The chief of Siri Jani was furious. His women were defying him. Over the growing season, he grew the poppy seeds his daughter sent him. Once they were ready, he used her recipe to make opium. With it, he expected to make his alcohol so good it didn’t matter what kind of wine the sailors made; they would always come back.
“What do you mean telling me not to do something in my house? Do I need to beat you?”
His youngest wife, the one that spent time in school, said, “Dear husband, you do not understand. That opium is deadly if you take too much.”
“So what? Just put it in some rum.”
“You don’t understand. An ounce of it will kill you and many other men.”
“A fleck of the processed opium will take away all your pain, allowing surgery, but two flecks of the stuff will kill you.”
“How do you know that?”
“King Paul keeps all the women updated on medical knowledge. He trained us to heal. Every time a new medical breakthrough happens, he prints off all the relevant details and sends copies to every village. He has not published his method for opium processing, but he has sent word out that it takes very little for it to work, and anything more will kill someone. He also warned not to give it to someone unless absolutely necessary because it's very addictive.”
“That’s why I am putting it in our rum. We are going to have customers forever.”
“But King Paul will not be pleased. He told us specifically not to give it to anyone unless absolutely necessary. If we intentionally use his creation to make people addicts, then King Paul will come after us.”
That last statement caused the chief to pause. His wife was absolutely right. He thought about it then said, “King Paul will be upset if we sell this to his people, but the sailors at the harbor are not his people. Just imagine selling barrels of the stuff to the sailors. The sailors who think our alcohol is not as good as the stuff they have back home. When they run out of our stuff, they will feel miserable until they can get more of it. Just imagine them coming back begging for more. We could charge them whatever we wanted to then.”
The chief paused for a second and asked his wife, “How much do you think we can put in a barrel?” One of the sailors suggested that his alcohol would be easier to sell if he put it in barrels, and the chief actually listened, and to his great surprise, the wooden barrels improved the flavor.
“No more than a tenth of an ounce. And even that might be too much.”
“A tenth of an ounce for an entire barrel? I would think a barrel would need a pound of the stuff.”
“Husband, you have no idea how strong this processed opium is. If you think a tenth of an ounce is too little, just put it in one of the barrels, and have one of the men drink a cup. If there's no effect, we will add another tenth. If they die, then we will do a twentieth of an ounce.”
“You think a tenth of an ounce of processed opium will kill someone when it's been diluted in a barrel of rum? There are forty-two gallons in a barrel.”
“It's strong stuff.”
“Fine, we will do it your way. I have the perfect guy to see if it's lethal or not anyway.”
The chief was a bit nervous when his wife put the tenth of an ounce of processed opium into the barrel of alcohol and stirred it up. If it killed his man, then he would have to water it down until it didn’t kill anyone. If he watered it down too much, it hurt his reputation.
He only gave his experiment one cup of the stuff, and about an hour after he drank it, his experiment was feeling awesome. When he didn’t die, the chief allowed the rest of the village to drink out of the barrel. None of them died, and all their aches and pains went away. Fortunately, his wives didn’t tell the other women what he was up to, and they let slip that even their cramps went away after drinking from that barrel, and the euphoria they felt lasted most of the day.
The rest of the week, they felt awful and didn’t know why.
The chief just smiled. He had his addictive product, and he knew exactly where he was going to sell it.
The next week the chief took several of his men and his oldest son down to the seaport at five village island and opened up a stall selling his special brew for a copper. The lowest valued coin available. Coinage was starting to take off in Paulsland, if for no other reason than they were importing more iron than they were mining. Since every village had at least one blacksmith, and every villager needed iron tools, they were getting familiar with coins because they could give it to the blacksmith, who could trade it for enough iron for several jobs. That isn’t even including the various goods you could get that Paulsland didn’t have.
As they opened up their stall, a sailor came by and said, “Are you barbarians finally opening up a tavern?”
“Whats a tavern?”
“A place to drink, get a buzz, and get plastered.”
“What's the name?”
The chief thought about it. Since he made his brew from sugarcane, he said, “The sugarcane.”
“So, what are you selling?”
The chief thought about it for a moment and said, “Wine made from sugar.”
“From which nation?”
The sailor frowned and said, “No, thank you.”
“This stuff is not like the other stuff. I will even give you your first cup for free.”
The sailor liked the idea of free drink, so he said, “Sure.” The chief handed him a cup of his morphine laced rum. The sailor hesitated to drink it and was pleasantly surprised by the taste and said, “This isn’t bad stuff. You say it's only a copper?”
“I’ll bring my shipmates by later.”
Throughout the day, various sailors came by, had a quick drink, and went back to work. When they started getting the best buzz of their life about an hour after they left, their friends got pretty interested. That evening the Chief and his guards were very busy filling up tankards for the sailors.
On the first day, they charged copper. The next day they charged bronze. By the end of the week, they were charging silver for each tankard they filled. When captains found out how much their sailors liked the buzz of his product, they spent pounds of gold getting a barrel.
In the coming days, the chief spent his coin on the best products the sailors had to offer, set up a large tavern near the port, and then went back home. His business plan was simple. Make the special brew in his village, ship it to five village island where his son would sell it to the sailors. In a year, when his next oldest son finished his time in the army, he could help his brother out.
To make sure he had enough rum to sell, he sent his people out to buy sugar cane from the surrounding villages. At forty two gallons of rum to every tenth of an ounce of processed opium, sugar cane would be an issue for a while.