Chapter 149 Merchant from King’s City (Part 2)
"Are you King’s City’s biggest saltpeter trader?" Roland directly cut to root.
"No, Your Highness," Margaret was no longer just showing her formal smile, her speech also became much more intimate, "I run all kind of different businesses, from gems to cloth, from inns to taverns. In fact, not even a month ago, I still had nothing to do with saltpeter trading. Only when the original owner of the nitrate field lost all of his reserves and went bankrupt during his visit in my casino, did I have the rights transferred to me as payment."
Not only was she selling all kinds of goods, she even had a firm hold in the service industry... being able to build such a large business empire, in the end, what background did she have? It was well known that if you wanted to open a casino in King's City, with money alone it would be an impossible thing to achieve. Wanting to know if she was telling him the truth, Roland knocked on the table, but Nightingale pinch to the middle of his back left him unsatisfied. Since a pinch like this indicated that Margaret was carrying a God's Stone of Retaliation, making it impossible for her to judge whether the other one was telling a lie or telling the truth.
Wait a moment... since it's impossible for her to observe, why did she pinch me so hard previously?
Roland coughed twice, suppressing his curiosity.
He had heard that some of the merchants from the Fjords had settled down in the Four Kingdoms. Their businesses were so successful that they grew bigger and bigger until they accumulated so much wealth that it became hard to even imagine it. After finally securing some wealth, many merchants were easy marks and were effortlessly swindled out of their gains. Only a few were able to stabilize themselves and put down roots, and reinvest their money successfully into local establishments, forming a relatively stable business union. Can it be that Margaret is one of those big dogs?
This being the case, Roland decided to be direct and straightforward with his request, "I need a large amount of saltpeter, the more, the better."
"The Western Territory of the Kingdom isn't a scorching place, especially near the Impassable Mountain Range. Your Royal Highness, do you really need so much saltpeter?" Margaret became curious, "In the eastern outskirts of the kingdom, I have three nitrate fields, enough to supply a middle-sized city of nobles with ice."
Definitely a big shot, she even has three nitrate fields! Even though, Roland became overjoyed, there was no visible change in his expression, "I'm going to build a cold store in the basement of the castle to store some perishable food. As long as you give me the right price, I'll take all the saltpeter you can bring."
"Since you’ve explained it so clearly to me," she nodded, "I'm willing to transport all of my saltpeter to Border Town, and I will only charge you the typical market price of King's City, but..."
"I do not want to be paid with gold royals, I already have enough of them to fill up a whole warehouse. I heard that you were in possession of some foreign products, if you used these instead of the gold royals, I would be happy to conclude a deal with you."
"Strange products?" Roland got rooted, it was the first time that he had heard someone say that he didn't want any gold royals.
"Yes, well. I heard something about a self-running black iron creation," Margaret leaned slightly forward, "Your servant said, that with this thing, you only need to ignite a fire and boil water for it to become amazingly powerful. In fact, only after I heard him speak about such a creation did I decide to visit Border Town. Otherwise, directly selling the saltpeter to the nobility around the capital would be much more in line with my interests. After all the transportation distance is many times farther, so I have to bear a significant loss."
This is really a pleasant surprise, Roland thought. Although I don’t know how Barov's apprentice caught hold of this line, and in what way he had described the steam engine, but evidently this merchant from King’s City was very interested in it.
How incredible the profits and business potential of industrial products were, was all very clear to Roland. Especially since they could be only created by his own mechanical products. He had already worried about that after Border Town had sold all the ore and used up all the Duke's coins, that they would have no other business opportunities. But he would never have thought that today such an excellent opportunity such as this would be put right in front of him.
"So, that was your reason," the prince said. "What you had heard of is called a steam engine. It converts water by boiling it into steam, which can be used as source of power. The principle behind it is very simple, but only we her in Border Town are able to produce it."
"So there exists really such an amazing thing?"
"Of course," Roland answered, "but it is very complicated to manufacture so the price will be quite high. If you are interested, you can go with me to see the machine."
"Extremely interested," she said with excitement.
In the North Slope Mine, Margaret saw a large roaring steel monster which pulled several mine carts loaded with minerals out of the mine tunnel, her eyes turned full and round, nearly falling out of their sockets.
"Your Royal Highness, t-this... is incredible." Margaret whispered, feeling overwhelmed,
"Previously I had thought that your messenger had exaggerated, but even in my wildest dreams, I had never thought that he even understated it... I am afraid that even a dozen of people together don't possess a power such as this... steam engine."
Wanting to take a closer look, Margaret took a step toward the engine but was stopped by Roland. "The running is very dangerous, don’t get too close to it. Do you see the white gas spraying out of it? Even if you only get hit by a small part of it, it is still enough to burn your skin."
"Do you only use it to transport ore?" As the noise was too large, she had to step near Roland and shout into his ear.
"In this mine, we using two, one is used to help the miner transport the ore, while the second one is used for pumping out the water in the mine," Roland replied, "In fact, until today, Border Town was only able to produce three steam engines. We use them there where they are needed the most. But they can be employed for a broad range of purposes, as you could perhaps imagine. They can replace windmills and waterwheels, to grind wheat. They aren't affected by rivers or winds, and they don't need any manpower or animal power. What might interest you, even more, is that they can even be fitted onto a sailing boat, moving the paddles, allowing the ship to move without any sails."
He knew that their dependence on the wind and its direction was of great significance for the Seafolk. Sure, enough, hearing this Margaret looked with wide-open eyes at Roland, "Just name a price, I will take it with me!"
"That’s out of the question, the mine also relies on it to maintain the production. You can order a few new steam engines and then when you deliver the saltpeter, you can take them with you."
"What would their price be...?"
Roland lead her away from the entrance of the mine. Being further away from the noise of the machine, it was now much easier to speak. "One steam engine will cost five hundred gold royals," Roland offered. Even so, the price was a bit exaggerated, being almost equivalent to a knight's territory annual income. The ore to produce one steam engine cost around twenty gold royals, plus melting costs, labor costs and installation costs it would be another fifty gold royals. However, to get a good price, one always had to have some space for a bargain.
"Then I'll buy ten steam engines!"
"..." Roland became frozen, ten steam engines were the same as five thousand gold royals! Almost the equal to the five or six years of the Duke Ryan's savings. Not even trying to bargain, was that the power of a big dog? He cleared his throat, "You're sure of it? After all, it's not a small sum, and the machine is also not always available for usage, and even if you bought it, you still have to invest money into it."
"I know, it's just like a ship which has to visit the dock every year to clean up the keel of parasites and algae, replacing the sails, ropes and so on," Margaret did not mind it, " What later needs to be added, I’ll buy it from you. If it actually becomes impossible to manage by myself, you only have to name a price, and I will pay you for the craftsmen to maintain and operate the machine.”
Roland closed his mouth, there was only one thought left in his mind, being wealthy really must be nice.
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