Isaac sat upon the roof of the City Hall, admiring the sky while he laid on his back. The noise of a crowd echoed in his ears. This had always been his usual activity, but there was one difference. Recently, Isaac has been obsessed over fruit wines made by the elves. He would take it with him everywhere he went. He would take a sip and savour its scent and flavour in his mouth, then wash it off with a puff from his cigarette. Whenever he did this, the mana that he had gained from choyu leaves felt like it flowed more rapidly. Instead of getting drunk, it instead felt like all the filth and grime were being washed away. Before he knew it, Isaac found himself watching the day’s end with an empty bottle. This day was no different, and he was now admiring the setting sun as he stretched his arm to refill his cup.
“Hm? Is it empty already?”
Isaac shook the bottle and muttered in disappointment. Rizzly, who was by his side quickly stepped in.
“Shall I bring you some more?”
“No, it’s fine. The wine is nice and all, but it really makes me listless. You don’t have to bring me any more for some time.”
Puzzled by those words, Rizzly tilted his head.
“I think it’s about time I made another move.”
Rizzly seemed to be in disbelief at those words. Isaac, the embodiment of laziness, was speaking of doing work himself. Rather than surprise, Rizzly’s first reaction was fear.
“What, is it that much of a surprise?”
Rizzly responded immediately, and Isaac laughed at his honest answer.
“I should try to gather more people while we’re still riding the wave of recent success.”
“On top of what we have now?”
Thanks to Bluff’s efforts, the number of guests who played in New Port City’s casinos increased. Port City quickly made a similar refund system following Isaac’s innovative scheme, but their greed refused to match Isaac’s high rate of refund.
“Bring Lanburton here. I’d like to have some tea with him.”
“I’m very disappointed.”
“You give work only to the elves, while we North Bears are on guard duty all day.”
The disappointment was etched deeply in Rizzly’s words. Isaac snickered.
“Then why don’t you join in on the Escort Service.”
“The Escort Service?”
The Escort Service was currently overrun with elves. Rizzly was frustrated, but the North Bears were no match against the elves in terms of beauty.
“I’m sure your popularity would explode if you walk around in bear form. Don’t you know girls love to bury their faces in soft, fluffy fur?”
Rizzly let out a cry of happiness, and quickly ran down the stairs to call over Lanburton.
“Does it make you that happy?”
Isaac snorted as he mumbled to himself. By the time he finished through a cigarette, Lanburton could be heard coming up the stairs laughing.
“May I ask why I’ve been brought here so suddenly?”
“It’s nothing. I just want to have some tea with you.”
“Haha, I really doubt that, but it does peak my interest. That is why I have brought some excellent tea with me.”
Lanburton swiftly pulled out his tea set and started the brewing process. Moments after the leaves were placed in, a refreshing fragrance wafted into the air.
“Hm, it’s got a nice scent.”
“The leaves are from the World Tree. Its health benefits are so exceptional that once upon a time, there was a rumour that the reason elves lived a long life is because we frequently drink this tea.”
Lanburton handed the teacup to Isaac. Isaac took one sip and feel its invigorating effect wash over him, similar to smoking choyu leaves.
For some time, the two simply sipped away at the tea in silence. Once the cups were half empty, Lanburton broke the silence.
“So what was the real reason you brought me here?”
“Do you have any more idling elves?”
“There are too many volunteers for the Escort Service and casinos to handle. The elves are currently working in rotations. Did you happen to come up with another interesting offer?”
“I was thinking of making a new business.”
“Hahaha. I’m sure my bored young ones would be glad to hear it. So what is this business of yours that requires our aid?”
“Casinos may be a good way to make some money, but horse racing is also a good way to cash in too.”
“Horse racing? But New Port City doesn’t have any suitable places to create a horse racing circuit.”
“Have you heard of the Grand Canal Race?”
On the now-thriving streets of New Port City, strange, ambiguous flyers could be seen. These flyers listed tens of elves and their details, posted on every corner of New Port City.
At first, most people guessed they were new employees in the Escort Service. But when they asked the question in the City Hall, the only answer they received was that they weren’t participating in the Escort Service. People began to realise Isaac had come up with another attraction, and many began to discuss excitedly what this new entertainment would entail.
After a month had passed, New Port City finally made an announcement.
It was the Grand Canal Race, with the prize money of a hundred thousand Giga. It was a simple race which started from Lake Levonen and went upstream through the Grand Canal to the flag atop the tunnel, which contestants would have to retrieve before returning back to the Lake along the Canal.
Because of the gambling system’s similarity to horse racing, gamblers were excited for this new game, while those not interested in gambling were curious as to how this race would turn out.
The race proceeded as followed. Each day, ten new elves would compete in nine separate races, where they would be given points according to their placing in each race, and the points would be tallied for each elf. This process would repeat for ten days, and on the eleventh day, the winners of previous days’ races would gather to decide who the ultimate winner is.
It was the 1st Reishave Grand Canal Race and on the first day, most of the audience attended not for the bets but out of curiosity. But as the race went on, more and more people began betting on elves they supported or became fans of. When a rumour of someone winning 300 times their bet spread, it acted as the catalyst to tempt more people into the gambling spree.
TL and PR Note: The Reishave Grand Canal Race is named in honor of Reisha, but the full name will not be very common later in the story.
“It’s a success.”
“I swear, whenever I see methods like this succeed, I begin to question my own rationality.”
In the VIP seats placed on the Sky Bridge was Cordnell, who spectated the games as he complained to himself. When Isaac first told them of this plan in the meeting, Cordnell fervently resisted with all his might. But it wasn’t enough to change Isaac’s mind, and Cordnell was forced to make the preparations. He expected catastrophic failure, but what came instead was a grand success. Cordnell began to doubt his own capabilities, seeing his predictions were completely wrong.
“How could it not gather attention when beautiful elves are competing in skimpy outfits?”
The rules were simple. The elves must swim up the canal and bring the flag with them. They must stay within the boundaries of the water. This was why no races other than elves could compete in this race; their agile bodies and control over the elemental spirits were unique to them.
This was an idea Isaac thought of after reminiscing about how Reisha travelled across the Empire surfing on a raft. The race was a sight for sore eyes, especially for the male audience. Since the race was happening on water, the contestants’ clothes would get wet and stick on to their bodies, arousing the audience.
Plus, the race didn’t stop the ships traveling through the canal; they instead became natural obstacles in the race. Some would jump on its masts while others would dive below the ships. The ships weren’t the only thing which acted as obstacles, as the contestants themselves would harass and hinder each other as they raced across the canals. All sorts of fancy techniques and tricks during the race thrilled the audience.
“But isn’t this just helping Port City instead?”
Cordnell spoke with disappointment as he looked at the audience lined on the Port City side of the Canal.
“Go, number 1! I bet my money on you!”
“Don’t you lose number 3!”
“Kyaa! You can do it!”
The audience cheered for their respective racers, but since New Port City was restricted to Ceta District only, there was a limit to how many people could watch from New Port City. Meanwhile, Port City had built parks along the canal, so naturally, most of the audience were watching from Port City.
“Shows feel best when you can watch it for free. The profits we make from these bets aren’t worth much anyway.”
“How could you say that… Expected earnings have gone past 300 thousand Giga already. Our profit will be at least a hundred thousand even after considering the expenses, and you call it nothing?”
“Tsk tsk. How can you call yourself a merchant when you don’t even know how to make more money than me?”
Cordnell tried to fight back in anger, but when he noticed Goldman approaching them, he quickly shut his mouth and politely greeted him.
“Hahaha! Isaac, it’s a success. A grand success!”
Isaac responded casually to Goldman. In the VIP area, not only Goldman but all of the Guild Masters from the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds were watching, and they were the real reason Isaac started this race.
The Grand Canal Race finished, leaving the energetic the audience to talk about the events in the race. People headed home, ready to boast about what they saw in the races, while the men lit fires in their eyes, determined to visit New Port City after seeing those beautiful elves’ bare skin as their bodies became wet with water and sweat. It was just as Isaac intended, attracting people by using sexual provocation.
Once the final race finished, Isaac went down to congratulate the winner and gave the elf the prize money. He then made a separate meeting with the Guild Masters. The real business was starting now.
Isaac watched the Guild Masters closely as they had their meals. They were the CEOs of this world’s multibillion dollar corporations. There isn’t a single business they haven’t meddled with, and through competition and cooperation, they have made their own net of connections.
Once they finished their meal, they each conversed with one another while drinking some wine, lightening the mood. This is when Isaac made his move.
“Now, Shall we talk about business?”
All of the Guild Masters seemed displeased at those words. Isaac has already taken so much money from them, and just thinking about it makes their head ache. It’s true that the finance of New Port City has seen a boom, but it was still too early for their investment to profitable.
“I’m planning on opening these races once a month. I’ll add a portion of the profit into the race as an investment, so the prize money should increase gradually. But don’t you think it’d be boring if these races remained the same every time? Especially when it receives so much attention?”
“So you’re asking us to invest in you again?”
Svellon, the Guild Master of Waivo Merchant Guild, shouted with displeasure while Isaac spoke back with composure.
“Investment? No. I’m just planning on selling advertisements.”
All of the Guild Masters began to ponder what that meant. Isaac smirked as he continued.
“I’ve heard the Rivolden Merchant Guild has made some profit with their mascot business?”
Goldman made some dry coughs as he flexed out his chest, while the other Guild Masters frowned.
The Rivolden Merchant Guild saw exceptional rise in profit after using Kunette as their mascot, and the other guilds tried to follow suit and make their own mascots. However, the Rivolden Merchant Guild has already taken root in this aspect, making it difficult for other guilds to see the same effect.
“You’ve already seen how people gather at racers when they make fancy plays right? What if those racers only used your products?”
A light lit in all of the Guild Master’s eyes. As expected of CEOs of global corporations, their noses were very keen when it came to profit.
Isaac added fuel to their flaming eyes by adding these words.
“This race was just individuals, but I’m planning on adding team games in the next races. And anyone can create their own teams to compete in these races.”
“Does that mean we can invest to create a team of our own to compete?”
Isaac nodded at Goldman.
“That’s right. Rivolden Race Team. Hm, it sounds rather bland. I guess you can just add some fancy word in there to make it more interesting. That team can compete in our race, and if they happen to win, it’ll send their fans into a frenzy. You all know how effective advertisement is right?”
There wasn’t a single person who didn’t know the Seven Grand Merchant Guilds. But the only problem was that there wasn’t any difference between them. If the quality of goods was the same, all that’s left is the reputation. So, one of the best ways for a guild to sell their product was to have a better reputation than a competing guild. Isaac’s offer definitely had merit in making investment.
The Guild Masters looked to each other as they pondered. They gathered in a circle and had a short discussion until Goldman came out as their representative.
“I’m sorry, but we will decline your offer.”
Isaac looked at the Guild Masters in confusion. On their faces, it looked as if they had no choice but to give up on the offer.
“What’s the reason?”
“First thing is that Port City holds the right over the Canal. Port City may have watched the first race out of curiosity, but now that they know it can be profitable, they will use their right as an excuse to bar you out of the races. You won’t be able to do anything against that.”
“I can always pay them a fee for using the Canal.”
“Will Port City give you a reasonable offer? I know it was your idea that came up with this amazing race, but Port City can always copy it for their own.”
“Only elves can compete in this race with their power over elemental spirits.”
“That’s another problem. If only certain races can compete, then it thins out possible players too much. And there are other races that can use elemental spirits other than the elves. Plus, nothing is going to stop the elves from joining Port City to compete in the races, especially when they seek entertainment over everything. I’m sure there will be elves who will cancel their contract with you to compete in the race. Cancellation fees you say? I’m sure Port City will be more than happy to pay for the elves, if it means recruiting more elves for the race.”
“Hm. Those are problems I never thought about.”
Isaac admitted wholeheartedly. Just as Goldman said, there were too many holes Port City could use to step foot in this.
“It’s a shame. I guess we’ll talk about it again once I gain the rights over all of the waterways.”
All of the Guild Masters let out laughter, taking Isaac’s words as a joke.
“Haha. Port City handing over their rights. It sounds like a dream come true. Then all of our problems would be solved so easily.”
Isaac knew something was off when he saw all of the Guild Masters nod in agreement with a bitter smile at Goldman’s words. It almost looked as if even if Isaac won the rights over the waterways, there was something that still prevented them from joining in.
‘So there is something going on.’
Isaac’s eyes were on the Guild Masters. Isaac finally found a lead. A lead to answer the question he’d been asking ever since he started working as the Lord’s representative.
With the party finishing with an awkward mood, the Guild Masters quickly shifted to their busy schedules as an excuse for leaving the premises. Isaac sat alone in the room as he pondered when Rizzly came to visit.
“Huh? It’s already over?”
Many North Bears were sent to the races which ended up as festivals, and they received much love from the women as they walked around in their bear form. Rizzly was one of those bears, and he seemed to be in a good mood from receiving so much honey as gifts from these women.
“Has something happened?”
Rizzly carefully asked the question when Isaac didn’t even reply to his words, his face serious as stone.
“We are going to be screwed.”
“Ah! No. It’s just me who’s screwed.”
“That’s fine then.”
Rizzly, who let out a sigh of relief, received an ill look from Isaac. Rizzly tried his best to avoid eye contact.
“So that’s what you really think in your mind right? What happens to me is none of your concern.”
“O-of course not.”
“Sigh. I’ll just tell Kunette.”
Rizzly’s face turned pale blue. It seemed he was truly terrified at Isaac’s words, his body shaking.
“Are you really that scared of Kunette?”
“Sir Isaac, you don’t know because you’ve never experienced it!”
“I was just kidding. It was a joke. Do you really think I’d tell on Kunette?”
Finally, Rizzly seemed like he was relieved and let out a small laugh. Isaac got out of his seat, and Rizzly quickly followed behind him.
“Are you planning to go back to City Hall? The festival’s still at large…”
Rizzly said those words, feeling like Isaac missing out at the festival. Isaac shook his face.
“I’m going to Port City. Oh yeah. I should consider placing these Communicators in my city too. It’s so annoying to travel to Port City just for that.”