Diana frowned just like I did, seemingly uncertain.
On the other hand, Lewya seemed to have no idea what I was talking about and tilted her head.
"Are you telling me that having Dwarven firm involved would cause problems? But from what I've heard, Dwarves are very good with their hands and are the best people to be entrusted with this kind of work."
Lewya is right, the dwarves in this world are not only skilled in blacksmithing, but also in building, craftsmanship, and other aspects of making things.
They also had a universal image of being fond of alcohol.
So why did hiring Dwarven merchants cause problems? It was due to the long-standing feud between the Dwarves and the imperial nobles.
"There are many different races among the imperial nobles, but dwarves are a race that has been excluded from the nobility."
"Excluded? Then where did these dwarven firm come from?"
"Oh, I misspoke a bit... Dwarves were excluded as nobles, not as imperial citizens."
Lewya nodded her head as if she understood what I had just said, but then she asked me if I had a new question.
"Then, why did the Imperial nobility reject the Dwarves as nobles?"
"Simply put, it's because the Dwarven temperament was completely incompatible with that of the imperial nobles."
Dwarves are all craftsmen, or rather, they are serious and inflexible, and they are so loyal that they keep even the slightest promise made during casual conversation.
On the other hand, the nobles of the empire use flattery, pretense, and ambiguous language that is so sinister it exacerbates their power struggles. The temperament of dwarves listed earlier is the complete opposite of the nobles, and the two factions never seem to get along.
So, the imperial nobility and the dwarves are in constant conflict, and one day a decisive incident occurs that deepens the rift between the two.
It began with a meeting between an Imperial noble and a Dwarf noble.
The Imperial nobles never showed their deepest feelings and acted friendly on the surface, and the meeting with the Dwarf nobles proceeded calmly from beginning to end, and during the meeting, both parties made a promise.
It was an abstract promise to help each other if either of them was in trouble. For the noble of the empire, it was merely a polite gesture, but the dwarf noble took it seriously.
So, when the friendly Dwarf nobles knew that the Imperial nobles were in need, they gave them people, goods, and sometimes money, and they helped them as much as they could.
Each time, the Imperial nobles thanked the Dwarf nobles, and the friendship between them grew, or so the Dwarf nobles thought.
But one year, Ice Star, the empire was hit by a cold wave and the territories ruled by the dwarven nobles suffered from a terrible crop failure.
The Dwarf nobleman, who had sent supplies to his friend the Imperial nobleman in the same year, had little stockpile and was in serious shortage of supplies, asked the Imperial nobleman for help, but instead of supplies, the Dwarf nobleman received a heartless reply, "Why should I help you?"
The dwarf noble fiercely confronted the noble of the empire about the promise they had made, but the noble of the empire denied knowing anything about the verbal agreement that wasn't recorded in writing.
The Dwarven nobles, realizing that they had been deceived and treated unfairly, were furious, and they even sent out troops against them.
For the note, this is not the first time that the Imperial nobles have done such a thing, and other nobles behaved in a similar way. But because the dwarf nobles had been frustrated with the empire's nobles for a long time, this incident made their anger explode, and they openly confronted the empire's other nobles...
The emperor of the time stood between the two sides in an attempt to settle the disturbance, but the conflict between the two sides showed no sign of abating, on the contrary, it continued to escalate.
However, the Dwarven nobles offered the Emperor the return of their titles and lands, saying that they had had enough of the nobles and were unwilling to shed their people's blood for such a cause.
The emperor, after much deliberation, finally decided to accept the offer.
Thus, there were no more Dwarf nobles in the empire, and the Dwarves became completely averse to the nobility.
This incident became widely known even outside the country, and the phrase "dwarves and imperial nobles" was coined as an example of trustworthy and untrustworthy individuals.
However, it was generally recognized that the aristocrats were essentially the same in all countries, and that it was the Dwarves who had the problem.
I'm slightly off topic, but the point is that the dwarf despised nobles to the point of death, thanks to a past incident, and so it seemed unlikely that things would end well when such a dwarf received a request from a noble like me.
Hearing this explanation, Lewya looks at me with a curious look on her face.
"Why did such a Dwarf accept the request this time?"
"We haven't agreed to it yet, they've just sent us a contract saying that they'll accept it under these conditions."
Saying this, I spread out the contract next to the letter, which was visible to all three of them.
As the three of them read through the contents of the contract, Diana and Mei's expressions grew stern.
"What is this condition?"
"I don't know the market rate for this sort of thing, but if the material costs are separate and we're paying just for the labour, then this is clearly an exorbitant amount, isn't it?"
"Well, does that mean they don't intend to take the job seriously from the beginning?"
"Well, I guess that's what it means."
"Master Neil, you shouldn't make this kind of contract."
That may be so, but do you think we can find another contractor if we turn this one down now?"
Diana is at a loss for words in response to my question.
Even Gibbett-san didn't sign a contract like this without thinking, which even a novice eye could see was a rip-off.
But it is likely that I could not find any contractor who would accept a request in the pioneer area, which is better than not accepting such a contract.
In fact, Gibbett-san's letter attached to the contract includes an apology for this.
"Okay, let's sign the contract."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, it's expensive, but it's not too much to pay. Fortunately, our crops are selling well and we have plenty of money."
It is said that the crops we are growing in this settlement weren't usually available in this season or region, so word had spread, and orders were flooding in for the Harvest Hoe every day.
This meant that harvesting was being done daily, and Liana, who was responsible for sending the items via an item box to the main branch, complained about how busy she was every day.
"Dwarves always keep their promises, even if it's just a verbal agreement. In other words, as long as I accept this condition, the Dwarves will do their job even if it is against the nobles whom they hate so much. It's much better than hiring a poor firm and having them do a shoddy job."
"That may be true, but..."
Diana said so, but she must have thought that accepting such a condition would affect the reputation of the Count Atmiras.
However, living in a shabby house with makeshift repairs made of wooden boards for too long would also damage the Atmiras family's reputation. When I pointed this out, Diana stopped objecting and didn't voice any more objections.
Now that there were no more objections, all I had to do was to sign the contract and send it back to Gibbett-san, and the deal was done. However, I couldn't just sit back and watch them take our money unilaterally.
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
"Let's give the Dwarves some alcohol."
If they were taking our money, we could take it back. So, I took action immediately.
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