Chapter 1041: A Strange Wound
Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
"A vertically integrated conglomerate..." Roland whispered.
"What?" Victor was stunned. "If you've any question about my plan, I can explain it again—"
"No, thanks." Roland waved his hand. "I think it's an interesting plan, and it seems feasible. I just want to know how long it'll take you to collect enough funds for it."
Victor's eyes shone with joy. "I knew you would understand it. Please excuse me for being blunt, Your Majesty. If you were a merchant, you'd definitely own a great Chamber of Commerce!"
It sounded like Victor was degrading the king by comparing him to a merchant, but Roland understood that for a businessman from the Kingdom of Dawn, praising someone's business talent was the sincerest form of flattery.
The business model suggested by Victor reminded Roland of modern companies that had an integrated system for production, supply, and marketing in the previous world where he had lived.
He had never expected that he would hear such a detailed commercial development plan from a man in this world. Compared to the conventional Chambers of Commerce, Victor understood more advanced concepts. He planned to include both production and sales in his business. He was willing to provide technology, employ a large number of people, and be responsible for his own profits and losses.
Roland thought that this might also be an opportunity for himself.
In the past few years, his domain had rapidly expanded, but many management problems had also emerged. Most of the industries and projects in Graycastle were directly operated by the Administrative Office. The officials had to spend lots of time managing people and funds, which made the government departments overstaffed and greatly affected the government's administrative efficiency.
Since the officials' personal interests had nothing to do with the profit and loss situation of these "state-owned enterprises", they only worked according to the king's orders and tried their best to maintain these enterprises' stability. In the early stage of development, such enterprises, under the total control of the government, could quickly meet the kingdom's demands and complete some high-risk projects, but they weren't suitable for all economic endeavors.
Given these realities, Roland had only focused on developing heavy industries. Neverwinter did not have enough workers and the Administrative Office did not have enough qualified officials to develop light industries.
It was simple to give an order, but it was not always simple to carry it out. Even if it was just an expansion project, like building another steam engine assembly plant, he would still need lots of money and many trained workers.
But now, he realized that he had another option.
He could encourage private investment and let the businessmen organize things. He had no reason to turn Victor down, who came to him even before he adopted such policies.
Although it was a "foreign company", whose profits would inevitably go back to the Kingdom of Dawn, he did not mind it very much since its production department would remain in Graycastle.
After reaching a preliminary agreement, Roland accompanied Victor to the gate of the castle. "By the time you're ready, I'll be able to provide you with the new cotton seeds. But I need to tell you something in advance. If some day someone else wants to imitate you and comes to the Administrative Office asking for the seeds, we'll sell the seeds to them at the same price. I want to see as many goods on the market as possible because I want to make prices more affordable for my people. I hope you understand that."
"I understand, Your Majesty," Victor replied, with a confident look in his eyes. "Merchants from the Kingdom of Dawn never dread competition. My father always said that from the moment we were born, the competition has already begun."
When he was about to leave, Roland stopped him. "Wait, I've another question. My minister found that you paid taxes to Longsong Stronghold six years ago. Why did you do that? It was easy for you to not pay at that time, wasn't it?"
Victor nodded. "Yes, it was, but back then, the lord promised that he would provide conveniences and protection for merchants who paid taxes. He honored his commitment and protected us when we were traveling between Border Town and Longsong Stronghold. I'm happy to pay some money for a stable environment. It's a good thing for a merchant, but unfortunately, most of my peers would rather spend large sums of money on their merchandise than pay for stability and security."
Seeing the merchant leave, Roland thought, "What an interesting person and a serious businessman. He'll serve as a good example for the private entrepreneurs in Graycastle and lead the trend in the development of light industries."
He turned around, wanting to return to his office. Suddenly, Nightingale anxiously whispered in his ear. "Your Majesty, Lightning is back, and she seems to have gotten into serious trouble—"
"What happened?" asked Roland.
"I don't know... I've just received a call from Sylvie. Maggie brought her back and took her directly to the hospital!"
Roland's heart suddenly sank. "She's hurt? Take me to the hospital now!"
"Yes." Nightingale reached out her hand and pulled him into the Mist.
They quickly arrived at the hospital and saw the little girl lying in bed.
He felt very relieved when he opened the door. Lightning was lying there with no bruises or blood stains. She was breathing peacefully and regularly. It seemed that she was already out of danger.
Nevertheless, he quickly noticed something was off.
Nana didn't look relaxed like she usually did after completing a treatment. Instead, she seemed confused, knitting her brows tightly and fixing her eyes on her own hands.
Beside the bed, Maggie was taking care of Lightning and wiping sweat from her forehead. She appeared nervous and winced when she saw Roland, as if she had done something wrong. Lightning was in a cold sweat and groaning slightly, as if she was troubled by a nightmare.
"How's she?" Roland looked at Nana. "Where's the wound?"
Nana raised her head and slowly pointed to her own chest.
"Yes." Nightingale stepped forward, carefully picked up Lightning and took off her windbreaker. After that, she started to unbutton her blouse. When she revealed her collarbones, she suddenly stopped. "Your Majesty, this is—"
Roland came closer to the bed and saw a thumb-sized wound several centimeters below her neck. It was particularly eye-catching on her white skin, but it was only a scratch. Normally, for a witch, such a minor injury would quickly heal without treatment.
And healing such a wound should have been a piece of cake for Nana.
However, what Nana said astounded him.
"I can't heal her..." Nana murmured. "No matter how I tried, the wound just wouldn't heal, as if my healing ability just stopped working all of a sudden."
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