Inside Parnam Castle, Royal Audience Chambers.
A crowd of people are now kneeling here in the place that was used for hero summoning and the talent awards ceremony. They were this country’s financial bureaucrats. They all looked worn-out. Sunken cheeks, dark circles below their eyes, and dry smiles, some of them even looked like they’ll collapse at any moment. Yet despite all that they all had eyes shining bright, those were the eyes of warriors that had survived a carnage.
They all survived through the agonizing present. When the kingship changed and the reforms for the finances that were on the verge of bankruptcy began, they became workhorses of the new King. Those among the bureaucrats that abused their positions to fill their own pockets were dismissed, leaving only the honest people, so they frantically worked, even forgoing sleep. Some of them compared numbers in documents all day long, some spent the whole day on horseback going to each and every place making sure the budgets are properly used.
They just about only return home to sleep, nay, they spent their days not returning home but sleep in the castle’s nap room, and once they wake up they would tackle their work immediately. There are those who have families. There are those who have children. There are those who were newly wed. The time they could’ve spent with family …. they cast those away and continued working. They turned their backs on their wives, dissatisfied with their putting priority on work. They turned their backs on the faces of their children, lonely from their not playing with them. They turned their backs on their new wives earnestly worrying for them. This is the time, they said as they eagerly worked.
Solely in order to save this country from bankruptcy.
Solely in order to protect their loved ones living in this country.
Right now, I was sitting on the throne, lording over them. The color of my face was probably not too different to theirs. Unlike them, my unused consciousnesses could take turns resting, but even so, because of my workload that was five times the norm I feel like my soul had been worn down, not to mention my body. I practically haven’t had any proper rest since the date at the Royal Capital.
“Everyone, you have a good look on your faces”
As I stood up, I calmly addressed them all. I then stepped down to them and rested my hand on a skinny man.
“A good expression, like a ghoul with hollow eyes”
“I know that you all spared your sleeping hours, that you fought with numbers all day long, that you shrugged your loved ones off and came to the castle these past days. You all are precisely the ones who are fit to be our country’s treasure! Be proud! For every bit of your souls you scraped away, that many of our country’s people was saved!”
These lanky and pale people whom anyone can see to be indoor-type people, raised war cries like barbarians and stood up all at once. They raised their fists and clamored [King Soma! King Soma]. I waited for their fervor to settle down a little and continued my speech.
“We were able to secure funds thanks to your labors. Now the project [Veneti Nova] can begin in earnest. The complete settlement of the country’s food problems is the dawn of this project. This was all because of you performing your duties, restoring the economy that was in dire straits, and raising funds! On behalf of the people, allow me to thank you!”
[King Soma!] [King Soma!]
“You have all done a thankless task for the country! This was not the kind of job that would go down in history. Even so, you have all saved more lives than a hero saving the day on a battlefield. For that, I, Soma Kazuya, will remember you for all my life! It is you who are the nameless heroes!”
[Glory to King Soma!]
[Glory to King Soma and to Elfrieden!]
“You all did a job well done, and so you must be rewarded. I will give you five days off starting tomorrow! Go back to your families, rest your bodies and restore your strength!”
That was the loudest cheer today. I know that feeling. They were all starved for rest. Sorry for doing black business¹.
¹ «TN: Employee abuse»
“I would normally have given you bonuses, but using the money you painstakingly raised would be putting the cart before the horse. I deeply apologize”
“In return, I have consulted with the prime minister and would allow you to take one bottle each of the finest liqueur from the castle’s wine cellars! Raise a toast, or sell it for money! Do whatever you like!”
[UUOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHH! King Soma! King Soma!]
I smiled in satisfaction seeing the bureaucrats explode in joy. However, only Liecia who was watching the outcome next to me was….
… being creeped out by the scene.
◇ ◇ ◇
“Soma… you must be tired”
“Not gonna deny that”
Upon returning to the government office, Liecia thoughtfully said so to me. Yeah, well … that tension was really something. Thinking back, I only got through it by some chance.
“I’ve been working until close to dawn. I was going to turn to ash from lack of sleep”
I answered, laying down as usual on my exclusive use bed laid down on a corner of the government office. Hakuya kept saying “It doesn’t need to be luxurious but please get a room for yourself. It’s strange for a country’s representative to sleep in the government office” until he’s blue in the face, but I don’t want to lose the convenience of being able to work straight after getting up, so I left it as is. I would probably sleep here at least until the political situation calms down a bit.
Liecia sat down on the bed next to where I was laying down to sleep. A pair of smallish well-shaped buttocks suddenly appeared before my eyes so I spontaneously turned away. Liecia was wearing a military uniform straight out of [Rose of Versailles] (with snug-fitting panties underneath), so her waistline was clearly visible. Which reminds be, for being a “princess” I don’t recall ever seeing her in a dress. The fact that because I received the crown she couldn’t get the throne and her status becoming up in the air probably had something to do with it.
“You made your consciousness take turns resting didn’t you?”
“Eh, ah … I guess. But I was just about able to gather a little more of the needed budget for the grand project so I made my consciousnesses work in full swing”
As I said that much, Liecia sighed.
“I know you work hard, but please don’t make me worry”
“You were worrying?”
“Of course I was. There’s no replacing you”
“If it comes to that … you can just summon someone else as a hero, right?”
“You idiot! Don’t say anything more or you’re getting a slapping”
I turned my head suddenly to face Liecia. As I looked up I saw Liecia getting seriously angry.
“If we summoned another hero, that person wouldn’t be Soma. I want Soma”
“Remember this. I want Soma to be king. I don’t want any other king. If father told you to return the throne I’ll fight him for you”
She said something amazing so seriously I could only nod. I somehow … caught a glimpse of the Gutsy Mother² in her. Seems like she’s going to be a good bride. The fact that I was a husband candidate still didn’t exactly register with me, though. For now, Liecia seemed to assent to my reaction.
² «TN: a late 60s TV series»
“So? You said something about budgets …. what are you using it for?”
“Ah, I was thinking I’d build a town for now”
I asked Liecia to fetch me a map of the country from my work desk and pointed at the joint of the letter く that this country’s territory resembles.
“I’ll build a bay town here. Meanwhile, I’ll be proceeding with road constructions. If I could maintain transport routes from the bay town to every other place I could control both maritime and land transportation. This should smooth out the circulation of goods. Honestly, I don’t get why you didn’t use such a good location. If things were more peaceful I’d have wanted to put the capital there”
“If things were peaceful?”
“Port towns are vulnerable to bombardment, right?”
The capital relocation has to wait until things get more peaceful than it is currently. Anyway, northeast of it there was one of the three dukes, the Navy Admiral Ecksel Walter’s duchy’s port town [Lagoon City]. Right now it is the country’s biggest trading port but at the same time it was a naval base, with battleship docks. It was bad balance, with ports where goods from all over the world go coexisting with the naval base where secrecy is needed. Trading tends to get stopped whenever there’s an emergency.
With that in mind, building of a new town with a trading port becomes urgent business.
“This bay town will be the country’s heart, and the transport routes will be its veins. If circulation is smooth then if the north has a shortage of some goods, it can be transported from places in the south that has it in excess. Do you know what this means?”
“Umm … you make a killing by buying up goods where the prices have gone down because of oversupply and resell it where prices have hiked because of high demand … I guess?”
“Liecia, what are you, a merchant?”
“I was wrong?”
“Why are you ripping off the people we want to enrich …”
Well if this was [Tai〇〇〇 Risshiden]³ or if we were talking foreign trade she would be correct.
However, since we’re talking domestic trade, we have to think like a country rather than individuals.
³ «TN: Taikou Risshiden»
“Sure, there will initially be merchants making a killing doing that, but eventually the shortage of goods will decrease, the balance between supply and demand will be restored, and the high prices will gradually drop. This way, prices all throughout the country will even out, which means …”
“You can buy things that were previously too expensive to get your hands on?”
I nodded, satisfied with Liecia’s answer.
“Right now, the thing in highest demand in this country is foodstuffs. It’s urgent to maintain distribution routes in order to ensure a steady supply of it. In addition, over half of this country’s border is on the sea. We have marine products in abundance. If we can take that inland we can solve the food problem in one go”
“We can take salted and dried stuff even now, can’t we?”
“Okay, so you want to eat salted and dried foods every time you eat? I know I‘ll get tired of it”
“Well …. I see”
Dried mackerel and stuff do taste good but I don’t think I want to eat it all the time. Since it’s salted (and it’s the salt that has antibacterial properties) one can’t change the taste if one gets tired of it. In the first place, there’s not much else to do to “quick-spoiling” fish than drying it. Which is exactly why it’s important to be able to bring “raw fish” inland as soon as possible.
“And that’s what the transportation network is for, right”
“That’s right. …. well then”
I rolled over to sleep on the bed and closed my eyes.
“Get a little sleep. Let’s go to the planned town construction area together when you get up. Ludwin’s gone ahead and began advance work already, …. got to go and pay him a visit …”
“All right. Good night Soma”
I felt something warm and soft on my cheek. When I opened my eyes in surprise I only saw the back of Liecia who was running outside. Ah … s, so this is a goodnight kiss … I, I guess. I suppose it’s not strange in a western-type place. Can’t be helped then. My heart’s getting this restless because I don’t go out with girls much, there’s got to be a limit to being unimmunized⁴. Yeah, I’ll be fine, it’s normal, it’s normal. Nothing special. Even Liecia probably did it casually. No deep meaning to it. Probably. Maybe.
⁴ «TN: There’s got to be a limit to being in denial»
It should go without saying that I couldn’t get a wink of sleep in the end.