Chapter 134 – The Ruler’s Judgment
This manor of Cruz’ was previously used by the former marquis.
It’s a large building used to administer the large territory that Cruz now has. It’s naturally big.
The interior isn’t luxurious, but it’s not too simple either – a nice balance.
「Smaller than your house, though.」
After Cruz and Timisoara said that, the assistant looked dumbfounded.
Vi-Vi pulled my sleeve.
「I heard the former marquis loved luxury.」
「Well, he lived in the capital. The assistant lives here, so it’s not that luxurious.」
The ruler before Cruz was a marquis, that was now demoted to a count.
It was a bit confusing because Cruz and the old…count…had changed places.
「I see. It’s quite a nice place.」
「Yeah, a place you could settle down in.」
Cruz agreed with Vi-Vi’s opinion.
Listening to this, the assistant bowed.
「Nice place you got here.」
The assistant seemed relieved.
Maybe he was afraid Cruz was going to come in and tell him to renovate it.
And because Cruz said the place was smaller than my house.
I was glad the assistant looked relieved, though.
He seemed like a decent guy that was afraid of his ruler’s propensity for waste.
The assistant brought us into the waiting room.
Cruz asked him,
「What room does the ruler use for petitions from his people?」
「Use this waiting room. Later you may use the visitor’s room, but unfortunately it’s not prepared yet.」
I’m guessing no noble is going to come all the way out to this manor, anyway.
They’re probably using the visitor’s room as storage, which is fine.
「But if we’re in here, then who will those waiting to petition us stay?」
「Oh, don’t worry about that. No one is coming to petition you today.」
「What, no petitions today? How many people usually come?」
「It’s a lot if we get one petitioner a week.」
Well, the taxation process has just started. It wouldn’t be strange if more petitioners started pouring in.
Or it may be that the assistant is blowing them all off at his own office.
「I came because I’ve heard a lot of things today.」
「And those are?」
「Alra, tell him.」
Cruz nodded to me.
She wanted me to explain the difficult things to him. She knew that I’d keep all the information in line.
「Taxes seem to be rising in some villages, have you heard about it?」
「Well, that can’t be…I thought that the rates were actually falling as directed by the previous count.」
「There’s a village we know of that has had its rates raised quite a bit.」
The assistant gave directions to his subordinates.
After that, the assistant explained to us how the tax assessment was performed.
We looked through the materials his workers brought as he explained to us.
It seemed that there was no real problem with the assistant at all.
Possibly the real issue resided with the assessor himself and the matter of him being supervised.
2 hours passed quickly.
「It seems the assessor has arrived.」
「Please, bring him in.」
Cruz said this and Vi-Vi instantly pulled out her cow mask and put it on.
This was because the assessor already had met Vi-Vi.
Timisoara held Shiggy and fed her some snacks that were served on the assistant’s desk.
「Just stay quiet, ok, Shiggy?」
The assessor entered the room. He was quite thin and a bit older than me.
He wore clothes that seemed a bit too expensive for his position.
He looked a little nervous, but after seeing the young girls Cruz and Timisoara, he smiled a bit.
But you could tell it was a bit out of resentment.
It seemed he also didn’t mind that Vi-Vi and I were wearing cow and wolf masks.
「Marquis. I am honored to meet you.」
Cruz was about to open her mouth, but I jumped in before her with spirit speech
『Don’t talk, Cruz.』
『Okay, but why?』
『Because you don’t open your mouth to the lower class.』
『But, isn’t that rude?』.
『Judging from this guy’s attitude, he already is mocking you. Time to show him who’s on top, first.』
『I see, kind of like training a dog!』
It might be a little different from dog training, but the basics are the same.
So I spoke to the assessor instead of Cruz.
「Mr. Assessor, the Marquis is very upset.」
「What is wrong…sir?」
The assessor seemed stunned. Probably the first time a man with a wolf mask spoke to him.
「The marquis will use her jurisdiction as ruler of this area to punish you, so prepare yourself to answer her questions.」
「What am I being charged with?」
「Because of the illegality of the raised taxes on Mulg village, the marquis is upset. Do you have anything to say for yourself?」
「I am doing my job properly. Villagers always complain that taxes are high.」
The assessor acted cooly. Again, he was probably mocking Cruz to himself.
「The fields of Mulg village, which are quite poor, were taxed as if they were the highest yield and quality. Or am I incorrect?」
「The fields of Mulg ARE NOT POOR. I looked at them myself and made this judgment.」
The assessor had a nasty smile.
I mean, Cruz is a young girl. He was probably trying to fool her.
「You will understand, if you actually go there, great marquis.」
There’s no way a marquis would village a back-country village like Mulg, and of course, the assessor knew that.
「If we go there, we’ll see what you mean, you say.」
「Well, then, I guess we’ll have to check out the place later.」
Upon me saying this, the assessor’s brow furrowed. He may have been concerned with me saying we’d「check it out」.
But even so, there’s no way a busy hero like Cruz would ever go to such a place.
Then the assessor exhaled and relaxed.
「Next, the theft of a shield from Mulg. Quite an offense for an officer of your position. This also has angered the marquis.」
「But, wait! That is part of my job!」
「And what job is that?」
The assessor vehemently defended himself. Cruz, as ruler, nodded as he attempted to explain himself.
「I only confiscated it because it was affected by magic from a devil. The former marquis, the duke, gave the order that all objects cursed by devils were to be confiscated.」
「Your current marquis is Miss Conradine. She does not want such actions to take place.」
「Is that so? Then it is my mistake. I will send money to replace the shield back to Mulg.」
「Why not return the object itself?」
「The devil’s curse is dangerous! I don’t think the villagers will complain if I simply furnish them money for their steel shield.」
This guy was now claiming that the orichalcum shield was actually made from steel. I was anxious that he might have sold it for a lot of money.
No…it’s so expensive that you can’t sell it that easily. It’s probably fine.
「It was not steel. It was made of orichalcum.」
「Impossible! You said there were only poor fields, right?! There was no way they also had an orichalcum shield there!」
Then Timi twirled her hair, bored, and said,
「This guy’s got a glib tongue. Can I cut it off?」
「Marquis! Please, wait! Since this is a trial, I must be able to defend myself!」
Then Timi glared at the guy and said,
「Assessor. Don’t tell me you SOLD the shield?!」
「No, I didn’t.」
「Good. Because if you did, I’d be selling your head at a butchers!」
The assessor jumped back a bit with a small squeal.
「Mr. Assessor, since this shield was a gift from the marquis to royalty from the ancient dragons, she asked for a magician in Mulg to place a magic circle on it.」
「It is property of the marquis. You’ve taken away her gift to an ancient dragon. We can’t just leave it at “it was a mistake.”」
「I…I’m very sorry! My apologies…I didn’t know!」
Then Vi-Vi took off her mask and tossed it aside.
Seeing Vi-Vi’s face, the assessor looked almost ready to faint.
「You’ve got some nerve, low life! I told you that the shield was Cruz’!!」
「Ah! I had no idea that you meant the marquis!」
Perhaps the assessor thought that there was no way a marquis would be associated with devils.
It was an orichalcum shield, though. If there was someone Vi-Vi was engraving it for, that person had to be a big deal.
Or maybe the assessor looked down on Vi-Vi a bit too much.
「You took a possession knowing that it was owned by the marquis. It was also a gift to dragon royalty. This is CLEAR REBELLION against the wishes of your ruler!」
As I said this, the assessors face finally seemed to wilter.
Then, Timi said in a bored voice,
「So, did you get his confession? We know he’s guilty of theft, but you wanted to question him about the assessment, right? Right, Cruz?」
Cruz glanced at me, and I nodded.
After I nodded, she finally opened her mouth,
「Yes, let’s do it. The assistant will go with me as well.」
「You know where.」
We, including a lost assistant and a terrified assessor, left the manor.
Timisoara returned to her original, massively-dragon form.
Maybe because her legs fell asleep, she quickly flapped up in the air and stretched.
A huge wind then blew past us all.
The assessor, who say Timi’s true for for the first time, fell flat on his ass.
His words were stuck in his throat.
「Assistant, since you are old, I’ll allow you to ride on my back.」
「Ah…ah, thank you!」
Cruz grabbed the assistant’s back and jumped with one huge leap onto the dragon’s back.
I used gravity magic to life Vi-Vi and I up onto the dragon’s back.
「Assessor. I won’t allow a guy like you to ride on me.」
Timi then grabbed the assessor by the tips of her fingernails and lifted him up.
She then immediately soared into the sky.
「If you’re going to tell the truth, now’s the time!」
Timi said, and then sped through the sky at unreal speed.
Even I was scared, and I was comfortable on her back.
The assessor was screaming, but Timi didn’t seem to care.
I could see him shaking even though he was being carried on the tips on Timi’s fingernails.
The assessor suddenly came loose and began to fall through the sky. Timi quickly descended and grabbed him.
Timi said, as if she had dropped a pencil.
Her quick reaction was amazing. Everyone on her back suddenly was suspended in the air.
Cruz and Shiggy enjoyed it, but Vi-Vi was clutching to me desperately.
「I…I’m going to DIE, AL!」
She was so terrified it was funny.
If she fell she would die. I would die too…without magic.
The assistants fingers were clutched under the dragon’s scales.
Cruz went over and put her hand on his shoulder. She wanted to assure him he wouldn’t fall.
It would take 10 minutes to get to the branch office, where the assessor was based.
It took the assessor 2 hours to get to the manor…covered in 10 minutes. Well, not 2 hours total, he had to prepare as well.
Even so, Timi is still fast.
The assessor was lower to the ground and slumped over as if his soul had left him.
Something else had left his body, but I’m not going to mention that now.
「Bring the shield and the tax assessment as well.」I told the branch office employees.
All of those at the branch office were confused. Must be the wolf mask again.
After that, the assistant addressed the men with loud instructions and they finally began to move.
The assessor just sat there with a ghastly face. He had nothing to say.
He must still be horrified by that 10 minute thrill ride Timi gave him.
I took the shield and the tax logbook with me. It was quite heavy, but it still fit nicely in my magic bag.
「Eeeep! Forgive me! Pleeeeeease!」
Timi picked the assessor up, and he immediately began crying and begging.
I told him with a smile.
「I’m going to go to the villages you taxed and check all of them, to see if they’re done properly.」
「N…no! At least…let me ride on the dragon’s back…」
The assessor pleaded, but then Timi said coldly,
「I don’t want to let this guy on…I hate guys like this.」
I didn’t like him as well. Femm and Moofy would probably hate the guy too.
He stunk too…because of his…loss of composure earlier.
「Well, too bad!」
The assessor began crying.
「I’m SORRY! I raised taxes unjustly! I promise to make it good!」
「How do you plan to do that?」
「I’ll pay back the difference!」
「So why did you raise the tax rate this year?」
「I thought the assistant wouldn’t notice, so I could fool him…」
「And the shield?」
「It looked expensive, so if I sold it…it would be a lot of money. And since it’s devil’s magic it’s even more a treasure…」
Cruz and Vi-Vi sighed.
「Damn, this guy really is dirt.」
We talked the whole thing over among ourselves in spirit speech.
The whole conversation’s not necessary to repeat, but when I was talking to Cruz, we said,
『What should we do, Cruz? I was thinking of going around to each village and checking, but the guy confessed…』
『No, we need to have the correct tax rate, so we need to redo the whole thing, Al. But what should we do with this guy, first?』
『We have to punish him.』
『If it were an ancient dragon like me deciding, it would be the death penalty.』
『So you agree on the death penalty, Shiggy?』
Even Shiggy was talking in spirit speech when talking to Timi.
I had never heard her do that before.
『Maybe we should just imprison him? We also need confiscation to repay the villages.』
『Yeah, Cruz. That may be enough.』
Prison sentences are difficult. They work in difficult environments like mines.
It’s got to be very difficult for a guy with rich tastes like this, who has dandy fingers.
After that, Cruz gave her judgment.
10 years in prison. Property confiscated.
The assessor turned pale and then fainted.