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Volume 3: Chapter 207 – The Distance Until the Battlefield (1/3)
The merchant country of Pena was buzzing over a certain topic.
The clan leader of the red King, Archduke Brandika, was to be wedded to the queen, Raksha El Pena. The queen was turning 19 and the brave and renowned archduke sought her hand in marriage. Although the elder council, which was the body responsible for making decisions in Pena, was still deliberating the topic, the people couldn’t help but talk about it.
“It hasn’t even been long since her late fiancé Lord Aizas passed…”
“But the situation in the north isn’t looking good. And I hear the Red King Clan is bigger than all of the clans in Tortoki combined.”
By the stalls of the marketplace, which was said to be an oasis for womenfolk, in the houses of the people of Pena, along the streets, in the bar, regardless of where it was, there was only one topic on everyone’s mind.
The wedding of the queen.
Queen Raksha was popular among the people. Her grace and beauty have often led people to describe her as the flower of the desert. Although she wasn’t as popular as Saint Mira, she still had plenty of influence.
The only reason the people weren’t completely against the marriage with Archduke Brandika was because of the great influence of the Red King. Ever since the tactician of the Red King, Carlion, fainted, Brandika decided that he would be the one to decide their policies. At that, he gradually extended his influence toward the core of Pena.
In order to acquire Pena, the first thing Brandika did was to control the economy.
The Red King gradually extended their influence over the escorts of the merchants passing through the desert, the resources taken from the monsters, and the transport of goods.
The merchant country of Pena got its taxes mostly from trade. The merchants would give money to the country under the pretense of giving support in order to increase their profits. A percent of those profits would then be taken as tax and would be used to finance Pena’s treasury.
The guards used to escort the merchants crossing the desert were mostly adventurers. Until now, Pena has made several clans compete for the job and never relied on a single clan to prevent them from having too much power over them. Unfortunately, the Red King went beyond their expectations.
The clans supported by the Red King proactively took the escort jobs, while shutting out the other clans. At the same time, the Red King also promised to accept them if they submitted to them. Should they forcefully try to resist, however, they wouldn’t hesitate to use violence.
The reason they were able to do something like that was because of the decline of the Blue Knight and the great influence of the Red King’s Elrain Kingdom and Fatina. The grain-producing region of Fatina was also the supply center for the south. And that too was under the control of the Red King.
The Red King once stopped the flow of grain to Pena, but they immediately restored it.
It didn’t do much, but as far as threats threats went, it was quite successful.
Humans can’t live without food, so holding the source of food in their hands was the same as them holding their lives.
The other reason was Elrain Kingdom. Normally, a guild doing something as crazy as what the Red King was doing now, would be in breach of the guild rules. After all, the guild was supposedly a place to introduce work to the adventurers. And yet the Red King was preventing others from finding work. That was a clear breach of purpose.
But Brandika was able to avoid that by ordering Elrain Kingdom to get rid of the annoying clans. Elrain Kingdom would tell the guild to remove the clans, and the guild would obey. By taking advantage of the kingdom’s authority, the Red King was able to expel the annoying clans and buy time to strengthen their foundation.
“There seems to be a lot of resistance,” one of the Red King’s top brass, the old enchanter, Grave, said.
Brandika, who was sitting upon the throne, fearlessly laughed. “There’s no smoke where there’s no fire. At least, so long as no one starts one, anyway.”
“Most of the clans in Tortoki have already submitted.”
The labyrinth city state of Tortoki got its money mostly from the clans and the adventurers. They would sell the precious treasures taken from the labyrinths and sell them for a high price to various countries. With most of the adventurers having submitted to the Red King, the Red King now had enough influence to occupy a part of the Labyrinth.
“With this we have taken control of the economy. But there’s another move I’d like to play if possible,” Grave said.
Since Brandika had forcefully ordered Carlion to rest, he appointed Grave to be in charge of the diplomacy.
Currently, he was the one negotiating between the Red King and Pena.
“Just get more people from Elrain Kingdom.”
Ever since the management of the country was left to Brandika, he has been doing things by force.
In order to purge the law, he cut the head of the top bureaucrat and executed all those who accepted bribes. As a result, he was able to both strike fear in the heart of the civil officials and eliminate the suspicious movements of the nobles toward the insurrection of the prince.
He seized properties to supplement the national treasury, allowing Elrain Kingdom to finally begin recovering from its poor financial situation. And even in the taxes of the grain producing region of Fatina, Brandika applied the same philosophy of getting the best results with the least sacrifices.
If the might of an army were to be explained in a few words, then the might of an army was numbers. Of course, quality also had to be maintained, but without the numbers, quality was bound to decline.
The path of the king was to gradually increase his forces numbers while maintaining that balance between number and quality, but Brandika held absolute faith in his ability to unify people. Hence, he gathered people from other clans and made other clans submit to him in order to increase the number and quality of his forces at the same time.
The Red King even limited the maintenance of the public order as he ordered the army of Elrain Kingdom to focus their strength on foreign campaigns.
“…Won’t our step be shaken?” Grave asked.
“If a doll is dancing, then there must be a puppeteer at the end of the thread,” Brandika replied.
“I see. Perhaps we could use that against Pena.”
“I wouldn’t mind it if the puppeteer changed sides too.”
“I’ll think about it.”
Although there were ups and downs in the quality of the bureaucrats leading the country, their abilities were by no means bad. Normal farmers couldn’t read, but they could and they could even do math on top of that. In that sense, they were quite useful.
The Red King used Elrain Kingdom as fertilizer to expand itself.
After Brandika saw Grave off, he opened the windows, and the desert wind blew against him.
His red hair fluttered in the wind like a lion’s mane as he narrowed his eyes.
“Just wait a little bit more, Carlion. It’ll be over soon.”
A fierce smile appeared on his lips as Carlion sought to gain even more power.
Tl Note: This is the 3rd release this week and the last regular release for this week.