Two days after I had met with Relic, the representatives of all the companies that had opened business here in Avalon had gathered in a meeting room within my residence.
The masters of these companies were normally not around and entrusted the operation of their businesses to their subordinates but for this meeting, even they were present.
The appeal of using the sky to travel was so great that I thought it wouldn’t have been surprising if these merchants hurried here using the fastest horses they had as soon as they heard about my proposal.
I could sympathize with them though since aside from not being overly burdened with taxes, they would have access to the fastest mode of transportation and thus gain as much profit as possible.
Even its downside which was the less volume per trip could be worked around so long as one transported light but highly valuable goods such as spices—which were considered valuable in this world—and jewelry.
When it neared the expected time and I saw that the number of people gathered neared the expected amount, I decided to begin and stood up.
“Hello everyone. I have explained it before to the master of the Relic company but let me do so again: the delivery of goods through the sky is now made possible here in our city of Avalon. I would like to provide this service to all that had contributed greatly to Avalon. By that I mean only to those that have opened a store here in Avalon.”
Their eyes all gathered on me. These were all influential people who managed their own companies and as to be expected of their stares, it held quite the force. It would be an exaggeration to say theirs wouldn’t lose out to any lower noble’s stare.
“I wouldn’t dare to waste anyone’s time so let me demonstrate to you all how exactly you are going to conquer the skies. Please follow me.”
The merchants agreed and followed me somewhere outside of Avalon.
The place I guided the merchants to was an open field that wasn’t a part of my dungeon anymore. Over there, we found some Dwarf Smiths and the Hippogriffs they were taking care of.
A Hippogriff was a monster that had the body of a horse—only a size larger—and a head that seemed like an eagle’s.
Seeing those monsters, the merchants were frozen in place.
I then wondered how worse their reactions could have gotten if these were perhaps the Darkness Dragons. Considering that the dragons’ special ability, Fear, was constantly being released, I had guessed that there were two likely outcomes: if we’re lucky, the merchants would simply faint; if we’re not, their mental health would be severely affected.
“Please be at ease, everyone. These are all very well trained creatures. If you weren’t aware, Avalon is a city where demi-humans persecuted everywhere else have come to gather. Among those children, one girl was from a village where the training of these Hippogriffs was popular. And so, I present to you the Hippogriffs expertly tamed and trained by that girl. Aside from being obedient, these creatures are capable of understanding human speech. I assure you they are far easier and safer to use than horses.”
Upon hearing me, the merchants hesitantly approached the Hippogriffs.
And then, one of them dared to pat one of the creatures in the head. The said Hippogriff then reacted by narrowing its eyes and raising a voice that suggested that it was pleased.
The merchants that saw that then one after the other patted the Hippogriffs and smiled.
It seemed like they had accustomed themselves sooner than I had initially predicted.
Other than the Hippogriffs, we had also prepared what would appear like carriages but with no tires and that had some kind of implement attached to it.
That was a smaller version of what was to be used for the transportation of the Avalon-Ritters.
“Now then, everyone, you might have already guessed it but the means of transport that I am proposing is going to be achieved by letting these guys fly and pull these cargo carriers. It’s as simple as that.”
One of the merchants raised his hand and requested permission to ask a question.
I urged him to go on and then listened to him.
“How much is its maximum carry load?”
“Those cargo carriers can hold up to 500 Kg.”
Considering horse-drawn carriages could carry a thousand kilograms, the 500Kg load capacity was small. To compensate for that, however, was the Hippogriffs and their ability to fly.
“Do those monsters have enough strength to carry that?”
“Yes, they are monsters, after all, so despite what their appearance might suggest, they are incredibly strong. No horse could ever hope to compete with them.”
That said, I myself was a little dissatisfied with them. To be a part of the aerial combat corps, they needed to be able to transport 10 Avalon-Ritters at a high speed. If they could only carry 500 kilograms, that would mean they could only carry up to two Avalon-Ritters at a time whereas the Darkness Dragons could carry ten and were still faster.
“How fast are they?”
“Under no load, they could fly somewhere around 300 kilometers in one hour. If under full load, somewhere around 200 kilometers in an hour. It can go on flying without rest for two hours and if a half-hour break is taken afterwards, it can do three two-hour trips. However, if you do try to maximize and make three two-hour trips, please let it rest for six hours afterwards.”
The merchants were so astonished, they left their mouths hang open.
It was a perfectly natural response though considering that horses were far slower. Even on a well-paved road, they would still take an hour to cover 15 kilometers. On a poorly-paved road, they would be lucky to cover 10 kilometers. To add further insult to injury, if they were to gallop for an hour, they would have to take a rest after that. The most it could travel in a day was somewhere around 50 kilometers.
But when compared to the Darkness Dragons, the Hippogriffs were the far slower ones: the dragons, while carrying 10 Avalon-Ritters, could travel at the speed of sound.
“Their maximum load capacity may be half of a horse-drawn carriage but to make up for it, these guys, under full load, can cover in an hour the distance that would take the horses four days to traverse. Or, put in a grander scale, they will be able to fly through a month’s worth of distance in a day’s time. Moreover, since they are using the sky, they follow shortest and most direct path possible which makes them all the more efficient. Up there, there’s no need to worry about obstacles, poorly paved roads, or even bandits.”
Upon hearing the details, they wracked their brains with their calculations. For all I know, they could have thought of more advantages to the Hippogriffs that even I failed to imagine.
“Hiring adventurers to guard the horse-drawn carriages, taking days… these will soon be things of the past.”
“I definitely want it! Oh, all the profit I can get!”
The eyes of all the merchants changed hue to reflect their fascination with the Hippogriffs.
And then, one of them spoke out.
“I have no complaints with all of those specifications, I’m happy even, but are they truly and completely safe? That is the only thing that concerns me. In the first place, how can I make it listen to what I say?”
“That is a very valid concern. Then, why don’t we actually procure a product? Is there anybody here who was planning to procure something from a place within four days’ worth of travelling? Together with me, we can get to that place within an hour if we use the Hippogriff.”
As to be expected, there was no one readily accepting of something that was quite unknown.
When I worried that I might have pushed too hard, one of the merchants raised his hand. He was Relic, the representative of the Relic Company whom I met with two days prior.
Of course it’s him, I thought. He was special even among the merchants. He was both decisive and courageous. He was also one of the very first ones to operate in Avalon as well as one of the highest grossing ones.
“Then, I’ll go. I was thinking of wanting to be the very first one to experience this anyway. I’ve got just the right place too. In the mountains, there lies a village that grows the cows that give the highest quality beef. But since it’s in the mountains and doesn’t have any great roads that lead to it, buying the meat is troublesome, to say the least. Via the sky, however, things should get far easier.”
“Understood. Let’s go there, then.”
And so, I had the merchant Relic seated into a Hippogriff. The harness he used was something that was made by the Dwarf Smiths. Their craftsmanship might be inferior to an Elder Dwarf but their works were still far superior to any human’s work.
Metal snap hooks were also attached to prevent the rider from falling in the case he let go of his grip.
“To everyone staying behind, these girls will be discussing how to ride the Hippogriffs so please do give them your attention. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask them. Once the discussion is over, feel free to head back. I’m sure Relic-san will relay to you all his impressions on using the Hippogriffs as soon as he returns so please look forward to that.”
The other merchants nodded and began to ask the Dwarf Smiths various questions.
I then turned toward Relic.
“Hoh, this feels quite pleasant to ride.”
“I’ll now attach the load carrier to the Hippogriff.”
Upon saying so, I connected the snap hooks from the Hippogriff’s harness to the carrier. After it made a clinking sound, it was done.
“Well then, let’s go.”
I then seated myself behind the merchant.
“How do I control it?”
“Your words will do. So long as the instructions are simple, they will understand and follow it. Firstly, please instruct it to fly.”
The Hippogriff issued a chirping sound and began to dash for a very short while to gain momentum and then jumped up. Its short dash pulled the cords attached to the carrier and, as it flew, so too did the carrier.
Hippogriffs were not creatures that flew through the use of wings. Rather, they flew through the use of magic power. That meant that wind was not as big as a factor to them.
Also, through special magic-power-conducting cords, magic ran through the carrier as well, causing them to be suspended in the air.
Like that, our air trip began.
“This… this is amazing! Haha! The wind feels good. The scenery looks great. Ahh. So this is the sky!”
The merchant was ecstatic and seemed to be enjoying our air trip.
The Hippogriff’s ability pushed aside the incoming wind so we didn’t feel any coldness or strong wind pressure up there. It was an extremely comfortable ride.
That said, it was the merchant’s first time at a very high altitude so I thought he was going to be a little a little frightened.
I then waved my hand to the back.
The air shook as Aura flew and followed us using her wind magic. She also carried her anti-materiel rifle on her back.
Once again, the air shook but this time, it was for her to vanish from sight. She did so via her magic that allowed her to bend the visible light in her surroundings.
It was very rare for Demon Lords to send out their important fighting force outside of their dungeons. It was also extremely unlikely to be attacked up in the sky except under very special circumstances. At the moment though, I and my city were being targeted. So, just to be sure, I had Aura stealthily follow us to act us our guard.
“Relic-san, I don’t know where our destination is so please instruct the Hippogriff about it. The basic commands you might want to say is for it to: gain or lose altitude; veer to the right or left; speed up or down; and land. This child will still understand what you say so please don’t hesitate issue it commands, even if they aren’t one of those I’ve mentioned.”
“What!? It’s so easy to use then. This is the most enjoyable ride I have ever had. I don’t think I can travel by horse ever again.”
Still ecstatic, Relic instructed the Hippogriff. In return, it gave a clear response to his words and changed directions. Bemused by that, Relic kept giving it various commands to which the Hippogriff honestly responded to.
And so, we reached the village in the mountains—which would have taken horses four days to travel—in less than hour.
Relic then quickly traded with the villagers. He bought a cow; paid an additional fee for a quicker service; and loaded it along with dairy products into a cart he requested from the villagers.
“Hahaha! The shipping expenses used to always be many times higher than the cows themselves! I had to pay for the regular salaries as well as the hazard pay of the coachmen and the guards for a roundtrip journey of ten days! All that however won’t be need anymore! To be able to buy the highest quality beef for this low total price, it’s a miracle! Once we return, let my shop treat you to some of these for a price I’m sure you’ll like. Ahh, what else should I use this miraculous transportation method on? Which should I buy? The jewels in the islands on other side of the sea? The spices in the south? Or maybe other specialty products from faraway lands that have too many checkpoints between here and there. My dreams have expanded!”
He truly was in a good mood as he watched the goods being loaded into the carrier.
If he was that ecstatic, I was sure his explanation to the other merchants about the charms of this method would be enthusiastic as well.
Once the loading was finished, we made our way back. Without even taking a total of three hours, we were able to return to Avalon with the carrier full of the highest quality beef.
As soon as we returned, the merchants flooded toward us.
It seemed like they were surprised that we returned in such a short time. Apparently, that village was well-known among the merchants, so it would seem our record-breaking travel time conveyed just how amazing the Hippogriffs were.
Relic then talked to the other merchants and his excitement spread to them as well. When I noticed it, all the merchants before were there. When he finished talking, I took it as a good chance to give some good last push.
“As you can see, the Hippogriffs have displayed immense potential in increasing the flow of goods. Currently, there are twenty Hippogriffs here in Avalon and that number is expected to increase in the future. The only requirement we seek is that you operate a shop here and that shop’s sales have surpassed a certain amount. We will be lending only one out to each company on a first come, first served basis.”
I then informed them of the specific amount. Generally, the stores here could easily exceed that amount and thus clear my requirement but for stores that were more of a hobby, it might not be so easy.
This prevented fake stores from making use of the Hippogriffs.
“Also, the longest time you can rent a Hippogriff will be for four days. After four days have passed, wherever it may be, the Hippogriff will return to Avalon on its own so any attempts to steal it will be useless. No time extension will be given. The next reservation shall be the one prioritized so to use the service again, please queue up once more.”
The merchants were allowed to do use the Hippogriffs in any transaction, even those that didn’t involve Avalon, but only for a set amount of time. Even though the service is limited, they should still be able to gain more than enough profits.
It was important to force these merchants to periodically return to Avalon. After all, no merchant was stupid enough to return here with an empty load. That meant that upon their return, they would also bring back goods they were going to sell in Avalon.
And since I was basically requiring them to sell the products they returned with, those products they procured from all over the world would gather in Avalon.
Moreover, since our city’s tariffs were so low it might as well have been free, it would drive the cost of their products to go lower than any other place.
In summary, Avalon would become the best city in the world filled with the most number of fascinating products from all over the world that are offered at very cheap prices.
If all went well, the city’s population would grow many times over.
Such was my true purpose on introducing air travel via the Hippogriffs. …that being said, there was still a lot to do before that is realized.
“Additionally, in the event you lose the carrier, you will be banned from using the Hippogriffs for a year. A fine of an amount depending on the severity of your fault will also be pressed on you.”
To increase the load the Hippogriffs could carry even if only a little, the carriers were made of ultra-lightweight carbon developed by Rorono.
Even if it was purely a carrier and nothing more, it was still highly valuable. Unless I made it clear now, some would probably try to sell it elsewhere.
“And so, that concludes today’s introduction to the Hippogriffs. From tomorrow onwards, we will begin lending out the Hippogriffs so, to all whose earnings for last month have already exceeded our required amount, please do give them a try. To those that didn’t clear our requirement, note that this appraisal will be done each month so do aim to improve your sales to be able to make use of this service next month. Well then, if you’ll excuse me.”
After that speech, I left the place.
All that was left was to see what course of action the merchants were going to take. At the very least, I thought it unlikely that they were going to pull out of Avalon for the moment.
Nevertheless, the neighboring city’s harassments had begun.
The day that they completely get tired of waiting on us would soon come, I suspected.
Once I complete my needed pieces though, we’re rock solid.
“Finally, only three more days.”
After three more days, I would have obtained the final piece I needed: a [Creation] medal.
Or more precisely, a spy monster made using my [Creation] medal.
I had made Kuina with Fire, Rorono with Earth, and Aura with Wind. For the next monster, I would have completed the Four Great Elements by making a monster using the Water medal.
“I’m so excited for it. Though I just hope the next monster would be a good kid like Kuina and the others.”
I smiled as I made my way back.