I didn’t see a mountain of copper coins in the warehouse like I imagined…… Well I guess it’s impossible. Nobody would just casually make a mountain out of money like that. Inside were neatly placed money chests. Every single chest had seals on them. The money chests were very familiar because not everybody can create them. The empire determines the dimensions of the chests and distributes them, so regardless of locations and regions, they’re all the same.
“Your majesty, please feel free.”
If this massive collection of chests were filled with gold coins, then how would the church have financial issues? I was fine after I saw so many chests. Inside of them are definitely copper coins, otherwise, there’d be no reason for there to be so many chests.
“Now, your majesty, please start…… Your majesty! Your majesty!”
Just as the archbishop was about to compare the books I had already walked up to a chest and crouched down. I tore off the seal and then said: “Open this chest.”
“But… comparing the books…….”
“There won’t be a need for that. Open the chest.”
I turned my head around and looked at him. The archbishop’s expression showed a hint of suspicion and anxiety. I smiled taciturnly to myself. Could it be that he doesn’t know what I want to do? Did he really think I came here to check the books? Did you people think that I wouldn’t notice that there was a problem with the copper coins if you forged the records? But if I didn’t purchase things, I wouldn’t understand this either. I don’t think finance as a subject is advanced as I know it in this era.
The archbishop passed me the key. I nodded. Nier walked up to my side, looked at the chest and asked: “Do you want to open it, your majesty?”
I inserted the key into the key hole and turned it. After I heard a click, I removed the lock with anticipation. Nier reached her hand out to open the chest before us.
There was nothing shiny inside. Instead, it was littered with copper coins. The coins were in all sorts of conditions, some even covered with mud. The print of some coins had begun to fade due to the friction created when counting. There were even some copper coins with some green stuff on them. These coins were given to the church from the lower-class labourers. They personally gave them to the church with their own hands. These were the coins they “donated”.
I smiled. It’s just as I thought. The church accepted a large sum of copper coins without the approval of the royal family. No organisation is allowed to collect and stash distributed coins like this as it would impact the finance system. Even Castor had to resort to scheming, getting exchangers to spread rumours to incite people into exchanging their currency.
Let’s see you explain yourselves now.
“I’d like to hear you explain this stash of copper coins.”
I locked up the chest and then sat on it. I looked at the archbishop while wearing the smile of a victor. They have no way of playing this off now. Since this place is filled with copper coins, can you tell me that these dozens of chests of copper coins came from donations? You’re telling me that they donated a warehouse worth of coins? You call this donation? Not even robbers make this much.
The archbishop froze up. He wore a strange smile and looked like he was going to burst out in laughter. I waited. It’s come to this already. I’ve found this stash of copper coins. How is he still able to laugh? Do they have a means of laundering this stash or something?
They can’t launder it with just a few numbers on paper. They have to explain its origins and how it will be spent. We aren’t talking about a few hundred dollar bills that could be laundered under the name of questionable companies. What, they’re going to do business with copper coins? Doing big business with copper coins is honestly pointless. How many people would you need to move the money out of this warehouse?
“Your majesty, this stash of copper coins is the donations we received over a month. There are a total of one thousand coins. Please verify it.”
He slowly flipped through the records in his hand and placed it in front of me. After a pause, I smiled and said: “Yes, I know that this must be the donations you received. But don’t tell me this……”
“Your majesty, I am referring to this one chest of copper coins. I am not talking about the other chests.”
I was greatly astonished. He revealed a what-did-you-expect look. I clenched my teeth. It looks like I was overconfident. What I was after was this warehouse being filled with copper coins, not just there being copper coins here. However, all the chests here were chests for copper coins. The chests for silver and gold coins are different sizes because each chest is designed to fit the coins specific dimensions. If you place the coins properly, a copper coin chest can fit one thousand copper coins and a gold coin chest can fit five hundred gold coins. This is done so that when you check them, you just need to see if the coins line up and you’ll be able to determine if the number of coins present is correct or not. They’re designed that way for convenience in business.
In other words, the chests before me right now are all the same. They can all store a thousand copper coins each. They’re copper coin chests. Could the church have used copper coin chests to store gold coins? If they did, then what of the copper coins then? Did they just mysteriously vanish? They didn’t obtain them from a business deal. The church couldn’t possibly have placed it in the bank.
It would be much simpler to investigate it if it was placed in the bank. The safest place to hide money with shady origins like this is your own home. So, the other chests……
I looked at Nier who opened a second chest with a stunned look. It was empty.
The third chest was empty.
The fourth chest was empty.
The fifth, sixth and seventh chest was empty.
“Bring me one with something in it!!”
I looked at the people moving the chests and shouted. I anxiously looked at the chest in front of me. Yes. Yes, I could see a collection of chests, but I wasn’t sure if they had anything inside. If the chests here didn’t have coins, then they can write it off as a month’s worth of donations, and I’ll be empty handed!
So where are the copper coins?! I want to know the whereabouts of the copper coins! Where are the missing copper coins that have impacted the entire coin system? If they’re not at the church, are you telling me they’re at the palace?! So who on Earth repossessed the huge sum of copper coins then?! Nobody else besides the church and the royal court could repossess the copper coins! I don’t believe there to be anyone like that! I don’t believe that mom would repossess the copper coins because it’s meaningless!!
The archbishop revealed a scheming smile combined with extreme satisfaction. He wore a look like a zookeeper who caught a monkey in his zoo and was laughing at me mockingly. I wanted to find his weakness and exploit it, yet I got played by them. Did they know what my intent was right from the get-go? So everything was within the archbishop’s control and I got played?!
A strong sense of defeat and mortification brushed my heart. I clenched my teeth tightly. Layers of sweat formed on my forehead. The archbishop looked at a heavy chest placed in front of me with satisfaction. This chest wasn’t empty. If there are copper coins in here, I can still turn it around. If inside it is……
My body shook. I crouched down and opened the lock. The sound of the lock unlocking was like a rope slowly tightening itself around my neck. I stared at the chest intently as though there was a bomb inside. I don’t think I was this nervous when I conducted experiments with explosives with fellow classmates.
The lock unlocked. Nier reached her hand out and pushed the chest open.
Inside were shiny gold coins.
Everything in front of me turned dark. My legs went weak and I dropped onto the ground, blankly looking at the gold coins before me utterly stunned.
“Your majesty, I know what you want.”
The archbishop finally revealed a happy laugh as if he was performing a fantastic comedy skit for me. I got played like a clown and yet I proudly thought I had everything under control. The archbishop walked up to my side, bent over and by my ear said with laughter: “If you are looking for a large stash of copper coins, I trust that it would be more appropriate to ask the people in the palace…….”
1 Bonus Son-con Chapter
Thank you for all your generous donations, we have reached the goal, and I will now get to translating the bonus chapter.