Chapter 427 Be Careful Who You Recruit
"You intend to join our tower?"
The frail Gargamel evaluated the apprentice standing before him with suspicious eyes.
"Yes, sir!" Billis begged anxiously, "Sir. If you allow me to continue my studies here, I promise to fulfill my duties as an apprentice obediently!"
Gargamel narrowed his eyes and continued to look over the apprentice.
Hmm, beginner apprentice. No troublesome family or clan background, and a wandering apprentice. Judging from these factors, the chances of him being a spy from another clan was reasonably low. If an adept clan wanted to spy on Fire Throne, they would at least have to send an advanced apprentice over. Otherwise, there was no way Greem would assign the apprentice to any critical positions, and therefore there would be no value to spying.
Sending such an untalented beginner apprentice here and hoping he could slowly claw his way into the upper ranks to obtain the secrets of the tower; even Gargamel wouldn't do such a pointless thing, let alone those sly and sneaky clans.
It was almost a certainty that this person was a poor apprentice with nowhere else left to go!
An ugly smile finally appeared on Gargamel's face once he understood this.
"The tower has just been constructed, and we do need manpower. We normally wouldn't accept a wandering apprentice like you with no letter of recommendation or guarantor…"
A trace of nervousness appeared on Billis' hopeful face.
Gargamel quickly spoke again.
"However, given your sincerity, I can give you a chance."
"Thank you...thank you." Billis couldn't help but betray an expression of immense joy as he gave his thanks.
"Don't thank me yet. Everything still depends on your performance!" Gargamel made a grabbing motion in midair, and a metal talisman that didn't look metallic appeared in his hand, "Put your magic emblem in it and always have it on you. Go and find Advanced Apprentice Toril and have him assign you a room and a job. You are an apprentice of Fire Throne from now onwards!"
"Yessir. I'll go now!" Billis obediently placed his personal emblem into the metal talisman and put it into his pocket. He then bowed respectfully before leaving.
Eva's beautifully seductive figure only appeared beside Gargamel once Billis had left, "Why did you recruit this rookie apprentice? Aren't you afraid of creating potential trouble in the future?"
The wicked Gargamel instantly turned into the most caring and kind husband when he saw Eva arrive. He carefully helped Eva sit down, then pressed his right hand against her flat abdomen. Gargamel silently sensed for that unique pulse of life.
Even though he couldn't sense any soul energy in it, the strength of the life force had become significantly stronger than before.
Eva glanced at Gargamel unamusedly, but the corners of her eyes filled with pride and love.
"A kid like this might not be all that powerful, but they are the best candidates for trusted deputies!" The two of them flirted for a little bit before Gargamel suddenly explained, "The tower has finally established itself here. What comes next will definitely be an immense development phase. It doesn't matter whether it's from the master's clan or another clan, spies will be sent here. Planting a few of our own before that happens will allow us better control of the situation in the future."
"Hmph," Eva didn't care for all this, "You human adepts are just like that. You scheme too much. To plot and fight so much over a tiny adept's tower."
Gargamel shook his head, "This isn't trivial at all. These are huge benefits we are dealing with! In all honesty, the entire stretch of Black Forest within a radius of two hundred kilometers became our property the moment the tower was constructed. As long as the tower doesn't fall, no one can take this away from us. According to my estimations, the Kamala Clan will be sending ambassadors over in a couple of days."
"Kamala?" Eva frowned as she asked, "You mean, the adept clan located closest to Pinecone Town?"
"Of course!" Gargamel had practically become the majordomo of the tower ever since Greem handed over most of the tower's control authority to him, "If they are too slow, the old fellows from the Zhentarim Association will hear of this too late. Then, all the benefits here will have nothing to do with them."
Gargamel stroked his wispy goatee as he spoke. A fierce and proud light shone from his small eyes.
"You mean the Zhentarim Association will be sending people over as well?"
"Not only will they come, but they will also come very soon!" Gargamel laughed coldly and gleefully, "Still, these guys have always been proud and arrogant. It will be up to me if we want to take advantage of them. Keh keh keh…"
One had to mention Gargamel's excellent understanding of the adept clans. His experience of wandering for a hundred years had given him insight that most didn't possess.
On the second day after Billis joined Fire Throne, the Kamala Clan's ambassador and Adept Hatch of the Zhentarim Association arrived at the tower at the same time. They also brought their respective clan's goodwill and contract.
The Kamala Clan brought a contract of equal cooperation. Both parties would be of equal status and collaborate in the development and excavation of the resources and land of the forest around Fire Throne. The Kamala Clan would provide the workforce and create a small human settlement between Fire Throne and Pinecone Town. This settlement would have to be able to host a thousand men. On the other hand, the adept's tower would have to guarantee the safety of the workers and civilians involved.
Once more and more land was cultivated, the Kamala Clan will own seventy percent of the area and the citizens. The adept's tower would have the remaining thirty percent without paying any additional price.
It was an excellent and purely beneficial proposition for Fire Throne from every aspect!
After all, this was Greem's personal adept's tower. It would be hard for him to obtain the full-hearted support of the Sarubo Clan. Without the clan to support him, Greem could only count on himself. Where was he to find a suitable population for his lands? Where was he to obtain the capital required to turn the wild lands of the Black Forest into a property suited to human settlement?
If Greem wanted to own this land exclusively, he would have had to reject the Kamala Clan's offer and develop it all by himself. That meant that the majority of he would have to spend the majority of the next hundred years on the trivialities that were construction and town management.
All this was unacceptable to the ambitious Greem!
On the other hand, the Zhentarim Association gave far harsher conditions.
As long as Greem agreed, the Association intended to build a public city with Fire Throne at its core. However, the old fogeys of the Association were unwilling to part with control over the city. They were only willing to split the monetary benefits of the city with Greem.
In doing so, all the income from the land, citizens, resources, and mines would be converted into magical crystals and given to Greem. In exchange, Greem would not be allowed to interfere in any decisions of the public city.
These were extremely harsh conditions!
In truth, Greem didn't find anything attractive about either party's conditions.
The Zhentarim Association's stipulations were far too harsh and practically deprived him of all influence. The Kamala Clan, on the other hand, couldn't come up with anything that Greem desperately needed.
They were interested in the land and the resources, but Greem was only interested in the latter.
Land and citizens? Could these things allow him to advance to Second Grade?
At the moment, Greem was only thinking of how to improve his own abilities. He was indifferent to worldly power and wealth. The massive land and endless resources would only be useful if he had a mature and stable clan system behind him. These lands and its population would then continuously churn out new talents and heirs for the clan.
However, right now, Greem was fighting on his own. Even if he had an endless stretch of territory, he didn't have the energy to slowly cultivate apprentices and train clan adepts loyal to his cause!
That was why Greem didn't want to accept the offers of either party.
However, in doing so, he would offend the local powerhouse along with the elders of the Association. It wasn't hard to imagine how troublesome things might get for the Fire Throne!
Just as Greem was hesitating, the well-prepared Gargamel leaned up to his ear and whispered. The fire adept immediately broke into a smile. Greem was reinvigorated.
Gargamel's plan was utterly sinister!
Thus, on the second day of negotiations, the magical creatures once again descended upon the tower.
A party that had passed through the Fire Cave and gone adventuring in the northern side of the forest were suddenly attacked. From a party of five, only a single rogue had survived.
Commotion immediately broke out when the rogue returned to the temporary base, covered in blood.
Could the peace and silence of the Black Forest over the past month have only been an illusion? Could there still be magical creatures around this place that hadn't been exterminated? Had new magical creatures entered these unguarded territories?
A series of questions caused the mercenaries and adventurers to become increasingly anxious.
They were already at significant risk when hunting those predators of the woods with their abilities. If they ran into those terrifying magical creatures, they would not be able to survive. Even if they had ten times the manpower and ten times superior equipment, they would still die to the strange and powerful spells of the magical creatures.
The surviving rogue was promptly brought to the tower and questioned by Greem in front of the ambassadors.
They had been attacked by a magical creature thirty-five kilometers northwest of the Fire Cave. It had been a terrifying demon hound with two heads. It had led a pack of twenty or thirty fiend hounds and ambushed their camp in the night.
The rogue's companions were slaughtered without resistance. Only the rogue had the good fortune to escape with his life. The rogue had also managed to overhear the demon hound's conversation with a terrifying Medusa.
It seemed they were organizing another stampede to assault the tower once again.
This information came as a surprise to all the adepts!
Editor Ryu: Gargamel is starting to shape up into an interesting character. I need to see him and Snorlax together.