"Hello. My name is Mukouda, is Lambert-san available to speak to me?"
I went to Lambert-san's shop but unfortunately today Lambert-san was not in the shop that day. I spoke to one of his employees who seemed to recognise me. He immediately went off to call Lambert-san.
Lambert-san came from the back of the store. "Mukouda-san, welcome."
"I've brought the Black Serpent's skin that you wanted, Lambert-san." I got right down to business.
"Oh, that is excellent news." Lambert-san said with a smile on his face. "Please, this way."
I followed Lambert-san into a reception room at the back of the store. A maid brought tea as soon as I was shown to a chair. The tea smelled and tasted like oolong.
"So may I show you the skin of the Black Serpent?" Lambert-san nodded so I extracted the Black Serpent skin from my Item Box and displayed it to him.
"Ho ho, this seems to have few scratches. It is in wonderful condition." said Lambert-san, examining the skin minutely. "Truly wonderful". It seems that skins with only small amounts of damage are rarely available.
"Because this is such a good skin I will make a good offer... hmmm, how about 50 gold coins?"
Huh? 50 gold coins for just the Black Serpent's skin? Lambert-san explained his thinking to me.
"As I said before, this skin has only a few scratches. Scratched or torn parts of a skin can't be used to make high-quality leather items such as bags. This skin is almost undamaged so I'll be able to use more of it than usual."
I see. Still 50 gold coins seemed a lot. It is an unexpected extra income but welcome all the same.
"Very well, I agree, 50 gold coins it is."
When I said that, Lambert-san went off to a back room and returned with 50 gold coins and stacked them on the table before me, five stacks of ten coins each.
"50 gold coins, please check the total." said Lambert-san.
"Yes, I have received 50 gold coins." I said formally, completing the deal. I carefully put the 50 gold coins in the Sand Snake skin wallet I had bought in this shop earlier.
"Oh, that's from our shop." said Lambert-san appreciatively, noticing the wallet.
"Yeah, I've been a little hesitant to use it but since this money was earned at Lambert-san's store, I thought it appropriate to start keeping coins in it from now on."
"Heh, I hope that you use it profitably for a long time to come." Lambert-san said. A Sand Snake skin purse with 50 gold coins made me feel rich somehow even though it's a small part of my entire fortune.
I remembered I wanted to consult with Lambert-san about selling goods so I put a serious expression on my face and sat up straight.
"Well, I'd like to discuss some other business with Lambert-san if I may...."
"Discuss busniness with me?"
"Yes, but before we begin... I got hold of a lot of Bloody Horn Bulls so I felt I should share the bounty." I brought out the Bloody Horn Bull's skin Johan-ojisan had disassembled for me and presented it to Lambert-san.
"Are you sure?" he said, admiring the skin.
"Of course it is. As I said, I got a lot of them." It's easier to ask someone to do you a favour if they feel they're indebted to you because of something you gave them. It's not a bribe, honest. Since Lambert-san seemed ready to accept my 'gift' I continued with my explanation.
"You see, I'm also registered in the Merchants Guild." I showed him my iron ranked guild card.
"Ah, that's unusual. Few people join both the Merchants Guild and the Adventurers Guild."
"What I'd like to consult with you about is some goods I have, whether you think they would sell and what sort of price I should ask for them." I brought out the soap, rinse in shampoo and other items I had prepared.
"This soap, for example..." I took some of the cheap soap out of its bag and showed it to Lambert-san. "This other soap, however is scented and I'd expect to charge a bit more for it." Lambert-san sniffed the scented soap with some interest. I continued with the shampoo and conditioner, showing him the bottles I had filled earlier.
"This liquid is used to wash your hair. Your hair will be smooth and shiny after you use it. Women will especially like this, I'm sure."
Lambert-san picked up the bottle containing the rinse-in shampoo and pulled out the cork stopper to sniff the scent. I showed him the regular shampoo and conditioner bottles.
"These are also for washing your hair but they're better than the first one. I'd hope I can charge more for these for that reason." I held out the shampoo bottle. "You use this one to wash your hair," and then I presented him with the conditioner bottle. "And then you rinse your hair with this one afterwards." I put the two bottles down, side by side on the table. "It leaves the hair glossy and beautiful, admired by everyone who sees it."
Lambert-san checked the scent of the shampoo and conditioner, pulling out the cork stoppers. I finished up by showing him the hair wraps in their small jar.
"This last item is special," I explained, "after washing your hair, you put it on and leave it for a while. It makes any type of hair look beautiful just like magic."
Lambert-san opened the jar and sniffed the scent as he had all the other items then he sat back, eyes closed, obviously thinking hard. His ferocious concentration made me nervous, then he opened his eyes again.
"Mukouda-san." he paused, then continued. "It's been a great pleasure for me to become acquainted with you, Mukouda-san." he said earnestly. "You see, it will be my wedding anniversary in two weeks time but I've been fretting over what sort of present to give to my wife..."
He explained that he usually gave her something like a bag or other leather accessory for obvious reasons but his wife had not-so-subtly hinted that she would like something different this year, saying she had as many items like that as she'd ever need so he had been worrying about what to give her as a gift this time.
"My lovely wife adores soap, and indeed she worries a lot about how her hair looks, so if I could gift her with these items, Mukouda-san I'd be very much relieved!" He lined the bottles and bags up on the table before him, muttering something like "I'm saved..." Couples are bad news, I thought but I kept that to myself.
Something in Lambert-san's words caught my attention. "If your wife loves soap, does that mean you have a bath?" Lambert-san's store was obviously a high-class establishment but I had thought that only the mansions noblemen lived in had baths.
"Yes," he said with a smile, "We have a bath. My wife demanded we buy one." So they did have a bath. I really wanted to see what a bath in this other world is like, and find out if I could buy one as well.
"Oh, I'm sorry to be rude but could you possibly show me your bath?" Although it might be a bit weird to just up and ask someone to show them the bath they have in their home I couldn't stop myself, I wanted to see it.
"Yes, that's fine." he said, surprising me with his prompt agreement. He led me into the house attached to the store and guided me to his bathroom. The bath there was like an enlarged washbowl made of brown pottery but it was definitely a bath. I'd fit in it easily, no problems.
"We're really proud to have this in our home." Lambert-san said boastfully. It seems that it's a mark of success in business for a merchant to have a bath at home. "A wonderful bath, isn't it?" I agreed wholeheartedly and Lambert-san told me more. It was made of pottery with specially treated ground-up mana stones kneaded into the clay before it was fired and glazed and that made it very expensive. The crushed mana stones in the pottery kept the water at just the right temperature all the time with no need to heat it and it never cooled down. Lambert-san's simple brown-coloured bath apparently cost him 350 gold coins when he bought it. Other baths with nicer colors and with decorations were more expensive.
Th- three hundred and fifty gold coins, boy that was pricey. But thanks to Fer I had money burning a hole in my pocket so... Basically, I wanted a bathtub, big time. Just seeing this one only increased my determination to get one for myself.
First up I asked Lambert-san where I can buy a bath. It turned out that Irario Company owned a large shop that was the only place you could buy a bath in this town. It seems that shop was their head office but they had branches in other cities as well. I really wanted to buy a bath, so I planned to go there and check them out later. I had to conclude my business with Lambert-san first though. I needed to reassure him that the soap and hair treatments were safe and suitable to give to his wife as a present.
When we returned to the meeting room I indicated the bottles and bags on the table. "Lambert-san, please try all these items for yourself. If you're fine with them I'll bring you more so you can give them to your wife on your wedding anniversary."
"Well, yes," Lambert-san said, "I'd be in serious trouble if I gave her something that did strange things to her hair and skin without testing it myself first after all." Lambert-san, I don't want you to get into trouble...
"Could you give me some guidance about setting the price for such goods if you're happy after trying them out?"
"Certainly." Lambert-san smiled. "Solving this problem which was worrying me more than anything to do with business is definitely worth a little advice." I thanked him profusely and left Lambert-san's shop.
Once I know what sort of prices I can charge I could start to figure out how much I can sell. The soaps, shampoo and treatments have all sorts of fragrances so I could change the prices around for the different types and of couse there's the fashionable 'organic' versions too. There's no doubt that these sorts of things were a better sales prospect than simple salt and pepper. I was looking forward to seeing what Lambert-san would say about them.