The Monster of the Northernmost Territory～Wealth and Military Strength of A Country that Begins in Debt Trap～ - Chapter 2
Translator: MadHatter Editor: MadHatter
Once more, he confirmed the amount of the debt and it was daunting. Rodney was at his wits’ worrying about how to pay off the debt when he found out it was far more than he had anticipated.
“How could I administer the territory in this condition…?”
Being reminded of his memories from his prior life, he took up the bookkeeping and kept the ledger. As it turned out, if no debt was incurred, he could manage to get by within tax revenues, but the amount required to merely cover the interest on the debt would exceed the tax revenues for the year.
In other words, he would need to double the current tax revenues. Furthermore, since this was only to meet the interest payments, even more tax revenue would be demanded if the principal was to be reduced.
No matter how he viewed it, Rodney was dizzy at the prospect of having to rely solely on tax revenues.
“I didn’t want to know or understand any of this.”
There were three people to whom he owed the debt. Earl Banyusas, a Yorioya[i], Hacklehoff, a merchant, and Baron Menisas.
Among them, Earl Banyusas would likely be patient in waiting for repayment. While Earl Banyusas was the Yorioya, Knight Rodney Forbus took the role of the Yoriko. As the name suggested, the relationship between the Yorioya and the Yoriko was that of a master-servant relationship, similar to that of a parent and child.
For the sake of maintaining such a relationship, Earl Banyusas will not forsake Knight Forbus. The reason for this was that if this was to happen, the other Yoriko would perceive that assistance would not be forthcoming in times of crisis, and the master-subordinate relationship would cease to exist.
In addition, if the Knight Forbus family were to join another aristocratic family as their Yoriko, Earl Banyusas would lose his dignity and fall into ridicule. That would be an ignominious event in the world of aristocracy.
Hence, although Rodney would probably receive a disapproving look, should he bow his head, the repayment of the loan could be delayed.
Hacklehoff, a merchant, was his mother Charme’s biological father. For Rodney, that would be his grandfather. Once Rodney gave a bow, it was likely that the debt he owed can be prolonged, and if he lowered his forehead to the ground, the debt might even be canceled. Depending on the situation, he may even be able to borrow more money. Rodney presumptively postulated Hacklehoff was such a guy.
But he cannot stoop to that level. Once pampered the first time, he would be spoiled the rest of the time.
“But apart from the debts, my father was also receiving aid from my grandfather, and he sold everything to pay off the debts? What a disgraceful thing to say, but we are in that deep of a bind…”
The assistance from his grandfather was spent by his father to pay off the debts. As a result, Rodney and his family could not afford decent clothes, and their food was meager.
“I’m also in the same situation right now so I can’t say anything about my father either… I can’t afford to be penniless.”
The most complicated of the three was Baron Menisas. The baron held a superior title to the knighthood, but he was a side-by-side associate of Earl Banyusas’ family as a fellow Yoriko.
They were not related by blood, nor were they master and servant. In a sense, they had equal standing, but all the more tricky because of it.
“Even if I use my father’s consolation money, will it be enough to pay off Baron Menisas’ debt fully?”
Since the head of the family was slain in war, the royal family has bestowed upon him a consolation fund. But even if he allocated that money to repay the debt, he would not be able to pay off a portion of it to Baron Menisas.
“If I lack money, the only way is to earn it. But how do I do that?”
There was one solution that sprang to mind. The creation of an industry that will produce local specialty products or specialties.
Creating an industry was not an immediate possibility, but it was not a hopeless proposition either.
While the approach may work, it would require further expenditure to rise to the stage of earning money. The question of how to overcome that expense and the industry to have a chance to take shape was the sore spot, and he would have to figure that out first.
Once the industry has been initiated, Rodney himself will need to develop his combat skills. Since he was a legitimate son of a knight, he has been trained in swordsmanship from an early age. Nonetheless, Rodney had absolutely no talent with a sword.
Although he had been training and wielding a sword daily since childhood, for some reason it never seemed to yield any results. His father also lacked talent when it came to swordsmanship, and for a time he almost abandoned his training, attributing it to the deep heritage of his father. However, Rodney has persisted in his endeavors.
Now that he was a lord, he needed to be capable of improving on his utterly inadequate swordsmanship. For this purpose, he had to enter the Labyrinth.
Within the labyrinth dwelled a monster called Selvanui. The Selvanui will assault humans. Their attack on humans was not based on their carnivorous nature, but because it was engraved in their instincts to do so.
When you defeat a Selvanui, the corpse will disappear. In its place, a life-glow stone will be left behind. By possessing this life-glow stone, a person can acquire a rare form of Root Power.
Root Power was a unique ability that assisted in combat. It was common knowledge of power that all aristocrats would learn at least three of them.
Furthermore, since life-glow stones can be exchanged for money, they can serve as monetary assets. Nevertheless, aristocrats were obliged to pay a set number of life-glow stones to the royal family annually. In short, it was like a payment to the royal family.
None of the Root Powers were taught to Rodney. After collecting the life-glow stones to be delivered to the royal family, the remaining amount was redeemed for cash to pay off the debt. Therefore, the life-glow stones did not go to Rodney.
“Even if I develop industry and settle the debts, it would be worthless if I died in the war. I must gain more strength while building the industry… That’s going to be a challenge.”
The only way to achieve this was to have the soldiers continue to gather the amount to be paid to the royal family, and Rodney himself would have to collect the life-glow stones for his personal use. With this in mind, Rodney acted promptly.
Rodney summoned his squires. Despite being the lowest level of aristocracy, the knight possesses their own retainers, known as squires.
There were five squires in the household, but three of them accompanied Rodney’s father to war. Among those three squires, one was killed in battle. While the remaining two have managed to survive, their wounds meant that they would be immobile for some time. Consequently, two of them were under recuperation and unable to attend the meeting.
Of the three who had gathered, two were in their fifties. The other one was a woman two years Rodney’s senior, his childhood friend.
“I appreciate your coming on such short notice.”
He began by lightly expressing his gratitude for the sudden call.
“I’m sorry to rush you into this, but our family is at the edge of a cliff.”
“Master Rodney. What do you mean by the edge of the cliff?”
The one who responded was Rodmer, the chief squire. He was a sturdy man who had been a squire since the days of Rodney’s grandfather and was the oldest squire in the family. His muscularity defied his age, and he was clad in an air of supremacy.
“If things continue as they are, my family will fall into bankruptcy. I don’t have the money.”
Not only Rodmer but the other two furrowed their brows as well. The actuality existed that the aristocrats were not mindful of money. In fact, many of the aristocrats were actually miserly, but people like that were the ones who wore a pretense on their shoulders.
For Rodney, who retained memories of his previous life, the predicament he was facing was unbearable. He did not wish to live a life of luxury, nor did he want to live in such poverty that he would be unable to afford the meals he ate today.
“My family is in immense debt. With the current tax revenue, I can’t even repay the interest, let alone the principal.”
“Master Beck didn’t mention anything about this…”
Another squire in his fifties, Holtos, spoke up. He too has served as a squire since his grandfather’s time. Although his physique was not as robust as Rodmer’s, he was still more burly than the developing Rodney.
“I guess he didn’t disclose it so that everyone wouldn’t worry. I had no idea either. That’s why I decided to start an industry that is specific to this land.”
Rodney could see the overcast expressions on the three men’s, but if he didn’t attempt it, the situation would force his family to flee in the night.
Each of the five squire households has its own fields. Since all the grain and vegetables harvested from them belong to the squire families, they can live a better lifestyle than the Forbus family, which was the main family in debt.
In exchange for allowing them to do so, they were given to work for the Forbus family.
“You say you intend to start an industry, but that won’t be an easy feat,” Rodmer asked reluctantly.
“I understand, but I have a plan. And I need your cooperation.”
“What is your proposal?”
“It is the forest of the east. Don’t worry, this will be an industry.”
Rodney further elaborated that if a certain plant that grows wild in the eastern forest would be processed, it could be utilized for the industry.
While the expressions on the three people’s faces were gloomy, this was primarily due to the fact that they did not comprehend Rodney’s explanation. Without the memory of his previous life, Rodney would never have thought of starting an industry using the plant, so there was no dissatisfaction on the faces of the three.
“…I understand. I will listen thoroughly to what you have to say, but I hope I can contribute to the development of the industry.”
“I support Sir Rodmer’s view as well as Master Rodney’s.”
The two veterans endorsed Rodney’s idea. He did not expect them to agree because this was his first consideration not to be stingy with his policies after becoming the head of the household.
“I can’t judge if it’s good or bad on something that hasn’t been carried out. After this is done, I will complain about it.”
The third squire, Yulin, spoke up for the first time. She was the daughter of a squire who perished in the war along with Rodney’s father. Her younger brother has taken over the family, but since he was only 9 years old, Yulin was serving in his place. Her scarlet eyes seemed to be glaring at Rodney, but it was merely a reflection of her strength of spirit, not because of any animosity towards him.
“You’re still the same as ever, Yulin.”
This time, the two injured and one killed in combat were each given a consolation payment by the Forbus family. Even though this was an agonizing expense in the midst of this debt crisis, the future of the relationship between the master and servant would be at stake if this was not provided. Yulin didn’t want to dismiss Rodney without giving him a chance to explain his decision in the midst of his debt predicament.
“Now, I have one more thing to share with you.”
The three of them assumed a listening posture.
“I’m also planning to enter the Labyrinth to defeat Selvanui from now on.”
“Oh, Master Rodney, you’re going into the Labyrinth yourself?”
“At some point, I will be compelled to participate in the battlefield. If I don’t own a Root Power at that time, I won’t be able to survive. That is why I will enter the Labyrinth for my own sake and attain the Root Power.”
All three of them concurred with this. With or without Root Power, they were aware that his combat capability would be vastly improved. Besides, having Root Power would be useful in escaping.
“After my father’s death, my family will be exempt from warfare for a period of three years. During this period, we will build up our industry, pay back the debts, and procure the Root Power to enhance our prowess in battle.”
The squires will lead the soldiers to collect the life-glow stones for the royal family, while Rodney alone will collect the life-glow stones for himself. In light of the predicament he was in, he laid out his present circumstances and his vision for the future to the three squires.
“If you insist on doing it, Master Rodney, I won’t restrain you. However, entering the labyrinth alone is something I’ll disagree with.”
Yulin’s piercing gaze shot through Rodney.
“Yulin is right, Master Rodney. The Labyrinth is a perilous site. At the very least, bring a soldier with you.”
“I also object to you stepping into the Labyrinth alone, Master Rodney. Please take a soldier with you as Sir Rodmer suggested.”
“In that case, I shall go with you.”
When Yulin offered to accompany Rodney into the Labyrinth, the two men’s expressions softened.
“Well, it will be fine if it is Yulin. Right, Sir Holtos?”
“I would be at ease if Yulin were accompanying you.”
I know I’m unreliable… but Yulin has an established past record, you know…
As childhood friends, Rodney and Yulin spent their early years playing together. From that time on, Yulin was hyperactive and if they had a sword play, Rodney would be quickly defeated.
Even now, the disparity in their sword skills was as wide as the difference between heaven and earth. Yulin possessed a talent for swordsmanship that Rodney lacked. Moreover, Yulin had been in the Labyrinth with his now-deceased father and had a proven record of achievement. Unlike Rodney, whose aptitude for swordsmanship was lacking, Yulin had earned the trust of the other squires and soldiers.
“The life-glow stones for the royal family will be gathered by us. Master Rodney, please take Yulin with you and enter the labyrinth. You must not go in alone.”
“If the three of you insist, then I will obey. Yulin, I’m counting on you.”
“Leave it to me.”
Like an older sister trying to protect her younger brother, Yulin answered confidently. While she herself has suffered the loss of her father, she did not show it in the slightest. Rodney felt that she was more mature than he was, but that was not true.
Yulin was grief-stricken too. But there was no time to be depressed. She had the responsibility to raise not only her own brother but also her childhood friend Rodney, who was like a younger brother to her, to develop him into a full-fledged individual. Although she can’t do it alone, her deep sense of commitment compelled her to assume the role.
In particular, since her unreliable childhood friend has acquired the position of a lord, she believed that she should be firm herself. The 17-year-old girl’s sense of responsibility and care for others led her to steel herself without her even recognizing it.
[i] Well, there’s already an explanation above but in simple terms, Yorioya is the master and Yoriko is the servant
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