Chapter 107

“….and so, our Jonathan Brothers Association can supply the Pendragon family with the food and engineers needed for the construction of York Town. And…"

Reid Jonathan spoke while carefully observing Raven’s expressionless face.

“We hope to be paid half in imperial gold, and the other half in Pendragon gold…”

“Okay, I see.”

“Yes, thank you for your consideration.”

Reid Jonathan sat back down with an awkward expression. He seemed rather relieved at how things had turned out. All the other merchants who had spoken before him also demanded to receive their payments half in imperial gold, and the other half in pendragon gold. The duchy would start the production of its currency soon.

‘Getting paid in a new currency that we know nothing about? The exchange rate and the credit rating could be ridiculous. Mhm, we definitely cannot afford to get paid by the new currency in full.’

But they could not let such an enormous business opportunity pass by them. Even if they were to suffer some losses, they had to board this train even if it meant receiving half of their payment in the new currency.

‘We can always turn it into gold bars. It’s not like we will get caught, and it’s not even the imperial currency. The duchy’s currency might soon disappear anyway.’

Then, they could make quite a profit. The look on the faces of the merchants made it quite clear that all of them were thinking the same thoughts.

“So, you are the last one.”

The merchants all turned their heads at Raven’s words.

Dos Giovanni had remained motionless in his seat while all the other merchants introduced themselves and proposed their deals. He slowly rose from his seat.

“I am Dos Giovanni, I am here as a representative of the Giovanni Chamber of Commerce. It is an honor to meet the Pendragon’s master.”

“Hmm, good to see you.”

Raven responded nonchalantly, but he was inwardly quite surprised. He had not imagined that the man who had caught Vincent’s eye would be someone from the Giovanni family, one of the four largest merchant associations in the empire.

“Yes, so what can the Giovanni Merchants offer me?”

Raven asked bluntly toward the man, who was the heir to perhaps the richest family in the empire after the royal family. Dos Giovanni answered without hesitation.

“Anything.”

“Huh?”

“We can provide you with everything you need to build York Town. Laborers, food, technology, equipment. Anything you want, we can provide.”

The other merchants nodded inwardly at Giovanni’s calm words. If no one else, the heir to the Giovanni family was the most qualified to say such bold words.

“I see, very well. How do you want to be paid?”

The other merchants also looked in anticipation for Giovanni’s answer. His response would likely dictate the payment method for everyone else as well.

Everyone assumed he would also ask for half and half in terms of imperial gold and Pendragon gold. However, his following words shattered the other merchants’ expectations.

“The Giovanni Merchants will receive full payment in the Pendragon Duchy’s new gold currency.”

“Heuk!”

Raven and Vincent’s eyes glimmered for an instant while the sounds of sharp breaths could be heard from all over the place. The merchants looked at Dos Giovanni with incredulous eyes while whispering amongst themselves.

But Giovanni retained his composure and waited for Raven’s answer. After a brief silence, Raven spoke in a probing manner.

“Is that going to be all right? You might make a loss.”

“Investments are always made while considering the risks.”

‘W, what?’

Giovanni’s words made no sense to the others.

Was the Giovanni Chamber of Commerce planning to melt all the Pendragon gold and turn them into gold bars? Were they openly stating to the creator of the currency that they were going to defile all of their gold coins?

He was definitely out of his mind. This was an outrageous statement that could cost him his life.

But unlike the other merchants, who were worried and shocked, Raven stared at Giovanni with a narrow gaze.

‘So this is one of the four great associations? Their scale is truly on a different level.’

Melting gold coins was considered a felony. Not to mention imperial gold coins, other countries’ gold coins should also not be melted recklessly.

Unless it was a currency that was no longer in use, the crime would result in an unconditional death penalty. There was no way that Dos Giovanni was unaware of that.

That being said, this meant that Giovanni had accurately grasped the purpose and the value of the new gold coin just as Vincent had said.

“Okay, good.”

Raven answered, and Dos Giovanni sat down after a light bow.

Raven announced while looking around at the crowd.

“Well, regardless of the reason, all of you were the first to arrive, so I should compensate you for that.”

The merchants’ grim expressions brightened up.

“If those who are here now sign a contract with me regarding York Town, I will provide all of you with payment on the terms you suggested.”

“Ah…!”

“Thank you for your generosity.”

The merchants bowed with a cheerful expression. But they could not stop wondering even as they bowed their heads.

‘Did he not understand the meaning behind Dos Giovanni’s words? Is he giving us permission to melt the duchy’s coins?’

Then there would be no point in creating a new form of gold coins. They could be paid in gold bars instead.

“Then feel free to mingle amongst yourselves, I will take my leave first.”

Raven rose from his seat, and the merchants also stood up to see him off. After taking a few steps, Raven stopped and turned his head.

“By the way, the payment method cannot be changed once it is decided. What we discussed verbally today will be solidified. Is that understood?”

“Huh? Oh, yes! Of course.”

The merchants quickly agreed after a moment of bewilderment. That was what they had wanted.

If the opposing party changed their words later on and gave the full payment in the new gold currency, they would be in trouble.

“And you. The Giovanni Merchants said they could provide anything, right?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“Hmm… I see. See you tomorrow, then.”

After looking at Dos Giovanni for a moment, Raven nodded and turned.

Thud.

The door closed behind Raven and Vincent. All of the merchants flopped down on their seats with an exasperated look.

“Phew! He is quite commanding for his age.”

“Why else would a Pendragon be a Pendragon? I heard that when they call up the Spirit of the Dragon, normal people can’t even look at them properly.”

“By the way, why did that advisor named Vincent Ron not say anything?”

“Hmm, I know. He was just standing still with a grin the entire time…”

The merchants conversed with one another for a moment, then turned their gazes to one particular person. As usual, Dos Giovanni was sitting with a straight posture. He slowly opened his eyes as if he had felt their burning gazes.

However, the merchants could not easily initiate a conversation because of the gap they felt between them. Muland, the oldest of the bunch, spoke up with a grin.

“Excuse me, Sir Giovanni. I have a question for you.”

“Go ahead.”

Dos Giovanni had a humble and plain attitude, unlike others with his status. Working up the courage, Muland continued.

“Are you really going to receive all your payment in the new currency? Even if you melt all of it and turn it into gold bars, the loss would be devastating.”

“Hmm… is that so?”

Giovanni stroked his chin. The merchants became even more curious because of his casual attitude. Earlier, they hadn’t dared to come forward because the duchy’s master was present, but they could not understand why Giovanni had made such a provocation. It could have easily led to Alan Pendragon asking about the true intention behind Giovanni’s plan with the gold coins, which would have gotten him in trouble.

Moreover, he was the one who had the most to gain from the projects related to the construction of York Town.

That meant that he would suffer greater damages as he contributed more to the projects. So why would the heir to the great Giovanni Chamber of Commerce intentionally incur heavy losses onto himself?

“Well… His Grace already said he would not change the payment methods anymore, so I guess there’s no harm in sharing… To put it simply, it is because the duchy’s gold coins are bad money.”

“Huh?”

“We are all aware of that already. That is why everyone is thinking of melting down the duchy’s gold coins, right?”

Reid Jonathan looked around, and the other merchants avoided his gaze and let out condescending coughs as they could not openly say the fact.

Dos Giovanni’s quiet words pierced their ears.

“It will be better if you did not…”

“Huh? What does that…”

Everyone’s eyes returned to Dos Giovanni. Slowly standing up from his seat, Giovanni glanced over the crowd.

“Hmm…”

The calm and gentle eyes he had shown until now could no longer be found, and in its place was a cold, calculating set of eyes. The merchants gulped at the sight.

“Anyway, we are competitors, so I do not think I have to explain any further. Then, please excuse me first.”

Dos Giovanni opened the door and walked out without looking back. Reid Jonathan, the youngest person in the crowd, frowned at the sight.

“Even if he is the Giovanni Merchants’ heir, what’s wrong with his attitude?”

“Huh! My friend, be careful. If the Giovanni Merchants want to, they could make the Jonathan Brothers suffer greatly.”

“That is true. He owns half of the salt fields in Drante province and possesses more than ten merchant ships. Besides, he has his hands in the linen and cotton business that you Jonathan Brothers focus on. Even if their primary method of business is different, it will be painful for you if he decides to mess with you.”

“Dammit…”

Everything they said was true, so Reid Jonathan could only lick his lips in agitation.

“Anyway, what do you think are his real intentions in receiving payment in the new gold coins?”

“How would I know that? Well, he is probably trying to secure other business with the Pendragon Duchy at the cost of some damage.”

“Even so, would it not be a big blow if he keeps getting paid in the duchy’s gold? It’s going to cost them a fortune.”

“Well, that’s true, but…”

The merchants tried their best, but they could not figure out the answer. One by one, they started leaving through the door, and only a few people were left behind.

“Are you not leaving? Why don’t you join me for a drink then?”

Reid Jonathan was one of the last remaining merchants. He stood up and turned around to speak to Muland, who had been strangely quiet since a while ago.

However, Muland muttered blankly while stroking his moustache, as if he had not heard Jonathan’s voice.

“It is because the Pendragon family’s gold coins are bad money…?”

“Sorry?”

“No, nothing. Yes, let’s go for a drink.”

Muland stood up while shaking his head.

‘What the hell does that mean? If it’s bad money, then it is the same with other countries’ gold coins as well…' Muland continued to ponder in confusion while following Reid Jonathan. An unfamiliar sense of anxiety continued to haunt him.

Exactly three months later, his anxiety would become reality.

***

“Just as you said, he was quite irregular. Anyways, I never thought Giovanni’s successor would come alone.”

“He probably is not alone.” Vincent shook his head. “The required forces for our project are probably waiting across the river, outside of the duchy’s territory.”

“Really?”

“Yes. After sealing the deal, it is best to get started as soon as possible to maximize profit. If it’s him, it is likely that he has already prepared the down payment and investments after making a rough estimate.”

“Hmm, what an incredible man.”

“Yes, regardless of what anyone says, he is the heir to one of the four great merchant associations. Anyways, now that things have turned out like this, we should…”

“Hurry to get the new coins ready as soon as possible. Then we should hurry to the imperial castle and negotiate with them.”

“You are absolutely correct.”

Vincent smiled and bowed.

“That much, I am capable of. Then it should be better for you to stay here and oversee things, correct?”

“Yes. General Melborn is better at taking care of Conrad Castle and the duchy’s inner matters. Sir Killian and Sir Isla will competently take care of managing the troops. I am going to finish the negotiations with the raccoons we saw earlier.”

Raven sniggered and muttered to himself.

“I don’t know who is calling who a raccoon… The teapot calls the kettle black, hmm…?”

“Yes?”

“No, it’s nothing.”

“I thought I heard you saying something strange…”

Raven barely resisted an outburst of laughter at the sight of Vincent wiping the smile off his face and tilting his head in confusion.

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