069 Provocateur p.3

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"Normally, I would, though."

Tullius interrupted the official who was trying to be troublesome.

"I hate to tell you this, but it's wartime now. I don't have the time to go through all the hassle of a trial. I’ve already experienced such a long-winded affair like that a year ago. ......I'm sure that under martial rule during wartime, the lord has no problem declaring charges directly and making quick sentences, right Victor?"

"Yes, my lord. The code of the kingdom guarantees nobles full exclusive rights over their own territory and people during wartime. After all, it is the greatest duty of a noble to act as the bulwark of the royal family and defend the kingdom."

"Exactly. Then give up and get ready to go to jail. I'll call for you when it's your turn."

He then gestured to the corner of the room. The man who had been waiting there stood up stealthily and extended his arm towards the official.

"Due. Show him where to go. And when you're done, take care of the others on the list."

"Damn, telling me to do all these boring crap......"

Due Schwarzer. He was an adventurer turned military officer and one of Count Tullius' close associates. And to top it all off, he hails from St. Gallen, which is the current aggressor.

The official shouted in a last-ditch effort.

"My lord! You've been deceived! You're being deceived by this immature young man and this enemy!"

"Huh? That's a big deal if it's true. Just out of curiosity, is that so?"

"No." "Of course not."

The two replied negatively in unison. Tullius nodded his head in satisfaction. It was as if he was convinced that they would never lie to him when asked.

"Then move along. I'm not wasting any more time on this."

"Yea. ......C’mon, let’s get moving."

The former official was grabbed by the scruff of the neck like a cat and carried away by Due. He was taken out of the room and was still screaming as the door was closed, but the two remaining people in the room did not pay any further attention.

Tullius opened his mouth, turning his stiff neck lightly.

"Now, if I can just leave the rest to Due, I think we’re done cleaning the government building."

"Yes, I thought this would have to happen sooner rather than later."

"Thanks to the lord's power during martial rule, the unwanted people in the vassalage will be cleared away all at once. It's one of the few things I'm glad about because of the war. Though the bad things are in greater numbers."

Tullius Shernan Oubeniel was an advocate for efficiency. When told that he was so by others, he denied it by saying that his mentor at the academy was far more efficient than he is, but Tullius’ subordinates were generally in consensus on their master’s work ethics.

There was no way that he would simply bemoan the outbreak of war and do nothing about it. He would put the unfortunate event aside and take advantage of it as much as he could. For example, it would be a good opportunity to use the concentration of power that came with this emergency to purge dissenters from the ranks of the Oubeniel family.

Victor let out a chuckle.

"Yes, but war is a terrible affair. It's inevitable that there would be more events ending up as a minus."

"That's true...... Now, according to the list Laubert made, the only ones we're going to keep from this arrest are the 30% who have some use remaining. The rest of the useless ones—"

The chair in which Tullius was reclining creaked ominously.

The next morning.

The refugee village outside the walls of Volden. The temporary home of refugees, with its shabby roofs, was surrounded in an unexpected uproar. A small clearing at the centre of the slum. The slaves under the lord's command were bringing something in one after another, and assembling something.

"What is that? What is about to happen?"

"Who knows......"

The faces of the people watching the work from afar were more cautious than curious. That was natural. They had been shut out from Volden until today. They felt that they had been abandoned by the lords and officials. If they were doing something with the refugee village after all this time, they could not imagine it being a cause for good.

"Then again, for slaves, they are wearing decent clothes."

"You are right."

"Damn...... how many days have we been in our clothes?"

The refugees looked with resentment at the attire of the slaves of House of Oubeniel. The young noble who had just become a count, and his servants, were dressed in butler's clothes for the men and maid's clothes for the women. They were made of very high quality material and looked clean. The way they glittered in the sun, they looked like the clothes of a noble.

In retrospect, what were the rags that they were wearing? Before the invasion of the enemy's army, they had escaped in whatever they had been wearing and walked all the way to Volden City. Therefore, they had no chance to get new clothings. Their clothes were beginning to look grimy and their body odours were soaked into them. The sleeves and collar were frayed and torn in many places, and every time the autumn wind blew, they felt cold.

Why were they, the commoners, suffering such misery, while the slaves, who should be looked down upon, enjoying the good life? A feeling of animosity slowly began to grow among the refugees.

In the meantime, the slaves proceeded with their work at a rapid pace.

What they assembled in the centre was a podium. It was about three metres high, and the platform was about ten metres wide. It could be called a stage. A person who stood on the stage would be able to look over the entire crowd of refugees, and for people below the stage, they could also easily observe the people on the stage.

Soon, a noble appeared on the podium, accompanied by an escort.

He has brown hair that was reddish, like reddish copper, and with blue eyes. His features were well-developed, but the energy coming from him seemed to be lacking, making him appear to be a mild-natured person. He looked like he had just turned 20 years old.

The noble stood on the platform, looked around, and raised his voice.


His voice drew the attention of everybody in the clearing to the podium. Not only that, but refugees who had been hiding under the shabby roofs and ignoring what was going on came crawling out to see the commotion.

The noble continued after he saw that more people had started to gather around him.

"Nice to meet you all! I am the Lord of Volden Province, Count of the Kingdom, Tullius Shernan Oubeniel!"

At these words, the people all blinked and groaned in unison.

Lord? Count? Such a high ranking person appeared in their small and dirty village?

It was unthinkable. After all, the overwhelming majority of nobles don't even see the populace as human beings. It was unheard of for them to show up in front of the people and speak to them. Most of the time, their intentions were conveyed through their vassals and that was it. If the nobles were to exchange words with the commoners, it would only be to a very limited number of people with ability, such as merchants and wealthy farmowners. Why would they talk to the lowly peasants and exiles who were refused entry into the city?

And to add to the confusion, more improbable events followed.

"It is truly my fault that I was unable to guarantee the safety of the people of Volden during the invasion of the inhumane neighbouring country of St. Gallen, and due to the events, I have forced you to suffer such inconveniences as we are experiencing today. Therefore, I have decided to make an apology here...... I am truly, truly sorry!"

Tullius said, and hung his head deeply.

The people were confused.

The nobles, who only cared about extracting taxes from the peasants and reducing them to slaves if the peasants failed to pay, would actually bow towards them? To the people, who are supposed to be nobles’ subjects. A bolt from the blue?

The refugees were surprised, confused, and

"......The heck with you!"

Shouts erupted.

"What the hell are you talking about, out of nowhere?"

"Yeah, yeah!"

"You think saying sorry is enough!?"

"My child died of hunger and disease!"

"Give me something to eat! Give us a place to live! Give us back our village!"

"Get on with it and defeat the St. Gallen army! That's what you're taxing us for, and that's why you have an army!"

The people were angry. Their outpouring was filled with anger.

They had been forced to endure whatever had happened. They were driven out of their villages by the invaders, lost their homes and fields, starved, cold, forced to live in filthy conditions, got sick, and died.
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