Tara presents her theory about Kyle's true purpose and the secrets of the Central Axis project.
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Episode 197: About 10 Months (74)
"This is because the document manipulation has resulted in good outcomes for the Central Axis Project."
Questions that he might ask flashed through my mind.
[What led you there?]
“You know I met with the workers to investigate the labour costs. The workers were very satisfied. The efficiency and efficacy of the labour process improved by about 10% when compared to a previous month where the budget was not altered. Although the labour costs were also increasing, the efficiency of the work has been improved due to a better shift system. In addition, each budget was also allocated appropriately.”
I let myself catch my breath for a moment.
“If one were to report these things according to procedure, they would have to get permission, and go through a document review again."
Like I was performing a monologue in a play, I slapped my knee with my palm for a dramatic effect.
"If you decided to follow that procedure, it would take too long. After conducting an administrative review of the validity of each change in the budget execution, each budget executive would need to decide on how to report back with their own paperwork, and when the final authorization is given, each agency's staff would need to write a new budget statement and send it down here. Phew. In other words, the administrative process is too inefficient!"
I grinned, thinking he would probably cross his arms arrogantly, and ask, ‘So?’ in response to that answer.
“Therefore, you decided to punish him for arbitrarily falsifying the budget execution documents without following the proper procedures because it is against the Palace Administrative Regulations. However, Your Highness also suspended the execution of his punishment for an enormous period of time, 20 years, by using your privilege as a member of the Imperial Family."
I rubbed my chin and spoke quietly.
"Then why on earth did you come here?"
I continued my speech.
"Your Highness never does anything pointlessly. So, why continue entrusting this matter to him? Why did you suspend his punishment for violating the orders of the nobility and deceiving the Empire’s entire administration? The reason is simple. It was because you judged that his choice was justified. In the end, my thoughts kept coming back to Mr. Fred Berg."
“Surely you must want me to continue? I think you do. Alright, I'll keep going. My conclusion is that His Highness's purpose in coming here was to recruit Fred Berg.”
I paused for a moment and stared at him. His condition was exactly the same.
Still, I continued the imaginary dialogue, imitating his lines again.
"Normally this is when you would ask, ‘Really?’"
I nodded and explained further.
"Yes, that's right. Your Highness is determined to write Fred Berg into your history. I'm sure you're thinking of using him for a very important position, given your direct involvement."
I nodded my head emphatically and took another sip of the water.
"If you weren’t convinced by the document manipulation alone, you would ask if there was any other evidence. I also noticed that the structure of the Berg mansion was a little unusual. At first, I thought it was just built in a rather unique shape. But when I saw it, I finally realized. The Berg mansion is similar to...…."
I glanced at him. If I drew it out like this, he would ask me for more details.
Usually before giving out the answer I had just learned, I would be filled with a unique sense of joy.
He had no idea how thrilling that brief moment could be for me.
But now, no matter how long I waited, he wouldn't ask.
I sighed deeply.
"Ha…… I never thought I would miss these kinds of conversations."
Truthfully, it was something I wanted to continue to experience for a very long time.
"Your Highness, it looks like an academy building."
The room lay silent.
After a brief pause, I instinctively started examining his face.
Slightly disheveled hair falling onto his straight forehead. Two closed eyes and a sharp nose. His soft lips. And his rather sharp jawline. All of it was pleasant to look at.
I couldn’t understand the undefinable feelings that rose in me at that moment.
I tsk’ed to myself internally and then continued.
"But there is no licensed academy here in Preston. I don't even remember seeing any documents approving an Academy. Some wealthy families and nobility attend Stuart's Fifth Academy in Stoller, a city about 20 kilometres away."
There was no change in Kyle's expression.
"If the Berg mansion is really an academy, as I’ve guessed, what does the presence of this unauthorized academy tell me? Is it because the false Baron runs a private academy to make a profit? Or to provide educational opportunities to uneducated, poor commoners? What is he trying to provide? We could find out right now by doing some research."
After taking a breath and taking a moment to collect my thoughts again, I continued.
"But it wasn't just that. The town here is totally different from anywhere else."
“You might ask, ‘Which one is it?’. If you're asking me that in earnest, I'll pick a few reasons out for you."
Still glancing at Kyle's unchanging face, I suddenly felt embarrassed for no reason.
At this point, Kyle would have said:
[It’s clear you have too light an attitude towards work. Be serious.]
"I'll take this seriously. Now, let's take a look at the options one by one. Fred said that he was the one who requested the new well in Preston's small plaza, and that he was the first to establish an official orphanage here. It costs money to build a new orphanage, so he rented a space at the [Holy Garden] Monastery located by the forested clearing on the left edge of Preston. The monks who live there take care of the children and are supported through donations. The source of the donations are unknown. In my opinion, the donations have been covered by tax money or some high minded businessman."
I paused briefly and then resumed my speech.
"The prices here in Preston are about 10 percent cheaper when using the local currency instead of the common currency. Because of this, the people here will likely use the local currency here most of the time and the market will be stimulated. This will boost the domestic market and increase the income of the people here. The reason why you can set the local currency at a lower price than the common currency is because you will eventually recoup the value of the local currency. Which means you can then return it to make it equivalent to the value of the common currency. This is achieved through redistribution of taxes."
(I feel like I need a degree in economics to know if I interpreted this correctly)*
Phew. I whistled a little.
"To be honest, I didn't expect this kind of policy would be feasible in the Empire. These welfare policies eat up quite a large portion of the annual tax revenue. However since they are already using the local currency, this policy is going quite well, which is remarkable."
I drank the rest of the water and then quietly spoke my conclusion.
"It turns out that Preston has been operating very efficiently since Fred's interest rates were implemented. I feel like the infrastructure is being overhauled as a whole. If the vulnerable lower class population decreases and the middle class increases, it will be beneficial for tax collection. Of course, I'll have to look into this more, but that's my conclusion. This guy has raised a topic that has significant implications for the Empire. And if he applies his methods to the rest of the Imperial administration, what will the result be for the Empire as a whole?"
I swallowed and said.
“The Empire will surely- No, the people of the Empire will surely live a little more comfortably than they do now.”
If my prediction was correct, Fred could be implementing a much more varied system in the Preston area than I could currently imagine.
I was interrupted by the sound of a knock. It was Paul, who carefully opened the door with a pensive expression on his face.
"Second Aide, it's time to eat."
"... It's all right. I'm not hungry."
"You ate a little soup this morning and you haven't eaten anything since then. You'll collapse otherwise."
If it was my old body, I would’ve been so hungry that I had no energy left. I did feel hungry, but it was bearable.
I was still full of energy, perhaps because I had received the Prince’s Aurore. I also felt reluctant to leave him alone while I ate.
"It's really okay. If I'm really hungry, I'll take care of it. So you and the other knights can go ahead and eat."
"Then, can I get you something simple?"
The way he looked at me displayed a strong resolve, as if he had silently vowed, ‘I will feed you somehow.’ When I saw Paul's expression, I had a belated realization.
Ah…. I was adding more anxiety to his current worries.
It would be difficult enough having to worry about his fallen Master, but here we were arguing over a simple meal like this.
There was no reason for me to worry them further. Eating well would ease their concerns, even if only a little.
I immediately changed my attitude.
"Yes. Then I will eat here. Thank you, Sir Paul. Who knows, maybe His Highness will wake up out of hunger after smelling the food. Hehe."
“I'll get it right away!” Paul replied vigorously with a slightly brighter expression on his face and then closed the door.
Hans Button's private residence, the Capital.
The small, rustic, red-gated house on the outskirts of the capital was the home of Hans Button, the Treasury’s third secretary.
Since he led such a modest life as the head of the Button family, his reputation inside the Palace had gradually improved without him even knowing it.
Hans savoured some lemon tea with a small amount of hallucinogen in it as he listened to a report from Harold, who was currently dressed as a servant.
"There were people exploring around the Button Family's main estate. One of them was a man from the Palace, and the other seemed to be from a private organization."
"Private organization? The person from the Palace is probably from the Second Prince, but what about the private organization?"
Hans had already read through almost all of the records on the Second Prince's Palace.
In addition, he knew that the Second Prince had ordered an investigation into two other administrators.**
In the past, he hadn't considered the possibility of spies investigating around the main estate, but he wasn't too concerned because he had already shut all of the necessary mouths.
However, dealing with a private organization was unexpected.
“He called himself a journalist. He said he was looking to feature an up-and-coming administrator of the year. Here is his business card.”
Harold, his vassal from the Button family who sported a black eye patch over his right eye, handed him the business card. It had the title, [Politics and People Magazine], but nothing else.
“It’s unbelievably crude.”
Hans smiled and placed the business card on the table.
"Yes. I could not find any publications with that name in the Empire. There is not even a single published magazine like it.”
"I see. Was there any trace of a private organization investigating the other two administrators?"
Hans bared his teeth in a smile, and sprinkled a little more hallucinogenic powder into his remaining lemon tea.
"There was none."
Hans tapped the business card and then gently rubbed his chin. He still had a smile on his face as he spoke.
"Well, that indicates I'm the only one who knows about the investigation... Hooo. Isn't this fun?"
Editor’s Notes -
* I don’t fully understand some sections of this paragraph so I tried to keep the wording as close to the direct translation as possible. If someone understands economics better than me please do tell me if this does not make sense. Seriously regretting not taking economics courses when I had the chance, lol.
** This is probably referring to the administrators Bradley Hound and Tom Gary, whom Kyle was also suspicious of in previous chapters
So apparently Hans is now into hallucinogens. For fun I looked up what sort of drugs people used in the 1800s and the answer was that people have been using this stuff for a long time, but it didn’t get popular until the 1900s when synthetic stuff like LSD was invented and after a bunch of substances were imported from South America to Europe. As far as I can tell, in this era people would have been using magic mushrooms, certain strains of cannabis (in some regions) or derivatives of belladonna and other vaguely poisonous plants. I have no idea what Hans is using here but feel free to speculate for the fun of it - https://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/psychopharm.html
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