Release that Witch Chapter 1040
Leaf, who had contributed the most to the growth of grain production, had been mentioned in the picture-story book, The Witch Diaries, long ago, and the book had been available for sale in the Convenience Market since then, so it was not strange for a foreign merchant to know about her.
However, he was the first one to ask for a specific witch for a task. The people of the four kingdoms, unlike those adventurous folks in the Fjords, were deeply influenced by the church, so they had a significant amount of prejudice against the witches. Now that there was one of them who was willing to voluntarily work with a witch, Roland could not help being a little interested.
After reading the letter, he touched his chin and said, "Coming from the Kingdom of Dawn... Do you know where he's living in Neverwinter?"
"Yes," Barov said, "The Administrative Office has kept track of him. I also asked Lady Scroll to check the taxes he has paid and found that he started to pay taxes six years ago. But at that time he mainly purchased gemstones, occasionally some furs, all of which have nothing to do with cotton."
"Interesting." Roland was well aware of how simple the tax collection system was in this era. The tax collectors had to record every tax each person had paid, and as time went by, the collectors were liable to lose track of how much the taxes were really paid, let alone check the data. The permanent residents had no choice but to pay tax as their property was clear to see, while the merchants who frequently traveled between cities should have had many tricks to avoiding paying the tax collected by the local lords. The fact that Victor's tax record could be traced back to six years ago suggested that he must be a very honest and trustworthy man, which was really uncommon for merchants.
"Send for Victor," Roland said, putting down the letter. "I need to talk to him alone."
"As you command, Your Majesty."
Roland soon met the merchant in the meeting room.
He really did look like a citizen of the Kingdom of Dawn. Like Andrea, he had pale golden hair. He also had a pretty face and well-maintained skin. Overall, he looked like a well-bred nobleman with the right etiquette from a wealthy family.
It was hard to imagine such a man would travel between kingdoms for his livelihood. Instead of running the business himself, he could always order some reliable men to handle the general affairs. After all, in this era, long-distance travel was tough for anyone, whether they were rich or not.
Victor gave a proper explanation for Roland's confusion—family conflicts.
In order to eschew his elder brother's oppression and prove his ability, he had to leave his home and run a business in Graycastle.
Victor's story wasn't very convincing, but Roland didn't want to be too inquisitive. In any case, Roland wasn't interested in other people's affairs. Besides, since Nightingale had not given any response, the merchant was telling the truth.
After the introduction, Roland came to the point directly. "You want Leaf to culture productive cotton seeds and aim to set up a brand new clothes shop, which would be promoted to the entire kingdom with cheap and fine clothes made of the cotton?"
What Roland had asked was not his own imaginative idea but was actually written at the end of the letter. That was one of the reasons why Roland decided to see Victor personally. It was like someone had submitted a business plan aimed at raising 100 million yuan and all he lacked was Roland's investment worth 500 yuan.
"Not just the Kingdom of Graycastle." The merchant nodded. "I've calculated the price. The finished products will still be competitive in the Kingdom of Dawn even after including the price of shipping."
Selling at a low price could help the product muscle into the market, but... that was not easy. "How do you intend to guarantee that your products can be both cheap and fine?"
"First I'll need special cotton, Your Majesty," Victor said with enthusiasm. "Since Miss Leaf was able to produce the golden wheat that had a yield three times higher than the ordinary species, I think she should also be able to triple the cotton yield. If the price of raw materials can be reduced to one-third of the current price, then clothes will be much cheaper."
Roland could not help laughing. The logic behind Victor's words seemed right at first, but you would realize how ridiculous it was if you thought it over. It would be easy for Leaf to culture the productive cotton. In fact, with the help of the vast pool of magic power given by the Heart of the Forest, she was able to culture new seed variants much faster than before. However, the price of grains in Neverwinter was set low to stabilize the price, not because they could not be sold at a high price.
It would be a great problem if people could not afford food, so the price of grains had to be controlled and kept low. However, this was not the case for cotton, as people always had alternatives to choose from, such as linen, hemp, and furs.
"Okay... Let's assume Leaf is able to make the yield of cotton three times higher. Why should I sell this cotton to you at a discounted price when I can sell it to others at the market price?"
"Because I can save you a lot of investment and provide more than 2,000 jobs, providing employment for your city," Victor said without hesitation. "Aside from that, you can get a lot of tax revenue, and your people can also benefit from it. In fact, you don't have to do anything, as I can handle all the management affairs and the production line."
Roland was surprised by Victor's answer that was full of modern terms. He considered it for a long while before he asked, "Did you learn those words... from the newspapers?"
"That, and every one of Neverwinter's announcements. I've studied them all. Some of the words may be quite awkward when I first read them, but they have helped me understand business from another angle," Victor said with his hand on his chest. "The other lords would throw me out if I had proposed a reduction in the price in front of them, but I believe you can see the value in this."
"This is quite a sneaky compliment... If I throw him out now, I'll be no different from 'the other lords'?" Roland smiled slightly. "Tell me your plan."
Victor spoke eloquently about his plan for nearly an hour. Apparently, he was well-prepared in advance.
His idea was not complicated. In brief, he wanted to build a business system that integrated the farming, textile production, and sales. House Lothar had quite a long history of making garments, so he already had much relevant experience and technique. Once the project started, it would not be long before they saw the fruits of their labor.
Of course, anyone could paint an attractive blueprint with their rhetoric, but Roland kept listening because he saw that Victor had taken many details into account and planned well in advance. Neverwinter was not a suitable place for growing cotton, so the plantation and the textile factory had to be located in the Southern Territory, where there was ample sunshine and high temperatures all throughout the year. Meanwhile, as the Sand Nation people were still moving in, there would be a great deal of labor available. Everything seemed to fit in with the plan. The final sewing and garment production would be set up in Neverwinter, where it could be directly sold to the people here, who could afford the clothes.
Victor would be responsible for the initial investment and preparations, such as purchasing farmland, recruiting farmers, building manufacturing plants, and buying equipment. Neverwinter did not need to risk anything, for it spent neither time nor any money on the venture. As a matter of fact, apart from providing the productive strains cotton seeds, Neverwinter could just step back and reap the profits.
In addition, due to the simple usage of cotton, the output of the final products could be easily assessed from the amount of the materials that went in, so it was easy for Roland to calculate the tax, which was a relief to both him and Victor.
Among the advantages Victor had mentioned, Roland preferred two of them in particular: the first was that House Lothar already had efficient spinning tools that were capable of processing three times the yield of the cotton; the other was that they had trained a number of skilled tailors who often designed garments for the nobles in the City of Glow, so the clothes they made would be popular with many people. Victor also admitted that this business idea was inspired by when he watched 'The Wolf Princess'. He found that the citizens of Neverwinter were still plainly dressed, which was improper for a new capital.
These two points were the key to the entire plan, for, with them, this huge and ambitious business proposal was no longer a castle in the air, but actually quite feasible.