National Problems


「The expenses for the Hero’s Festival should have already been decided! In the first place, the treasury was already in a severe state, so there should have already been stricter regulations for spending in place!」

「…I was acting on the orders of the Minister of International Trade and Industry; because it was the 400th Anniversary of the Hero, the festival was supposed to be more lively than usual…」

「That guy…」

Eagle’s face soured. Soleil was only assigned to a post like that because he was the childhood friend of the king, and from his viewpoint, he seemed to be nothing more than a termite gnawing away at the treasury.

(At any rate, he must have wasted it by trying to flatter the merchants.)

Bottling his anger, Eagle then asked the next question.

「As for Antoinette-sama’s gambling losses, why was that taken from the treasury!」

「F-for the time being, we had arranged to call it a loan…」

「Idiot! That woman will never have a reason to repay it!」

「…there’s no way, I could… go against them.」

The Minister of Financial Affairs hung his neck low, and spoke weakly.

「…and lastly, the loan to the knights?」

「That is… The overall harvest of cereal this year is poor.」

「A poor harvest? When the cereal prices aren’t even rising?

Eagle tilted his head to the side in puzzlement.

「That’s because the merchants banded together, and when we tried to put cereal on the market to sell, the prices hadn’t adjusted at all because they flooded the market with their own, so the price did not rise despite it being a poor harvest, and the knights did not want to part with their own supply at such a low price… Because of that, the knights had run out of money and applied to the country for a loan, and I reluctantly had to lend it.」

「Hmm… could it not have been helped? The conduct of the merchants is infuriating, but on the flipside, the price of cereal did not rise either because of the poor harvest. So there is a silver lining in that, at the very least, the people wouldn’t starve. How annoying!」

Bemoaning it, Eagle has to reluctantly admit that nothing can be done.

「However, if the loaner loans out money, it should have a proper interest rate, and mention the repayment plan! Get the contract!」

At Eagle’s harsh words, the bureaucrats hurriedly brought in the knights’ loan agreement .

After he read it, Eagle instinctively wanted to tear it to pieces and throw it away.

「What the hell is this! In addition to loaning it out interest-free, there’s not even a repayment schedule written down!」

「A-about that, because the king is already collecting taxes from the greedy merchants, why should the knights have to pay interest? Instead, just pay it back in cereal the next time the harvest is good…」

「Who was it that said such a thing!?」

「I-I’m afraid, it was the king who said it…」

「Fool! If the king doesn’t show a firm hand to the knights then of course this will happen! It’s not just those contemptible knights, the king is a damn fool too!」

And finally, Eagle had lost control of his temper.

「It is as you say. At any rate, the treasury is bankrupt.」

The Minister of Financial Affairs turned blue and began shaking.

「…Well, it’s unavoidable. Geez, now I have to gather the documents and report this to his majesty. My, my, it’ll take far more than ordinary effort to slip out of this.」

Eagle thought about the difficulties this would present in the future, and his shoulders drooped.

 

Putting together a detailed report about the current state of the treasury, Eagle sought an audience with the king.

After waiting for an awfully long time, he was finally allowed to see the king.

「Hey old man, long time no see. You are doing well I expect?」

Saying that with a bit of refreshing laughter, was Rostania Kingdom’s 17th Generation King, Louis Rostania.

A descendant of the Hero Artemis, and a handsome man in the early half of his 30s.

He gives off the impression of a young man with youthful vigor, and that makes a tremendous impact on the female nobility.

However, standing before him is a grim-faced Eagle.

「It is good to see the king in good health. But without delay, there are some things we need to discuss.」

He hurriedly tells the king about how the treasury coffers are running dry, but Louis waves his hands as if it was troublesome to talk about.

「I’ll leave the matters of the national treasury to you, old man. That kind of stuff is too difficult for me to understand.」

And while saying these words and an “ahaha~” he smiled and laughed it off.

Though this kind of king was popular with commoners and nobles alike, it was unfortunate that he lacked the ability to see reality for what it was.

「No. I’ll have you listen without fail. Firstly, in regards to Hero Artemis’ 400th Anniversary Festival…」

It’s said as good advice that when the national economy is rough, one should not waste money on things like festivals.

「Even so, when the economy is bad, people become tense. Furthermore, Soleil said the ones who have it the worst are the lower class. So at least the festival should be a blast…」

「As for that, only through promoting and developing the country’s business infrastructure will it lead to future growth in revenue when money reaches the pockets of the citizens, only then do they benefit. Looking at these payments, the only gold entering any pockets are those of the merchants who colluded with the Minister of International Trade and Industry. It is not related to improving the lives of your people at all!」

Eagle approaches the king with the income and expenditure list for the festival, and emphasizes the list showing the payees. Certainly it is shown that only the larger merchants were being paid good amounts of money.

「I get it, I get it. It would be good if I could think like you, old man.」

Louis waves his hand aside and tries to parry the matter.

「…then, next up is concerning the gambling debts incurred by Antoinette-sama…」

「Y-you see, I too am a bit troubled about that, it’s sort of like a disease with her…」

Louis scratches his head and shows a bit of an embarrassing face.

「…Then I trust you will leave the matter of her debt collection to me?」

「I-I’ll leave it to you.」

Louis apologised to Eagle.

「Finally, on the matter of the loan to the knights.」

「Ah, there was no helping that. When you see someone in trouble, you should help them unselfishly. Furthermore, if they are my subjects and I am their king, isn’t it all the more reason to lend a hand?」

Louis said this while looking Eagle right in the eyes. It was evident this was a matter of the King’s pride.

However, Eagle stubbornly returned that stare.

「Who was it that reported that to the King?」

「H-hmm? I wonder who it was…?」

And just as Louis shamefully avoids eye contact,

「It’s useless to feign ignorance. Besides, it makes no difference who it was who whispered it to the ear of your majesty.」

「S-saying whispered sounds a bit scandalous! These were all my own thoughts…」

「……」

「…E-Except for… the advice I received from Grand Knight Rudolf. That “in return for loaning the knights the money interest-free, I would be showing the magnanimity of the crown, and bolster their loyalty”.」

Unable to bear the weight of Eagle’s gaze, Louis immediately gave up the name of the person pulling the strings.

「And because of that, the burden was pushed onto the treasury because you failed to see how this will ruin the kingdom’s economy! Knights should be supporting the country, but now they’re jeopardizing it instead!」

「I-It’ll be alright. If it comes to it, I can just borrow…」

「Oh? Borrow from whom?」

「……」

And Louis finally rested his eyes on Eagle.


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