Chapter 151 Negotiations (Part 1)
After taking a look at the steam engine, Roland and Margaret returned to the office in the caste to continue their discussion and clear up all the details concerning the business contract. In case that such negotiation included haggling over the price, it was usual that the fight between both sides would need around one or two days to reach a conclusion.
Furthermore, it was generally the Finance Minister who was responsible for negotiating the contract, the Lord would only get to see the final numbers when he placed his signature. Only that the opposite side had already accepted the price, with this agreement Roland also ended up saving a lot of effort.
“I expect the first batch of saltpeter will come in a month. It will be the amount of three sailboats full, and I will also follow them to Border Town.”
After giving the amount, Margaret quickly wrote some numbers on a parchment, “Calculated in gold royals at the actual market price, the value of the saltpeter will be around three hundred and fifteen gold royals.”
“Until then Border Town will be able to produce two steam engines,” Roland deliberately lowered the quantity, “they will have a total worth of a thousand gold royals. You can decide for yourself whether you want to make up the difference with gold royals, or you can also pay us using other resources.”
“What kind of goods do you need?”
“Iron, Copper, Lead, Green Vitriol,” Roland said, “those are all common minerals, but the first three goods I don’t need them as raw ore, but as already processed ingots. In addition, I need 10 sets of crystal clear glassware. Since they don’t need to have any carving on them, it won’t matter if they are in the form of a canteen or a wine cup. But they must be the best quality products of King’s City Alchemy Workshop. If the price exceeds the difference, I can fill it with gold royals or it can be deducted from the price of the two steam engines delivered the months afterward.”
“It seems you want to treat me as your dedicated trader,” Margaret said, “though I do not have a mine, I know a few peers who specialize in the ore trade, but I would have never expected with so few nobles living here, you would still consume such an enormous amount of saltpeter. Furthermore, Border Town was established next to the North Slope Mine, yet you still have to buy so many ores. This simply isn’t in line with my business sense. Your Highness, your territory is simply too inconceivable.”
A major trait to industrialize production is its great hunger for raw materials, in exchange for the fast output of finished products. So, Roland continued, “Later on, Border Town will be in even greater need for more goods, so I think it is for the best if we can reach a long-term trade agreement from now on.”
At this moment, Margaret suddenly became startled and was looking with a face full of surprise behind Roland. When he saw her unusual behavior, he subconsciously turned his head and discovered Lightning, who soaked through to the skin by rainwater was pressing herself against the window, while still floating in the air. Her a face was pale from fear and she franticly pushed against the glass, trying to come in. Her hair stuck as strands to her forehead, and the water from the rain was continuously flowing over her face. In general, she looked as if she had just stepped out of the river.
Roland quickly stood up to open the window. As soon it was possible, Lightning flew into the room, directly into Roland’s arms and her face that was filled with panic soon relaxed, confusing the warm body she felt with memories from her past.
“Nightingale, quickly go and call Nana,” Roland ordered anxiously.
“Yes.” Came immediately the response out of the empty room besides him.
What happened to her? In the air, she shouldn’t have encountered any demonic beasts, or any of the Devils. Or could it be, do they also have the ability to fly? Roland roughly checked Lightnings condition, and after he didn’t find any obvious signs of trauma, he finally felt a little relief.
“Your Royal Highness, she… is she the one you have called Lightning?” Margaret spoke with a muzzled voice, slowly coming closer to the Prince, taking a carefully look at this little girl in his arms.
Hearing her question, Roland’s heart began to beat faster, damn, how could I have forgotten about her?He ended up loudly shouting, “Sean!”
The guard immediately walked into the office.
“Excuse me, Miss Margaret, there is no other way. You will now have to stay here for a while,” the Prince turned to her while still holding Lightning.
“She is a merchant from King’s City, so bring her to an empty room on the first floor and take good care of her. Without my command, no one is to let her out of the room.”
“As you command!”
“What? No, Your Highness… Please wait,” Margaret suddenly realized what was happening,”I have no ill will towards witches, not to mention that she even is the daughter of SirThunder, I would never tell the Church about this.”
“It is just a safety measure,” Roland interrupted. “Later on, I’ll come to see you to verify if you’re telling the truth.”
“Your Highness, she’s woken up,” Nightingale said, after opening the door to his office.
Roland nodded and followed Nightingale into Lightning’s bedroom. There was still steam rising from the bucket beside the big bed, and her drenched clothes hung over the edge of the bucket. The bedside was surrounded by a group of witches, while Wendy was sitting on the bed gently combing the little girl’s hair which until now was still not completely dry. But her previously pale face now had got some of its red color back. Her head laid against two pillows, while her quilt was pulled so high that only everything above her mouth wasn’t covered and her eyes were staring at Roland since the moment he had entered the room.
“What is the situation?”
“She hadn’t received any injury, her coma was caused by exhausting too much of her magic,” Nightingale replied. “Wendy helped her to clean her body, and when she got into the bed, she didn’t wake up for a long time after.”
Roland went to bed and looked at the girl with a gentle smile, “What happened to you, that you would fly back through the torrential rains in so much panic?”
“I found the ruins,” Lightning lowly muttered, “but the Devil was already there.”
Hearing this, all the expression of the surrounding people immediately change.
“Did you enter it?” Scroll asked.
“No,” Lightning shook her head and continued to tell the story, “The Devil stood in the doorway of the basement, and I could hear people crying for help, but I was too scared, I could do nothing besides escape, I didn’t even try to save her.” Her voice shrunk to a whisper, “Am I not qualified to do the work of an Explorer?”
“No, you handled it well enough,” Roland encouraged her. “Good Explorers know how to read the situation and do not take unnecessary risks. When you couldn’t save her, escaping was definitely the right choice.”
“She had to be a witch,” Wendy thought aloud, “nobody else could reach the depths of the Concealing Forest except for another witch.”
“No, even a witch wouldn’t be able to go there,” Scroll shook her head in disagreement, “That is a ruin from four hundred and fifty years ago. Without a map, which indicates the direction one has to travel, the task of finding the location of the Stone Tower in such a vast sea of trees would be extremely difficult, unless…”
“Unless what?” Roland asked.
“Unless someone had already been living there,” Scroll said slowly.
“You mean that they didn’t come from the kingdom and found the tower, but instead they are already living there from four hundred and fifty years ago. One generation, after another, living a life in seclusion?”
Within his heart, the Prince had already rejected this speculation. Living for the whole time in the Concealing Forest, shouldn’t be possible! Besides a variety of terrible insects and poisonous plants, there was no stable source of food… only in case you were Bear Grylls, it would be possible to live for such a long-term in the forest. Not to mention, in that part of the world, they would have several months of snow every year. Also, with the constant threat of the demonic beasts and Devils about, living in the Concealing Forest was simply suicidal.
He once again turned in the Lightning’s direction. “Were there any signs of smoke in the vicinity of the ruins?”
“No,” the little girl shook her head.
“Maybe there exist more than one map,” Soraya offered, “maybe there are other people like us, who are also looking for the whereabouts of the tower.”
“No matter what it is, we cannot help them,” Leaves concluded in disappointment. “Nobody can so quickly reach the Stone Tower, except for Lightning.”
“I’m afraid we still need to know the real situation,” Roland touch his chin, “In short, we have to find a way to insure that we can come back safe and sound. For today the teaching will be stopped, we are all in need of a good rest. When the time is right, the riddle will naturally solve itself.”
Leaving Lightning’s bedroom, he turned to Nightingale and said, “There is still another problem that we have to solve, next.”
“Just let her take off the God’s Stone of Retaliation,” Nightingale laughed, “Then everything will be made clear to me.”