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Chapter 44 – Death March
A large amount of unbelievable information about starvation, cannibalism, and prices of goods soaring to 10,000 times the normal price came in from the Estoa duchy, next door. But upon careful examination, all of this information was just about someone who broke into a person’s house to quench their hunger. The said owner of the house had died of starvation and the intruder left the house with a full stomach. But only the transaction’s selling price had soared, so the information the people provided lacked accuracy.
Just because a starving intruder entered a dead person’s house and came back stuffed, doesn’t justify people branding the intruder as a cannibal, which is a really cruel thing to say. Well, it might be hard to imagine there was any remaining food in a starving person’s house, but as a matter of fact, it is common for people to die of starvation while still having food left over.
There are quite famous stories of people who died of dehydration in the middle of the desert, while still having water in their canteens and there are even common stories of people who died of starvation and failed to make their last meal before they expired. Even though these people saved emergency food or water, when the moment actually came, they were in a tragic state where they couldn’t move their bodies. This phenomenon is also known as the “Last Elixir Syndrome.”
While thinking how difficult life was without food, I further spread more information for pursuit. We distributed the information about livestock, the amount of food these animals ate until they matured, and the amount of meat the livestock could produce through newspapers.
“’It takes 200 kg of wheat to raise a 100 kg pig!’… What is this?”
“They’re just promoting the slaughter of pigs, and ensuring that hunger would continue for the years to come.”
“…What are you trying to do? Do you want to inflict more pain on the people? What is your intention?”
“…I guess, by the end of all of this, it would result in a war.”
Even with Deal duchy under my control, the economy had already collapsed and bartering had become the norm. We still have it better, since we have stocks of food to barter, unlike the other territories. But it doesn’t change the fact that this whole situation is inconvenient… Since this might stop the production of cannons, I had to give generous amounts of food to people who were involved in the production of military weapons. It would be troublesome if they demanded more food; if so, they would be restructured without mercy. There are no employment laws governing labor in this world.
My ultimate goal, which I didn’t tell Linde-san, was the death of the emperor and the collapse of the Carling Empire. Afterward, I would declare the independence of my nation. Because I intend to be independent, it would be better for me if the surrounding nations were weak. Once I became the head of my nation, I could freely engage in war to some degree. Since there are kingdoms with a single duchy, there was no problem to declare my territory as a kingdom, even if I only had Deal duchy on my side. After all, the territory would expand as soon as it became independent.
In the meantime, Agnes-kun, who had become a baron of Duke Miller of Estoani Kingdom, declared war on the Carling Empire. He successfully seized the neighboring Zaire county of Estoa duchy, which was next to his territory, and became a count, but they had not concluded the war. Apparently, after the Borghardt Kingdom had seized the Gra duchy and defeated the Estoani Kingdom, they seemed intent on securing the entirety of the Estoa duchy and began to prepare for an all-out war.
As expected, the Carling Empire couldn’t afford to lose an entire duchy at this crucial point, so His Majesty Paulus began to gather an army of his vassals. Thinking that the Imperial Army would at least provide food, most of the vassals gathered led their conscripts to join in. But obviously, the Imperial Army had also suffered from food shortage, so the amount of ration was sparse, and since fleeing from the battlefield was a serious crime, the vassals ended up in a hellish march toward Estoa duchy.
That said, Duke Jeremias, Duke Schult, and I didn’t join the march. It wouldn’t be weird for the Emperor to strip both Duke Jeremias and me of our duke status at any moment. Well, even if the Emperor stripped me of my title, it would only effectively change the head of the nation. As soon as the new Duke Deal was sent, I would capture and turn them into my puppet.
It seemed the people of Deal duchy had already figured out what I was doing, so they had no other choice but to follow me. As for the new currency that I was planning to make, with consideration of the current value of money, I guess I would only distribute them to officials and implement a system where the government would sell the goods. The exchange rate between old and new currency is 10,000:1, which should be good enough. With this, it would be possible to round up the currency value that already had plummeted.
I had a feeling someone would scold me for treating the economy like a toy, but since it was my control, I’ll do with it as I please. As for the prevention of counterfeiting… I think we could make it as long as we make a device that can detect counterfeit money, so I would have to work hard to accomplish that. Since this was a world with magic, I could make a device that would identify and recognize only the money the nation has produced. If I couldn’t make one, then I would have to think of another method.
Ah, the new currency I am planning to create doesn’t use the gold and silver currency. The reason why I used coins instead of bills was due to the simple fact that they were more durable. In the first place, the printing technology was immature, so it was more convenient to produce money through the use of molds.
Since we are going through all this trouble, I would make a new currency called Yen with a value similar to the Japanese Yen. That would make it easier for me to recognize the budget, so there would be less leakage. As I was thinking about the new currency, I received the information that the Estoani Kingdom’s army had defeated the Carling Empire’s army. I guess the soldiers of the empire had become too weakened due to a lack of food.
Because of all of this, the neighboring area became the territory of Estoani Kingdom. This fact alone would allow me to declare war, but if another battle were to break out twice in an area where food is scarce, its destruction would be inevitable. It might be better to not recklessly expand my territory. In the first place, my territory’s area was about the size of Shikoku in Japan.
However, next door, Wagner’s territory was comparable to the region of western Japan without Shikoku. Wagner might be suffering now, but he would definitely come back to his feet. Once he did, Wagner would definitely send a punitive force my way. Until then, I had a grace period.
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