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Chapter 124 – Business

Now a two-story building that towered over its surroundings, the Starry Night Potion Shop gained an exterior constructed entirely out of white stone. Radiating a dazzling brilliance, the shop was breathtaking to behold. With intricate, beautiful designs carved into each pillar and crossbeam, they left any who gazed upon them in a state of reverie. Even the interior of the shop received a makeover, as the furnishings and containers appeared ever tidy and pleasant to the eye.

Shortly after being summoned, Bird entered the shop through the doorway.

“Boss, I’m here!” Bird called out as he staggered into the shop and glanced around, seemingly lost in admiration. It really is a Tier 2 shop! I wonder who the owner is, he couldn’t help but inwardly exclaim.

“Mhmm… Good, I have a little task for you,” Nie Yan acknowledged, then continued, “Starting from today, I’ll be leaving you in charge of this potion shop, at least for now… and I’ll assign you with a few tasks. As for benefits, if the shop does well, you’ll receive a bonus at the end of each month. Naturally, I won’t overload you with work. After all, your main goal should still be improving as an Alchemist since according to basic convention, you’ll only start getting a salary when you become a Junior Alchemist.”

“W-wait, you’re the one who opened this shop!?” Bird emotionally exclaimed. He knew Nie Yan was wealthy, but he never expected him to be this wealthy. He heard from others that buying up a plot of land took at least one gold, opening a shop required two gold, and upgrading one cost upwards of five! Such exorbitant prices would leave the vast majority of players overwhelmed, wallowing in despair at their own inability. As for him, the prospect of opening up a shop was similar to staring at the clouds on the horizon, beautiful but perhaps eternally out of reach.

However, even though he was only acting as the shop manager, being entrusted with such a responsibility left him feeling touched and filled him with great satisfaction.

“Of course I’m the one who opened it. Why else would I ask you to be the manager? Anyway, let’s get down to business. In a little while, a batch of potential hires will be arriving through these doors for an interview. For now, I don’t want to reveal myself, so I want you to hire them in my place. As for the relevant arrangements and information, I’ll send them over to you in a bit.”

“I understand.” Bird simply nodded his head.

In that respect, Bird could be considered quick-witted, almost immediately understanding the underlying meaning of these words. For some reason or another, Nie Yan didn’t wish for his identity as the shop owner to be known to the public. As for the exact reason why, he didn’t dare to ask.

“Good, since you seem to understand, let’s move on to explaining your job. The NPC over there is Insei Rais. He’s the salesclerk of this shop on the first floor, while the second floor is a workshop for the Alchemists. For you to be able to do your job, I’ll allow you the privilege of withdrawing a portion of the shop’s money from him. Use it to buy alchemy ingredients so the workshop upstairs is always fully stocked. At the end of each day, bring everything that was produced over to him, because he’ll be in charge of selling them. As for setting the prices, you can ask me. Finally, there’s one more slightly inconvenient task I need to ask of you. Give me a report of the shop’s income and expenses at the end of each week. Since the system automatically calculates that for you, it shouldn’t eat up too much of your time,” Nie Yan instructed. Whenever something came to mind, he would supplement with further detail on the spot.

As Nie Yan spoke, Bird quickly noted his words down lest he forget, though it seemed his daily workload wasn’t going to be all that much. As long as he properly managed the shop, everything would be fine.

Nie Yan thought, If it’s like this, then even if I don’t personally manage the shop, it should still be able to operate smoothly under the procedures I’ve set. Plus, there shouldn’t be any flaws in these policies either.

Suddenly, he spotted a hesitant look in Bird’s eyes, as if he wished to say something yet didn’t dare to.

“What? If you have something to say, just say it,” Nie Yan said as he glanced at Bird.

“Boss, it’s like this… With so many people applying, many of them already being Junior Alchemists, why did you pick me?” Bird hesitated for a moment before finally asking the question that was brewing in his heart. If he hadn’t, it would have kept gnawing away at the back of his mind.

Nie Yan chuckled in response, then said, “It’s simply because I felt you were more deserving of trust than others, that’s all.”

“Trust, huh…” Bird took a deep breath. It had been a long time since he last heard anyone say that to him. When he was at his lowest, even the dogs would avoid him. When he chose the name Bird Leaves No Eggs, he did so as a subtle jab at himself. However, since then, he had staggered along and crawled to his current position. If he were to turn timid or afraid now, then he would be no more than a useless scoundrel! Especially in a time where no one believed him, having even a single individual put faith in him meant that much more. “Thank you,” Bird said from the bottom of his heart.

Nie Yan simply smiled. After explaining the matters regarding managing the shop, he continued, “There are two Alchemists you should be especially mindful of. The first is Quiet Nannan while the other is Still Grieving. Listen carefully to their conditions for employment, then inform me of them.” With those two, as long as they didn’t go overboard with conditions, he would happily employ them.

“Alright, I understand!” Bird nodded his head, though he felt a bit of unease creep into his heart. After all, these two were Junior Alchemists while he was but a mere Apprentice Alchemist with a below average concocting success rate. It was no wonder he was feeling slightly pressured.

Bird had yet to fully embark on the path that would lead to him becoming the Alchemy King. So at present, he was no different from an ordinary Apprentice Alchemist.

“How long will it take you to become a Junior Alchemist?” Nie Yan asked.

“I think… another three or four days at least.”

Nie Yan nodded, then said, “Hurry up and practice. Here, this is a Junior Magic Resonance Potion Recipe. When Quiet Nannan and Still Grieving join, give it to one of them and have them start production immediately. These potions should fetch a decent price in the current market.”

“Right, I’ll pick the one with the higher production rate,” Bird responded, although he couldn’t help but feel dejected. If he were already a Junior Alchemist, then Nie Yan wouldn’t feel the need to hand over such a valuable recipe to others. However, he wasn’t a narrow-minded person. He understood that he had to rely on his own ability if he wished to accomplish anything. If he wasn’t up to the task, then it was only natural for Nie Yan to pass it on to someone who was.

The relationship between a contracted Alchemist and the employer was roughly the same as a mutual collaboration. By providing them with alchemy ingredients and recipes, as well as being in charge of selling their concoctions, the employer would receive a majority of the profits while the Alchemist would receive a base wage and a smaller share. If the Alchemist received a lucrative recipe from the employer, meaning the concoctions they created sold well, then they too would be able to bask in the profits. However, if the employer provided a recipe that wasn’t profitable, then both parties wouldn’t earn much.

“Don’t worry, there’ll be better recipes in the future. I have a few Anti-Petrify Potion Recipes with me. Hand one to each of the Junior Alchemists and tell them to focus their production on these. I’ve also stocked the workshop upstairs with various kinds of alchemy ingredients, seven thousand portions to be precise. Two thousand of them are for Anti-Petrify Potions,” Nie Yan said. After so many visits to the auction house, he had already amassed a large quantity of potions, recipes, and the various ingredients required to create it. He also acquired over eighty pieces of equipment with Resist Petrify +7 or higher. He purchased most of them for under thirty copper while buying the ones with better properties for fifty copper at most.

Unlike Anti-Petrify Potions, the demand for Black Phenol would slowly dwindle over time because, aside from the Werewolves in Sosil Valley, there weren’t many other places that had monsters with fear toxin. As for Anti-Petrify Potions, they would be useful for quite a long time even after the hype around Medusa’s Lair died down. Therefore, their price would always remain stable.

Although Nie Yan had purchased a large quantity of Anti-Petrify Potions, the amount being poured into the marketplace was simply too much. Even though he would still have an influence on the market, causing the price of Anti-Petrify Potions to rise, he wouldn’t be able to hold a monopoly over the market like he did with Black Phenol. Nonetheless, the price of Anti-Petrify Potions would still rise by at least five times. A 400% return on investment was enough to make most people go wild with joy.

Medusa’s Lair was known as one of the harder and more profitable dungeons. Hence, the teams that were able to run it were also ones that could afford the related expenses.

The most valuable was still the equipment with Resist Petrify. Although the Gorgons didn’t particularly have high attack, their Petrify ability was extremely difficult to deal with. If the player continuously used Anti-Petrify Potions to remove the status effect, then the number of potions consumed in a day would be staggering. However, if the player’s Resist Petrify stat was 14 or higher, then there was basically no need to fear being petrified.

If three or more frontliners were outfitted with Resist Petrify gear, a team would be able to save at least twenty silver after running Medusa’s Lair for a day. However, frontliners couldn’t wear too many pieces of equipment with low defensive stats. Optimally, they would only have one or two. Otherwise, if it were three or more, the decline in survivability would completely tank and the team could easily be wiped. As a result of this, the value of equipment with Resist Petrify +7 or higher became that much more apparent. A single piece of such equipment, no matter how lacking it was in other categories, would sell for at least ten silver. And just like that, he would be able to make a profit of at least eight gold or more.

After settling the matters regarding the potion shop, Nie Yan was preparing to leave, when suddenly, a twenty-six-year-old man in an ash-gray robe walked into the building. He glanced at both Nie Yan and Bird before his gaze finally rested on Nie Yan’s body.

“Excuse me, do you two know if the shop owner is here?” the player asked. From his perspective, between Bird, an Apprentice Alchemist, and Nie Yan, the latter looked more likely to be the owner.

As Bird’s gaze fell on the player’s neck, he noticed the collar of his robe was embroidered with a flower design using silver silk. A hint of envy flashed through his eyes. It was exactly this silver flower design that represented a dream that he had yet to achieve. It signified the honour of a Junior Alchemist!

Nie Yan shot a glance at Bird from the corner of his eye. Finally, Bird walked up to greet the player.

“I’m the owner of this shop. Do you have any business here?” Bird answered. He didn’t seem the least bit hesitant or lacking in confidence. In fact, he actually somewhat possessed the airs of an owner.

“Ah, I see. My name is Quiet Nannan. I heard you were hiring Alchemists,” the player responded. When he heard Bird announce himself as the shop owner, he was truly quite taken aback. However, on second thought, it did make some sense. The genuinely wealthy players often wore plain and simple clothing.

“With so many major guilds recruiting, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding work as a Junior Alchemist. So why did you come here and apply to my establishment instead of working for those major guilds?” Bird answered back with a question as he stared fixedly at Quiet Nannan.

Hoh… Nie Yan lightly nodded his head in approval. Earlier, he had informed Bird that he didn’t want players with hidden motives joining his shop. It seemed Bird was quite prudent and knew exactly what sort of questions to ask.

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