Note: I’ve changed the merchant’s name to Conanna Curtrude
With my preemptive attack, the merchant faltered.
“Oh my. Shot down before I even got the chance. For now though, could you at least listen to my proposal, please? If I sold the swords you make in this city over at Eclaba, I could sell it for as much as four times the price you’re selling it now. That is if you let me buy them in bulk even at three times the price. I think it’s a fair trade with both of us profiting.”
“I cannot approve of this deal. For reasons I will not discuss, my purpose is to gather a lot of people here in this city, even if I must do so alone. And so, I can’t sell you the swords which I use to encourage people to stop by.”
If I felt like I needed money, I could just make as much as was needed.
What was important to me was the humans themselves.
“Hmm, that’s surprising. It should be easier for you to just sell them to me in bulk and yet… Anyway, how about selling to me the process to create your swords? If you do, I’m willing to even give you a gold coin for every sword sold. Like that, your income will grow by a hundred-, no, a thousand-fold!”
His way of thinking was truly that of a merchant’s.
If I agreed to what he proposed, Avalon would earn money even if it remained idle and produced nothing.
“I’m repeating myself but I don’t intend to sell this city’s products elsewhere. No amount of money can change that.”
“Your purpose means more to you than money?”
“Gathering a lot people here and making the city develop is everything. Anything else means nothing to me.”
The merchant peered into my face and let out a sigh.
“I see. I can’t move you, not even an inch. It looks like you’re being sincere and not just bluffing.”
I nodded in silence.
“It would seem we are at an impasse. Then, let me add on an additional proposal: I would very much like it if I could open up a store of my Curtrude firm here in your city.”
As far as the city was concerned, he couldn’t propose anything better than that. Avalon lacked a great number of things. Right now, the only food being sold in Avalon were the bread, apple, and dried meat. While they may be cheap, the humans still wanted more variety.
After a long time of living here, they would also want some clothes and footwear. And while I’m at it, I think I should also open up a store that’s open at night to serve a variety of cuisines. Actually, there already were adventurers and small-time peddlers who were bringing in their own products to sell.
We didn’t have enough manpower so it was troublesome for each time we stocked up on the items that could be bought from Eclaba. But once Avalon had a store of a large firm, we would then have a steady supply of the essential items.
Most importantly, we would be freed up of worrying about those products and then be able to focus on thinking up of new ways to lure in the humans.
“I think this is a fantastic deal for Avalon, Procell-sama. As such, I would like to ask you of two things. First is about the tariff–”
“There won’t be any. You may bring in as many products as you want.”
Conanna raised his voice in his surprise.
Normally, tariffs were an important source of income. It was unheard of to forgo it.
“Are you serious?”
“Yes. Avalon shall become a place where your firm is exempt of tariffs and may trade in peace with the many people gathered. In doing so, I am hoping it would lead to an increase in the variety of items in the city that would be offered at a low price. Also, the store directly managed by Avalon will only sell products that are made with the ingredients that are produced here or from those could be bought in the city… by that I mean products made with the ingredients that could be bought from the shops that will open here in this city, hopefully including yours. If your store will also be selling dried meat, we are willing to stop doing so. But then again, it’s a different matter altogether if your store didn’t sell the items that we need.”
The merchant gulped down.
In this day and age, each city solicited tariffs from anyone bringing in goods. On the other hand, doing business outside of cities where monsters ran rampant was worrying, to say the least.
Setting up a shop in a city where one could trade safely while not paying any tariff was bound to be a very profitable business venture.
Furthermore, by saying we would only sell the things I said we would, I made it clear that merchants didn’t have to worry about competing with us who didn’t care about making profit.
Ours was a city where a lot of people gathered, that had many specialty products, and that had a lot of ability to attract crowds and yet lacked a great many things. There were countless opportunities to profit.
“Let me state my second request then.”
Conanna flashed an amazed smile.
“Before that, let me inform you that I will collect a tax of 10% of your monthly gross profits. That and nothing more.”
“Our gross profit and not our net profit? It’s still cheap. Very well, alright. Now then, I would like to set up shop as soon as possible but is it possible to purchase some land?”
“I shall provide you with an already-built building. You may renovate it your liking. It has utilities including a water well, a drainage system, and access to water from the hot spring. I will also give your firm a Silver Golem. Let it serve as my apology for not being able to procure my city’s products… at least, not from me.”
“I’m very thankful. May I inquire what you mean by that last part, Procell-sama?”
I guess it was only natural to be intrigued. If this was a normal trade, the merchant would bring in items for him to sell and on his way back, he would stock up on items he could sell on other cities. Being unable to accomplish the latter would halve his profits.
“Sooner or later, this city would have its first immigrants and when they have grown their own produce—be it the apples you’ve so praised or the high quality wheat you can’t find in any other city—the immigrants would then be able sell some to you. Also, many adventurers are bound to stop by at this city and with them are the treasures they’ve gained in the nearby dungeon. Treasures that should be up for purchase. I have no intention whatsoever to regulate the trade with these people I’ve mentioned.”
“Yes, it would seem I can indeed obtain them through those means. It’s regrettable I have no way of procuring batches of your most special swords but this should be plenty enough. And then, about that golem?”
When he asked about the golems, his eyes changed colors. A merchant would probably recognize their significance right away.
“I’m hoping you’ll let it pull your carriage instead of a horse. They may not sprint as fast as a horse but over a long distance, a Silver Golem will be able to outrun one. With its strength, it’ll allow you to load more into the carriage. It doesn’t eat, drink, or even get tired. And with its power that will rival a C rank monster, it could act as a guard too.”
Such were the appeals of a golem. Horses needed time and money to raise and look after. In times of monster attacks, they also needed to be defended.
Golems were inherently slow so I was going to give the merchant a Silver Golem to satisfy my statement.
Moreover, in this age where monsters ran rampant, it was necessary to hire adventurers as one’s guards.
A Silver Golem were able fulfill all those roles and would therefore greatly reduce the cost of transportation.
“Furthermore, I will prepare houses for the employees of your store. Though let me state one thing: they would have to pay the tax I mentioned earlier about your store: 10% of the money they’ve gained.”
My proposed terms were insanely good.
“Wait, wait a minute, Procell-sama, what, what is up with those terms!? Are you serious with those?”
“Didn’t you express it yourself? That your store would become a definite boon to my city? Hence, these terms. Consider it an investment to make my city grow, if you wish. If somehow these terms are not to your liking, feel free to turn it down for I could just offer the same deal to another firm.”
At that, the merchant flinched.
He probably thought my offer was too good to be true. And though he still doubted it, he feared for the deal to go to another’s firm.
With that in my mind, I decided to appease his.
“Conanna-san, all that said, in exchange for such a generous condition, I would like to ask for something in return.”
“I would like you to promote this city and its charms to your firm’s contacts. And also to spread the fact that we are looking to take in immigrants.”
I handed him a piece of paper.
Written on it were the things that detailed the recruitment process.
“This city won’t be composed only of adventurers passing by but also of permanent residents that we hopefully could recruit. At the moment, we are specially looking for tenant farmers to tend to the remaining unused farmlands.”
“This tax is too cheap, Procell-sama. The tenant farmers would find this most fascinating. Did you know that in Eclaba, the tax is 70% of what they could harvest? And yours is just 30%! I’m honestly wondering how this city could function with just this much of taxes.”
“Easily is my answer. Thanks, in part, to the Golems protecting our city free of charge. And also to the magic of the demi-humans who had built the various infrastructures like the waterways. It’s far cheaper this way than if humans were tasked to take care of the city.”
Naturally, making humans do both tasks would cost an unthinkable amount of money. Not to mention, we built the city in a week whereas humans would take more than a decade to do so.
“…Very well. We will make use of our contacts to disseminate the news that your city is looking for immigrants. Phew, you are sorely lacking in greed, Procell-sama. If you were to have such a mindset though, you should be able to earn a lot more.”
“Saying I’m not greedy is rude, is it not? Anyway, I am greedy. It’s just that it isn’t money that I’m greedy for.”
Conanna and I shook hands. And with that, our contract was sealed.
The distribution of goods in the city would increase right away, all while Avalon was being promoted.
If I consulted with him, he might even recommend me talented individuals.
…and a big firm such as his was sure to have some political power. To an extent, I was relying on it.
“Conanna-san, let me give you a piece of advice. Know that Avalon and I will trade with you in full honesty but also know that we will not forgive anyone who betrays us. We don’t especially mind whatever it is you do in the shadows but please be reminded that there are no secrets that could be hidden from me here in this city.”
“I understand. I will not kill the goose that lays me golden eggs.”
We then both smiled.
Afterwards, I showed him a few of the houses. He decided on which one to take and we then hammered out the details.
It was only in passing but he mentioned that aside from his store, he would also like to someday open brothels, bars, and the likes, all of which I regarded positively.
The most efficient method in business wasn’t to work hard to develop a product and then sell it. Rather, it was to prepare a place where trade could be done and let the people and merchants gathered there to do their own trading give you a part of their profits.
But then again, if I could spare it, I think I would like to open up even one restaurant, just to have fun.
At any rate, with this conclusion, my city would grow rapidly.
I saw Conanna off as he rode away on his carriage being pulled by a Silver Golem.
As a sign of our friendship, I gave it to him sooner rather than later. Should he not honor our deal and just run off with it, there would be no real damage so I did not hesitate to do so.
When I tried to get back home, I felt that something gently touched my shoulder.
“Oh, you came again?”
On my shoulder was a little blue bird.
I guessed he came to deliver a letter from [Wind] Demon Lord Stolas.
In the letter, she stated that she had also built her own dungeon, managed to lure in adventurers to it, and earned the DP that they gave. Also, as her rival, she asked, in a rather provocative manner, how I was doing.
“Ohh, nothing less from Stolas. In this short amount of time, she has managed to put together her own proper dungeon. Nevertheless, really, that fellow…”
However, halfway-through the provocative letter, it changed into a letter that seemed to say she cared for me. It detailed advice she got from her parent, the [Dragon] Demon Lord Astaroth. She also implied that in case a [War] was declared on me, she would back me up.
…I got myself a good friend indeed.
“You don’t have to worry, Stolas, everything’s going fine here as well.”
I wrote my reply to her letter as I passed through the entrance located within the [Mine] area. This entrance skillfully hidden by both Elder Dwarf and Ancient Elf led to the underground dungeon, the other face of Avalon. A dungeon designed to thoroughly annihilate anything that dare stray within.
Should anyone make it past the first room guarded by the Mithril Golems and their heavy-machine guns, they would be greeted by the Undead in their favored graveyard area in the second room.
Also there were the bread and ordnance factories.
The Skeletons diligently made bread in the bread factory while some of them continuously made bombs with the materials I produced using [Creation]. For 20 DP each, the Skeletons sure were a great addition to our workforce.
This room also had a sky and if you looked up to see it, you would find the Griffon flying there. Flying with it were the monsters two ranks below it, the rock-carrying Hippogriffs. By creating a Griffon via Synthesis, I was able to purchase D rank monsters that could fly and carry a certain load. They were convenient in various ways. It also helps that they were cheap and could be mass produced.
They were repeatedly picking up rocks from the ground and dropping it off from high in the sky.
“Okay, your training has borne fruit. You have grown incredibly precise, haven’t you? Even our air-raid unit training has gone well, huh.”
They were to serve both as shield and spear in our fighting force.
And now, my preliminary preparations were complete. It’s time to focus on the other face of Avalon for the shadows of [War] were creeping in.