"Be careful what you say. A man's word is his bond; a single careless one could easily bind you to an unwanted path, or ruin your reputation. It takes only a single utterance to undo a lifetime's work." ~ excerpt from Principles of Nobility by Duke Fisablen.
Auguslo personally brought a large number of administrative officials to House Norton's camp. He didn't believe Lorist really had magic beast furs worth over a million gold Fordes and he really hoped he had been teasing him. He was destined to be disappointed. All the appraiser he brought along agreed that the pelts were worth at least 1.67 million. Lorist's asking price was a massive discount.
Lorist watched gleefully as the king signed order gloomily. The sun was truly shining brightly. His luck was great. He managed to sell the normal pelts, usually hard to get rid off for a great price. The house had a large store of them already so these weren't worth anything to the house themselves.
Cotton didn't exist, so silk, linen, and hemp were usually used to make warm clothing and other items like blankets. Grindians, who were indoors for most of the winter usually used leather and fur to make outdoor clothing, and best among them was magic beast fur.
The first years of his reign as the head of the house saw it fighting the magic beast wave every winter. They had accumulated more than enough to supply the domain for decades to come. With the market saturated, though in principle the pelts were very valuable, there wasn't an easy way to turn them into money. The situation was worsened by the fact that untreated fur and leather had a shelf life. Since the materials had to be treated differently depending on their intended use, the house couldn't pre-treat them and store them for later sale, which meant that if they weren't sold relatively quickly, they would become and worthless. The market price for the materials wasn't very good in The Northlands either. Households that needed the material to replace worn items just went out and hunted for it themselves, so he also couldn't wait for an increase in demand and sell the stuff at a higher price then.
When Lorist established the domains naval presence, Petersen Merchant Guild bombed with the information that there wasn't actually much of a market for pelts and leather anywhere on the continent.
How could that be possible? He clearly recalled that when he was 20, Charade dragged him to participate in a risky mercenary mission that involved exploring an underground cave. Because of the immense cold, Lorist had no choice but to purchase a singlet made of magic goat pelt to keep warm. As he remembered, the fur his house had stocked up should be a hot product given how he sold furs back when he still hunted magic beasts as a mercenary.
President Peterson gave him an explanation that simply baffled him. The lack of a market wast because people didn't want or need pelts, it was simply that nobody could afford them. The guild was the largest fur trader on the continent, they held a complete monopoly on the Union's market, so their knowledge could not be brushed aside.
While magic beast fur was much better at resisting the cold than human-reared livestock, the common folk mainly used the latter given that the former was easily over three times as expensive. The guild could only really profit off the small trade because they sold them at hiked prices.
Given their position, they would certainly not let his pelts flood the market, it would destroy the delicate balance they had spent years building. President Peterson also warned him that mercenaries were the main users of the fur. The common folk would never spend that kind of money on clothing they were only going to wear inside, for which they were overkill.
The guild was also only really interested in dealing in high-value goods. The rich were far more generous with their coin. In total, the guild only bought a few exceptional pelts worth about 500. The more common varieties were wholly undesired. And they were exactly what the house had in bulk.
Given how much effort it was to properly treat furs for storage, it was far more useful to just turn them into clothes for his soldiers. The king thought Lorist was very invested in training his force to be elite winter troops, so much so that he was willing to spend ludicrous amounts of money on their material and training, but the reality was that it didn't cost him much. It wasn't that he was obsessed with having a good winter military, but that it was just a more convenient way of using the materials and time he had. It wouldn't cost him much to make the winter clothes, he already had the material by the storehouse, and he had to pay his men their salary anyway, so instead of having them sit in their barracks the whole winter, he might as well have them do something productive.
When he led Tigersoar to hunt in the demonic lands, most of their prey was dire wolves and some herbivorous magic beasts. Similarly, their furs had high value but a non-existent market.
He could still remember that he had once considered selling the pelts in bulk at the price of livestock leather and thought the low price would let him forge a market. But the Peterson Merchant Guild turned him down. The supervisor said that if magic beast fur was sold at that price, it would collapse the price of normal fur and decimate the market. When the supply then ran out, there would be no livestock fur industry to replace it.
The house hadn't feared the freezing winter when they had moved the refugees the previous winter because every person got a set of magic beast fur clothing for free. The abundance of rest stops and the fast travel facilitated helped as well. If he declared his house used the most magic beast fur on the continent, no one would argue the point. The annual winter training also swelled his stock by over 100 thousand. His storehouses had never been fuller.
The furs he got from the recent hunts weren't much use to the house as materials, and the delicate market made it nigh impossible to sell off. Had this been a time of peace things might have been different, but, alas, it wasn't.
So far he'd only bothered to ship the best pelts, like the skins of gigantic swamp crocodiles, back to the dominion because they would always sell. He had yet to worry about the rest. He certainly didn't think the king would take such an interest and end up taking them all off his hands. He couldn't be happy about this turn of events.
These days, fools are just as hard to find as rich tycoons.
He had offered the discount and included a few of the remaining precious pelts to make sure the deal would go through. He also agreed to sell a few catapults at 150 gold each without hesitation. He'd even offered to sell them 2500 carroballistae he had with him, but the king would have none of it.
Auguslo considered House Norton's catapults the world's ultimate weapons. They were far more flexible than the simple lever-style catapults, even in defensive situations. At the very least, they were mobile, not the fixed emplacements that were so easy to target.
The house's carroballistae had tempted him. But the advent of shield carts they had become far less attractive. No one but the greatest fools still deployed armies without proper protection against them. Whether it was offense or defense, shield carts had become a standard in the continent's armies. And they were always improving.
He only had six million gold left and he had other things to do with his money, so he turned the sale down. He couldn't wait to form his new standing legion. The campaign hadn't ended pyrrhically as he had expected, and he was thankful for that. It made it much easier for him to move on the next one quickly.
He needed a strong force in the kingdom as soon as possible to keep the alliance, Duke Fisablen, and his three new vassals in check. He planned to rest for two or three years and rebuild his military strength before taking on the Union. He wasn't afraid of having too much money. Even what he had felt like too little, instead. It would have been preferable to have wiped the rebellious dukes out rather than taking them back under his wing.
Kings had to be true to their word, Auguslo could not just withdraw his offer to buy all Lorist's pelts without good reason, a predicament Lorist exploited excellently. He forced the king to buy all the furs, even though it cost him three times what he had expected to spend.
Auguslo was filled with regret at his previous enthusiasm. What on earth would he do with so many furs? Fortunately, the duke had mentioned the possibility of reselling the leftovers in the capital, words his one financial advisor didn't miss. The only problem was that it wasn't going to be a quick sale. Just as Lorist could sell off his furs in bulk, so too could the king not sell his stock in bulk. The risk of collapsing the market was too great. He could only hope to make a small profit from the leftovers over several years. Even so, it was still a much-needed consolation.
He was far more frugal after blowing 1.2 million on fur. The purchase of several catapults was a welcome surprise, but he didn't want to spend any more money on the man. He had his craftsman duplicate the designs, but the metal parts were impossible. The steel just couldn't be replicated. Without the steel the replicated catapults were useless.
Lorist wasn't too disappointed at failing to sell his carroballistae since they were going to be useless soon anyway. Both the catapults and the carroballistae would be completely obsolete soon after he returned to the northlands. Wear and tear was a thing in this world, after all.
Tigersoar didn't get many kills during the war, but they played an essential role in putting the enemy under pressure. Their preferred tactic was to assault under heavy cover-fire from carroballistae and catapults, a tactic that proved very effective.
A good catapult in prime condition could fling rocks up to 500 meters. This didn't last long, though, its effective range dropped with every shot. It didn't take long for the range to drop down to just 320 meters, which was where the catapults used in the campaign were now. The carroballistae were in much worse condition. They were used really frequently to hunt magic beasts in the demonic lands. Most of the beasts died by bolt. But the constant use took a great toll on their steel arms. Their effective range had been decreased from 300 to just 230 meters.
Lorist estimated that they would be rendered useless after another two or three hundred shots. Since Auguslo wanted to buy the catapults, Lorist tried to push the carroballistae as well. It was too bad shield carts were a thing.
On the 10th day of the 9th month of Year 1783, He made an easy sale and returned to The Northlands with gold Forde notes worth millions. Tigersoar and his guard regiments returned with him; Felim and Shazin accompanied them with their forces as well.
While Auguslo had taken eleven provinces, he wasn't the biggest winner. Of the four dukes he claimed were traitors, three had submitted and one escaped. The king had no choice but to accept the conflict was a result of a misunderstanding and could not continue to label them traitors either. Chujway's take on the situation was the worst part. When the truth of the conflict spread, his cruel and harsh personality was made known to the rest of the continent's nobility.
The whole campaign did absolutely nothing for his reputation. Instead, it ruined it even further. Some nobles of the provinces' minor nobles would rather be stripped of their titles and fiefs and continue to serve the dukes than be the king's vassals.