Episode 24: Just because you’re cute (3)
“This…is the picture of the scalpel display?”
“Yes, it is very popular,” Zodiac said with pride.
Aristine’s purple eyes trembled as she looked at the picture.
“This doesn’t look like a scalpel display; it looks more like advertisement for me…”
The scalpel display in the photo was lavishly decorated. She thought it was just a small corner of the store, but it was a completely separate room.
In one corner of the luxurious velvet room, was a scalpel in an illuminated glass tube.
‘Why is it in the corner? It should be in the middle.’
But something was already in the middle.
It was a panel with Aristine’s picture attached.
Four large photos adorned the center of the panel, all with Tarkan in it.
A photo of Aristine and Tarkan kissing to seal their vows at the wedding ceremony.
A photo of Aristine holding Tarkan’s cheek and smiling in the golden carriage, during their wedding parade.
A photo of Tarkan lifting Aristine in a princess carry after the carriage accident.
A photo of Aristine in Tarkan’s arms as they rode the huge, black warhorse.
The remaining space on the panel was also filled with photos.
Photos of the wedding, the wedding parade, the smithing forge, and even one of Aristine holding a scalpel.
‘When exactly did they take these?’
And in an area so small that barely fit any picture, they included a written description of the scalpel.
Anyone could tell it was called a scalpel display for naming sake.
“What in the world…”
There was even a life-sized picture of Aristine on the velvet sofa positioned across the scalpel.
“Why is this…”
“Oh, that is a location for people to take pictures with the ‘Princess Consort’. It is so popular that competition is quite fierce.”
Aristine was speechless.
When she was consigning the sale of the scalpel and handling the contract, a representative from the merchant group came to the palace to ask if they could use Aristine’s image to promote the scalpel.
She thought it meant they were simply going to promote the scalpel as something made by the princess consort but…
“Right now, I want these pictures—”
“This has led to an overall 1400 percent increase in sales across all branches,” Zodiac added before she could finish what she was saying.
Aristine looked up vacantly.
So a 14x increase? With these photos? Was that even possible?
(Zodiac)“For the first time ever, we beat the Magnolia merchant group.”
The Magnolia merchant group was owned by the queen’s family, the Ducal House of Skiela. It was a merchant group with a deep and extensive history as the family behind it.
It was the biggest merchant group in Irugo.
(Zodiac)“As you know, our main products are items related to demonic beasts which is also our main source of income.”
Their merchant group was making a surplus with that alone.
It was a rare and expensive item, and the only place that could provide a reliable supply of demonic beast corpse was the Pink-pink Nyang-jelly group.
‘Ugh, thinking about that makes the name even weirder.’
It felt like they should be selling something sweet, like cotton-candy, rather than demonic beast corpses.
(Zodiac)“We have been wanting to expand into other areas too, but with common items like food and daily necessities, we are always one step behind other merchant companies.”
They were pushed aside by other large-scale merchant groups, let alone Magnolia.
That was the limit of a new merchant group.
Although things would be a little different if people knew that Tarkan was the owner of the merchant group.
(Zodiac)“But ever since people started coming to see the Princess Consort’s pic—I mean, scalpel, our general items have also been selling explosively.”
‘He was about to say picture, wasn’t he?’
He changed the word quickly mid-sentence, but she already caught it.
Under Aristine’s suspicious gaze, Zodiac’s face was serious.
“Princess Consort, from a purely commercial perspective, this was the most effective marketing strategy.”
It was a practical and rational decision, Zodiac emphasized.
“You’re telling me, that hanging up my pictures is an effective marketing strategy from a societal point of view?”
That made no sense.
“That is exactly what the data shows. The numbers don’t lie!”
Zodiac pushed the document forward.
After seeing the numbers in the document, Aristine groaned.
“Focusing on Your Highness the Princess Consort is way, way! More effective than putting the scalpel in the middle.”
It was exactly as he said.
Perhaps Zodiac anticipated Aristine’s resistance because he showed her a chart showing the fluctuation in sales before and after changes were made to the scalpel display—or maybe it should be called the Aristine photo display.
After seeing that, she really didn’t know what to say.
‘Why is this effective?’
It didn’t make sense to Aristine.
‘Hmm, I guess it’s similar to the doorbuster(baiting) strategy?’
It was a marketing strategy achieved by seeing the price of one item—milk, for example— at an extremely low price and using it as bait to lure customers into the store for other items.
That milk was practically Aristine’s photo.
It wasn’t being sold like milk, but it did the job of enticing customers.
“Why exactly is my photo acting as a lure? It’s already strange that they want to see my photos that much, but you can see those in the newspapers too.”
“You must not realize, Princess Consort. Seeing it in the newspaper at home and seeing it outside feels different.”
Zodiac shook his head.
“Many people come here just to take an authentic photo with the panel as a background.”
“You’re sure it’s not just to take pictures of the bench?”
“No one wants to do only that. They take pictures with the scalpel too. They call it mankind’s gift from the goddess of peace.”
“What did you say…”
The more he spoke, the more spiritless she got.
“No, even still, this is just…”
“A 1400% increase in sales!” Zodiac exclaimed.
Aristine’s eyes shook like an earthquake.
For some reason, Zodiac’s face looked like currency for a moment. But she soon came to her senses.
‘I can’t let this be!’
She had to think about this.
Did she need to make money by putting up a bunch of pictures to entice people?
‘Yup, I do. If it’s 14x, you can add about half the price plus another zero.’
The answer was simple.
If she thought about it, it wasn’t that bad, was it?
Aristine was in a position to assist Tarkan as his political partner.
‘If my image among the people is this good, then won’t that help us in the political field? I could strengthen that good image through this.’
There was a reason she thought it looked like advertising for her.
Aristine began to rationalize.
After checking the numbers in the document again, she swiftly raised her head.
“By the way, this is showing that the sales of the merchant group increased, not that the sales of the scalpel increased, correct?”
“So there is no benefit for me in the end.”
It acted as promotion for the scalpel and a political advantage, but she was putting that fact aside for now.
Realizing what Aristine meant, Zodiac smiled gracefully.
“As a matter of fact, while I was preparing these materials, I thought it was necessary to prepare compensation for you, Princess Consort.”
“You must be very precise with calculating accounts.”
“Of course. So, considering the percentage increase, I was wondering what you think about this amount.”
Zodiac wrote down a figure and showed it to Aristine.
Light flashed in Aristine’s eyes.
Zodiac’s price was fairly generous, likely because their sales had surged by 14 times.
‘I pity him though.’
Aristine hummed and leaned into the sofa.
“I don’t know. I must say, I think it’s a bit odd to have so many of my pictures around.”
“Huu, I understand. Then, what about this?”
Zodiac scribbled over the figure and wrote a new number.
“Hmm, I don’t know…”
“Alright! This is the final price! Instead, I ask that you look the other way with your photos for about half-a-year.”
(Aristine)“We have an agreement.”
Right when Zodiac and Aristine were about to shake hands…
A loud noise rang out as Tarkan’s feet struck the black sandalwood table. The sturdy sandalwood table cracked along the grain of the wood.
Naturally, the documents on the table were crumpled mercilessly.
“Y-Your Highness, Tarkan.”
Zodiac’s face was deathly pale as he called Tarkan.
(Tarkan)“Get rid of it.”
Tarkan’s voice was sinisterly low, like a growling beast.
“How dare you.”
You let someone else sit next to my wife and take pictures?
Lightning crackled in Tarkan’s golden eyes.
It wasn’t really Aristine but a life-sized figure made from Aristine’s photograph but that didn’t matter to Tarkan.
*Click next for bonus chapter 🙂