Back in the times where I studied the history both on my own and while listening to my class teacher, I never imagined how important the water connections would be for the people living in the times that now turned into my own timeline. With all the automation, mechanisation and most importantly - cars and roads, I simply couldn't understand what was so great in living beside a big river, outside of the easy access to an abundant source of water.
Yet after a slightly painful trip on top of Helga's back during which I had to adjust my tempo to the unimaginably slow speed of the carriages when we finally reached a small town on the right coast of the Vistula river, I finally got my answer to the doubt I had ever since learning about the water transportation all those years back.
As soon as the most important wares that would be instantly required in the Sandomir were moved on top of those simple boats, the governor along with some of his most loyal men boarder the first barge and invited me in. With no other choice, after making sure that the all the barrels with my beer found its way to one of the other barges that would normally remain idle all the way to the harvest season outside of rare situations like the one we had right now, I accepted the invitation and boarded the wooden vessel.
And then I realised how wrong I was so far when disregarding this kind of transportation!
Despite two paddlers priming the way in front of the transportation barges, the rope that held them together was constantly loose, with the only source of our momentum coming from the flow of the river itself. Yet even then, judging by how fast we were skimming through the vast expanses of land I could already tell that while the marching speed for the horse was still a bit greater, compared to using mounts, the boats didn't tire at all!
In just three hours we moved all the way from the small port to the River docks in the major city of Sandomir!
Even though I hoped that I could instantly unload the cargo and go around the town selling it to every merchant willing to buy it, as soon as Jan saw my eagerness to start working, he had to force me to slow down and take it easy. Unable to refuse the direct order from my superior, I could only swallow this sour pill and sit down on my bottom in the chamber of the Sandomir's palace, anxious about wasting so much time!
Yet contrary to my expectations, as soon as the morning of the next day came, rather than putting me through a set of official feasts or even a proper breakfast, the governor himself leads me to one of the merchants that had close ties with the palace, instantly liquifying all my assets at once!
Instead of wasting quite some time on the city market, trying to convince everyone that by selling my beer at a price several times higher than what a normal beer would be sold at wasn't a mistake, I managed to exchange all the barrels still kept on the barge for a weighty sack filled with gold coins without even a single moment wasted on negotiations!
While I was quite happy to get this useless load off my back and wanted to go to the market myself to procure all the resources necessary to start the development of my mines before I could even leave the place, the very same merchant already promised to deliver iron, bricks, mortar and even the food required to feed all the workers I would have to bring while promising to rally up a group of at least one hundred people to work under me!
At this point, I couldn't help but suspect that rather than being a merchant, this man was just the governor's retainer tasked with fulfilling all the requests I would have just in order to put me in debt of his lord, yet when all the details were finally discussed and most of my money that I just got had to be returned back to this man, I had the chance to see him board one of the most exquisite carriages I ever saw in my life!
With its walls decorated with true gold, and doors with a real, clean glass that I didn't expect to see in this time and age, I finally have begun to believe that this person was, in fact, a huge merchant, capable of providing all the stuff I required but also smart enough to believe when Governor recommended a product himself!
"I know what you were thinking, and no, it's not one of my men dressed in fancy clothes. If you are willing to use at least some of the haul from all those projects of yours, there won't be a better trading partner for you than him."
From how respectful the governor was towards this rich person, I could tell that rather than being just a big and wealthy merchant, his influence had to reach far further than I expected, maybe even all the way to the northern, port city of Gdansk (Danzing). The fact that he, as a trader, managed to create such a powerful position for himself in this nobility controlled country, only meant on how crafty and decisive he had to be!
Thinking about his position and what it would mean for me, I couldn't help but once again think about the silly idea I had whenever I looked at the map of the commonwealth in this period. If all my projects turned out to be as successful as I hoped they would, then maybe connecting the northern ports on the baltic sea with the southern trade hubs lying on the coast of the black sea could become a reality?
"Sir, what is the name of that man?"
"He is Dantan Grunning, a polonised Noble whose family got exiled from the Saxon Electorate. Rumours says that he built his power with the help of the Hanseatic league."