The Making of a Market
|«To Thaw a Frozen Heart|
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Ah, if it isn't good Master Forename. Lord Francel was hoping that you might grace us with a visit. I hear that there is a matter he wishes to discuss with you. If you do not have more pressing obligations, pray lend him your ear.
Forename! 'Tis always a pleasure to see you here in the Firmament. You'll be pleased to hear that the district is home to an ever-growing number of thoroughly satisfied residents, thanks in no small part to your tireless efforts on our behalf.
In particular, I'm proud to say that we have spared no effort to realize Lady Hilda's ideal of a place where one and all can have a roof over their head and food in their belly, provided they are willing to work hard and make an honest living.
Seeing as things are progressing most swimmingly on that front, I have decided to turn my eye to Lord Briardien's most astute recommendation: encouraging the flow of goods and services, so as to build a thriving economy that will serve as the area's lifeblood.
As such, Augebert and his men have been hard at work putting the final touches on the ward I have dubbed Featherfall, which is to serve as the Firmament's center of commerce and trade. There is but one remaining issue to resolve...
Namely, how we might distinguish our own marketplace from the Jeweled Crozier. After all, if we hope to attract vendors and customers alike to the Firmament, we must offer something that they cannot already find at a more established location.
After giving the matter considerable thought, it struck me─what if we were to bring in merchants from the realm over to ply their trade here, that Featherfall might be the Holy See's new hub of foreign trade?
It is a most inspired idea, would you not say? And─if you would not disapprove─I would ask you to accompany me as our designated emissary to the three city–states. After all, who better to convince our esteemed guests to make the journey here to Ishgard than one of your influence and prestige?
And if you would not disapprove─or, quite honestly, even if you would─I will be accompanying you as well.
It is far from my place to object, but for whatever reason would the Count de Durendaire wish to come along on our humble expedition? Particularly in light of your honored house's rather...shall we say, conservative...views toward the expansion of foreign trade...
I'll thank you not to make assumptions about the interests of my house, Lord Francel. I have always acted in what I believe to be my homeland's best interests. And I will continue to do so.
Mayhap House Durendaire did not give the warmest of welcomes to outsiders at the Observatorium and Whitebrim Front...
But I assure you that we took only the necessary precautions to defend the See from external threats at a time of war. Surely the savior of Ishgard can understand our position.
At any rate, the war is over, and our nation has entered a new age. I am not inclined to sit idly by as House Durendaire is left behind the times.
And yet, at this most vital of junctures, my son and heir remains lost at sea, and my cousins are either too young or unworldly for the task. And so it falls to me to see to matters myself.
I daresay there is some merit for you as well. After all, whatever negotiations you intend to conduct, they can only be aided by the presence of the head of Ishgard's highest of High Houses.
...I trust you have no objections?
Your offer of assistance is most generous, Lord Charlemend. I would not dream of refusing it.
Of course not. We depart at once, yes? I've heard Gridania is most lovely at this time of year.
Y-Yes...my intention was always to begin our expedition at our closest neighbor. I have it on good word that an establishment there known as the Carline Canopy would be a suitable─
The Carline Canopy it is, then. Do take care not to lag behind, yes?
L-Lord Charlemend! Wait!
While I understand that Lord Francel has only the happiness and well-being of our residents in mind, sometimes I cannot help but fear he is exerting himself overmuch. In that sense, I am most thankful for your tireless support of his cause.
...So this is Gridania. The tomes fail to mention how disagreeably dank it is.
...So this is Gridania! Why, it is even more verdant and lush than I had imagined!
Hmph. A danker, gloomier city I can scarce imagine. I am glad I do not live here.
...And yet, this nation is home to a great number of our own kind. Convincing an Elezen trader or two to come to Ishgard will be done in less than the time it takes for an afternoon tea.
To start, I will enlist the services of one of the locals. Feel free to come along, Lord Francel─mayhap you'll learn something.
Oh dear, Forename. This is precisely what I was afraid of!
I did some research before our departure. No doubt this is common knowledge to you, but I read that Gridanians are reserved types who do not warm easily to outsiders─if perhaps not to the degree of our own people.
I fear the count─for all his good intentions─might sour the local populace on our offer before we can even make it. Come, we must stop him!
Phew! Fortunately, it would seem he has yet to engage the townspeople...
Hm? Who are you, and what business have you here?
You there. I am looking to speak with one of your nation's most prominent traders. Tell me where I might find such a person, and be quick about it─I'm a busy man.
Hm? I'm not in the habit of entertaining outsiders─rude, arrogant ones least of all. Bugger off and do it yourself!
What!? Why, the sheer gall of that woman!
With all due respect, Lord Charlemend...we are guests in this land. Just as you and I were once wary of outsiders like good Forename here, so, too, are these people wary of us.
In the world outside the Holy See, our titles or the prestige of our houses will avail us no special privilege. Mayhap it would behoove us to conduct our affairs with a measure of humility...
...But I fear we have already aroused the suspicion of the townspeople. Let us try our luck at another location...mayhap one of the guilds for which this place is so well known?
Hmph. A guild, you say? Very well. Let us stop blithering and be off.
If I recall, the Leatherworkers' Guild is in the part of town known as Old Gridania. Would that be correct, Forename?
If you know the way to this guild, then let us be off already, yes? The sooner we can take our leave of this place, the better, I say.
Yes, this place seems rather lively. No doubt we can find someone willing to assist us here.
I beg your pardon, my esteemed sir! I am a humble visitor from Ishgard, and I was wondering if I might trouble you with a question or two.
Hm? What's that, now?
Wait... Can it be...Lord Francel? Hah, it is you! Whatever brings you to the Twelveswood?
What? Pray forgive me, I do not believe I have had the pleasure...
You wouldn't know me, but I sure know you. During the war, I plied my trade as a sellsword at Camp Dragonhead. You often came to dine at Lord Haurchefant's invitation, yes?
Why...that I did! Lord Haurchefant was a most benevolent man. There were few things he enjoyed more than sharing a good meal in the company of his friends and his men alike.
Aye, and I was one of them. I fondly remember the times I sat at his table, sharing in his meat and mead. In the warmth of his hall and his company, for a moment you could forget the bitter cold outside.
It's a memory that's stayed with me to this day, long after I returned to Gridania and hung up my blade. Lord Haurchefant was a great man, and I had hoped to return to Ishgard one day to visit him.
But then the news of his tragic passing arrived... Even now, I find it hard to believe he's gone.
I as well, my friend. Not a day goes by that I do not think of him, and the kindness he showed me in the darkest of days...
And though I will forever mourn his passing, I take solace in knowing that his sacrifice was not for naught. For because of those like him─and Forename here─the war is at long last over, and our nation welcomes a new age of enlightenment and restoration.
So it is that we come here to fair Gridania, in hopes of establishing trade that will benefit both our nations. Might you perhaps know of any merchants or traders who might be interested in exploring such a possibility?
Do I ever! And nothing would please me more than to be able to return the kindness that your countrymen showed me!
It just so happens that I do work for Black Rabbit Traders these days. Perhaps you've heard of them? Maisenta's in charge there, and she's always looking for promising new business partners! Just wait here─I'll bring her right over!
My good man, it is as if the gods themselves sent you to us! If she does not mind the imposition, I would be honored to meet this Lady Maisenta!
I had known that Lord Haurchefant was undiscerning in the company he kept, but to think that it would be to the benefit of our nation...
I trust that you've met this Lady Maisenta, Forename? Do you suppose she'll be receptive to our offer?
So you're the guest from Ishgard I've heard so much about. I am Maisenta, of Black Rabbit Traders fame. I hear you have a business proposition for me?
It is a pleasure and an honor both to make your acquaintance, Lady Maisenta. I am Francel de Haillenarte, and I have the privilege of overseeing the reconstruction of our fair city, a task which includes building a thriving economy.
To that end, I wish to invite the realm's preeminent trading concerns to establish outposts in our new commercial district. If it please you, will you not consider bringing your operations to Ishgard?
I'd heard that you Ishgardians opened your borders, but quite frankly, I wasn't expecting to receive such an eager and enthusiastic proposition.
...And it's an interesting one, I'll grant you that. Still, as much as I'd like to be of aid, I run a business here, not a charity.
And so I'm forced to ask: why should I expand to Ishgard? What do you offer that other places do not?
A well-founded concern, of course... Be assured that our nation offers businesses many opportunities. For example...er...
|You'll have immediate access to the finest Ishgardian wares.||Ishgardian nobles are notorious spendthrifts...||Picture it now: the Homunculi tour the Holy See.|
All right...Forename here's convinced me. The Black Rabbit will come to Ishgard.
Oh, thank you, Lady Maisenta! You do us a kindness that we will not soon forget!
You can spare me the flowery words. I'm only looking out for my own business interests...as I trust you are as well, no?
In any event, I'd best be going. We'll have to take a full inventory to determine which of our fine goods to bring north. As they say, the Traders do not smile on those who tarry...
Oh, thank you ever so much, my friend! I could never have done this without you!
Lady Maisenta's question was only to be expected, yet I found myself at a loss. Your impeccable knowledge of the realm and calmness under pressure have served us well once more.
...Hmph. You have succeeded here despite the involvement of Houses Haillenarte and Fortemps, not because of it.
The citizens of the sultanate are far more discerning, but fear not. I will show you how negotiations among the upper crust are truly done.