Hint: To Play after pausing the player, use this button

  Gold and Greed  

Masato Sanada had declared that he’d destroy Neutzeland. Even if one set aside whether he could actually pull that off, though, not even a businessman as brilliant as him could make money with nothing to sell.

But this was Dormundt, a city with a six-figure population. It was the beating heart of the Findolph domain. The center of its economy. What was he to do for merchandise? Why, he was spoiled for choice of merchandise. The only problem was how to raise the money to buy it. After all, he needed start-up capital to get the ball rolling. However, Masato had claimed he could get goods without needing any money at all.

—But how?

It was hard to imagine such a method existing. Elch and Roo certainly couldn’t think of a way. However—Masato most assuredly knew one. There did indeed exist a method that wouldn’t take a single rook.

Roo’s shabby outfit was going to get in the way, so Masato had her change into one of the children’s outfits they’d brought to sell. Then he had Elch take them to the city’s entrance.

There, they saw a number of wagons barely make it in before the gates closed. Masato looked them over with a keen shrewdness, then set his sights on one set in particular. A group of three byuma with bearlike ears leading three wagons.

They were farmers from a rural village called Fitze with a population of around three hundred, and just like Elch, they were there to sell crops and handicrafts to buy stores for the winter. Having decided that they were who he wanted to get his goods from, Masato called out to them.

“The assessment counter’s probably closed by now, right? As fellow suckers who rolled in too late, wanna go get dinner together and drink to our folly?” he asked. The farmers had been planning on getting dinner anyway, and as Masato had very deliberately made himself come across as approachable, they readily accepted.

He led them to a pub, just as he’d planned. Then, as their small talk began winding down…

“Truth be told, I’ve got something nifty here,” Masato said, pulling out the trading license he’d gotten from the count and showing it to them. They stared at it in shock.


“That’s Count Heiseraat’s seal…! You’ve got an authentic trading license!”

“How’d you get your hands on that?!”

“The mayor issued it to me. He’s a pretty reasonable man, you know.”

The Fitze farmers went green with envy.

“With that, you can sell stuff wherever you want in Dormundt, right? Damn… Must be nice… That means you guys don’t have to let Neutzeland rip you off.”

“Sounds like you guys had it rough with them, too.”

“Oh yeah, they’re awful. When we came and sold them plums this summer, they fed us some line about ‘the market being flooded, so they had to lower their buy prices’ and only gave us a fifth of a rook each. Summer’s when the harvest is, so the market’s always flooded then! Besides, they were selling the damn things at five for four rook. Can you believe it?!”

“Hey, could you guys buy our stock instead? We poor villages have to stick together, you know.”

Masato shook his head apologetically, though internally he was grinning from ear to ear.

“Believe me, we’d love to, but we’re just as broke as you guys. We don’t have that kind of money.”

“…Yeah, figures.” The farmers looked crestfallen.

—It was the perfect time to strike.

A fierce light shone in Masato’s eyes, like a falcon eyeing its prey. He dropped the question.

“But hey. We’re just as pissed as you guys that Neutzeland is screwing everyone over and taking absurd margins. We can’t just sit by and do nothing… So this is just an idea, but we’re planning on setting up shop in the central plaza tomorrow. How do you guys feel about consigning your goods to our shop?”

And there it was. Masato’s method for obtaining product without spending a rook.


“What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.”

However, on hearing the word consign, the farmers cocked their heads to the side. Elch and Roo did the same. Masato laid the concept out for everyone.

“It’s simple, really. A consignment sale is basically where you guys set up a shop as part of our company, Elm Trading.”

“Huh?! Wait, we can do that?! Even though we don’t have a trading license?”

“Of course. There’s no rule against it.”

“So we’ll be able to sell our goods without having to rely on those Neutzeland bastards?” The farmers rose to their feet in excitement, and Masato gave them a composed nod.

“Yes, indeed. Now, this license wasn’t exactly cheap. Normally, we’d be taking twenty percent of your sales as our fee, but…y’know, you’re right, we poor village people have it rough enough as it is. We gotta look out for one another. If you guys come to our shop and help sell the goods, I can cut it down to ten.”

“Hey, uh, how much’s ten percent?”

“I dunno; I’m not too good with numbers…”

“Wait, hold on a minute! Lemme do the math. Up until now, if we sold a hundred rook worth of wheat to Neutzeland, at best they’d give us fifty rook for it…but if we sold it ourselves, then paid Elm their ten percent, that’d leave…ninety rook!”

“Th-that’s great! We’d be making almost twice as much!”

“Well, not quite, guys. If they’re selling something for a hundred rook over there, we gotta go lower, or no one will buy from us. We’ll have to undercut them on prices to bring in customers. But hey, even if we only sell it for eighty rook, you’ll still get seventy-two for your share. That’s almost one and a half times as much as you’ve made up till now. What do you think? Not a bad deal, huh?”

Instead of going with a calm, ingratiating smile, Masato instead elected to plant his elbows on the table, rest his cheeks on his fists, and flash them a suggestive, villainous grin. That way, he came across more confident in what he was doing. Masato was a guy who knew full well how to wield a smile. And just as he expected…

“Yeah! You’re the best, man!”

“Please let us work with you!”

The Fitze farmers’ eyes glittered with excitement and joy as they shook Masato’s hand.

Masato’s reply came without hesitation.

“I welcome you with open arms, brothers. Now then…let’s take inventory of your load, shall we?”

And thus, with his secret weapon—consignment—Masato managed to add three wagons’ worth of goods to their inventory without spending a single rook, just like he’d promised. After they parted ways with the Fitze men, he, Elch, and Roo were left with four fully inventoried wagons of goods.

“See? I told you we wouldn’t need money.”

“S-so amazing…”

“Damn, man, you really pulled it off…”

“If we were individuals looking to buy stuff, then yeah, we would’ve needed money just like you said. But as a business looking to acquire inventory, ‘trust’ is way more important than money. And in the world of business, trust just boils down to profit potential. That’s the be-all and end-all. A trading license in this town is the best kind of trust there is.”

A trading license was no mere scrap of paper. It was an absolute authority in Dormundt’s markets.

“Also…Elch. You’ve dabbled in business a little, so you’ve probably noticed by now. What is it that makes this method so nasty?”

“It’s that you don’t need to spend any money, so you can assemble as much inventory as you want, right? Even if we’re only making ten percent, it’s basically no risk and all profit. We don’t have to spend a rook, and we can make as much money as we want. And if stuff doesn’t sell, well, we aren’t out anything… It’s almost too easy. It’s so incredible, it makes me wonder why I didn’t think of it.”

“You get half credit for that.”

“Wait, what?”

“Li’l Roo, do you remember what I made them agree to when I dropped the consignment fee from twenty percent to ten?”

“Um, um… You said they have to help at the shop!”


“That’s it. And that there is everything. If all we did was get inventory, we’d hit our limit real fast. There are only three of us, after all. I mean, I can do the work of ten people, but even so, we’d be talking peanuts. This way, though…”

“Hey! Mister!”

With auspicious timing, a voice called out to them as they stood in front of the stable. It was the Fitze farmers they’d parted ways with not long ago. The farmers’ lantern swayed as they rushed over and introduced Masato to an unfamiliar, well-dressed young man.

“This here’s Tohr, a peddler from a rural company we do a good bit of business with. We told him about what we’re doing tomorrow, and he said he wants in! What do you say, mister? This party have room for one more?”

“Would you mind if I joined your undertaking? I spent the whole day trying to negotiate with those city merchants, but they weren’t having any of it. Honestly, I’m in a bit of a bind.”

Masato replied, “Of course, glad to have you aboard,” and shook the young man’s hand.

“All right, you mind if we take a look at what you’re working with?”

“Oh, of course not!—Hey! Bring the wagons over!”

In response to the young man’s shout, seven wagons emerged from the dark. Elch’s eyes went wide.

“That makes ten wagons…and with ours, eleven!”

“You get it now, right? This method lets us secure inventory and labor at the same time. In other words, as long as there’re people who fit our criteria, there’s no limit to how big our company can get. We can even get bigger than Neutzeland.”


That was the real nasty trick behind Masato’s “consignment” method. While he was obtaining inventory, he was also taking advantage of the fact that this world hadn’t developed the idea of hourly wages yet to obtain labor simultaneously. Because his workforce increased proportionately with his supplies, he effectively had no limits, either. His company would be able to grow completely unrestrained.

It was the perfect method for the job.


“Welcome, welcome, welcome! Five apples and four onions, is it? You got it!”

“That’ll be forty rook in all!—Of course, absolutely!”

“Three leather coats; that comes out to a thousand rook. Gold? We absolutely take gold.”

Elm Trading Company’s central plaza market was hustling and bustling. And why wouldn’t it be? It was a more convenient location than the port, and their prices were cheap. It would have been far more difficult not to draw a crowd.

The first day had been a smashing success—all eleven wagons’ goods were cleaned out before noon. Rumors circulated quickly of their success, which drew hordes of merchants who practically ran one another over to sign consignment deals with Masato. By the third day, the company’s wagon count had expanded into the forties, with Elm’s personal profits totaling over a thousand gold, a sum far higher than they would have otherwise been able to reach. But even with all the money he’d amassed, Masato had no plans of stopping.

“Li’l Roo, you’re up! C’mon over here!”


Masato called out to Roo, who had been frantically restocking their goods as they very nearly flew off the shelves, and handed her a celery stick and a small dish filled with mayonnaise made from the eggs he’d picked up that morning. Then he had her dip the celery in the mayonnaise and eat it in front of their vegetable-stick-with-mayo stand.

It was basically a commercial. There was no better way to get someone to buy food than to show them the face of someone actually enjoying it. A smile was worth a thousand good reviews. However, someone as old as Masato or Elch shouting about how tasty something was would look too strange and risked coming across as sketchy. A young girl like Roo, on the other hand, would look adorable. That had been Masato’s plan for Roo from the get-go.

Now that plan was paying off in spades. After all, Roo had never had much in the way of decent food. Though the small girl found pretty much everything delicious, the way she was enjoying that otherworldly condiment made people drool just looking at her. Her smile was like a secret spice that drew out their curiosity and appetites. Between that and the fact that they’d branded it as a “rare treat from across the sea,” the snack sold as if they were giving it away. People in that era were starved for entertainment, so seeing something new and exciting piqued just about everyone’s attention.

In the end, the mayonnaise sold out before nightfall, just like the consigned goods. Masato prepared even more the next day, but the buzz they’d generated drew such a crowd that it sold out that morning. Elm Trading Company’s profits were so immense that even after paying out their consigners, they’d still filled two full-size crates with copper and silver coins. It wasn’t just enough money for Elm to survive the winter, it was enough that no one in the village would have to work for the next decade. Elch could hardly believe it.

“ ”

That was why the byuma boy found it so strange. All those profits would have originally gone to Neutzeland, but they’d snatched them away. So why…?

“You look like you’re wondering why Neutzeland isn’t coming after us.”


Elch jumped a little at having Masato say exactly what he was thinking, but after having watched Masato work for the last few days, he’d started believing his companion was capable of anything. Instead of responding with the stubbornness he once showed the High School Prodigy, Elch just nodded.

“Roo thinks it’s weird, too!” added Roo.

Masato laughed.

“It’s simple, really. From their perspective, this kind of money is nothing.”

That was the cold, hard truth.

“Nothing? All this?!”

“No way…”

“Yes way. Here, take a look at this map of the city… See, we’re set up in the middle of town so we can catch all the merchants from other villages. But around these parts, the biggest fish…don’t come by land.”

A shocked look crossed Elch’s face at the sudden realization.

“Ah! The port…!”

“That’s the one. They’re set up by the only port in the whole domain. In other words, the iron and precious metals the Industrial District uses, as well as the jewels and other imports—all of it still goes through Neutzeland. And the prices that stuff goes for are off the charts. Plus, because they’re the only port and demand is stable, all they have to do is move the goods from the Port District to the Industrial District. It’s like taking candy from a baby. As long as they control that, their position’s basically untouchable. I hear that Neutzeland manager guy uses a pile of gold coins for a bed. And I bet he sleeps like a baby, too,” Masato said, giving the cashbox by his foot a nudge. Although it was so full that its contents didn’t so much as stir, most of the coins in it were copper and silver.

If they traded it in for gold coins…it wouldn’t even take a tenth of that space. That was how different the amounts were when you sold to individuals as opposed to businesses.

“They’ll probably come after us in a couple days, but they don’t need to make their move just yet. We’re annoying them, but they probably figure we’ll crash and burn on our own. Price wars are double-edged swords, so they’d rather not start one unless they have to.”

“So—so if things stay like this, we can’t win?”

“Nope, not a chance. Our returns come quick, but our profits are small.” Masato gave Roo’s question a firm answer. Then he compared his two students’ expressions. The difference in their attitudes was quite apparent.

Elch…wasn’t quite apathetic, but he didn’t seem particularly worried. As far as he was concerned, the money they’d made was already more than enough. If they returned to the village right then and there, he’d be satisfied.

But Roo was different. Hearing Masato’s explanation, her expression had gone as grave as if he’d said the very world was ending. Tears had even begun welling up in her eyes. Seeing that, Masato couldn’t help but let out a laugh.

There’s that greed I respect…

Masato smiled at Roo in admiration.

“Chin up, Li’l Roo. If things stay like this, we can’t win. But do I look like a guy who just gives up without winning?” He looked right into Roo’s eyes and flashed the young girl the same sinister grin he’d used when he was manipulating the Fitze farmers. Roo’s eyes lit back up. She shook her head from side to side.

“So what, do you have some kinda plan?”

“…Here’s a question for you, Elch. Didn’t you think it was odd? You can’t get mayonnaise around these parts, if anywhere. In other words, it should be worth as much as sugar or pepper. But here I was, dipping veggies in it and selling it so cheap that anyone could afford it. I mean, if I’d gone and found some gluttonous noble, I could’ve made gold so fast you’d have thought I was an alchemist.”

“True, that did seem a little strange… Did you have some reason?”

“Of course. I was using it as bait. My goal wasn’t to make money; my goal was to get everyone talking about us. I wanted all of Dormundt to know there was a company in town other than Neutzeland…so I could reel a big one in from the sea.”

A sudden sensation, a pressure, suddenly came over the two byuma.

““ !””

It was like a freezing wind had just run across Elch’s and Roo’s skin. The sensation bearing down on them was so strong, it was almost scary. But the thing was…it wasn’t coming from Masato. It was coming from behind them. Masato looked more elated than he ever had in that world as his gaze turned to what stood behind them. Following his lead, they turned around—



—and each let out a startled yelp.

The pressure was coming from a short hyuma man with soft, androgynous features. The tension in the air around him was as sharp as a knife. The man narrowed his eyes, as though he were smiling. A shrewd light burned in them as he called out to Masato.

“…Forgive me for interrupting your conversation. You represent Elm Trading, correct?”

“…Actually, this guy’s the representative.”

“No, I’m quite certain it’s you. Or at least, you’re the one running the show.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“…Do I look like a man who couldn’t figure out that much?”

“That you do not.”

Masato radiated an aura just as acute. No, perhaps even more so. The air grew tenser still. Elch felt goose bumps run across his skin.

This was the kind of atmosphere that only veteran merchants possessed. They weren’t farmers who engaged in trade to support their humble lifestyles or corrupt landlords getting rich off their property rights. They were starving wolves who lived their lives on razor-thin margins day in and day out so they could amass unfathomable fortunes.

“I like this guy’s vibe. He feels like the first real businessman I’ve met since I came to this world.” Having sensed that this visitor was of a similar mind to him, Masato rose from his chair and offered his hand.

“I’m Masato Sanada, and I do Elm Trading’s books. Who is it that I have the pleasure of speaking to?”

The man shook it as he stated his name.

“Forgive me for the delayed introduction. My name is Klaus, and I lead the Sea Serpent Maritime Trading Company based out of eastern Freyjagard. I heard talk of an interesting company making a name for themselves in Dormundt, and…I had hoped to have a chat.”

“What a coincidence. I’ve…been wanting to have a sit-down with you all day, too.”

“You noticed me? Among that massive crowd?”

“Do I look like the kind of guy who wouldn’t?”

“…That you do not,” Klaus said with an elegant smile, letting out a little chuckle.

Masato offered him a seat, ordered beer and sausages from a nearby tavern employee…then whipped a jar of mayonnaise seemingly from nowhere and placed it atop the table.

“The thing is, I wanted you to try this, so I saved a jar just for you. Let’s have a bite and talk about money, Mr. Klaus.”


“We lost the Sea Serpents.”

Learning that fact shook Neutzeland like a magnitude 8.0 earthquake.

“Th-that can’t be! Is this true?!”

“I-it is! We’re sure of it…! Mr. Klaus came and told us in person…! As we speak, the Sea Serpent sailors are carrying their cargo to a warehouse rented by Elm Trading…!”


Neutzeland’s manager, Jaccoy, had made light of the Elm Trading Company at first. Given how small they were, he’d been sure they’d collapse in on themselves in no time. Now he was getting nervous.

After all, the Sea Serpents were the ones slated to bring all the wholesale goods Neutzeland was getting through the shipyards that month.

Jaccoy made his way to where the Sea Serpents’ ship was anchored so he could give Klaus a piece of his mind. The leader of the maritime company was busy barking out instructions to the sailors transporting their cargo, so he wasn’t hard to find. Neutzeland’s manager shouted at the man in a furious tone.


“Why, if it isn’t Mr. Jaccoy. You seem upset. What’s the matter?”

“Of course I’m upset! You’re cutting us out and selling your cargo to those strange novices! Have you gone mad?!”

“Ah, so that’s what this is about.” Having learned what Jaccoy was cross about, Klaus’s expression changed to one of exasperation. “I’m perfectly sane, thank you very much. I listened to what they had to say, then made a decision… He’s an impressive man, Elm Trading’s accountant. I don’t know what he’s been selling or where he’s been selling it, but despite his youth, he’s a shrewder man than you or I. During our negotiations, there were a number of moments where I felt as though I was about to be swallowed whole. Why, I had to try my damnedest just to make it out of there in one piece. Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed. I did learn quite a lot, though.”

“You’re overestimating them…! They don’t have the capital for any sort of serious business, and the slightest upset could blow their flimsy company away…”

“Yet you’re the one about to be devoured, aren’t you?”


“Oh? Have you not realized your situation yet? Elm Trading isn’t just gobbling up your market share on the land, they’re stealing your share of the sea, as well.”

“Only because you betrayed us!” Jaccoy, unamused with Klaus’s less than sympathetic tone, grabbed him by the collar and screamed right in the man’s face. “We always took market prices into consideration when we bought from you people, didn’t we?! What could you possibly have to complain about?!”

Faced with Jaccoy’s boiling rage, Klaus was as cool as a cucumber.

“Yet you always sold for far, far more, right? It’s only natural for us to want a piece of that action… And one other thing. Instead of going after ludicrous profits like you, Mr. Sanada promised to sell the Industrial District their wholesale goods at affordable prices. When he does, it should help end the price-spike-induced recession they’ve been having these last few years. His vision has a future, you see. We do our share of buying, too, so we wanted to partner with a business willing to set aside their own profits for the good of the region as a whole.” As the leader of Sea Serpent gave his answer, he grabbed the arm holding his collar.

Jaccoy yelped in pain and released his grip. Klaus’s fingers had left visible marks on Jaccoy’s fat arm.

“If you keep refusing to wake up, they’re liable to swallow your beloved bed of gold coins whole—and you along with it. Do keep your wits about you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” Having said his piece, Klaus returned to his work.

Jaccoy headed back down the road to Neutzeland’s headquarters. Chewing his fingernails, he mumbled, “Dammit, dammit, how did this happen?”

He’d been certain that Elm Trading’s consignment system would fail in no time. There was no way those uneducated peasants could keep decent ledgers, and without accurate ledgers, people would lose faith in them, and the system would break down. Then their bloated market would pop like a bubble. There was no need for him to burn his own money on a price war.

But Elm Trading simply refused to fail. How? How had they gotten so big yet still showed no signs of collapsing?

—Jaccoy didn’t know it, but its sole secret to success was Masato Sanada.

One of the reasons the Sanada Group had grown so much during Masato’s tenure was that he’d personally directed every single company under their umbrella. That’s right—he wasn’t their president; he was their director.

In other words, he attended every meeting of every company, from the biggest banks to the smallest workshops. What enabled him to do that was a rare gift Masato possessed called multi-listening. He had the ability to accurately listen to and process thirty conversations at once. It was possible for him to take on ten times that many discussions if they were comprised of simple words and numbers.

The farmers couldn’t keep their own ledgers, so Masato had them instead confirm the goods and their prices out loud whenever they made a sale. Then, by picking those voices out from the noise of the market, he was able to record the transactions himself and keep an accurate account of the goods the Elm Trading Company was dealing with, even now that their stock had swelled to more than a whole ship’s worth. That was how he’d earned other merchants’ trust.

It was a feat bordering on superhuman ability. Not just anyone could pull something like that off. But the fact that he could was precisely why people revered him as one of the High School Prodigies.

—Not that Jaccoy knew any of that.

There was no way he could have known that Masato had been hailed as a prodigy back on a planet called Earth. And because of that…he’d underestimated him. He’d underestimated the threat the Elm Trading Company posed with Masato at its wheel. However…

“If you keep refusing to wake up, they’re liable to swallow your beloved bed of gold coins whole—and you along with it.”


Klaus’s speech had jolted him to his senses.

The Elm Trading Company’s influence would likely spread through the sea routes via the Sea Serpents. At the moment, the Sea Serpents had three ships docked at the port, and the Dagon Company had the other four.

Neutzeland and Dagon had already finished their dealings for this haul, so Elm Trading wouldn’t be able to butt in on that. However, there was no way of knowing which way future ships would lean. This was no time to be sitting around idly waiting to be destroyed.

When Jaccoy returned to his company, he gathered his merchants and made an announcement.

“…Starting tomorrow, we’re opening our market in the central plaza, too.”

“I-in the central plaza?!”

“That’s right. The only advantages they have over us are their prime location and their low prices. We’re going to eliminate both.”

“We’re competing with this tiny company directly, sir?”

“They’re meddling with our ocean trade routes, and that cannot stand. We have to crush them while they’re small. We’ll buy goods for more than them! We’ll sell goods for less than them! Right now, their land-based trade is still their foundation! If we rip it up from the roots, they’ll shrivel and die!”

“B-but what about our profits?”

“This is war! Until they’re dead and gone, profits are of no concern! We’ll take some hits, but when it comes to a brawl like this, that’s not what matters. We have more money, so we can simply outlast them! We’ll defeat them with our superior resources! We’ll bankrupt them! No, we’ll obliterate them! We’ll annihilate those country bumpkins!”

“““Yes sir!”””

The merchants got to work as soon as Jaccoy finished his tirade. Watching his underlings scurry to their work, the man muttered a vow to himself.

“You people made enemies of the great Neutzeland Trading Company…and I’ll make sure you regret it!”


That evening, Shinobu Sarutobi dropped by the inn that Masato and the others were using as their base. When she entered their room, her eyes gleamed at the mountain of gold coins piled up on the desk.

“Holy moly. That’s so much gold! You guys are raking it in!”

“We’re doing business with companies now. If we’d kept using copper coins, the floor would give out.”

“So we’re looking good on Ringo’s requests, then?”

“Yeah, I was able to get everything she needed and more from my deal with the shipyard today. I was worried about being able to find magnesium. But apparently, they got some from a glass workshop, so I was able to get enough. I’m gonna charter a horse tomorrow and send Ringo’s haul to Elm along with the winter stores.”

“There was some pricey stuff on the list, like gold and silver. How’d those go?”

“I’m just gonna have her melt down some of the gold and silver coins for that.”

“Oh, huh. Hadn’t thought of that.”

“…Just so you know, that’s a serious crime.”

“Elch, we have a saying back on our world: ‘It’s only a crime if you get caught.’”

“And if they catch you, you can just make a break for it!”

“That’s horrible…” With a sigh, Elch went over to the bed and placed a damp towel on Roo’s forehead.

“That’s Roo, the protégé you took in off the street, right? What’s wrong with her? Did she catch a cold or something? Her face is bright red.”

“Nah, she just got so excited from seeing all this cash that she popped a nosebleed and fainted.”

“…Well, you can’t say she doesn’t have promise.”

“Yeah, but it’ll be a while before she’s actually useful. She can’t even read. —Hey, Elch, there’s a mistake here,” Masato said, looking up from his tablet computer. Then he tapped the touch screen with his stylus and pointed something out to Elch.

“When you sell on credit, you don’t list the debit on the day of as cash, you list it as accounts payable. After all, you don’t actually have the money yet. If you do it like this, you’ll end up putting in the ‘cash’ twice and causing all sorts of problems.”

“Oh, I see…”

“What’s going on over here? …Oh, double-entry bookkeeping. You’re teaching him?”

“Yeah. Single-entry causes way too much ambiguity.”

“Apparently, up until recently, there were some developed countries that were using that ambiguous single-entry method to manage their public funds, you know.”

“Well, sure. That ambiguity made things real convenient for them.”

Double-entry bookkeeping was an accounting method that had only become popular relatively recently in Earth’s history. Unlike the single-entry ledgers Elm Village had been using, which only had income and expenditures, double-entry ledgers classified incoming money based on its attributes, which allowed for a better understanding of an organization’s financial structure. In short, it was difficult to make errors, which meant it was easier to earn other people’s trust.

Learning how to use it was essentially all upside.

So while Masato used their downtime to teach Roo her letters and some basic math, he was also coaching Elch on how to keep double-entry ledgers.

“Now, onto the next drill. Go ahead and organize this cash flow here into the account book.”

“G-got it!”

With that, Elch took the tablet (or as he called it, the magic paper that you could write and erase on however many times you liked) and stylus and began writing in the ledger displayed on its LCD screen.

While still keeping an eye on his pupil, Masato turned to Shinobu. His tone switched from small-talk mode to serious mode.

“…So given that you’re here, does that mean they’ve made their move?”

Shinobu nodded in answer.

“Yup. Looks like they’re pretty pissed you muscled in on the port. They’re planning on taking the war to you tomorrow.”

“Wh-what do you mean, war?” Having heard the frightening word, Elch looked up from the tablet, pale.

“They’re gonna start buying and selling without caring about being profitable. Basically, they’re planning on icing us out.”

“Wait, but if they do that, won’t they run out of money?”

“They’ve got all sorts of cash stored up over there. They’re a hundred percent sure they can take us if it comes down to a head-to-head fight. And they aren’t wrong. We made a good chunk of change off our deal with the Industrial District, but that’s nothing compared to their reserves. If they’d taken full advantage of their material lead, they could have flattened us. Power plays are just as effective in financial wars as they are in real ones. Honestly, it’s not a bad strategy.”

It wasn’t bad plan. However…

“Or it wouldn’t have been, if they’d done it on day one.”

“You’re saying they’re too late?”

“Yeah. They’re so late it’s almost makin’ me yawn. What a bunch of slackers.”

“So you have a counterstrategy ready?”

“I don’t need one. That slugfest’s never gonna happen.”

With a wicked grin, Masato stood up from his chair and opened the room’s window.

The sight outside made Elch’s eyes go wide.

In the darkness behind the inn…were dozens of men. Their clothes were so shabby, they looked like beggars, but their eyes were filled with an ominous, fiery light.

Those guys… I’ve seen them hanging around the market, haven’t I?

Masato rested his elbow on the windowsill and called out to the men like they were old friends.

“…It’s gonna go down just like I told you yesterday. This ends tomorrow. I’m counting on you guys.”

“““………””” The men nodded in unison, then vanished into the night. The entire exchange was thoroughly unsettling. Elch wanted to know what that was all about.

“Who were those men…?”

Masato’s smile was downright fiendish.

“The blades I’m gonna use…to slay Neutzeland.”


Slay Neutzeland.

Although the words had a sinister ring, he obviously wasn’t going to actually kill anyone. He was speaking metaphorically. Though his blades were only figurative, they were a far crueler weapon than actual knives. After all, the blades he was using could gouge out a heart without causing any physical pain. By the time the victim noticed, it was already too late.

That’s right. Jaccoy had already been stabbed by Masato’s blades. He just hadn’t noticed yet. The master of Neutzeland remained unaware even as Saturday morning rolled around. It had been ages since his employees had seen the man this fired up.

I won’t let them have their way anymore.

Today, Neutzeland was going to open their market right in the central plaza. Then, by disregarding profits and selling for less and buying for more than Elm did, they were going to beat them bloody.

After all, Elm’s foundation was so weak that they had to rely on an unorthodox method like consignment. They’d used their deal with the Sea Serpents to drum up some decent dough, but compared to the mountain of gold Jaccoy slept on, it was still little more than pocket change. At the end of the day, money was the backbone of a business. In a fight, it was their stamina. Money was everything.

There was absolutely no chance Neutzeland could lose in a slugfest. The competition for morning inventory had already begun.

The people over at Elm Trading were probably going pale at discovering that Neutzeland was using its overwhelming amounts of capital to buy up all the incoming merchandise. Jaccoy leaned back in his chair, his expression brimming with confidence. His bed of gold probably only served to reaffirm those thoughts.

The unease of the previous day had vanished from his thoughts without a trace. It was gone. Nowhere to be seen.

—In other words, this was the limit of Jaccoy’s strategic ability. With this, he’d unknowingly proven himself incapable of escaping from atop Masato’s palm…which meant he was dead. Masato’s blades reached his heart. It was only half an hour after the market opened when the fat merchant finally learned of his demise.

One of his employees came running over to him, drenched in sweat.

“Mr. Jaccoy! Mr. Jaccoy!”

“What’s wrong? Heh, did they already throw in the towel before the market even opened?”

“N-no sir! I-it’s a disaster!”

“A disaster? What happened?”

“We haven’t been able to buy a single piece of merchandise!”

“Wh…? WHAT?!?!”

Jaccoy shouted hysterically and stood up so fast his chair toppled over.

“I told you to offer better buy prices than they did, didn’t I?!”

“You did, sir! We put up signboards and banners announcing our new prices, but…nobody seemed to care! They all just went to Elm…”


It defied logic. The Findolph domain was at Freyjagard’s northernmost point, and their winters were brutal. Impoverished farmers of the frigid region should have leaped at the opportunity to sell their goods for even a single rook more. They needed that money to buy winter stores. So why were they intentionally accepting lower prices?

Panicking over the incomprehensible actions of the farmers, Jaccoy rushed over to the market. But when he got there—

“What’s the meaning of—? Huh?!”

—he saw something unbelievable.

“A-ah! I-it’s you people…!”

Dozens of people and wagons were lined up in front of the Elm Trading Company’s lot in the plaza. Mixed in with the rest of the rabble…were some faces Jaccoy recognized. They were—

“That’s right. They’re your old peddlers.” Masato’s heels clicked as he stepped out to face the shell-shocked Jaccoy.

“Y-you bastard…!”

“When we started digging, we found out all sorts of interesting stuff about you guys. Not only did you have a secret agreement with the mayor to monopolize the market, you were also real aggressive when it came to cost cutting. For example, you moved the market from the central plaza to the Port District so it’d be closer to your warehouses. But the biggest move you made…was laying off all your traveling peddlers.”

Masato had always found it strange that Elch had to bring his wares to the city. He’d known that Elch’s father had been a peddler who was often on the road, after all. There were a number of differences between this world and Earth, but the concept of traveling salesmen definitely existed here. Why should Elch have to bring Elm’s goods to the city himself, then? Thanks to Shinobu’s efforts, Masato discovered the answer to that question the first night after they’d started Elm Trading.

After Jaccoy secured a monopoly on distribution, he laid off not just Orion’s old peddlers, but Neutzeland’s, as well.

“You had sole control over Findolph’s only port, so even if you didn’t go out and buy inventory, goods would still naturally flow your way. That’s why you fired pretty much all your peddlers and made the villagers come all the way to Dormundt to sell their goods directly. By doing so, you were able to cut personnel expenses while foisting the city’s tariffs off on the villagers… It’s the kind of dumbass idea that only a guy who spends all day looking at ledgers and who’s forgotten what it’s like to pound pavement would come up with. Human relationships are the bedrock of business, but you were willing to throw away all the goodwill the peddlers built up with the villagers just to make a couple extra rook.”

Jaccoy had been like an octopus eating its own leg.

“It felt like a real waste to me, so we figured we’d take it all for ourselves.”

“Y-you don’t mean…” A nasty hunch barreled through Jaccoy’s mind. With a sneer packed full of his contempt for Jaccoy’s foolishness, Masato confirmed his fears.

“Oh, but I do. All these peddlers signed exclusive three-year contracts with me. We bought up all these goods before they even made it into the city… I don’t have to explain what that means, do I? The fact that I employ all these peddlers means that today isn’t a one-off thing. Tomorrow’ll be the same, and the day after that, and all the days to come. In other words, not a single unspoken-for wagonload will ever make it to this plaza… You’re gaping at me like a dumbass again.”

“This…can’t be!” The proud merchant master of Neutzeland turned as white as bone at Masato’s declaration. It was an understandable reaction. His entire plan had revolved around coming to the plaza and undercutting Elm’s prices.

However…Masato had gone and cut him off upstream. If the goods never made it into the city, Jaccoy’s strategy was worthless. To make things worse…Neutzeland didn’t have the ability to compete with them outside the city. How could they? Jaccoy’s company lacked the peddlers to do so. His business had, in a sense, chewed off its own legs.

It certainly wasn’t as if they couldn’t hire new peddlers, but it was going to be impossible to find people who knew how to keep ledgers, negotiate, and navigate safely through the Findolph domain’s bandit-infested roads…outside of the men who’d just signed on with Elm.

—In other words, Neutzeland had no way to counter Elm’s play. This was no slugfest. Neutzeland was completely powerless.


Sweat cascaded down Jaccoy’s forehead like a waterfall as he finally came to understand his despair-inducing predicament. He turned to the gathered farmers and shouted.

“He-he’s tricking you! Look at those banners! We’re paying far better prices than that deadbeat company ever could! It’s not too late! You can still change your minds! If there’s a penalty for breaking your contracts, we’ll pay it all! So—!”

The response from the farmers was colder than ice.

“Sorry, but…Elm Trading told us you’d offer us more money. We sold our goods to them already knowing that.”


“Why? It’s simple. We just don’t want to do business with you.”


“We’re not greedy. All we ever wanted was enough to survive the winter…so our villages could make it to spring. Elm Trading made sure to take that into account when they set their prices.”

“Besides…you’re only offering better prices for now. Once your war with Elm is over, you’ll go right back to ripping us off. We might be uneducated, but even we can tell that much.”

“So instead, we just went with a trading partner who understands how we feel. Not just for this winter, but for every winter to come.”

“N-no, wait! This is all a misunderstanding! I promise, we’ll never try to rip you off again! I regret everything we’ve done! So—”

“Don’t go bowing to us. That’s not what we want. After all…even if you really were remorseful and telling us the truth from the bottom of your heart…we simply can’t trust you.”


It was like Jaccoy was scratching against a wall of polished marble. That was how firm, cold, and absolute their rejection was. The villagers of Findolph had made it thoroughly clear just how fed up with Neutzeland they were.

And who could blame them?

Neutzeland had been abusing them for years. Money. Coin. It’s all the company had ever cared about. But that had been wrong. Both from a moral perspective…and a business perspective. As Jaccoy reeled from the farmers’ rejection, Masato spoke.

“Mr. Jaccoy, was it? You’ve been laboring under one big misapprehension. You probably thought the most important thing in business was money. That’s why you tried so desperately to amass it. But see, money’s not the most important thing… It’s trust. Even if you’re dead broke, as long as people trust you, you can still rebuild your company. As long as there are people who trust your business, money’ll come naturally. But…no matter how much money you have, if people don’t trust you…you’re dead in the water. And you…took things too far.”

“………” Jaccoy had nothing left to say. All he could do was gaze lifelessly at the merchant from another world standing before him. He was certain of it now.

There was no way…he could win.

The man standing there wasn’t someone he could ever hope to defeat. Before long, this man would probably snatch away every major deal that went through the port. And when that happened…Neutzeland’s cash flow would die.

If Neutzeland were a plant, it was like their roots were being ripped out. Even with their vast fortunes—even though their flowers bloomed far larger than Elm’s—without their roots, all they could do was use up their stores of water and eventually wither away.

Filled with despair at that inevitable future, Jaccoy sank to his knees. Seeing the once high-and-mighty man sink so low left Elch and Roo speechless.


Masato had done it. He’d dealt Neutzeland a fatal blow in just a single week. They’d doubted he could pull it off. Now, though, they saw it with their own eyes as they stood in shocked silence.

However, the biggest shock was yet to come…

“But if I beat you and Neutzeland into the ground, then I’d be the one taking it too far.”

Suddenly, Masato offered Jaccoy a hand of salvation.


“Doesn’t matter if it’s Elm or Neutzeland, no good can come of a single company having a monopoly. Without competition, companies grow corrupt. Pretty much every time. So what say we all just have a little sit-down. Then we can talk about the future of Dormundt and, by extension, the economy and trade of the entire domain… Though, I suggest you prepare for a taste of your own medicine.”

Stunned by the sudden glimpse of redemption, Jaccoy was silent for a moment, and then…

“…All right.” His head sank low as he nodded.

Elm’s hand was already around his throat. Coming to a settlement, even if it was a harsh one, was obviously preferable to being strangled.

And with that, the Elm Trading Company emerged victorious from the Elm versus Neutzeland war.


Night had already begun to creep over the city by the time they’d finished negotiations and left Neutzeland’s offices.

The three members of the Elm Trading Company walked down the twilit port streets, making their way back toward the inn where they’d been staying.

“Damn, those Neutzeland chairs were hard. Sure, they looked nice, but would it have killed them to add a little padding? My back’s killing me.” Masato, the one complaining, was at the group’s head. In his right hand, he was holding a spherical leather bag.

—They’d settled on three major points in the negotiations.

First, a prohibition on the use of bribes to interfere with the issuing of trading licenses.

Second, the revival of the peddler system and an agreement that the companies would shoulder all tariffs and the burden of transporting goods.

Third, for Neutzeland to pay reparations to the villages as an apology for their misconduct.

The first was largely a formality, so they reached an agreement on that point quickly. About half the peddlers Masato hired had expressed a desire to go back to their old jobs, so the second issue was resolved by Elm transferring their contracts to Neutzeland under the same conditions. However, the third topic caused no end of disputes. It alone ate up about 90 percent of the discussion.

Eventually, though, they did decide on sums for Neutzeland to pay the villages as compensation for making them shoulder the tariffs: two gold per person for villages from which they’d bought goods and three for people like Tohr who’d come peddling from rural companies.

Even for small villages like Elm, that came out to around a hundred gold. For larger ones like Fitze, it was closer to six hundred.

All in all, Neutzeland ended up having to pay over a hundred thousand gold. Jaccoy’s beloved bed of gold was gone.

They couldn’t pay it all at once, of course. Losing that kind of liquid capital would severely impede their ability to actually run their business. If Neutzeland ended up having to flee Dormundt on account of their increased expenses from the tariffs and the peddler payroll, that would put the situation right back where it started.

As a result, Masato asked the villagers to be understanding and sought a compromise wherein the payments to higher-population farm villages and towns would come gradually over the next few years. Jaccoy, who’d been thoroughly humbled by the whole process, thanked him profusely and agreed. They then drew up the agreement, at which point Jaccoy signed and affixed Neutzeland’s seal to it. Once Count Heiseraat signed his name and made it official, the discussion came to a close.

Masato’s leather bag currently held a hundred gold in reparations and 650 more of the coins as a finder’s fee for the peddlers.

Elch gazed at the bag as he called out, “Man, you really had it out for them.”

“What do you mean?”

“The thing where they tried to take advantage of us on day one.”

“Oh yeah. I told you, remember? I hate getting ripped off.”

Elch nodded. With all that’d happened, that conversation felt like it had been ages ago. However, Masato had said one other thing back then, too.

“I’ll destroy Neutzeland.” And yet—

“But for all that, you never ended up actually destroying them.”

“Hey, I got you your money, didn’t I? Don’t go chopping me into wolf bait, now.”

“I’m not gonna make you into wolf bait… I was just kinda curious. Why’d you decide to come to a settlement?”

Elch could tell. The agreement had almost no upside for Elm. The reparations and finder’s fee together were nothing compared to the money they could have made by keeping the market all to themselves. And if that was the case, why’d Masato make the proposal he did? Well, Elch was about to find out.

“The thing is, if we’d refused to compromise and just crushed them, things would have gotten real messy for us.”

“You think so?”

“Definitely. I said I’d destroy them at first to raise your morale, but that was never actually the plan. After all, Neutzeland and we are the only companies in Dormundt. If we got rid of them, we’d have to sustain all the trade in the whole city for a while.”

Masato explained that even with the secret arrangement eliminated, it would take some time before other companies could get a foothold in the city.

“But that’s just not possible. You don’t have the skills to run a company that big yet, and I’m not planning on sticking around in this world for that long. My plan was only ever to fix the mess we made of Elm Village’s finances and to get the stuff Ringo asked for. But there’s another, even bigger reason why we couldn’t truly kill Neutzeland—personnel expenses.”

“Per-so-nnel expenses? What’s that, Teacher?”

“It’s the money you gotta pay people when they work for you. We hired all the peddlers Neutzeland laid off, but we’re just a fledgling little company that hasn’t even gotten a decent shipment of goods in yet. Our deal with the Sea Serpents gave us a little bit of bankroll to work with, but with that many employees, even that wouldn’t last long. I only hired them in the first place to break Jaccoy’s will. It was my plan from the get-go to force Neutzeland to take half of them back after the dust settled. For a finder’s fee, of course.”

“………” Elch gawked at how unashamed Masato was about all that.

For all the preaching he’d done to Jaccoy about trust, he himself had hired the peddlers with contracts he never intended to uphold. The nerve was downright unbelievable. Elch could hardly begin to comprehend the depths of Masato’s audacity.

“…Hey, are you actually evil or something?”

Masato replied with an amused grin.

“You’d better believe I am. Back on Earth, they called me the Devil of Finance.” His expression in that moment was his most villainous one yet. Elch contorted his face in revulsion. Roo, on the other hand, gazed up at Masato in admiration.

“All right, the Neutzeland problem might be out of our hair, but I still have a lot to teach you two. When we get back to the inn, we’ll pick up from where we left off yesterday.”

“G-got it!”

“Yes sir!”

But before they could make it back, the day’s final incident reared its ugly head.

“There she is! It’s her!”

“Stop right there!”

“““ ?!”””

All of a sudden, four men with fishlike faces appeared and blocked the trio’s path.


Seemingly unprovoked, a group of threatening sailors had appeared. Each was carrying a knife, and their eyes were tinged with anger and hostility.

Elch braced himself for trouble.

“Did Neutzeland send thugs after us?”

“…Nah, these guys don’t look like merchants.”


“Li’l Roo?” Masato suddenly caught on to what was happening.

Not only was Roo hiding behind him, she was looking at the men in abject terror. He wondered why for a moment, but the men quickly dispelled his confusion.

“You assholes think you can make money off goods that don’t belong to you?”

“Goods? What are you talking about?”

“The kid! Dagon Company brought a shipment back from the New World…and she’s one of our slaves!”


“…Is that true, Li’l Roo?”

“………” Roo’s shoulders flinched, and she looked away.

Judging by her reaction, it seemed the story checked out. To complicate things, it was clear there was no way the sailors were about to let them get away with making off with their slave and selling her.

The sailors clasped their knives in their sea-tempered hands.

“You assholes ready to pay the piper? Get ’em, boys!”

“““Yeah!!!!””” The sailors charged.

Or rather, they tried to. Elch was one step faster on the draw, however. He pulled the bow off his back and loosed an arrow into the cobbled road directly in front of them.


“…Don’t come any closer, or the next one’s going through your forehead.”

Not only had he drawn his bow faster than the sailors could blink, but his arrow had landed right at their feet. It was no wonder that Mayor Ulgar had called Elch the best archer in the village. To an unskilled eye, it might have looked like he was just showing off, but the young man’s combat prowess was actually well beyond that of the four sailors.

They’d been in their fair share of brawls, however. Their eyes were anything but novice.

“Yo, Boss… This guy’s trouble.”

The leader of the bunch, however, quickly barked at his cowering underlings.

“D-don’t get spooked now! We’re the victims here! Justice is on our side! If it comes down to it, we can just call a patrol over! These guys are the thieves, after all!”

“…!” Hearing that made Elch’s face twitch.

The man was right. If they summoned a patrol, Elch and the others would have no excuse. The slave trade was just a normal part of life in this world. Even people were just another commodity to be sold. Stealing them was just as much a crime as stealing anything else.

—And it went without saying that criminals couldn’t own trading licenses.

Even so…Elch didn’t break his combat stance. Come what may, he was still a villager of Elm. He wasn’t just about to abandon someone in their moment of need. Especially not if that someone was a person he’d been working alongside for the past week.

“I’ll buy you some time! Take Roo and make a run for it!”

But as Elch readied himself to protect Roo…

“Nah, that won’t be necessary,” Masato said from behind.

“Huh?! What are you—?” Elch glared at Masato. He wasn’t seriously planning on abandoning her, was he?

Masato didn’t return Elch’s look. Instead, he turned his eyes down to Roo as she hid behind him and asked her a single question.

“Li’l Roo…do you want me to save you?”

His voice was gentle.

“ !”

Roo’s wide eyes grew even wider. They were filled with joy. —No. That wasn’t it. It wasn’t joy. It was comprehension. She understood. She understood what Masato had meant when he asked if she wanted him to save her.

It wasn’t a question that needed to be asked. Obviously, she wanted to be saved. She was a runaway slave. If the sailors took her…she could only imagine the cruelties they’d inflict.

Simply put, Masato wasn’t really asking if she wanted to be saved. He was asking how the girl wanted to live her life from here on out.

“Roo…wants money. She wants to be able to make it on her own. She doesn’t want to be tossed around anymore. So…please, teach Roo how to make money, too!”

It was all because she’d come to him with that request.

…That’s right…

Roo was ashamed that her first instinct had been to hide behind Masato. She wanted to be able to make it on her own. That had been her wish from the very start, the reason she’d followed Masato in the first place. But trembling and waiting to be saved was no way to accomplish that. She shouldn’t have been relying on the altruism of others.

Roo’s gonna became a big strong merchant like Teacher…!

She needed to seize her future with her own strength and wisdom.


With new resolve, she shouted at the top of her lungs, “Roo has a dream! Okay?! Roo’s gonna make lots and lots and loooots of money, and then someday, someday…she’s gonna buy Mommy and Daddy back!

“So, so! Roo’s gonna study even harder!

“She’s gonna learn her letters, her numbers, everything!

“Then she’s gonna become a merchant just like, no, a merchant even better than you, Teacher! She’s gonna make mountains of money, and then, and then…she’s gonna get Mommy and Daddy back! Roo’s not strong enough now, but she’s gonna study and study and study until she is!

“Then, then! Roo’s gonna give Teacher all the money she has left over!

“Roo promises! She won’t let you regret this! So, Teacher, please…!

“Buy Roo right here and now!!!!”

She was practically screaming as she demonstrated her “value.” She was pitching herself to Masato. As a merchant, she was her own product. At the moment, she was nobody, so she shouted to convey the one thing she had—a will that burned like fire.

“What’s that kid babbling about?!”

“We should chop off her legs so she can’t make another break for it!”

The sailors sneered at Roo and closed in on her as she conducted the first negotiation of her life. But when one of them reached out to grab her, something struck the man in the face.


“The hell you think you’re—?!”

The eyes of the sailors’ leader bulged wide at the sudden attack. However, the rage quickly faded from his voice as he became transfixed by what had been thrown and was currently scattered across the pavement.

It was the leather bag full of gold and silver coins. Masato had quite literally thrown the money in their faces.

“That there’s seven hundred and fifty gold. I wanna buy this slave from you… That’s easily a hundred times what she’d go for on the open market. Do we have any problems, gentlemen?”


Now, the men were just sailors. They were nothing more than the people paid to transport goods from point A to point B.

They themselves didn’t technically have any ownership over Roo. They were just in charge of making sure the slaves didn’t go anywhere. In other words, they had no right to conduct this sale. However…their ethical concerns were no match for the sheer volume of coin they were being offered. That was precisely why Masato was offering so much.

“Nope! No sirree! No problems here! Just remember, all sales are final!”

“Then it sounds like we have a deal.”

The lead sailor scooped up the bag, along with the stray coins that had escaped the sack when it had been thrown. He then turned to his confused men and said, “Look, let’s just forget about all this,” and he promptly dragged them all off.

His plan was probably to tell the owner that they couldn’t track down the slave, then embezzle the cash for himself. Though Masato didn’t much care what the man did with the money. After all—

“Well said, Li’l Roo.”

—he’d just traded it for far more gold than could ever possibly fit in that little sack.


“Doesn’t matter how savvy a businessperson someone is; doesn’t matter if they’re so lucky it makes you think they were touched by the hand of God—they’re useless if they don’t have the hunger… I was like that, back before my dad died. I spent my life just getting jerked around.”

Back then, Masato had lived with no goals, no hunger, and no wants. Every day was tepid and uneventful.

“But when I saw my dad’s corpse hanging there, I felt that hunger for the first time. A dark hunger for revenge against the companies that drove my father to his death. My eyes back then probably looked just like yours do now, Li’l Roo. And you’ve got it, too. Something you want to do. Something you need to do, deep down in your heart. And I can tell you’re ready to put your life on the line to do it.”

Even though she’d known that getting caught meant near-certain death, she’d sought Masato out anyway. Despite knowing how conspicuous being in public had made her, she’d taken in every drop of financial wisdom he’d given her.

“That courage? That willpower? That’s worth a million times more than that paltry sum I tossed them.” Masato knew full well that the girl’s hunger would someday lead to wealth beyond measure. Compared to that, a single bag of gold was nothing.

“Those dumbasses just let a fortune slip through their hands for a song. Let’s make ’em regret it,” Masato said, giving Roo’s red hair a rough tussle. His hand was so warm. Not only did he understand Roo better than she understood herself, he respected the way she wanted to live her life.

“Tea… Teacheeeerrrrr!”

The tears she’d been holding back, the feelings she’d been holing up in her heart, they all came out at once.

She embraced Masato and began crying loudly to express all the gratitude and joy she couldn’t possibly convey in words. Masato gently rubbed her head, then turned his gaze toward Elch.

“Sorry about that, Elch. I kinda ended up spending everyone’s money,” he said apologetically.

Elch, however, understood what Masato’s true intentions had been. He could hardly blame him for what he’d done.

“…It’s fine. It’s not worth worrying about, given how much else you made us.” And more importantly, it felt nice spending money the way he had. “Heh. You know, I never knew spending money could feel this good.”

Elch’s words made Masato smile like a kid.

“Ha-ha, right? That’s why I keep makin’ it.”

And with that, Masato Sanada’s skills restored Elm’s finances to the point where, as long as they didn’t do anything reckless, they could live out their next couple decades with security. He’d easily made good on his promise to repay them twice over.

Furthermore, he’d successfully gotten Ringo Oohoshi all the iron and other goods she’d asked for. With the ability to manufacture aluminum, Ringo could now wield her scientific acumen to its fullest. It was certain to be a big boon in their search for a way home.

Share This :


No Comments Yet

Post a new comment

Register or Login