It was clear that the whole operation wouldn't have been very effective if I had gone on my own.
Everyone present knew Olivia Lanze.
“Ah, this is Reinhardt, a first-year.
He's a supernatural power user.
He has a bright future ahead of him."
"A supernatural power user"
“These days, this junior of mine has some visions, so he created a place called the Magic Research Society."
“Hooh, what are you researching"
"Miss Olivia, it is an honor to meet you."
This is Reinhardt, a first-year…"
People wanted to exchange some words with Olivia Lanze, who had become famous for a different reason than before, and she introduced me to those people without fail as if she was trying to sell me.
She also put great emphasis on the new Magic Research Society that I had created and that it was in need of a significantly greater research budget.
While the attendees of the four major organizations were prominent, others were also quite formidable.
All of them were high-ranking nobles dispatched from each region as well as imperial nobles and other prominent people from various organizations.
Olivia talked to all of them and introduced me to them.
However, as she predicted, the results weren't that good.
“Oh, that seems to be quite significant research.
I'll be rooting for you, Reinhardt."
“Then, if you would like to sponsor…"
Rather than that, Miss Olivia.
What are your plans after your graduation"
He was more interested in the benefits that he could gain from the conversation than actually meaning what he said.
He wanted to recruit Olivia rather than sponsor the Magic Research Society she’d brought up.
Olivia Lanze, who had been scheduled to join the Knights Templar, was like a pie in the sky for those people.
However, since she decided not to join them, she was like a super hot commodity on the free agent market.
The mere appearance of Olivia Lanze, who often did volunteer work but rarely went to those kinds of events, seemed to change the atmosphere.
I could see that they were incredibly frantic to somehow attract Olivia to their side and any thoughts of the Magic Research Society were put on the back burner.
However, when they realized that she didn't go there to find a new career path, but rather, to seek a sponsorship for a club one of her juniors created, they stopped caring about us as if we were invisible.
So yeah, everyone had the same reaction.
In the end, they just came over and coveted a super-hot commodity, but the commodity intended to get them to sponsor a little kid who wanted to make some foolish inventions.
The man named Saintrident, the vice president of the Magic Association, seemed clearly uncomfortable.
“Uhm… It… it's good to have big dreams, Good luck, Reinhardt."
I felt a bit sorry for him.
When others called me ‘genius’ or something, they were just empty words.
In the end, we became the odd ones out in that place.
“As expected, it's not working."
Olivia scratched her cheek, seeming somewhat embarrassed.
“It's not like students of lower years aren't allowed to come, but there is no reason for them to come."
“Yes, that's true…"
I realized something in that place.
That was a place for scouting and sponsoring talents that were close to graduation.
Of course, the shorter the sponsorship period, the better.
It was cheaper in terms of costs to just sponsor students close to graduation than sponsoring a first-year until the day they graduated since Royal Class' curriculum went for six years.
So a perfect target for sponsors were fifth or sixth-years.
Sponsoring the lower years was inefficient because the sponsorship period was simply too long, even if they were in such high positions.
Their purpose was to create connections in the name of sponsorship and scout the student right after their graduation or something like that.
Therefore, the lower the year, the more disinterested the sponsors were.
In addition to being a first-year, I was also trying to make some very absurd things.
My graduation was still far away, and my path was unclear.
There was no way any of those people would sponsor me.
In the end, it was a similar concept to investing, so it was very difficult for me to obtain sponsorship.
Still, I didn't think I would be treated so poorly.
Fortunately, I was still able to talk to Olivia.
"Still, we should try as much as we can."
Even if people's interest in us was fading, I decided not to give up.
Who knows I might be able to catch one.
There was only one person who wasn't interested in us from start to finish.
Olivia and I went over to the Merchant Guild's master, Owen de Getmora.
Since he was the Merchant Guild's master, I imagined him to be a middle-aged man with a pot belly, but he was actually a man who seemed to have aged like fine wine.
He seemed to radiate elegance as well.
He was quietly drinking some champagne on his own in a corner of the banquet hall, observing the room's atmosphere.
He wasn't talking to anyone.
He didn't look like a merchant at all.
“Hmm, it seems you're dreaming of developing some great inventions."
It was clear as day that he thought that my research projects weren't much to talk about.
“By the way, I didn't expect to see you in a place like this, Reinhardt."
He seemed more interested in me than in the Magic Research Society.
To some extent, I could guess why he was.
The business I’d started by opening stores at each train station… the Merchant Guild was an important investor.
Since said business was in action, he had no choice but to know about me and the Rotary Gang.
A completely different connection from the Magic Research Society already existed between me and the Merchant Guild’s master.
Olivia didn't know the details, so she was just tilting her head, wondering why the Merchant Guild’s master was showing interest in me.
However, she didn't add anything that would make the atmosphere weird.
Those eyes that seemed to either belong to an old or middle-aged man stared at me.
He had no interest in Olivia whatsoever because he didn't run an organization that needed strength.
"Reinhardt, can I ask you a question"
So he only looked at me.
He showed overt interest in me.
He was the only one in that place that seemed interested in me, whose conditions made others ignore me.
“Why do you think I'm here"
“…You want me to guess your intentions"
* * *
Translator - KonnoAren
Proofreader - ilafy
* * *
He stared at me.
A sudden question…
What would I gain by getting it right
The first person that actually looked at me threw a test at me.
The guild master of the Merchant Guild, Owen de Getmora, was different in quality from the Thieves' Guild’s master.
While the Merchant Guild had their hands in one or two illegal businesses, it was still an organization of the surface world.
He was the leader of a group that was fundamentally different from the Thieves' Guild, whose mere existence was subject to eradication.
There was only one reason he could occupy a spot in that place filled with VIPs…
His organization had more money than anyone else there.
“To give you a hint, I have no intention of scouting anyone, nor do I plan on sponsoring anyone."
He seemed to test my insight.
Even if I passed that test, that didn't mean he would reconsider his choices.
Was he simply curious about what kind of person his business partner was
However, in that place where I simply got ignored for my age, that person seemed like someone I could talk to, at least.
He had no interest in scouting or sponsoring anyone.
From the points of view of those running the sponsoring meeting, it wouldn't be strange if they kicked him out.
So why did he go to that place to begin with
There would be no reason for him to ask that question if he just went for the heck of it.
Of course, the answer had to be something possible to infer.
Let's think about what he might want to achieve.
The objective of the Merchant Guild's master was to eventually make money…
That meant that attending the sponsorship event was a type of scheme to make money.
When I thought about it a bit more, it wasn't actually that hard of a question.
All of the Empire's influential and important people were in one place.
“There should be no better place to accurately grasp the current situation of the continent."
“Could you elaborate"
“One can grasp their needs by their actions and also confirm what they lack."
VIPs from every prominent group of the Empire were there…
And all of them moved to recruit talent.
So if one observed their needs, one could also find out their weaknesses.
Since the knights wanted to supplement their armed forces, they looked for people with strong talents.
The money they invested reflected their organization's needs as well as what they lacked.
Even if one just listened to the conversations here and there, one could understand what each of them wanted.
Therefore, it was possible to estimate the organization's strength, needs, and financial status to some extent.
Owen de Getmora was a merchant.
He was someone who prepared things to satisfy people's needs and desires.
He smiled at my short answer.
"I just roughly guessed it's like that.
I don't know what the Merchant Guild’s master will actually do with the information you gain from this place."
Owen said that my answer was great, but Olivia just looked at me with her mouth wide open.
Why was she so amazed by that
“Then now we can talk about the next point."
“By ‘next point’, you mean…"
“I had no intention of sponsoring anyone, but I didn't expect you to be here, Reinhardt."
He looked at me.
“I'm currently in a position where I have to sponsor you, Reinhardt.
I have to do it now, not when you are in your fifth year.
Can you tell me the reason for that"
He needed to sponsor me, not wanted to.
The sponsors there preferred to sponsor older students.
However, the Merchant Guild’s master believed it would be more advantageous to sponsor me while I was in lower grades.
That wasn't a difficult question either.
“My value doesn't lie in the me after I graduate.
I think you see it in me as I am now, a Temple student."
Owen smiled, satisfied, and took a sip of his champagne.
Owen de Getmora couldn't help but know that the mana train station store business was being carried out with the support of the Imperial Family.
He didn't want to step in between the close relationship I had with them.
He didn't want Reinhardt, he wanted the classmate of the Imperial Prince and Princess.
In that case, my value wasn't in the me after I graduated but in the me while I was still a Temple student, so he wanted to build a connection to the Imperial Family by sponsoring me.
He didn't know the exact details, but I was even able to get exclusive business rights from the Imperial Family.
"How much do you need, Reinhardt"
He asked for the price tag attached to my name.
Too much would make me seem shameless, and too little would make me seem stupid.
I was making a deal with an old, cunning man I had never seen before in my life.
I didn't even know if I could do that.
I still had to do it, though.
While neither of us mentioned it, we were ultimately dealing with a connection to the Imperial Family.
The moment we put it into words, we would commit Lèse-majesté.
We were trading intangible values.
"Well, I don't believe this is up to me to decide."
He asked for my price tag, but I changed the product we were trading indirectly.
It was a deal involving the Imperial Family, so I couldn't just set a price.
So I tried to check just how much a connection with the Imperial Family was worth to him.
Owen de Getmora looked at me and burst into laughter.
“My, what a great retort."
Olivia didn't even seem to know what was going on between me and the guild master anymore.
“I'll send you the right amount at the right time according to the proper procedure."
He was a merchant.
In the end, he never told me how much he would give me.
However, if the amount was disastrously low, the Merchant Guild would be heavily criticized.
He promised to pay appropriately for the intangible product.
I received something without having to give anything.
However, that was also quite scary.
There might’ve been a situation in the future where I had to give him something, but at that point, I didn't even know what I would have to give.
I could tell him that I didn’t know I would have to give whatever it was he asked for when the time came, but he was a merchant…
And merchants always sought their due pay.