1 1. Rations

By the time we had arranged for the rest of the work, all the items that we had ordered before, had soon arrived - the clay bottles, the porcelain soap dishes, the red label stickers for the clay bottles, the billboards with the picture of the STM, the 4 red banners with the name 'Fasuto Japan KabushikiGaisha' in gold lettering as well as more paper glue and red ink bottles.

I got hold of a messenger and asked the owner of the grain store to come forth and within 10 minutes he arrived hurriedly.

"Kind sir, please take a seat. May I know how much is the price for a sack of rice that you had sent us?" I inquired after I had motioned for the owner to take a seat.

"Is...Is there anything wrong, young master? The price is 2 gold and 5 silvers." He replied with a slight jitter in his voice.

"Nothing is wrong, I wished to ask you if you could repack 4.5 tonnes of rice in 10 kilograms packaging?" I inquired after I had made the appropriate calculations.

"We could do so since we have last season's harvests which exceeds more than 6 tonnes for Kitakata itself." The owner was proud to mention the reserves that the town had.

"How long would you take to repack them and deliver to the east side?" I inquired after I had discovered the reserves that would be enough to go round during the distribution for the needy.

"We need more manpower, Young Master, as well as logistics for it to be transported. We would need about 10 days to do it." The owner calculated and gave his estimation that would be feasible for the whole operations.

"Alright then, hand me the cost and the date to be sent. It will be at the East Side monastery and the rice packets should be stacked in 10 rows in front of the 'Smiling Buddha' statue. Once you are ready to deliver, please notify us one day earlier and we would fully pay the whole settlement with you and then you may proceed. Remember, one day earlier, so we could plan our next move." I highlighted to the owner and he took a mental note of it.

"Yes, young master. May we know why is the need to have so much tonnage of rice in 10 kilograms packs?" he finally summed up the courage to inquire the purpose.

"It is for the less fortunate, just like you and me. That is all and please report to us once you are ready to move out." I replied and then only hinted to him and not the whole matter since I would not want people to be too excited over nothing before the time comes.

"Yes, Young Master. I take my leave now and get back to you once the required amount of rice has been packed." the owner replied as he prepared himself to leave as he bowed slightly to me. "Thank you, kind sir," I replied as I bade the rice dealer farewell.

"CFO-san, would you need us to help you in any way at this moment? Because we still have a little over a week before the end of the month." one of the execom members inquired with Hiko-sama after they let me settle the matters with the rice dealer first.

"Hmm, well... You all could go for a trip to the 3 towns and take orders for the Refined Iron. Then look around for information on mines such as iron ore and coal and check whether it has been exhausted or not. If it is being run by someone, check how much they are selling per wagon load for all the ores. At least we do not have to provide any manpower to extract those inside the mines."

"Get back to us with the information and wait for the whole process of cosmetics and beauty products. We had ordered a total of 100,000 pieces of soap dish bowl and another 50,000 Hae Shanpu clay bottles and another run of 5000 red labels for each category of Hae Shanpu scents. Looking at the rate of production at this moment, we could expect the Karada Soap to harden in a few days time and then it would be cut and packed accordingly." I highlighted to the three execom members as they were being assigned a new task for the next few days.

"CEO-san, please ask the elderly couple how much he would sell the land and we could pay them offhand and help them to move if possible. I have plans for the building of 3 more warehouses, each one for each production and increase the manpower to three-fold right now." one of the execom members explained to me.

"Don't rush for this expedition of yours, if possible inform the Blacksmith alliance that we could offer the Refined Iron plates twice a month at a standard flow of 500 pieces of Refined Iron per Blacksmith so we would be able to control the production and delivery."

"There would be a total of 47 Blacksmith from the 3 towns, and 3 from here. If each absorbs 500 pieces every 2 weeks, their total per delivery for the 47 of them totals to 23,500 pieces every 2 weeks or 47,000 per month. Just them alone would make you busy making at least 4 trips to the town and each week to deliver Refined Iron and Cosmetics every other week."

"This would be inclusive of the STM every few days. But we will plan on the logistics on how it would be for the end of the month. So the first priority is the collection of orders from the Blacksmith alliances, followed by iron ores and coal mines."

"Take with you these banners and this billboard. These are to display at the glass shop in front of the three locales. Hire 3 sales lady to entertain the inquiries of the STM. The locale needs to be painted and cleaned and get a work table with a shelf and 4 chairs."

"One for each of you, 2 for the customers to sit and one for the sales lady near the shop front. Anything you need to know about this STM please ask Hiko-sama. Cash price and the instalment scheme are clearly stated on the billboard itself."

"Compile the paint job and the furnishings and I will settle it after you had done so. At the meantime, you need not stay there as you already would have a sales lady to help you out the very moment the start of the operation. Let me know the dates and we can ride with you and do a soft launch and perform a short demonstration for the public of each town to watch and then entice them to make the orders as we would explain to them on the convenience to own such machines and how they would find doing their laundry would not be a chore anymore but as a form of exercise and enjoyment...!"

"If there's nothing else, you can move out by tomorrow or day after. Dismissed."

The men stood up, saluted and sat down back which means they are not the ambassadors anymore and there is no more talk about work. "Kid, can we ask for some of the hair shampoos because we had some the other day and wanted to try some others too."

"Hahahahaha... Go on right ahead then. Let the girls know you that you are taking some for your own use. At this moment, use a rice bowl or something to store those Hae Shanpu, alright? Wait for the official bottles to be ready and then you can just come over to the factories and help yourselves to the merchandise."

I burst out laughing because one moment we are so formal and the next we are like friends. After the men had helped themselves to some shampoo that they had carried in a small rice bowl, another idea struck me right above my head.

"Sensei, do you know where they sell candles here in the trading district?" I inquired after watching the men carrying the small bowls that contained the Hae Shanpu in them and were sniffing the bowls as they walked out from the factory.

"Why do you ask, kid? Do you have something in your mind? Better spit it out and share... Hehehehe." Hiko-sama asked as he rubbed his hands as he can visualise a huge florescent circular tube right above my head like a halo.

"We can make Scented candles next! The moment I saw the seniors carry the bowls of shampoo, it struck me as it looked just like candles. Hahahahaha... We can make another killing... Swwiiiingg... Ssswwwiiinnnngg..."

"Hahahaha... The Hitokiri strikes again! In that case, comes let's go to the trading district to take a look." Hiko-sama and I then proceeded to the trading district to look for those who manufactures and sells candles. We found a chandlery and stepped in and there were rows and rows of candles that had been designed to be the normal household use type. We asked the owner if he would sell his main ingredients instead.

"Masters, thank you for the honour of coming to our humble shop here. We have been making candles like this for many years passed down by generations and this is the first time I heard someone who wants to buy these spermati." the proprietor explained after we had made a short tour of the shop and its contents.

"Oh, is that the main ingredient for the candles? Tell us more about spermati." I inquired since I had not heard about it before and was thinking that candles were made from an older ingredient such as beeswax before in the 15th century onwards.

"Masters, the spermati comes from the fat from the sperm whale head and the small organ would normally be as much as 1 tonne to 2 tonnes in general weight depending on the age of the whale. The spermati is insoluble in water so after we had taken the organ, we would normally break it down with a chemical to make it solid with no taste or smell."

"Then we heat it up and mould it in this longish container suspended by a wick and once cool, a candle is formed."

"How much is the spermati that you had bought?" Hiko-sama inquired the proprietor since anything involving costs would also involve him as well.

"We had bought it from a small whaling village near the northern side of Japan and its a supply of 3 months each. If you are interested we could sell it to you for a silver per litre."

"So it comes to you processed and solid and ready to be made into candles?" I inquired since I would not have the resources to make the necessary equipment for us to turn the raw material into the main ingredient.

"Yes Masters, it's in solid form and all we need to do is heat it up and mould it. It's a dying business I heard and it would be replaced by a substitute later and the cost of making these candles would be higher."

"In that case, we would like to make a proposal, how about selling us a 50-litre drum for 5 gold pieces? At least you could make a quick profit rather than the laborious process of making a dozen candles at a time? If you have 10 barrels of 50 litres of them, we would like to buy all of them! "

"Yes, Masters. We so happen to have about 14 or more barrels. If you were to buy at the agreed amount per litre as what you had mentioned earlier, we would be able to deliver it to you today or the day after." Upon hearing those words that came from the proprietor, we were feeling elated and Hiko-sama was wondering how we would be making those candles and be selling them like hotcakes.

"Good, please send 10 barrels of 50 litres plus the required length of the wick to Fasuto Japan KabushikiGaisha and we would pay upon delivery," I suggested to the proprietor and he was elated that he was able to get rid of the stock that was collecting dust in his storeroom. Making a fast buck without going through the hassle was a good way to generate income.

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