Chapter 7:

Chapter 7: Scaling

A Black Market LitRPG

A week later…

“It’s working like a charm.” Slavin was gushing over how much money had been made over since the introduction of the Stamina Recovery Potions. “How are you getting all of these potions?”

“A new trade secret of the Seven Snakes,” Kyle replied nonchalantly as he tallied the earnings.

A tidy sum of eight thousand rakels over seven days was a significant boost to their revenue. Assuming nothing wrong happened, they were set to make more than forty thousand rakels from this brothel alone every month.

With the potions, the number of repeat customers had increased, along with word of the brothel spreading. Rumours of the vigorous intensity of the sex workers went viral through the district, prompting even more to visit them.

Kyle still had plans to scale this further. “Read this.” He passed a rolled-up parchment over to Slavin, who glanced through it, shock even more evident on his face as he read.

“Impressive. Loyalty programs and points will surely make even more customers come in multiple times. Especially when you lock the stamina recovery potion behind the program.” Slavin remarked with a surprised look, wondering how the young man had so many ideas. The idea was not unique, but Slavin had never even thought of applying it to a brothel, of all things.

Kyle nodded in response, moving on to the next subject. “With the stamina potions available for your workers, you would have more of them coming in.”

“Yes, the size of the brothel isn’t enough to accommodate all of them. Even if they were willing to work today, I wouldn’t have a room for them…” Slavin sighed.

“How much to expand to the next floors?”

“It won’t cost much, about two thousand rakels a month in rent for the next floor. We will still have to do a fair amount of work, though – the place was a complete trash pile the last time I saw it. We will need movers to clear the floor before I get the construction crew in.”

“If I get you your movers, how long will it take to construct?”

“Hmm… a week at most. The cost will be about six thousand rakels if I remember correctly. I’ll have to check with Reyas again.”

“Approved. Get it done as soon as possible.”

Returning to the Seven Snake’s base, Kyle rallied all of the associates, pausing the production of potions as well as the training that had been ongoing for two weeks now. Kyle could already see slight improvements in the physiques for nearly all of the gang members. Damian too was shaping up to be much fitter than he was before, though this was only the beginning of the training.

Kyle glanced at Keith who was standing at attention as well. “Have you been training as well?”

“Yes, sir, though not to such an extent due to my additional duties.”

Kyle inspected Keith’s body, noticing there was almost no difference between two weeks ago and now. He said nothing except nodding, but Keith could already read volumes from his disappointed gaze. Keith had always been one of the weakest in the gang, only kept around because of his prior scholar education as well as being Damian’s younger brother.

Kyle expected every member to be strong – even his accountants. However, if this was the result of two weeks, Kyle was not expecting any significant improvements on Keith’s part anytime soon.

“The training regime will be temporarily paused. Instead, we will clean out an expansion space, one floor above the brothel, to make space for expansion.” Kyle explained.

“You mean the Lusty Arcian?” Damian piqued up.

“… Yes.” Kyle still barely remembered the name of the brothel. It mattered little to him, only how much money he could make. Everything was about economies of scale.

The associates got ready, moving over to the new floor above the brothel with Damian in the lead. With Slavin’s quick connection to the owner of the building, they immediately got access.

Damian entered the floor, almost recoiling at the stench. It was clear that a few squatters used to live here, with their refuse and junk all over the place.

“Work fast! The faster we move, the more money we’ll make! Don’t you want to be rich?!” Damian ordered, issuing tasks and focusing on which to clear first. The doorway was narrow, so some of the more significant trash that had somehow fused together in a burnt slag pile had to be broken apart.

Over the loud clanging of metal, Damian was overseeing the cleanup diligently, helping out wherever an extra hand was needed. Suddenly, he felt a cold shiver run down his spine as a soothing voice spoke extremely close to his ear, its breath tickling his skin. “Oh, Damian dear, you’ve grown up so fast.”

Damian immediately launched his elbow against whoever was behind, only to be stopped by Slavin, who grinned widely. “You used to be such a cute naïve boy. Now, look at you, underboss of the Seven Snakes.”

A bright red blush began to appear slightly on Damian’s ears. “That was five years ago; stop teasing me!”

“Do you remember when you first came to the brothel, a new pure soul? Oh, the screams of joy I heard from your room that night…”

Damian’s face flushed, with a wave of snickering breaking out through the gang members who were clearly listening in while working. “That was only the first time, alright?”

“Sure, darling. Oh, look here, what a cutie you are.” Slavin suddenly walked up to another associate, grabbing his chin and viewing him from all angles. The associate desperately tried to break free of the grip, pulling his head away. However, the grip was rock solid, Slavin only smiling slightly.

“You seemed to be a new face too, and you got great looks. I think you could be the flagship worker of the Lusty Arcian! How about you come work for me at the brothel? Kyle seems not to appreciate your talents. You’ll be much better treated here. Customers would love you! And don’t worry; I won’t take all the profits. You’ll get a nice cut.”

Fucking hell, am I getting scouted? While the associate was slightly happy at being praised for his looks, the thought of being a sex worker did not appeal to him. “I-i-I think I’m good,” the associate said with squashed cheeks as Slavin let him go.

Slavin frowned slightly. “A pity. Oh? How about you?” His eyes lit up again, locking onto another target to add to his employees.

The associates worked as fast as they could, spurred on by the harassment of Slavin’s employment advances. Within a single day, the floor was cleared and spotless, allowing the construction crew to begin work on the expansion.

Kyle remained in his office, calculating the total profit. The bulk purchase of ingredients and flasks made the potions exceedingly cheap. It only cost about twenty-seven rakels per potion at the current market rates, which meant that even if he sold the stamina potion for half the price of what Haui sold it to him for, his profit margin would be tenfold.

He could sell it for way lower at a profit margin of twofold, but that would draw unwarranted attention and bring him into direct conflict with Haui and perhaps the Alchemist Guild. I’m still laying the foundations for my own cartel - we’ll have to play it slow for a while. Moving too fast with this will backfire rapidly.

Instead of selling the potions outright, it was only provided to brothel customers. Repeat customers could purchase it through the loyalty program, with quantity limited by the number of times they visited.

This reduced the number of waves that would ripple, allowing him to build up his supply system slowly. He glanced at the office table, noting the district map with the gangs’ territory marked out. The Red Lions are our closest neighbour. Hmm, it should be about time.

Kyle called for Damian into his office. “It’s been about more than two weeks since I took over. I think it is about time.”

“Time? Time for what?”

“Expect a few small skirmishes with the Red Lions soon. With the roaring success and rumours of our brothel, it would be surprising to see them take no action at all. Post two associates on rotation to watch for any movements or advances. Any issues, report back to me immediately. Do not fight without me.”

Night-time soon came around again, and this time the brothel’s queue of customers even extended all the way out into the alleyway, with dozens of repeat customers willing to wait half an hour to get their fix.

Niko was there in the queue, having waited about fifteen minutes. His leg continuously shifted as he rubbed his hands constantly, a slight jitter visible in his eyes, which darted around the alleyway. He scratched his neck feverishly, feeling that constant numb feeling that permeated his jawline and gums as he continuously slackened his jaw.

No one in the queue really talked with each other, all far too focused on getting to the counter. Niko soon made it to the counter, meeting Slavin for the second time. “Oh, Niko, back so soon?”

Niko scratched the back of his neck while he laughed nervously. “Haha, yea… is Ellie around? I would like to have her again if possible.”

“Sorry dear, she’s currently occupied, if you don’t mind waiting for a little longer. Maybe an hour?”

“That’s no problem, I can wait…” Niko’s eyes darted to the stamina recovery potions on display shelves behind the counter.

Slavin caught on, a slight grin appearing on his face. “The first two were on the house since you’re a newcomer. You’ll have to buy the potions through the loyalty program now.” He explained the loyalty program to Niko.

Niko instinctively got it – the more you visit, the more you can buy. “This is my second visit, right? So I can buy one?”

“Yes, you can. It’s three hundred rakels. Want one?”

The price was high but less extravagant than some of the other alchemist shops nearby in other districts. Niko had done his research, and he knew that doing so would tank his savings tremendously. However, his first time in the brothel was nothing short of a life-changing experience. Slavin could even visibly see Niko begin to radiate more confidence.

Niko was about to hand over the money when a large commotion broke out outside the brothel. Slavin lost his grin, an angry expression coming over his face. “Sorry, Niko, let me just head on outside to deal with some ruffians.” He cracked his knuckles before heading out.

Curious about what was happening, Niko returned to the stairwell, only noticing that the alleyway had been blockaded by more than a dozen guys, all wearing red armbands with the crest of a roaring lion on them. They were split in half, covering both ends of the alleyway.

“Been hearing all about your good business, pimp!” The captain of the Red Lion’s crew spat on the ground, fiddling with a hammer with neon red arctech engraving along the head and handles. He was the only one wearing some form of armour that was arctech, too, while the rest had basic metal pipes and sticks.

“It’ll be a real shame if some hooligans were to break down and scare away your loyal customers. Perhaps you need protection from someone strong, like me. Name’s Lionel.” A dirty grin erupted on his face while he performing a mocking bow.

Niko noticed the queue was gone, with most of the queuing customers willing to stay behind in fear of getting beaten up. They were here to have a good time, not get into a gang fight. Those who remained were already contemplating making use of the impending havoc to grab a few stamina potions, though they held themselves back, knowing that the Seven Snakes would hunt them down.

He contemplated leaving, but it was already too late – he and a few other customers were trapped inside, with Slavin protecting them. Niko felt useless, weak and incompetent in the face of the dozen Red Lions. What the fuck have I been doing with my life? Working a dumb factory all day, only to get caught in a fight with no real skills to defend myself with…

“Indeed, a real shame. However, we’re already protected and covered under the Seven Snakes. So sorry for that, Lionel,” Slavin spoke eloquently with a tinge of sarcasm, crossing his arms. He was at least a head over most of the gang members, but it did not intimidate them in the slightest.

“Seven Snakes? That old fat pig Ulon? Bah, he hasn’t left his den in years! Looks like you need a lesson on who calls the shots here. ” Lionel scoffed.

Slavin’s expression remained stoic, staring down Lionel. However, deep down, as strong as he was, he knew he could not fend off this many fighters from raiding the brothel. I’ll have to get the customers to escape through one of the other side entrances, though it’s far too cramped. His eyes glanced at Niko, who was already trembling as he cowered in the stairwell.

Before Lionel could order a raid on the brothel, a cry of pain erupted from the spilt group of Red Lions opposite him. A loud commotion erupted among the six members, seemingly fighting something.

“Haha! Which idiot decided to interfere?!” Lionel smirked, knowing that his Red Lion members won’t lose to any street thug. Most likely, it was a drunk customer trying to defend the brothel or something. At any moment now, he would expect to see a beaten-up body of a no-name.

However, he instead saw a dismembered limb with the Red Lion armband sail through the air towards him, which landed in front of him with a bloody thud. A wave of shock rippled through the Red Lions while a wide smirk appeared on Slavin’s face as he realised who it was.

“It seems you’re about to receive a lesson yourself.” Slavin grinned, rolling up his sleeves.

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