Ch 15- Talking over some wine
1.6k 8 53
Reading Options
Font Size
A- 15px A+
Table of Contents
Loading... please wait.

It had taken me 2 days to strap the steam engine to the furnace. I also gave them a small ball mill, to crush the rocks to powder. Hand crushing would have been fine, but it would have delayed it by another few days. Things were going good under the watch of Brian, and with Horst protecting them, there was little to worry about. Of course biggest relief was Josse, who was periodically checking up on them with the drone.

From the looks of it, they should be able to get around 80 tons of cement by the end of this week, which was in 4 days. After mixing it up with gravel and sand, it would go long way towards helping finish the construction. From next week on, the harvest could go up to 100 tons per week, if a bit more manpower could be spared to this task. Also, loading up the boats, transporting it, and unloading it will add few more days as well.

Finally, I could see my corvette atop the hill. Cement “factory” wasn’t too far away, so it took me 2 hours and a half to go one way. A fast shower and training was all that waited me, as I could feel myself coming closer to the Tier 2. As long as any uninvited guests don’t come, that is.

Of course they did. First one to come was Silva, two hours after I did. I had a feeling that it would be Larysa, but it mattered not.

Silva had been coming here every day since she arrived at the village. At first, I taught her similarly to Brian, but she proved to have little interest in those subjects. What drew her interest were politics and economics. She was sharp at the subjects too, most likely due to her being a princess forcing her to live in political world.

“Here you are, come on in. Where did we leave last time?”

“Good day to you too, Mr. Lloyd. We were discussing about short comings of communism and capitalism, if my memories are to be believed.”

When we reached the meeting room, which had once been the mess hall, she once again tried to make tea.

“I would rather not drink tea again, Silva. I have drunk more tea in this week than in the last 30 years.”

“Hmm? What do you have in mind, Mr. Lloyd?”

 Showing her was faster than explaining. I took 2 glasses and a bottle from the shelf, opened the bottle, and poured a small sample.

“Its wine, made of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Or, to be exact, it’s a 14% Ripasso. It is my favorite. Would you like to try some? Shouldn’t get you drunk if you don’t drink half the bottle.”

As it seemed like she enjoyed it, I poured a glass for each of us, before sitting across her.

“Before we start the class, do you remember when I told you that I knew you wanted something from me?”

She replied, while taking a sip of her wine.

“Of course I do, Mr. Lloyd. I am still perturbed that you would say such a thing.”

Haa… Here it is. She was smart, beautiful, and attentive, but there was only one thing about her that I couldn’t bear to stand.

“Please, you may call me Lloyd. Also, I wouldn’t recommend you to play games with me. I don’t  like them, and you won’t like me if you push my buttons. So, will you tell me, or not?”

There was a minute of awkward silence, drowned out by the flowing wine. She was having the same reaction she had when I had asked her about her true identity. She was good at poker face, but all of her confidence was built on carefully made deck of cards. She was good at politics when she had the superior standing, but all you needed to take her out was a sucker punch, something she didn’t expect.

“You remember what I told you about the power structures of the continent right? This kingdom, even when declining due to the civil war, still has more than 100 Tier 3 mages, while we have only 3 surviving Tier 4 ones. At the Duchy, they have almost thousand Tier 3 mages, 20 or so Tier 4 mages, and only one Tier 5, the Duke himself, who managed to survive the war and save most of his army. Then, at the Empire, even though they took the brunt of the casualties, they have even more Tier 3 and Tier 4 ones. Only, after the death of the Emperor, and the decline of the health of their advisor, they have a single Tier 5 mage. And that is the Queen, who is now widowed wife of the late Emperor.

As you can see, throughout the continent, Tier 4 mages are rare, there being less than 300 of them. If I manage to get that powerful, my chances of survival will increase, even if I have to run to the other continent.”

She was avoiding the question. Also, there was couple of holes in her explanation. What would make her more likely to survive? Strength? Or perhaps a spell she could cast only at that Tier? Also what was she running from? What was this danger that required her to migrate to another continent?

“Let me guess. It’s the core of that wyvern you are after, isn’t it?”

“Yes. With it, I can reach Tier 4 in less than a year.”

The core was worth very little to me. When a creature or elf went up a Tier, their core got denser, and purer. It was my pet theory that it was this difference in pressure between the core and the ambient mana that allowed the use of spells to get easier when Tier increased. So, to me, that core was simply just a purer and denser reservoir of mana, with very little use, until I reach the peak of Tier 3 either as a mage or warrior.

“Is that all? Sure, I can give it to you, but you owe me a favor, from now on.”

“Wait, is that it? You are giving it to me so easily? Do you know how valuable it is?!”

This outburst reminded me to add the topic of subjective value of transactions to her lessons.

“Yes I am. I told you, didn’t I? I don’t like to play political mind games, and you should never want to see me play them.”

It looked like it was going to take her sometime to process her surprise, so I indulged myself in wine, until clarity returned to her eyes.

“Alright, shall we return to our lessons? Let’s see… Last time we talked about downsides of communism and capitalism, right? The next lesson will be about mixed command economy. Before that, there is one thing to talk about. A flaw that humanity failed to eradicate to this day. Cronyism. I don’t know if it is the case with you elves.”

“Just like the others, I do not seem to ever heard that word.”

At last, she was paying attention.

“Cronyism is the act of receiving or giving, economical or political advantage not to the one who is most worthy, but to someone who you owe, or someone you know. Basically, buying and selling favors of political nature.”

“I see, but I can’t claim to understand 100%. We rarely have such problems, as here, strong rule and weak perish. Even if a King were to award some weak person nobility, other ones won’t consider him their equal, and will make it impossible to gather allies. I can’t see how this will become a problem.”

“Yes, indeed this will not be a problem when talking about nobility, but have you considered the merchants? What will happen if a lord of a given city bans all but one merchant from selling some specific product? Maybe it will be a luxury product that targets the rich. But what if its grains? All of the benefits I told you about the free trade of goods will become naught. Without free markets competing, or a centralized government forcefully locking prices, only ones to suffer will be the people. But cronyism is much bigger problem than that.

Tell me, what will happen to commoners when the industrial revolution arrives?”

“Their individual productivity will increase, of course. With it, their salary will rise, allowing the entire society to rise with it.”

“Perfect as always, Silva. Now, with the re-invention of the gunpowder weapons that I mentioned, the balance of power will shift somewhat, towards the commoners. What will happen then?”

 “They will rise up against the nobility..? Is that what you are implying, Lloyd? But how will they? Even if the power shifts from single individuals to army of many, won’t the soldiers still have more weapons than the populace, even if the populace is much larger?”

She was indeed good with people. She understood what I was leading to, not from the facts, but from me.

“You are forgetting 2 things. First, the army is made out of the commoners. They might be trained or brainwashed for years, but not many of them will allow themselves to shoot at his town, or his friends’ town. The one thing about national army is that, they almost never obey a tyrant willingly. As for the second point, it’s disappointing. You know the answer. You have 2 puzzle pieces in your hands, yet you don’t connect them.”

It took her 3 minutes to understand what I was telling her. Still then, she spoke with uncertain voice.

“Yes, if a king uses the army to suppress the populace, even if successful, it will lower the productivity of the region, leading to a weakness that a more democratic neighbor might not have, and one willing to exploit.”

Bingo! But we had swayed from the topic at hand. We were supposed to talk about cronyism, but we got sidetracked to talking about the inevitability of democracy. It was going to take a while to explain the issues with crony capitalism, and why it was nearly impossible to eradicate it.

I toyed with the idea of teaching the princess about shortcomings and positive points of socialism and capitalism, but in the end, decided to bash on something that everyone can hate: cronyism.

Yet, somehow, it managed to get more political than I wanted…

Don't forget to <3 and comment! :)