A short silence ensued as Raven thought of all the other territories he had crossed while traveling back home.
There were many things he could think of that the Pendragon Duchy was lacking.
Raven answered in a somber voice.
“Population. We do not have enough people.”
“That’s accurate. Compared to the vast territory of the Pendragon Duchy, it is absolutely underpopulated. A land of this size should have at least over 100,000 people, but the Pendragon Duchy borders on 30,000. That’s considering the recent influx of people as well.”
“If you consider that many other territories, which are only half as large as the Pendragon territory, have a population of over 100,000, then we are sorely lacking. Even our neighboring territory, the Seyrod territory, has roughly around 70,000 or 80,000 people.”
“I have heard that even Lowpool had a population of over 10,000 in the past. But now, it is not even half of what it used to be. We are lacking in scale to properly develop commerce. At the least, we need to be able to keep Conrad Castle operational with just the tax collected from Lowpool.”
“Then why don’t we take the poor from outside the walls as serfs? I can confer two or three of my knights with a title and then have the poor create farmland and…”
“Never. It is short-sighted and a bad move.”
“Is that so…”
Raven was not well versed in the matter, whether it be regarding population or commerce, so he made an embarrassed expression at Vincent’s response. He had seen other territories make serfs out of their own share of poor people, which was why he had suggested it.
“But why not? Would that not resolve the problem with the people? It will also allow us to make use of the land as well.”
“It is not a bad idea to appoint loyal nobles or knights over the territory. But if you make the poor people serve as serfs, then the people will stop heading to the Pendragon territory.”
“Even though I promise them better treatment than other lords?”
“Yes, no matter how well they are treated, serfs are serfs. Very few people will give up their freedom as imperial citizens. Some of them that are already in the duchy may choose to become serfs, but others will not set off for the Pendragon Duchy to become serfs of their own volition. In the first place, they would not be leaving behind their homes to just become serfs.”
“Then what should I do?”
“Please tell me what you are thinking first.”
Vincent’s voice and attitude were cold. He seemed to be wanting to hear the thoughts of the man whom he might serve in the future. Raven licked his lips inwardly at the attitude and spoke the thoughts he held since coming back to the territory.
“I was thinking of a cultivation project. I thought it might encourage a natural immigration process if we could clear the mountains and the wilderness and give out the rights to cultivate. But I think that would cause other issues.”
Vincent’s eyes glistened for a moment.
“It’s security. Thousands of people will be coming together to form numerous villages, maybe five, maybe ten. Who will go and protect them?”
“Have you thought about using the griffons?”
Raven laughed at his question.
“You continue to test me even now. Well, sure, it’s not like I haven’t thought about that. But griffons are mere beasts in the end. If I want to make them into true subjects, I need to send knights or soldiers. Otherwise, they would just be simple laborers. Most importantly…”
Raven’s voice turned bleak.
“Commoners are not the only ones to have come into the duchy. Nobles, free knights, mercenaries. All of them are mixed in the midst as well. If they start a dispute between themselves or amongst the poor, it will cause quite a troublesome situation.”
Vincent maintained his cold gaze as he observed Raven, who shrugged. But unlike his expression, Vincent was a little surprised.
‘He has a smarter head than I thought. To think that he had thought that far ahead.’
An heir to a duchy would have studied various topics from a young age. But theoretical knowledge was different from reality. Vincent had never seen any other nobles, or even high lords for that matter, speak such words.
The high nobles always dealt with problems as they showed up and used reckless force. That was their way of thinking.
“You are surprising me in many ways, Your Grace.”
“Damn it, if you are surprised, then tell me how. No serfs, not enough population, so then what should we do?”
Even though Raven was not an impatient man, he got straight to the point. Vincent grinned at Raven’s harsh tones, which was unbefitting of his status.
“Please forgive me. Since you know that I am from the Twilight Tower, I had to personally confirm a few things.”
“I know. That’s why I’m like this.”
Raven’s eyes became frosty.
“Regardless of the territory’s situation, I am the master of the Pendragon Duchy. I am the ruler over everything on this land. But governance and proper management are different. And you are someone who knows how to manage.”
Vincent stopped laughing.
Vincent was also a trained knight, so he knew that the other party had not emitted the Spirit of the Dragon. However, he still felt a chilling sensation as he stared into Raven’s eyes, which were burning bright with determination.
“Sir Vincent Ron, I would like to borrow your strength to mold the Pendragon territory into a proper place.”
Vincent finally identified the chilling sensation as he heard Raven speak. It was a thrill, something he had not sensed from humans after leaving the Twilight Tower.
Vincent parted his dry lips after a while.
“There is a way to solve the problem of the poor while increasing the population inflow. It is one of the things you mentioned just now.”
Raven’s brows furrowed, and Vincent continued.
“I am talking about a large-scale construction project.”
“Yes. Farmland reclamation has lots of limitations and problems as you have mentioned. However, construction projects that involve thousands of workers are different. First, it is relatively easy to control the people because you can focus the population into one place.”
Raven let out an exclamation and focused on Vincent’s words.
“Second, when people gather, the demand for things increases. And if demand for supplies increases, then someone will definitely try to sell. That means that even if you do not actively support it…”
“The supplies and money will naturally come and go!”
Raven raised his voice after recalling the past. When he was in the demonic army, soldiers bartered among themselves or traded with each other when supplies were delayed.
“That’s right. Moreover, collecting tax from those who are doing business will be a great help to tax revenue. In addition, the duchy itself can take care of large businesses that cannot be handled by small businesses or merchants. Of course, that would lead to a profit for the duchy.”
Raven was heartily impressed. But Vincent was not finished yet.
“Third, a large, crowded workplace is bound to attract other people. A man will call another. Whether one comes to work or to do business, they will do so in a crowded place. Eventually, the influx of people into the duchy will increase at a rapid pace.”
“Amazing. You are truly exceptional.”
Vincent shook his head at Raven’s compliments.
“No. This is something that anyone well in commerce could think of. Any member of the four great merchant associations would have the same thought in mind when they look at the duchy’s current situation.”
“But the difference between them and I is that I have not suggested this solution just for the sake of making money and solving the issue with the poor.”
“I am not even surprised anymore. Keep talking.”
Raven said in a joking manner, but Vincent continued with a serious expression.
“If we do nothing with the gold that will be coming in from the mine every month, the entire duchy could be in serious trouble.”
“Gold does not enrich the land as a whole. As they say, a cow in the field is better than a golden calf in the closet. Money must be circulated to show its value, and gold mines cannot produce gold forever.”
Raven had still not figured out what Vincent was saying, but he knew that what Vincent was about to say was significant based on his tone and gaze. Also, he could tell that Vincent was finally getting to his real aim, what he really wanted to talk about.
“You have already come up with a plan for that.”
“Yes. It is only possible because we are in the Pendragon Duchy.”
“What is it?” Raven emptied the wine at once, attempting to quench his thirst.
Vincent looked at Raven with calm eyes and spoke in a more powerful voice than before.
“A new currency. We will produce and issue a new currency of the Pendragon Duchy.”
“I will see you at the banquet hall. I will announce your position there.”
“I will do as you wish.”
Vincent answered politely before heading back. Raven’s gaze settled at the empty chair where Vincent had been sitting a little while ago.
“A new gold currency…”
Raven was struck with an unknown sense of thirst, and he finished off the rest of the wine. He was ignorant when it came to the economy of the empire, but he knew that various currencies were used throughout the empire.
Essentially, the imperial castle managed the currencies of imperial gold, silver, and bronze, but currencies of neighboring kingdoms as well as the bills and the vouchers of the four great associations were in circulation as well.
In terms of other kingdoms’ currencies, only gold coins were treated as currency in the empire, and their value was determined by comparing it with the gold content of the imperial gold coin.
In addition, the four great associations were essentially the foundation of the empire’s commerce, so their bills and vouchers were also accepted.
However, there had never been a case where a great territory or a duchy of the empire created their own currency. Naturally, the high lords represented the emperor, so it was impossible for them to manufacture independent currency.
But, the five duchies were all independent forces, so they were not bound by such regulations. Nevertheless, the duchies still stuck to using the imperial currency for one simple reason. They had no reason to create their own currency, and they did not wish to create an uncomfortable relationship with the empire.
However, Vincent suggested, no, he strongly recommended that the Pendragon Duchy made its own currency.
“The most natural way to unwind gold without letting it sit idly…”
When he had heard those words, he felt as if he had been hit in the back of the head.
Gold was precious. There were many more precious jewels and minerals, but the measure of wealth was gold. However, it was impossible to buy or sell with a simple lump of gold.
It could probably purchase land or a castle, but one could not buy daily necessities with a lump of gold. That was why mercenaries and adventurers immediately rushed to banks or shops owned by the four great companies when they ran into gold. They traded it into gold coins. All the gold that was produced in the duchy’s mine was collected and transported to the closest bank of the four great associations which was located in the Seyrod territory.
It was because even though gold was valuable, it could not be utilized in its natural form.
But now, Vincent suggested that the Pendragon Duchy manufactured gold coins independently.
“When the high-purity gold coin enters the empire’s market, imperial gold coins will also flow into the duchy as well, right? Then, we will be able to influence the empire not only militaristically, but economically as well.”
That was the decisive reason.Previous Chapter Next Chapter