The Clairvoyant Trader
The crew are staying overnight in a town. Lyria takes a piece of paper from a strange man, which somehow leads to the Grandcypher being impounded! It turns out that the paper was a promissory note agreeing to buy a large amount of sugar, and when the market crashes the crew are on the hook for 300,000,000 rupies! Enter the merchant Karteira, who is introduced to the party by Sierokarte and is somehow able to fix the mess. She explains that she is trying to help people in need as a way of atoning for her ruthless business practices of the past, and offers to join the crew on their journey.
Wanting to relax and rest away the stresses of their journey, the crew were staying at an inn in a certain town.
Unable to sleep, Lyria was relaxing on her own in the lobby, where a mysterious figure approached her…
Man: Hey there, do you like sweet things?
Lyria: Huh, sweet things? Well, I like jelly, cream… Lots of desserts!
Man: Oho… That's good. Here, please take some of this sugar that I've been carrying.
Lyria: Wow, really? I can have it? Thank you so much!
Lyria: Huh? This is just a sheet of paper… How could this be sugar?
When the crew returned to the ship in the morning, they were shocked to find signs saying "Seized" and "No Entry" on the ship!
Vyrn: What's going on? Must be someone's idea of a "hilarious" prank … Let's take these signs off and get going.
???: Do not touch that!
The crew looked over at the noise. It was coming from a group of soldiers acting as debt collectors for the merchants guild.
A man who seemed to be their captain stepped forward and read in a dignified manner from the notice he was holding.
Captain: Article I: Owing to a credit transaction yesterday, your account is overdrawn. We are seizing your assets, including this ship.
Captain: Article II: Furthermore, if you are unable to recompense the lost funds, we will impound your airship as collateral on your debt.
Captain: Article III: The deadline for repayment is set at one week from today. Failure to repay will result in permanent confiscation.
Katalina: We don't even understand what's going on… surely there must be something you can do? You're our only hope.
Sierokarte: Well, this is indeed very unfortunate! I should first explain what was meant by them when they said "credit transaction".
Sierokarte: It's when you pay for something based on a prediction of its value in the future, such as half a year or a full year later.
Sierokarte: Hmm… It seems that in this case, a small amount of money has been used to pay hundreds of times more than its value…
Sierokarte: If you look at the note… it says that a deposit of 3000 rupies was used for a transaction worth 300,000 rupies! Scary…
Katalina: 300,000 rupies… That's a lot of money, but we should be able to make it if we all chip in…
Sierokarte: Ah… unfortunately it seems that the products have crashed in value, and the total debt is now… 300,000,000 rupies.
Katalina: Wha-?! Three… hundred… million?
Vyrn: What in Sky World did we buy to get a debt that huge? Jewels? Precious metals?
Sierokarte: Well… according to the note… it was… sugar!
Vyrn: What? Sugar! Who bought some crazy expensive sugar?
Lyria: … I'm sorry… I think it was me… but I didn't understand what I was…
Sierokarte listened to Lyria's explanation sympathetically, but she explained that once a contract is signed, it's final.
Sierokarte: Hmmm… I'd love to help, but I don't involve myself with complex economics like this… I'll introduce you to someone!
Vyrn: Those wheat fields are so huge! I've never seen anything like it!
Katalina: It's certainly a massive area. These fields are the breadbasket of Sky World.
Katalina: What's even more surprising is that all of these fields are managed by this single village!
???: Ah heard y'all were comin' from Siero! You're (Captain), ain'tcha?
Lyria: Ah… are you, Miss Karteira?
Karteira: Yes indeed, Karteira, the silver lining master of economics and credit transactions! It certainly is nice to meet y'all!
They all introduced themselves, and then Karteira took off running toward the farmhouse.
Lyria: Huh? Miss Karteira! Where are you going?
Vyrn: Hey, she's already started talking to some other people! How inconsiderate of her!
Katalina: Wait… That person that Lady Karteira is talking to… isn't it one of the purveyors of goods to the kingdom?
Katalina: No, it can't be… There's also the chief union representative of the Empire's foremost guild!
Katalina: There's also the church's chief business adviser and the royal broker! They're all well-regarded businessmen… Who is this woman?
Karteira: Heh, y'all noticed ma guests, then? The big traders of the islands like to come round at this time o' year to check the crops.
Karteira: This is between you and me, but ah told 'em that this year's gonna be a bumper crop, in quality and quantity!
Karteira: If ah do that, they're sure to buy it up! Y'all sure are lucky, this is gonna write off all y'alls debt.
Vyrn: No way! How is it gonna write the debt off?
Karteira: Y'all are dumb as a box of rocks, ain'tcha? If there's tons of wheat, what will people eat?
Lyria: Erm… how about bread? Or cake? Or cookies?
Karteira: But what do y'all need for those things?
Lyria: Erm… Jam? Or cream? Oh, I get it! Sugar! They'll need lots of sugar!
Karteira: And if demand goes up, so does the price!
Karteira: We got a week, which is plenty o'time to get rid of yer debt!
Karteira: That's why they call me the silver linings merchant! Because every cloud has a silver lining!
Karteira: Tomorrow, the market, fuelled by the merchants buyin' extra wheat, will rush to buy both wheat and sugar, and push the price up!
Lyria: Huh? She's running off again! Miss Karteiraaa! Why do you keep running away?
Lyria: Aaahhh! M-monsters!
Karteira: Stop standin' there like a statue! If y'all let those monsters damage the crops then yer debt'll go up!
Vyrn: Yeah, stop messing around! Let's take 'em out!
Lyria: Thank you so much, Miss Karteira. I don't know what we would've done without you.
Karteira: Hey, ah didn't do nothin'! I was asked to help by Siero, and ah gave some advice. No more, no less.
Sierokarte: My ears are burning! Heehee, I know what you've been up to!
Karteira: Say what? Oh, it's you, Siero.
Sierokarte: Heeheehee. Karteira invested her entire fortune to help the price of sugar go back up!
Karteira: Th-that ain't true! Ah just saw some potential profit, and thought I'd grab myself a slice!
Lyria: Really? Why would you do something so risky for people you've only just met!
Sierokarte: Hmm… I think it was to atone for the past, wasn't it, Karteira?
Karteira looked resignedly at Sierokarte, then started to explain more about herself.
Karteira: For someone like me, blessed with darn good business sense, ah was always able to buy low, sell high, whatever the product.
Karteira: But then ah realised, everything's connected. Ah was makin' money hand over fist, but it meant that someone else was losin' it.
Karteira: Before ah knew it, all mah business friends had disappeared…
Karteira: It was a pretty big shock, to tell ya the truth. Ah thought ah should quit business altogether… But then ah had a better idea.
Karteira: Ah thought ah'd do good business, to atone for what ah did… Business to help people, not just take their money.
Karteira: This all sounds stupid, don't it? Makes you angry, right? But my conscience can rest easy now.
Karteira: So when Siero came to me with your request… Ah swore it on ma mother's grave. Ah swore ah'd help you.
Lyria: Oh, Miss Karteira…
Vyrn: Aww, so you're a nice person at heart, aren't you?
Karteira: Darn tootin'! Ah'm awesome! If ya really think so, d'you think ah could join your crew?
Vyrn: Woah, that came out of nowhere! What do you say, (Captain)?
Choose: Of course, we're happy to have you!
- Of course, we're happy to have you!
- I will consider your proposal.
Karteira: Oh my! Thank ya kindly! There're so many rare things in the world, I'l be able to make so much money!
And so, Karteira, the silver linings merchant, joined the crew, and the ship became even more lively.Choose: I will consider your proposal.
Karteira: What, why? Ah'm a useful lady! Ah can do all your trade negotiations, and ah'll never back down! Even to Siero!
Lyria: Of course! You're a very useful person to have around, Karteira.
Vyrn: Hey, Lyria, is this one of (Captain)'s famous "jokes"? Is it, (Captain)?
Lyria: Haha, I think so! That was a bit of a surprise!
And so, Karteira, the silver linings merchant, joined the crew, and the ship became even more lively.Continue 1
The Battle of the Broach
Karteira and Sierokarte get into an argument in a market over a brooch. To decide who gets the valuable item, they decide to have a buying competition. With the same funds, they compete to see who can make the most profit. Last time the two of them had a competition, Karteira had all of her profit stolen by bandits, losing the challenge, but today she entrusts (Captain) and the crew with guard duty, which she says will ensure her victory. They get ready, and begin the competition!
(Captain) and the crew arrived at a town.
They were in the market, hunting for bargains with Karteira and Sierokarte.
Karteira: Siero, ya meany! Ah saw that brooch first!
Sierokarte: That may be… but I picked it up, didn't I!
Karteira: No, it's me gosh darn it! Ah saw it, ah'm gonna buy it!
Sierokarte: What a shame! I've already bought it!
Karteira: Bah, you're always like this, Siero. Too shrewd, too calculating!
Karteira: Always swoopin' in and takin' my profits, even though ya never worked a day in your life!
Sierokarte: That's not very nice! You're a fantastic merchant in your own right, Karteira!
Karteira: Ya keep saying that, Siero, but clearly y'all think that you're the best.
Sierokarte: Erm… well… of course not!
Karteira: Okay, let's have a challenge.
Sierokarte: Oho? The usual rules?
Karteira: The money: 1,000,000 rupies. As for the goods… Let's use dried meat.
Sierokarte: Ooo… A buying competition, so nostalgic! We used to do these all the time, didn't we, Karteira?
Lyria: Wait! You shouldn't fight with each other!
Sierokarte: Oh, we're not fighting! Don't worry, this is a game that we merchants play with each other.
Vyrn: Ooh, what kind of game?
Sierokarte: We decide on a product, and see who can make the biggest profit with the same amount of money!
Karteira: Yup! If ah remember correctly, we've had 29 rounds… and ah'm at 15 wins, 14 losses. Still in the lead!
Sierokarte: You're wrong! The last time we faced off, I was the winner!
Karteira: Whaddaya mean? Ah got more for my money, and ah sold it for nearly twice as much!
Sierokarte: Indeed… but you were set upon by bandits on the way back to town, weren't you! All your money was stolen!
Karteira: Yeah, that weren't so good. Ah shouldn'ta skimped on the guards… If that hadn't happened, ah woulda crushed you!
Karteira: Ah well, nothin' to worry about this time! Ah'm the best merchant in the whole sky, I ain't gonna lose again!
Sierokarte and Karteira disappeared into the crowds in the blink of an eye, entrusting guard duty to (Captain) and the crew.
They left the town in two wagons, full to the brim with goods to sell.
Sierokarte: Ooo! Okay, everyone, time to earn your keep!
Vyrn: Wow, we only just left! Time to fight, (Captain)!
The Battle of the Broach: Scene 2
After getting products as part of their buying competition, Karteira and Sierokarte meet up again outside the town. They seem to be getting on well compared to before, and the crew ask them why. They talk about how they met as they were starting out as merchants, and how they improved together in spite of their failures.
Karteira and Sierokarte's wagons were racing across the open fields.
They loosened the reins on the horses, and slowed their pace as they rode onward.
Karteira: Hey, Siero! I think this match is already decided!
Karteira: Here, take a look at the goods in my cart.
Sierokarte: Ooh! Very nice! They look so much bigger and tastier than mine!
Karteira: Hehehe, I drove a hard bargain to get these!
Karteira: Ah would guess what ah've got is worth about 20,000 rupies more than yours, buddy!
Sierokarte: Oho, you didn't know? The motto of the Knickknack Shack is "Quality over quantity"!
Karteira: You sayin' ah wasted my money buyin' the cheap stuff?
Sierokarte: Perhaps I am!
Lyria: Very strange… They just seem to be having fun, not a super-competitive challenge!
Lyria: Even though they're normally fighting all the time! It's just so weird!
Karteira: Ya've got the wrong idea, Lyria. We ain't never fightin'.
Karteira: It's… Ah can't explain it easily…
Karteira: Y'all misunderstand what it's like between us, but we've always got on like a house on fire, right Siero?
Sierokarte: Indeed! Now that you mention it, it's always been this way, hasn't it?
Lyria: Huh? "Always"? How long have you two known each other? I really want to know!
Vyrn: Yeah, it's bugging us too! Come on, spill the beans!
Sierokarte: Oh, if you insist… It was back when I was just starting out… I don't really like to talk about it much…
Karteira: C'mon, whatcha worried about? Tell 'em!
Sierokarte: Ohh… All right, I'll tell you one of the stories of my failures from back then, but no more!
Sierokarte: Well… It may be hard to believe, but we weren't always successful merchants. Back in the day we used to fail all the time!
Sierokarte: But people took the "Karte" from Sierokarte, and the "Karte" from Karteira…
Sierokarte: Ooh, this is quite embarrassing. They called us "The Overoptimistic Karte Sisters"…
Karteira: Ain't that weird! We ain't even sisters!
Karteira: But weirdly, living through that made our bond stronger, ya know?
Lyria: Your… bond?
Karteira: Because we were only just startin' out, we didn't know the ropes, and we kept losin' money. But we kept encouraging each other.
Karteira: Some day, when I'm the sky's greatest merchant, ah'm gonna look back at those fools and laugh!
Karteira: We worked at our craft every day, helping each other out like sisters, improving as we went.
Sierokarte: Ooo, this is very embarrassing…
Lyria: Don't worry about it! You were both able to become brilliant merchants, right?
Karteira: Ah s'pose… but sometimes we think too much about this stuff! Right, Siero?
Sierokarte: Hmm? Of course, but you do it too!
Lyria: Woah! All of a sudden, something feels off again…
Vyrn: Jeez, I still have no idea whether they love or hate each other!
Karteira: Alright, y'all! Get to work again!
The Battle of the Broach: Scene 3
As the road gets progressively worse, Sierokarte tells another story from the past. In the story, Karteira ignored Sierokarte stopping her cart, and had an accident as she continued on the dangerous mountain roads. It turns out this was because Sierokarte had realized that the goods they were carrying were of low quality, and felt guilty for buying them. Karteira was annoyed, and decided to take advantage of people in the remote villages to make her money back. In what seems like bad karma for her ruthless business plan, she is attacked by bandits, who steal everything. Coincidentally, at that very moment some bandits appear once again to rob merchants on the road.
Karteira and Sierokarte's wagons had left the fields and entered the winding mountain roads.
They grabbed the reins, and forged onward as if they were afraid of something…
Eugen: This is weird… Isn't the road getting worse and worse as we get higher?
Eugen: Hmm… Are there even villages this deep in the mountains?
Sierokarte and Karteira didn't answer.
They kept staring forwards, clutching the reins tightly.
Sierokarte: Oh? If I remember… wasn't it just like this last time?
Sierokarte: Yes… although I objected to it myself, you took a dangerous route…
Karteira: Huh, did that happen? Ah don't rightly remember.
Sierokarte: Really? I remember it well.
Sierokarte: Remember? It was the only time that you ever came running to me, crying and apologizing!
Lyria: Hmm? Crying and apologizing? Karteira's usually super energetic and happy…
Vyrn: Yeah… I can't imagine that…
Sierokarte: Well, it was when I realized that some goods we had bought together were incredibly low-quality…
Sierokarte: Yes… I felt guilty, snuck out in the middle of the night and drove the cart away…
Sierokarte: And then… she woke up in a fluster, ran after me and jumped onto the cart… What was it you said?
Karteira: Even if the goods are worth next to nothin' in town, take them to remote villages and you'll sell them at a standard price for sure.
Karteira: Well, when you're dealing with bumpkins out in the sticks, ya can even bump the price up a little! They ain't gonna notice!
Karteira: That's what I said, right, Siero?
Sierokarte: Oh, Karteira…
Karteira: That's where the bad karma came in.
Lyria: Huh? Karma?
Karteira: Goin' through the mountains in the middle of the night, the cart slipped and fell off the road…
Karteira: And it only got worse from there.
Karteira: By the time we had recovered our senses, bandits had heard the commotion and came to attack us.
Karteira: "Dangit, this is the end, ma goose is cooked!" That's what ah thought, but then they came to save us.
Vyrn: C'mon, who's "they"?
Bandit: Gahaha! We've got a good one 'ere!
Bandit: Well well well… looks like another stupid merchant who's come into our mountains with piles of stuff!
Bandit: Hahaha! All right, boys, let's take all they've got! Don't leave a rupie!
Karteira: Hey, there's a flood of customers coming in! Let's take good "care" of 'em!
The Battle of the Broach: Scene 4
The crew reaches the village and begins delivering essential items to the mountain villagers. The crew are surprised and confused that the carts are not in fact full of dried meat. Karteira reveals that when she was attacked by bandits before, it was the mountain villagers who had saved the lives of both her and Sierokarte. Ever since, Karteira has sworn off unsavory business, and delivers supplies to the village now and again. Sierokarte reveals that she has done the same thing with her cart, and (Captain) and the crew are moved by the strength of the bond between the two merchants.
The crew finally arrived at the mountain village.
Karteira stopped her cart in the village square, hurriedly unloaded her goods, and started to call out to the villagers.
Karteira: Step right up, welcome to the grand openin' of the Karteira Tradin' Company! Grab yerself a bargain!
Men and women of all ages began to stream out of the houses, heading towards Karteira's stall.
Karteira began to skillfully deal with the influx of customers, but something was strange…
Inside there was not dried meat, but snacks and toys, clothing and medicine, goods that were hard to come by in the mountains.
Lyria noticed something else out of place.
Lyria: Huh? Miss Karteira? Shouldn't we be taking payment for these things?
Karteira: Huh? Oh, money? Ah got that a long time ago…
Vyrn: What do you mean, you got it "a long time ago"?
Karteira: Ah told y'all before, didn't I? Ah'm not the same as ah used to be.
Village Chief: Ah, Miss Karteira… Thank you as always for travelling all this way.
Karteira: Ah'm happy to see you lookin' so sprightly, Chief! It's gettin' mighty cold up here, so ah brought you a sweater.
Karteira: See! Very fashionable! At least ah think so… Ah don't really know about clothes.
Village Chief: Oh! Thank you very much, young lady… You always go to so much trouble for our sakes…
Village Chief: It's truly a great help. If it weren't for you, our village wouldn't stand a chance!
Village Chief: (sniff) I really… can't thank you enough…
Karteira: Quit yer jokin' around! Ah should be the one thankin' you!
Karteira: If y'all hadn't been there that night, we would've both been taken out by those bandits and we wouldn't be here now!
Karteira: If ah thanked you every day for the rest of my life, it wouldn't be enough.
Vyrn: Oh, I get it now… When Karteira was telling her story, she said "they" saved her… She was talking about these villagers!
Lyria: Ohh! Because of their kindness, Karteira and Siero are still here! What a beautiful story…
Karteira: Hey, Siero! Quit yer grinnin', we've got work ta do! Gimme that crate!
Sierokarte: Heeheehee… Karteira has beaten me to it! I was thinking the exact same thing…
Sierokarte whipped the tarpaulin off of her own cart, revealing the same essential items to give to the mountain folk.
Eugen: What a turnup… they weren't even thinkin' about profit, right from the beginning!
Katalina: Hehe… well, all's well that ends well. It'd be rude to question their motives.
Katalina: Anyway, how about we all pitch in and help them?
Lyria: You're right! I'll help too!
Vyrn: All right! I'll help the most!
Karteira and Sierokarte had both showed another facet of their characters, and the crew felt that their bonds had gotten stronger.