Chapter 106

The village head and the residents of York Town all agreed with Alan Pendragon’s words. Naturally, some might have had complaints, but they dared not disobey the master of the land. Rather, they were thrilled and touched that the ruler of the land had personally given them a clear explanation. The anxiety and sorrow of not knowing what would happen to their hometown were greatly diluted.

The village head came forward and explained to the villagers the construction plans and compensation that would follow. Some residents were skeptical about the village head’s story as it seemed too good that they would receive new houses and compensation if their livelihoods were affected.

However, the villagers who were also present along with the village head joined in with their voices as well, and all the residents of York Village ended up praising the virtues of Alan Pendragon and the Pendragon family. In addition, the public opinion throughout York Village was that the Pendragon family cared more about their own residents rather than on bringing in outsiders.

But the outsiders, both the poor and the opportunists, did not have any complaints. They had come to seek food, work, and opportunities, and as long as they could find those, they were happy. Just as new stones could not knock away old ones, discrimination was sure to exist wherever they went in the world. It was natural that the original residents would receive different treatment compared to outsiders.

Nevertheless, the Pendragon family had cared for the poor outsiders, and even the duchess had personally stepped up to distribute food. If the newcomers were to work, they were guaranteed fair treatment and compensation. Finally, there was an opportunity to settle down and work instead of aimlessly wandering around.

Eventually, the native residents of the village, as well as the poor who had come in search of work, started to look forward to the construction of York Town.

But as usual, there were some people who were suspicious or anxious about the new development. Most of them were merchants from other territories, and they all received instructions to come to town hall after dinner from a knight named Vincent Ron.

***

“Seven in total. Two or three of them can be considered to be related to the four great associations.”

“Really? Should they not be overflowing with wealth then? They all looked quite normal to me.”

Raven shrugged at Vincent’s words.

“No merchant would be stupid enough to show off their wealth while meeting a duchy’s heir for the first time.”

“I see. Is there anyone I should pay close attention to?”

“The man with the moustache who was clothed in a brown robe. He was the only person who most accurately grasped the meaning behind the production of our gold coins.”

“Hmm…”

‘Bad money drives good money out.’

Even though he nodded, Raven still did not fully understand those words. Was it not common sense that the superior would drive out the bad? But Vincent had said that bad money would replace good money, and he added that it was clearly visible when looking at other countries’ currencies that flowed into the empire.

The empire only accepted gold coins from other countries. The policy was to punish those who used silver or bronze coins from other countries for commercial transactions regardless of their status. Also, they did not accept gold coins that contained less gold than that of the imperial gold coin, but still had an unconditional exchange ratio of one-to-one.

Therefore, gold coins from other kingdoms in the empire all had more gold contained in them compared to the imperial coins, but they were treated as the same. It was a loss for the other kingdoms, but they could not help it.

Aragon Empire was the most active in terms of commerce and trades, and had a massive population. Without a harmonic relationship with the empire, the other kingdoms could not survive.

Moreover, the empire was tolerant of other countries. When the other countries had a bad harvest, the empire provided food aid on a national level, and also exempted taxes in certain areas of the border, only requiring fixed tax based on the population. In the end, everyone tolerated the empire’s gold coin policy because there was more to be gained from cooperating with the empire, and more to be lost if they discontinued the trade with the empire.

“He knew exactly that if our duchy’s gold coin went into circulation, it could replace the imperial currency.”

“I see. But is that really possible? No, do you think the imperial family would just stand idly by while such a thing happens?”

“As I told you before, it is possible because of the Pendragon Duchy’s importance to the empire. If a rebel group led by Duke Arangis is officially recognized by the royal family, they will have to remain in a harmonious relationship with us.”

“That is true.”

The involvement of the Arangis Duchy was almost certain, but there was always a possibility of other duchies being involved as well.

No matter how overwhelmingly powerful the empire was, it would be very worrisome if two or three of the five duchies joined in and started a rebellion. It would take a long time and massive resources to focus the empire’s forces into one area as well, considering the empire’s massive size.

For there to be several large battles involving tens of thousands of troops at once, it meant that the empire’s very foundations could be shaken. That is why the empire needed the Pendragon Duchy, who could stand on the side of the imperial family and keep the greatest threat, the Arangis family, in check.

“If you give something, you should also receive something. From the imperial family’s perspective, they can never reject our offer.”

“Hm.”

“The empire only needs to officially receive the gold coins from the duchy for half a year. Then, most likely, the circulation of our currency will be eight to two in our territory, and about two to eight in the other parts of the empire.”

“In the end, we can use our accumulated gold to naturally help the duchy’s economy.”

“Yes, and besides, we do not have to pay commission anymore. We can convert our gold into the imperial currency and save up.”

“Huh! This is…”

Raven shook his head while looking at Vincent with renewed admiration. Raven had targeted Vincent Ron knowing he would be a large pillar of the empire’s commerce, but he was not just a simple prodigy of business.

Pioneering the future based on history and the opportunities that were present now. Indeed, the man standing next to him was an outstanding strategist on the level of history’s most revered geniuses.

“Anyways, then the man who you spoke of is aware of this fact as well?”

“Yes. His expression changed as soon as you mentioned that our coin would only contain seventy percent of the gold contained in the imperial coin.”

“Okay. Then what do I have to do?” Raven became serious. He was ignorant of the business world, and since he was venturing down a new path, he needed to be more careful.

But Vincent looked at Raven’s determined expression and smiled.

“You just need to act as you normally would.”

“What?”

“Listen to his story, and judge according to your own thoughts. If you do not like his suggestions or attitude, you can just chase him away as well.”

“…...”

Raven quietly stared at Vincent. He did not seem to be making fun of Raven or making a joke. Still, Raven was certain that there was a clear reason why his cool-headed genius advisor was talking like this.

“What’s the reason?”

“You have the best instincts among any nobles I have seen. Sometimes, the lord’s intuition will bring about better results than the careful calculations of his subordinate.”

Vincent paused, calmly met Raven’s eyes, then continued.

“Any decision that is to be made is your responsibility, my lord. And… all the decisions you have made so far have been the right ones.”

Vincent had changed how he addressed Raven at some point.

“…...”

Raven’s eyes trembled slightly as he stared at his knight, who trusted in Raven’s instincts even more so than his own brilliant mind. A faint smile appeared on Raven’s face.

“Don’t blame me if I screw things up doing things my way.”

“Then that will also be the right path.”

The lord and the knight shared a smile.

***

“…...”

Those who were gathered at the town hall silently observed each other. Some saw familiar faces, as they were all merchants, but they saved their words since everyone in the room was a potential rival.

However, as the waiting time got longer, a middle-aged man with a curly mustache initiated a conversation with a younger man.

“Is Brother Jonathan’s association interested in this business as well? I thought you might not have time to worry about anything else because of the contract in the Billburg territory?”

“I’m afraid the Billburg case will be resolved soon. What about you, Mr. Muland? I do not think that the Pendragon Duchy requires an arms dealer.”

The man called Muland grinned and twisted his beard at the rather blunt comment.

“The Pendragon Duchy’s iron mine is functional again, is it not? The iron here is of great quality. Besides, the blacksmiths here are also quite excellent. I was hoping to buy some and sell it in the northern or central territories.”

“Then you should have gone to Lowpool or other large villagers to meet the blacksmiths. Why are you here?”

“Tsk, tsk, my friend. This is the Pendragon Duchy. It is not a great territory of the empire.”

“Huh?”

“All the blacksmiths in this territory work for the Pendragon Duchy. Even if they do not have any work, the duchy guarantees them a living. So when they make anything other than farming tools, they have to report it to the duchy. They are different from the blacksmiths of the other territories who are free to make and sell whatever they want.”

“Oh, is that so?”

The young man nodded in embarrassment.

“Bah! You came to do business here and you don’t even know the difference between a duchy and other territories? Didn’t your brothers teach you that?”

“Why are you bringing up my brothers all of a sudden?”

“Ah, no, well..”

The middle-aged man quickly avoided eye contact when the young man became angry. Then, a man who had been silently listening to the conversation spoke up.

“It sounds like you are Reid Jonathan, the youngest son of the Jonathan Brothers Association. I heard you made it pretty big with silk in Leus last year.”

“That is correct, but… who are you?”

The young man responded with a wary expression. He had already noticed that most of the people gathered were not just small-time merchants that wandered around selling various goods.

The man in his mid-30s was wearing a plain brown robe, but his slightly bent hooked nose and calm, grey eyes stood out. He reached out his hand to Reid Jonathan and spoke.

“Dos Giovanni.”

“Nice to meet you, Dos... Huh?”

Reid Jonathan, who was about to shake hands, stiffened up and drew a sharp breath. He was not the only one to be surprised.

“Drante’s Vessel King!”

Someone’s exclamation drew everyone’s attention to Giovanni.

Although they were all members of midsized merchant associations or other merchant guilds, they were not members of the four great associations that greatly influenced the empire’s commerce.

Of course, Muland had a close association with one of the four great associations and had come to the duchy to test the waters and the atmosphere of the Pendragon Duchy, but even he froze when he heard the name Dos Giovanni.

“Excuse me, are you really Dos Giovanni? The successor to the Giovanni Chamber of Commerce?”

“Yes.”

Giovanni’s light nod brought the crowd back to silence. He was not a random nobody, but a member of one of the four great associations. Furthermore, he was actually the successor to the association, and he had personally made his way to the small countryside.

No one looked at him openly, and many people wiped the sweat off their foreheads while silently stealing glances at him. Though, since all of them were involved in business, they quickly churned their heads to come up with a conclusion.

‘This is bigger than I thought!’

After making up their minds, the merchants remained silent while comparing their own items with the items that Giovanni focused on, calculating profit and loss in their heads.

The door opened, and all the merchants stood up as someone walked in.

“Pendragon’s mast…”

“That’s good. They are not here to get acquainted. Take turns talking about who you are, what goods you handle, and your suggestions for business.”

“……”

The gazes of the merchants changed at Raven’s remarks.

‘Huh! Is it really true that he just held his coming-of-age ceremony this year?’

‘Our association’s kids that age are still chasing after girls…’

They had heard countless stories, but now they saw for themselves that the young man, who was still not twenty, was certainly different from the successors of other noble families.

Besides…

Their gazes headed towards Vincent, who was standing right behind Raven. They looked at him warily.

‘The York Town project stems from that person’s mind, right?’

‘Then the idea behind manufacturing new gold coins…’

The man’s face was so extremely ordinary that one would quickly forget it unless they paid special attention. However, Vincent grinned as he met the eyes of all the merchants present, and all of them felt the same strange sensation as they looked at him.

They could see a raccoon smiling slyly in front of its prey.

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