“The copper coins really were here with you.” I kicked open the chest in front of me. The open chests in front of me were filled with copper coins. Castell stood to one side. He looked at me with a bitter smile and said: “Your majesty, I can definitely explain the origins of these coins. This is the income of salt merchants. This is not my income. It should be considered the nation’s income.”
“So you raised the price of salt so high that you had to repossess virtually all of the copper coins?”
I turned around, grabbed Castell’s collar and shouted: “You’re playing with fire, you know?! Salt is a necessary commodity. Are you trying to incite a rebellion among the lower class by raising the price of it so high?”
“Please calm down, your majesty. I did not want to raise the price of salt so high. It is just that purchasing salt from Castor, shipping it here and then opening a store to sell it are all things that require money. I have dropped the price prior to selling it on the market, but because the cost of procuring salt is so expensive, I have no choice.”
I let go and shoved Castell aside. I looked at the copper coins in front of me and frowned. I thought about things for a moment and then said: “Give me the salt and the money. I’ll prepare things. I’ll solve this in your place. But before that, tell me Castell, and don’t give me those half-assed responses, I’m not in the mood to play word-games with you. Tell me, why are the costs so high? Is it the cost of shipping, operating a store or human resources?”
“It’s the cost of the goods.”
Castell looked at me. He didn’t reveal a smile like he usually does. I think it was the first time I saw him get serious. He adjusted his collar while looking at me and continued, “Your majesty, since you want to know, I shall tell you. The price of salt is so high this year because of Castor’s side. The businesses that had also done business with us decided to turn against us.”
“Turn against us?”
“Because the inventory cost dropped.” Castell looked at me and continued, “Castor is now our vassal state so there are no custom taxes, therefore dramatically dropping the cost of salt we buy from them. However, they rejected us. They want to sell to us at the original price to make up for the difference. Naturally, we could not accept it. However, there was another group that bought salt at that price. Therefore we had no choice but to buy the remaining salt at a higher price. If we did not, we might not have any salt this year.”
“Who are the ones who bought the salt from our side?”
“It was not the empire.”
Castell looked at me and shook his head. He then said: “It was not our empire’s businesses because we are the only ones who can buy and sell salt. Trafficking salt privately will incur the death penalty. There may be some people who would take a small amount of salt, but there is no way they would be able to move that much salt. If they were to ship it in privately, we would have discovered them.”
“Then who was it?”
“A Castor business.”
“What?” I looked at Castell and frowned. I then said: “That’s impossible. Castor’s merchants bought their own salt? They bought the salt they manufactured? I can’t see the point of it unless they’ve got a death-wish. Are you sure it’s not our people that are pretending to be Castor’s merchants over in their territory?”
“Yes. That is what we originally thought as well.
However, after we looked into it, the business was confirmed to not be connected to the salt. The main focus of that business is construction materials…… Through our investigations, we discovered that virtually all of our businesses deal with that business because they’re in construction after all.”
Castell shook his head and then continued, “I could not investigate that because there are honestly too many. We all need construction supplies. Castor is usually able to ship large amounts of wood, stones and statues of god. Lots of places need those things, so we had no way of investigating further.”
“Statues of god?”
I stood still for a second. I then frowned and asked: “Isn’t it clear enough that the church is involved?! Did you not investigate the church?!”
“Yes. I did check the church’s carriages. However, there really were statues of god inside. It is just that the statues…… Our men troops did not dare to break the statues open. But the statues were indeed made from normal stone, and upon knocking, they were solid inside. Therefore they should……”
“Why not? What’s there to be afraid of? Do you people actually hope that god will bless you? You people actually believe in god?” I chuckled coldly. I then sat down on the chest and continued, “Let me put it this way, I can make you lose your belief with just a few questions. First, if god exists, why doesn’t he appear when people encounter problems? If he doesn’t appear when people suffer, why should we respect god? If he does appear but doesn’t help us solve our problems, what’s the point of his existence?”
Castell shrugged and said: “I do not believe in god either. However, it is probably the most effective thing for appeasing the peoples’ hearts since we all hope a non-existent figure appears to help us when we are helpless. The religion we are discussing due to war. It came from the stories soldiers told themselves before they went out to battle, which then became a religion.”
“Her majesty won the wars. It had nothing to do with god.”
“But the people need a religion. Your majesty, if you would like my guess, I would say some of Castor’s people were involved with the group that attempted to assassinate you. I would also assume they entered the nation through the church. I am not saying that the church is not directly involved, perhaps they did not know about it. However, only missionaries would be able to sneak weapons in and out of the borders safely.”
I stood up and walked out of the treasury. I then turned around and spoke, emphasising my words: “Thank you very much, Castell. You’ve given me a reason to destroy them. I didn’t see their money at the church so they must be investing in something. Since I know the problem with salt, I think the church is definitely involved with it. No matter what happens next, I’m going to do something crazy. Get ready to clean up after my rampage.”
Castell looked at me and scanned my face. He then revealed a helpless smile and said: “Your majesty, your expression right now strongly resembles her majesty. You are rightfully her son. You used to be very gently, gentle to the point that you were unlike her majesty. However I can see her majesty within you right now. I will do my best to assist you because cleaning up after her majesty goes on a rampage is my duty.”
“I’ll be leaving it in your hands then.”
I whipped my cape and walked up the steps. I exited the hall and went to look for Luna.
Luna surprisingly didn’t approach me. I frowned and squinted to look for her in the crowd. Using my enhanced sight from my elven lineage, I quickly spotted Luna in her maid uniform being surrounded by three guys.
I walked over. Luna wore the same expression she wore when she was on stage at the auction. She noticed me and cried loudly. She pushed the guys in front of her away and threw herself at me. When she reached me, she grabbed my arm tightly.
I pulled Luna behind me and looked at the three guys in front of me. The leader of them was a noble that looked around thirty. He wore a mocking smile as he looked at Luna behind me and said: “My, don’t run, Luna~, didn’t we play together before? You moved around on top of me so happily~. Luna, I still can’t forget your body~. That was a great day~. My friends also really……”
He suddenly cut himself off because he had a gun pointed to his forehead. I looked at him with an ice-cold gaze and commanded: “Kneel and apologise.”
“Get down on your knees and apologise.”
My white cape instantly got covered in blood and brain-parts. A lifeless body staggered before collapsing to the ground with both eyes open as it looked up at the sky with the surprised look one has before death. His blood and brain parts slowly poured out, covering the ground in them. I looked at the other two who turned around to run and pulled the trigger on them without any hesitation.
Luna grabbed my back and cried loudly: “Your majesty!!”
I shouted: “Guards!!”
The guards holding spears looked at me terrified. They weren’t sure if they were supposed to point their spears at me or somewhere else. I pointed to the three corpses in front and shouted: “Deal with them.”
“Your majesty… you……”
“It’s alright, Luna.”
I took in a big breath and removed my cape to cover Luna who was trembling. In a soft voice I said: “I won’t let anyone disrespect the people around me from now on.”
**IMPORTANT: Extra chapter (uncensored/deleted) link in Disqus comments.
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