America Stranded In A Fantasy World
“Wealth Inequality Is A Nightmare”
Aaron rubbed the back of his neck, realizing he was starting to sweat. He was in a private room and had been waiting for a good twenty minutes for the King to arrive. He had already explored most of the room and found the red cloth couch to be by far the most comfortable thing to sit on. The paintings around the room only showed artist renditions of The White Palace.
“For a King, you're not exactly punctual.” Aaron's annoyance was starting to grow with each passing minute, he could have spent more time at the feast talking with the nobles if it was going to be this long. He had found it most interesting that so far all the people he had met had been pure humans; guess there still was some inequality in this kingdom.
Finally, after nearing the thirty-minute mark, the door to the room opened and the King with two others entered, Aaron shot up from his laid-back position on the couch.
“Your Majesty, I once again thank you for allowing me the time to conduct this matter.” Aaron bowed with the King simply raising his right hand.
“If it means I can feed my people then I will do whatever it takes.” The king sat on a large crimson red leather chair with the two others standing next to him. “This is Viscount Liutswind and Viscount Ratold, my advisors. So tell me, what does the United States want in return for the food?”
With this, Aaron placed his briefcase on the coffee table in front of them and opened it. Taking out a stack of papers he sifted through them.
“Currently my government wants to secure rare earth minerals and more importantly, money. The only issue with this is how our currency works compared to yours.” The King seemed a bit confused by Aaron’s statement but got even more confused when he placed some bills and coins onto the table.
“Our currency is not backed by any precious material but is given value because we say it is. This is what we would call a fiat currency. I assume you know why we will have a problem.” Aaron smiled with the King going into a pensive pose.
“Hmm, and how do you suggest we get around this issue?” Aaron responds by showing the king a graph of the price of gold.
“My government has suggested that they could use our market value of gold to determine the value of your coins. With that, we can do a direct translation to American dollars.” Aaron suggested, with Liutswing stepping forward and pointing to one of the coins.
“May I?” Aaron nodded and Liutswing picked up the coin, examining it. “What material are your coins made from if it isn't gold or silver?” This caused Aaron to shift through his stack of papers.
“I believe it to be nickel, zinc and copper with our bills to be made out of either paper or plastic.” Ratold also stepped forward to look at the odd currency.
“And what stops people from counterfeiting them if they're so cheap to make?” Ratold questioned.
In response, Aaron pulled out an ultraviolet light and shined it onto the bills with a single shining strip appearing and running across the bill.
“This is a security band that only shines when under black light. It is very difficult to forge without the proper equipment and know-how. As for the coins, their worth to the amount of work needed is simply not worth it.”
The two viscounts were astounded by this level of security. To have a currency near impossible to counterfeit was not a possibility with the silver and gold coins they used, even the most complex seals can be mimicked. Defacing a coin's value had always been a tactic during extended wars.
“And how do you give your currency value if it’s so cheap?” The King questioned.
“Because it is trusted, stable, and the only money accepted inside the United States. That is what gives its value. Paper money has had an interesting history inside our country, with it once being tied to the price of gold or silver, but was removed from it in 1933 when our gold stockpiles started to run dry.” Aaron quickly realized that the year probably meant nothing to them. “Oh my apologies, I forgot you don’t use our calendar, From our perspective, this happened a little over one hundred years ago.” But the expressions on their faces did little to settle Aaron.
“The United States is over two thousand years old?” Litewind’s eyes widened at the idea.
“No, America was founded in 1776. The year zero is commonly associated with the birth of a religious prophet named Jesus Christ. It comes from a religion that had a strong presence in our country, though it has lost much of the hold it had; with people now favoring the belief in science and the creation of the universe to be natural, not divine.” Aaron clarified.
“And you never bothered to change it?” Ratold didn't see the purpose of keeping it if the religion had lost its holding. Aaron responded with a heavy sigh.
“It's…rather complicated but to make a very long story short. We kept it because we were too lazy to come up with our own.” Aaron had finally told a white lie, and it seemed the king noticed that one of his rings had its gem shine a bright red.
“Ambassador Aaron please, there is no need to lie.” The King smiled behind his beard but Aaron had still been blindsided by it.
“I beg your pardon? Your majesty, this is the truth.” Of course the ring shined red again, Aaron thought about leaping from the nearest window with the looks the three were giving him.
“Ambassador.” The king's voice grew deeper. “I always knew something was different with your people when you first set foot inside my halls. The first was your abnormal clothing, the second being the way you act around the higher class with little care, but the third was the biggest giveaway. You don’t possess any magic do you?” With that response, Aaron was ready to run for his life. Having a panic switch on his briefcase and inside his pocket, he could have the entire naval fleet bring down its power in a matter of minutes. Aaron leaned towards the King.
“Your majesty, I must warn you. This is some thin ice you are now walking on. I am under strict orders to keep some information classified under threat of being charged with treason against the state.” This time the ring didn't shine which left the king looking a bit saddened.
“Then tell me what you can.” A simple answer that Aaron didn't know how to respond to, they sat in silence for what seemed to be hours until Aaron spoke up.
“...We aren't from this world.” Was all he spoke, the ring stayed dark.
As he suspected, the three were in complete shock, Liutswind was gasping like a fish failing to form words with Ratold just starring. The king simply sat in silence with his eyes closed, processing the information.
“I suspected with such numbers you gave me when we first met, but to hear it is another beast. Why did you come here if you weren't prepared?” The king spoke.
“Believe me, if it was up to us we wouldn't have come here but someone or something forcibly brought the continent of North America to this world. For what reason, we are still trying to figure out, but right now my government is focused on preserving the United States and its ideals. First contact was a priority for us to understand this specific continent and its inhabitants. Now with the prospect of a trade agreement with money and resources my country desperately needs, I am sitting here.” Aaron motioned to the couch.
“I see, this then perfectly explains why I have reports of unknown soldiers roaming around the lands, some freeing those enslaved while others wipe entire castles and fortresses off the map. Am I led to believe these are your soldiers?” The King questioned with Aaron’s eyes lighting up.
“Yes! Do you have detailed reports on where they were spotted?” Aaron threw out the rule book with the prospect of saving American lives, nothing mattered more. “We are willing to pay any damages they might have caused because of the transfer. On our world, we had bases across the planet but with the transfer they found themselves stranded, we are doing everything within our power to bring them home. Even if it means war with a foreign power.”
With a chuckle, the King smiled at the different attitude Aaron had given him. His government really did care about its people to an almost unsettling degree.
“I will have them given to you at once but we have gotten distracted, wasn't this meeting about the purchase of food?” low chuckles around the room relieved some of the tension.
“Yes your majesty, how much will you need?” Aaron readied a pen and paper.
“Our population is around seven million but this is not accurate information.” Liutswind answered, Aaron pondered and calculated the math for a moment.
“So around half a million bushels of raw wheat, to be safe we can double it if you wish.” Aaron offered and all eyes turned to the King.
“Hmm, how much would this cost?” The King narrowed his eyes.
“If we say your coins are pure gold with each weighing three grams, and you wish to buy double your estimate, that's…roughly thirty-four thousand gold coins on the high end. Oh and this is simply enough food to feed everyone for one day and assuming that you have some food yourself this should repeal the risk of famine for a while.
The room went silent once again with the offer finally having a number. However, with the concerned looks on both of the Viscounts, Aaron knew what answer was coming next.
“I’m afraid we can’t afford that.” Liutswind was the first to respond.
“I figured as much. In this case, I have permission to take land concessions as payment or mining rights.” Aaron watched as they shifted their gazes between one another, after a few minutes of this quiet conversation Aaron spoke again.
“Your majesty if I may speak freely.” The King nodded for Aaron to continue. “In our world, we would offer countries that we have an invested interest in the status of ‘protectorate’. This simply means you are either a territory of the United States or a nation that has its independence guaranteed by the United States government, with any action taken against them considered an act of aggression against us. If I can get approval from the president I can make this happen if you wish. Forgive my brashness but from what I’ve heard about this Autoriario Empire, you need it.” Aaron hated being this blunt but in rare cases it has worked. There was a long silence before the King gave his final answer.
“Then I propose this. In exchange for five million bushels of wheat, The Kingdom of Ruppriecht will give ten thousand gold coins and hand over Händluf City to the United States. I pray to the gods that the people will be treated well. However, I cannot accept becoming a vassal state.”
Aaron was nothing short of dumbfounded by the offer, and by the looks of the advisors so were they.
“Your majesty! This is simply too much! An entire city along with that many gold coins? Ambassador Aaron, there must be something else your president wants right? What about those rare earth minerals?” Ratold's voice sounded desperate, but the king raised his right hand. But Aaron had other ideas.
“Your majesty. A vassal state and a protectorate are two vastly different styles of government. If your kingdom were a protectorate we can drastically improve and develop the land, allowing you to become self-sufficient and never fear famine again.” Aaron clarified. “As for your question, Ratold, I doubt you have even heard of these minerals so we would need to bring in our own prospectors to see if there are any and if so, are they worth trying to take out the ground.” Aaron looked back at the King who simply shook his head.
“As a King, it would tarnish my house if word were to get out about this. I'm sorry ambassador Aaron but I cannot accept that offer.” Aaron leaned back into the couch.
“And I don’t think President Dresden will accept the trade of an entire foreign city. We already have our own to care for and have to deal with--” Aaron stopped himself with an ingenious idea. “How about we gain ownership of the harbor and building rights in and around Händluf while leaving the actual running to whomever is already in charge? I would also request that we open the region up to American investment and companies that wish to do business inside your kingdom, your majesty. It would give a significant boost to your economy and ours.”
“As you wish, I can agree to this.” The king replied.
“Then it is settled, when can I expect the deal to be written up?” Aaron asked while putting his papers back into his case.
“I shall have it completed in the coming days. For now, I suspect you would like to learn more about our world?” Liutswind replied, making Aaron grin with excitement.
“Every single juicy detail there is.” Once again, Aaron whipped out his signature pen and notepad.