Flame Kingdom – 24.1

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She was someone who speaks in Sorbania dialect at any given times, using informal words as if she had known the other party for years, yet right now she speak neatly. 

Also, she was a beauty. 

She was young, and a bit naive when it comes to business, but she had enough experience to cover her flaw. 

In addition, she was a beautiful woman. 

Not only she was capable of talking jokes, without contempt, sometimes she spoke slightly in sexual harassment manner like an old man. 

Still, she was a beautiful woman. 

Some people had opinion such as ‘If she were not a woman, she would’ve been a great merchant’, but some people also had different view such as ‘Precisely because she was a woman that she had that kind of personality…’, there was even those who said ‘Maria-chan such an Angel…’ That’s right, the person mentioned here was the Search firm branch office manager, Maria Search. A young star that gained fame recently, and could be said the merchants’ idol. 

Of course, her profession as a merchant also professional. But no matter how beautiful a woman was, a useless thing would always stay useless, though being attractive was not a disadvantage in business… But then again, if one were beautiful even if the profit falls a little, the dirty mind would always forgive just a bit. A man was that kind of creature. 

“…” 

Well, Maria was popular among the people, but in truth, she was indeed a fine lady. She was the child from Search family, which was among the 12 big business in Kato. Though she was bellow Erika, she did someone who had learn culture and etiquette. In the first place, just because she speaks brokenly didn’t mean that she could not talk formally.

If she could only speak informally, then that would be stupid in the world of business. 

“… Thank you for inviting me today. I’m Maria Search.” 

She bowed elegantly. In response to such greeting, Erika stunned then gazed at her with an amazed gaze. 

“What’s wrong, Maria. Did you hit your head somewhere?” 

“Hit my head— No, of course not, Erika-sama. I didn’t get myself hit anywhere, I think?” 

“Then, what’s with that way of speaking… Can’t you stop speaking that way? It feels disgusting, and makes me shiver…” 

“Disgu… N-No- Erika-sama. I’m always speaking this way, no?” 

“… Seriously, what’s wrong with you?” 

“… Ohohoho.” 

Erika was shuddering due to Marika sudden transformation but… In fact, it was Maria who wants to protest the most. 

Maria had gone to Erika residence due to Erika’s invitation telling her that she wanted to talk to her, but Maria was surprised when she saw someone who waits there… 

Kota? Forget Kota. And it was not like she didn’t know the person, in fact, she had been seeing the person a few times… 

“Maria, right? You don’t have to mind me, and behave like you usually does.” 

“Y-Your highness, Sonia-sama! N-No no, I can’t do that… Ah, I’m sorry, I mean is thank you for the consideration, but I would love to refrain….!” 

It was interesting to see how Maria was in a panic… But the person who was sitting opposite to her in this tea party was princess Sonia, the 11th child of King Carlos the First. It was understandable that she would be frightened. 

“… Oho, Maria. You didn’t seem nervous when you met me, but look at you now…” 

“N-No no, that is not what I meant…” 

Maria never meant to look down on Erika. She was someone with the title of a Duke, although she acted like a friend, Erika was, in fact, a member of the royal family, she was the elder sister of the current queen. It was someone who Maria as the daughter of a merchant should not associate with. 

“Still, Erika-sama is Erika-sama after all…” 

“… What do you mean by that…” 

Well, for Maria, Flame Kingdom was a foreigner country, and in her eyes, Erika was just the boss of another place. It was natural that one had to pay respect to a boss of another place, but at least it was psychologically different compared to when one faced one own place’s boss… 

It was bothersome to be hated by the boss of another place, but it was not fatal. However, it would be different if the person in front of her was the Sorbania royal family. 

Search Firm was a merchant from the Sorbania Kingdom, their property, and everything was located in Sorbania. 

If by some chance she offended Sonia, her family might lose their home and fortune. Even if you’re hated by the president of a business partner, it won’t have a result that bad, but if one were to be hated by one own’s president then, it can be said as a salaryman, their life had ended. 

“… If you’re that nervous, then you won’t be able to talk, you know? Why don’t you sit down first? How long are you going to stand there anyway?” 

While prompted by Erika, Maria sits down on her chair. It was the usual chair she had to sit a few times before, but somehow it felt more fluffy than usual… 

“I will prepare some tea. Please enjoy it, Maria-sama.” 

“T-Thank you very much. …” 

Maria carries the tea to her mouth while trying to maintain her posture. To be honest, she didn’t do an excellent job at it, but well, it cannot be helped… 

“Well then, Maria-san. I’m sorry for calling you so suddenly like this…” 

“Oh no, it is fine…” 

While saying those words, Maria gazed at Sonia interestingly. Noticing her gaze, Kota could not help but shrugged his shoulders. 

“…. There’s various circumstance but, from now on, Princess Sonia will stay in Tera…” 

“I will be living here in the future. It is encouraging for me to meet someone from Sorbania in Terra. please treat me well, Maria…” 

Sonia bowed gracefully… Maria, on the other hand, hesitates to what extent she should respond. Causing her hands to tremble… 

“Ah, Y-Yes, pleased to meet you, your Highness!” 

“About that ‘your highness,’ can you stop calling me that? After all, I’m going to marry into Kota’s family. Since I already left the royal family, please do call me just, Sonia…” 

*Kyaa* Sonia said those words while putting both her hands on her cheeks and looked embarrassed. Listening to it, Kota could only sigh and placed his hand on his forehead. On the other hand, Maria, who heard that, stared still and opened her mouth to the extent that her jaw might fall off. Such a chaotic situation… 

“… Ha? Married into?” 

“… Sonia-san, not married into. But bridal training, right?” 

“Oh my? Isn’t that the same thing? In the end, I will be married into Kota-sama’s family in five or six years…” 

“That is why… Maria-san? Emm, What’s going on?” 

Kota calls out to Maria, who looked stunned… 

“No well, there are many things that my head can’t get around… But the bottom line is that Sonia– Ehem, Kota-sama is going to take Sonia-sama’s hand?” 

“… It is for bridal training…” 

“Kota-sama!” 

“Well, Kota-han opinion aside…” 

Saying that she sighed… 

“… What is it?” 

“No, well, as expected, Kota-han, you’re indeed a demon lord, huh?” 

“This is not the part where you’re convinced with such a thing!” 

“Well, it is the job of the demon lord to kidnap a beautiful princess after all?” 

“That is… Ah, whatever, let us leave it at that…” 

Actually, he was the one being pushed to take her, but it was too bothersome to explain, thus Kota decided to leave it alone and sighed… Kota himself felt like in the last few days he was aged two to three years… 

“…. Now then. Let us get down to business. Maria-san, we’re actually planning a large-scale infrastructure in Tera…” 

“Funn…” 

“We’re planning to build a port this time…” 

“Oho, that is a good idea! Since there’s no port right now, it was really inconvenient desuwa~” <TLN: She forced the ‘Desuwa’ at the end to keep sound polite…> 

“.. Maria. You don’t have to worry about me. Speak normally, could you?” 

‘Is it really alright?’ Noticing her questioning gaze, Kota nodded his head. 

“… hen, I will speak as usual… Back to the story, I agree that you should build a port here… I think it is good to have it, Tera would then develop more than ever…” 

‘It is good, but…’ Maria tilted her head. 

“What are you going to consult with me then?” 

“I’m thinking of creating a company to develop the port.” 

“I see, so that’s why you need my advice?” 

“No. That is not it, what we need is not advice… But management, I was wondering if you could be one of the management team…” 

“… Ha?” 

“This time, the company that conducts the port development and maintenance would be in the form of corporation. Maria-san… In fact, I want the merchants that are currently in Terra to buy shares of this company…” 

Before continue speaking, he drinks a mouthful of the black tea and places the teacup back… 

“I want to make ‘Rondo de Terra port development project company,’ and I want you to buy stock there…”  <TLN: Name of the company may change from development to maintenance.>

“… What do you mean?” 

“The port development project would be a large scale infrastructure project. Of course, due to that, the money needed for the project would be enormous.  We’re ashamed but, Terra didn’t have enough reserve to pay for all of it. In term of Terra current finance, we could only cover half of the total cost 500,000 white gold coins. I like including Maria-san, other business people to cover another half of it…” 

Maria’s gaze turns sharp when she heard Kota’s words. 

“So.. Which mean you’re going to raise tax?” 

“No.” 

“Well, in short, ‘give me the money’?” 

“What I mean is for you people to invest in Terra port development, and we will pay dividends based on the amount of the investment.” 

“Dividends?” 

“It would be natural for people to pay for using the port we built. Starting from the entry fee, port facility fee, mooring fees, storage fees, accommodation fees, there would be many facilities being made. The part the people pay would be the port profit, then we will pay the profit according to the equity ratio of the shareholders, In addition, we will also grant voting rights according to the investment ratio…” 

Up until there, Kota stopped talking and sipped his tea again. While waiting for Maria’s reply… 

“… I see.” 

“You understand?” 

“First of all, your highness Sonia?” 

“Sona is fine…” 

“… Sonia-sama. Based on my decision here… Would it impact Search Firm in Sorbania?” 

“No. You’re a merchant, Maria. No matter what decision you make here, there’s no effect there and vice versa…” 

Maria grinned hearing that response… 

“… I see, then this is indeed an interesting offer…” 

“See? Then–…” 

“It is indeed a good offer, but… I’m sorry, but I’m not convinced.” 

She gazed at Kota as if her eyes telling him ‘no.’ 

“May I ask the reason?” 

Kota didn’t panic. After all, it was within his expectation. 

“There are three reasons. First, I’m not sure with Kota-han and Erika-sama… But in my eyes, I don’t think Terra would develop that much…” 

“… Hou~.” 

“Compared to Kato or Ermza, Terra was still a rural area. If you’re saying that you going to develop it that much then… I think it is just a daydream… Let see, it better words that would be, ‘Please know your position’…” 

“Kato and Emza were at first not that advanced from the start, no?” 

“Of course, that is also true. There’s no way for a beautiful town to come up in just one day. But I’m not talking about that, this might sound rude but, I don’t have any duty to make this city splendid, no?” 

That was reasonable. The development of this city, especially the infrastructure, it was the work of the government. It was a problem that merchants didn’t need to concern themselves with… 

“In the first place, I don’t think that we’re going to get enough money even if we built the port. If that happens, it would be just wasting money…” 

“…Then the second reason?” 

“I don’t have money, so I want to borrow it from someone, that kind of thought is typical of a business that is about to collapse… To lend money to such a business means I have to prepare to ‘lose everything’… That was Search family rules… And I don’t have the determination to do that, and I don’t have the money to spare for that either…” 

That was why she was not ready to enter such a risky investment… 

“I see. Then? What is the last reason?” 

“My pride.” 

“Pride?” 

Maria sips her black tea while nodding her head… 

“I don’t like making money without doing anything… For me, money is something one gained from working…” 

“… Oho, such wise words that one should follow, huh?” 

“By whom?” 

“It is just my thought…” 

Saying that he sighed… 

“Then, I will ask you in another way, Maria-san. If this investment is sure to make a profit, will you ride on it? Of course, you could make money with the method you liked most, ‘sweating from working.'” 

“I feel some thorn from the way you said it… If you have such a good thing, then let me bow and hear it…” 

“Then, I’m glad… So Maria, let me ask once again… Please invest…” 

“… Kota, didn’t you hear my story? There’s no—,” 

“I’m going to change the story, Maria. What do you think necessary to build a port?” 

“–Way I would, huh? What did you say?” 

“Like I said, what is needed for port maintenance and development?” 

“Well, a lot of things, of course… If you talk about maintenance, then, you need people and building?” 

“Yes, indeed… Then we need wood and stone for the building.” 

‘Now then, Maria’ He continued… 

“How much should we buy for it, and from ‘where’ should we buy it?” 

“… Ha?” 

“Of course, you can’t create a facility by exceeding the budget, but if it is within the budget, I will close my eyes when it comes to some ‘convenience’…” 

“… You.” 

“I would like everyone who invested in to be responsible for the management of the port. That is why you will have voting right… In other words…” 

‘When it comes to how much or where to buy, it would depend on the investors’ mind,’ he said… 

“… Kota-han, do you realize what you’re saying here?” 

“Of course…” 

“Bottom line… In short, this is the same as bribing no?” 

Give money in exchange for some convenience. When one looked at that, it was the same as bribery. Or more precisely government-made collusion. 

“No way~… To return profits to the investors is a reasonable act. That is the basis of business, right?” 

“…” 

“… The point is the flow of money. Though it won’t be the same amount of the invested money, money would go round and round and enter your pocket in the form of sales. Of course, some equipment would become old, and need replacement. If the port usage increased, the expansion work would also be needed. When that happens, do you want to order the goods from the company that the investors’ own or buying it from somewhere else that has no relation with the investors… Even children could tell which one to choose, yes? If you see it from that perspective, there’s not much to lose in this investment, no?” 

“… I guess so…” 

With a smile on her face, Maria nodded with a slightly bitter expression. 

“… Then, Maria-san.” 

‘You’re going to invest?’ He asked… 

“… Kota-han, I thought you’re a person who hates this kind of dealings?” 

“Disappointed?” 

“… Let see… I don’t think I’m disappointed but, well it indeed changes your impression in me…” 

‘Of course, in a bad way.’ She shrugged… 

“I don’t think a merchant should concern themselves with that?” 

“In the eyes of business people… By doing that, how can we face the gods and the customers?” 

“… In the term Maria-san familiar, I think there’s no different when it comes to clean or dirty money. White gold coins will always be white gold coins no matter where… Whether you got them from sweating, gambling, or stolen money… One white gold coin will always be a white gold coin. Just because you got it from working hard, it didn’t mean it would worth as ‘two coins’….” 

“… My impression of reality change now… But still, I’m still not sure, Kota-han…” 

“That would be a shame… After all, I want us to get along…” 

“You Liar…” 

Hearing Kota’s words, Maria shrugged her shoulders… 

“…Well, in the end. People likes and dislikes sometimes directly linked to business…” 

After saying that, she placed her hand on her chin as if thinking of something… 

“… The profit is too thin…” 

“Is that so?” 

“If we go with Kota-han story, that would be obvious. I’m sorry but, even if I see it from your perspective, it still didn’t bury the disadvantages…” 

“Well, I guess…” 

“Besides, it is also not guaranteed that there would be no loss, right? If there are no people gathered, there would be no dividends. If that happens, we will lose the whole thing. There’s nothing more to be said…” 

“There’s nothing more to be said, is it?” 

“Indeed.” 

“…You sure shameless, aren’t you, Maria-san. Investing is ‘at your own risk,’ you know?” 

“Then, I won’t invest…” 

“…” 

“Self-responsibility, right?” 

“… That’s right.” 

“Then, that is my reply…” 

“…” 

“…” 

“… I understand.” 

Silence ruled for a while… 

“… What is it?” 

*Fuuh*, he sighed. Then Kota opened his mouth. 

“Let us give you tax collection privilege…” 

“Tax collection privilege?” 

“It is a privilege in tax collection. The tax will be calculated here, and we will pay a commission of 10% to those who collected the tax.” 

“… Hee. That sounds interesting.” 

“Right?” 

“By the way, Kota-han. If I collected my own tax, naturally you will pay me 10% of the commission, right?” 

“… Of course. But, Maria-san. Be sure to tell other business people during companies meeting?” 

“Sure… I wonder if I could do it properly, that is such a difficult job…” 

“Which mouth say that I wonder? I expected you to be able to do it, that is why I called you…” 

Kota said those words, with a grin on his face. 

“…I will talk to others during the next business meeting.” 

Maria said those words gracefully and drink her black tea… 


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