Ch 17- Assets and cultural differences
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Silva Laverna POV

This ‘coffee’ thing was amazing. Sure, it tasted horrible, was bit too hot and looked as dark as the abyss itself, but it sure woke everyone up. It makes one wonder what else Lloyd was hiding in the drawers of this ship. What little he allowed us to get a glimpse of was already miraculous, as well as revealing.

These humans could bend the world to their will; build structures that reached the sky so easily, make ships that could go beyond the sun and the moons.

But it was their laws, and way of thinking that surprised me the most. Humans had managed to think of so many ways of governance, so many different philosophies. Learning about socialism, communism, imperialism and capitalism had been most entertaining. But it also revealed a fact to me. That they had very little that could differentiate them.

Of course, they had smart ones and ones that were less intellectually capable. Similarly, strong and weak ones. But overall, after standardized education, there were very little difference. Everyone was almost equal, to say none the less. Only after considering this fact did their way of thinking start to make sense.  

I drew myself from thoughts to observe how far the talks had progressed. It hadn’t. They were still bickering about what to do with the incoming refugees. Milan was in favor of turning them around, to refuse them. Henry and Galdwin were against this, but they couldn’t go against Milan easily. Old soldier was not a good player. Even in this old age of his, he was only able to vaguely see that there was a game in the first place. Playing it was beyond his capabilities. Initially he had done well for a peasant. From what I heard from Galdwin when we were back on the ship, it had been him who had made this joke of a council. He had created this council not to seem like a tyrant, so he had filled it with people who he could control. A smith who cared more about his work than anything else. A kid who knew nothing except swinging his sword and his cock. And lastly, an alchemist who couldn’t act reasonable if her life depended on it.

The smith had been out of the game the minute Lloyd started to teach his apprentice about metals and methods he couldn’t understand. Similarly, Lloyd had forced the alchemist to his side by giving her a single book. For someone who had claimed not to play political games, he was terrifying enough. And of course, how could I forget him ‘buying me’ with the core of that wyvern.

The only remaining member of Milan’s team was guards, and Galdwin. The guards would take time, but I am sure Lloyd had a way to charm the kid who didn’t even know that there was a small war going on. Perhaps he was waiting for the ‘firearms’ he had mentioned to be complete. But, I had a faster way to get him to our side.

I returned my attention to the council, only to see them shouting. Lloyd, Brian and Larysa were observing Milan and Henry, who were shouting at each other, while Galdwin was trying to calm them down. They had stewed enough.

“Please, gather yourselves, gentleman. Shouting will get us nowhere. Mr. Milan, I think you are not considering a fact. That they are assets.”

It required Galdwin’s assistance for him to be seated properly. It was not good for the elderly to forget their age.

“What do you mean by that, Lady Mary?”

“From what I heard, there are 3 main worries, am I right? First is attention from north, which would hamper your desires to hide, is it not? I am afraid it is too late for that. When you made the journey to here in the first place, every lord of stature already was aware of it. You have underestimated the prowess of the spies nobility has among the populace. Also, after you journeyed north for food and iron, it was too late to hide it. The visit was too high profile. Ships going south and never returning would draw attention from not only the nobility, but also from the common peasants. This commune of ours is sure to be talk of pubs right now, and the fact that refugees are coming down south should also prove that. So, claiming that we might want to reject them so we don’t draw attention is simply moronic. And this is without considering the fact that even more rumors would fly around if they were to return, as they will surely spread the word.”

Silence fell to the room. I liked this feeling, but I was just starting.

“Second, the monsters. As we all know, some of the monsters of the western woods and the Green Forest come out in search of something edible on winters. It was this fact that stopped the old kingdom from establishing itself in the south. Every time when a town was set up on the southern shores, it was besieged by the monsters.

But there are 2 things that are beneficial for us, compared to them. For one, we are not in the south shores, but in the drunken hills, which lay north of the delta. The pressure we have to content with is sure to be much lesser. Also, we have Lloyd and his weapons, so we don’t have to worry about the higher tier monsters. So, we should be fine for the winter.”

“It’s nice and all, young lady, but what about the main problem? What about the food?”

Old veteran was getting grumpy, wasn’t he? After his fight with Henry, he only had a single supporter here, Galdwin.

“I am getting there, Mr. Milan, no need to rush me. If you have forgotten, it was me who delivered the food to you, so I am perfectly clear in how much we have left. Even with the addition of 200 heads, we will have more than enough to last us through winter. As for what will happen afterwards, I cannot comment. Most likely, we will be able to buy food from north after the war calms down enough. If not, perhaps, I can write my contacts in the Empire a letter. More than one merchant owes me favors.”

Revealing the last fact had been a risk. A risk that I had to take. If they were to dig deeper on how I had these contacts, it might reveal my past prematurely. On the other hand, being able analyze the situation and being able to handle it had big difference in value. Thankfully, it was Brian who saved me from the possible questioning.

“You said that they were assets, right? What do you mean by that?”

“Oh, they are indeed. Brian, you have seen the value of cement. Now tell me, how much could you produce if you had 100 workers, instead of 20? Also, only thing stopping you from building steam engines is lack of iron, isn’t it? Lloyd has told me that there is a coal and iron mines after the forest, near the mountains. If we could mine them, we could have many more steam engines.

I need not tell you, the council, the value of the steam engine, right? Even what little you have seen should be able to easily convince you that we need more of them.”

After ‘we’ agreed to welcome them, there wasn’t much to discuss. Only the smaller, less important details were left. How to welcome them, how to house them and etcetera. Only things of interest was that Brian was going to be sent to make more cement before winter arrived, and the decision to build an inn with a pub. Inn was going to be used to house the new arrivals until new houses could be constructed, and as a normal inn afterwards. This opened up new questions, mainly, the questions about money.

The council had nothing to offer the populace except food and security. May it be a guard, lumberjack or alchemist, they ate the same food. The village had no taxes, because till now, there was nowhere to spend money. Now, there was an inn, but no one used money. It was a pickle indeed. In the end, Lloyd decided to offer his assistance. He was going to print copper coins for the village. There was still time until the inn was complete, so we decided to postpone the talks about currency.

“Ah, please wait Galdwin, I have something to talk to you about.”

The expression on the Milan’s face was priceless when he heard that. He knew that he was going to lose his last supporter today, and he was right.

Unsurprisingly, after everyone else left, there was 4 people in the room. I gestured Galdwin to sit, as the discussion between our host and the alchemist was bound to be more interesting.

“So, what do you want from me, for the rest of the book? Do you just want me, or is there something else?”

“I am sure you are misjudging his goals, Mrs. Larysa. Don’t forget that he is still unaware of our customs.”

I did not think that I would have to interfere so soon. It was going to be troublesome to explain our ways to the human. It would be wrong to claim that theirs were more individualistic than elven society, but it was also right in some sense. For example, Brian was originally disciple of Henry the blacksmith, but later he was taught a lot of things by Lloyd. If Lloyd were to think that he was worthy of being called a master more than Henry, he could ask Brian to stop calling Henry his master. And Henry would have no choice except to accept it, not due the fact that Lloyd was stronger, but in relation to Brian, he was more worthy. Another example was sexuality. Human culture was much more reserved when it came to sex. In their culture, loyalty of the mind didn’t mean the loyalty of the body. It was weird, to make a difference, but that was how their society was. Another example was me. By giving me something I needed, and didn’t have the means to get, a Tier 4 core, he had the legal and moral right to take advantage of me. More than a right, the fact that he hadn’t would have been insulting if I didn’t know that he was unaware of the cultural differences.

Seeing that they were already discussing operations of a business, I turned to my attention to my own guest.

“So, Galdwin, I think you have been a Tier 0 mage long enough, don’t you also think so?”

Alright lads, I think I did good with this chapter. Opinions?