“Unfortunately, Eul couldn’t buy a horse at Byung’s shop. This was because Byung wasn’t able to convert Eul’s overly expensive jewels into money. So, Eul had to travel further to a bigger city. Meanwhile, ‘Gap’, who picked only gold, was now able to purchase a large wagon from Byung and continue visiting the cave,” Biyeon explained.
She continued, “Traversing back and forth many times, Gap was finally able to command over 100 wagons and hire an army to block the entrance to the cave. Thus, he was able to monopolize the riches within the cave.”
Biyeon then followed up, “Who is the wisest person? The reason being?”
The crew laughed as if the answer was obviously Gap. Rain laughed as well. Her prediction was correct. With a satisfied expression, she looked at Biyeon for confirmation.
“Gap! The reason is speed,” a crewmember shouted out.
However, contrary to everyone’s expectations, Biyeon shook her head and stated, “No. You need to consider opportunity costs and various other factors. Gap was not the wisest.”
All of the crew members tilted their heads to one side in unison. Rain frowned as she thought, ‘What is she talking about?’
“Byung was able to gain the most in the end. Therefore, he is the wisest person. Before Gap took control of the cave, he had to spend all his money to buy items at Byung’s store. By reinvesting his earnings, Byung expanded his shop and mobilized troops to take control of every roadway in and out of his city. Even after Gap took full control of the cave, he had to spend a lot of money to buy supplies and pay toll fees in Byung’s city,” Biyeon explained with a smile. Everyone had their mouths open. They didn’t expect such a reversal and never considered what other actions the characters would have made.
Biyeon then concluded, “In the end, Byung founded a vibrant city and established a marketplace with the money coming in from the cave. He was able to dominate every aspect of Gap’s trade. On the other hand, Gap may have made a lot of money, but he had to make a high-risk investment every time he transported his goods. Due to maintenance fees, selling costs, exchange fees, and various other external pricing that he had no control over, he was only making a marginal amount of profit in the end. What can we gain from this case?”
“Does this mean we have to take control of the road and marketplace in the end?” Raron asked carefully.
Biyeon looked at Rain for a moment. They made eye contact. Biyeon ended her speech with a gentle smile and answered, “Similar. Eul devoted all his energy to producing a large harvest, so he was like an agricultural farmer. Gap spent all his energy thinking about speed and risk, so he’s more like the traditional merchant.”
Biyeon paused for a moment. The crew quietly fell into thought.
“Then what about Byung? Understanding what Byung did will be the task you’ll have to think deeply about to fully understand our business. What advantages and leverage were Byung able to utilize? We’ll discuss this topic for our next discussion session. That’s it for today.”
The discussion was over. Rain sat in her chair for a while, unable to fathom what had just happened. Her head became completely blank. There were too many implications to understand. It went beyond simple merchant skills or life experiences. Rain also felt that the parable was San and Biyeon’s message to her…
‘Controlling a larger power with a smaller power… Money and information, the two sources of power…’
Gun was with the two Dong-Myung and two Ki-Jang clansmen. The five got along well, but they didn’t get along with the Essen crewmen. The five ate meals among themselves, following the Essen convoy from a distance.
On the other hand, Rain was deeply intertwined with the Essen crew members. Actually… she was having a lot of fun. Moreover, day by day, and as she got used to their atmosphere, Rain realized that she was experiencing a whole new worldview.
She felt like she needed to resolve how to get these people on her side. To keep them close, she would have to provide them all with jobs…
‘It’s impossible to rule these people with coercion and expect their obedience. The problem is that those two, San and Biyeon, have no intention of separating with the people of Essen… their abilities haven’t been verified either…’
Rain recalled the atmosphere of the imperial court and the officials of the intelligence service. Everyone was proud, the elite of the elite… Rain shook her head.
She may be able to get San and Biyeon positions within her department, but the difference in social level was too big for these countryside Essen members to enter the Imperial courts. The backlash would be great. None of the Imperial officers were easy to handle. That was the extent to which the Imperial court people differentiated themselves from all others.
Rain continued to observe the crew. She also attended all the educational and training courses that they were receiving. As time passed, she started to revise her opinion. She started taking notes-
All of the crew members are literate and have the ability to write. They can not only argue using basic syllogism, but they are also well versed in advanced deduction and induction. Where did they learn logical reasoning? Reporting and recording ability: upper-intermediate-
All of the crew members can do basic calculations. Furthermore, the calculation method they use is novel. The method is admirably efficient. Computation Ability: Advanced-
Investigation and analysis capabilities need to be verified. I will reserve judgment until later…
Their level of combat force is unknown. Basic physical strength and skills are at the intermediate level-
Attitude is… the worst-
Organizational loyalty… I don’t know. I will reserve judgment until later…
Rain took in a deep breath. Her mood slightly improved after writing down and organizing her thoughts. Based on her observations, even in the capital, Prigojin, any one of these crew members would be a valued servant or member in a large family clan or guild.
‘Where are these two humans from?’
She didn’t share many conversations with the two. Most of her interaction with them was through business transactions and their educational classes. She didn’t know them, and they didn’t seem to want to know more about her.
They were quite possibly going to be people who would share her fate, life or death, in the future, yet they only knew of each other’s names! Still, Rain decided to hold off on asking them anything personal.
She still had a subtle sense of pride. She would wait patiently until they approached her…
‘Right… not being forthcoming and respectful is rude! Someday, I will definitely punish you both!’
The carriage stopped. Rain covered her notebook. She had to get to work. She stretched her arms out and yawned. Spring was coming. Summer was coming. Spring signified the beginning of life, the season of youth. After spring, the season of fate will come…
‘I hope the summer of my life will be fierce and beautiful…’ Rain thought as she stepped out of the carriage.
“I was wondering why it was so quiet,” San murmured.
After having the crew stop, San looked ahead at the horizon with narrowed eyes. Far off in the distance, he saw a large merchant convoy and their flag. Another group, probably bandits who were aiming for the merchant’s goods, were riding their horses towards the merchant convoy.
Search – Chapter 2
“Are they being attacked?” Biyeon asked as she arrived next to San.
“It seems like it. I’ll have to get closer to find out,” San replied, narrowing his eyes.
“What are you going to do?”
“It’s something that’s happening as we’re passing through. If it’s a simple looting, I was planning to just let it happen. What are your thoughts?”
Before answering, Biyeon looked closely at the unfolding scene in front of her. The merchant convoy had roughly 50 people with another 30 warriors as escorts.
The group rushing toward them were only 20 in number. The battle would take place in about three minutes.
“It doesn’t seem like a simple act of looting,” Biyeon calmly assessed.
“The attacking party is smaller in number to the ones being attacked.”
“So, you’re saying that the attacking party is confident in their martial prowess?”
“Also, the attack group is divided into 3 groups.”
“To land a critical blow after the initial dispersion…”
“Their weapons are very bizarre, and they’ve taken a fairly economical attack route.”
“In conclusion?” San asked.
“They’re a well-prepared combat organization. What they’re doing is closer to hunting than banditry. Once the fight starts, it will be difficult for the merchant people to survive.”
“Hmm…” San stared at the sight and fell into thought.
San’s decision-making was always the same. He contemplated deeply and acted decisively on his decisions. Biyeon looked at San’s contemplating face.
These kinds of decisions were usually made by San. Furthermore, his decisions had a way of making everything a bit more interesting.
This world has its own rules. They were strangers in this world. The world always presented problems. Now that they had a problem, they would solve it. His solution may not be the same as her own. However, no matter what, they would never say that the final decision was wrong. The problem thrown out at them in this world is not easily solved at a desk.
There is no single correct answer… there are many solutions.
However, here… in this lawless society… San and Biyeon’s thoughts were the law, and their actions were always the right answer. No one could blame them for breaking the law. They could make whatever decision, as long as it didn’t leave them with regrets.
‘If we ignore their plight, all of them will die. That’s one way of ending this situation. People naturally die, so only a slight uncomfortable feeling may remain if we don’t help them. Conversely, if we intervene, we could save many lives. However, our risk and exposure increases. What will San’s choice be?’ Biyeon thought as she suddenly smiled. It was a dry and bitter smile. She suddenly recalled the main character of a movie.
If it were a movie… the hero, with a sense of justice, would never overlook this situation. Wasn’t a real hero someone who had on tight pants, triangular underwear on top, and a cape around his shoulders? The hero in the movies would chase the villain until justice was served. The image of a hero and San’s current image was superimposed in her eyes.
Biyeon rubbed her eyes.
‘Ack… what am I imagining…’ Biyeon’s clear smile didn’t last long. Her expression was getting grim. Even after all this time, it still wasn’t easy to adapt to this world’s moral code. After coming to this world, all her values and beliefs were turned upside down. What she learned in the textbook and in classrooms her whole life was useless. What was universal in the 21st century on Earth was never true here.
Social justice? Equality? Those were all bullshit concepts in this world. For the first time, Biyeon learned that possessing an ‘ideology’ was a tremendous ‘violence’ and a ‘contagious disease.’ Furthermore, she recalled that, until only the 19th century, freedom, equality, and democracy were the most dangerous and detestable ideologies in history.
So, what was the main ideology of this place? Murder and violence. War? It was as commonplace as breathing. Combat and dueling were encouraged, and revenge was a virtue. Love thy enemy? What alien concept was that?
Human rights? 70% of this world’s economy depended upon slave labor. Invading neighboring towns and enslaving the residents were recognized as normal economic activity.
Still, wouldn’t someone argue that humans have basic fundamental rights? Can anyone say such a thing if they were living in this world?! If I was without a slave, I would become a slave!
Freedom and equality? The word ‘freedom’ is synonymous with death itself for common people. However, the nobility here overflow with freedom. How can those who have no power even think about freedom? Equality? There was no word more difficult for people in this world to understand than this one.
Law and Justice? People in this world had no agreed upon value. Therefore, neither the spirit of legislation nor the philosophy of law was established. The judicial system was unstable if existent at all.
The executive officer also served as the premier judicial officer. Laws were changed arbitrarily, and judgments are different based on who is being served. In the absence of a criterion for sin, how can anyone judge what sin was? By what measure?
“What’s gotten into you? What are you thinking about so hard?” San asked as he looked at Biyeon’s scrunched face.
“Huh?” Biyeon startled and looked into San’s eyes. His eyes were bright. It seemed he made his decision.
“Where is the nearest city from here?”
“There’s a city called Kurant about four hours away. It’s a medium-sized city with a population of about 5,000 residents. It’s mainly known as a transportation hub.”
“Is this the only road leading to Kurant?”
“It is. However, it’s said that the path splits in the shape of a fan after Kurant.”