57 Brawny Lad with the Business Plan
Once Arachne finally forgives me (ish), it's smooth sailing.
Her discerning eye hones in on the high-quality goods Taliesin materializes on her counter, and their negotiations begin immediately.
The kid's not shrewd, but I guess you don't have to be when you're the proverbial golden goose. Arachne may not have my Thread Reader skill, but she can tell he's oozing dumb luck and the energy to match; no way she screws him over this time and potentially screws herself over in the long run.
Unsurprisingly, by the time they're done, Arachne's offered the kid a contract with Silken Strands.
He'll sell his best materials to her first, and he'll come to her for tailored gear. She'll offer him competitive prices for the goods and provide solid discounts on custom gear and enhancements.
As a good faith measure, she offers to create his first custom tunic-and-trousers set at cost.
"It's a good deal, kid. I'd recommend signing on while you still can," I advise.
They shake hands and sign the System-sanctioned contract.
In Viren's Refuge, contracts are ironclad, and you can choose from a list of penalties or agree upon a different one. Either way, the System enforces the chosen penalties automatically when a contract's breached, and sometimes even enforces additional penalties on its own, depending on the contract details.
When it's my turn, I send Taliesin off to peruse the store and offer a contract of my own to Arachne.
Our negotiation is a little more difficult than Taliesin's.
"Shares? Are you mad?!" she whisper-yells indignantly.
"Is it really that insane? You need start-up capital. You need frontline Rankers to score the best-quality materials and goods. This isn't the time to be meek."
Her eyes flash, angry at the suggestion of weakness. "I know the importance of taking risks. I just don't see the evidence that you're a risk worth taking."
"All due respect, I'm calling bullshit."
She's seething now, but before she can act, I swipe my inventory list over to her.
Her eyes bug out of her head.
Then I send her a friend request and give her access to view my current Level.
"Holy balls on a biscuit," she whispers, dazed.
"I know it's terrifying. You're betting your life on this game. I am, too. And right now, I'm also betting on you. I know you, Arachne. You're gonna own this game, in time. But there's too much at stake, thanks to Zhao Jianyu's crazy-ass wager. He's betting on us, and we don't have time to waste."
Her expression clears, and she really looks at me now. "You're serious. You think you're going to win."
"Is it so hard to believe? I've made it to the top before. You've seen my pretty pretty mantle of gold shit that proves it."
She looks like she wants to argue, but something stops her. Instead, she asks, "Terms?"
"For now, 10%. You've started out in front, but that's going to put a target on your back. I'll be your sword or your shield, whichever you need. I'll also secure you the star deeds to upgrade your shops, and when I'm available, I'll run quests and lead dungeon runs for materials or items you need, too."
"That's all well and good, but what about right now? Sure, you have some wicked materials, but what can you give me that's worth 10% of my life's work?"
"Would enough Reputation to immediately classify you a 1-Star company suffice?"
Arachne stops breathing.
"750 usuable Reputation points in Tara. You put my name down as partial owner of this very fine establishment, and you automatically become a 1-Star business owner. Plus I'll throw in 100 silvers."
Arachne starts coughing.
Red-faced, she wheezes, "We're still in a copper economy right now! If you have all that, you could start your own shop. You could start two!"
"Do I look like a shopkeeper to you? I don't want to own a shop. I want you to own the best business in the Nine Realms, and I want me to make money off your prodigious talents and business acumen."
I expect her to laugh, but the calculating businesswoman returns instead. She knows it's not really a joke for either of us.
"15," she says finally. "We'll start you out at 15%, but you reinvest 5% of all monetary rewards from quests and dungeons, plus 10% of all non-unique materials, items, and drops. All relevant designs come directly to me, unless a quest requires one. When I expand into potions and other consumables, we will renegotiate the contract as necessary."
I shake her proferred hand. "Deal, as long as that expansion happens within 30 days. Here's a Sleeping Draught recipe I scored from a Changeling; pretty sure it's fae chloroform. Maybe you can start here when you find a reliable potionsmaster."
"I have one in mind. Still in the wooing phase, but now that I have the world's only 1-Star shop to dangle in front of them, I should be able to move quickly. Expect expansion within a fortnight."
We quickly draft the contract, and I become part-owner of Silken Strands. We also finish our other business; Arachne gifts me a standard tunic and promises to repair and improve my Damaged Shinobi Warrior tunic by noon tomorrow.
Taliesin makes good on his promise and gifts me Brownie thread, an ultra-rare material that increases repair success rate by 70%, and has a 40% chance of imbuing the repaired item with a random enhancement. I almost feel bad taking it...until he assures me he could get more if he ever needed it because Brodie the Brownie is his little buddy and would be happy to help.
My reaction is to bonk the kid on the head, so I do.
Arachne's reaction is to aggressively interrogate Taliesin until he's a freaked-out mess, and then convince him to find Brodie and convince the Brownie to move into Silken Strands.
This is why I'm the brawn, and I leave the business execution to her.