Chapter 5-9 : Thugs Ⅰ
「Who’s the owner of this shop!? Show your face!」(man)
Along with such a rough voice, a young man came into my store. He was accompanied by five tough-looking men.
Judging from his somewhat young face, I think he is in his early twenties, and judging from his fat body due to unhealthy habits, he is probably a rich merchant or an aristocrat.
Either way, there’s no doubt that he brings trouble into my store.
I stretched my hand backward, prompting Lorea-chan to hide behind me, and took a step forward.
Iris-san and Kate-san also stepped forward, lining up next to me.
「I’m the store owner.」(Sarasa)
「Hoo, so you’re the alchemist of this store, huh? …Not bad.」(man)
The man observed me from my head to my toes and grinned.
His grin looked disgusting but I tried to keep my expression straight.
「Who are you? What do you want?」(Sarasa)
「Hmph. You don’t even know the face of the most powerful man in this region? Oh, well. Yesterday, I got a report that some men had become victims of unprovoked violence in this store. I also heard that there was a pseudo-noble here, so I, Baronet Kirk, the feudal lord of this region, took the trouble to come here myself.」(Kirk)
Pseudo-noble…? Does he mean Iris-san? But although she is a daughter of a knight, she’s genuinely a noble.
As I thought that, the man glanced at Iris-san. It seemed that my guess was right.
At first, I didn’t believe that he was really Baronet Kirk, but then I thought that there was no way a commoner would know that Iris-san is a noble.
Looks like that this man really is Baronet Kirk.
I had never met him until now, but I heard many bad rumors about him from the villagers. They said that Baronet Kirk was not a good person, and now that I’m meeting him myself, I can understand why.
I have a feeling that he was the one who sent the thugs from the other day, and he probably did that to set us up for his scheme.
What a pain…
Iris-san clenched her fists and gritted her teeth. She seemed to be very angry.
She took a step forward and glared at Baronet Kirk
「Unprovoked violence, you say…? Then we don’t have any idea about that. We indeed knocked out some men the other day, but they were thugs who tried to attack us, so I think what we have done to them was right.」(Iris)
「Oi, oi. Don’t you think it’s terrible to call those pitiful victims “thugs”? As the feudal lord of this region, I can’t overlook this problem. I want justice for those poor men.」(Kirk)
I squinted my eyes, glaring at Baronet Kirk who said such nonsense while grinning.
「You’re trying to do your best as the lord, I see. However, Kirk-sama, you can rest assured because it’s not something for a feudal lord like you to handle.」(Sarasa)
「Don’t you know? Territorial laws don’t apply to what happens inside alchemy stores. In other words, it’s not something for a feudal lord to worry about.」(Sarasa)
The only laws that apply to alchemists are the royal laws.
It had been determined by the government in order to distribute alchemists evenly throughout the kingdom and to protect them from bad feudal lords who want to manipulate them with strange laws. In other words, alchemists’ rights won’t be violated by unreasonable territorial laws.
In our case, even though Baronet Kirk said that there was a violent act in my store, I won’t be unfairly judged by him because I’m an alchemist and I’m bound by the laws of the kingdom.
「Therefore, if those ‘victims’ wanted to take legal action against me, they have to report it to the government in the royal capital.」(Sarasa)
After I explained, Baronet Kirk looked down and gritted his teeth as his face turned red in anger.
Well, I don’t think the government would believe those ‘victims’ and punish me though.
I have nothing to hide, and I believe the judicial authorities in the royal capital are not rotten enough to make a man like him in favor.
I’m pretty sure this person is planning something. After all, someone as busy as him won’t take action for a trivial matter like this.
The question is… what is he planning?
「You ignored your people when Hellfire Grizzlies attacked this village a while ago as if it wasn’t an important matter but why are you willing to take action on a trivial matter now?」(Sarasa)
After I asked Baronet Kirk with a tone as if I was interrogating him, one of the men standing behind him glared and shouted at me.
「How dare you speak to Kirk-sama like thaー」(man)
However, Baronet Kirk raised his hand, telling him to calm down. He then smirked at me.
「Hmph. I can’t deny that. I was busy at that time.」(Kirk)
「Busy, huh? And now you came because you’re free?」(Sarasa)
「Of course not. Just so you know that I didn’t come just for this ‘trivial’ matter, but I came also because I haven’t received taxes from some fields in this village. You know what I mean, right?」(Kirk)
I frowned after listening to him.
I once asked Ells-san about taxes in this village.
According to her, a certain amount of tax is collected every year regardless of whether the harvest in the said year was successful or not.
It’s kinda like a poll tax, but since the regional government never takes the trouble to census the population, the amount of tax collected will be the same even if the population decreases.
However, most of the villagers have a small income so the taxes are too much for them.
That was the reason why Erin-san wanted to develop medical herb fields in this village. She wanted the villagers to have a stable income.
However, it seemed that Baronet Kirk wanted to tax the medical herb fields too.
「Are you really a feudal lord? Don’t you know that you shouldn’t tax herb fields!?」(Iris)
Iris-san said that to Baronet Kirk in my stead while still glaring at him.
Baronet Kirk responded to her by grinning and shaking his head as if making fun of her.
「Haha. Now that I’m looking at you closely, I think I know you… You are the daughter of a poor knight noble house, the Lotze Family, aren’t you? I see… so you’re working as a Collector in this village, huh? I bet living as a poor noble is so hard for your father that he has to force his daughter to work. Gahaha!」(Kirk)
Iris-san clenched her fists and gritted her teeth even harder.
I understand her feelings. It’s only natural if she’s mad after the person who scammed her father into a big debt made fun of her like that.
「A feudal lord has the authority to decide the tax, don’t you know? Ah, you had no idea about it perhaps because your father is too stupid to govern a territory.」(Kirk)
Seeing the grin on Kirk’s face as he said that, Iris-san couldn’t hold her emotions in any longer.
She raised her fist, trying to punch Baronet Kirk. However, I quickly grabbed her arm from behind and tried to calm her down.
I know her feelings. I wanted to smack him too, but it would be really bad if she punched a feudal lord for real…
Baronet Kirk flinched but then he glared at me.
「Anyway, I’ve decide to tax the medical herbs in this village!」(Kirk)