System Change

Chapter 68: Negotiations

Chapter 67: More Business

After being seated, Derek looked around the room. The bottom floor of the restaurant was packed full of nobles. It would be impossible to hide what had just taken place. Derek expected the rumors to be all over the noble and middle-class districts by the time they left the Crown. Of course, this is what Derek wanted and the reason he had not asked for privacy.

He was, however, beginning to get irritated at the nobles around him. They made no attempt to hide the fact that they were using Identify on him. Naturally, all of their attempts failed, which caused even more commotion in the already lively restaurant.

Soon, a waiter arrived to take their order. “I have been instructed to allow the entire bottom menu, free of charge. Would you like that?” The man asked.

That seemed fine with Derek. He was sure that his group would have no problem finishing one of everything, especially with the gluttonous rabbit with them. “Fine by me, at least I wont have to worry about ordering something I wont like.” He agreed.

The waiter nodded. “I will let the chefs know right away. In the meantime, would you like some tea, or perhaps ale?”

Derek looked at the others. He had a craving for something hot. “Tea is fine for the three of us.” He motioned to Silvi, Thomas, and himself. “He can have whatever.” He nodded to Bronson.

“Ah, yes. Tea will do nicely.” Bronson spoke up.

The man cast an odd look at Silvi before answering. “Right away.” He pivoted and left.

“The entire lower menu… for free. Do you know how much that would cost?” Bronson asked.

“Nope.” Derek replied nonchalantly. In fact, he did not care. Other than raising his reputation, the only reason he was at the restaurant was because he had gotten hungry while walking through the city, and the mystery skewers had not filled him up. He was sure that no matter what food they received, it would be good. A place does not get and keep such a reputation without being exceptional.

Bonson only shook his head in response to Dereks attitude.

Soon, the waiter was back with four cups of steaming hot tea. “This is our very own Crown Tea. It is known throughout the kingdom as one of the very best.” The man said as he set the cups in front of them.

Derek nodded at the waiter and picked up the cup. Moving it to his lips, he took a small sip. It was good, but not quite to Dereks taste. The tea had a fruity undertone and was very smooth, he could feel the small Vitality boost he received by drinking it. As an “uncultured” American, he preferred coffee to any kind of tea he had ever drank. In fact, the more bitter the coffee, the more he liked it.

At that thought, he got an idea. Why didnt I think of that before? He looked to the waiter. “Is Stella still around? Ive just thought of something else that she may be interested in.”

The man looked at Derek with interest. “She is. She is on the third floor, in her office. Would you like me to notify her?” Derek nodded. “Right away, sir.” The man said and took off up the stairs.

“What now?” Bronson asked.

Derek smiled. “I dont even know if its possible yet. Ill tell you later if it works.”

Not even two minutes later, the waiter was back down and at their table. “She is a little busy, but you can go up if you wish.”

Derek nodded and stood. He looked at his group. “Save me something to eat, I am hungry.” He turned back to the waiter. “Lets go.”

After following behind the waiter to the third floor, he came to a part of the building that was much different than what he had already seen. Must be the business floor. Soon, he was in a hallway and was let to a door. The waiter knocked on the door and waited for an answer from the other side.

Soon, the same melodic voice rang out. “Come in.”

The man opened the door and walked inside. “Madam. I have brought the guest.”

Stella, seated behind a desk littered in papers, nodded and dismissed the man from the room. He shut the door on his way out. She focused her gaze on Derek. “Have a seat.” She said and waited for him to take his seat. “So, I hear you may have another proposal for me.” She spoke coyly.

Derek chuckled. “Actually, I do. But Im not sure if what Im looking for is possible.”

“Oh? What is it you are looking for?” She asked.

“Well… I assume you have botanists and other types of plant type mages for growing your fruits and vegetables, correct?”

“Yes. We have a few here, and many others in our other host cities. We also have hunters that we pay a premium to for their kills. What are you thinking?” She asked, intrigued.

“Are your mages good enough to reverse engineer a plant? One that has already been processed, dried, roasted, and ground.”

“I cant promise anything, but they may be able to. They can experiment and grow things based on taste too. That is how we originally made our tea. What is it that you have?” Stella seemed even more interested.

Derek placed his hand over the table and one of the coffee canisters he had appeared on the table. He opened the lid and slid the can over to Stella. “This is a special beverage from my home, I havent seen anything like it since Ive been here.”

Stella took the can and pulled it towards her nose. “Interesting smell. Hows the taste?”

Derek smiled. “You got a couple cups? Ill need some near boiling water and a small funnel.”

“Is that it?” She questioned.

“Well, some people enjoy it with cream and sugar. Actually, its a pretty versatile drink. You can experiment until you find the taste you like best. I prefer it plain. Its quick and simple.” He explained.

Stella nodded, then grabbed a small crystal-like object. Derek could see it lighting up when she injected mana into it. “Okay, it will be up in a moment.” She said.

Derek nodded. “By the way, your guests are pretty rude.” He said, making small talk.

“Oh, hows that?”

“Im pretty sure everyone dining on the bottom floor has tried using Identify on me. They really dont try to hide it.” He laughed and said.

“You will get used to that.” She said.

“I dont mind, but I know some people who would have already slaughtered the entire floor because of it.” He said. Well, I used to know some. Hell, I dont even know if Jace is still alive. Im pretty sure Earth is out of the systems introductory state. I always wondered what that was going to be like…

Stella looked at him, a trace of fear flashing in her eyes. “Identify is a vital skill for hunters, so in Cydaria, they are accustomed to using it on all they see, including people. It is the best way to level it. These people… are they here too? Do they have strength similar to yours?”

Derek laughed out loud. “No need to worry. Me coming here was a happy accident. I doubt they ever come here. Plus, Im sure they would at least try to learn about other customs before causing a commotion.” He said. Well, except for Jim. Im not sure he even knows what the wordcustoms means. “But yeah, when I left, they were probably stronger than me. Thats not to say they could beat me, though.” He smiled.

“Where are you from? If you dont mind me asking. Ive never been outside the kingdom before, and we dont get many visitors.”

“Ah, that is a secret… for now. I may tell you someday. Well see how this… business works out.”

At that point, a waitress knocked and walked in. She arranged the cups, water pot, and funnel onto the desk, along with sugar and cream. “Is there anything else, madam?”

“Thats all, you can go.” Stella said. She then slid the can back to Derek and motioned for him to begin.

Derek pulled a coffee filter out of his storage bracelet. He took the funnel and was surprised by it. It clearly was not used for something like this, but it was almost perfect. He fixed the filter inside the funnel. Then, he put a few scoops of coffee into the filter. Finally, he slowly poured the water into it while holding the funnel over one of the cups.

One must become the coffee pot. He chanted a mantra to himself as he poured. Soon, both cups were full, and he stopped pouring. It pained him to use up his precious coffee, but if he could find a way to get more, it would be well worth it. He set his makeshift coffee maker onto a plate so it would not damage the desk.

Derek slid one of the cups to Stella and took the other for himself. He brought it to his mouth and took a sip. Closing his eyes, he basked in the flavor of the drink that he could only make on special occasions.

Stella did the same. Then, she took another sip, before setting the cup down. Next, she took a spoon and stirred some sugar into her cup before taking another sip. Then she tested it by adding in some cream.

“This… I think I enjoy it with sugar and cream more than I enjoy our own tea. And the aroma is exquisite.” She finally spoke after finishing the cup.

“That means you want to try to grow it?” Derek asked, still savoring his cup.

“Of course. What type of plant is it?”

“Its a small tree that bears cherry-like fruit. Then you have to process the cherry and remove the seed. Then, you dry the seeds. Im not sure about the exact process, Im not a botanist, but Im sure your people could figure it out if theyre able to grow it. Finally, you roast, then grind the seed into the perfect cup of coffee.” He motioned to his cup. It was, by far, not the best cup of coffee hed had, but it was coffee. “And, you would probably do well to make some coffee specific tools to use. Oh, and this…” He pulled out another filter. “Well, Im not sure how its made, but its basically a filter for the coffee.” He gave the filter to her. “I dont have many left, Im sure you can make something good enough.”

Finally, he took the lid and put it back on the can. “So, lets talk business.”

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