The necklace the Elven Queen handed me was but a lame, simple handmade item that commoners made. All it did was serve as a symbol for good luck. Good luck is worthless, unfortunately. If lady luck was on my side, I wouldn’t be in my pickle.
Although the necklace was useless to me and I didn’t believe in luck, I had to admit that I needed luck occasionally. I still had signed contracts with me. They were evidence that I bought the shares. However, they didn’t even have the shares to the coal mine, so it was deceit. Ruining one’s credibility and reputation as a business is courting death. I could sue them in court and resolve the matter according to the law in the imperial capital. In fact, I didn’t even need the merchant alliance to lock horns with me.
By my estimations, the merchants’ alliance had come for me. I had lost my advantage. There was no way I could combat so many businessmen on my own. See, merchants damage their so-called credibility as other merchants won’t accept one merchant shamelessly conning others. They made an exception and allied to swindle me. That meant that their evaluation of each other wouldn’t suffer any negative effects for liars don’t consider another liar a liar when they’re on the same team.
No businessman in the entire imperial capital would take my side because they all played a role in harming me. To add, they had planned it all out. They definitely had it all planned out from the very beginning. I needed to deduce where the problem started.
First and foremost, they said that a coal mine had been discovered. Then, Edward came to the North to extract the coal from the mine. I had my plan in mind from way back then; I just didn’t voice it to anyone. I only told Veirya a simplified version of my vision. I then went to the bank in the city to ask about getting a loan with collateral. I then headed further north with Francis and brought back a group of people. Next was the war with the elves. I never left the town from the beginning to the end of the war. After that, I went to the elven lands to bring Sisi back. I then reinstated her. That then brings me to this.
The span of time in between was too big. I didn’t know what went on in the North while I was busy trying to reinstate Queen Sisi. Since when did the merchants begin planning to send me into bankruptcy? No idea. Was it from when I first asked about a loan with collateral from the bank? No, I didn’t think so. I doubt they knew what I would do.
The most plausible frame of time would be after that, when I began preparations to accept the coal mine. It must’ve been around the time Edward brought me his records after I reinstated Sisi. The merchants had already begun their plans to ensnare me from then. Had I managed to be patient enough, this wouldn’t have had happened…
It was my fault for being too greedy and overconfident. It was so obvious. I should’ve realised there was a problem when I noticed the price of the coal mine sitting steady. I should’ve realised there was a problem when it was such a breeze to procure the shares. I was too overconfident that I believed I was immune to being deceived. What exactly happened…? What exactly happened to me…?
It was that letter… The letter Sisi gave me. Wait, it might not have been from Sisi. Achilles gave the letter to me, but it was on Sisi’s orders. I should’ve had doubts from back then! Why was I the only one who received the news? Sisi might never have said it. Achilles might’ve been the mastermind of the entire scam. I couldn’t consider him the good guy after he did me this favour. He was never my friend. Achilles must’ve let me go to appease his conscience. I assumed it must’ve been Achilles and the bank president’s handiwork.
I wasn’t convinced Sis would deceive me. She never lied to me before.
I had to see Sisi for she wouldn’t betray me. I couldn’t fight head to head with the merchants. I could take one on. Unfortunately, I was the one who was being ganged up on. I couldn’t beat their rocks with an egg. The biggest problem is that I was bankrupt. I needed some money to protect myself first and foremost. Not only was I going to have my belongings confiscated, but even my family would become assets for them to sell.
I pledged, “Leah, the elves, Veirya, Angelina and Anna… What other options do I have…? I must protect them,”
I leaned on the timber board but had no desire to sleep. Leah used me as a pillow to sleep. Ross slept curled up in another corner of the carriage. I could no longer tell if Ross was a blessing or a calamity for me. I couldn’t name anything bad that Ross did ever since joining me, not to mention that he gave his all to pinch my stuff back for me during the incident.
The document was the contract that Francis signed last time with me. It was a lease. It was useless, unfortunately. My name and Francis’ was on it. In other words, it was only effective between the two of us. Further, even if Francis decided to be benevolent out of the blue and buy it, it would only supply me with a few hundred gold coins.
I’d be better off treating my family to a nice meal than a few hundred gold coins, when I owe fifty-thousand gold coins. Starting a small business with a few hundred gold coins and hoping to turn the tides is asking for the impossible. First, the bank wouldn’t possibly have the patience to wait for me to reverse my situation. Second, I was a bankrupt man. Nobody would trust me, financially assist or supply me with goods to sell.
Sisi was the only one I could turn to… Having said that, I doubt she could whip out fifty thousand gold coins. I couldn’t ask her to open the national treasury for my sake as it was the empire’s money, not mine… I had no hope of repaying my debt. I planned to ask Sisi to kill them all for me. I would never abuse authority, but this time, it would be a waste to not use such a simple method. I just wanted to kill them. How that was done wasn’t something that I wanted to think about at the moment.
The carriage continued forward. I didn’t know how much longer it would take to reach the imperial capital. The moon outside was clear as if nothing ever happened. My life had crumbled down in ruins. The piece of shit world was still clear and beautiful, nonetheless. Those businessmen might be out drinking and celebrating their victory. My wife’s life was still hanging in the balance. My daughter might end up being sold off. I was finally calm. That being said, I’d unleash a flamethrower on them when I caught them.
“Don’t let me reach the imperial capital because, when I arrive, I’ll be collecting your heads with a scythe,” I inwardly asserted.
“This is it, right?” Sisi questioned as she looked at a star-shaped necklace. She threw it over to the head lady-in-waiting, who nodded in response. She bemoaned, “I’m not very enthusiastic about concerning myself with you all. Your private matters are not my business. My job is to keep the empire alive, not to fuss over a lady-in-waiting’s jewellery.”
“But the ladies-in-waiting will only behave if you give the command. This is inappropriate. This thing’s price has continued to appreciate. How could a lady-in-waiting afford it? They might begin accepting bribes just to buy it in the future. That is not good for you.”
“All right, do as you see fit, then. That said, ask a merchant to come tomorrow. I want to learn more about it.”
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