Table of Contents
‘I should change my plan of attacking him and instead try to befriend him.’
He was bound to increase the defense at his estate after all my consecutive infiltrations, so I should definitely abandon the idea of using force. Instead, I should really on my political connections to try and get a meeting.
I headed back to Gartmar’s city hall.
“My good adventurer friend, we seem to be meeting quite often these days….”
The mayor gave me a warm welcome but his gaze remained glued to the papers before him.
“I heard that you’ve caught Pillgion, you’ve done well.”
“Yes, but today I’m here to talk to you about count Sion.”
“Hadn’t I already informed you not to touch the count?”
“Yes well, I have my own problems to consider.”
Contrary to his usual habit, he finally looked up at me.
“You said your name was Johra right?”
He adjusted his monocle and spoke to me with a serious expression.
“So what is the problem with count Sion.”
“He is directly connected with Miriam. Do you remember him?”
“Yes… of course I remember, you already told me all about it last time.
“But it’s more serious, they are trying to revolt. But I think we can turn him to our side.”
“How sure are you? Is it even possible?”
“I have a strategy in place.”
I proceed to inform him about everything I had learned the other night.
“I’m not sure how it is you are expecting me to help you. Although I feel a bit bad that Sion has fallen to such a low place, to use my as your own shield…. ”
“Well I thought you would be able to help me since you are quite close with the count.”
He stared at me with a sharp glint in his eyes.
“What do you get out of all this?”
“Safety. He’s aiming for my life, so if I can befriend him then that is for the best.”
“Are you confident? You’ll need to risk your life, afterall for nobles their honor is what’s most important.”
The mayor was a self-made man, starting from nothing and working up to his current position as ruler of Gartmar which came with the title of marquis. However in this world his kind of status couldn’t be achieved alone, as he was only bumped up to mayor due to the support of the surrounding nobility, including count Sion. If he were to now falsely accuse him he could suffer from the backlash by having his position taken from him or even being executed. Despite the mayor being very popular with the people and it would be hard to remove him, it was always possible by framing him for some crime and disgracing him.
“I have already been putting my neck on the line here.
The mayor’s mouth curled up into a satisfied smile.
“Well meeting a nobleman isn’t something you can just decide one day in advance. I’ll get back to you in about three days time at the earliest.”
“That’s fine, I also need a bit of time on my end so it works out well.”
After my short meeting with the mayor I left city hall and headed to the market. Although the mines monthly auction had already ended, there still remained some store which sold the minerals at a fixed price.
“Lena, please research”
“Yes it seems to be enough.”
I bought the necessary ores along with some good quality charcoal and a big iron pot which I had sent to the Mayor’s office.
By the time I had finished all my errands it was already evening.
I still have two days time until the mayor gets back to me. By then count Sion is sure to have figured out my identity and sent some capable assassins my way. It would be dangerous if they targeted me while I slept.
‘I guess there is always that place which is safe.
Walking around the a market I stopped a fruit stand and plucked an apple. After twirling it in the air a few times, I took a big bite out of it and walked away.
“Hey you… you need to pay for that!”
I smiled back and laughed like a maniac.
“Are you crazy!”
The owner of the store grabbed by the throat and punched me, but I continued to eat like a madman.
“Guards, guards, take away this crazy beggar!”
I was then imprisoned due to my disturbance in the market, allowing me to have found a safe place to sleep. The only unexpected variable was that the mayor came by to see me quite soon after.
“A safe place huh… even so did you have to commit a crime against one of my citizens?”
“Don’t worry I’ll go apologize and properly compensate him.”
“You’re definitely crazy.”
“Yes I get that alot. Also, please make sure they don’t release me until you have secured that meeting with the count.”
I sat down casually on my cell bench as we said our goodbyes.
‘If it’s here I don’t think the count will be able to touch me.’
I was separated from other criminals because they were worried that I’d create more trouble. I spent all of my time grinding my Material Creation because it was all I could do in my private cell.
Two days later I was finally released from prison. My only fine was to pay double the price of the apple which was nothing but a slap on the wrist, everything was going as planned.
“Mr. mayor please improve your meal quality for the inmates.”
“We have good hard working citizens starving on the streets and you want me to divert our funds to better feed those criminals, how absurd.”
I tried to explain to him the plight of a poor prisoner on our carriage ride to count Sion’s manor, but he remained unconvinced.
‘Poor people run a serious risk of dying due to starvation. I can certainly understand their plight as if it wasn’t for Darryl I might have suffered the same fate early on.’
In a medievalesque type world there was no concept of welfare so for the very poorest in society life was like hell. There were no human rights and life and you were occasionally better off as a slave. It was a completely different view now that I was living as a human when compared to an undead.
“We’ve arrived mayor.”
“Yes thank you, and Johra don’t forget to play your role as my servant.”
I had already change into the proper outfit on our ride here. In fact it was quite a step up from my usual beggar clothes. Still it did feel a bit out of place seeing as the size didn’t fit me well. It was so loose it gave the impression of a child wearing his father’s clothes.
We were now awaited the counts arrival in his guest room.
“Make sure not to interrupt me while I’m talking Johra.”
The door opened and as the count came in and we exchanged glances ,he momentarily froze. Although he quickly regained his composure, I had definitely noticed.
‘Did he recognized my face?’
“What are you here to discuss about Mr. mayor?”
“Well, it’s about Miriam.”
He answered with a slight smile. The blood drained from the counts face as he tried to keep a poker face.
“Miriam… wasn’t he your deputy mayor who caused quite the stir and then escaped just a few days ago? I thought Mr. mayor was a better judge of character than that, how disappointing.”
Sion kept his composure as he poured a cup of tea.
“Miriam was a talented man in his own right, but it was due to the support of several nobles that he was given the position of deputy mayor. Still, I didn’t expected that he was connected to the underworld, it was my mistake.
“So what about Miriam did you want to discuss?”
“Could we please speak alone?”
The count sported a sincere look, as one who was completely oblivious to what had been going on as he ordered all his servant to leave.
“Why don’t you take a look at this.”
Within the reception room the mayor handed him a stack of documents. As the count sifted through them he put on a pensive face.
“These documents are records of the many of the crimes which Miriam was involved in. As you can see over there count, you were involved in tax evasion on a rather large scale.”
His hands trembled.
“You… just what is your purpose in bringing this before me? You want to threaten me?”
The mayor answered calmly from Sion’s angry voice.
The count drew a gorgeous ornamental dagger which he carried with him at his waist.
“Are you planning on killing me the mayor and then getting rid of the evidence? It isn’t like I haven’t informed people that we were coming here.”
Surprisingly the count turned the dagger around and pointed it at his own heart.
“ Mayor, please take into considerations all the good deeds I’ve done and allow me to present my life to atone for my sins. Don’t needlessly involve my family and tarnish my reputation.”
The mayor coldly replied.
“I can’t do that, the law is the law.”
“I tried so hard to do the right thing and work within the law, but in the end it wasn’t enough. I’m ashamed of my actions, why did I have to go so far?”
He lowered his face into his hands and started to cry. His crimes were severe enough that he would be stripped of his nobility along with any succession rights he previously had. His family honor, reputation and power had all slipped away.
“I researched your situation. Your silver mine’s output has decreased recently but the kingdom didn’t lower the required tax right?”
“Yes, the reason was that we refused to give the official a bribe. Although our family may appear fine to the public, just paying the required tax was too much so we borrowed from Miriam. Eventually we were able to balance our budgets, but by then we had already accepted Miriam’s shady money. We began doing small favors and before we knew it was too late to turn back. Is this what you are here to accuse me of?”
The mayor simply shook his head. Due to the unexpected reaction the count was quite embarrassed by his previous behaviour.
“I heard that there is lead coming out from your silver mine right?”
“The count nodded back carefully.
“Perhaps if you volunteered some of the surplus as payment for your taxes, the mayor wouldn’t find you guilty of tax evasion.
“Yes but I’d still have to pay interest on that.”
He was confused from my question. He didn’t have the money to pay off the debt and it’s interest so how would lead help?
“Could you allow me to demonstrate something?”
I moved towards the fireplace nearby while the count and mayor followed me obediently.
I placed a metal pan on the fire and a laid a small piece of lead on top.
I moved around the charcoal to raise the temperature to the maximum.
“Just what are you trying to accomplish by melting the lead?”
“Please wait a while.”
After quite a long time the lead had melted but that wasn’t the end of it. I kept the temperature very high until finally all the impurities had been removed. After giving it time to sufficiently cool, I placed the remaining small piece of metal in the counts hands. When he noticed what he was holding his eyes widened in shock.
“This… how could you get silver out of lead? Is this some trick?”
“I could show you the same result using lead from the count’s very own mines.”
The count was simply ecstatic, if this were true he’d be like a rising phoenix, reborn from the ashes.
“Lead contains small traces of silver, and the lead found in your mines seems to have even higher concentrations than usual. You can easily extract the silver with the use of high temperatures as I’ve just shown.”
Normally lead from the mine was not anything remarkable and was discarded as it didn’t bring in substantial profits. However, if it were to be refined into silver instead, it would become the count’s new golden goose.
“Thank you! If this is true I have no idea how I’ll ever repay you for this favor.”
He bowed down on his knees before me. I had managed to perfectly subdue a previous enemy and rope him in to my side. The mayor needed to go back to city hall the same day, but I stayed longer at the count’s residence to properly explain the extraction process. Naturally, I had learned all this information due to Lena’s guidance.
“I’m sorry. Can you accompany me to my mine?”
“Yes, I don’t mind.”
Two days later we visited the count’s silver mine together.
The count only brought along his his chief accountant and a trusted attendant. He wished to keep the circle small in order to not let this secret out. Together I extracted the silver in front of them using the equipment which I had previously instructed him to create.
“This is incredible! Are you an alchemist?”
“Arvin here is our ore expert, I’ve brought him over for confirmation. Please warmly greet this man whom I admire a lot, his name is Johra. ”
‘ It seems like my position is already quit high.’
“If we can get this much from only lead, then the amount of silver we can extract is four times more than the regular silver output from the mine!”
I watched as the excited master and servant duo hugged each other in delight.
“You must come back to the my estate, I’ll prepare a sumptuous feast to celebrate.”
“Sure, it would be my pleasure.”
I had no reason to reject as our newfound friendship was a good thing.
We headed back in the count’s luxurious carriage whose image didn’t match up to his former reality of financial troubles.
“We’ve arrived count.”
As we got out of the carriage there were 20 attendants awaiting our arrival. I didn’t greet them though and was instead lead to my private chambers by a pretty maid.
“Please rest here, a warm bath and a fresh set of clothes will be arriving shortly.
“The count has instructed me to ensure that your stay here is as comfortable as possible. If there is anything I could do….”
“No this is more than enough.”
“Then is there is anything at all just give this a little ring.”
She handed me a small bell before leaving me alone in the room.
‘Ah… it’s quite nice to accept a noble’s hospitality. This is my first time being pampered so much, not even Necropolis was quite at this level.
Enjoying the newfound comforts I sank down in the soft bed. As I was staring aimlessly at the ceiling I heard the sound of footsteps approaching from behind the door.
‘What is this? Some kind of ambush? ’
The door slowly creaked open.