Hey everyone, hope you’re well!
We’re getting pretty close to the end of the volume, there are only 5 chapters left to this one.
Anyway, here is the chapter, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Marius excitedly set foot upon Bashtar’s soil.
His shady undertakings behind the scenes had shown great results.
He had successfully suppressed most of the merchants who were going to come participate from all over the kingdom.
Among them, there were even two merchants whose businesses were on part with the Ostmark company, but even they had been dealt with thanks to Albert’s eloquent intervention.
While Lunaria’s faction had strong support from the military, the strength of Felbell’s lied in business and domestic affairs, meaning they had great influence over bureaucrats.
Both factions were powerful, but Felbell’s faction was still holding its dominion over the world of finance with an iron fist. The merchants’ all important revenue was in their grasp.
There were a few firms that Marius hadn’t bothered to suppress, but for such small firms, opposing the Ostmark company would be akin to suicide anyway.
For the 9 minutes that followed his arrival, Marius held no doubt that the Bolivia mine was as good as his.
【”All participants in the bid, please move over to the hall.”】
Within the mansion that was far beyond what Marius expected to see in such a rural area, the participants were met by a stunningly beautiful woman.
Although she was wearing maid clothes that did not expose much of her body, Marius’ eyes were still drawn to her bewitching and round waist that lost only to the two bulges above it.
It was a clever trap.
Normally, Marius would never have neglected to use this opportunity to gather more information about the merchants he was not familiar with.
However, Marius was just a man.
There was no way he could resist the appeal of the Nosferatu pheromones Stella was using.
Before he knew it, Marius was already sitting in the hall, unaware that he had been tricked.
(What’s with me today… Still, that’s one good woman. If I can pay to get her, I’m ready to spend a good amount…)
Faced with this woman who was so beautiful that it almost felt like she ruined the balance of this remote territory, Marius could not contain his excitement.
Stella was aware that she had successfully taken hold of Marius’ desire, but her feelings were ones of pure disdain.
(Humph, insignificant man. The mere act of comparing him to my master would be impudent.)
【”I’m sorry to have kept you waiting. My name is Marika Leclerc, I will be in charge of taking today’s bids.”】
The stage for Marika’s revenge was set and ready.
【”Before the bids start, can I say a word?”】
【”―― Please do.”】
Marius’s attitude made Marika want to trample him with high heels, but she held back that urge and let him talk.
【”It’s just a proposition, so take it as you will but… Rather than selling the mithril through bids, why not consider entrusting the management of the Bolivia mine to someone outside of Bashtar?”】
Even though the mining had probably started a while ago, Bashtar’s population was abysmally small.
Not to mention that only strong, young men would be able to put their bodies through the painful labor of a miner.
With these circumstances, it was clear to Marius that they wouldn’t be able to mine much of anything.
However, the Ostmark company was one of the biggest businesses of the kingdom. They could get the manpower Bashtar needed.
That would increase Bashtar’s revenue many fold.
Marius put great emphasis on that point.
But of course, there was another side to this proposition.
If the Ostmark company was put in charge of management, that would also mean they would be able to control the scale of the mining.
Marius’ plan was to fix the quantity of mithril mined in order to grab hold of Bashtar’s lifeline.
【”That won’t be necessary. Now then, the quantity of Mithril we’ll be selling this time around is…”】
【”H-hold on! I’m making this proposition for Bashtar’s sake!”】
Having never expected his words to be given so little value, Marius raised his voice.
As the president of the Ostmark company, Marius had never been ignored before, let alone now that he answered to the marquis of Strasbourg.
Yet none of that seemed to matter.
【”The point of this gathering is to bid for the mithril. If you would like to make such propositions, please get the permission of the count first.”】
【”…You’ll regret this, lass!”】
【”If you say so.”】
Warding off Marius’s words without a care, Marika let the bidding start.
【”Well then, this is a full lot of 800 kilos of unsmelted mithril. You may start bidding.”】
Marius was glaring at Marika with a scornful sneer, not wanting to miss the moment her indifferent expression would crumble.
This quantity of Mithril could normally sell for 5000 gold coins. No, even 8000 gold coins would be a reasonable price.
Unfortunately for Bashtar, the price would not even reach 1000 gold coins today.
That was the way Marius had set things up.
【”―― Now that we’ve collected the bids, I’ll read out the highest price. The lot will go to the Gaillard company, which offered 8000 gold coins.”】
【”Hahaha, that’s too bad… Wait, 8000?!”】
Marius, whose mind had been drowned by scorn, could not help himself from screaming at the unexpectedly high price.
There were few firms that could afford to offer such a high price, yet Marius had never heard of this one.
【”You! Don’t you realize what it means to antagonize the Ostmark company?!”】
The president of the Gaillard company laughed daringly at Marius’ raging face.
【”What about the inviolable rule between us merchants that there should be no hard feelings over losing a bid? …There is an unprecedented rise in the demand for Mithril in our country, Lapland, and the rest of the northern alliance.”】
Marius’ fists were shaking.
If the company was from Lapland, there was not much Marius could do other than pester them a little.
However, it was unprecedented for merchants of another country to be invited to buy such strategically important supplies.
When he realized that, Marius switched targets to Marika.
【”You’re selling something as important as Mithril to a foreign country?! Did the count of Bashtar go mad?! Again, for your own good, redo the bid!”】
【”That’s enough from you, Ostmark, know your place!”】
【”H-how dare you. I do know my place, and soon you will too, lass!”】
【”The kingdom of Lapland and Jormungand are allies; these are the words of his majesty himself. Moreover, the little sister of the king of Lapland, her highness Frigga, went out of her way to come to Bashtar and help rebuild the territory. I feel Lapland is much more reliable than some immoral merchants waiting for any opportunity to take advantage of us to maximize their profits.”】
【”I am the person Marika is referring to. Frigga Lapland, princess of the Lapland kingdom. If you have complaints, direct them to me.”】
It was only at this moment that Frigga stepped in the hall, without trying to conceal the violent aura and anger surrounding her.
No one would ever dare criticize the princess of another country to her face.
Moreover, Frigga’s extraordinary fighting spirit was enough by itself to turn Marius into a trembling mess.
【”…M-m-my sincere apologies.”】
But this was not the end of Marius’ torment.
【”Also, did you seriously offer only 800 gold coins for this quantity of mithril? Is your judgement that bad? Know that we have no need for such incompetent merchants here. Evry merchant that partook in today’s bids is henceforth banned, save for the Gaillard company.”】
This was basically a prohibition from ever doing business on the Bashtar territory again.
Since it was a remote territory, this would be of on concern to Bashtar at all.
However, now that they had a hold on the Bolivia mine and the very lucrative business of mithril, Bashtar would undoubtedly become a great consumer and client.
As for Marius, he would be left out of any deals with them, and his reputation would be brought to the ground.
From the very start, the sole intent behind Marika’s well-structured plan had been to bring Marius down a peg.
【”I’ll use the same language you did. Are you starting to realize what it means to antagonize Bashtar?”】
The price for stressing out Marika was a heavy one indeed.
After this day, the details of the event were spread in the capital, everyone came to know what happened, and the Ostmark company lost more than half of its fortune in less than a year.
【”―― Ooh yeah, that’s the stuff!”】
Marika showed a bewitching smile, displaying a joy that might never fade.
◆ ◆ ◆
The mining of mithril had finally resumed in Bashtar, allowing everyone to earn great sums of money; it did not take long for such rumors to spread in the kingdom.
Bashtar was known as hell on earth.
Even though the hero, Kurats, had been appointed there, it seemed too early for there to be any substantial results.
However, it soon became clear that those rumors could not be more true.
Even the Ostmark company, which had no lack of fame in the capital, had rapidly lost face in the business guild after incurring the displeasure of the lord of Bashtar.
But merchants were not the type to play fair. Those who had been closely following the predicament of the Otsmark company came in flocks, one after the other, to build connections with Bashtar.
The Ostmark company lost 30% of its market in the process.
Meanwhile, tons of business came to Bashtar’s side.
Huge caravans carrying materials, horses, cattle, corn, and fruits formed lines in front of Bashtar.
Whenever a caravan left the capital, everyone assumed it was going there.
By now, everyone believed Bashtar was the site of a buried treasure.
【”Come on, come on! Don’t you want more money?”】
Cling cling cling cling.
【”Aaah, please strike me with more coins, my queen!”】
After the rumors spread, more and people started gathering in Bashtar, providing the territory with a workforce that dreamed of making easy money.
At the same time, the brainwashing that was referred to as “Marika’s solicitation” kept getting worse.
【”Iiih… Marika is going crazy….!”】
As Marika trained her bureaucrat subordinates who once were her colleagues, Clodette stepped away with quivering shoulders.
Since that whole bidding event, it felt like someone had pressed a switch that should have never been pressed on Marika.
That being said, this was understandable.
With the proportional increase of the territory’s population, Marika’s work was increasing every single day.
Starting from maintaining things like highways and bridges, all the way to opening settlements for the people who were interested.
As for Clodette, though the territory’s budget had sky-rocketed, she was not overwhelmed thanks to her talent for accounting. However, even she needed some people who could do things such as documenting everything for her after she was done.
All these needs gave rise to a murderous workload that was being dumped on groups of bureaucrats who were barely managing to juggle their tasks.
The situation in Bashtar was once again becoming critical, but in a very different sense from before.
In a way, Marika going out of control was an unavoidable consequence.
【”…Delegating is the way to go. What’s the point of making money if we die from overwork without getting to use it, am I right?”】
【”I totally agree, Marika!”】
Later, a strange group of people, who all had shadows under their eyes, was frequently seen around the government office of the Bashtar county in the village of Narak, which was now the center of Bashtar’s administration.
They worked like demons to manage the rapidly growing economy of the Bashtar territory, but people still referred to them as no more than “Marika’s servants”.