Release that Witch Chapter 368
"Do you really think he'll agree?" asked Nightingale after Petrov left, whispering into Roland's ear.
"I'm not sure. In addition, even if he does, he'll still need to persuade Count Hull for it to be of any use," said Roland as he took a sip of his hot tea, "If his father still insists on his position as a noble, then there'll be nothing we can do."
"You can't bear to see him go, can you?" she teased.
"Of course not." Roland pursed his lips. "As a noble-born, he's both intelligent yet humble, as well as having a penchant for managing commerce. As long as he studies in Longsong Stronghold for a year or two, he'll definitely become an able government official."
"If he manages to persuade Count Hull, you'll really hand the Royal Capital over for him to govern?"
"If I manage to conquer Graycastle, the capital will naturally need to be moved elsewhere.... In addition, cities that are far from the eastern border will need to be managed by officials sent from the east. As such, the terms I laid out may have sounded fantastical but were nevertheless legitimate."
Towards the end of his conversation with Petrov, Roland had informed him that from henceforth, he will not be any appointing nobles. In fact, after consolidating Graycastle, he planned on establishing a brand new model for society throughout the kingdom based on that of Bordertown. He planned on consolidating and creating a central government with a single word of law and judicial policy. Should Petrov decide to stay, Longsong stronghold will be far from his final destination. Be it a mayor of a major city or chief bureaucrat of the new central government, neither was impossible for him.
As for how far he'll go in reality, it'll be up to none other than himself.
Roland sincerely hoped that Petrov would understand his implications and anticipations from the conversation just now.
"Alright then, it's not as if I understand these things anyway," Nightingale patted his shoulder, "in any case, the new witch is coming over soon, it's best if you go elsewhere for a while."
"You're going to question her by yourself?"
"I'll call Wendy over," the sound of her laughter rang out beside him, "She's better at these things than I am."
The Witches Union for the sake of safety (a cause mainly championed by Scroll), had established a rule: prior to any further interactions with an unknown Witch, their identity had to first be confirmed by Nightingale. Doing this required her to enter her fog, and therefore also take off the God's Stone of Retaliation. Thus, it was best if Roland were not present, lest the outsider revolt and anything unexpected happens.
Scroll even managed to come up with a series of 10 questions specifically for determine one's identity, such as "Where are you from", "What is your real name", "Do you recognize the prince", "Do you hold any hostile intentions towards the prince", etc. Since Nightingale could only determine the veracity of someone's statements based on the target's own beliefs, this battery of true/false questions aimed to establish the target's true intentions without leaving any loopholes. Even if they could deceive her once or twice, there was no way they could pass every single question.
Roland didn't know whether to laugh or cry when this was brought up, but in consideration of the witches' good intentions, he could only go along with this plan.
After leaving the main hall, he returned to his office and immediately sent for Chief Minister Barov.
After reading Petrov's report on the discovery of new witches in Longsong Stronghold, Roland realized his oversight. Though he had sent Nana onto the ceremonial award stage and acknowledged the existence of witches in Border Town, no official decree ever explained their status and how they should be treated. Thus, Border Town might very well have a similar situation as the Stronghold, where a witch would hide herself upon awakening and lie unknown instead of revealing her talents.
The second Barov stepped into the room, Roland immediately ordered, "I'm declaring a long term recruitment drive, the details are on this paper here."
Barov received the draft and took a cursory glance, "Your Majesty....you mean to recruit witches at a monthly salary of an entire gold royal each?"
"That's right," Roland nodded, "This is also the Witches Union's standard salary." A monthly salary of one gold royal in this era was for only the most prestigious of positions. Border Town's average salary and standard of living were already well beyond that of other cities, with the highest paid being the workers at the acid manufacturing plant at 20 silver royals. Yet, this new decree set the witches' wage at five times the current highest, cementing their position in society.
"Since you want to recruit more witches, why not send people to search for them?" asked Barov, "the same way you had the citizens report spies, after all, their eyes see more truth than anyone else's."
[Even my Chief Minister has learned to fight "The Peoples' War"] Roland mused, holding back the delight in his heart, "And should I offer a reward for finding them? What difference will there be between me and the Church then?"
"But.... you're doing this to recruit them, whereas the Church means to hang them."
"Even if we say so, the witches forcibly exposed this way might think we're actually persecuting them. Though new witches in Border Town may have not experienced the persecution of the populace, the same cannot be said for those who have came from elsewhere," said Roland, declining Barov's proposal. "My hope is for them to stand forward of their own volition, for the sake of making their own contribution to Border Town."
In addition to the witches' own inhibitions, Roland was also worried about the effect declaring a reward would have on the populace, possibly creating a new wave of "witch hunters", or making witches out to be valuable "commodities" to be created and found. Birthing a witch would become more profitable than hard work, and though in the short term it would elevate the witches' positions, in the long term it could easily hurt Border Town's "American Dream" that Roland had worked so hard to create.
Right after Barov left, Wendy immediately entered, placing the results of the investigation on his desk.
"Your Highness, we've confirmed her identity. There are no problems, her answers line up with what the Honeysuckle's eldest said."
"See," smiled Roland, "I told you guys you were being too careful."
"Nevertheless this level of caution is necessary," Wendy persevered, "Your Highness' personal safety will always be our first and foremost priority."
"Alright," said Roland, suddenly feeling a little touched, as he took a deep breath and said, "bring her here then."
The girl seemed around 15 years old, her dirtied hair a muddled brown, eyes brimming with timidity and slight panic. It seemed to be the first time she'd ever stepped foot into a carpeted room, as seen from her restless fidgeting as she tried to determine where to put her feet.
According to the information on the report, she called herself Paper and was born just outside of Longsong Stronghold. She became an orphan during a blizzard three years ago, a background shared by many of the street urchins in the western region. These orphans' fates were usually to either die scrounging for food, or join the underground street rats, becoming a pickpocket, thug or scapegoat.
"You..." Roland paused, unable to decide what to say. The girl was neither like Agatha, resilient and adaptable, nor like Nana, determined and firm of heart. Even Mystery Moon and Lily, whose situations most resembled hers, had the sisterhood and companionship of the Union. As a young girl in a completely new place, she was probably in a state of constant panic, and most likely required a lengthy period to acclimate to her new environment. From Petrov's report, her ability to melt snow was most likely related to control of temperature.
[Anyway, there's no rush to test her ability, we can slowly learn about it as she becomes familiarized with this place.] With that thought, Roland turned to Wendy, "She must be exhausted from the long journey, why don't you take her for a bath first and let her rest awhile. Arrange for her to stay in the witches' building. As for any instructions she requires with respect to magic, I'll leave that to you, alright?"
"Of course," she smiled coyly, "As you wish."
The People's War refers to Mao Zedong's strategy of drawing the enemy into his own territory, then taking advantage of the incredible loyalty of his citizens to slowly whittle them down.
The American Dream is a term coined in the 20th century United States, to mean achieving success through one's own hard labor and determination.
Testing out the translator's thoughts section. If you have any thoughts towards ways to improve this chapter please mention so in the comments section, I try to read them all.