Chapter 98

Naturally, the empire might not take too kindly to the Pendragon Duchy’s move. If the empire did not recognize the duchy’s gold coins, then all would be for naught. Even so, Vincent was confident.

It was because there was a reason why the Pendragon Duchy could manufacture the gold coins without a worry, and why it would be circulated throughout the empire as well. The presence of the Arangis Duchy and Prince Ian guaranteed it.

“To think that all of this would be possible because of what happened in Leus… Ha!”

Raven shook his head in wonder.

In order to pressure the Arangis Duchy, the prime suspect behind the attempted assassination of Crown Prince Shio, the empire needed to maintain a close relationship with the Pendragon Duchy.

It also helped that Raven carried out Ian’s secret orders admirably. Even the strict officials of the imperial castle would never look down on the Pendragon family, who delved into the enormous scheme behind the attempted assassination of Crown Prince Shio. They also had close ties with the second prince, who held a large influence in the castle.

Thus, Vincent thought that the combination of the two elements was enough to guarantee the success of the Pendragon Duchy in manufacturing their own gold coins and putting them into circulation, something that had never happened before in the history of the empire.

“Geniuses do exist…”

What was even more surprising to Raven was that Vincent had all of this in mind ever since Raven had beaten Toleo Arangis in a duel.

Vincent of the Gray Sunset. The capabilities of the commerce genius, who shook the entire empire by controlling thirty percent of its commerce in less than five years – it was beyond anything Raven had imagined.

“If he was hostile to the Pendragon Duchy…?”

Just thinking about it made chills run down his spine. Vincent would have been able to cause huge problems for the duchy economically. Even if they had Soldrake and a strong military, in the end, money made the world go around.

When money dried up, the people’s hearts scattered. In all likelihood, rebellions and revolutions would occur. And when that happened, there was only one choice a person could make, whether they be a duke, or a high lord. They would have to draw their swords and start a war.

Raven knew very well how terrible war was, and that was why he wanted to steer the duchy away from war to the best of his abilities.

“Thank goodness. All I wanted was to have a master of the Twilight Tower as a subordinate.”

He felt as if he had gained a thousand troops. Even so, he remained calm and collected.

“Plans are only plans.”

Not everything in the world would go exactly as planned. Besides, there were several challenges that needed to be resolved to establish the place that Vincent mentioned, the place where all the plans would come to fruition.

“A free…. trade… city...”

Raven uttered the words as the red evening sun gently pierced through the windows and colored his face. When he had first heard the words, he had not understood it. Now, as he quietly muttered the words, he knew that it could potentially reverse the current situation and point the duchy in the right direction.

***

The people’s feast, which included the residents of Lowpool, was quite noisy. They all drank and danced while praising the virtues of the Pendragon family. But the banquet held in the palace of Conrad Castle was fairly simple considering its nature.

It was Elena’s consideration for Raven, who had just returned from a long journey. The nobles of the castle knew this fact as well, so they did not bother Raven after giving him a group salute.

And instead of Raven, Leo and Jody, along with the rest of the group, became the conversation partners of the nobles. The group had been in the spotlight ever since they arrived at the castle, and they were dragged from place to place, having to recount their stories.

The four might have been exhausted, but they had rarely received this kind of attention in their lives, so they were excited to go around while narrating the events of their journey.

Sophia was the most distressed by the words she heard after Raven left the hall with Vincent.

“This child will be my exclusive maid. I will be teaching her by her side, so make note of that.”

Sophia had already prepared herself, but when she directly heard Elena’s words, she felt the world spin around her. Elena ignored Sophia’s reaction and ordered the head maid to get Sophia a change of clothes.

For this reason, Sophia had to stand behind Elena while wearing a maid’s outfit. It was simply unbearable for Sophia, who was always the center of attention at any banquet she attended.

Clink! Clink! Clink!

As the music quieted down, Melborne hit his glass cup with a silver spoon. Everyone in the room, who was chatting until now, closed their mouths and looked towards the highest point of the hall. Raven was seated on the White Dragon Throne. The other members of the Pendragon family sat on the sides of the throne.

General Melborne stepped aside with his head bowed, and the protagonist of the banquet appeared, standing up from the throne.

“I apologize for interrupting when everyone was having a good time. I need to talk about something important, so please understand.”

Raven looked around the banquet hall, then fixed his eyes in one place while continuing his words.

“I believe everyone knows about Sir Vincent Ron. He is a knight that I personally recruited from Leus, and from today on, he will be serving as my advisor.”

“Congratulations!” The nobles shouted in unison. No one complained as they had all heard about the works of Vincent after he arrived at Conrad Castle.

“The formal ceremony will be held later on together with Sir Isla.”

“Yes, Your Grace.”

General Melborne bowed his head, and Raven turned his head to the banquet once more.

“In addition, I would like to make another announcement to everyone. It will be an extension of what we were talking about earlier today.”

The aristocrats recognized that Raven was talking about the matter regarding the rapid influx of poor people, and their faces turned a little grim.

“I said this earlier in the day, but an increase in population is definitely a welcome matter for our territory. But of course, it does bring about some problems. Everyone will know that there is more than just one issue we need to solve.”

The palace fell dead silent, without even a single cough to be heard. Raven immediately continued to bring up the main point.

“Therefore, Sir Ron and I have come up with a plan. I assure you, it will allow us to solve the problem that comes with the influx of poor people, while still allowing us to increase our territory’s population, which is much smaller compared to the other great territories.”

“Ah….”

The nobles began to murmur.

“So, what is it, Your Grace?” One nobleman could not resist his curiosity and spoke up.

Raven looked down at him.

“Sir Ritt, I think your mother was born in the village of York, was she not?”

“Ah! That’s correct, my lord.”

The nobleman was thrilled that the duchy’s master remembered about his mother and replied with a bright expression.

“As you all know, York Village is a village that is located right next to Lindelway Bridge, which is one of the two passages that connect our territory with the rest of the empire. It has a population of about 500. It is located on a broad plain and is considered one of the larger villages of our territory.”

Everyone except Vincent looked rather puzzled at the sudden description of York Village. They were already quite familiar with the village.

A faint smile appeared on Raven’s face, and he continued to speak – though his following words were unbelievable.

“Within a year at the earliest, or three years at the latest. The population of York Village will grow by more than a hundredfold.”

“Hmm?”

Everyone opened their eyes in disbelief. But that only lasted for a moment, and everyone began to look around while buzzing amongst themselves.

Then Raven raised his hand, and the hall became quiet again.

“We still have to fill in the details, but within a year, I am planning to build an eight-mile-long, two-mile-wide wall around York Village. York Village, no, we will be constructing York Town.”

“…..!”

Raven looked around at the speechless nobles, then continued on.

“…so, York Village, or York Town, will become the economic center of our duchy, and anyone who pays taxes will be able to reside there, regardless of race, status, or religion. Additionally, the Pendragon Duchy will be manufacturing gold coins. All right, any questions?”

“……”

Raven had only talked, but the whole banquet hall was shrouded in silence as if a storm had passed by.

“A, a free trade city…”

The nobles were dumbfounded by Raven’s tremendously large-scale idea and stood in silence when someone uttered the words. They immediately came back to their senses.

“P, please reconsider! We cannot afford it at the moment, and if no one comes there, then the duchy’s finances would…”

“What do you mean anyone paying taxes would be able to reside there?! Would you allow people who are disloyal to the empire and the imperial family and other races as well?”

“It would cause a massive problem if it becomes a large city with tens of thousands of people! Who will take care of the security of the city?”

“A new gold currency! If we incite the royal family’s fury…”

Voices of opposition were heard from all over the place. Everyone raised their voices with pale expressions.

As the uproar subsided, Raven turned to Melborne.

“What do you think, general? Does it seem infeasible?”

General Melborne had been deep in thought until now. He raised his head.

“…...”

With everyone’s gazes on him, Melborne gazed at Raven for a moment before parting his lips.

“As the person in charge of the duchy’s finances, I…. I think it will be difficult.”

Murmurs of relieved sighs erupted at Melborne’s words. However, the nobles became shocked again at his following words.

“But if what you said really does take place, it is possible. Most of all, if it does succeed, I can assure you that by this time of next year, the duchy’s tax revenue will increase by at least three times.

“Ah…”

“Huh!”

General Melborne turned to the sighing nobles and continued.

“It will definitely be difficult to provide the wages to be paid to the workers and the funds to be invested in the construction of the wall given our current financial situation. But if we can successfully collect the tax at the end of the year, we can reclaim at least ten percent of it.”

“Hm…”

General Melborne had overseen the Pendragon family’s finances for decades, and his words carried weight. The nobles started to lend their ears to his words.

“Even if we provide basic accommodations and food, they will spend additional expenses. Though most of them are quite poor, they will start spending money once their wages start to pile up. For example, this.”

General Melborne held up a glass of wine that was on a nearby table.

“There are no farmers or workers who do not drink. If the duchy controls the import and the sale of alcoholic beverages in the construction site of the York Village wall, we might be able to take back three times, or even five times the amount of tax we would be collecting.”

“Ah….”

A few of the more intelligent nobles nodded their heads.

Certainly, even in the imperial city’s capital, the Royal Batallium, the right to sell alcohol was owned by the imperial family. They delegated the rights to sell alcohol to other people as well. Pendragon Duchy also had control over alcohol in the territory.

“This alone would allow us to recover about half of our investment. Even though I am old and brainless, I can still do calculations that are as simple as this.”

Small sounds of laughter could be heard at the light-hearted joke, and the atmosphere turned much warmer.

“But, as His Grace mentioned, if merchants and associations from other parts of the empire start flooding in, then that opens the door for other business opportunities. More business means more tax revenue.”

Befitting his title as the duchy’s general, Melborne naturally attracted the eyes and the ears of the listeners.

“In addition, if we manufacture gold coins, then the commission we paid until now for exchanging our gold into coins at the Seyrod territory will no longer be an additional expense.”

“That’s right…”

“We have been paying 10 percent every time as commission…”

Raven smiled inwardly and looked at Vincent with a renewed expression.

‘That is why he told me to ask General Melborne about his thoughts first. Vincent truly is…’

“Of course, there will be a cost associated with production. But if our gold is recognized as a currency by the empire, the profit gained will far exceed the production costs.”

“Hooh…”

“W, would that really happen?”

At last, most of the nobles had a change in expression.

‘As I thought…’

Vincent narrowed his eyes at the sight. He had felt it when he first arrived at Conrad Castle and interviewed with the man, but General Melborne certainly was no ordinary person.

Even if he headed to the empire’s largest trading company, Melbourne would be able to occupy a key post with his keen insight and good eyes. And that was why Vincent had asked Raven to first ask General Melborne for his opinion.

“And so… after putting everything together, as the general of the Pendragon Duchy, and as the financial officer, I am in favor of His Grace Pendragon’s plan.”

“……!”

The entire hall was engulfed in silence as one of the most influential figures of the duchy expressed his opinion.

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