The air inside the carriage was sinking.
Zeno hangs her head and didn’t say any words, and Wayne couldn’t find any words to say.
The only thing she could do now was to kill Wayne and break the relationship between Natra and Cabarine. Then she needs to earn time and work her way up. In that regard, the situation where Wayne and Zeno were inside a closed room together, just the two of them was the biggest opportunity.
However, there was no indication that Zeno held such an intention. It was likely because her disappointment was that deep.
“… It was a faint hope in the first place.”
*Sigh*, Zeno leaked some words…
“I thought that if we presented our present plight, we might get some help… But I guess, I was too naive…”
“… Well, I guess you’re right…”
It would’ve been different if the Marden remnants had deep negotiations with the foreign countries since earlier. Or the answer might’ve been different if the capital hadn’t yet fallen… Or, or, or others—…
If one starts to speak excuse, it would be pilled up and only wasting energy.
“But other than that, I am actually surprised too. I’ve never thought that I would be easily chosen as a saint lord, just like that…”
“I guess so… To be honest, I was surprised too.”
“In particular, Caldomeria, that was definitely unbelievable… Can you believe it? That is Caldomeria, but according to the record, she should’ve been a 60 years old lady.”
Hearing that, even Zeno’s hollow eyes showed a puzzled expression.
“… In my eyes, she should be around 30 though…”
“To me, she also looked around 30 years old. … Was it because her name was something inherited from generation to generation? Or was it because she had a better technique in makeup than Fulham?”
“… Either way… she’s definitely a monster… Compared to father she is…”
While listening to Zeno’s words that sounded like a half-monologue, he suddenly heard a voice.
“— Your Highness, that is…”
“Hnnn?… Stop the carriage.”
The carriage stops following Wayne’s instruction. And when Wayne looked out of the window, he saw Raklum stand outside.
“Your Highness, I’m glad that everything went well.”
“You too. Are you going back now?”
“Yes. Aide-dono has already returned to compile the information we had gathered.”
“Good. Then get in.”
“Yes, sir. Then, excuse me.”
With Raklum getting in, the carriage once again move.
“How was the result?”
“It wasn’t good but, we do have a piece of important information to tell.”
“Is that so… Then, well done. Let us talk in length after we arrived…”
Raklum nodded silently. There, he glanced at Zeno who sits horizontally from himself. From how disappointed she looked, he could guess how the talks had gone…
“By the way, Raklum… Is that a book you have there?”
Wayne pointed at the item protruding from the leather bag Raklum had bought.
“Yes, along the way, I saw a bookstore. As your highness had said, I should at least understand what Levetianism about…”
“I see, I praise your effort. … Do you also have another book?”
“Yes, this one was described as a very popular book among the nobility ad merchants in the west. And I found that interesting, thus I decided to buy it too. The title is [The dignity of the court]—…”
“That book, you can throw it away.”
He was responding reflexively and when he understand Wayne’s words, Raklum could not help but blink his eyes in confusion.
“I shall obey your highness if your highness says so but…”
For Raklum who swears absolute loyalty toward Wayne, if Wayne orders it, then he had no choice but to do so. However, Raklum knew that Wayne was not the type who would discard a book without a proper reason.
“May I ask the reason, your highness?”
“I wrote that book.”
Raklum was stunned by the unexpected response.
“To be more precise, the draft was created by me and a Fulham writer created the book based on that draft. Then the finished product was distributed to the west. If you ask me when I create the draft… It would be right before I went to the Empire to study…”
“But then… As your highness vassals, I should read this as soon as I can…”
“That is not necessary.”
Wayne quickly discards the idea.
“To summarize the contents of the book. — An Aristocrats must be religious, have a chivalry spirit, and serve the monarch with sincerity. Must have taste in dance and song, enjoy poetry and love, and living in luxury is the correct behavior of the nobles, while frugality and honorable poverty is something a true noble should avoid.”
After saying that, Wayne laughed.
“What do you think? When you hear that?”
“Well… I honestly think that is indeed very aristocrats like…”
“That is right…”
“Most of the contents of the book are about affirmation in regard to the nobles’ lifestyle. Telling them not to change. And what they do was right. That is also the reason why the book was very popular among the nobles. After all, they are being praised even without doing anything. — However, there’s another trick in the book. About money…”
“Money is it?”
“Frugality is bad. Poverty is immoral. Calculating money, accounting and so on, it is not something a noble should do— In the book, there are a lot of words denouncing the practice of accounting. That is why some people who related to that, kind of like the book.”
“Are you saying those are empty theory?”
“That is not the case. People are when they saw something mysterious, they would either, believe it or not believe it, one or zero, they would think about it deeply. It is hard for people to believe one part of the book and not believing the other part…”
For nobles, the contents of the book affirmed 90% of their lifestyle. For them, disagreeing with the accounting statements would feel like denying the entire content of the book. That was why it was hard for them to deny it.
“Accounting is a simple and boring task, one has to patiently face numbers every day. And there, the book told them that they don’t have to do it, and whispering it is actually best not to do it, treating it as a low priority…”
Raklum after pondering for a while he was surprised. Although there were some words he feels uncomfortable, somehow he feels Wayne’s words actually make sense. However, before that, there was a fundamental question he wanted to ask…
“I understand what your highness says but… Why release such a book on the west?”
“Isn’t that obvious?”
“To destroy the western part of the continent, of course.”
Raklum reflexively held his breath. He was surprised that such dreadful words had come from the gentle prince he knew…
“Three elements are necessary for management to success. That three elements are reward, honor, and penalty.”
Wayne said that while raising his three fingers.
“In accounting particularly, fraud is something that could easily be done. That is why, a leader needs a high amount of patience and professional ethics to work on it but, I have thoroughly denounced accounting in that book. As the value of accounting falls, naturally, rewards and honors are also diminished. What happens then?”
“… Nobody would want to do it.”
“That is right. Naturally, accounting is something very important for aristocrats who had a territory. In fact, they need to take initiative to do it. But in that book, it says that that was not the job of the nobles. Which means those aristocrats need to delegate it to someone else… While on the other hand, people who want to work on a job with such a low reputation, only low-paying, low-level knowledge kind of people would do it then…”
Raklum begins to understands Wayne’s words.
Wayne then nodded.
“However, one should never expect patience and ethics from such people. And as a matter of course, Injustice and rampant corruption would spread. Many mistakes in the calculation would happen. As a result of that, the aristocrats would despise accountants more, and penalties would become harsher, which would lead to a further shortage of talent.”
Thus aristocrats cannot even grasp their own wallet.
Then bankruptcy would come next. Next, they would impose inappropriate taxes, keeping the merchants away, a decline in income would cause security to decline and people fall into further poverty and starving. Even if they think they could use the soldiers, from where the money needed to pay them would come then? When something like that happens, there would be no future in such territory.
“— Though I said all that, I still don’t know if this book is effective or not.”
Wayne said that indifferently…
“I-Is that so?”
“After all, a book is a book. It seems to have steadily spreading but, there’s also a good chance that it will be forgotten before it took root in society. Well, we will think about it when the times comes…”
“Is that fine? With such treatment I mean…”
“I personally don’t really care. Though for the moment, that is the smoothest thing that has gone well, there are still other tricks… If at the end that comes out as a failure, I just need to focus on other things…”
Wayne laughed lightly. But when one thinks carefully, he had written the book before he went to the Empire to study. In other words, a boy in his early teens had drafted and starts to implement his plans. Realizing such a fact, Raklum could not help but tremble in horror.
“Anyway, with that, you know why you don’t need to read that book.”
“Well, yes… But, for whatever purpose, I can’t just lightly handle the book your highness had created. I swear I won’t read it but, please let me at least keep it.”
*Fumu*, Wayne then pondered for a while. These days, a book was an expensive good. It would be a waste to just throw it away.
“Alright then, do what you want. You can also read it if you want. But, bear in mind, do not be affected by it.”
“Yes, sir, thank you very much.”
Raklum then bowed his head deeply.
At that moment, he suddenly noticed Zeno who sits next to him.
She stares at Wayne with a gaze filled with awe.
Raklum might not know but, that gaze was the same gaze she had aimed at the other saint lords.