Chapter 131 – The Ruler’s Tyranny
We quickly sent Doby back to the forest and left the storage shack.
Outside was Millet and the chief.
「Where’s the ruler’s agent?」
「He’s gone home already.」
「He took the shield that Vi-Vi had enscribed?」
The chief looked very regretful.
Millet looked pissed.
「What was his reasoning for taking it?」
「Since it was made magical by a devil, it was dangerous.」
Vallimie looked ready to blow her top.
「WHAT?! What kind of logic is that?! Al! Is this kingdom THAT unreasonable?」
「No, usually they have a bit more sense. Even if this is from the ruler, there has to be a better reason than that.」
「What bullcrap! Did you resist him, Vi-Vi?」
Vallimie asked, and Vi-Vi responded regretfully.
「I was thinking about fighting him…with my strength, I’m sure it would be easy…」
But Vi-Vi wasn’t a battle-type magician. Even so, a weak servant of the ruler isn’t that scary.
I tried to cheer her up even though she looked so down. Moofy rubbed up against Vi-Vi as well.
Vi-Vi rubbed Moofy back in return.
「I thought I’d cause trouble for the village if I fought him. And since it was Cruz’ I told them that it wasn’t mine…or, I mean, it wasn’t a devils…」
「I see. Good decision.」
Before she had got into a firefight with Luka and she probably regretted that.
「I think your decision was right, Vi-Vi.」
「Yes, if the ruler gets angry at this town, it could be big trouble.」
Vallimie and the chief both reassured Vi-Vi she had made the right choice.
Cruz puffed out her cheeks, unhappy.
「That freaking shield was MINE, though.」
Vi-Vi apologized and Cruz waved her hand as a refusal to accept it.
「It’s not YOUR fault, Vi-Vi! It’s the rulers fault! I have to teach him something!」
「Hey, get your temper under control, Cruz. Vi-Vi was able to.」
Cruz now looked pretty calm.
Millet looked at me seriously.
「Mister Al? Is there anyway to get it back?」
「The official who came is the deputy of a deputy an advisor to the ruler, right? We might be able to claim that the deputy took it because of his own avarice.」
A high level royal like the local ruler spent more than half the year in the capital.
Basically his advisor was in control. He was an assistant that was the arms and legs of the ruler.
「We have to make a claim against the advisor, and then his chief, and then the ruler if necessary.」
「The ruler…I’ve never done anything like that.」
The chief had a dark look to him.
The ruler was like a god in the sky to a villager. You had to go through one of his advisors to get anything done.
「Well, the ruler has jurisdiction over everything. It all depends on him.」
「Well, if the ruler doesn’t recognize that his agent robbed me, then what do I do?」
「You might be able to appeal straight to the king through the ministry of justice through the bureau of Peerage, thought that might not be realistic…」
The bureau of peerage was a way that the royals could be punished.
However, a ruler had rule over his own domain. What taxes and rules were implemented.
Most rulers had free reign.
Even if you argued against one part of the taxation, it was hard to win.
So Millet asked, seriously,
「So there’s no real way?」
「There is a way to make a claim, but it has to be something the royal family rejects, like the murder of several villagers, or the sales of slaves, or some kind of claim like that.」
「So they won’t do something just from a theft?」
「It’s true that something was stolen, but the theft is handled under the ruler’s jurisdiction. And if the ruler just says that it was taken up as tax collection activities, there might be no way to get it back.」
Millet looked sad. Villagers really had no power.
Even though I was technically royalty, I had no power to compel another ruler.
That was just how powerful a regional ruler was.
「I mean, these regional rulers are the big guys among all the royals.」
「Well, if he’s a big guy then isn’t the ministry of justice a big guy too? Can’t you say something to him?」
「Well, the minister would probably refrain from speaking to the ministry of peers, I guess.」
The royals that ruled over large swaths of land were pretty special.
Luka, Yureena, and I were viscounts, so we didn’t have our own land.
Normally, to have land meant you had to be above a viscount.
Even someone that became an earl like Cruz recently just got some of her own land.
Cruz had received her land after she defeated the Demon Lord, right at the time she beat the Great Demon.
And Cruz had become very popular with the people.
It was a period too short to make her a marquis. But she couldn’t just remain an earl either. Even so, she was to receive land as an earl.
It was like the special case in which a viscount like Vallimie received the Lindobal forest on her own.
Even though Vallimie already controlled the forest. It was huge.
In addition to that, she already had a huge army, and the number and quality of her military was already tremendous.
The village chief looked with an even darker countenance.
「The ruler over Mulg village is quite famous for not liking devils like Vi-Vi…He might be happy to hear he got a shield that someone like Vi-Vi was messing with.」
「Grrr…I can’t forgive that Vi-Vi!」
「Sister! You’re right! That guy’s a complete disgrace!」
The devils Vallimie and Vi-Vi were not happy and it was quite natural to see why.
I asked the village chief,
「By the way, how was the tax assessment?」
「Higher than usual. Enough to be considered impossible by normal standards.」
「…because of the good harvest?」
「I have no idea why it was that high. It’s going to be a tough winter.」
「Well this sucks.」
The chief looked down with a serious expression.
Food was necessary to survive the winter. And you needed money for food.
「This year’s assessor is way worse than the normal one.」
Millet also looked down. A taxation rate can be a matter of life and death for a village like this.
「Chief, I bet this high tax was way worse of a blow then that shield being stolen.」
「Yes…if they only could have given us the usual amount…」
「Even so, you might be able to make it by selling some fat cows and magical stones.」
I said, and the chief and Millet nodded.
「He’s a horrible ruler.」
「I can’t forgive a shithead like that.」
It was strange to hear Cruz so upset about this.
So we talked it over and decided to go straight to the ruler.
Even if it was the ruler’s place, a representative would be there.
「Where’s the ruler’s place?」
「About half a day’s journey by horse? The branch office where the assistant resides is about 2 hours away.」
The chief seemed to know the distance because he had to go there when he assumed office in Mulg.
Even though Mulg village was at the edge of the ruler’s region, it was far.
「Will the assistant admit the fault of his assessor?」
Millet asked uneasily.
「I wonder. If the assistant won’t admit fault of his assessor, we can only appeal directly to the ruler.」
Then Vi-Vi said seriously,
「So I guess the ruler’s in the capital?」
「Probably so. He has a second home there.」
Since summer was over, it was very possible that the ruler was already there.
As we talked the matter over, evening fell.
Luka and Yureena returned.
「So what’s with the long faces?」
「Did something happen?」
We explained everything to the two.
「That’s why we’re going straight to the ruler’s palace tomorrow.」
I said, and Luka and Yureena looked at me, confused.
「Huh? Ah, I see…」
「That reminds me, we never told you.」
「Yeah, we should have told you.」
Luka looked at us all seriously.
「I never told you, but Cruz rules over this place.」
Millet and the Chief almost fell over in surprise. I was shocked too.
Shiggy freaked out at Millet freaking out.
Femm was shocked. So shocked, it barked in spirit speech.
Moofy just kept chewing on my hand nervously.
Cruz fell out of chair and got back up.
「What?! I had no idea!」
「…damn, you’re the most surprised of all of them, Cruz.」
I said, and Cruz blushed.