C242: Account of the Pilgrimage Part 7 – A Corrupt Feudal Lord

I’m a corrupt feudal lord! Gah-hah-ha!

Calling myself corrupt is abnormal, you say? Nonsense! What’s the use of being the good guy if you can’t act like one?
Pretending to be someone you’re not isn’t going to get you any praise or money! That’s why it’s better to accept being the bad guy and extort the weak!

No matter what happens to the Demon Kingdom, our wise ruler will continue to support us all! I can do whatever I want in this remote area, away from the capital!

Pay your taxes! Seventy percent of your harvests. I don’t care if it’s an abundant harvest or not. 70 is 70!

I’ll tax people even more! If you own a house, you’re taxed. If you own livestock, you’re taxed. If you own a business, you’re taxed. If you buy something, you’re taxed. If you get married, you’re taxed. If you have a child, you’re taxed! Even if you die and have a funeral, you’re still taxed! Inheritance tax is 100 %!

I’ll also charge you for the use of the water wheel! Whenever you mill wheat into flour, you must use the feudal lord’s water wheel!
You are not permitted to mill the wheat with the millstone at your house! I’ll confiscate the millstones from all the houses and destroy them!!!

I’ll also build a tollgate!
What? There’s already one on the southern highway? Then just build another one in front of it!

Gahahaha!
So much money will fill up my pockets!

All the wealth will be mine! I’ll be the only one left laughing in this world!


As I was counting the coins I had hoarded, visitors dropped by.
They look like travelers with how dirty their clothes are.

Two men and two women. They don’t look like demons, but an orc accompanies them.

One of them says, “The tax rate in this territory is too excessive compared to other places. We want you to reduce it.”

You’re in no position to voice out your opinion to me.
I was thinking of arresting them and cutting off their heads to make an example to the rest, but I thought of playing with them before that.

Let’s see…
Go to the garden.
There’s a big stone there. It’s annoying how it ruins the garden’s scenery, but it’s so big and heavy that I can’t move it.
I’ll do as you say and reduce the taxes if you can destroy or move it out of my house.
Otherwise, I’ll take all your belongings and kick you out of my territory.
Hehehe…

“Hakkai.”
“Roger.”

Oh?
Are you going to use your orc attendant?

If orcs had enough physical strength to surpass humans, they would have destroyed or moved that big rock ages ago.

…Hm?
What are you going to use that ax for?
Well, it’s not like it matters, so do what you want…

“Hiyah!”

What?!
The stone broke in half! It’s even breaking into smaller pieces!

“Shall we remove the shattered stones, Lord Ardheg?”
“Very well, I will assess your qualities by helping.”

The finely crushed stones were quickly carried away and completely vanished from my sight.

No. No, no, no!
That was cheating.
Right? They used a monster.
Why don’t they play fair and square by relying on their strength if they want to bet?

…Hm, let’s play one more game, just for you people.
There’s a monster living in the mountains outside of my territory. It’s been a year since it appeared, but you should go and kill it.

What?
That’s something I should do as a feudal lord?

Fools, why would I do something that won’t earn me even a pretty gold coin? Just mobilizing troops already costs money.
Even if I leave it alone, the damage suffered will be limited to the nearby villagers being eaten alive.
If you feel sorry for them, go and kill the monster yourselves.
However, you only have one day to do it!
You’ll probably run out of time before you get there, though! Mwahaha!

“…Songoku.”
“Aye, aye, sir!”

Huh?
How is that girl flying? Magic? She flew away!
And she’s already back!

“Iszis da monster ya requested?”

Ahhh!!!
There’s a dead monster shot in its chest!

“If you have any doubts, you can send a messenger to the mountain to confirm things. We’ll wait as many days as it takes.”

F-F-Fine! Next!
If you win the next round, I’ll reduce the taxes for real!

There’s a sanatorium in a faraway village where people suffering from an epidemic go to get treated.
There are no proper doctors and medicine, so not many of them recover.

“Did you build that sanatorium?”

Huh?
Why would I go out of my way to do something unprofitable?
The village volunteers built it on their own.
I imposed heavy taxes on them so they could operate the facility. They have enough leeway to build one, after all!

“……Haa.”

Why the deep sigh?

“Puffer.”
“On it.”

Now it’s the other woman?!
Nincompoops. You may be confident in your strength, but swords and fists are no match for the ill…

“There are less than twenty patients… My on-hand potions should suffice.”

Huh?

“It only kills the pathogens, not necessarily make a full recovery by drinking it, so they still have to stay put and focus on regaining their strength. If possible, they should intake plenty of nutritious food…”

Huh? What?!
The sick started to look better and better… And their cough has vanished too!

“I didn’t really hear the specifics of what we’re supposed to do at the sanatorium. But now that all the sick are cured, the sanatorium will also stop its operations. Problem solved.”

T-This man who seems to be their leader has been looking down at me pompously for a while now!
Who in the world are you, acting like this toward a demon feudal lord?!

“Will you promise me that you will at least reduce the tax rate to a moderate level? Such is the obligation of rulers.”

Don’t talk so high and mighty!

I know! Let’s have another round!
This time it’s the last one!
Bring me a dragon! Alive, not dead!
If you can do that, I’ll reduce the taxes!
Gahahahahahahaha!!!

“He’s beyond saving…”
“Lord Ardheg?”

What?
The other male companion steps forward and…

What?
What is he doing?
Huh?
He’s changing…
He’s transforming into something gigantic, with claws, fangs, wings, and scales all over his body!


“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

Hakkai the orc again.
Today, we’re in a remote territory of the Demon Kingdom ruled by a corrupt feudal lord.

We’ve been trying to negotiate with him to stop his corrupt ways, but his constant selfishness made us snap.
The first to lose his temper was Lord Ardheg, the dragon.

Revealing his true dragon form, he looks down at the feudal lord.

“So? There’s a dragon here, just as you requested. Do you want us to bring a Lifeless King next?”
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!”

The corrupt feudal lord is too overwhelmed by Lord Ardheg’s imposing appearance that he can’t think of another absurd demand.

“Please restrain yourself, Lord Ardheg. You’re also frightening the villagers.”
“This scum is neither a king nor a hero. To keep him in my sight is a waste of my time assessing him. If it weren’t for your instructions beforehand, I would have turned him into cinders already.”

Lord Ardheg said all that he wanted before he reverted to his human form.

Prince Arowana then calls out to the feudal lord whose knees have given way.

“We entered your territory and were dismayed by the sheer number of checkpoints. But what disappointed me more was the squalor of your villages.”

It was enough to make us think if we really were in the Demon Kingdom.

“Still, the villagers were so hospitable to us that they even offered their meager portion of food. We were so touched that we came to you to appeal on their behalf. But…”
“W-What is it?!”
“I think we’ve gone beyond reasonable limits of negotiations. Hakkai.”

Yes, sir.
I step forward in front of Prince Arowana and unfold a massive parchment to show the corrupt feudal lord.
Written on it is…

“That’s the bill of passage issued by my nation in the handwriting of King Zedan himself! Who in the world are you people?!”
“You’re awfully rude. I am the first prince of the Mermaid Kingdom, Prince Arowana!”

The corrupt feudal lord opens his eyes wide.

“I didn’t want to introduce myself as such, but you left me no choice.”

Prince Arowana continues.

“Of course, I have no right as a stranger to interfere in the Demon Kingdom’s politics. But demons are a proud race, so how can you let the dignitaries see your disgraceful self of another nation?”
“I’m back,” says Lady Puffer, who disappeared for some time and returned with teleportation magic.

“Puffer, did you meet Lord Zedan?”
“Yes, and rather smoothly. He said he’ll send the military police over here right away.”

At the mention of the Demon King’s name, the corrupt lord looks as if his eyeballs are about to pop out of their sockets at any moment.

“The head of the Demon Kingdom will decide how severe of punishment will be meted out to devils like you. Termination, confiscation, exile, imprisonment, death penalty. Who knows? This is where the Demon King’s resolve will be tested.”

That day, one unworthy statesman disappeared from the Demon Kingdom.


“It was a thought-provoking encounter…”
“In the Human Kingdom, the feudal lords are decent to make up for the dimwitted royalty. It’s the opposite case in the Demon Kingdom, though.”
“Lord Zedan is indeed a benevolent ruler, but he can only do so much in keeping an eye on everything and everyone. With a remarkable monarch comes with lax people around him, I’m afraid.”
“Not all demon feudal lords are like that. You’ll have to be careful when the time comes to rule your own country.”
“You mean you and me.”
“Could you stop saying insinuating things out of the blue?!”

Prince Arowana’s pilgrimage continues.

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