Chapter 34: Is This Bribery?
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Winter seemed to have snuck up on them while Roel and Alicia were preoccupied with their studies and training. The temperature continued to fall, and eventually, it started snowing.

Gazing upon the scene outside, which had been cloaked in a layer of white snow, Roel couldn’t help but feel a little excited inside. It felt almost as if the world was inviting him out to take a look and have a snowball fight. Even Alicia, who was usually calm and quiet, felt an urge to frolic about in this weather.

It was a pity that Roel and Alicia were the only ones in the Ascart House, and Roel couldn’t bear to really go all out against her in a snowball fight. In the end, they simply made a snowman together.

There was a superstition that a snowy winter would lead to a bountiful spring, so the farmers living in the suburbs also rejoiced at the weather.

Snow continued to fall for several consecutive days before the weather calmed down. It was on the day right after it stopped snowing that Carter finally returned back to the Ascart House. He appeared to have plenty of work on hand, such that he didn’t have time to rest at home. Even on his rare, free days, he led the militia and military soldiers out to the mountain to hold the local Winter Hunt.

The Winter Hunt was a staple event for each fiefdom. The onset of winter signified the withering of plants and crops, resulting in a lack of food and other necessities. At times like this, the local noblemen would rally the men in their territory, who were free at home, to hunt down animals in the wilderness.

The meat of the hunted animals could be eaten as food, and their skin could be stitched together as coats. It was one of the ways to alleviate the difficulties brought about by the harsh conditions of winter.

The nature of the Winter Hunt changed over the years though, as the populace learned how to prepare for and cope with the harshness of winter. Furthermore, safety net measures were put in place to help the needy. Starvation was no longer a huge problem for the commoners anymore.

As such, the Winter Hunt turned into something more like a festive celebration instead.

Roel was still too young, and he didn’t want to leave Alicia alone at home either, so he opted not to participate.

Carter spent three whole days up in the mountain before finally returning with a deer head in hand.

“What is… this?”

It was inevitable that Roel was startled to see the massive antlered deer head that was almost the size of a table. If the rest of the body matches this head… that would mean this ‘deer’ is around the size of an elephant!

And as if its humongous size wasn’t enough, it had quite a terrifying appearance too.

Three rows of razor-sharp teeth in its mouth was absolutely not something one would expect to see from an herbivore. Its antlers had a color gradient that was ashen-black at the bottom but blood-red at the tip, and they radiated an eerie crimson glow in the dark. Even though the deer was already dead, Roel could still feel an oppressive vibe coming from it.

“This is a Bloodhorn Deer that has mutated under the effects of mana, turning it into a ravenous beast that feeds on meat. It’s quite rare to see one that has grown so large. I’m proud to say it’s our greatest spoil from the Winter Hunt. It’s fortunate that I was the one who encountered it, or else it could have caused devastating damage to those living in the region.”

The way in which Carter was stroking the massive head of the deer with a relieved look left Roel feeling a little speechless. His evaluation of Carter’s strength as a Chief Magician was swiftly being refreshed.

“Father, how powerful was this deer?”

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“Bloodhorn Deers are usually at Origin Level 4, but this one is bigger than normal, and the spells it cast from its antlers were unusually powerful too. I’d say that it’s quite close to Origin Level 3.”

“Is that so? I understand,”

Roel spoke, as he took a deep look at Carter.

Though his father had never mentioned how strong he was before, from this incident, and even if Carter had the assistance of the soldiers in encircling the Bloodhorn Deer, it was likely that he was at least Origin Level 3 to subdue this deer.

Roel’s gaze slowly moved back to the massive deer head on the ground. Even its antlers were as thick as his thighs. This made him cognizant of the fact that this world might not be as safe as he had assumed it to be…

A few days after the Winter Hunt, Carter departed the Ascart House again, due to work coming up once more. Roel and Alicia were already used to it by this point, so they didn’t kick up a fuss.

Life went on as usual until an unexpected visit from a familiar face brought a pleasant surprise to Roel.

Arwen, the manager of the Sorofya Merchant Association’s Ascart City Branch, had personally dropped by the Ascart House to deliver a short sword.

Roel hadn’t been in contact with Arwen ever since their transaction three months ago. It was an intentional decision on Roel’s part, since he wasn’t planning on selling anything else from the System to the Sorofyas.

Three months had passed just like that. The short sword Roel had ordered from the Sorofyas back then was ready, so Arwen came by personally to deliver it.

It was not as if Roel was on bad terms with Arwen, so it would be rude of him to chase the latter off for no reason. So, he invited Arwen in for a cup of tea in their guest room.

One thing that Roel didn’t expect was for Arwen to have a beaming smile on his face. It was an earnest smile filled with happiness and gratitude, not the usual business smile that he put on when dealing with customers.

“Young master Roel, you have really done me a great service!”

Arwen grabbed Roel’s hands in agitation as Affection Points popped out furiously above his head. This situation left Roel rather flabbergasted; he had no idea why Arwen was acting in such a manner.

Noticing Roel’s bewilderment, Arwen quickly calmed himself down and explained the situation.

“The buyer of the oil lamp told me to relay their sincere gratitude to you, saying that the effects of the oil lamp have far exceeded their expectations. The Rosa Central Headquarters marked the matter as a huge contribution for me, and I’ll be promoted to manager of the Holy Capital’s Saint Mesit Theocracy Headquarters in the coming year. I’m deeply grateful to Lord Marquess and you for taking care of me during my time here.”

Roel blinked his eyes in surprise upon hearing those words. He never thought that the oil lamp he sold would actually bring about Arwen’s big promotion.

One must know that that was a very important position within the merchant association!

Wait a moment, it looks like the effects of my oil lamp are greater than I thought. It might result in unintended changes in the trajectory of the world. Is this a blessing or a disaster?

Roel was familiar with the butterfly effect, where a single change could bring about far-reaching impacts in the future. He couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about the future deviating in an unpredictable manner as a result of his actions.

However, after giving it some more thought, he felt that it was meaningless for him to brood too much over it. One should know that he was supposed to be a villain who would be lynched in a few short years! Could the future possibly get any worse than that?

Besides, the buyer could possibly be from some unknown country far, far away…

“How could the sale of a single item possibly affect me so easily?”

Roel reassured himself as he tossed this matter to the back of his mind. Instead, he turned his attention to the two wooden boxes placed before him.

One of the wooden boxes contained a short sword that was forged with top-quality glacial metal, which was known for its exorbitant price. The short sword had a razor-sharp edge that reflected a cold glint, and its short length made it convenient for a young noble to bring it around with her for self-protection. It came together with a blackwood sheath that was beautifully adorned with gold and jade.

It was apparent that this short sword was worth quite a sum, possibly several tiers higher than what Roel ordered and paid for previously. Most likely, Arwen had ‘upgraded’ the order on his own accord.

The content in the other wooden box was more straightforward. It was filled entirely with gold coins. With a quick glance, Roel could tell that there were at least several thousand of them inside.“Young master Roel, as a gesture of appreciation for your support thus far, I’ve brought 5000 gold coins with me here today. I hope that you can accept it as a token of our friendship. I would like you to know that the doors of our Saint Mesit Theocracy Headquarters are always open to you!”

With a radiant smile on his face, Arwen pushed the boxes toward Roel, urging the latter to accept his gifts.

Roel smiled back in response to Arwen’s gesture. He understood the rationale behind the latter’s actions. Basically, Arwen wanted to be the exclusive intermediary handling all sales of the treasures that Roel had to offer.

To be honest, Roel wasn’t put off by Arwen’s intention. While the latter was indeed a businessman out for profit, he was not a person who was blinded by greed.

For one, Arwen could have concealed his promotion and saved himself 5000 gold coins, but he chose to be honest, trading short-term gains in favor of building a long-term working relationship. He knew where his priorities were, and he was able to act on them impartially.

A person who knew how to give up on the small fish to reel in a big one was someone who knew how to do business.

With such thoughts in mind, Roel stood up and offered his hand to Arwen.

“Yes, I’ll be troubling you in the future then.”

Novel Notes

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ℭ𝔥𝔢𝔠𝔨 𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔪𝔶 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔫𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔩𝔰:
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