Gourmandi. He had said he wanted to discuss something related to business.
When I summoned him, his bones were clacking as he spoke excitedly.
“Won’t you please tell me about the method to ‘evolution’?”
He sounded desperate. There was no way he would be that desperate if we were merely ‘business partners’. He was a magician, and researcher. No doubt he must have attempted to delve into the method to evolution.
‘Evolution is the power of Authority, however.’
It was a phenomenon which had resulted from the fusion of the power of Universal and Dominator’s Authority. Obtaining even one of these abilities would be considered a miracle, and two such powers combined to give birth to a special power called ‘evolution’.
It was very likely that the reason why he had handed over those stocks of goods, which made no significant profit, to me was for the sake of researching that. A 7:3 split of profit, when excluding the cost of raw materials, meant that merely dozens of points would remain for Gourmandi.
Even though he was selling stock, it was at the level of getting bare scraps, merely that he wasn’t making a loss And yet Gourmandi had agreed.
Evolution. To discover the principle behind it.
“It seems you failed to figure it out.”
“Tha-, that is.”
Gourmandi panicked. His motive had been plain to see, however. Gourmandi was a lich, not a philantropist. The personality of liches were very shady and bad. It didn’t even need checking to know that they were scheming something behind one’s back.
“I do not mind. I knew that you would not find out anyhow.”
“…I wasn’t able to figure out the process of slimes evolving no matter what alchemical method I tried. I examined the various possibilities, but only the slimes caught by Uriel Diablo-nim had evolved.”
Gourmandi’s desire for research went beyond my expectation.
I mused for a moment. The Jewel of Space. I had to re-negotiate for them because there was no more stock of it.
That’s why the truth mustn’t be revealed if I am to continue holding the advantageous high ground. I, simply, had to throw a bait in order to stoke the fires of his research.
“Evolution is something that occurs over repeated generations. To adapt to the environment, and to protect one’s self from natural enemies. All I did was to merely shorten the time in between.”
“I-, mean to ask! Just what exactly is that so-called method?”
“Laila. Bring that over.”
Laila was by my side, but wearing a cold face again; her expression was, in fact, much colder than before, as if the prior incident hadn’t happened at all.
She bowed her head in acknowledgement, went into the storehouse and brought ‘that’ back.
Upon seeing it, Gourmandi appeared confused.
“Isn’t that a queen slime?”
“This queen slime will soon divide. Even I do not know what it will really divide into.”
“Even if a slime divided, won’t it still be a slime?”
Slimes multiplied their numbers through the process of self-division. Naturally the divided slime wouldn’t change in type from the original.
But the queen slime I handed over was different.
When the queen slime was placed on the floor, it stayed where it was with its body full of tension as it began to inflate.
Finally, the queen slime divided into two.
However…during the process of division, a different form to that of a queen slime was appearing.
“H-, how unbelievable!”
Gourmandi’s jaws dropped, making a ‘Clack!’ sound as it did; while it didn’t make for a pretty picture exactly, but I could tell that that was how surprised he was.
Fur grew out from one of the divided slime. It became something completely different as it grew legs, hands, then eyes floating up from within into being.
Its very species was changing.
It was shedding off the species of a slime, becoming a beast.
When the division eventually came to an end, one side remained as a queen slime, but the other had become a ‘Giarant’.
Giarant. It was a mole-type monster that lived on a diet of tree trunks. Their nails had evolved to resemble sickles so that it could dig dirt and cut the roots of trees.
Although it wasn’t a particularly powerful or rare monster, however…
“To think a slime could divide into another species!”
…it seemed that Gourmandi saw it as the world’s most valuable treasure.
When the queen slime divided, there was a high possibility of it taking on a different form. But most of the time it never went beyond turning into weak monsters like this; monsters with nothing special in particular.
Even I had no way of knowing why only queen slimes would exhibit this phenomenon.
“Researching that giarant should allow you to reach another truth.”
Of course, even if Gourmandi did research it, there was a 99.9% chance that he would discover nothing.
However, If he were to discover something with that 0.1%?
I myself hoped for that to happen. If only Gourmandi could reveal to secret to this ‘evolution’, I too would be able to utilize it in much more various ways.
It was close to a scam, but I also had some hope for it. Who knew?
Maybe it would become possible to choose the direction of evolution I want.
If that became possible, then this Authority would become an unparalleled ability. unparalleled ability
“Y-, you are giving it to me?”
“Not for free.”
As I shook my head, Gourmandi looked at the giarant with yearning.
“What is it that you want of me?”
“As you know, the only one to have touched upon the truth of this skill, when excluding Laila and I, is you. Not many could be created through this method as well. You should know the reason as to why I am carrying out this work in such secrecy.”
“Of course. Evolution is akin to the entirety of alchemy, the highest of dreams, after all.”
“That is why…”
I paused, and spoke slowly.
“Why not try investing?”
“Investing, you say?”
“Gourmandi. I shall give you the authority so that you can have monopoly over the research of this technique. I shall also give you a stake in the company. If you properly invest in our company, that is.”
In any case, Gourmandi’s name was already put up as the representative of the Absolute Domination Company.
He was a lich who has existed since long ago, and confirmed to possess a significant amount of funds gained through his countless inventions.
“You mean to give only me the opportunity to delve into that secret?”
“Indeed. In exchange, you must share the results of research.”
He chewed over it in his mind for a long while before asking cautiously.
“If I may ask, how much will be needed…?”
“The more the better, no doubt.”
“I’m neither the master of a city, nor a true billionaire. How much could a small lich possibly earn?”
“Worry not. I do not mean for you to invest all at once. As long as you remain the representative of the Absolute Domination Company, as the company increasingly grows, would you not have further opportunities to compensate?”
Although he is temporarily a represntative in name only, I intended to give him a fair share if he were to invest; I planned on continuing to develop the company, and to that end, Gourmandi was a core element.
I was also refraining from thoughts of dominating him as much as possible. Gourmandi’s inventions and research came from ‘freedom’. If Dominator’s Authority affected him too strongly, it might even put a stopper on his ingenuity.
Thus, I called out a reasonable number.
“100,000 points? There’s no way I could have so much money, is there?”
“Then it is to my regret. No other way than to look for someone else.”
I had combed through the Dark Store, again and again, and found all the items under the name of ‘Gourmandi’. That’s why I was certain that his savings would amount to at least 100,000 points.
The value which is assessed through Mind’s Eye only pertained to the value of the individual. I had a feeling that the money in possession, equipments and the like had less of an influence on value than I had thought. Otherwise, there was no way Gourmandi’s value would be assessed as merely 94,000.
I had a thought that I may be able to squeeze some returns out of him sooner than expected, if I play my cards right.
Gourmandi shot straight up from his seat.
“N-, now that I recall, I think I can arrange it.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. Selling off some things lying around unsold should be able to cover that.”
“I feel that the Jewels of Space will be needed also.”
“It happens so that I’ve already prepared about 200 of it. Hahah.”
Indeed, very becoming of an experienced lich. His readiness was thorough, as if to say that he hadn’t lived so long in vain.
When I handed him the giarant, Gourmandi’s bones were trembling.
It was the product he had gained in exchange for 100,000 points.
Though it would be good if he could find something out from it…
‘That would be good.’
I too was truly hoping for that to happen.
To find out why only the queen slime had a very high chance of taking on a different form when undergoing division.
Moreover, since he agreed to share the research results, I would be able to utilize it in my own way if he were to discover something.
Of course, he wouldn’t share everything as is, if there was even the slightest clue I would be able to make a conjecture based on it.
Simply put, this was a battle of wits between Gourmandi and myself.
An invisible fight where victory would be decided on how well the carrot and whip is used.
It was the total funds I had after receiving the investment of 100,000 from Gourmandi.
I didn’t plan on simply holding on to it. What’s most urgent now was to plant an ‘agent’.
Laila Diablo. After going berserk, she had refraining from speaking as much as possible. Most likely she was having a hard time accepting herself of that time. I had a feeling that she had never even imagined in all her dreams that she would turn her sword on me.
There were many occasions when her words proved useful. But now that she only responded when I talked to her, this difference made my head ache more than I thought it would.
“Are you well informed regarding the Dark Company?”
“I do know regarding the other demon lords at least.”
“Then do you know of a promising dark mechant among them?”
“I apologise. I cannot comprehend my Lord’s thoughts for my head is slow of thought.”
Her reactions was too much of a contrast from the norm. It was as if there was a chill blowing. Maybe I was to be thankful that she didn’t abandon her duties and came back.
“I plan on planting an agent within the Dark Company. To dominate a skilful dark merchant using my Authority and raise him until he can reach the heart of the company.”
“An agent in the Dark Company, you mean?”
“My Authorities show the most light when used against the Dark Company. I will be able to profit much if I could come into possession of the secrets of that place.”
Laila gave a small exclamation, as if in realisation, and nodded her head.
Access the secrets of the Dark Company, and reap the benefits. And interfere with the rift from opening as much as possible. These two things were what I hoped for. I only spoke of the former.
Laila pondered for a moment, before slightly opening her lips.
“What rank do you have your eyes on?”
Dark merchants acted in ranks of nobility.
King, duke, marquis, count, viscount, baron, baronet.
There wre a total of seven ranks, and baronet was ranked the lowest among them.
But even with 100,000 points, at best dominating a baronet or baron was the limit. That’s what I had found out using Mind’s Eye.
“Is there any competent one among those ranked around baronet? Someone with enough talent that could climb to the top with my assistance.”
“Among the baronets, it is rumoured that Al, Creeky, and Chainam are about the only ones capable. They are dark merchants who have newly received titles of nobility.”
“Who would you choose if you had to pick one?”
“It would be Creeky. He is a merchant that mainly trades jewels and herbs. But because of his great greed, he even secretly keeps slaves behind the scenes. He is someone who even procures rare lifeforms in their wild state if the customer so desires.”
To sum up, he was someone who could prcoure anything for the sake of selling.
“It seems you know him well.”
“I have traded a few times with him.”
Some even directly traded through dark merchants, not through the Dark Company. Although the Company didn’t encourage the act in particular, I heard that quite many demon lords were profiting from the direct trades. On the other hand, seeing as there’s nothing like the commission which the Company takes, the dark merchants seemed to prefer it as well.
I stroked my chin, before rising from my seat.
“Good. I shall try meeting him.”
I could call for him through Laila, but moving myself was faster and more covert.
There was a large verdant garden in a place some distance away from the Dark Company. The gates to the garden opened as I approached it, and a dark merchant came into view who wore a helm with silver horns.
He had been in the middle of using scissors to trim the trees of the garden and the like, when he turned his head to stare at the appearance of a sudden guest. He then fell over with a ‘thud!’, planting his bottom on the ground. .
“Huk! I-, isn’t this Laila Diablo-nim?”
“The person beside my is my Lord. Is there not someone you should be greeting first rather than me?”
Greatly surprised, he abandoned the scissors and came dashing over.
I opened Mind’s Eye. At the same time,
Race: Dark Merchant(Baronet)
Only the name and race came up even using Mind’s Eye.
However, that was enough.
It was a challenging affair after all. Dominator’s Authority didn’t completely affect the Yaksha as well. Likewise, if the dark merchants of noble rank had received something like a blessing from the ‘Great Star’, things may become complicated. There was a possibility that I might even simply waste my points.
However…Challenge and adventure were my most favourite words. I knew from experienced that without these two things, one couldn’t obtain what one wanted.
“I-, I am late in my greeting. My lord, I am called Creeky. I mainly sell herbs and jewels and…”
“Creeky. Look at me.”
Darkmen had no eyes. No nose, nor ears as well. They only had a mouth.
But they too were definitely capable of perceiving others. It was proven by the fact that his face turned toward me as soon as I spoke the words.
The name of the Authority. The moment I echoed the name in my mind,
[Dominator’s Authority has activated.]
[56,000 points has been consumed in successfully dominating ‘Darkman Creeky’.]
Creeky’s body tilted over.
He fell to the ground with a ‘thump!’.
“Owowow. My apologies. I was too surprised.”
Creeky had spoken as he still remained fallen.
Surely it wasn’t ineffective?
He was acting no differently than before. Darkmen didn’t have much of a face, so they couldn’t be read through their expressions or eyes.
“Are you fine?”
I held out my hand.
Creeky then caught my hand and got up with difficulty.
“Tha-, thank you.”
“It is nothing. Rather than that…an unusual helmet you have.”
The helmet with silver horns. Darkmen were separated into ranks according to these helmets. Perhaps that being the reason, they cherished and loved their helmets more than anything. They would never stand by and simply watch someone laying a hand on their own helmets.
But Creeky remained still even when I had touched his helmet.
On the contrary, he got up and showed off his helmet.
“It is a helmet which I earned after receiving a title of nobility not too long ago. Haha!”
“Can you give the helmet to me?”
Creeky briefly fell into troubled thought. His distress was plain to see.
Had it failed? Or is it that Dominator had too little an effect?
“Although normally it can’t be done…”
After struggling for about 10 seconds, Creeky took off his helm and tried to hand it to me.
It was a relief. Upon seeing that, I smiled inwardly.
Those under the influence of Dominator’s Authority showed varying symptoms depending on the individual.
There were even cases of the target being completely dominated, following words only, or simply holding some goodwill.
And Creeky was definitely dominated to a significant extent.
Otherwise, there was no way a darkman would try to hand over his own helmet!