TALES OF A WITCHER - Season 4 Episode 41
Upon Vader’s departure, Carter leaned towards the king and asked, “Your Highness, do you have any idea who sent those people here?”
“If we exclude the church, the person who possessed the pills would be Timothy. Garcia already keeps her distance from Greycastle and it is highly unlikely she would still care about me.” Roland heaved a sigh. “Comparing them, it is much more likely to be Timothy. While he is more cautious about sending a large army away from the capital, that does not mean that he would not retaliate against me.”
It was lucky that the attackers hidden among the crowd had carried pills instead of covering their bodies with gunpowder. Had they blown up in the crowd, two months’ effort would have been wasted.
Roland was not worried that any so-called “suicide squad” his brother dispatched would have harmed him. On days the Nightingale was out, he had an escort of at least ten bodyguards with him at all times, and for additional protection wore a God’s Punishment stone. When faced with the suppression of ten revolving firearms, even a witch extraordinaire would have difficulty approaching him, let alone a group of people with berserker pills.
In the short time since he had assumed the role of a Feudal Lord, less than a year, he found that his mentality had undergone tremendous changes. When he had begun this role, an incident such as this would have left him very afraid, to the point where his legs would have given way and he would have been at a complete loss. However, now, although he felt somewhat anxious earlier, he was still able to assume a calm expression and a composed demeanor.
The reason for this change was because he had faith that his guards would put themselves in harm’s way for him and trusted them to protect him from enemies, regardless of the peril they faced. Furthermore, it was forbidden for him to lose any self control, as he was the focus of the masses. Contemplating this, it shocked him that he would think so far…
“Round up the people from the missionary mission and ask them the specifics of the recruitment process.” Roland turned towards Barov and said, “I need to know where those people boarded the sailboats.”
“Yes, Your Highness.” said the city hall’s Prime Minister, with a somewhat gloomy expression on his face. He probably hadn’t expected his subordinates, whom he was so proud of, to commit such a large blunder. He felt that his dignity had been completely besmirched by this.
“You shouldn’t criticize them too harshly either. You can decide what to do with them after you straighten everything out.”
After all the refugees made it through the checkpoint, Roland returned to his office in the castle. This time, the news brought back by the missionary group was a particularly nice surprise—On the southern border were a large number of the destitute and homeless. The flames of war ravaged Eagle City and Clearwater Port, while the fields around the city had been abandoned. On top of that, the fluctuating weather this year had caused the temperatures in various areas of Greycastle to plummet. Because of this, the price of grains surged, increasing day by day, and the price of slaves had reduced by half.
As long as he could establish a reliable passageway for transport, he would be able to draw an unending number of people through the western border—In actuality, when the refugees heard how developed Border Town was, and that it was actively trying to recruit them, a sizable number decided to set off towards the town on their own. That was the report given to him by the missionary group.
However, the greatest difficulty would be establishing a passageway for it
During the month of the demon, all land traffic was halted by the sheer volume of snow, leaving the Redwater River as the only method of transport. The only boat that could travel the river was Little Town, which wouldn’t budge without the help of a witch. Just this boat would be vastly incapable of transporting everyone. If he wanted ships sailing the waterway at all times, he would have to invest in the construction of at least 20 sailboats capable of sailing inland.
An apt example of the situation he faced would be the difficulties the missionary group had encountered. With all of the gold royals they had brought with them, only a small portion went towards roping in the refugees; the rest was used to hire boats and pay for housing arrangements for personnel. At the moment, less than 400 people had arrived in Border Town, while the other 3,000 or more remained waiting in Willow Town, Silver City, and Fallen Dragon Ridge for ships to transport them inland.
Because they were aware of the conditions in the western region, various captains had raised their prices to insanely high levels. The fees for the 3,000 plus people would be already as high as that of the large-scale rescue operation they had previously held in the capital. Roland, after giving the situation a moment’s contemplation, decided that it would be wise to send a letter requesting assistance to Margaret’s Chamber of Commerce. He hoped that the latter would not go so far as to give him a quote several times higher, on account of Lightning.
However, if he was truly dedicated to cutting down his expenses, he knew that he would have to build his own ship. As of now, the quality of reinforced steel and cement had greatly improved, it was wholly viable to build larger, sturdier inland ships with those materials. With a steam engine for propulsion, the ship would serve as the groundwork of the transportation industry within the Redwater River.
After he finished dinner in his office, Barov knocked on the door, opened it, and said, “Your Highness, I have more or less ascertained the situation.”
“There’s an apprentice of mine called Salem who is in charge of enticing the refugees in the northern lands. As he was faced with a lack of boats in the midst of returning, he contacted some friends he had met in the capital in hopes that they could help him make some inquires or employ a couple of merchant ships that were willing to head towards the western border.” Barov sighed and continued, “The news must have leaked from there… He had arranged some places for the refugees in Silver City, a little less than half a day away from the capital. I imagine it wouldn’t be difficult at all if Timothy wished to tamper with it.”
“As of this moment, how many people are still being retained in Silver City?”
“Roughly 800 of them.” Barov began to speak in a low voice. “It takes about half month for the merchant ships to do a round trip. We will still be unaware on how the situation unfolds when the next batch of refugees arrive. How about… we immediately recall the small group of First Army soldiers in that area and abandon the refugees?”
“No, no. We will just have to get rid of the people Theodore planted within the group, no matter how many of them there are. So long as the audit checkpoints were properly managed by that time, we can simply get them to pass through it individually.” Roland shook his head and continued, “What would we do if the refugees, who we abandoned and left to their own devices, went back to the northern lands and proclaimed their fate to others? If that happened, we would not be able to recruit refugees from the Northern Islands any more.”
Under the interrogation of Sylvie’s x-ray vision, as well as Nightingale’s lie detection, any spy or assassin would have no way to conceal themeselves. Thus, he wasn’t that worried about it. As long as they didn’t hurt the other refugees, he was fine with it.
“Yes, your highness.” Barov coughed twice before he opened his mouth and asked, “In that case… for Salem’s punishment, what do you…”
“What do you have in mind?”
He hesitated for a moment and said, “As the birth of this incident was a result of his excessive carelessness, I suggest stripping him of his post in the city hall and a fine amounting 2 months his salary. As his mistake wasn’t intended, and didn’t cause too much damage either, I believe it’d be excessive if we sent him into the northern mines.”
Roland couldn’t hold back his loud laughter. Barov’s heartache was written all over his face. “Calm down, I have already made my decision. Seeing the reason he committed this mistake was, subjectively, not a dereliction of duty, I can give him a lighter punishment. After all, it can be considered as his first time undertaking such a post… As I recall, he is only in his twenties, right? Since that’s the case, it is certain he will mature rapidly after this lesson. Giving him a two months fine will do.”
“Understood.” Barov immediately bowed and said, “Everything shall be handled as you said.”
While shaking his head, the prince smiled. Although Barov had started in an unbelievable harsh manner, when it came time to truly punish Salem, he displayed an obvious reluctance. After all, Salem had always been by his side when he was in the capital and was also from the first batch of disciples who had come to Border Town.
“You may leave.”
Roland stretched his back after dealing with this matter. Taking a few sheets of white paper from his drawers, he planned to sketch out the plans of the steam engine powered cement boat when Leaves suddenly ran into his room.
“Your Highness!” She excitedly said, “The Hawk Eye is back!”
“Really?” Roland slowly got up to his feet. Following behind her, they quickly reached the back garden, only to see a massive hot air balloon slowly descending to the ground. The shadow cast by its air sac caused the sunlight in the courtyard to darken somewhat.
The moment the basket touched the ground, Anna jumped out. With both hands outstretched, Roland began to walk towards her while the former mirrored him while wearing a light smile.
”I have returned.”