Chapter 46: Contact (2)
The door to the fortified village opened, and a large wave of people poured out through the doorway.
The old man leading the way clasped his hands and said, “My name is Xiu Chalei, and I am the head of the village. Greetings to you, Knowledge Executor Su; please excuse our earlier ignorance.”
“Village Chief Chalei, you’re too polite. It was us who were rude and killed the beast you had tamed. I am willing to make reparations for that,” Su Chen replied.
Upon hearing the matter of compensation, the old man’s eyes immediately lit up. “I knew Knowledge Executor Su was definitely a good friend. Quick, please come in.”
Earlier, when he was descending upon them like a powerful enemy, he hadn’t said anything like that. Now that he mentioned compensation, they were instantly much more excited.
The villagers’ lack of experience, however, didn’t mean that they didn’t have their own considerations. Their pursuit of benefits was ceaseless; the only difference was the different benefits that people valued.
Su Chen wasn’t in a hurry. He talked with Chalei, slowly working out what the situation was in the fort while he took in his surroundings.
The fort was called Happiness Residing Fort.
The name was intended to have a lot of meaning, but unfortunately, the real situation didn’t quite match up.
From the circumstances, it seemed like Happiness Residing Fort didn’t have more than three hundred people. In the center of the fort, there were two more colossal beasts, also top-tier Vicious Beasts. At this moment, they were casually relaxing.
Su Chen asked and found out that there were originally three top-tier Vicious Beasts here. The villagers didn’t need to feed them; rather, they would go out, search for food, and return all on their own.
Su Chen quietly marveled at this.
Feeding Vicious Beasts was a fundamental requirement for taming beasts. Only if they were dependent on you would they listen to you.
Humans would typically control beasts by controlling the food supply. This was already a practice that was thousands of years old. But now, some Vicious Beasts could be controlled without restricting their food. There were too many things to consider in this situation.
However, Su Chen knew that this was one of the fort’s secrets, and because he couldn’t just ask the villagers directly, he took another approach. “Village Chief Chalei, it sounds like you and the Clear River City Bloodline Nobility Clans are currently locked in a trade war? What’s going on? How are you planning on continuing to do business?”
Chalei replied, “Ai, this matter originated from starting to do business in the first place. Since Knowledge Executor Su came to West River Forest, you should also know what the forest is like now.”
Su Chen nodded. “I have a rough understanding of it. West River Forest’s terrain is complex, and it is filled with dangers. Not only do Vicious Beasts run rampant here, but there also seems to be some kind of curse that people other than natives have a hard time getting through without dying.”
“That’s right! Since Knowledge Executor Su was able to get here and killed the Divine…… Vicious Beast, you evidently have a lot of talent, which most people don’t have. It just so happens that West River Forest is filled with resources. If they want to harvest them, they need to rely on us natives.”
“That’s right. After all, you are natives of West River, so the resources in West River should belong to you. How could any outsider claim rights to it?” Su Chen said as he simultaneously flattered them and pointed out their weakness.
“That’s exactly right!” The old man was instantly excited. “So we should be able to sell the resources here in West River for the prices that we decide on, right?”
“Of course.” Su Chen was already beginning to understand the whole story.
“But that’s not what is happening,” a martial artist nearby said, his voice full of anger. “The authority to put a price on these resources has always belonged to the Bloodline Nobility Clans. Whatever price they set is the price we have to sell it for. A high-tier medicinal herb can be sold for a hundred taels of gold outside, but we have to sell it for just one tael!”
“The discrepancy is that big?” Su Chen was stunned by this difference.
“That’s right! We didn’t know what the outside situation was at first and were cheated by them, but that was because we didn’t know better. But as we figured out what the outside situation was, we tried negotiating with them to raise the price, but they refused our conditions.”
“Why don’t you sell them to other people?” Su Chen asked.
“We thought about it before. However, the market in Clear River is totally controlled by them; it’s impossible for us to try and sell it to anyone else!” Chalei sighed.
The closest city to West River Forest was Clear River City. Those Bloodline Nobility Clans controlled almost all of the businesses in Clear River City from the cargo boats to the docks to the shops themselves. Every single step of the way was controlled by them.
If they wanted the resources from West River Forest to enter Clear River City, they would have to subject themselves to the Bloodline Nobility Clans’ control as soon as their goods were loaded onto the boats.
Without permission from the Bloodline Nobility Clans, their goods couldn’t get on the boats; even if they got on the boats, they couldn’t be unloaded on the docks; even if they were unloaded on the docks, no shopkeeper would dare to sell them.
By the same principle, they needed to buy things after selling off the resources, and those stores were also controlled by the Bloodline Nobility Clans. Even if you took care of all of the aforementioned issues and sold your wares, you wouldn’t be able to buy anything with that money.
By monopolizing the market, the Bloodline Nobility Clans could force the villagers in West River Forest to sell the resources to them.
“Have you not looked around for other markets?”
“We tried before. Unfortunately, we have no boats, and the rivers here are filled with pirates. Those pirates are also controlled by the Bloodline Nobility Clans, and some are even payrolled by them. We once constructed a boat and sent some goods to another city downriver, but in the end, they were all killed by pirates before they even reached the city. Actually, their heads were sent back to us by the Bloodline Nobility Clans.”
“How vicious!” Su Chen was shocked.
The Bloodline Nobility Clans’ way of doing things was basically monopolizing every path to the market, then using this to make obscene profits. Those who could produce and had the resources, however, could only accept this exploitation.
But even so, the stubborn villagers didn’t give up easily. The crops they planted and harvested, as well as the beasts they raised, could help reduce their dependence on the outside world.
You might control the market, but I can control my production!
They relied on this method to counter their opponents.
When these economic pressures were applied to the point that neither party could tolerate the other, what often happened immediately after was a bloody, violent clash.
The Bloodline Nobility Clans were infuriated by the villagers’ unwillingness to cooperate.
They began to send people into the forest, preparing to directly attack the villagers.
Even though the curse in West River Forest was frightening, the Bloodline Nobility Clans had been operating here for many years, and they knew a little bit about West River City. They understood some of the secrets surrounding the curse.
There was no way they could avoid the curse 100% of the time, but they had a few protective measures that could greatly decrease the chance of running into the curse.
As long as people were willing to die, it wasn’t a problem for them to penetrate the forest.
This made it so that West River Forest’s natural defenses were much less effective against them.
The martial artists in West River Forest had tried to resist the Bloodline Nobility Clans and prevent them from stealing away the resources that they worked hard to earn, but they had been bitterly defeated both times and were forced to pay a bloody price.
Because they were in the wilderness, no one would stick their necks out for them either.
In the end, the villagers could only lower their heads and allow the exploitation to continue.
However, these circumstances had suddenly changed in recent times.
All of the villagers had banded together again to fight against the Bloodline Nobility Clans.
The reason for this was because they had obtained some kind of skill that allowed them to control Vicious Beasts.