Chapter 654: Chapter 654 – The Sensible Five Nights
Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
Five Nights was very despondent, and Deep Waters’ laughter only made him all the more unhappy. He could also sense that the other party in this negotiation was not particularly sincere, which meant that they were not troubled whether they collaborated or not. The deal would go through if the conditions were favorable, but they would simply walk away from any commitment if they were disadvantageous, completely lacking in the intent of actively hashing things out together as a show of goodwill. This sort of partner was best avoided when normally encountered, but when the proverbial pie in question was the efficient monster grinding routines, these two men were the only ones able to do this business to the best of his knowledge, so giving up on them would be equivalent to giving up on the entire deal itself..
Thus, while Eternal Dominion and Gu Fei could afford to be unconcerned, Five Nights was definitely unable to do the same. After contemplating over this, he finally bit the bullet and snapped, “Then, how about this; you two shall work together with our market researchers to do a proper planning and evaluation of this project, as well as get an initial forecast of potential profits. We’ll then take that 20% of the value as the commission’s baseline, so even if we are unable to attain the result we predict, we can still pay you according to the sum we agree on. Surely, you two gentlemen will be reassured at this rate, right?”
Five Nights made sure to emphasize on the words ‘two gentlemen’ when he said this because this project was ultimately a collaboration with Eternal Dominion, but this Thousand Miles Drunk would always be interfering causing trouble from the sidelines. Five Nights had lost his composure in that moment and slightly revealed a bit of his mood. He could already tell that if it were not for Thousand Miles Drunk’s intervention, Eternal Dominion could very well have been bought with just the 2-million RMB offer. Five Nights was remorseful! He should not have hurriedly approached these two men together but should have attempted to understand either man a little better first before privately seeking out just Eternal Dominion, and everything would have played out as beautifully as he wanted. Now, he was in a situation where this annoying fly by the name of Thousand Miles Drunk was buzzing about, impossible to abandon no matter how much Five Nights wanted to do so, and it was truly a vexing ordeal.
Gu Fei had no idea if what Five Nights had proposed was acceptable, so he turned to look at Deep Waters.
Deep Waters chuckled. “This predicted result you’re referring, is it the revenue, gross profit, or net profit? Please be plain with your words.”
When Five Nights saw that even this final condition could not be fudged, he could only regretfully answer, “This… shall we go by gross profit?”
“What’s the difference?” Gu Fei asked.
“Gross profit will be revenue minus the main cost of operation, net profit will be the revenue minus all expenses, which includes tax and the ilk.” Deep Waters gave a simple explanation before turning his gaze onto Five Nights with a smile. “Gross profit? When did workshops have something like gross profit?”
Five Nights instantly knew that this newcomer Gu Fei had pulled over was not for show and was definitely someone who knew how everything in a workshop operated. Generally speaking, gross profit would be the revenue after the deduction of initial costs incurred, and this would usually refer to the cost of purchased goods, like when selling something for 1000 dollars, the 400 dollars cost for initial purchase meant their gross profit would be 600 dollars. As for the cost of labor, transportation, water, electricity, rent, and other such expenditures would all be deducted when calculating the net profit. However, workshops deal with virtual goods and currencies in MMOs, and these products would be directly handled by the game system, so how could there be any initial costs that needed to be considered? That was why there was no such thing as gross profit in the workshop business, since there were essentially no costs to bear.
If this was handled by someone who knew little of the business, this gross profit would be treated as a general condition, allowing the workshop to have a final say by randomly stringing up some excuses or reasons to create some sort of ‘initial cost price’, which would naturally end up going into the pockets of the workshop. Of course, that meant the 20% after such a deduction would be much less than what they could have originally earned.
“Brother Five Nights, we’re all people who know what we’re doing, so don’t make things more convoluted than necessary. The cost of the workshop business is nothing more than the labor cost and price of setting up accounts. You can throw in the electricity bill as well, and if you’re really shameless, and maybe even calculate the depreciation cost of the gaming devices used. Of course, I know that Remarkable Flair is now a legitimate organization, and you guys would love to include the costs incurred by your office site, administrative expenses, and other such expenditure into the mix… so if you’re really intending to do that, I don’t think we can have an agreement here.” What Deep Waters was talking about was definitely things Gu Fei would not have even thought could be factored in, so this trip that Deep Waters had taken was at least meaningfully justified.
Seeing that the other party had someone who really understood how everything worked, Five Nights had no choice but to openly state, “Of course, we won’t be calculating all that in, but if the final scope of this project turns out to be very huge, the expenditure on manpower will be equally higher. Perhaps, there won’t be enough members in our workshop and we will be forced to hire other external players, so when looking at the labor cost, shouldn’t we include it into the equation? Of course, the sum will be astronomical, and we can talk things through when assessing the project’s prospects together. The final profit subjected to the sharing will thus be the revenue minus the cost of a few areas we both agree to include; how about it?”
Deep Waters listened. Five Nights was finally done with the tricks and doing this properly. This suggestion that he raised was basically fair to both parties, and he sent a message to Gu Fei. “We’re almost there.”
Unexpectedly, Gu Fei wrinkled his brows. “What do you mean by prospect assessment and that we still need to calculate the cost we need to bear? We don’t know any of those things!”
Five Nights nearly blurted out that what he wanted was for them to know nothing, but he obviously held his tongue. Furthermore, this could not be considered to be a trap of any sort. If everyone worked together, considering that this portion was the most linked to the final division of profits, the workshop would be sure to set their potential costs to the highest plausible amount and make a more conservative estimate for their revenue. Meanwhile, Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion would go in the reverse. The challenge here would of course be finding out which party had a more familiar understanding of the business, and even though Five Nights really hoped that these two clueless men would personally step up to this task, he knew that Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion would not be so foolish to do so. Rather, they would most likely make this person who seemed very accustomed to how workshops operated participate in their stead.
Who is this person? I’ve already asked for his name, yet he hasn’t answered me. Could it be inconvenient for me to learn his identity? Five Nights contemplated over this. If this person was from a sizeable workshop, similar in scale to Remarkable Flair, he would surely make a beeline for their aid the moment news of the potential collaboration came to light. Why else would Five Nights be so anxious and seek to act quickly regarding this matter? Was it not out of the fear that other workshops would swoop in and snatch this business from his grasp? The efficient monster grinding routines had came into existence so prominently that every workshop out there was keeping an eye on it! Five Nights might have taken the first step, but the emotions he was feeling was a mix of shock, glee, and fear; he was deathly afraid that someone would come in and disrupt his negotiations to make off with this deal right under his nose. Seeing that this person had actually come here to negotiate with him right across the table, this should mean that he was not a competitor. Still, since he was not of such a background, why would it be inconvenient for him to reveal his name?
Five Nights was delighted to find out that both Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion knew nothing when it came to market research, and was no longer bothered to raise any other idea. Thus, the two martial artists turned to regard Deep Waters, and all that man did was sigh. “I wish to help you guys with this as well, but I’m afraid that I can’t do so for the next step of this matter.”
“Why not?” Gu Fei asked.
“Because I’m Deep Waters!” Deep Waters laughed.
“Deep Waters!” Five Nights abruptly stood up. The table was not flipped by his sudden motion, but the glass of liquor before him had tipped over as a result, spilling its contents all over the plate of barbecued meat before him. Five Nights raised his fists, grinding his teeth as he glared hard. He looked like he was about to beat Deep Waters alive.
Deep Waters was still grinning as he spoke to Coco, who was seated beside him, “Look at that expression on his face now; this trip has truly been worthwhile.”
Coco threw him a side-glance, not saying a word. Obviously, she knew that Deep Waters and Five Nights had a history with each other.
Gu Fei started rapping his knuckles on the table when he saw this sudden change, placating Five Nights, “Don’t get so worked up. It’ll be very disadvantageous if you guys get angered and fight now…”
“Ha ha ha! That’s right. Very disadvantageous!” Deep Waters said even as he settled himself right next to Gu Fei, feeling completely secure.
Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage had of course heard of Deep Waters’ name, but that was because he was once among the Five Unyielding Experts. Neither knew of the animosity between Deep Waters and Five Nights, but seeing how Deep Waters seemed to have a good grasp of workshop operation, both men could already guess the Archer had probably done work in Remarkable Flair or some other workshop, which forged enmity with Five Nights as a result. These two nervously kept their eyes on Five Nights, worried that his moment of impulse might compromise this deal. Even though their superior had snatched the meat from there, there would still some gristle and soup for them if everything went ahead without a hitch. If negotiations completely broke down at this point, there would not even be fishbones for them to suck on. The very injustice that this would be a result of a private grudge that Five Nights held with the other party only made this all the harder to swallow.
Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage exchanged glances, hoping that the other would step up and calm Five Nights down. At the same time, they felt that doing so might be untimely and would only serve to aggravate him further; thus, neither man dared to make a move. But Proud Sovereign’s expression soon turned somber, and Overgrown Foliage instantly felt tears streamed down his face. D*mn. If I don’t step up and appease this higher superior, I’ll be angering my superior, so what do I have to worry about here?
Helpless, Overgrown Foliage was about to bite the bullet and get up to coax Five Nights from doing anything rash, but who knew that this director of six cities would demonstrate how different he was from the average person? At the very least, he was able to keep the bigger picture in view, and that momentary lapse of anger he showed had already subsided at this point. He set the toppled glass upright on the table and no longer spared Deep Waters another glance as he addressed both Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion directly, “So shall we take the first step and set this collaboration as such? I’ll establish a dedicated team for this project and proceed to conduct market research and assessment with you two. I’ll get the proper contract done up soon and send it over to Brother Dominion here. What say you?”
“He he he! Look everyone; that’s indeed what it takes to conduct such momentous deals! Willing to let things go on a whim, the past is nothing compared to the present!” Deep Waters blustered openly even as Coco harshly hit the man. “That’s enough out of you!”
Seeing that such a huge deal was about to be set in stone, Coco felt that it would be too much of a disservice for Eternal Dominion and Gu Fei if everything fell apart all because Deep Waters’ provocations agitated Five Nights. Thus, she was a little annoyed at how Deep Waters was still playing around, seemingly unaware of propriety in the face of the stakes involved.
However, it was not that Deep Waters had no sense of propriety at all. He had already learnt about Gu Fei having no wish to collaborate with this workshop any longer during their initial exchange of messages, which was why Deep Waters began negotiations with the sole intention of boldly stirring up trouble throughout the entire deal, but none of them had expected Five Nights would lay out a proper plan in spite of all the wrenches they tried to throw throughout this process. This regional director from Remarkable Flair navigated all the pitfalls and focused on nailing down this deal, thereby allowing him to resuscitate negotiations once more. Deep Waters had not wanted to end up making the trip over for nothing, so he revealed his IGN, at least to see just how mad Five Nights would get upon learning his identity.
Deep Waters was rather satisfied with the man’s reaction, but Five Nights very quickly controlled his emotions, not letting it get the better of his actions and continuing to properly present his deal with great clarity to Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion. This undercut the enjoyment Deep Waters got from it.
Five Nights coldly harrumphed as he swept his glance onto Deep Waters. “We’ve got plenty of time to hash out our matter.”
Deep Waters cried out to his left and right in mock fluster. “Ohhh… I’m so scared. So very scared!”
Five Nights did not say anything further, fixing his eyes back onto Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion. “Then, we shall first get on with the work on our end and will contact you guys at a later period.”
With that, he hurried out of the room with Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage.
The moment they got out of the barbecue joint, Proud Sovereign quickly slid right up in line. “Shall we call the men of Fire Squad to take care of Deep Waters?”
The Fire Squad from Remarkable Flair was a specialized team for dealing with combat-related incidents. The level, equipment, and skill of the players in that team were all exceptional. Every workshop had a similar team under their wings, and if some of the bosses from these workshops were originally passionate gamers, these combat teams would usually be used like their personal armies, answering to their beck and call. Such teams would not turn too much profit in this way, but they would often be the boss’s favorite bunch of subordinates.
It would be rather unfortunate to have a boss like that. Thankfully, Remarkable Flair’s boss was a right and proper businessman. Profits were the priority, and he placed a higher regard to those with great business acumen, as well as talented individuals good at organization and communication. That was why Remarkable Flair’s fire squad was not particularly strong, but they would not have any worry about taking on most players, even if they were at the caliber of the Five Unyielding Experts. When people from the workshop were angered while brokering deals with their clients, some rather unsavory men would plead their colleagues in the fire squad to help teach those people a lesson for them. As for those in leadership positions, it was naturally all the more common for these men to abuse their power for personal affairs.
However, Five Nights only glared at Proud Sovereign when he heard him raise such a suggestion. “Do you know why I was in such a hurry to leave? Didn’t you see Thousand Miles Drunk and Eternal Dominion? The two weren’t very interested in this deal, so there’s a limit to the amount of sincerity they would show us. It’s pretty obvious that Thousand Miles Drunk was partial to Deep Waters back there, and if we let Deep Waters continue insulting us, there’s a high chance that those two would simply reject any deal in a moment’s impulse. That’s why we definitely can’t touch Deep Waters at all; got that?”
“Then, what’s going to happen now that we’re gone? What can we do if he manage to convince those two not to work with us?” Proud Sovereign asked.
“I don’t think it’ll come to that. It’s pretty clear why he made a trip out here for this round of negotiations, and his priority was to help safeguard those two from a disadvantageous contract. He’s not the type to ruin his friends’ deal all because of a personal vendetta, which is why what we need to worry about is agitating either Thousand Miles Drunk or Eternal Dominion.”
Overgrown Foliage spoke after hearing all that. “Actually, our workshop doesn’t have to get involved if we want to deal with Deep Waters. I can just pick some men from my guild and send them his way. There’s no way that he can tell who they are from.”
“It’s best if we do nothing,” Five Nights refused. “A gentleman’s revenge isn’t bound by time. The important thing right now is to make sure that our project is properly done, so let’s not stir up unnecessary trouble. Send a message to our men in the city to take proper care of Eternal Dominion and Thousand Miles Drunk if they spot the pair. At the same time, take note of the movement from the other workshops. I’m going to draft the contract right away. There’s no way I can feel settled until we get this contract signed. Alright. Get to work, everyone!”
“Okay…” Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage wanted to help their superior vent his anger but ended up snubbed, instead. They cursed to themselves even as they each left to get the job done. Five Nights was really concerned about this deal, so he hurried to the nearest spawn point to log out and properly start his work.
Back in the barbecue joint, Deep Waters bragged once more. “So how was it? I haven’t come over here for naught, eh? I’ve helped you secure this deal, and it’s valued well in the millions, too!”
“It’s really baffling that people can earn so much from gaming….” Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion sighed in awe.
“You guys have a limited horizon.” Deep Waters shook his head. “Let’s just take the gamers of yesteryear as an example. Seeing those professional gamers around them busying about, repeatedly doing the handful of things that they were caught up with, people would think it seemed like they were incapable of earning much in this fashion; But why are they not wondering if what they could see was nothing but the tip of the iceberg? These players could only see what these workshops were doing in one server. Considering the different types of businesses those workshops ran across all the various game servers, what they witnessed must be multiplied in the hundreds, or even thousands, before they could understand just how much workshops truly earned.”
Gu Fei nodded his head before asking, “So there’s no issue with this contract, right?”
Deep Waters rather unwillingly answered, “Even though I really hate that guy, I must say that the man didn’t pull any tricks this time. The contract can be considered as fair. As for the market research portion of the contract, you guys will have to find someone who knows about such things as that will be part of the negotiation process, but you must ensure to find someone whom you can trust. In the workshop business, sometimes, there are those who would simply look out for their fellow man’s interest, so if you look for men in another workshop to do this assessment, it’s not unusual for the competitors to end up working together just to fleece you, ultimately spinning a narrative that will see you losing a big chunk of your earnings; casually taking 10% under the table would be more than enough to justify betraying your interest, too.”
“Where can I find such a person? Why don’t you just come along with me? While Five Nights isn’t honorable, I can tell he’s quite sensible, and he’s rather sincere in trying to make this deal work. No matter how much that man hates you, he’ll be willing to bear it if you end up doing it for us,” Gu Fei said.
Deep Waters nodded. “He’s not the problem; I’m the one who’s afraid of messing everything up due to my emotions. If it were me, I would’ve contacted another workshop and watch them compete and bid against each other over making the deal. He he! Do you guys intend to do something like that? After all, you guys are a valuable and unique commodity.”
“Forget it, then!” The two men wiped their sweat.
“Hey! What’s wrong with that. This is actually how business is done, trying to outwit and even cheat one another. People who establish workshops ain’t sh*t, anyway. Might as well take advantage of them as much as you can, while you can!” Deep Waters said.
“Why do you hate workshops so much?” Gu Fei found it strange, for there was no way in this world hatred would exist with no rhyme or reason.
“That’s a long story,” Deep Waters said.
“‘Long story’, what nonsense! Isn’t it just because you think that a workshop was what caused Sword Demon’s guild to disband?” Coco blurted out.
“Oh? Was there such a thing? Tell me about it!” Gu Fei said.
“You wanna know about the fall of the guild? Now that’s actually a real long story. I don’t remember it all too clearly now, but a workshop having a hand in the affair is what this guy believed. Sword Demon and Young Master Han’s view on this differed, but the point is, this guy here has always gone out of his way to mess with people from workshops ever since that incident. Take that Five Nights person; you guys shouldn’t dislike him and think that he’s done something terrible to make Deep Waters want to take him down; that’ll just be maligning him,” Coco said.
“Of course, we won’t.” Gu Fei laughed. “Just from how the two interacted, it’s clear just who was the one getting bullied.”
Moments ago, it was Five Nights who was so angry he looked as if he wanted to beat up the other man, while Deep Waters was seated there all pleased with himself. Even a blind man could tell that Deep Waters was the one who had done something to Five Nights, which caused the latter to develop such a deep seated hatred toward the former.
“That guy just isn’t a good egg, anyway,” Deep Waters reasoned.
“Why would anyone who works out deals for workshops be a purely decent character?” Coco reproached Deep Waters.
“Which is why I say workshops aren’t sh*t. I hate them the most!” Deep Waters declared.
“Scram!” Coco was exasperated.
“Is this matter a long story as well? If you remember the details, do tell me about it!” Gu Fei requested.