Release that Witch Chapter 440
In addition, he felt the urge to finalize the laws, and then to recruit specialized legal officers to conduct interrogations and handle cases. After all, when the city was fully constructed, criminal cases would only increase, and he would not have time to play judge to all of them.
It was decided that the trial would be conducted in the castle hall.
Roland had requested for Barov to come to the castle, and together, they would hear the case of this food smuggling crime.
In the hall, the two suspects knelt on the floor. Their ghost pale faces and vacant eyes suggested that they were new to this sort of occasion.
Roland took his seat on the throne, cleared his throat, and said, "Explain everything that you did. You'll be doubly guilty if you hold back or lie about anything."
"Yes, yes, Your Highness." The two suspects seemed as if they had just awoken from a dream. They scrambled between themselves to tell their personal accounts of what happened, particularly the serf, who shouted at the top of his voice, "Your Highness, Lord! I know that what I did was wrong, but if I didn't sell the wheat... I wouldn't be able to live on! Those officials didn't buy wheat according to your demand. I'd no choice but to do this!"
The case turned out to be very simple, and Roland cleared his emotions halfway through listening.
In order to reassure the citizens, the City Hall had set the individual quota for purchasing grains to be slightly higher than the actual consumption. Therefore, there would be a small excess of wheat every month. Parker, who resided in the Sixth Residential Area, smelled a business opportunity. He would grind the excess wheat into flour and add in a few of his self-grown herbs to make savory pancakes. It sold well—fortunately, the sale restrictions in the Convenience Market only applied to staples, while poultry and eggs could be freely sold in the stalls.
The business brought in some silver royals for him every month. However, there was only so much excess wheat, and hence, he had to reduce his own consumption in order to expand the scale of the business. Parker thus set his sights on serfs who did not sell all of their food to the City Hall, and soon got in touch with "Gold" to establish this trafficking deal.
Roland looked at Barov. The latter faced him back and said softly, "The Ministry of Agriculture is in charge of purchasing. The minister is Sirius Daly, whom I believe is unlikely to have made such a grave mistake. You can call him in for questioning."
Roland nodded and had his guards summon the Minister of Agriculture to the castle.
Sirius Daly rushed to the castle hall, and after making a very impressive Knight's bow towards Roland, he enquired if His Highness had any decree for him. His mannerisms retained the style of the Wolf Family's knights.
The prince delineated the parts of the case which he did not understand. "Did you ever refuse to purchase the serf's grains?"
"Your Highness, this was what happened," Sirius answered without hesitation. "As per your demands, we didn't stop the purchases after the bumper harvest. However, we lowered the purchase price according to the diminishing quality of the wheat. In the first two months, there was little difference between our purchase price and the original price."
Sirius paused before he continued, "After winter arrived, because the majority of serfs didn't have proper storage places for the wheat and they were relocated from the shacks to the temporary housing areas, the quality of the wheat deteriorated substantially. When we do the purchases, we would often find wet, discolored and moldy food, and therefore our purchase prices reduced by 20 to 30 percent. The food of this particular serf was largely wet, moldy, and couldn't be stored any longer. Therefore, the price that I offered was five times less than during the bumper harvest."
"Your Highness, that's as good as not buying!" The serf shouted. "I spent my entire year working on the farm. This price was even lower than what I would get on Black Street! Didn't you say that the prices wouldn't change?!"
"But you have to sell it on time, idiot!" Barov snapped angrily. "Do you think that nobody knows why you hoarded wheat? Had there been a food supply problem in town, you would have sold your stock at three to four times the usual price!"
Everything about the case became clear. However, the result slightly surprised Roland. He had thought of it as a simple issue of food trafficking, but instead discovered a case of black-hearted food selling. Parker was obviously aware that this batch of grains was of extremely poor quality, and yet he was fine with buying it at half the price on multiple occasions. He probably did not care whether the moldy wheat was actually edible.
After discussing the issue with Barov for a while, Roland finally passed his judgment.
He stood up, looked over the entire audience, and then said solemnly, "I pronounce... the two men guilty! The serf disobeyed the ban and trafficked grain. He knowingly violated the law and hence is doubly guilty. I shall sentence him to ten years of labor in the mines. If his performance and behavior are good, the number of years may be reduced."
"Resident Parker also violated the ban, and furthermore used low-quality wheat to make pancakes which he sold to other citizens. For these two crimes, I shall sentence him to ten years of labor, and a fine equivalent to three times of his earnings from the sale of pancakes. My judgments shall be enforced immediately!"
The two convicts turned feeble and fell on the ground as if paralyzed. The guards standing on one side walked up to them and dragged them out of the hall.
The prince then instructed Sirius. "Write this matter into a bulletin and then hand it to Barov for review and publication. I want to let all citizens know the entire sequence of events, and make sure that this never happens again."
"Yes, Your Highness!"
After the trial ended, Roland summoned Chief Knight to his office. "Did you hear that the person who arrested the criminal was Vader again?"
Carter nodded. "However, they overdid it this time. They took off their uniforms while arresting the criminal, and in the process, they were also reported for getting into a fight with commoners. I'll warn him about this."
"Don't do that. In fact, you should commend him," Roland said, stroking his chin. "Isn't it expected of a plainclothes policeman to adapt to the situation and to understand how to apprehend a criminal? Vader was formerly a patrol team member, and also understands the Black Street Forces well—he's, quite simply, a natural born talent for inspection work.
When the time's right, I shall recruit him into the Security Bureau." Roland quietly thought. "Nightingale's lacking some manpower after all."