Chapter 0117 Corruption
Crystal Palace, the Royal Capital of the Kingdom of Knightley.
Originally, the name of the royal castle was 『Crystal Palace』, but before they knew it, it became the name of the royal capital, and the royal castle was just called 『Palace』.
Befitting its name, the royal castle was a resplendent building with crystals embedded in the windows.
In the Kingdom, the windows of the aristocrats’ mansions were fitted with flat glass.
『Palace』 was the royal castle of a great power, so crystals and glass were used abundantly and the inside of the castle was always illuminated by magical lights, causing the envoys from other countries or even the ambassadors stationed there to fall in love with the castle.
The headquarters of the Kingdom’s Knights’ Order was located in a corner of the royal castle.
Currently, there were a total of 500 knights belonging to the Kingdom’s Knights’ Order, but only about 200 were stationed in the headquarters while the rest were working at the Knights’ station or training ground in the royal capital…
Most of the knights in the Kingdom’s Knights’ Order were the heads, heirs, second sons, and below of aristocratic families … those who have the blood of the aristocrats.
However, there were differences in their respective positions, such as 『Head』, 『Heir』, and 『Second son and below』 which translated to distinct differentiation in the Order.
Even if they were all 『Nobles』, there were all kinds of differences.
The top brass of the Kingdom’s Knights’ Order, the Knight-Captain, was Count Weir Baccara Toe.
The head of the Count Weir family.
He was said to possess an imposing body that made it easy to imagine his heroic sword technique from his physique.
Originally the second son of Count Weir, his father and his brother, the heir, died in the 『Great War』 ten years ago.
From there, he used his inherited fortune to bribe people … and finally succeeded in seizing the position of Knight-Captain.
Of course, even though he gained the title of Knight-Captain with a large number of bribes, as a knight, his skill with the sword was in the upper ranks in the Kingdom.
It was rumored that he had declined considerably since he became the Knight-Captain, but today he was training with his sword in a corner of the Knights’ headquarters.
“Captain, Count Pere Gynt is here to see you.”
“Eh? Did I schedule a meeting?”
An adjutant ran up to Knight-Captain Baccara and announced a guest’s visit.
“No, it is not scheduled.”
“Hmm. I’ll be back soon. Serve him some alcohol.”
Then Baccara wiped his sweat before heading to the room.
“Count Pere Gynt, have I kept you waiting?”
When Baccara entered the reception room, he immediately called out.
“No, Knight-Captain, I suddenly came unannounced. Don’t worry.”
Count Pere Gynt was known in the royal court as a person with no shortage of notoriety.
However, at the same time, he was also known as a person who solved most matters as long as he was paid generously, and such a person was found useful by some people by any society.
Of course, the others detested people like him.
Needless to say, he was also helpful when Baccara climbed to his position.
“And so, today?”
The adjutant brewed Baccara tea and when he left the room, Baccara spoke.
“Um, actually, I have a request for Knight-Captain.”
Then Count Pere Gynt placed a bag full of something on the edge of the desk and then spoke.
Most people would be able to understand that it was a bag full of money.
“Actually, Baron Washer’s third son is looking for a job. I was asked if he could belong to the Kingdom’s Knights’ Order.”
“How about it, could Knight-Captain pull some strings?”
“The member roster is filled.”
When Captain Baccara said so, Count Pere Gynt put another of the same bag on the desk.
“I know it very well. But somehow …”
“Even if you say so.”
When Knight-Captain Baccara added on, Count Pere Gynt took out another same bag as before and put it on the desk.
Now there were three bags lined up.
“I can’t help it if Count Pere Gynt is the one asking.”
Captain Baccara shook his head and said.
“Oh, as expected, Knight-Captain. Thank you.”
Then, as overstaying would be pointless, Count Pere Gynt stood up, shook hands with Baccara, and then left the room.
Meanwhile, neither Baccara nor Count Pere Gynt mentioned the bags placed on the desk.
When Baccara confirmed that Count Pere Gynt had left, he took the three bags and threw them into a box in the corner of the next room, which was large enough to fit one person.
About 70% of the box was already packed with similar bags.
Those were bribes that Baccara received.
After climbing up to the Knight-Captain position, Baccara had made a brilliant transition from the bribe-giving side to the bribe-receiving side.
The side that gives the bribe or the side that receives the bribe?
It might be an indicator of status in the current Kingdom of Knightley.
Speaking of the Kingdom’s Knights’ Order, it was once the most popular goal for boys in the Kingdom.
In fact, in the days of the predecessor Knights, word of the Knightley Kingdom’s Knights’ Order struck fear in others for their bravery.
However, even though it has only been about ten years since Alexis Heinlein, the Knight-Captain at that time, retired, the core of the Knights was already rotten.
Approximately 100 meters in a straight line from the headquarters of the Kingdom’s Knights’ Order was the center of the royal castle 『Palace』 and the place where the office of King Stafford IV was located.
In the secondary rooms next to the office, the Grand Chamberlain Sorrel waited.
Grand Chamberlain Sorrel … at the age of 55 this year, his body was getting a little rounder and the hair on his head was getting thinner, but His Majesty the King had a lot of trust in him … or so it was said.
It was the job of the Grand Chamberlain to manage the official duties of His Majesty the King.
If the King is decent, it is unlikely that the Grand Chamberlain’s influence would become stronger.
However, even in the history of Earth, often the person who is constantly next to the person who has the greatest power would possess some influence of their own.
And the current Kingdom of Knightley was heading in the wrong direction.
Today once more, there was a pile of bribes in front of Grand Chamberlain Sorrel.
Once Sorrel has his eyes on you, he would hinder all the kinds of documents sent to the King for approval.
He would harass by pulling out documents and not letting the King sign them.
If the documents could be sent for approval without any delay with just a small amount of bride, many people would choose that.
“It wasn’t approved because of harassment from the Grand Chamberlain.”
No one would want to listen to such an excuse.
However, there was a person that even Grand Chamberlain Sorrel couldn’t climb over.
That was Fuka, the Finance Minister who manages the Ministry of Finance.
Managing the Ministry of Finance meant having the right to collect taxes.
Taxes were levied on income, but of course, Sorrel was evading his tax payment.
That was because there was no way he could declare the money he receive from ‘Bribes’.
And Finance Minister Fuka knew that.
After finding out, he overlooked it.
From Sorrel’s point of view, it was humiliating to be found out and to be at the mercy of the other party.
That being said, he dared not think about anything.
It was frustrating to think about it, but it was a matter unrelated to him if he doesn’t think about it … since it was better for him to divide it that way.
As long as he couldn’t do everything the way he wanted, he’ll throw something away in exchange … Sorrel had experienced the need for it time and again from his life.
In front of Grand Chamberlain Sorrel was Fuka, the Finance Minister who he could not step over.
Behind him was Count Harold Lawrence, Minister of Home Affairs.
“Grand Chamberlain. I have a matter to tell His Majesty as soon as possible. May I have an audience with him now?”
It was a question, but of course, he meant it as an order to forcefully allow an audience.
Sorrel had no choice.
“Your Excellency Finance Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, of course. Please follow me.”
Sorrel took the lead and knocked on the door of the King’s office.
“Your Majesty, Count Fuka, Finance Minister, and Count Lawrence, Minister of Home Affairs, have said that they have matters that they would like to report as soon as possible.”
In response to the words, Sorrel guided them into the office.
That was all for Sorrel’s work.
He must leave immediately.
In particular, Finance Minister Fuka was very strict in that regard.
Still, he could hear their voices from behind.
“Your Majesty, I found that the cost of repairing the collapsed Rho Bridge is higher than expected. To bear the cost, I would like to temporarily use the development budget of 『Vaedra』 to repair the bridge …”
That was all that Sorrel could hear.
(Vaedra? What’s that, I’ve never heard of it …)
Something in the royal castle that he, the Grand Chamberlain who manages the duties of the King, had never heard of.
He was very curious.
However, Sorrel purposely sealed that feeling.
There were many things in the world that were better not known.
Particularly in the aristocratic world.
Especially in a royal castle … many times, knowledge alone would put your life at risk.
Yes, it was better not to know about 『Vaedra』.
“Thanks to you, Minister of Home Affairs, I managed to find a way out. Thank you.”
“No, this is also for the Kingdom. Everything depends on the domestic flow of goods and people. Restoration of the Rho Bridge as soon as possible is a top priority. I admire Your Excellency’s effort to devise a plan to raise the funds required.”
Fuka, the Finance Minister, who left the King’s office, and Harold Lawrence, the Minister of Home Affairs, were walking in the royal castle.
“As expected, Sir Harold, who has a discerning eye. No other ministers could understand.”
Fuka was frustrated by his negotiations with ministers who were reluctant to cut their budget.
“The quick development of 『Vaedra』 is indeed very important for national defense, but only after the revival of a smooth distribution. I admire how you, the Minister of Home Affairs, with the development of Vaedra under your jurisdiction, understand this priority.”
Finance Minister Fuka was being amiable because he was now able to pay for the increased cost of restoring Rho Bridge.
“You speak too highly of me.”
Harold Lawrence bowed lightly.
The Minister of Home Affairs Harold Lawrence was still 35 years old, while the Finance Minister Fuka was already over fifty years old.
Although not as much as parents and children, there were some age differences.
The Ministry of Finance has a significant position as it holds the right to assign the budget for each ministry and the right to collect taxes domestically, as a government office.
That showed the difference between the Finance Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs.
Of course, the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was responsible for domestic security and defense, was by no means a small ministry.
In terms of the number of staff members, the Ministry of Home Affairs probably has the largest because it is also responsible for the development of guards and defense weapons.
It was a consensus assessment that Harold Lawrence was extremely capable within the Ministry of Home Affairs to be chosen to lead the ministry in his mid-thirties.
“Oh, Your Excellency Finance Minister, I was looking for you. In the east, there is actually a problem.”
Fuka frowned at the words of his subordinate who seemed to be looking for Finance Minister Fuka.
“Sir Harold, I’m sorry, I have to go first. See you again.”
Then, while listening to the report, Fuka sprinted away to his office.
Watching him sideways, Harold Lawrence’s lips raised slightly.
Then he walked to his office.
Abel spent a few days gathering all the information.
And the result,
“It’s completely corrupted …”
Rihya and Rin, who were talking next to him, stopped talking and turned to Abel.
“Knight-Captain Baccara and Grand Chamberlain Sorrel are both black with corruption. Finance Minister Fuka is still unknown.”
(Although they are full of corruption, I do not get the sense that they would commit the crime of treason.)
Abel felt that way.
“It’s been about five days since then, right? I’m surprised you managed to gather this kind of information.”
Rin was impressed, looking at the papers on the desk.
“They are information from old friends.”
“Knights’ Order, next to His Majesty … those are certainly places where Abel’s old friends would be likely to enter. So that’s why there is no one in the Ministry of Finance …”
When Abel revealed the source of the information, Rihya teased him.
“Shut up. People strong in mathematics that would be able to enter the Ministry of Finance … yeah, I can’t think of anyone …”
“Somehow, I can imagine Abel and his entourage when they were little …”
Rin folded her hands in front of her chest and nodded many times.
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