Perhaps Angelina was right, in that I wasn’t someone who could sit still. When I decided to play Edward’s game, it was as if flowers in a dull garden had bloomed. I had my beloved woman and daughter. I was able to blissfully stay by their sides. However, after finally having something to do, I was extremely excited. You could say that I was finally complete.
I had to make a trip to the city. I wanted to spend more time with Leah and Veirya, so I never went. As I decided to join the party, though, I had to go and get and loan with the share I had. Next, I needed to hold a shareholders meeting. I needed to know how many shares each person possessed. I could buy as much as they had. Selling shares was a concept that had yet to exist in this world, so there was no odd lot sold on the market. That being the case, I needed to talk to the businessmen, and buy the coal.
“I need to make a trip to the city. Before Edward comes looking for me again, I need to head into the city. It shouldn’t take long. I’ll take Ross along to let him gain some experience. Leah, Veirya, you two stay at home. I’ll be back soon.” I explained my intention to Leah and Veirya at breakfast.
Leah froze at first but then smiled with joy: “All right, Papa. Leah will be a good girl.”
“You. Must. Be careful.” Veirya hesitated for a moment before speaking. Apparently, she needed to pick and choose her words for just that.
I gave them a nod.
Ross’ ears instantly stood up and almost dropped the bread. He trembled: “What…? Y-You want to bring me?! You are bringing me?!”
“Yes. You need to experience it in the flesh. Otherwise, you want be able to stay calm in their presence, in turn making it impossible for you to be a good businessman. You’re not some servant; you’re now my pupil. They consider you one of the best pupils. Have some confidence in yourself.”
Ross was actually a quick learner and toiled diligently without complaining. While he was lanky and frail, he never complained to Anna. He did his best to complete all of the tasks Anna assigned him. If Ross wasn’t Achilles spy or whatever but a disciple I took in, I’d definitely appreciate the diligent cat.
“You truly cannot sit still,” remarked the Elven Queen, who sat next to me, giggling as she pressed her hand on mine.
I noticed Leah’s odd expression. Veirya stared at us the entire time, too. I caught a glimpse of the spreading knife in her hand… I was seriously worried that she might suddenly nail my hand onto the table with it…
“If I sit still, we might no longer have what we have.”
I carefully pulled my hand out. The elven pursed her lips into a smile and said no more.
“I. Think it’s better. That I follow you.”
“Who will take care of Leah if you come, as well?”
I hopelessly smiled. Leah and Veirya could remain rational beside me, but I couldn’t remain rational around Veirya. I never knew why. Fear, perhaps? If Veirya and I left, Leah would revert to her yandere mode. That’s not to mention what Sophia had taught her. She might really do something… If I brought Leah and Veirya along, conversely, what would that be considered? I should be focussing on business, not a family vacation. At the very least, I must show respect.
Veirya nodded. We finished breakfast. I wasn’t in a rush. I had enough time to think and write Sisi a letter. It was best that I had Sisi behind me as my shield because I’d be in peril when the businessmen were incensed.
I rejected Sisi, but I trusted she wouldn’t harm me. I knew she loved me. Yes, taking advantage of her love wasn’t exactly nice, but I pledged my loyalty to her in return. I was definitely going to move to the imperial capital after this job to protect her and acquire everything she wanted. I knew that I was trying to justify my actions. Unfortunately, that was the best I could do.
Sitting at the table, I considered what the biggest threat I could face was.
I analysed, “Will Achilles get involved? What about the bank? Achilles isn’t an issue, so the biggest issue is the bank president. I know for sure Edward took a loan from the bank using his own shares. Assuming the bank president has realised the potential gains – which I’m certain he has – he’ll join the fray in his own name. He wouldn’t be short on money. How should I get that conniving president? How many shares would he have?
“Odd lots are easy to obtain. I’d just need to create the impression that workers couldn’t get to work on the mine and it was about to go bankrupt. That would result in lots of smaller business demanding Edward to refund their shares. If that happened and Edward didn’t have enough to refund them, he’d be done for. Every business has the right to refund their shares as long as they give up on the year’s profit. Edward would have to pay cash. If he didn’t, the law and the chamber of commerce would punish him. He’d lose everything as a businessman. Accordingly, Edward has to enough money to get through the ordeal. That would make it the best opportunity for me to strike.’
“My most useful weapon at the moment is my five thousand gold coins. It’s difficult for businessmen to get five thousand gold coins in cash. Despite Achilles being excellent in business, not even he would be able to whip out enough cash in one go. I, however, have enough to procure a large number of odd lots.
“As long as I can stop the coal mine from being sold or they can’t make money from it, then everything should fall into place. That will lead to the businessmen abandoning their shares. Now, how do I sell the coal? What do I do? I need to think of something. Stopping them from extracting coal is out of the question for that would be too obvious.”
I exited my thoughts upon hearing knocks at the door. Anna opened the door. Edward came in with a sack. As soon as he entered, his eyes started scouring the interior. Coincidentally, Leah happened to be cheerfully coming downstairs with books in hand. The cheerful girl wanted to run up to me and have me spoil her before leaving. As soon as she saw Edward, she quickly turned into a classy girl as the diplomat taught her. She bunched up her skirt and made a small bow with a smile: “Good morning, Mr. Edward.”
Edward cleared his throat and averted his gaze. He responded in a quiet voice, “Uhm, good morning.”
Leah gave me a kiss on my cheek and smiled: “Papa, I shall go and study now.”
“Uhm, go on, Leah.”
I rubbed Leah’s head then kissed her forehead prior to her leaving the room. Edward stared at her back for a long time. I didn’t particularly care since Leah was a succubus; plus, she had become more and more charming recently. I didn’t blame him.
Edward turned around and placed the sack on the table. I gave him a grin: “What, you want to bribe me now? I doubt you know what I want, though, right? What I want is Leah and Veirya. I don’t need you to give me anything.”
“That’s why I did not buy anything for you,” replied Edward. He chuckled as he took out a few bits of aesthetic material from the sack. With a smile, he explained, “I brought this from the imperial capital. It is the best material around. This beautiful material suits your wife and daughter’s beauty. This is not for you; it is for your wife and daughter.”
“Yeah? Well, I shall accept it on their behalf.”
It was totally fine for me to accept some material. I wasn’t an official. Therefore, it wasn’t illegal for me to accept bribes. Such small gifts between businessmen weren’t considered capital. Additionally, the act of accepting it was a hint for Edward. Basically, I hinted that I might accept his proposal.
Unsurprisingly, Edward chuckled: “Can I understand that as you having changed your mind? I do not know the reason, but you seem to be willing to budge now.”
“I have to put food on the table for the family, after all. I’m also a shareholder now. Give me your book. While you’re at it, I hope you can set up a meeting to let me meet the others. I need to get acquainted with them. I’m fine with meeting them in the imperial capital or whatever, but I must see them.”
“Easy done. In saying that, you might have to make a trip to the imperial capital. If you were there, things would be much easier.”
“I’ll go, eventually.”
Edward was on cloud nine, convinced I fell for his trap.
“Is his plan to let me get involved with his business? This is an extremely profitable business. Why… is he letting me in…?” I deliberated.
Birdy, Birdy, I love watching you fly. I love your look when you fly freely, but I like seeing you weep in my hands better… Come… let me pluck all of your feathers so that all you can do is quiver and weep in my hands…
Come, Birdy… come… I’ll hug you. I’ll give you all of my warmth! Come! Come! Little Birdy! I’ve prepared a cage for you! Hurry on in!
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