The soldiers inside the tavern were essentially the same as they were during the day. However, it was now very dark. Lots of soldiers were sitting at the table, playing a strange card game underneath the candle light. They didn’t concern themselves with me. In fact, they just casually questioned me, then let me upstairs.
“His Excellency is still discussing things with Mr. Achilles on the second floor at the moment. I can only lead you here. I don’t think I need to tell you what’s next.”
Angelina softly sighed. The look she looked at me with told me that she had given up. She went to the door and gently knocked. Footsteps could be heard approaching from within. Achilles voice came from within. He sounded somewhat irritated, “I said not to disturb us. Who is it?”
“Angelina. Miss Lucia is outside.”
“Miss Lucia? We don’t have a meeting scheduled today. Normally speaking, she shouldn’t be here.”
Achilles pulled the door open. I immediately stuck my foot into the opening, and then aggressively grabbed Achilles by his shirt at the chest. With a smile, I said, “Long-time no see, Mr. Achilles. I never thought I’d see you here… Okay, I won’t lie to you anymore. The truth is I already knew I’d find you here. To be precise, the bishop should also be here right now, right? Uhm, I see he’s present as I expected.”
Achilles was stunned. He looked at me without knowing what to do. The bishop, who was behind him, immediately got up in a panic and shouted, “Who let you in?!! Guards! Guards!!”
“Don’t do that, now. It won’t be in anyone’s favour if this escalates.”
I went inside. Angelina didn’t follow me in. I spun around and shut the door. Angelina stood outside on the stairs to stop the guards. I shoved Achilles away and sat down at the table as the two watched me with astonishment in their gaze. Lucia sat next to me. I looked at the bishop, who was opposite me, and softly chuckled, “Do I need to explain my reason for coming here?”
“It’s quite simple, really. There’s no need to think about it. You used every means to cover up what you were doing behind the scenes, but that, instead, revealed what you were doing. Lucia gave us some flavouring. You have flavouring in your food every day. So, what could a merchant and the chapel be getting together to do? I made a mistake. Mr. Achilles didn’t take the initiative to come here to trade fur, and you didn’t come here for your so-called religion. The two of you had planned out your convergence here. You came here to trade the elven flavouring. To add to that, you’re not trading with the elves, but with Lucia, alone, aren’t you? It appears that it’s a highly-profitable deal, too.”
I looked at them. Achilles came over from the door and sat down at the table. He sighed and supinated his hands with a shrug. He revealed the smile from back before and helplessly said, “Nothing we can do. We have to own up now. Indeed, we are trading flavouring. However, it’s a normal business. We’re just borrowing this place. Additionally, the reason we hid it from you was because we didn’t want to pay high taxes. We could earn big sums if we smuggled it.”
I looked at the two of them and asked, “How much can you split with Lucia?”
It would be irrational to bring up how much will be split right at the beginning, for nobody will be honest about it. They’d definitely reduce what the actual number is in order to reduce my cut. As such, I had to ask how much Lucia’s cut would be. Under normal circumstances, Lucia, who was the supplier, should get at least half. I was fine with half of what she got.
“They said they’d give me five hundred gold coins. I think that’s an appropriate sum. I need about that much.”
Lucia was forthright with me. Achilles let out a long sigh and rubbed his temples with a hopeless expression, whereas I smiled. I then said, “What I’m after is joining you. You want to retail flavouring here, so I want in. I don’t want much. Lucia can get half, I want half of what she gets. That makes it two-hundred and fifty gold coins; what do you think?”
Achilles and the bishop exchanged glances. Achilles then turned back to face me. With a smile, he said, “… Can you not take any less? Outright asking for two-hundred and fifty gold coins makes it hard on us, as well. You are just one individual, I mean, three, while we have all merchants in the North, as well as the chapel. Asking for two-hundred and fifty for you, alone, is too much.”
I resolutely shook my head, “No. Two-hundred and fifty gold coins. Mr. Achilles, you should be aware that you don’t charge people based on overhead in business. Having more mouths to feed doesn’t equate to us having to give you a bigger share, as we have fewer. It doesn’t work that way. Your earnings depend on how you do business. I provided you with the grounds to trade and, at the same time, I promise not to leak the information. In addition, I have allowed elves to trade goods with you. It’s not too much to ask for one quarter of the earnings as the lord of this land, is it?”
You can’t show sympathy in business. Money doesn’t have emotions. If you bring emotions into it, you’ll suffer both emotionally and financially. My demand was very reasonable. I couldn’t surrender a part of my earnings due to personal relations. That was my bottom-line price. I refused to budge.
Achilles let out a long sigh, “Is there no room for discussion?”
Achilles was already aware that I wasn’t being thoughtless. I’m not a simple man to deal with. You won’t be able to convince me with sympathy. Moreover, he should already be aware that I wouldn’t budge. He had no chance of persuading me.
Firstly, I could make it impossible for him to export the flavouring. Secondly, I could make it impossible for him to import it. Thirdly, I could report the deal directly to Queen Sisi. It was one-hundred percent blackmail. I had the initiative. I was joining in, and that was final. They were just trying to reduce my cut as much as possible at this stage.
“No. Two hundred and fifty. That’s as low as I’ll go. If you don’t accept it, I’ll just have to sit here and talk until you can accept it.”
The bishop had a particularly sullen expression. Achilles shrugged and hopelessly said, “We are friends at the end of the day. Two hundred is a no? Two hundred gold coins.”
“So you think that our friendship is only worth fifty gold coins?”
Achilles shook his head with a helpless smile. He held a hand out in a supinated position, “Nothing I can do. Nothing I can do. Okay, okay, okay. You actually discovered us. I must say, your observation skills are ridiculously incredible, and your ability to find the chance was perfect. I have nothing to say. I know that you are blackmailing us, but there is nothing that I can say. Two-hundred and fifty gold coins it is, then.”
“A verbal statement lacks evidence. I need a signed agreement.”
“All right, bring pen and paper.”
The bishop didn’t say a thing. Nevertheless, Achilles seemed to have given up resistance.
I laughed with satisfaction. I snatched the glass of wine in front of Achilles and raised it. I wore what I consider to be the brightest smile as I looked at everyone present. I laughed, “So then, everyone, we are now comrades. I will help you earn money, but please make sure to remember that a share of it belongs to me, Lin Dongqing!”
“Travor!” exclaimed Lucia. While Lucia didn’t seem to understand what happened, she seemed to have found the ecstasy of adventuring upon hearing that I was her comrade. She clinked cups with me. “Since we’re comrades, let’s adventure together, then!!”
Lucia wore a look of excitement, but didn’t notice Achilles bitter smile and the bishop’s furious look.