lets in water and dirt.

She wears a scarf around her neck and has it wrapped around her face to just below the nose. It's worn out, but still holding together.

Her head is covered by a beanie, there was once a small pompom on the top, but all that's left now is an insignificant piece of yarn.

"What's your name, little girl?" I said as circled flames around her to warm her up, this young devil lord's apprentice can't freeze outside his door.

I stared deeply into her eyes, peering into her soul.

"My... My... My..." she attempted to say, before falling over crying.

"Hey! You scared her Soulless," said Sybil as she fluttered around the pitiful halfling.

"How could she fear this righteous young devil lord?" I said, removing my flames.

"Listen! Come with me, little girl. I'll make sure he doesn't bully you," said Sybil.

She wiped the tears off her eyes. Seeing the beautiful pixie made her feel better.

"O... Okay," said the pitiful girl as she followed the pixie.

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