Griz gazed at this boy sitting nonchalantly across from him. The bearings and that confidence that seeped out from his body posture was shocking. Even more amazing was that the brat was as comfortable as he would be in his own home.
Just who exactly was the Master of this place?
Chu glanced at Griz and continued to press on. From the time he entered college and began his first part-time job, he learned an important fact.
No matter what job you hold, whether it was a laborer, office or medical occupation. It could be at the highest or lowest in the eyes of society. If you are good at it, then you should never be ashamed to display your confidence and pride.
When he finally found his little niche in the field of business, he never forgot this lesson. It was because of this exhibition, that those old fowls he interacted with always failed miserably in their attempts to intimidate him. At the end of each day, whether he cursed, cried or jumped for joy on reaching home. He never forgot to chalk up his daily highlights as well earned experience.
“Given what you told me from before, I think as the Trading post Master. A huge opportunity is now opened for you. BUT the value of this humongous profit is falling like a rock as we sit and talk.”
Griz gave him one of those looks that killed. He restrained himself from jumping over the counter and choking the bastard to death.
“Brat, the longer you dillydally and beat around the bush, the longer it takes for me to hear you plan. Quit spinning this yarn.”
Chu chuckled and then switched to a serious face.
“How long do you have to work in this village?”
Griz frowned while replying.
“I have at least a year here. Then I have to serve five years in another two villages like this, before I can even earn the chance to be nominated. It would have been longer, but the profit from the Snow bear that was sent into the town cut my training time in half.”
Chu looked at Griz while the cogs began spinning in his head. He considered the Trading post as a main company with branches spread throughout the Empire. Unlike those modern day companies promotions here were more based on contacts than merits. After all, who would want to give up such a lucrative post in any world.
“Then lets try to cut that time again.”
Chu looked at him in confidence.
“I need a map to point out some things.”
Griz had one of the attendants bring the rough merchant map of the surrounding villages and town. It was a sketch drawn not to scale but outlining the roads from the villages and surrounding towns. The roads had little snippets of information, like how long a journey between the two points. There was even some small notes describing the bandits and other dangers that plagued certain areas.
“Right now nobody is willing to travel the roads. The garrison reinforcements to the village are here to make up the losses and keep some calm. Late next week the real players will enter this village and use it as a base. The Military is not stupid so I suspect they will have people here and here.”
Chu pointed to the villages to the north and south on the map.
“Most likely they are going to try to search around these villages hoping for some sighting as to track it. What is beneficial to us is this.”
He pointed to the route between the town of Karst and the village.
“For those who want to use the demon, they have no choice but to come here. That’s because they need to consider the time from killing the demon to activating the stone. Simon said they have about five days after the death of the demon. Our village is going to be the center of all the action. Since most of the people are hurrying here, they are going to need supplies. Especially the kind to withstand venturing into the winter outdoors.”
Griz nodded his head in agreement. He pitched in his two cents at this point.
“I understand what you are saying and what you are suggesting. BUT no one is going to take the chance to transport supplies with the demon on the loose. In two weeks the trackers will be here, in another most of the top mercenaries and those who are vying for the lifestone. By that time the roads will be busy and a little safer to chance small loads. A sane merchant is not going to take a high risk by moving now to make money.”
If Chu was in the same position he would agree. If he was a merchant he would try to hook up with the soldiers when they were traveling to the village. With so many people on the roads the wolf packs would not be so keen to attack. As for the wolf demon, well that was the risk you had to chance.
Fortunately Chu was the only one privy to two sets of important information.
First was that the wolf packs that were roaming in the south of the village was the one that met its demise at their hands. As such maybe only lone wolves and small pairs were left. In the face of a large caravan they would be mad to attack.
The second and most important was the fact that the culprit of all this upheaval, the wolf demon was dead.
If he acted now he was going to make a killing. By the time those merchants in the town decided it was safe to travel, he would have already have sold his supplies at a high price. What he had to do was try to reach the towns as fast as possible before merchants there decided to inflate the prices in anticipation.
Luckily Griz was acting under the Trading post banner. From what he had experienced, this company would have the resources to sell and profit. All it needed was someone to make a decision.
“What if I tell you that you can safely travel between here and the next town without facing any danger. If you use this south route, it is doubly safe.”
Chu ran his fingers along the south route from the town of Karst. Although this map only showed the area around this province it was a priceless gem in Chu’s eyes.
Griz stared at him as if he was a madman spouting nonsense.
“Don’t give me that look, it doesn’t suit you. To show you how serious I am. I am willing to become your slave for life if you encounter any troubles. I am even willing to throw in all the money I made. This is how sure I am of success.”
Griz swallowed his saliva as he watched the boy. They had only known each other for a short period of time. Although they had struck up a good relationship it wasn’t that close where they had to risk their lives. Presently it was like meeting a neighbor who helped you for a month and then asked you for a million dollar loan.
“I am just providing the information. It is up to you to make use of the opportunity. If you send word out to the Trading post in the town, then you will be the main supplier until the other merchants arrive. Think of it as me giving you a sure bet in a gambling house. How much you place on it is up to you.”
The burly man was now agitated as he got up and paced along the counter. Like the boy said it was a gamble. He didn’t have to worry about loosing but only about how much to put down. One question kept nagging him however.
“How can you be so sure?”
Chu leaned into the counter and dropped his voice to a whisper. Even Ming who was beside him could barely hear what he was saying.
“I have an acquaintance in the slums who we pay to bring us firewood. Two days ago he overheard a conversation in the slums. The Mong bandits who normally appear in spring for recruitment from the slums had arrived. The talk was that the bandits had been ambushed by the wolf demon to the north. It seemed that their hideout between the two villages was breached by the demon. The man also said that the demon was currently pursuing some of their comrades who fled into the forest.”
Griz looked at Chu and saw the excited face that occurred when one had just released a big bottled-up secret. Glancing at the side, the boy next to him also showed the same shock and was nodding in amazement. If Griz only knew what was really passing through his mind, he would puke blood.
‘OMG Chu is so F%$#@ amazing! When will I be able to lie with such a straight face.’
Griz motioned to Simon who was sitting at the back to join them. He relayed the news to Simon with Chu filling in some of the pieces.
The old guard sat down to think for a moment.
“If this is true, then the boy is right. It could be a golden opportunity for you. When I spoke to the commander last, he said that this demon was very vindictive. The last patrol was hunted into annihilation. If the boy’s story is true then this wolf demon will be busy for the next couple of days playing with its prey.
Don’t forget it also has to harvest and feed on those bandits it killed. I think the boy is right, this is a good chance.”
Griz restarted his pacing.
“Take Simon with you and bring back your friend, I want to hear the story from his own mouth.”
He glanced at the boy only to halt his movements at the sight.
Chu’s eyes welled up as he fought back the tears.
“He’s dead Griz. Dead. We came today to carry him back with us only to find out he disappeared last night. It seemed that he was found out by the person he overheard. That’s why we rushed to the Trading post.
To avenge Tom, I will not let his death go in vain. I only hope for you to become rich so my friends and I can receive some of the bread crumbs. Only by becoming stronger will we be able to someday find the person and avenge Tom.”
The tears rolled down his face as the small boy sniffled and wept. The grown men could only begin to fathom the bonds between these companions forged in hardship. Chu’s performance was breathtaking. As for Ming, he had broken down and was sobbing at the side.
‘OMG If I could only lie like this. Sue would never know if I stole more meat from the pot. Poor, poor Tom he was such a good friend!’
Caught up in the height of the moment Griz gritted his teeth. This distraction to the doubts forming in his mind allowed the greed of a merchant to win him over. The weight of the anticipated success finally broke his resistance.
“Simon go get our messenger ready. I will get those lazy assistants to draft out the supplies we are going to need to cater for the influx of adventurers. If we are going to do it, we will do it big!”