Chapter 336 – Freewind Merchant Company
Soon, Zhao Hai’s camp started being collected, after which they will immediately leave. But at this time, they saw a man walking towards their camp.
The person wore elegant garments, but not the type worn by Nobles. Although he wore commoner type clothes, Zhao Hai could see that the man had quite the temperament hidden inside. Additionally, if one were to closely investigate the material used to make his garment, one could see that it costs an entire year’s worth of income for ordinary mercenaries.
Zhao Hai looked at the person walking towards him curiously, the person didn’t bring a weapon and he wore a smile on his face, he didn’t look like a threat.
Well aware of customs, the man stopped about 5 meters away from Zhao Hai’s carriage and bowed to Zhao Hai as he said, “Mister, this one is Freewind Merchant Company’s servant. I didn’t have any other purpose coming today other than to wish to accompany mister on his travel. I don’t know if mister can agree to this one’s request?”
Zhao Hai was surprised, even though the man looked ordinary, his convoy wasn’t small. Looking at it, Zhao Hai could count about more than 200 carriages.
The man looked at Zhao Hai’s reaction and quickly added, “Mister, please don’t misunderstand. We didn’t offend any bandits inside the canyon. Our Freewind Merchant Company had a hundred years of history doing trades between Rosen Empire and Aksu Empire. I have become familiar with the other travellers in the canyon, this time, I wanted to accompany mister and get to know you, I bear no ill intent.”
Zhao Hai looked at the man as he showed a faint smiled and said, “Good, this is my first time travelling towards Rosen Empire and we don’t know the local custom, so I may ask mister about them. This one’s name is Wales, mister is?”
The man quickly replied, “This one is Freewind Merchant Company’s servant, Storm. We’ll follow mister immediately when mister’s camp gets settled.”
Zhao Hai faintly smiled then replied, “Very well, we’ll go set out together, mister Storm.” Storm smiled then returned to his convoy.
Zhao Hai didn’t understand Storm’s intentions. Why did he want to suddenly travel together with him. After entering his carriage, Zhao Hai asked Laura, “Laura, have you heard about Freewind Merchant Company?”
Laura nodded, “Of course I’ve heard of them. Freewind Merchant Company is a medium-sized company inside Rosen Empire. Their scale of operations isn’t that big, they trade frequently between Rosen Empire and Aksu Empire, going back and forth. But because Purcell Duchy is quite far, their company’s operations didn’t reach there.
Zhao Hai nodded and asked again, “What about their reputation? We’re currently going blind entering Rosen Empire. It would be great to have someone who clearly knows what’s happening inside.”
Laura nodded, “Their reputation is very good, their company is famous for their honesty and trustworthiness. Although they aren’t a large-sized company between the Rosen and Aksu Empires, they’re quite famous in the business community.”
Zhao Hai smiled, “That’s good, but why do you think they approached me this time? We didn’t have any contact with them, and we only have two carriages. And seeing the carriages we use, it was clear that we don’t intend to do business.”
Laura smiled faintly, “Although we don’t look like we’re doing business, but you’re someone who would become very important in the future. Don’t forget that you’ve not only shown a power of a 7th rank, you also dealt with the bandits brilliantly. In addition to giving them some coins, you also had them act as your night guards, attracting admiration to you. How could they overlook such qualities?”
Zhao Hai smiled a little, “I just don’t want to make enemies out of those mercenary bandits. Think about it, there were a lot of groups surrounding our camp, so it was impossible for their night guards to not notice the bandits. But why did they pretend to not see them? It clearly showed that there’s some special relationships going on inside the canyon. Therefore, I chose to not offend those bandits.”
Actually, when Zhao Hai saw these bandits, the first thing that came to his mind were those protection agencies (Biāojú) mentioned in novels back on Earth. The men from these agencies would set up an area where they’ll ask for “protection money”, they even inform travellers about their agency.
Just like what novels show, when erecting these agencies, one needs sufficient strength and background. One should make sure that they don’t get underestimated, or else the people passing by your territory won’t give you much face.
These bandits would steal goods from the canyon and sell them to either Cold Wind Fortress or Hundred Battles Fortress. It’s impossible to think that these bandits have no relation to anyone inside those two places. Zhao Hai didn’t reach Hundred Battles Fortress yet, and he didn’t want to provoke the garrison there, so he decided to just give 1,000 gold coins to the bandits.
Naturally, Laura didn’t have anything to say regarding this method. Even though 1,000 gold coins was a lot of money to ordinary people, to Laura and the group, those coins were just spare change. Spending 1,000 gold coins to establish rapport with the bandits, as well as having them act as their night guard was very well worth it.
As soon as their convoy departed, they heard a voice sounding out nearby, “Mister Wales, might I have the honor in inviting you inside my carriage? I have prepared some dishes as well as some fruit wine. How about having a drink?”
Zhao Hai smiled and turned to Laura, “I’ll go and take a look.” Then he laughed loudly and replied, “I was thinking the same thing.” Then he opened his carriage door and walked outside.
As the carriage outside slowed down to a halt, Zhao Hai inspected it. The carriage was structurally the same as his, but this one was horse-drawn. And the horse wasn’t any ordinary horse, but instead it was a flaming horse. Storm was sitting inside the carriage smiling at Zhao Hai.
The two carriages were close to each other, as long as one took a few strides they would arrive at the other carriage. Zhao Hai smiled and walked toward Storm.
Storm welcomed Zhao Hai to his carriage. The carriage’s interior was similar to Zhao Hai’s. All essential furniture were there, it seemed like this kind of design was quite famous in the continent.
On the carriage’s table, there were four small dishes present as well as two glasses filled with wine. Zhao Hai looked at the dishes and they turned out to be magic vegetables popular in the continent. They were also cooked very well, although the quantity was small, the dishes looked very refined.
One must know that eating magic vegetables during winter was very hard for commoners to do. For the numerous commoners in the continent, they would only eat rice and pickled food during the winter, some even had no pickled food.
Zhao Hai didn’t say anything, Laura once said that Freewind Merchant Company was a medium-sized company. Medium-sized companies held extraordinary status in the continent. Laura’s Magic Lily Store back at Purcell Duchy, even though it had quite the number of customers, could only be classified as a small-sized company if placed on the continent’s stage.
After Storm invited Zhao Hai to sit down, he held his wine glass and said, “Being able to meet mister on this journey was a kind of fated encounter, so let me offer this glass to mister, cheers.” Zhao Hai also held his wine glass and clinked it with Storm’s, “Cheers.”
Taking a small sip of his liquor, Zhao Hai then placed it down and asked while smiling, “Why did Mister Storm suddenly want to travel with me today?”
Storm froze for a moment, he didn’t think that Zhao Hai would go straight to the point, but he recovered and smiled, “The method that Mister used last night was very beautiful. I must be honest to mister, all the people in the canyon knew about these bandits. We saw that mister was a newcomer so we already knew that you would get raided tonight. However, mister handled the matter beautifully. When I saw it, my heart couldn’t help but feel admiration.”
Zhao Hai smiled, “Mister is too polite. Actually, it was quite easy for me to exterminate those bandits. But I’m afraid that they were related to some people inside Cold Wind Fortress and Hundred Battles Fortress, so I didn’t dare make a move on them.”
Storm nodded, “Mister is right. These bandits indeed have connections inside Cold Wind and Hundred Battles. Don’t think that all of the loot that these bandits acquire would end up entirely as their belongings. Most of their earnings were handed over to the people inside the two fortresses. We’re also aware of this kind of thing.”
Zhao Hai was confused and asked, “But why do they do this? Isn’t it just the same if they ask for tariffs directly at the fortress?”
Storm smiled faintly and replied, “Didn’t you notice? Most of the convoys inside Lifeline Canyon belong to great nobilities. Do you think that the fortress garrison had any courage to ask for tariffs to these convoys? The bandits was the plan the garrison thought of in order to recoup their losses. Everyone understood this, so they couldn’t just exterminate those bandits.”
Zhao Hai nodded, he understood that what Storm said was the truth. One couldn’t underestimate the power of the great nobilities in the continent. All the people who did so ended up dead. The great nobles indeed have the influence to prevent the garrison from asking them for tariffs.
So the easiest method to use were bandits. They would be the ones robbing small convoys passing through Lifeline as the garrison wouldn’t be able to do so. Even if those great nobles think that using bandits were excessive, it was a good trade-off in exchange of being in conflict with the garrison because of tariffs.
Storm looked at Zhao Hai and smiled, “What does mister intend to do inside Rosen Empire? Looking at the emblem on your carriage, it looks like you’re a person from Akus Empire’s Purcell Duchy. And from those carriages behind you, it looks like they were from the Purcell Family’s direct line. Am I right?”
Zhao Hai nodded, “Correct, I’m a viscount of Purcell Duchy. I came to do something in Sky Water City. The carriages behind me belonged to the Purcell Family’s young lady. She’s going to Carson City to study.”
Storm began to nod and said, “Sky Water City is really a good place, being a port city, it’s very good for trade. Moreover, the tax in the city is very low. Going there to do business is a good idea. If you want to do business there, you can tell me.”