Editor: Areth Kyntaul
“Normally speaking, we don’t conduct deals at night. The flame of candles cannot pour the Goddess’ fairness onto the scale. Night is the easiest time to fabricate things, so we don’t deal at night, as legitimate merchants. Especially when it comes to business that involves a scale. As such, if you want to buy something, it is best that you wait until tomorrow morning.” The boss sat across from us, looking tired.
We went to look for the food merchant at night. We got to see him, directly thanks to our identity.
I didn’t intend to buy anything. I just wanted to say something.
Leah held the water in front of her in her hands and took small sips.
Veirya maintained an erect posture throughout, even now. She wouldn’t touch the food the person opposite her served up.
I was hoping she’d have some so that I’d have less work.
I looked at the boss opposite me and softly said, “It’s all right. I didn’t come here to buy anything, this time. I just wanted to say something to you.”
“Oh?” The boss smiled and then asked, “What do you have to say?”
“The cats outside of your warehouse are quite plump.” I smiled and leaned forward. I then whispered in a slow and soft tone, “Leah really liked those cats. They were very furry and warm.”
“Yeah! Yeah! There really were so many cats there! And they were all very cute! Papa, I want to raise one.”
“When we get back, Papa will get you one.” I sat back and gently rubbed Leah’s head.
Leah didn’t know what happened, but the boss was scared silly in his chair. His face looked visibly pale and shocked under the flame of the candle. Beads of sweat revealed themselves on his forehead.
I smiled while looking at him. I then quietly said, “But you do not need to worry. I have not told anyone about this. However, you should know what I am after, right? Not even gods can see what we do at night. Nobody will know if you sell food to us.”
The boss trembled, as he picked up his handkerchief to wipe the sweat off of his forehead. He then picked up the cup of water at the side and had several gulps before regaining his composure.
He then pursed his lips into a hopeless smile and said, “Did you find out…? But you can understand, right? We only make a very little bit of money at this time and there is no famine in the city, right? So, so we have not done anything wrong, have we?”
I made an open hand gesture like I didn’t care, and with a smile said, “Calm down. I am not an officer here to investigate you. I’m just a customer here to buy food. What you do has nothing to do with me. But I should be able to purchase food from you without any hitches, right? Ten silver coins for one bag. I want twenty bags. I want to load them onto the carriage tomorrow.”
In all fairness, the merchant wasn’t wrong to do that. After all, storing food like this was a way for food merchants to make money. Further, there’s no rule saying he can’t raise his prices, so under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t resort to threatening him like this.
Things are different now, though. There’s no law to watch over him now, either. All I had to do was spread the news that he wasn’t selling food. It would incite the angry people to come and rob him, the same way as what happened to the young girl.
That’s why he had to guard his warehouse well. He wasn’t concerned about having his food robbed, but having his food discovered.
He stood up, and I noticed blood slowly circulated to his face again. He looked at me and continued, “Since you have discovered it, I have no need to lie to you anymore. Please follow me.”
I stood up with suspicion, while Veirya went on alert and pressed her hand on her sword handle.
The boss didn’t seem to mind, however. We descended the stairs together. The boss took out a book and handed it to us.
With a helpless smile, he explained, “This is our book. Our imported and exported food is recorded here clearly. Take a look for yourself.”
I took the book and opened it. While some food has been imported recently, they’ve basically sold all their food. In other words, they can’t hoard food during this period.
However, based on the increase in prices, it doesn’t appear as though the boss is lying. The price is, indeed, steep.
It looks like the so-called people in the south, who have food, are hoarding it and refusing to sell, as well. This truly infuriates the people subjected to its impact and makes them suffer. But you can’t attack them for it.
One thing that I did notice, though, was that all of their food was imported from one store called Visete. It looks like this store may be a branch of Visete Company.
I continued flipping through. I then pressed the book onto the table aggressively and exclaimed, “You only had fifty bags of food in your warehouse before?!”
“That’s right. Because the city was once attacked, and the chance of Lord Veirya slaying the Demon King being an uncertainty, the business moved all of the assets out of this city as an insurance policy. I, therefore, only have fifty bags of food.”
“We did not have an opportunity to restock afterwards, either.”
“As such, I cannot sell you the amount you have requested, even if you know about our warehouse situation, as I only have so much food on hand.”
The boss shrugged with an open hand gesture. He looked at me as if to say, ‘I don’t care, we can all die together.’
I looked at him and clenched my teeth. It looks like he planned for what to do if I uncovered his lie.
‘You conniving snake.’
While it was dangerous to be exposed, he knew that I couldn’t threaten him with it, because he only has so much food on his hands.
“I can sell you ten bags. That is the most I can sell you.”
He shook his head hopelessly. He explained, “The most lacking good in the north, right now, is food. However, the food from the south is a long way away from reaching here. Her Majesty left it with us to carry out disaster relief, but what can we do? I think we will have to wring ourselves out for a batch first, and then use rotten food, thereafter, to deal with it.”
“She’s relying on merchants for disaster relief?! That’s impossible. The goal of a merchant is to make money, while disaster relief costs money. It’s impossible for merchants to be willing to spend money to selflessly help out. She’s relying on merchants when she should be relying on the nation’s strength?!”
“There is no helping it, though. The only people that can be depended on, right now, are us. I, honestly, cannot help you with your food issue. Please return. If you want, I can sell you ten bags.”
The merchant shook his head.
Leah looked at me a little fearfully and grabbed hold of my hand tightly.
I stood in place and clenched my fist tightly.
The merchant turned around to leave. Indeed, he was no longer needed now. I found out everything here, but this knowledge is meaningless. The food in the town should almost be out by now. I must bring food back tomorrow, or else the town will become like this place.
‘What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?’
‘I know how severe the current situation is now. I know how hopeless the situation is now. But what other options do I have? Think! Think! Think! What can I do?! Hurry up and think!’
‘What else can I do? Even the warehouse is out now, so forget the city’s warehouse. The food in the city’s warehouse is for the citizens here. Without food, the people in the city will become the same as the people outside the city. No, what’s scarier is that without food, Veirya and Leah will become like them, too. The townsfolk might even do something.’
‘Leah’s only home would be no more.’
‘So who still has food on hand right now?’ I thought to myself silently for a moment. ‘It’s pointless to stand here spacing out.’
“Let’s go, Veirya, Leah. Come with me to the military camp, again.”
I wiped my sweat on my forehead.
The merchant had wiped his head previously, and now it was my turn.
‘I’m out of ways to back out. Even if my chance of success is unknown, I must try. Wait, no. This is no longer a test. I must succeed. Otherwise, forget providing Leah with a future; Leah won’t even have a tomorrow. I must win this time for Leah’s sake!