Chapter 567: Indifferent Reign – Mediation
My rebellion, usurpation, then coronation that was closer to a threat――it can be said that the ripples of probably the greatest disturbance since the establishment of Goldonia have not subsided.
Nevertheless, the citizens are working and eating, the nobles are busy with their duties and territory management, and the merchants are laughing as they make money then crying as they suffer loss.
When people move this way, conflicts of interest and disputes of all sizes inevitably arise.
Goldonia Royal Palace – Audience Room.
As I sit on the throne, two men stare at each other in front of me.
One is fat and the other is thin. I don’t have any particular impressions of them beyond that.
「It would be a disgrace for a nobleman to withdraw while being humiliated in such a manner. In order to protect the honor of my family, my knights and I have merely taken a shot back at this rude person!」
「What nonsense are you spouting!? It’s preposterous to ambush someone with a group of people out in public without a challenge letter! And leaving aside the cowardly deception, it is this man’s fault for causing an incident resulting in a sword wound on the road. I advise you to bring severe punishment on him.」
To summarize, these two who never got along happened to pass by each other, and the thin one deliberately knocked the fat one off his horse and mocked him for not being able to get back on.
The fat one took offense, gathered his men and ambushed the thin one, beating him so badly that his leg bone broke.
Apparently, all the knights were fat too.
「It’s a trivial fight, but it turned into a huge mess that got the whole family involved.」
Celia peeks out from my right side.
「And since both are counts whose family’s status are almost equal, neither can back down.」
Adolph peeks out from the left side.
At this rate, they’d have to fight each other with all their family.
But they don’t want to do that, which is why they came to me for a ruling.
「It is possible to rebuke them for seeking the king’s judgement over a trivial matter. However, by sentencing appropriately, this is also a good opportunity to show the citizens and lords that the royal authority is being used correctly.」
Head-helmina’s voice comes from a big pot placed behind the throne.
As always, she moved and hid with great dexterity.
I want to tell these two to sort the problem out themselves, but the nation’s stability is connected to Lucy’s safety, Nonna’s sense of relief, and all the girls’ peace. I should not spare any effort for that.
I hold back Celia who was about to bring out a large sketchbook and Adolph, then address the two individuals.
「Both of you have some nerve not looking at me.」
My threat grabbed their attention perfectly.
In all cases, it’s over if the opponent looks down on you. About the only thing that starts with that is intercourse.
「To confirm, neither fight was in the capital, right?」
「Yes Your Majesty! But the highway that extends to the capital is the kingdom’s――」
One fierce glance from me silences the thin man in the middle of his statement.
I didn’t ask for your opinion.
Next I ask the fat man who retaliated.
「You drew your sword?」
「No! I am aware that scattering his blood on the kingdom’s road is disrespectful, so I merely disciplined him with a wooden stick! In the first place, he only broke his leg because it got caught in a ditch as he was trying to escape on his――」
I glare at the fat man, who shrinks, as I tell him I don’t need unnecessary information.
Man, these two really like to talk.
Alright, I’ve come to a conclusion.
Without standing up from my throne, I declare to the thin man in an intimidating tone.
「You are the one who started the fight. Therefore, you will be fined 1000 gold coins for causing needless disturbance in the kingdom.」
The thin man is in disbelief while the fat man grins and swells one size bigger.
「But gathering men and attacking with an ambush was very sneaky. Breaking his leg was also excessive. Thus, you will pay him reparations of 500 gold coins.」
The fat man scowls and pouts.
Yeah, don’t smile when I’m intimidating you.
「That’s all. Any objections?」
I retract my intimidation and smile.
「But Your Ma――」
The thin man covers the fat man’s mouth.
「N-no, we have certainly received your verdict. We will pay without delay.」
After speaking, I accept and drink the water offered by Celia.
「W-what are you doing!? Take that dirty hand off me, you idiot!」
「You are the idiot! If you’re going to spin a tale until the end……do it by yourself!!」
The two men jostle with each other as they leave the room.
It would be bothersome if they fought again. I turn to Adolph.
「No matter how foolish or ridiculous the fight, if they seek a ruling, you have to listen.」
「That is the duty of the king.」
Adolph, reading my intentions, continues.
「However, to challenge the ruling once it is given――would be tantamount to disobeying Your Majesty.」
The fat man whose mouth is being covered shudders and stops struggling.
With a smile on my face, I address both of them.
My right hand grabs the Dual Crater kept behind the throne.
「Lucky for you. You were one word short.」
The two men run away, hugging each other’s shoulders.
That scared them a bit.
It’s not like I expect them to get along, but at least they shouldn’t have to depend on a ruling to solve their dispute.
「I’m shocked. You get a full score.」
Adolph looks at me with genuine astonishment.
「Both parties were found guilty and punished, Aegir-sama’s solemnity and scariness was displayed, and money was even added to the national treasury! I feel intelligence from Aegir-sama!」
Celia praises me with compliments of the highest grade.
Let me just stick my chest out……ow, my back hurts.
This throne is too hard after all. I want to pluck the jewels and lay a cloth over the seat.
「The choice of 500 gold coins is also a substantial sum for both families. It’s not an amount they will be happy paying and at the same time it is not going to put them in danger of poverty. It was a wonderful decision.」
「I had a reference to go off of.」
I retrieve a heavy bag from under the throne.
「Eh, something like that was……ah!? Did you create a compartment on your own!? Did you drill a hole!?」
It would take a long time to have the servants bring in every little thing.
If I keep them in here, I can get them out easily.
「Even though a throne carved from a great tree……is probably more expensive than a poorly-constructed mansion.」
I’m the only one that uses it, shouldn’t it be fine?
No one will peer under or behind the throne so nobody will know.
「I thought I felt some a shred of intelligence……」
I rub Celia’s cheeks as she becomes sad.
「Aren’t there others? I want to clean them up quickly.」
Today’s plan is to give Catherine and Flantica……and whoever else comes in plenty of affection.
「Next is a dispute over water rights. I heard one side had a large irrigation channel connected to a river meant to be shared between the territories, reducing the rate of flow and greatly affecting the harvest of the other side.」
My hand stops squeezing Celia’s cheek.
「Oh that, I know about it.」
「You were aware? The person being complained about is related to a major merchant who has a large influence in the capital. Although the person doesn’t have a high rank, even those in the vicinity acknowledge his abundance of financial power. On the other hand, the one complaining is your typical rural noble whose only source of income is agriculture and so water rights is a matter of life and death.」
「Without funds, developing……is probably not possible.」
Here come the concerned parties.
The poor side presents their claim desperately while the rich side has a composed attitude.
「Fumu, I understand. I don’t mean to say this after hearing your story but a conclusion had been reached by the legal official.」
The poor side’s face grows dark while the rich side shines as if victory is assured.
That smile is a really triumphant one.
I take out a heavy bag from my compartment and throw it at the rich individual.
I throw it at his face, not in front of him.
It was a solid sound.
The rich person holds their crooked nose in pain.
「Sorry, my hand went out of control. 500 gold coins are heavy. Did you break your nose?」
「Wha-!? Are you trying to bribe me!?」
I retrieve another bundle from the compartment as I scratch my head.
It’s lighter than the money bag but dirty so I have to be careful when holding it.
「I should also return this to you.」
This time I threw it in front of him.
The bundle unwraps from the impact, and out rolls two severed heads.
「And the legal official, who apparently had a good relationship with him.」
It’s not a difficult problem.
Whether it’s territorial conflict or water rights disputes, it’s all about authority when it comes to my ruling.
Unless it’s a big deal, I don’t bother collecting data or racking my brain for a conclusion.
The legal official usually summarizes the case and I just read it out loud.
Consequently, this guy’s nephew bribed the legal official, advising the official to rule in his favor, but Rebecca discovered the deal so I just lopped off their heads.
I don’t think Celia or Adolph know.
That’s because I called them five minutes before the audience and decapitated them.
「There is no mistake that these guys tried to warp my judgement by bribes. However, I didn’t ask whether it was your instructions or not. I cut them the moment I saw them.」
Of course, that was a lie. I know the answer and have proof.
Even if I didn’t have proof, if I say he’s guilty, he’s guilty.
「O-obviously, I wouldn’t do that kind of outrageous――」
「Oh, you didn’t do it?」
The rich feudal lord shakes his head in fear.
「Then that’s good. Fumu, I forgot what we were discussing because of the severed heads. Can you both present your arguments again?」
I urge the two parties to speak.
The poor man’s voice was strained as he repeated the same message with slightly different words.
But the rich man became incoherent, and the sound of his teeth chattering was louder than his voice, making him somewhat incomprehensible.
「It seems from what I’m hearing, you are at fault. Demolish everything from the aqueduct to the windmill. Any objections?」
「N-none! I have none!!」
The ruling is one-sided towards the rich party, but he doesn’t complain.
The only thing in his head is to get away from this place as soon as possible.
「Alright. You are dismissed――I don’t want to see you again.」
The rich noble leaves with his head down and legs bent like a grasshopper.
「Is it fine to let him go?」
Rebecca appears quietly from behind the throne.
「Yeah. It’s not like he disobeyed me, and with how scared he is I’m sure he won’t do anything unnecessary.」
To tell the truth, killing noble feudal lords is bothersome.
I won’t hesitate if they rebel against me, but I don’t want to waste my time when things have finally calmed down.
「I’ll need another round of threats from your side.」
「As you wish, Your Majesty.」
「Bribery is the greatest poison that can corrupt a nation. If rumors about this incident spread, the bureaucrats and those who seek to win them over will think twice or face His Majesty’s wrath. After all, His Majesty is uncompromising.」
「Rough yet clean, words that don’t seem to match but are interesting when put together.」
The head mutters from inside the pot.
Isn’t it hot inside there?
Meanwhile Celia is staring at Rebecca as she praises me.
「I-it can’t be helped! This is my uniform!!」
Rebecca is wearing her naughty see-through outfit that shows off the outlines of her body.
I allowed her to cover up her nipples and crotch with fabric as it might be too mean for her to be completely exposed in public, but her whole body is still visible.
「That said……it doesn’t seem like you are very dissatisfied. Do you actually like it a little?」
Rebecca looks away.
Aroused, I unconsciously stand up, but Celia sits me back down on the throne.
「Next is a dispute over territory. This will be a mediation regarding the hill on the border of the territory which has been fought over many times before the previous king ascended to the throne. I have already come up with what I think is a reasonable proposal.」
This time, I look away from Adolph.
「……anyways, bring them in.」
The two feudal lords enter. Lord Barter and Lord Margary, was it?
They explain their reasoning, curse their opponent, and tearfully appeal for the land of their ancestors.
I calm the impassioned parties and clear my throat.
「I’m getting a bad feeling.」
No, it’s not what you’re thinking.
「I get what you’re saying. Both of you have good points and it is difficult to determine the truth. However I hear Lord Margary has five daughters of marriageable age. And his wife is also……I hear she will be facing a tough time. In this case, Lord Barter should be a gentleman and yield the hill.」
Celia realizes something and points at me.
Hey, you shouldn’t point at people.
「……I thought you were becoming a wonderful king too.」
Adolph holds his head.
What is he talking about?
「Last night, for three hours in the reception room――」
I put a thick wooden lid over the pot.
I’m sure by now, Lord Barter has realized what’s going on.
「Y-Your Majesty! But I also have daughters! In particular, my second daughter will be turning 30 this year and is heartbroken at the recent loss of her husband. To lose the land of her ancestors on top of that, her heart can’t handle it――」
「Thirty years old and a widow!?」
I reflexively stand up.
「Yes. If you feel sorry for her, please have a chat with her.」
「P-please wait a moment, Your Majesty! Actually, a relative of mine has a 16 year old virgin who adores His Majesty――」
「Enough! What do you think national politics is!!?」
I sense a small presence staring at me from the corner of the audience room which has become strangely lively.
Glancing over, I see Antonio biting his lip as he watches us.