Release That Witch - Chapter 555
So this is Border Town... no, City of Neverwinter?
Edith could not help but feel surprised, seeing the busy and orderly scene in front of her after walking down the gangway ladder. She had had many assumptions prior to her arrival, but found that she had belittled this city. The harbor was three times bigger than that of the king's city. One side of the dock was crowded with sailing ships and concrete boats, busy unloading cargo. Mountains of minerals and coals were heaped up in the yard.
On the other side of the dock, 10 paddle steamers were departing in a row from the trestle. Many citizens stood beside the shore to see them off. All the crews wore uniforms, standing in straight lines along both sides of the boat. Edith could feel their high morale. There was a kind of expression on their faces, the same kind that appeared on knights' faces when they came back after defeating their enemies. Yet there was no doubt, these people were definitely not the noble.
The center of the dock was the gathering place for businessmen, refugees and migrants, most of whom had arrived via various types of sailing vessels. After they disembarked, they were separated by a group of men in black. They were asked to stand in line to pass the barrier after the examination. The floating population in the dock area was over 1,000. Even the king's city was overshadowed by such a splendid scene.
"The dock has grown longer again." Victor commented with surprise. "Does His Majesty plan to turn the whole river bank into the dock area?"
"Again?" Edith noticed his words.
"The dock wasn't this wide last autumn," he opened his arms and said. "There weren't so many people, either."
"What're they doing in the barrier, taking taxes?"
"There're no downtown taxes here. You need to pay taxes only when you have sold out your commodities," Victor enthusiastically explained. "Besides, in the downtown, people are not allowed to set up stalls unofficially. All transactions must take place in the Convenience Market. Those men in black act as patrol teams for the other cities. They set a barrier to register people's identities and to eliminate demonic plague."
"Not to blackmail?" Edith asked and winked at her brother who nodded and took out his wallet, ready to give money to pull strings.
"No, no, Miss Conrad, I said they're just like a patrol team." The jeweler, Victor laughed and waved his hand. "In fact, they never charge extra money. I know it's hard to believe, but this is the truth. I was as surprised as you when I passed the examination for the first time. Come with me. It's quicker to take the businessman pass."
Just as Victor had described, after the men in black verified his identity, they let them all pass the barrier without charging even one bronze royal.
"I need to find a clean and comfortable hotel to check in, and then I'm going to pop into the Convenience Market," Victor said and turned around. "What about you, Miss Conrad? If you're unfamiliar with this place, I'm at your service."
"Thank you." Edith put on a grateful look, lifted her skirt and bowed, saying, "You've done me many courtesies during this journey. That's enough. I'll go to the City Hall to ask for help. I should be able to get some information about my relatives there."
"It takes no effort, My Lady. Besides, it's my pleasure to know a distinguished noble woman like you. Please don't mention it."
After several evasions, Edith finally got rid of Victor, but the businessman continued to wave at her while leaving. He said if they were in any trouble, they could go to the Holy Mountain Hotel to find him anytime.
"Sister, how popular you are." Cole smacked his lips.
"Hmm?" Edith glanced at him. "What should you call me?"
"Ugh, well, Miss Edith." The Duke's second son could not help shuddering. "Shall we find a hotel and check in?"
"No, we should go to the castle to hand over the document," she said without hesitation. "We should get in contact with His Majesty as soon as possible."
"But we don't have the heads anymore." Cole reminded her in a low voice.
"Then we'll do things under no-head circumstances." Edith shrugged. "Remember the things I've told you? Show our sincerity and the two heads alone won't represent the Kant family's loyalty."
Besides, even if we did have the heads, they would likely be rotten and smelly by now. It was not a good idea to offer two rotten heads to His Majesty. Everything had deviated from its original track since His Majesty left the king's city.
What we did next depends on the specific situation. In the end, it would be the negotiator's ability that determined the negotiation result.
"Your Majesty, an emissary delegate from the Northern Region is waiting outside the castle, and they want to see you," guard Sean walked into the office and reported. "The leader claimed to be Cole Kant, the second son of Calvin Kant, the present Duke of the Northern Region. Mr. Barov has already verified their voucher document and emblem. They weren't forged."
"The Northern Region?" Startled, Roland put down the design drawings. "Wasn't that Timothy's territory? Have they stated their intentions?"
"Yes, Sir Cole said that the Duke is willing to pledge his loyalty to you." the guard answered with excitement.
"Voluntarily pledge his loyalty..." Roland frowned at this news. It was a nuisance, for he did not need a federal Lord's loyalty. It offered no help in the development of the country and would have an impact on the present centralized system. Roland actually wished they would stay in their domain with a sense of chance, waiting for him to eliminate them all. Only when the old forces were completely annihilated, could the new centralization of authority be built up smoothly.
However, he could not just refuse to see them. They were emissary delegates asking for cooperation. If he ignored them intentionally, the other nobles hearing the news would stop expecting a fluke and gang up to fight against him. Though it was not a problem in the military aspect, he still worried that it might influence the citizens of the Eastern Region and Northern Region. Roland already viewed them as his treasure, and of course, he wanted to keep more population.
After a thought, he nodded slowly. "Bring them to the living room, and let Barov stay with them."
"Yes," Sean answered excitedly.
Looking at the guard's expression, Roland pondered what the guard might think was that in this way the whole kingdom would soon be ruled by him. Unfortunately, it was not as simple as it looked.
At the same time, he made a decision.
No matter what they said, he would stick to his principle and take back the feudal nobles' rights. This point must be conveyed to all the nobles clearly to show his determination for the implementation of new policies and the reform. If rebel nobles dared to lay their hands on the citizens, he would ensure they paid a heavy price for it.
There were only two people in the emissary delegation, now seated on one end of the long table when Roland walked into the living room. One of them was the Duke's second son, Cole Kant, and the other, a gorgeous woman. She appeared to be an assistant to Sir Cole, but in Roland's eyes, she was more outstanding than Sir Cole himself.
Of course, witches were the shiniest pearls when it came to appearance, so Roland did not pay much attention to this. After all, in this era, a female assistant might also play the role of a mistress or maid.
"Your Majesty, I bring my father's regards to you." Cole stood and bowed respectfully to Roland, and then he expressed his intentions. "The Duke of the Northern Region has a gift for you."