I thought the food merchant would understand Queen Sisi’s significance, would support her and easily take action as Achilles does. I thought he’d offer everything he had for Sisi. He didn’t reveal any unnecessary expressions. He remained leisure and didn’t even look up. He was in front of the individual who wielded the most power in the empire, yet he was casual and composed when he refused to obey her command because of his bottom line and reputation as a businessman.
Credibility was everything to businessmen in the city, especially in the era we were in. That was also why we didn’t have to worry about being conned in agreements or contracts. In an era with marketing, a businessman’s reputation determined whether he’d make it or break it in the world. Without credibility, he wouldn’t have a source for his goods nor would he have customers.
I understood how important it was to a businessman, but I also knew of their nature. I knew that they were people who could abandon anything for money. It was my first time meeting someone who considered reputation their first priority. Perhaps the businessmen I came into contact with were all businessmen similar to Achilles, who considered the Queen as the top priority and rarely came across businessmen similar to the food merchant. Achilles credibility lied with ensuring the Queen had a full treasury; thus, he wasn’t a businessman through and through.
The merchant seemed only a touch surprised for he wasn’t quite sure why we were so surprised. Apparently, his decision was supposed to be the universal response. I was speechless. Scratch that; I was somewhat perplexed.
All businessmen have their own stance that they steadfast in. That remains true even when faced with Sisi. They may not stand to gain anything from that stance. As a matter of fact, they might make a loss from the gain they pursue, yet they still persist on it.
My mind drifted off: “If businessmen all have their stances, then what about me? Veirya… What about my feelings for Sisi? Do my feelings for Veirya change so easily? We lived together for so long. Am I going to forget Veirya after that one incident? Is that truly right of me to do? Is the love I speak of with every breath as firm as I claim it to be? Have I given up after one ring? Does the ring truly represent something? The merchant stood firm in his stance when faced to face with Sisi, but what about me?”
Sisi was puzzled as to why I was stumped with just that. She touched my hand to help me calm down. Then, she proposed , “Simple, then. You can opt to not personally show yourself. We will buy a batch of food and a few carriages from you. Once the carriages enter the city at night, send them back out in a cyclic fashion, subsequently creating the impression that a large volume of food is being shipped out. What do you think?”
“I do not mind that but under the condition that it does not leave from my place.”
The man gave the impression that he had made the biggest compromise already. I bobbed my head.
“Let us do that, then. We will prepare everything necessary. Your Majesty, where do you wish the food to be sent to?”
Queen Sisi pointed to a spot on the map, which the merchant approved of. Queen Sisi then chuckled: “You are a merchant, one who sells food, at that. You should know not to pry into anything else, I would assume. You know what I am talking about, so I don’t need to explicate it, right?”
I silently stood up, Sisi hanging onto my arm. I wrote an invoice then left. We ran into a small bump, but it ended well.
“Are you all right, Dongqing? I feel as though you aren’t in good condition,” remarked Sisi, in a concerned voice while supporting my body. “Are you rushing things too much, coming out today? You haven’t fully recovered, have you…? Let’s go back so you can rest now. Don’t let anything happen to you.”
“No… I didn’t perform too well just now,” I replied, with a shake of my head. “Just now, my mind was totally blank, so I didn’t know what to say. You did great, Sisi. That’s a good plan…”
“No, there’s no need for you to praise me. You could’ve come up with it, too. You just look a little sluggish, though,” noted Sisi, as she touched my face. “Have a good rest. I know lots of relaxing places for you to rest. You can go to the hot spring on the mountain or anywhere you like. We’ve pretty much set everything up now, so leave the rest to me.”
“No, I’m a bit worried if I leave everything to you. I’m not worried that you’ll trip up; I’m worried about you.”
Sisi stroked my head: “You don’t need to worry in that case, for there are good things with us being together. After all, if one of us isn’t in tip top condition, the other one can cover for us. If we work together, we can definitely resolve any problem with ease.”
I calmed myself down a little and stopped thinking about Veirya for the meantime. I had chosen Sisi, so if I continued thinking about Veirya, then I’d be scum. What was crucial right now was focusing on the matter at hand, not Veirya.
“Sisi is next to me, not Veirya. Remember that,” I told myself.
So, next up, Sisi and I had to find people; anyone would do. Of course, we couldn’t take that too literally. It was best if we could find people who could spread rumours comparably to a wildfire. The question, therefore, was where would the breeding ground for rumours be and where would the most gullible people be?
Bars were breeding grounds for rumours. Plus, the rumours from them were often perceived to be true. I couldn’t explain the reason for the phenomenon, but it was the place we needed. That was precisely why I didn’t feel assured with Sisi going alone.
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