Are you a gold-digger? (4)
T/N: Reg. Tues chapter~
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“You don’t have pig-iron?” Aristine asked, bewildered.
How can they be looking for iron, of all things?
“I’m sorry. We simply cannot find any…” Ritlen replied sullenly, with his invisible ears and tail dropping down.
Aristine hurried shook her head, “No, there’s nothing you should be sorry for, Ritlen.”
She opened the door of the warehouse connected to the smithy. There were boxes of scalpels piled up like mountains, but it was not enough compared to the number of orders coming in.
“Is this all we can produce?”
“We can make more with the remaining iron but at the current rate of production, tomorrow will our limit.”
“Tomorrow,” Aristine sighed and folded her arms. She impatiently rapped her fingers on her elbow.
‘I never expected this!’
No one could have imagined that they wouldn’t be able to obtain pig-iron.
“Have you contacted the merchant group?”
She figured he must have done so but she couldn’t help but ask.
“Yes, the merchant’s side says they are having difficulty too because their supply was suddenly cut off.”
Because they constantly exhausted their iron supply, they naturally signed an order contract with the Pink-Pink Nyang-Jelly merchant company for pig-iron to come in every week.
But today was the delivery date and the pig-iron was yet to arrive.
(Ritlen)“Apparently, their iron ore supplier one-sidedly overturned their contract, stating that they are out of stock. The merchant’s side apologized several times, saying that they are really sorry.”
(Aristine)“Their supplier did?”
(Ritlen)“I think the supply must have been directed elsewhere.”
(Aristine)“They already have a contract with us, but they gave it to someone else just because they asked?”
(Ritlen)“I heard the manager went to the supplier to negotiate but…”
(Aristine)“It will be of no use. If they were going to give it to us to easily, they wouldn’t have claimed it is out of stock and withheld it in the first place.”
Aristine exhaled through her mouth.
‘…If they knew that Pink-Pink Nyang-Jelly was Tarkan’s merchant group, they wouldn’t try this.’
Publicly, Pink-Pink Nyang-Jelly was a merchant group without any backing.
It had some reputation due to having Tarkan as a major customer but that was all. There was a stark difference between something Tarkan owned and something Tarkan offered patronage.
‘And someone is definitely pulling the strings behind this matter.’
When it comes to iron ore distribution, she was the obvious choice.
(Aristine)“What about other iron ore distributors?”
(Ritlen)“The situation is the same with all of them. Everyone is closed due to a lack of stock.”
(Aristine)“Someone must have monopolized the market after stockpiling pig-iron.”
(Ritlen)“What do we do? Orders are still pouring in…”
The blacksmiths asked with grave looks on their faces.
Aristine opened her mouth as if to organize this hectic situation, “Our work has become more difficult since the Queen has gotten involved.”
The blacksmiths were startled and looked at Aristine.
Everyone could guess this was a hidden scheme from the Queen’s faction, including the Duke of Skiela. But they were afraid to say it out loud.
Because of that, they were practically running around in circles while exchanging opinions about the issue.
But when Aristine brought up the Queen first, they were able to speak more comfortably.
“The Duke of Skiela has the biggest iron mine in the world.”
A blacksmith said and Aristine frowned.
“That means they only had to stockpile the pig-iron circulating in the market and not release the iron they have mined in order to monopolize the market.”
‘To the iron ore distributors, it must have been like orders from a superior.’
Duke Skiela owned the iron mine and if he were to stop doing business with them, that was no different from destroying their livelihood.
Having the pressure combined with placating words, the merchants must have given up.
Selling iron that was supposed to belong to another under contract was a fatal decision. Of course, this would dock their credibility, but they likely thought they had to put up with it despite that.
All the other iron order supplies made the same decision, so they weren’t the only ones losing credibility.
If everyone loses credibility, then no credibility was lost.
‘Furthermore, I’m sure they calculated that this could bring them a connection to the queen’s faction if they performed well.’
Aristine raised the corner of her lips and smiled.
This was a very clever ploy.
To think the Queen and Duke Skiela were preparing such a sharp move. She thought they would at least raise some controversy over the medical litigations related to the scalpel.
‘I was careless.’
As a matter of fact, Aristine thought right but Hamill’s intervention changed the direction of things but there was no way for her to know that.
“It might cost more but what if we import iron ore from other countries…”
“No, that is out of the question,” Aristine shook her head at the blacksmith’s suggestion, “They will think we are preparing for war.”
Their faces changed with horror at those heavy words that never even crossed their minds.
Iron was the most important material in war.
What would happen if it was known that Irugo was buying a large amount of iron?
The peaceful mood that had been established so far would be broken in an instant and foreign relations would get strained.
With the Silvanus Empire at the lead, every country would condemn Irugo.
Calling them natural barbarians who cannot stand not seeing blood for too long.
Officially, diplomatic pressure will flood in.
‘And everything will point towards me as the culprit who caused this.’
The queen’s side must know that too. And knowing that, they aimed to do this.
‘Truly a seasoned politician.’
Although they were political enemies, the resourcefulness of the queen’s faction was amazing.
She wasn’t sure about the queen’s faction but there was one thing that only Aristine knew.
‘This could give the emperor an excuse to start a war.’
His justification would be that Irugo was preparing for war first, so he made a preemptive strike.
‘Even if he doesn’t do it now, he will certainly use it.’
Aristine’s head was spinning.
Aristine looked at the blacksmiths whose faces were riddled with anxiety then she smiled. As if reassuring them.
(Aristine)“This monopoly of pig-iron won’t last long, anyway.”
It was an amazing move to cut down Aristine’s sprint in one strike.
‘But at the same time, this is also a dangerous maneuver for the queen.’
What ruler would like to see the monopolization of such a major material, especially something related to military power?
Not just the king, but even the other nobles will feel threatened.
‘But the fact that she pressed on with it despite that…’
For one thing, it was an effective enough move to bear all that outcome. After all, Aristine’s path was instantly blocked.
‘It means she plans to pacify the nobles who raise problems or complain beforehand.’
By now, she must have finished prior arrangements with several major high-ranking nobles. There may be some high-ranking nobles who do not agree but they would be pushed aside by that number.
‘The monopoly cannot last long.’
Even in the discussions with the high-ranking nobles, they must have agreed on a limited period.
They probably agreed to close their eyes to it for a few days.
There was no way they agreed to look the other way for an indefinite monopoly. Even if it was anything else that was monopolized, the nobles would naturally speak up.
Even more so in this case where iron was a military resource.
The longer the monopoly, the worse it was for the queen.
And Nephther, the King of Irugo, would not sit back and watch this happen.