Chapter 13: Aristocracy

Posted bytheredsargeantJuly 24, 2020Posted inFun Territory Defense

 I could feel the presence of other villagers around the chief’s house but didn’t pay attention them any attention as I continued to talk.
I am not saying anything that would become a wedge in our relationship.

 Drawing momentum from my words, I continue to speak.

“As I previously stated, complaining about the laws of the kingdom and the state of the country won’t change anything.
So would it not be prudent to ignore the great matters of state which we are not able to influence, and instead look into the closer matters of the village which we can influence?

 I dared to use the pronoun “we”, indicating to the chief and all listening ears that I was one of their own.
I told them to ignore any distance they feel due to my noble standing and to simply see me as a person just like themselves.

 Well, it didn’t seem to make much of an effect on Rhonda and the others.

“…Do you mean we should separate ourselves from this kingdom and look for opportunities elsewhere?

 I shake my head at Rhonda’s suggestion.

”No, that would be rash.
The Yelinetta Kingdom uses a similar governmental method as our current kingdom, so we will not find any great benefit in defection.
Instead, I would like to suggest a three-pronged strategy to elevate the village out of its derelict status.

“You have a plan?”

 The woman next to Rhonda opened her mouth for the first time.
I nodded to her and held up a finger.

“The first goal is to make the village create something of value which the kingdom will not be able to ignore.
The second goal is to secure a stable stream of income to hire mercenaries on a regular basis.
The Third goal is the remodeling and development of the village, which I will oversee personally.”

‘….None of this sounds like something that can be done quickly.”

 The woman was immediately discouraged by my words.
Well, if you’ve lived in the village for decades, every option that I suggested would have been considered already.

 But when you are in such a remote area, you can’t sell wood and stones harvested from around the village due to prohibitive transportation costs.
On the other hand, it is also difficult for uneducated villagers to make value-adding products which would be economically viable even despite the transport costs.

 Thus they cannot earn money, which in turn means that they can not remodel their village.

 It’s a dead end.

 Or at least, it was until we arrived.

“It must have been difficult so far.
But now I have arrived, equipped with the knowledge required to defend the territory.
From now on, I will do my absolute best to protect and develop this village.”

 Even though I said that, the three of them did not react well.
Then Espada, who had been keeping silent until then, opened his mouth.

”Please excuse my interruption.
My name is Espada, I was the first steward of the Marquis Fertio’s family.
For Master Van to have been assigned to be the lord of a territory at the tender age of 8, surely you must understand his exceptional talent.
Even if you don’t, surely you can value the presence of Sir Dee, the Vice-Commander of the Knightly Order of Fertio?”

 As Espada explained this, Dee pitched in by pounded his thick chest with his fist.

 When Rhonda and the others realized the status of the people in front of them, their faces lie up in pleasant surprise.

”Magnificent, a First Steward and a Vice-Commander.
To think such heavyweights would appear in a village like this…”

“Is this a dream? If it is, please don’t wake me up.”

 Ahem, the fourth son of the Marquis is also here.

 I began to privately entertain some resentment, but I understood where they were coming from.
I is hard to trust an 8-year-old boy to do something as monumental as settlement administration even if that boy is vetted by reputable people.

 It’s sad that I’m being treated like a child, though.

 As I was thinking this, the man who looked like Rhonda’s son looked at me with a gleeful look on his face.

“I see! So, the Marquis has decided to save this village.
I assume that Master Van is a user of powerful four-elements magic…”

”Oh, I have a magical aptitude for production, so don’t expect me to be a valuable combat asset.”

 As I immediately denied his statement, to prevent any misunderstandings, I felt a bitter taste in my mouth.
I guess it can’t be helped.
No one is able to choose their own aptitude.

 I fold my arms and open my mouth, miffed.

”…..For now, we’ll construct a better barrier in order to secure the village’s borders.
Although the current wooden fences look sturdy, a little fire is the only thing needed to render them useless.
Ah, the same goes for the dwellings as well.”

 As I said this, all of their eyes turned to me.

”Espada, is your earth magic permanent?”

“My magic artificially hardens earth while it is active, but once I deactivate my magic, it returns to being to its original mundane state.”

It should be good enough for a temporary stone wall.
We’ll build a more permanent wall eventually, but the makeshift wall will have to do until then.
The only thing left would be a moat to slow down attackers.”

“In that case, I have an idea.
While not exactly a moat, I do have experience making pit traps due to frequent hexenbiest attacks.
They should fill the role perfectly.
The only issue left to resolve now is how to attack from the walls”.

“I’ll procure some bows and arrows.
They will be difficult for amateurs to use, so rocks will also work for now.
Additionally, I will provide large shields as a cover to minimalize any danger our defenders may face.”

 As Espada and I proceeded on our own, Rhonda and the others froze, stunned.

 While we were greeting the villagers, we had stayed so long that it was now dark outside.
Orto is still outside guarding the carriage, but it is already quite late so it would be unreasonable to head back now.
We will have to stay the night in the village, and then return to the carriages the next morning.

 With that in mind, I’ll have to save greeting Orto and his team for later.

 Villagers quickly gathered around as Rhonda called them over.
There were only a few elderly, at around 10 percent of the total population.
30 percent of the village was middle-aged, 40 percent were young adults, and 20 percent were children.

 When the villagers had all been gathered, they followed instructions from Rhonda, sitting on the spot.

 After confirming this, I opened my mouth.

“I’m Van Ney Fertio.
I have been entrusted by Marquis Fertio to manage this village its lord.
I will do my best to develop the village from now on, and I look forward to working with you.”

 When I said my greetings, there was a burst of applause. 

“Thank you, thank you.”

”I’m just a kid as you can see, but the men I command are top-notch Knights and intellectuals.
When the bandits come, I believe that our combined might can easily repel them.
Villagers, it is time to build our village anew! I promise I will lead this village to strength and prosperity!”

 I know I sounded like a politician, but I hope my enthusiasm came through.
Let’s see how the villagers reacted.

 A young man raised his hand.

“Yes, there.”

 The man opens his mouth with a difficult look on his face when I call on him.

“What will you do about our taxes? We are already paying thirty percent of the harvest, any more would be…”

“How much would 30 percent of the harvest be worth, for the average household?”

“Maybe enough for a dozen small hexenbiest, including their skins, fangs, and bones.” (T.N.
Note: Here I realized that hexenbiest probably aren’t some native flora, but are probably just another name for the “Demon beasts” mentioned earlier.
Well, let me know which name you prefer.
I will use whichever you guys think sounds better.)

 I reply with a nod to the man with an anxious face.

”Then let’s reduce the tax to around five small hexenbiest.
If that tax rate isn’t enough to pay for the village’s expenses, I will pay the rest out of my own pocket.
It’s more important for me to work on keeping the village alive than to levy some heavy tax on its already ailing people.”

 When given such a reply, the villagers shouted in surprise.
Since some villagers had to resort to selling their children to pay their taxes, I suppose such a drastic change in monetary policy was enough to illicit more than a few yells.

 Then a middle-aged woman spoke up.

“Where is the knightly order which was supposed to garrison this village?”

“It will take two weeks for the request for a knighthood to be sent to the capital.
It will take another week to finish preparations for the journey and their subsequent garrison operations.
Then, it will take two to three weeks for the Knights to arrive.
They likely will not arrive in time to help defend against the next raid.
Moreover, they will not send many knights, perhaps only enough to act as a weak deterrence to uninformed bandits.
Also, it would not be strange if no knights ever arrive at all due to our lack of priority in comparison to other larger settlements.”

 My answer is met with anger.

“How long will we have to wait? Will they even come?”

“Just because we’re commoners, they throw us aside…”

 I greatly sympathized with such complaints.

”I can understand your anger.
However, the current situation is dire.
We do not possess the military nor the economy to properly rule this land.
If we only gather a small number of knights, they will just meaninglessly die if they meet a large opponent.
If it’s to deal with a bandit group attacking the village, perhaps a hundred to two hundred knights need to be dispatched.
The food, horses, armor and tools will cost a lot of money to prepare.
Hiring mercenaries would be even more expensive.
We do not have the money nor influence to hire either.
Not to mention, petitions for the dispatch of knights can only be sent weekly, making them unreliable in the face of unexpected or sudden threats.”

 To put it bluntly, we’re in the gutter in terms of manpower and money.
But everyone kept their mouths shut, perhaps because it was the reality they had lived with ever since the territory handover.

 But if you only express dissatisfaction, it will breed negativity.
I looked at Espada and opened my mouth.

”Can you create a wall of dirt behind the village fence for a moment?”

 In response to my request, Espada nodded and then turned his hand to the fence to his left.
A few seconds later, his chanting ended and his magic went into effect.

 The same sturdy-looking earthen wall from the fight against the bandits appeared.

 Seeing the villager’s surprise, I couldn’t suppress the smile which was rising.

”Your cooperation is essential.
If you all cooperate, this village will be reborn into something much greater than before.”

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