Chapter 120 Ransom (Part 2)
Hearing this question, Roland looked at Petrov in interest, and then laughingly said: "You’re the first person to ask me that." He then took his cup and drank from it, afterward stated explaining in a casual tone, "There is no doubt that Longsong Stronghold belongs to me. It's still mine, even while I'm not here. But, I do need a man, or a family, to supervise the stronghold for me, so you should not be asking for a ransom, but rather for a ‘Representative's Fee."
Representative... Petrov was no stranger to this word, as a sharp-eyed businessmen they would always fix their aim on increasing the output of their territory, but all the peddling nobles didn’t really have the time or would express disdain for this sort of work, so in the end they could look for others to sell their goods to. In order to obtain that right, the merchants had to pay a sum in advance, as a deposit.
"How many gold royals would you want?" After asking, he took a deep breath to trying to calm himself down.
"This would be a long-time deal, so it wouldn’t be over with just one payment," Roland paused, "Every Month you have to pay 30% of the stronghold’s tax revenue, as well as a material worth of 1000 points, everything else would be for yourself."
That doesn’t sound excessive, Petrov thought, as long as I could get complete control over Longsong Stronghold, so it seems that even the Prince can be fair. But first I have to confirm that the Prince isn’t actually joking, that he really is willing to go through with this.
This would really be a golden opportunity; Petrov was completely hooked. I and the Prince aren’t mortal enemies, since the Duke has completely failed, his children will also be deprived of their right of inheritance. Even the coalition of six noble families can't defeat the Prince, who can prevent him from taking over the Western territories? To join the stronger side is one of the basic principles of the continuation of one own nobility, if I can gain the approval of His Highness before the other four families even know of it, House Honeysuckle will become the strongest family within the Western territories.
"Your Royal Highness, why don’t you want to stay in Longsong Stronghold? The castle has so much more to offer than Border Town does."
"What you really want to ask is, why I don’t want to manage Longsong Stronghold myself, right?" Roland looked slightly embarrassed, "There are many reasons, for example, the power structure would get so entangling that I would have to spend too much time and effort trying to straighten out the relationships between each of them. Furthermore, don’t forget the profit, as a local nobleman, I think you or the others would know better than I do how to really govern this territory, so this would become a win-win deal. Besides, there a plenty of other reasons, you may start thinking about it when you go back." The prince played with the silver cup in his hands, "Oh that’s right, in the case that I would select you as a representative, I also won’t have to fear that you will come to build a force trying revenge the Duke, right? "
"Of course not, Your Royal Highness!" although the last question came a little unexpected, Petrov was still able to answer it immediately.
Since the Duke is gone, the first thought in the other five nobles’ minds will be how they can come to take over his territory, regarding matters such as revenge, who cares?
But Petrov also knew the reasons the Prince had given him weren’t his actual reasons. 'The power structure would be too complex', 'it would be difficult to straighten them out'? In face of his overwhelming force, he could just use his power to destroy any idea of building a resistance. But even so, in just one or two years, all the other nobles will already have forgotten the loser's name, the same will happen to Duke Ryan. But during this period of two years, it’s absolutely impossible to transform Border Town into such a big city like Longsong Stronghold.
His Royal Highness must have a deeper intention.
"That’s good to hear, then the city..."
"I am willing to act as your representative, Your Highness," blurted Petrov out, but not much later his expression became hesitant once again, "But, King - no, I mean your brother does not necessarily agree with this result. In case he assigns a new Duke to this territory, I won’t be able to fight against the King.
"There is no need for you to fear a confrontation," Roland said and threw two letters in front of him. "Look at this, this documents I'd found in the former Duke Ryan's study."
When Petrov quickly swept his gaze over the content of the letters, he couldn’t help to gasp in shock.
The first letter looked like was sent to the Duke by a spy, it seems like the new King and the Queen of Clearwater have fought a big battle in and close to Eagle City, and the result ended up as a major loss for the King? The second letter was even more horrifying, even so, it was only half written, it was still clear that Duke Ryan wanted to annex the North. The idea of becomingindependence was clearly revealed. The letter wasn’t finished and it was furthermore unknown to whom he wanted to send it.
But Petrov still understood immediately what His Highness wanted to tell him – there was no need for him to resist because the new King had already enough problems on his own. Otherwise, the Duke would have never dared to declare his independence. With his elite knights, he was already invincible in the Western territory, the only difference to the King’s Knights laid in their numbers.
The secret letter could have been forged, but the second parchment was indeed written with Osman Ryan's handwriting, so unless the prince found a witch that could mimic the writing of others... For a short moment, he thought about this possibility only to immediately dismiss this speculation again.
The Prince had no reason to try to deceive him, implementing someone as his representative wasn’t one-sided, if his representative was unable to rule over the stronghold, the Prince would also not profit from the deal. Moreover, every Duke assigned by King Timothy would become an enemy of the Prince.
If he wanted for House Honeysuckle to stay above the other four noble families, he had to rely on the support of the Prince, and on the other hand, in order to ensure that everything was handled in his interest, the Prince would also have to make sure that the Hull Family wouldn’t get challenged.
When he had thought everything through, Petrov slowly stood up and bowed towards Roland, "The Hull family is willing to serve you.”
"Well," the latter nodded, "but it's not up to you to decide, I'll have to ask you some questions first.”
"Your Highness, please."
"What are you going to do with those who are against you?”
"How much do you estimate the monthly tax revenue will be? Also, how would you guarantee that you can pay a thousand points each month?"
"In the case that I request you to vigorous expand the trade and commerce sector, what would you do?
Petrov had thought that His Highness would take this opportunity to gather as much information about the other Lords of the Western territory, he had never expected that the other side would ask such weird questions, in the end, this were almost all only questions about his policy, means, and his general business knowledge.
After he having all of these questions asked of him, Petrov put his mind into answering them one after another, along with his answers, His Highness’ expression also became more and more satisfied. Finally, the Prince clapped his hands and said, "Well, that will be enough for today. When you have calculated how to redeem the value of 3000 points, you can come back and free your father, rest assured, during these days I will properly entertain him.
"Your Highness, that representative..."
"Will be announced another day." Roland gave one of his knights the signal to see him out.
When Petrov left the hall, he had much to think about, he got his God’s Stone of Retaliation back from Carter – it was still the same brightly shining blue stone, it seems the value of fifty gold royals wasn’t much.
"What can you tell me?" Roland turned his view to Nightingale who stand beside him.
"Oh, basically everything he said was the truth," she shrugged, "he was much more sincere than the several Ladies and Gentlemen you have previously talked to. That said, is it right to tell everyone the same story? Furthermore, showing them those letters, all of them are confidential.
"Not to everyone," the Prince looked down at the list in his hands, "They were all from the five noble families, only those big nobles are suitable to manage Longsong Stronghold in my stead. If their power is not strong enough, even if I was to give them this position, they wouldn't be able to run this stronghold, in the end, there would only be a lot of infighting. As for the news that Timothy Wimbledon was defeated by Eagle City, that’s not really a secret so to say. Sooner or later the news would spread through the whole Kingdom of Graycastle, for me it’s even better that it spreads a little faster.
But the content of this news was just perfect for me, he thought, if the 2nd Prince wasn’t defeated, I’m afraid that I would have to spend a lot of time to hold him back – and even if he tried to use force, the results may not have been so beautiful.
"So... will you choose him?"
"If nothing else happens," Roland said with a smile, "he was the first one who took the initiative to ask by himself, the subjective initiative has always been the most important quality of the employees. Furthermore, I would never expected that there would be someone within the five families who is so well versed in the field of administration and trade. I have thought that they would only know how to ride and kill."
When he found the name of Petrov Hull on the list, he gently scratched a circle around him.
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