I had a plan for how to proceed, but my plans hinged on my predictions being correct. Strictly speaking, my predictions were a guess. I lacked any solid evidence. A guess without evidence was useless. It’s useless in a negotiation, which meant that the most pressing matter at hand was to decide how I was going to collect the evidence. I needed information pertaining to the chapel and evidence that pertained to the merchant, Achilles.
Neither of them were pushovers. Achilles was an excellent merchant. Nothing good would come out of trying to pry the words out of his mouth. Moreover, a merchant would never do something that they wouldn’t profit from. The cake is only so big. The bigger their slice, the better. Achilles was more likely to side with the chapel in this circumstance, which in turn meant that he wouldn’t want me to get involved.
As for the chapel, it was self-explanatory. Because of Veirya’s impulsive actions at the start, our relationship with them had already been damaged. They weren’t willing to bother with us now, as they had something more important to do, which allowed us to maintain the basic level of harmony. If I was to get involved with the deal now, I’d definitely be ostracised by the chapel. They wouldn’t be willing to let me get a slice of the cake. They may very well, in fact, eliminate us.
If I considered it that way, the only way I could get involved with it was through Lucia. The lively and open-minded elf didn’t look to be very sly. I take that back. I hadn’t settled the score from when she tricked us over the food last time, but that was Veriya’s fault for being too foolish. Truthfully, Lucia wasn’t that bright. I think that the only breakthrough I’d find is through the elves. The merchant was too prudent, while the chapel was too wary. Further, my involvement would affect their profit distribution, but it should be on more peaceful terms if I went through Lucia, since I wouldn’t affect the profits she was after by too much.
The biggest question at the moment was, therefore, how to find Lucia. I believed Lucia was the one who entered the chapel at night, but I lacked evidence. I didn’t know where she was during the day, either. She was always the one who took the initiative to come to us. We had never gone and searched for her on our own accord.
Lucia wasn’t easy to find; but nonetheless, I assumed that I’d be able to get Veirya’s assistance. Since they were both adventurers, it wasn’t hard for them to find each other. Once I found Lucia, my plan could officially commence.
I wasn’t certain if the flavouring trade was legal or not. If it was illegal, I’d have a better weapon to negotiate with.
I needed to find out more; however, I didn’t know if the townsfolk could tell me. I couldn’t go see that man now. I really hoped that Lucia could fill me in. Lack of life experience here made it hard for me to even take a step. The last time I was conned was due to my lack of knowledge on the price of food, but I wasn’t going to let it happen a second time.
I didn’t go straight back this time. Instead, I walked onto the street. Beginner merchants could be found on this street. They were merchants without their own stores, so they couldn’t be considered successful merchants. From the perspective of that man, they’d be the hyena behind the pride of lions that were waiting to pick up the leftovers of the lions’ meal.
I went up to a stall. The was a stall that specifically sold grilled fish. The scent was very rich, but I wasn’t keen at the moment. I looked at the owner and with a smile, asked, “Roughly how much is it for a grilled fish?”
“One silver coin for three fish. What, you want one? These are fish that have just been caught after the ice melted. This is when they’re tastiest. You want one? If you do, four coppers will do.”
“I’ll have one, then.”
I nodded then handed him four copper coins. I took the grilled fish and had a bite. I nodded, “Not bad; but, Boss, it’d be better with flavouring. Approximately how much does flavouring from the Imperial Capital cost nowadays?”
The owner lingered. He looked at me with a very baffled gaze, “You sure sound confident. It sounds as though you plan to get into the flavouring business. That industry is not easy. While it is true that the price of flavouring is very high, the taxes for the industry are particularly high, as well. It is roughly around fifty percent. Then there is also the risk of transportation to be accounted for, which is why it is a very challenging industry. Are you not the one that is with Lord Veirya? I would not suggest making such risky investments when you already have territory. It is better to just sit back and take taxes.”
I looked at him.
Despite saying that, there is no businessman who thinks their business is too big. Everybody is greedy. It’s just that merchants are greedier than anyone else when it comes to money. They’d swarm to it even at the risk of their lives. Maybe he had considered pursuing a business in flavouring, which would explain how he knew it so well.
“So what’s the price now?”
“That, I am not sure about. I just know that it is very expensive. That said, where would you go to acquire those flavourings? The elves are unwilling to interact with us to begin with. However, I have heard that the elves are holding a meeting between elders. Who knows, they might start exporting it. I can’t say for sure, though. After all, the elves who value tradition make up the majority of them. Everybody has heard of that news, which is why I wanted to come here. I might be able to do business with them when the time comes.”
‘Oh, really? The elves internal issue is this conflict? So the so-called elders’ meeting is a discussion of whether or not to open their doors.’
I wasn’t aware of that. Merchants have a wide and very active news network, while I hadn’t even heard news of that in spite of living at the elves’ border.
‘Merchants sure are frightening.’
“Understood. If possible, I will do my best to find out about the elves’ situation, and I’ll report it to everyone.”
I looked at the owner and gave him a nod. He looked at me then picked up another two and handed them to me, “Two days ago, Lord Veirya and your child came here to my stall. They looked as though they really liked my grilled fish, so here are two for you to take back to them.”
I looked at the owner with a stunned look. In a flustered manner, I asked, “Wait…, the two of them came here? They don’t have money on them. How did they pay?! Don’t tell me they didn’t pay.”
The owner smiled helplessly, “They did not, but then an elf paid for them. I cannot ask Lord Veirya for money, right…?”
“So it was Lucia… All right, give me three, then. Give me back the copper coins I gave you before, and I’ll give you a silver coin, which covers the cost for three grilled fish. We’re all doing business at the end of the day. I’ll only have income if you have income.”
I didn’t pay attention to the owner’s thanks, for I was preoccupied with my own thinking.
‘It seems that I need to give Veirya and Leah some pocket money. I have far too little cash on me at the moment, though. Once I’ve successfully gotten my hands into this flavouring business, we’ll have our first pot of gold.’