Chapter 22 - The “Mysterious” Merchant
Some time had gone by since I was able to evolve into a tier 6 dungeon. In the meanwhile, I had gotten in contact with the dwarfs, draugr, and other races living around my subterranean entrance.
All in all, they were mostly surprised, but very welcome to finally be able to get into direct contact with the person behind the representatives. I didn’t tell anyone about their “unfortunate” decision and swore to be more cautious in the future.
This was also why I decided against holding too many meetings outside of my dungeon or with too powerful individuals. Instead, I just let my new representatives deal with the more risky situations.
Using these new and intelligent solutions was a quite hard decision for me. I had to juggle between risking my avatar or again trusting representatives to do the job. At least I knew with, hopefully, absolute certainty, that those would not and could not betray me.
These new diplomats, generals, and wardens were a lifesaver. They allowed me to get some free time into my new scheduled life. Thanks to the large crack that forced me to rest a day in the week, which I decided to always be Sunday.
While the diplomats took care of representing myself and pleasing various nobles, the generals were out and about exploring the surroundings and training with their troops. The wardens on the other hand mostly remained with me. They managed the individual floors and instances and helped out in various experiments and modifications of creatures, floors, and materials.
In the time between experimenting on new things, managing my underlings, and sleeping, I took care of the matters above.
After I had gotten in some much-needed people skills with the various races from below I got in contact with the human refugees. Coming up with a convincing veil around myself and my motivations was quite difficult.
Though in the end I now was a successful wandering merchant that wanted to settle down somewhere interesting and safe. This cover-up allowed me to introduce myself into society at an already privileged position as a merchant and explained my infinite resources and manpower.
The plan to rise to power was to somehow get access to the ownership rights to the dungeon, though no one really owned me, it was more for the people and less for me. With total power over the dungeon, I could support my merchant and dungeon rise to power and still stay in the shadows with my true personality.
To get access to my lands was at first quite difficult. Some of the leaders did sway to my side after seeing a figurative mountain of gold behind my back, but others would not be deceived so easily. They either knew of the dungeon's true worth, which was immeasurable, wanted the dungeon to belong to the people, or were simply distrustful of me.
Those that would result in the most hassle for me were the nobles of the first category. The second and third could be stilled by providing advantages for the common-people and living here for a long time while always being nice and supportive.
Three people belonged to the first group, a team of twins, responsible for the mercantile sector of the village. Both of them could probably be defeated if I pressured their company strong enough or offered some kind of partnership. The third member though would be a tough nut to crack.
I still had to find a feasible solution, though assassination came closer and closer as the best way. Though this would always be a last resort, it wasn’t because I didn’t support killing, doesn’t matter if guilty or innocent. The problem was that it reminded me of the much too recent backstab I had to experience. It was a cowardly way to get rid of someone and was just unfair, something I didn’t support.
This fact was also visible in my dungeon, even though I would be able to make it impossible to reach the end. I always made it possible to reach it with fair conditions, though only if the delver itself had kind intentions and was fair itself. In any other cases, … let's just say things can get a bit spicy!!
While my dungeon ran like clockwork I concentrated on becoming the refugees’ leader. Through my extensive information network and omnipresence within my domain, I was able to get my hands on a lot of tidbits, rumors, and facts.
Together with this information and my knowledge that they were chased from their previous home by a tribe of orcs I crafted an ingenious plan. I would use the village's hatred towards the cursed race as a stepping stone for myself. While the village would believe I attacked orc patrols and camps to get revenge for those lost during the escape, I was truly just getting my own revenge.
I would kill two birds with one stone.
With some preparation to explain how I got access to a large number of troops, I began the march. Then, still, a relatively small army consisted of volunteers, mercenaries, and my own men. We went about the landside and chased away any dangerous entities, though mainly any sole orcs or small groups.
If one looked at it from a neutral standpoint it looked quite horrendous. An army of people was going around the landside and killing relatively peaceful orc families. They had simply settled down in the area to hunt, fish, or even farm and enjoy the more peaceful life, away from the violence-oriented and large tribes.
They were mostly older couples and families that had enough from the hormone-filled mess in the tribes.
Most orcs themselves were born in calm farms such as those we destroyed. Once they entered puberty they would venture into the closest tribes and make themselves a name as a warrior. With their, hopefully, vast glory they earned in battle, they would search for a similarily glories mate.
The couple would then return to the calm wilds once they had were expecting children, where the cycle would start from anew.
From this truth, no troops or awaiting people at home ever got wind about. They were either tunnel-visioned in the rage of battle and revenge or were manipulated by the positive Marketing from my diplomats.
And after a month of battle, together with the troops' return, I took a look at the campaign's success. After going over the data. my diplomats collected through observations and discussions, we came to the conclusion that the campaign was a roaring success.
Most of the nobles that were concentrated on the common people or just distrustful of me were swayed to my side. They believed that I worked for the common good and would develop the village into a flourishing metropolis. This was quite true, though of my true intentions they were not all too informed about.
Though I didn’t yet have all of the votes of the ruling council, having over 2 thirds allowed me to temporarily take partial ownership of my dungeon. I quickly developed an individual company that would take care of the dungeon business and anyone delving into my depths.
The “Adventurers Guild” would take in members that took care of various problems, such as monster infestations, mysteries, and rumors but also delved into the dungeon. The guild would manage the number of people and allow for the most optimal delving of my dungeon.
This allowed me to get more mana per space the delver used and would boost my dungeon personality and merchant personality. I got access to more mana at a better cost and my public figure was able to make a ton of many very quickly.
The money I invested in various public topics, such as defense, agriculture, and entertainment. This, together with some generous bribes, allowed me to only have the first group of nobles left, the twins and the tough nut.
I didn’t want to have to deal with any problems that would arise when I introduced the twins into a partnership. They would inevitably stumble upon some facts and numbers that weren’t in line with what I told the public and smell something fishy.
So instead I slowly choked their mercantile business by lowering the prices of various products. I was able to consistently offer cheaper products because I could just produce them through mana, but the twins weren’t. Slowly, I pushed them off the larger market and set them before an ultimatum, either I would choke out their business or they could stand down and just supply some other products.
After a week of discussion time, they returned to me with their answer. Solemnly they agreed to my generous offer, of siding with my side on the council and being allowed to offer niche luxury articles.
Two down and only one to go, things were looking promising, until I remembered who the last person was. The richest person in the village, standing even slightly above me, the man was not someone to play around with.
The leader of the black market, gambling district, brothel, and the guards, he was a quite powerful man. He had a large information network, coming from the brothel, casinos, and some illegal interrogations. He had the money coming from the gambling tables, the pleasure houses, and the black market. And he had the support of the commoners through his brothels and casinos.
It would be quite difficult to get overthrow the man, and assassination was looking more promising day by day, though even this would come with its retaliation. Any other solutions, such as partnership, were immediately thrown out the window by me. Because he was exactly the person that would have a pickaxe in your core the second you turned you back to him.
With no end on the horizon, my struggle to power and his to remain on the throne continued on.
Deep down below, things were looking quite good, If you ignored some of the obvious problems. The space around my dungeons was feverishly fought over, especially the smaller entrances switched ownership weekly. Together with the lack of space, a lack of food was creating some problems.
Before the various subterranean settlements were spread out enough that everyone could harvest enough plants and hunt enough monsters. But now the harvestable crops were getting rarer and rarer and the monsters began to retaliate.
This retaliation was also what produced the largest problems. The rising mana level of the depths below the area around my dungeon was increasing the average tier of the monsters. Attacks from tier 4 to 5 or even tier 6 monsters were not all too rare anymore and even some plants began to attack the harvesters.
Because of this various merchants were attacked during their travels and didn’t come with enough food onboard. So while the common folk starved in the cities they found various ways to escape the slow death.
The most promising was adventuring. The “adventurer guild” idea from above had worked so well on top I tried it down below too. Now thousands of young men and women came to the guild daily, in the hope to became the next warrior and earn tons of gold.
This was also what produced the largest problem for me. A large number of desperate people were like a game in the casino. While most would lose and die in the paws of some monsters, the rare ones would prevail and rise to greatness.
These Tier 6 and 7 adventurers were then in search of the next glorious battle with which they could earn big money. For this, they looked at my dungeon, specifically at the last zone and even beyond.
The problem was, the “Beyond”, was not as beyond as I would wish it to be and it just simply ended inside my core room. So it already came to the occasion, that I woke up one wonderful morning, from a relaxing Sunday, only to see a group of too powerful adventurers fighting my boss.
It may have happened, that in my panic of another backstab, I may have devastatingly and absolutely demolished any last hint of the attackers. Though I personally could not recall any situation in which this could have happened, I only wanted to prepare for any possibilities.
So with enough mana to destroy a swath of land and enough time to use it for something, I made sure my 8th zone would be enough to challenge the adventurers for the coming future!!!!