Chapter 191 The new King’s bared teeth
Petrov sipped the black tea, leaned against the soft lord chair, and let go of a long sigh of relief.
Two months had passed since the takeover of Longsong Stronghold, and by now he discovered that he liked the hall more and more. It’s step-by-step ascending structure allowed him to overlook the lower standing officials and attendants from the Lord’s seat, having such power in his grip let him have a feeling of satisfaction.
During the first month, some small aristocrats stepped out and openly questioned him or secretly planned riots and such things – of course, the people who provoked them from behind the scene came from Elk, Wolf, and several other big families. Following his father’s advice, Petrov delivered the commoners who created trouble or belonged to the underground rats directly to the gallows, while the small nobles were imprisoned and after their family paid the ransom were expelled from the Western Territory.
When this method was put into practice and thunder like struck down on them, the situation soon subsided. After all, with the exception of the Honeysuckle Family, the Knights of several other families had been arrested and brought to Border Town. Making it impossible for them to build up any resistance against Petrov’s policies. Afterward, he again guided the interest by announcing that the stronghold shall compensate the big families for their loss during the seizure, in this way forming a stable group of nobles who all shared a common interest.
With the exception of the 30% which had been transferred to Border Town, the remaining 70% of the stronghold’s income were split into three sections. 30% were used to keep the city operating, 20% were used to appease the other noble families, and the remaining 20% were invested into the Hull’s territory.
Nowadays, the old portrait of Duke Ryan that had hung behind the lord’s seat was exchanged with a picture of the 4th Prince, Roland Wimbledon, but he already looked forward to the day when it was exchanged with one of himself – a portrait of Petrov Hull.
In case he thoroughly took possession of Longsong Stronghold, they could turn the tax used to operate the city and the one invested into their own territory into one, becoming truly worthy of the name of a dukedom. And the 50% which were used to appease the other nobles could also be saved. Instead, it could then be invested in the stronghold’s trade, in exchange generating an even higher income for themselves.
Of course, the premise for all of this was that Roland Wimbledon could conquer the throne and rule as King of the Kingdom of Graycastle.
“My Lord,” one of his guards entered the Lord’s Hall and handed him a letter, “It contains news from Border Town.”
When Petrov heard that the letter had come from Border Town, he immediately straightened the way he sat.
He received the envelope and took a fragile piece of papyrus from it. From the poor quality of the letter, he could immediately recognize that it was from one of his eyes within the ranks of the serfs.
The outcome of the battle two months ago could be said to be an outrageous result. Although Petrov hadn’t personally taken part in it, he still had heard a fantastic story from his father. In order to find out the reasons for the Duke’s failure, he had dispatched some of his confidants to Border Town. They would pretend to be artisans, herdsman or serfs, and send all the information they had gathered back to the stronghold.
He firmly believed that the others families had done the same.
But so far, each month he had only gotten information from the two people disguised as serfs. Those who had pretended to be craftsmen or herders hadn’t given any sound of their presence, as if they had vanished.
In the end had they betrayed him out of their own will, or were they discovered by the prince who totally removed them?
He shook his head, instead focusing his attention on the letter.
The content of the letter was written with charcoal and also crookedly written. In some places it even had some traces of water, indicating that it had been written sneakingly while working.
The first paragraph was about how they were building a tower with an unknown purpose at the shore of the Redwater River. At present, they had already erected three of these bases which had a height close to that of the stronghold’s city walls and on top of each of those bases, they had placed an enormous metal pot. It seemed that the blacksmiths had constructed the metal pot in town. Afterward transporting it to the river as a whole piece. Then the First Army would surround the iron tower and standing with their back to the iron pot, and on the next day, the tower was magically erected.
“Building”… it’s again this word, Petrov thought, it was also mentioned in the previous secret letter, just looking at that information it seems that the Prince is always building something. Last time he had repaired the roads and constructed that bridge, this time he is building that iron tower. Could it be that His Highness is spending all of those gold royals he had plundered from Longsong Stronghold in one go? Furthermore, the function of those towers is still unknown… even though my scouts who are disguised as serfs are not real serfs, but in actuality are knowledgeable knights, so in case that those towers were watchtowers, they would able to see it by the first glance.
Probably those towers are still not entirely built yet, making it difficult to judge their purpose. Petrov shook his head. I should wait until next month, maybe I will get more detailed information then.
He shifted his gaze to the next paragraph.
There he read that for a week a large-scale merchant fleet of an unknown owner had stayed in the town’s dock and afterward left eastwards. During their stay, a lot of ore and saltpeter were also unloaded from the ships.
The purchase of saltpeter is easy to understand, after all the second month of the summer will usually become very hot, and because of this, the castle will consume a significant amount of saltpeter for cooling. Furthermore, it can also be used for cold drinks and fruit juice. As a royal aristocrat, the Prince certainly doesn’t want to sweat all day, like the peasants on the fields are.
But the purchase of ingots totally surprised Petrov. After all, Border Town was a source for ore all on its own. I can still remember, prior to the Months of Demons, when I was sent as a messenger to Border Town, Prince Roland had exaggeratedly said that they would be able to double the amount of ore they could sell. But now, the result was that not only didn’t they export ore, but had now they are also importing ingots?
This, together with those city wall high like iron towers, meant that Petrov himself was now more and more unable to understand what His Royal Highness wanted to accomplish.
But when Petrov read the last paragraph of the secret letter the contents immediately left Petrov stunned.
In the last two weeks, Border Town had held several open-air theater performances at the town square?
They didn’t sell tickets, and the drama’s name was also unheard of. Moreover, they were even encouraging the serfs to go watch. But the most surprisingly part was that one of the performers was the recently vanished Star of the West, Miss May!
What kind of situation is this?
That Miss May had gone missing was the biggest news of recent times. Several of the dramas in which she should have played the leading role, were now played by others, and because of this the nobles had all left halfway through to express their protest. And when they demanded an answer, the theater claimed that Miss May had left without any explanation, and that her whereabouts were currently unknown. When the news had become public, it had caused an uproar among the drama-loving nobles of the Western Territory.
In the end, she went to Border Town? They don’t have there any theaters! Furthermore, to be playing in front of civilians and serfs… Petrov’s had some difficulty imagining such a picture in his mind since the impression he had gotten from Miss May was that she wasn’t a amiable or an approachable actor.
After carefully thinking about it, he decided to write a letter to His Royal Highness Roland Wimbledon, officially inquiring about this matter. As a theater enthusiast himself, in the past months he had been unable to see the fantastic performance of the Star of the West, not to mention getting the chance to personally invite her. Since the drama was a public performance at the town square, it wouldn’t be too surprising for it to be seen by a peddler who might have come from Longsong Stronghold, and this could be given as the reason for this the news to have reached his ear – doing it this way, he won’t expose his knights who are disguised as serfs.
As soon as Petrov was ready to have one of his attendants draft the text, a Knight rushed into the hall, and hurriedly said, “My Lord, we have a message from the guards at the East Gate, a team of knights are nearing the stronghold!”
“Knights? Were they able to tell who must have sent them?” He suddenly stood.
“The other side is holding up a flag with a tower and two pikes on it, Sir,” the Knight replied, “In case they aren’t pretenders, they must be from the new King’s forces.”