Volume 8 Chapter 3 Part 3
“So it’s the same as our kingdom after you taught us.”
Using Search Enemy to single out spies is also being applied in the kingdom. The kingdom had suffered the worst incident when it comes to espionage—the takeover of the royal palace and the imprisonment of the king—so a lot of emphasis was placed on countermeasures against spies. I was also involved in the development of the anti-espionage system.
Although, Search Enemy has some problems, because it detects even those who just personally hate you. In any case, it’s not so difficult to identify spies. The problem in the kingdom was rather how to filter information (such as the intelligence officer disliking his boss), and constant surveillance so as not to miss any spies. It’s a Skill that can create rifts in personal relationships, so I instructed Count Meigis’ troops to avoid using Search Enemy as much as possible when it’s not related to their duties.
“So, we haven’t been able to assess your accomplishment, and it’ll most likely stay that way in the foreseeable future,” the king said. “With no objective way to calculate reward, I thought we could negotiate instead.”
“I see… In that case, do you have any reward scheme we can use for reference?”
“We do, actually. Personally, I’m thinking the best reward that can be given to knights who have distinguished themselves in battle.”
The best reward that can be given to knights who have distinguished themselves in battle… It sounds like something I wouldn’t be too happy to receive. In fact, I can already guess what it’s going to be.
“Please tell me it’s not a domain.”
“Spot on. You’ll also get a noble title, the rank based on the size of the domain. Since the kingdom’s territory is no longer expanding these days, there are really few opportunities to give out lands. Especially ones that are big and excellent. What do you think? Will you accept?”
“I don’t want a domain,” I said curtly.
I knew all too well how troublesome domain management was from watching Count Meigis.
“That’s too bad. We were able to obtain some good land.”
“Did you actually get any from the previous battle?”
This ‘war’ was a victory for the kingdom, but it doesn’t mean that we got any new territories. There was a proposal to use the attack from the Empire as a pretext to launch a counteroffensive and take a part of the Empire’s territory, but there was a high possibility that it would lead to an all-out war, so the kingdom ultimately decided against it.
There were two Awakened Skill users from the enemy (three if the one I killed on the mountain summit before he could use his Skill was an Awakened Skill user), and three Sand Storm users. Defeating them and reducing the strength of the Empire was basically the only thing we were able to accomplish.
Of course, reducing the enemy’s strength is the most important goal in warfare, but that doesn’t mean that the kingdom will directly obtain territory or property. Yet somehow, there were lands available right now. What’s going on here?
Don’t tell me that the Empire admitted defeat and gave up part of its territory… Sounds highly unlikely.
“No,” the king said. “Having available land has nothing to do with the war at all. A lot of noble families went bankrupt recently, and their domains are now under the control of the royal family. In other words, me.”
“Did you order a purge or something?”
“I didn’t do anything. The royal family is simply sorting out the assets of the noble families that went under. Well, the direct reason for their bankruptcy was their inability to pay taxes to the kingdom, so I can’t say I had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
They just went under? On their own? I somehow doubt that the nobility can just fall apart like that.
This dude could’ve pulled some strings to ruin them and pretend like he had nothing to do with it. But he doesn’t look like the type to do that. A family could go bankrupt if someone incompetent took over, but it’s hard to imagine that happening left and right.
“Is it really that easy for noble families to just go under? Did you raise taxes or something?”
“Normally, it doesn’t happen, and tax rates are about the same as it has always been. That is to say, if you’re managing your domain properly, you can pay them no problem. But recently there’s been a sharp increase in the number of nobles who can’t even pay that.”
Hmm… Has there been some major change in the kingdom’s economy? There was one possibility.
About a year ago, we defeated Cardinal Georgis, who had a monopoly on the production of healing medicine, and was making bank. Cardinal Georgis himself was eventually killed in battle against our forces.
When the Georgis’ family’s illegal activities involving their manufacture of healing medicines came to light, they went under, and their domain was transferred to Count Meigis. Until then, Cardinal Georgis was a powerful nobleman who had influence in the whole kingdom. The profits from their monopoly on the potions must have been enormous. It’s not surprising that some of the aristocracy benefited from it.
“Does it have something to do with Cardinal Georgis?” I asked.
“We don’t have any proof, so I can’t say for sure. All I know is that their financial situation suddenly went downhill, and they quickly went bankrupt to the point where they couldn’t even pay their taxes. If they were running their domain normally, they wouldn’t be getting taxed so much that they’d have trouble paying.”
“At some point, I guess they became dependent on the income from the Cardinal. Are their subjects going to be okay?”
“Their lands are under the direct control of the royal family now. The rebuilding’s going fine. It’s also why we seized their assets as quickly as possible.”
I see. Looks like dealing with Cardinal Georgis’ stuff is going well.
If Cardinal Georgios had only been monopolizing the healing medicine, we wouldn’t have bothered to take him down. However, he used inhumane means to manufacture his product, and he also focused on persecuting people with advanced classes.