A note from kosnik4

Sorry for the late release. I just finished editing an 8,000-word chapter for Patron.


Speaking of Patron, I just posted chapter 60 if you want more to read.

Kervin's Point of View:


I snap the reins controlling my bivol, ushering them to pick up more speed. Bivol are brisk walkers on a good day, and it's only due to the selective breeding the Silver Herd Company experimented with in their early days that mine are trained to keep a steady pace.


Depending on what happens in the next few hours, I might be promoted and awarded some of their prized bulls, or I might be looking to buy my own after being fired.


Lurte, Ryiba, and I took turns driving the cart, pushing my poor bivol to their breaking point, trying to return to Blaiton as fast as possible.


We haven't stopped for more than a few hours to let the beasts rest for four days. While one of us slept in the back of the empty cart, using our canvass covering as a makeshift bed, the other two kept the cart moving.


This is all that damn general's fault! Giving me only a month to deliver her the arrows she requested. If my message didn't reach Aaliyah for whatever reason, or gods forbid she ignores it, I'm screwed.


I steer my cart alongside the walls of Blaiton, heading for the gate reserved for Silver Herd Company members. The company is the biggest provider of income for the city, and the mayor's family unofficially serves the company's interests. The gate was funded by the mayor's family and reserved for our company as a sign of goodwill.


The current head of Silver Heard, Giovanni Turrini's father, established the company after he bought a small farm outside Blaiton that raised the best bivol this side of Olebert. Using the stronger and more striking bivol to haul his goods around, he quickly made a name for himself and grew the company to encompass the major trade routes between Blaiton, Drey, and Teeburn.


Once he passed the company down to his firstborn son, Giovanni wasted no time continuing to expand up into Yleles, making Silver Herd the fourth biggest mercantile company in Olebert.


Giovanni Turrini has always been aggressively expanding the company ever since he took over and even sent his daughter to join the military's healing order to develop his contacts. Ever since his daughter quit the military, he's been searching for other avenues to expand his reach.


He probably thanked the gods Scholl decided to attack us. For him to be committing three of his carts towards regular deliveries to Teeburn shows how aggressively he's trying to attract the military's attention.


There's no doubt in my mind he's already heard about my encounter with General Pitz. I don't want to think about what might happen if I tried to pretend nothing happened in Teeburn.


I see the gate leading into town just ahead of us.


The gate is guarded by two of Blaiton's guards, but they're there just for show. The people really in charge of the gate are the four people with the Silver Herd emblem on their coats.


We're quickly flagged down and directed to stop in front of the gate. I don't recognize the man who's approaching us; I try to avoid coming here unless I need to submit my income reports.


He doesn't have any striking features and has most of his face covered to combat the winters chilly wind. "Plate," he demands in a cold tone. He holds out his hand towards me but directs his gaze into my cart. Even with most of his face covered, I can see his judging eyes questioning why my cart is empty.


No self-respecting merchant doesn't have anything in his cart; we're expected to be continually hauling goods to make a profit. I'm sure he'll send a message to headquarters, but that's the least of my problems right now.


I hand him my plate and wait for him to inspect it.


He looks up at me again, but this time his eyes look much more severe. "You're, Kervin?" He waves my plate at me.


"Yes," I hesitantly respond, taking my plate from him.


"The boss is waiting for you. I'll send word you arrived." I shiver in my seat and not because of the cold.


"I'm aware." I try to sound more confident than I am.


I snap my reins, trying to get my bivol to move forward. They reluctantly continue on, and we enter the city. I turn around as we leave and watch the man pull his left sleeve up and talk into his bracelet. It's a communication's bracelet; those cost 150 gold or more depending on its range! He's probably sending word that I arrived.


The main road leading to the company's headquarters is lined with perfectly placed stones, and you can see traces of where it's been shoveled to make the trek for the carts easier. I've heard rumors Giovanni's father paid for a group of earth mages to lay each stone with magic, so it'll last for generations.


As we work our way down the street, we pass multiple storefronts with our logo on the side of their buildings. We even pass an inn that offers discounts to us traveling merchants when we're in town.


We round a corner and come into view of the Silver Herd Trading Company headquarters. The small castle of stone and wood is designed to look like a noble's residence. The stone arches draw the eye to the beautiful masonry while the woodwork accents the windows with exquisite panes of clear glass in them.


I steer my bivol to the left of the building, towards the stables.


The stables are divided into two sections; one area is used to store carts while the other is a fenced-in area the bivol can be left to roam freely. I park my cart, leaving my valuables in the safe built into the carriage. There are plenty of guards walking around, and Silver Herd doesn't take kindly to thieves. I once heard the boss walked into the city's jail and cut the hands off of someone who stole from the company personally. Only a fool would steal anything on this property.


I walk my bivol over to their enclosure, sliding over a latch that secures the short gate shut. The gate is only three and a half feet tall made from beams of thick steel. Bivol don't jump or climb, but they're incredibly strong, so the fence is short but very sturdy. The lock isn't designed to keep people out; it's only to keep the bivol in.


Once everything is secure, we make our way inside the building. As soon as we step through the door, we remove our coats. The building has heating runes installed somewhere, keeping the building warm, a luxury that only someone with money to burn can afford.


The three of us walk down the corridor connecting the stable entrance to the reception area in the front of the building.


We pace by a few people carrying stacks of paper who pretend we don't exist. This entire building is for the accountants to monitor the company's holdings. I've heard rumors from older merchants that there's a secret vault somewhere in the building that holds the truly expensive items and the company's treasury, but no one is sure if it exists.


When we enter the front receptionist area, I walk to the main attendant flanked by Lurte and Ryiba. The woman operating the front station has beautiful straight blond hair and is wearing cosmetics, showing off how much she's paid to do her job. Her deep green eyes evaluate me for only a second before she addresses me. "Mr. Kervin, Giovanni Turrini is waiting for you in his office. Straight back to my left and up the stairs. His office is the room with the double doors."


Whether she has nothing more to say or she's swamped, she turns her attention back to the papers in front of her ignoring our existence. I look behind me at my bodyguards and notice they're just as nervous as I am. The whole, everyone knows who you are without you saying anything is unsettling.


We follow the receptionist's directions and make our way to Giovanni’s office. I start to sweat, the closer we get to his office. I haven't spoken to the man since I was hired years ago, and I've never stepped into his office even once before. I still clearly remember the day I was hired.


After my parents left our stall to my older brother, I spent a year working under him before deciding I didn't want to work in Blaiton my whole life. Funny how now I'm trying to be promoted to a more stable position.


I asked around town and had the fortune to be recommended to Silver Herd by one of their stores my family regularly did business with.


For my interview, I was grouped with six other applicants and told to wait in a small room with no furnishings.


We waited for two hours, silently sizing each other up when Giovanni Turrini finally entered the room, followed by his bodyguard. "Let's get this over quick!" He said to us. "I'm busy and can't waste much time here. You each have two minutes to tell me your qualifications and why I should hire you. You first!" He thankfully pointed to a man on the opposite side of the room.


I was the last to be called on. I waited twelve grueling minutes, listening to the other applicants try to stammer out their qualifications in the allotted time. Each one of them was cut off by Mr. Turrini when their time ran out.


When he finally turned to me and told me to go, my mind almost shut down due to the pressure. It's funny; I can still remember my answer word for word and what happened after.


"Kervin, I grew up helping my family's produce stall. I want to become a better merchant and make more money!" I practically yelled out my response by instinct.




"Is that all you have to say?" He glared at me after a few seconds of silence.


"Yes, sir. You said you were busy, and time is money. I thought I'd keep it short and sweet." The other applicants looked at me like I was crazy, but everyone flinched when Giovanni Turrini laughed.


"You're hired, kid. Come back tomorrow to start your training. The rest of you can leave." A few of the other applicants advanced on him, trying to protest their dismissal. They were quickly stopped in their tracks when his bodyguard released a wave of bloodlust that made everyone collapse to their knees. Not one of them was able to get within five feet of Mr. Turrini.


That was the first and last time I met the boss of Silver Herd Trading Company. The rest is history.


Standing in front of the two wooden doors leading to Giovanni Turrini's office, I hesitate to open the door myself or knock first? Everything that's happened until now gives me the impression he's waiting for me, but a part of me is screaming not to touch the door.


I decide to knock first, but before my hand touches the beautifully carved wood, green lines glow across its surface, and they swing open by themselves. I end up standing in the doorway with my hand raised frozen like an idiot. The large office is decorated with shelves on either side of the walls with different pieces of artwork and statues, some of which have precious gems embedded in them. At the far end of the room is a large desk with Giovanni Turrini staring at the three of us. Behind him, off to the side, is his bodyguard, standing like a gargoyle ready to pounce.


In front of his desk are two seats with a table in between them. "Don't keep me waiting, come in and sit down." Mr. Turrini's authoritative voice breaks me out of my paralyzes.


Once the three of us are through the doorway, Mr. Turrini waves his hand behind his desk, and the doors behind us shut by themselves.


Having already been told to sit, I take a seat in the right chair while Lurte and Ryiba take their usual positions behind me.


I silently wait for Mr. Turrini to make the first move.


"You made it here quicker than I thought you would." He looks down at a piece of parchment in front of him. "It's a good thing you’re smart and chose to come back here on your own free will. I was happy to hear you were heading straight back here from Teeburn. It would have been a hassle if you decided to try and avoid me."


"You knew we were heading here?" I timidly ask.


"Of course, I have my ways to track my employees. After I heard about your run-in with the esteemed general, I immediately had people figure out where you were and which direction you were heading." He casually explains to me.


"I assumed you would want to see me." Mr. Turrini gives me a grin that looks positively vicious.


"Of course, I would. It's not every day I receive news General Emily Pitz leaves Fort North Ridge to meet with one of my merchants. And right after she single-handedly slaughtered thousands of Scholl's soldiers too. Imagine my surprise when I learned the merchant, she met with wasn't even supposed to be anywhere around Teeburn." She what, she found me after slaughtering an army!


"I made sure my route was covered." I try to explain.


"Oh, I know. I already messaged those who helped you pick up your slack. Each one said they did it because they owed you a favor. I was told you sold a whole cart of weapons to the army; how much did you make?"


I hesitate to answer his question. He isn't using any skills on me, but that can change quickly. I gather all my courage before answering him. "That is none of your business, sir." I immediately feel the tension in the room growing thicker.


"That's funny; you work for me, so I believe it is my business."


"I mean no disrespect, Mr. Turrini. I only meant I conducted the trade on my own time with the goods I purchased with my own personal coin. I started using my profits to buy weapons when the rumors we were going to war with Scholl started floating around." I carefully explain.


"I see. You took the initiative to earn yourself some extra gold; I can respect that." The pressure in the room fades a little. "That said, explain to me why the general sought you out. You might not have broken any of our rules, but you still identified yourself as a Silver Herd merchant. If you did anything to jeopardize the army's image of my company, we'd have a problem." The pressure that was decreasing a second ago returns even heavier than before.


I slowly reach to my side as not to aggravate Mr. Turrini's bodyguard and pull out the parchment the general gave to me. I stand up and gently place it on Mr. Turrini's desk. As he grabs the rolled-up parchment, I once again cower in my seat.


Mr. Turrini unravels the parchment and scrutinizes the contents.


His expression relaxes halfway through the note and turns into a smile by the time he finishes reading it. "A special order from the general herself, this is excellent news! Finally, we have a direct commission from a high-ranking military officer." The boss looks like he's ready to jump for joy.


"Tell me, Kervin. Why did she place the order through you? I have my three best traveling merchants constantly bringing goods to Teeeburn. What did you sell them that got you noticed by the general?" Mr. Turrini questions me.


"Apparently, some of the spears I sold them were of a higher quality than I realized. The general wanted to place an order for some quality arrows based on the spears I brought them." I deliberately try to be vague, but the look in Mr. Turrini's eyes says he's not falling for it.


"Did you purchase the spears through one of our affiliated blacksmiths? Tell me, and I'll send our best negotiator to them to draw up a deal." I knew this would happen.


"They aren't one of our affiliates or a known blacksmith."


Mr. Turrini's eyes widen. "A new talent, are they? That's even better; we can get a better deal for their work if they're an emerging blacksmith."


I have to be careful how I proceed. If I screw this up, I'll lose everything I've done to establish myself with Aaliyah. "I'm afraid that won't work, Mr. Turrini."


The giddy look he just had falters. "Explain," he demands.


"I've been in contact with this blacksmith for a few years now and know them personally. They have deliberately tried to stay obscure. I fear if you send a negotiator, they'll vanish."


Mr. Turrini narrows his eyes. "You make it sound like the person is hiding from something. Why would they hide their abilities, every truly great blacksmith needs a backer to grow properly?" He gives me a look that says I better explain.


I'm not making it out of here if I hold back now. "I believe it has something to do with her master." I drop my first hint. "Is this room secured?" I ask, trying to entice him more.


"My office is warded. Stop being suspenseful and tell me." He says that but his ire has slowly faded, and I need to properly establish why I'm needed.


"I'm sorry, Mr. Turrini. It's just that the information is sensitive. The blacksmith I bought the spears from, her master is a Stone Kin."


"What!?" Mr. Turrini stands up from his chair. You've been buying good from a Stone Kin and haven't reported it to the company!"


"No, not the Stone Kin." I hastily defuse his anger towards me. He retakes his seat while I explain. "The Stone Kin has refused to talk to me, let alone trade with me. From what I gathered, he wants to be left alone. He has however, taken on a human apprentice, who I regularly trade with. I wasn't aware of her goods' quality and sold them to the army for a dirt-cheap price. It's her goods the army is interested in, not her master's. She might not be as secretive as her master is, but she has multiple times told me to keep their existence a secret. If you try to establish contact with them, they'll likely leave." I make sure to emphasize her willingness to leave.


"I see, and I bet you just happen to be the only one she's agreed to trade with, is that right? I'm sure someone with higher levels and skills could come to an agreement with her." He sends me a challenging look.


"That might work?" I acknowledge his underlining threat. "It's a shame I'm the one who was acknowledged by General Pitz and Captain Nathaniel. It also helps I already established a contract with the blacksmith." I was hoping to see some shock on Mr. Turrini's face, but he doesn't look perturbed by my revelation at all.


"The Contract skill is a staple for any good merchant. I wonder what level yours is at? Is it above 40, judging by your expression it isn't, is it? Though it makes things more annoying, a contract can be broken in many ways if its user isn't a high enough level. Did you specify who takes over your contact if you suffer an unexpected accident? Many contracts automatically cancel when the user of the skill dies, did you know that?" I pale at his threat.


"You did a good job making sure you formed a contract with her, but you should never boast about it unless you have the ability to back it up. We'll have to discuss another time, but for now, we need to move on. Did you already send word to her that she needed to craft arrows for you? I heard the general only gave you a month to fulfill her order before she left the inn you were staying at." He even heard about that! The general's privacy magic was only deactivated for two sentences, and he somehow captured what she said? It's a good thing I sent the message to Aaliyah with a courier falcon, or someone probably would've intercepted it if I sent it by normal means.


"I've already sent a message by courier falcon. She should have enough arrows for me by the time I'm scheduled to return to her village. General Pitz made it sound like she wanted the best arrows possible, and hopefully, she's satisfied with what we can procure on such a tight schedule."


"Your blacksmith is in a village, is she? It makes sense if they're trying to remain low key. Which village are they located in?" Mr. Turrini shuffles a few papers around before finding the one he's looking for


"Spotted Creek Village," I answer him. He freezes in his seat with a surprised expression.


"Where my daughter is?" He probably would've heard about Aaliyah sooner if he remained in contact with his disgraced daughter.


"That's right, the same village your daughter moved to. I was lucky to be assigned a backwater location only to discover a future master craftsman." I take the chance to brag a little.


"The gods work in mysterious ways." I hear him mumble to himself before he decides to move on. "When are you due back in their village?"


"Roughly ten days from now."


"You should gather some supplies and leave immediately. Your deal with the general takes precedent over your previous route. I'll have your route be distributed to other merchants while we fill your previous position."


"You're firing me!" I panic.


"You've made it abundantly clear I need you to negotiate with your blacksmith friend, so no, I'm not firing you. This matter is highly sensitive, so I'm promoting you to a Specialty Sales Merchant. You won't need to worry about your previous route."


Specialty Sales Merchant, I've never heard of that position before? "What kind of position is that?" I hesitantly ask.


"They're the department of the company that deals with the movement of specialty materials and high-class goods with selective clients. You'll start off catering to your blacksmith, and if you prove to be adapting to your new position, you'll be given other clients in the future. But right now, I want you to focus on working with your blacksmith and regularly delivering whatever the general requests of you."


I'm almost afraid to ask about my pay. "Mr. Turrini, what is the pay like for my new position?"


He gives me a merchant's grin that has me reaching for my coin pouch. "Still thinking about your profits, that's good. Specialty Sales Merchants receive different salaries depending on their actions. You'll be dealing with much more expensive goods from here on out and working with a select clientele. Depending on what you need from the company, we take a flat fee for procuring the item you need, and from then on, the item technically belongs to you. You decide how much you want to charge your client. If you want to charge a higher price to make more of a profit, we won't take any of your earnings. However, if you lose us any of our clients, you'll be immediately fired, and the only merchant job you'll be able to get is selling manure from a farm."


I've never been so excited and so afraid at the same time. "That means I need to pay for my goods outright from now on."


"Correct. The position of a Specialty Sales Merchant is different from being a simple traveling merchant. For all intents and purposes, you're still a traveling merchant under our company, but because of the nature of the items your hauling, you should hide your new position and maybe hire a few more guards." He grabs a blank piece of parchment and starts writing on it.


He puts his seal down at the bottom and hands it to me. "That is your reference letter, take it to our main store in Drey and give it to the store manager. He'll be your contact with the company from now on. You simply need to ask him for whatever you need and have the coin ready. He'll keep track of your business and relay it back to a special department here. For whatever reason, you might find yourself in trouble. You can seek help through him. Any questions?"


"If you have a direct line of communication to him, can I send a list of things I need ahead of me?" I cautiously ask.


"I suppose we can do that. What do you need?" Mr. Turrini gives me a curious look.


"May I?" I motion to a stack of blank parchment on his desk.


He slides a piece of paper across his desk to me and hands me an enchanted pen that expels a perfect amount of ink from the tip. I can't afford to waste time being impressed with his expensive writing utensils. I quickly scribble out everything I need and hand the paper back to him.


He quickly scans through what I wrote down and looks back at me, confused. "Crates of dried food and a bunch of cheap magical tools? I give you full access to our company, and you want to order a few gold worths of stuff? Why so much dried food?"


My eyebrows rise in exclamation. "Sir, did you not read the report I sent you on the status of Spotted Creek Village?" When I was assigned to my route, I was told to write up a brief letter detailing anything I heard regarding his daughter every time I visited the village. I must have mentioned the threat the village is facing at least three times now.


"What's wrong with the village? Your letters are analyzed by one of my aides; I'm only told about direct dangers to her life."


Does he not care about his daughter at all? I spend the next thirty minutes explaining the threat the village faced with the goblins and what they continue to face with the chameleon spiders. The whole time he merely nods along with my explanation with a look that says he could care less about what I'm saying.


"I see, it doesn't sound like my daughter is in any real danger at the moment. The village head knows the price he would pay if he made my daughter participate in anything hazardous. If anything, this is a great opportunity for you." I send him an uncomprehending look.


"With the village in chaos, they'll be more reliant upon your deliveries. Focusing on delivering food to the village will be a great cover for you. Besides, it sounds like the village is strong enough to repel the beasts. And if the local lord is already notified, the issue should be resolved soon. He's notoriously known for the magic beast hunters, he employs. Once spring rolls around, he'll be looking for a place to train new hunters depending on his losses at the fort." Is this the callousness one needs to run a mercantile company?


"Your order will be sent within the hour. I suggest you hurry to Drey and plan out your immediate future. You better pray your blacksmith is up to the general's task. You can leave now." He waves his hand behind his desk, and I hear the automatic doors open behind us.


I don't have to be told twice. The three of us move as quickly as we can without appearing disrespectful. The doors once again close behind us as we move towards the exit.


We’re alive, and in the end, I was promoted. I never imagined it would happen like this, though. Let's hope the gold is worth it.


What am I saying, of course, it's worth it! The money I'll make from the army will make what I've earned up until now look like a dirty copper coin you find on the side of the road.


Giovanni Turrini may have tried to be threatening, but I won't buckle under the pressure.


It's time to head for Drey, levels, and gold coins are waiting for us to claim them!



Giovanni Turrini's Point of View:


I watch Kervin and his guards scurry out of my office like it's on fire. I quickly seal my doors again and sit back in my chair, exhaling deeply.


"Remind me, Marshall, to find the person in charge of going over the letters regarding my daughter. I should have been notified the minute a goblin tribe was spotted near her village. To think I wasn't told about such dangers around her." I slam my hand against my desk.


"Sure thing, boss. You want me to send a hunting party to the village to exterminate the magic beasts?" My close friend and bodyguard, offers his brand of help.


"No, it sounds like most of the danger has already passed. I'm just angry I wasn't notified about something so serious beforehand!"


"You could try writing her once in a while if you're so concerned about her safety." I narrow my eyes at Marshall.


"You know very well I can't do that. There are too many people watching my movements, trying to hinder the growth of the company. If people thought I still cared about my daughter, she could be abducted or have something worse happen to her. Better even my employees think I no longer care about her."


I close my eyes and surrender my full weight to my chair. This is the price I must pay to expand my family's company. Throwing my daughter out into the wilderness and moving my three sons around constantly to avoid assassination attempts.


Sometimes I wonder if the coin is worth it?


I can't sit here moping. I turn to Marshall. "You started serving my father a few years before he passed the company to me. What do you think, is it the same dwarf who wasted my father's money trying to make magical weapons?" I ask.


"Probably, Stone Kin live much longer lives than we do, and not many leave their mountain fortresses." He gives me a lighthearted answer.


"Father told me it was one of his greatest regrets in life, investing money in that dwarf. Before he grew his company and learned that the dwarf city's never let their people leave unsupervised unless they're not worth the effort to supervise. The fact he was traveling by himself was all the indication someone needed to know he must have been a reject. At least it sounds like his apprentice has true potential."


"You want me to have our people look into her?" Marshall asks to my left.


"Please do. We already have our spies silencing information regarding my daughter living the village. Have them find out the blacksmith's name and tell them to look out for any information regarding her or her master. As to the rumors flying around about Kervin, make something up about us punishing him for selling faulty equipment to the army and that the general approached him demanding reimbursement. That should buy us some time to see how things play out."


"Are you worried about her skills not being up to par with the general's demands?"


"No, that's not it. The general herself asked for arrows after inspecting the blacksmith's work. I wouldn't dare claim to know more about weapons than she does. It's just that I've heard rumors about General Emily Pitz. She leveled quickly, making her name through hunting strong magical beasts. She was known for finding the scent of strong creatures and mercilessly tracking them down. It's rumored she does the same for talented individuals." I run my hand through my hair, a nervous gesture I picked up as a kid.


"There was a reason I promoted Kervin to oversee the transaction with the army. Should something go wrong, we won't lose one of our senior merchants. And on the off chance he succeeds, we'll have a new battle-tested Specialty Sales Merchant. Speaking of battle-tested, how strong were his bodyguards? Should I warn him to hire better ones?"


Marshall thinks to himself for a moment. "They were level 57 and 59 respectfully. Higher leveled than the bodyguards I usually see for traveling merchants. They'll either rise to the occasion the first time they encounter any real danger or die horrible deaths. It all depends if word gets out about the cargo they'll be carrying. Bandit activity is increasing in rural areas while the main roads remain clear with all the soldiers moving towards the fort."


"A trial by fire, then," I ask the level 88 warrior.


"Isn't that what you were going for in the first place?" He smiles down at me.


We both share a laugh.


Things are about to get interesting. This might be just what Silver Herd needs to reach its next level and compete with the big three trading companies.


A note from kosnik4

5,500 words.


Again, sorry for the late release.


Hope you enjoyed the chapter and have a happy Halloween.


Stay safe. 

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Bio: Just love a good story.

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