Somehow the air of danger around him is gone, and he seems quite a bit more diplomatic.
“I’m not sure how well informed you are, so please excuse me as I explain from the foremost relevant point. The little business I run here is, as you can imagine, slightly less than reputable. You see, we find talent that hasn’t been discovered and we give them a little assistance, retrieving an appropriate portion of their profits afterwards, of course.” Juire explains
With every word he sugar coats my anger grows. I might have fallen for his spiel if I didn’t already see the methods they use.
“You’re loan-sharks, I knew that long before your man asked for my assistance.” I state plainly
Technically, I’m not lying. I did know they were loan sharks before I came to the city. There’s no need to tell him I didn’t know the man who led us here was a member of their group though.
“You make us sound so bad. Personally, I think what we are doing is quite fair. Without our help, quite a few of our clients would have starved to death and never capitalized on their talents. If we are to take 99% of their profit it would still be fair considering we are the only reason they are privy to that 1% in the first place.” He explains with a slightly shifted mood
It seems he caught wind of the fact that I came here with a victim in mind. All the same really, if I am to negotiate with them at all, then it’s best to establish my demands. My only two goals in this matter are to gains some personal funds and to release my friend from their harassment. I’m not some kind of hero that would take out a group of villains just because they are villains.
“I’m not a merchant, and I’m not a scholar, but even I know that your theory has a major hole in it. You robbed them of something as soon as they sign a contract. You robbed them of the possible future where they would be able to stand on their own feet without you.” I explain, restraining myself from yelling
Why am I so angry with them? Because they hurt my friend? Because they are “evil”? I can’t put my finger on it but it doesn’t feel like either of those.
“I must argue that point. I am no thief, I have stolen nothing. They ‘sold’ that future to me, and for a rather hefty sum might I add.” He says with a smug look
I can’t restrain myself anymore and my fist comes down on the table. It crumbles in place and dust and debris flies into the air.
I finally understand why speaking to him makes me so angry. It’s the constant lies. It’s almost as if he is treating me like I’m stupid. Does he think me so ignorant or childish as to actually believe that he thinks this is fair? More so, does he actually think that I will adopt that belief myself?
“It seems that I may have had a bit too much fun at your expense. It’s a bad habit of mine, I apologize.” Juire says as he stands from his seat and gives a deep bow
The dust has yet to settle and it’s hard to even see, yet he is completely unfazed. It’s a bit defusing to see someone react so compliantly after an outburst.
“Hmph! Get on with it then!” I say leaning back in my seat and crossing my arms
If my anger gets the better of me then I will be forced to take care of them by force. I’m sure it would be little trouble, but I would rather not draw any unnecessary attention if possible.
“In that case, I will continue. I am an acquaintance of King Enrich and some time back he made me a proposal… a bet if you will. The conditions are simple. We will both choose a champion for the upcoming royal tournament. If his champion wins, then I will make a significant contribution to the royal fund to help with a ‘project’ that he is planning. On the other hand, if I win, than he will award me with a taurch plantation.”
“Taurch?” I ask unfamiliar with the word
“You don’t know it? By all appearances, it’s quite a simple plant really. It grows a small stalk that grows a small fruit and it takes nearly an entire year to reach maturity. Most consider it a completely pointless crop. Some even use ‘inheriting a taurch farm’ as an analogy for receiving a useless or even costly inheritance.” Juire explains
“and I’m to simply believe that you took such a disadvantageous bet completely aware of all that?” I ask skeptically
“Well, of course I have an angle. Some time back I traded a merchant something quite interesting in return for voiding his contract with us. A family secret of his, a method to turn the fat useless root of the taurch into a rare and extremely expensive spice known as ‘sugar’. His family has long held the secret since a Yuusha of old gave it to them.” Juire continues with a wicked smile
So his aim is to become a cartel rather than a group of loan sharks then? I suppose in terms of capital he would be able to afford it, and he certainly seems to have quite a bit of manpower. The simple fact that he is in contact with the king means that he is probably more formidable than he is letting on as well.
“And? For what reason would I help you win?” I ask growing tired of the conversation
“I suppose a large sum of money won’t suffice?” Juire asks looking somewhat disappointed
“… I’m afraid if that is all you have to offer then I must decline.” I answer after thinking for a moment
Money is always a useful commodity, but this deal would put me at great risk. If it comes to light that I am the Maou, then having associated with known dangerous criminals will be damning. At this point, I’m simply deciding whether it would look more evil to destroy this group, or to bargain with them for Tea’s freedom.
“Then how about a portion of all our profits moving from here onward?” Juire asks as he pulls out an abacus
“If you have nothing better to offer me then I’m leaving.” I say standing up
“Wait!” Juire yells throwing out his hand
His men surround me hoping to intimidate me into staying.
“Mano?…” I hear as I receive a small tug on my sleeve
I look to see Mana pleading to me with her eyes…
sigh “I will be in town for a while on business. I will consider your proposition, and what I would need in return. I’m sure that I will be able to find you when I have my answer.” I say before walking away
Mana simple smiles and trots along with me. Seriously, I need to gain immunity to those puppy dog eyes of hers. Those eyes could bring the world to an end if she pointed them in the right direction.
“Oh, and one more thing. I believe that there is a blacksmith from Jin named ‘Tea’ under your care?” I say looking over my shoulder before leaving
“Ah, yes I remember him… Quite an excitable fellow, certainly.” Juire says with a look slightly outside of his normal composure
“I want you to void his contract now as a sign of good faith.” I say sternly
“Certainly!” Juire says with a happy look
Don’t make it so easy… It makes me look like a fool for taking it so seriously.
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