Gobukichi and Orkubo have returned.
“My Lord, we have returned.”
“As you instructed, we have taught them how to make paper.”
When I went to visit a ranch in the Demon Kingdom to get wool, I happened to learn that the paper industry was on the verge of collapse.
The cause of this was our farm’s paper.
We’ve been casually supplying it to Mr. Shax, our business partner, and before long, it was dominating the market and putting pressure on the existing suppliers.
Even though I was oblivious for a while, I still felt guilty, knowing that my actions had threatened the lives of innocent people.
I was able to show the rancher, the main supplier of parchment, how to use the wool to make a new profit.
But I still felt bothered.
Not only the people who provide the raw materials for the parchment but also the people involved in the parchment production are probably about to go down the drain because of me.
So, I asked Gobukichi and Orkubo, experts in papermaking, to teach the people how we make our paper.
The plan worked out.
In just a day, the papermakers of the Demon Capital learned new techniques and mastered the process of making paper from wood pulp.
“Though, there will still be some problems…”
“To get as high a quality as the paper we make, they’d need the lumber we grow. Plus, they’re gonna start from scratch in gathering raw materials.”
“They will also have to develop their own alternatives to the various chemicals Madam Platy makes. Things won’t go smoothly in an instant even if we teach our methods.”
From there, we’ll just have to place our hope in their passion and skills.
Anyway, I’ve successfully returned the karma I’ve unconsciously accumulated!
No more nightly nightmares of guilt!
My daily meals will be delicious again!
Just when I was feeling so refreshed, another problem arose.
What I thought I did for the best turned out to be trouble somewhere else.
Is this what they call the butterfly effect?!
That day, Mr. Shax of Pandemonium Trading Company came to visit.
He looks very haggard.
“We have a problem, sir…!”
The expression on his face shows he’s distressed, and the words that came out of his mouth did not disappoint.
I wonder what happened?
“…You communicated with the Papermakers Guild recently, yes?”
We taught our papermaking methods to the guild in the capital without Mr. Shax’s permission.
But it’s not like we needed to.
It was up to me, the farm owner, to pass on the skills we cultivated to anyone, anywhere.
I’m also aware of the need to save them so as not to cause chaos in society…
“Did you get punished for something?”
“I mean, haven’t you monopolized our goods to increase sales and crush existing industries in the process?”
Looking back, our dealings with him began through the Demon King’s family.
In accordance with Batemy and the elves’ wishes to sell their works, we needed someone to act as an intermediary between transactions.
That’s when we were introduced to Mr. Shax.
I was hoping that he, who holds the best trade routes among the demons, would be able to sell our residents’ works for a reasonable amount. Even after that, he’d often visit, find something of interest, and sell it with the gusto of a merchant.
“We’ve come this far in our give-and-take relationship, but if you’re going to let greed get the best of you, I’m afraid we’d have to reconsider some things.”
“No, sir! Our firm isn’t partaking in any greedy acts! It’s the truth, sir!!!” sincerely says Mr. Shax, seemingly holding back tears.
I don’t know how much I can see through a big-time sly fox, but at least it didn’t look like an act to me.
“We always strive to do business that contributes to the world and our nation! A business must learn to coexist and prosper with the world, or it won’t last! Nothing’s more frightening for a merchant to be resented by others!”
He sounds pretty serious so far.
“The same goes for the sausage-making machine! After the grand sale, we consigned the business to the affected street vendors so that we could share the profits! We didn’t want to incur enmity from them!”
There were some things that even big merchants didn’t want to ‘buy.’
“What about the Papermakers Guild?”
“In this case, we don’t know how to manufacture your supreme paper, so we planned on selling it as a luxury good.”
Is that what they call it…?!
“It’s a luxury product that’s a bit more expensive than typical paper used every day. We tried to brand it in such a way that it wouldn’t threaten the existing products in the market. But for better or worse, the quality was so good we were unexpectedly flooded with orders! We had no choice but to fulfill them since we had plenty in stock…!”
Oh yeah, Gobukichi and the others had no use for all the paper they made, so we handed all of them to Mr. Shax.
It must have been quite the quantity.
And since he’s a merchant, he can’t afford not to sell what he can.
So, is this ultimately all my fault?
“We tried everything we could to contain the problem, but it was beyond our capabilities… Turning to you is our last resort, sir…!”
It seems he was also troubled using his influence behind the scenes.
“Well, that was solved by your strenuous efforts, but we still hold contempt for ourselves for not doing anything…”
“Oh, no, no!”
“However, repercussions in unanticipated areas have occurred.”
What more is there?!
“After you graced the Papermakers Guild with your knowledge, our firm has been flooded with protests from various directions!”
“What kind of protests?”
“They say it’s not fair only the Papermakers Guild was given access to the secret process, and want their own share of information. These came from the Needleworks Guild, Masons Guild, Potters Guild, Tanning Artisans Guild, and more.”
“The products you supply us are so exquisite other industries covet the secrets of their manufacturing process.”
Nevertheless, technology is the life of a craftsman. No matter what, it must not be leaked to the outside world.
The craftsmen are well aware of this, so they can’t just openly tell someone else to cough up their secret.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that we one-sidedly favored the Papermakers Guild.
“But why did they go to you?”
“Because we are the only ones who handle your goods… They know only our firm has connections with the famed Noujou brand, so…!”
Did I mess up again?
The Papermakers Guild and the sheep farm production problem could’ve been solved in a smarter manner if I had maybe consulted with Mr. Shax and the Demon King first.
Solving one problem only gave rise to a new one; this is like an endless spiral!
“No, it’s nothing you should worry about, Lord Saint! You should just act as you wish and not worry about us commoners.”
“If we ignore the protests, they’ll eventually die out. We are also profiting from our transactions with you, and it is at times like this that we need to be rational…!”
But if I knew I unintentionally caused trouble, my guilt would start eating me up again!
I feel like that has happened over and over, but ignoring problems that concern me won’t help me with my meals and sleep.
“Actually, I think I’ll solve this problem after all…”
“But we wouldn’t want to bother you anymore, Lord Saint…!”
Mr. Shax is politely trying to hold me back.
Well, I do have a record of causing an even bigger mess than with the Papermakers Guild…
If that’s the case, how about I leave the planning entirely to him?
I’m sure a thoughtful merchant like him can come up with a good plan that will work out for both sides.
“What should we do, then?”
“Well… I have a suggestion to propose, sir.” Mr. Shax says, “If we have your cooperation, we can give what the other party wants and disclose the farm’s technology. Oh, not all of it, of course!”
He provides further elaboration so I don’t misunderstand.
“It’s just a limited disclosure. I’m sure the craftsmen will still agree. It will not cause any disturbance to your personal life, either. It’s more about reaching a compromise.”
“I understand that, but how do we decide on such a convenient compromise?”
“I have an idea regarding that, sir,” he replies. “We could hold an expo.”