A long bridge spanned across the moat which surrounded the 10-meter tall ramparts around the city. Right now, we were on this bridge.
The Labyrinth City, Straheim. It’s a large city with a population of around 100,000—a paradise for adventurers.
“Wow, this is quite the place,” I said.
Since that incident, Giresse informed me that I didn’t need to keep up the childish act anymore. Apparently he found it quite disturbing to hear me talk like an actual child. I didn’t know how to feel about that, since my body was a child. I wanted to talk like one as much as I could.
“Right?” Aaron, the leader of the adventurers, boasted. “Goods are gathered around the world into Straheim, so you’d probably have more trouble trying to find something that didn’t exist here.”
Aaron was a man with a small frame in his early thirties who looked like he hadn’t shaved in a while. After that incident, he’s become quite interested in me.
“That’s fascinating,” I said.
Aaron shrugged, muttering, “Though it’s a shame. You have the makings for a first-rate adventurer.”
“Well adventurers have to be 13 or older. There’s nothing I can do. And with my family situation as well, I don’t want to stand out,” I said.
“That’s true. But, I’ll have my eyes on you in four years time,” Aaron said.
I shook hands with Aaron once again. “Of course. I hope I can satisfy your expectations once four years pass.”
As expected of a large city like Straheim, though, there’s people everywhere. This squalid atmosphere reminds me of Tokyo.
The buildings were mainly two stories and built with some combination of wood and cement. At the very least, it was fundamentally different from the shacks and the rare log cabins found in Mirage.
“I want to stop by the Commerce Guild’s meeting hall to do some paperwork first, if that’s all right,” Giresse said.
“Sure, no problem. I wanted to register a company at the Commerce Guild anyways,” I replied.
After parting with Aaron and the other bodyguards, Giresse led me to a building around the size of an elementary school building.
Ornaments decorated a lush, red carpet, and even an amateur in the fine arts like me could tell that they were extremely valuable. Here stood the Commerce Guild’s HQ which oversaw all the companies. Looking austere here would be setting a bad example.
Giresse continued to lead me into a banquet hall for guests. Satella was so nervous her teeth began chattering, and the Judo siblings were uncomfortably glancing about every which way.
“Welcome. I am the Associate Director of Straheim’s trading firm, Ikose Llamo,” he introduced himself.
While ambling forward, the stout man beckoned us to sit across from him at a table in the center of the room that was covered in a white cloth once we entered the room.
“I thought we would be talking to Branch Leader Rainer?” Giresse questioned as his displeasure was made apparent on his face. That was only natural—the person we planned on talking to wasn’t here, and instead an unknown third party butted in to our private communication. Anyone would believe he had some ulterior motive.
“Rainer-dono is currently busy so I will hold this conversation in his place,” Ikose said.
“If Branch Leader Rainer isn’t here then we’ll come back later.” Giresse decided. “Let’s go, Grey-kun.”
“That’s fine,” I shrugged. “It’s not like I’m in a hurry.”
Truthfully, I wanted to see this farce of a meeting to its end, but in the end the result was the same, so I was fine either way.
“I can’t have you do that,” a man standing by the door interjected.
There was another man by the door, and they both looked like bodyguards of sorts.
Satella nervously grabbed my sleeve, and the Judo siblings moved forward as if to protect us. Hm, they’ve got the makings of a bodyguard down. This feeling isn’t so bad.
“Ikose-san, are you serious!?” Giresse yelled.
Ikose signaled to the chair, “Please, sit down.”
“Hm. Alright,” I said.
It’s just gotten more interesting, so I’ll do as he asks.
“Grey-kun! We need to go now,” Giresse said, slightly more forceful.
Before sitting down in front of Ikose, who was nonchalantly reclining in his chair, I whispered to Giresse, “This is for me to save face.No need to worry.”
However, Satella continued to cling onto me and the Judo siblings stood behind me, still on alert.
“So about the 『Hand Pump』, how’s this?”
Ikose carelessly tossed a piece of paper on the table.
Once Giresse glanced at them, his face immediately reddened as he trembled with fury.
I took a peek, when–
“I get 20%, Giresse gets 5%, and the guild 75%, I see……” I said.
“That’s not what we agreed on!!” Giresse yelled, slamming the table. “Does Branch Leader Rainer know of this!?”
Ikose’s face warped into displeasure after Giresse stood up in rage. “That’s just a verbal promise. What reason is there to uphold such a promise? Especially since we’re dealing with some poor peasant of a brat who’s not even a noble.”
“You……” Giresse said.
“Ah, that’s right. Grey-kun was actually a rank-less noble,” Ikose corrected himself.
The only one who could take on a noble’s name was the head himself. So those who failed would become rank-less nobles, sometimes called upper peasants. Giresse had explained this to me inside the carriage earlier.
“Isn’t my peerage completely unrelated to this transaction?” I blinked.
I shot up, disgrace and exasperation swirling around me.
This was so interesting I could laugh, but I really couldn’t stand on the sidelines anymore—cracks were starting to form in my fiduciary relationship with Giresse. Also, I’ve already seen through everything.
“No good. It’s only worth 30 points.”
Ikose, who until now was the epitome of relaxed, suddenly switched to a poker-face.
“First, those two. Their acting is hilariously bad; I was struggling to keep myself from bursting out in laughter,” I chuckled. “I mean, you guys can’t possibly be bodyguards, right?”
Ikose asked, “Why do you think that?”
“Well, their appearance is horrible. Who in their right mind would equip a bodyguard with such pristine armor without even a single scratch on it? At least give them some shabby clothes or something,” I explained. “And unlike nobles, all the adventurers that were guarding our carriage had sword calluses. I hear that every mercenary and adventurer has some. Of course, I did consider that they could be magicians, but then why hang such heavy swords on their body? They would be needlessly encumbered.”
Grinning, the two ‘bodyguards’ removed their equipment.
“When did you notice?” the mustached ‘bodyguard’ asked the obvious.
“From the start. In the first place, Associate Director Ikose, if you had truly believed we were below you, then why have us sit across you? It was obvious that you considered us on the same level you would any other guest.” 
It was for times like these that I had Sebastian teach me the basics of etiquette in the empire.
Ikose sighed as his face warped, facepalming. Giresse, who had finally realized what was happening, glared at the door further inside in displeasure. “Branch Leader Rainer!!”
“Oh man… Sorry, sorry. I wanted to know the truth about that child that you’ve been raving about,” Rainer said as he entered the room, laughing without a hint of remorse all while moving to sit next to Ikose.
“I don’t mind. It was quite interesting; the points mainly came from its comedic factor.”
“Those two are employees of our company,” he gestured at the ‘bodyguards.’ “It was too unnatural, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, it was terrible. Especially that, ‘I can’t have you do that’. I almost lost myself there.”
“Aah! Please, no more!” the mustached ‘bodyguard’ said as he scratched his body, beet-faced. “I’ll start laughing too!”
As if they couldn’t follow what was happening anymore, the Judo siblings and Satella gasped in shock as they listened in.
“Well then, shall we start the negotiation,” Rainer said.
“Before that, Branch Leader Rainer, we’d like an apology,” Giresse said.
“Ah, sure. Okay.”
Giresse began furiously lecturing Reina, and after Ikose and the others apologized to us, we began the negotiation.
“Firstly,” Rainer began, “We, the Commerce Guild, want you to give us a monopoly on your apparatus.”
The『Hand Pump』was just a means for Satella to evade my stepmother’s harassment and just an easy way to earn some money, so I wasn’t that attached to it. I wanted to just tell him to do as he pleased, but I didn’t plan on doing the same with my future ideas. It was necessary to build up a proper relationship with them.
“Can you be more specific?” I asked.
“After various tests, we found that one 『Hand Pump』costs about 2000~2500 copper in materials, and if you add production, sales, and setup costs it would total about 4000~6000 copper.”
“Hm. I’m surprised. It’s cheaper than I expected.”
“Well, we have a major company that has been running businesses on tools, magic tools, manufacturing, and sales since long ago. So if you would allow me to brag a little, we have plenty of manufacturing technology to make something as small as a『Hand Pump』.
“Well that sounds intriguing,” I mused. In that case, the success rate of my schemes should jump up.
“Calculating backwards from our expected profit, we’ve reached the conclusion that we will sell each one for around 40,000 to 50,000 copper,” Rainer said.
After comparing prices for a bit, I’ve come to understand that things here are about a fourth as expensive as on Earth. So, it would sell for about 160,000 to 200,000 yen, or 1600 to 2000 dollars. Sounds about right. It would probably cost around that much in Japan.
“So you would profit over 30,000 copper. That’s quite a lot. And?”
“Your company would have to give up 40% of its profits as a royalty fee as is standard. Within that 40%, you, Grey Millard would receive 50%, Giresse-kun 5%, with 45% coming back to the Commerce Guild. How does that sound?”
The company, which belongs to the Commerce Guild who has the monopoly rights, would sell the product in various places. There, they would get over 30,000 copper in profit for every sale. Each store would offer 40% of their profits to the guild as royalty fee, and the rest would become their own profit.
Then, that royalty fee would be broken down so that I receive 50%, Giresse 5%, and the remaining 45% would go back to the organization known as the Commerce Guild.
The guild probably uses this vast amount of money to advance further into different places around the world and set up branch stores and factories, which brings even more profit. I see, they’re an unusually intelligent company.
“I have no objections here,” I said.
A sigh escaped from Ikose and Rainer’s subordinates.
Normally, only Giresse and I should have received the royalties. Giresse probably added a third party into our share of the profits in order to prevent the Millard family and other forces from intervening.
Which is why this was going exactly as I’d hoped. They probably knew I thought this as well, but with the scale of money so large, they couldn’t relax until the contract was secured, or something along those lines.
“We’ve actually already had over 5500 orders in the Archive Empire, and so we’ve begun the manufacturing process, you see. Please leave it to us, we’ll sell them all.”
“Yeah, I can’t wait.”
“Then, all that’s left is your signature. Please use your thumb to stamp here and sign over here.”
Once I signed and stamped my thumb, the contract was complete.
“What will you name the company?” Ikose asked. Contrary to the pressure he was giving off before, he was now very polite to me, despite the fact that I looked like just a child.
“Please name it Sagami Co. Here’s the 100,000-copper registration fee in gold coins.
“I humbly accept it.”
Ikose counted the gold coins as he ambled out of the room. An Associate Director normally wouldn’t do that kind of menial task, but it was probably to make up for being so rude before. His appearance really belies his true nature, which just goes to show how excellent of a merchant he is.
“So, Grey-kun,” Giresse turned and said. “What do you want to do now?”
“I’ve finally got some people I can use, so I’d like to start a business here in Straheim,” I said.
“Hmmm,” he raised his eyebrow. “What were you thinking.”
“I’d like to change the education system, but first maybe a restaurant.”
The employees would be Judo’s group. In all, 10 novices. As long as I didn’t aim for them to reach the level of a chef on Earth, they should be able to pick it up pretty quickly. And if we have seasonings, we could probably achieve the level of a home cook, which was more than plenty for this world.
“I’d like to help as well,” Rainer said, “To make up for my past discourtesy.”
If I decline him here, it’ll seem like I got too caught up in that farce. I see, so this was his aim. What a shrewd man. I glanced at Giresse, but he only shrugged in response.
“I accept your offer. Then I’ll leave securing a restaurant-like store to you,” I said. “For the money—”
“About that,” Rainer cut in, “What if we take it out of your share of the 5500 placed orders?”
We are certainly in need of food for not only the restaurant but also those in Tote.
“Let’s go with that.”
I still want to progress the needle of civilization, but I still am shackled with the Millard family. Until I get rid of that I’ll focus on ingredients, gathering capable people, and education.
Then, while wiping his sweat off with a cloth, Ikose brought back an iron card. “This is a Members Card for the Commerce Guild. Please show this card when doing any future transactions here.”
“Alright. Thank you very much,” I said before turning around. “Let’s go, Giresse-san.”
I stood up from my seat and said, “Now then, we will take our leave.”
I bowed once and exited the meeting hall.
 In Japanese culture, there’s what’s known as kamiza, or the top seat. It’s a seat of honor that’s the most comfortable, usually farthest from the door. In businesses, guests are usually given the kamiza to show that they are the most important person, similar to the English saying, “the customer is king.” Ikose giving them that very seat showed that he is treating them like any other respected guest.