Release that Witch Chapter 454
To advertise the speech, he asked Petrov to relate the details of the rebellion to the entire city beforehand and also instructed Maggie to bring Echo from Border Town.
There was a smaller audience than he had expected. Although it was already spring, the endless snow stopped people from going outside.
Fortunately, driven by the prince's promise that "soldiers killed in action will be well compensated", all members of the Second Army and their families came to the theater. It would take Roland some time to earn trust from the rest of his subjects, but Roland believed the best marketing was word of mouth. Once the seed was sown, it would spread its roots to more people. This was the reason he insisted on an army consisting of ordinary men.
They were as sharp as swords, as impregnable as fortresses, and perfect role models for publicity.
"Good morning, my subjects. I'm the lord of the Western Region, Roland Wimbledon. I believe most of you have already heard my name." Roland surveyed the audience and continued, "First of all, I'd like to express my deepest sorrow and grief for those who were injured or lost their lives in the rebellion. This was a conspiracy plotted in King's City. In order to disturb the peaceful Western Region, Timothy has tried to wage war against us numerous times. Unfortunately, the four families of Western Region didn't side with the people, but instead helped the wicked perpetuate wicked deeds, thus causing this tragedy."
The prince did not linger on the details of the rebellion. Compared with a formal speech, people were usually more interested in the rumors circulated in taverns. Therefore, he soon switched to the more popular topic of compensation after a brief introduction.
"During the rebellion, 56 out of 112 soldiers in the Second Army were killed in action. In addition, rebels looted and burned the residences, leading to 48 deaths among civilians and reducing 12 properties to ashes," Roland spoke in a low voice. "I hereby apologize to the subjects in Longsong Stronghold. As the lord of the territory, I've failed to fulfill my obligations."
The prince's words stirred up the audience, who apparently had never heard any royal family members apologize to civilians. Many of them were shocked and startled, but Roland thought this was the attitude a lord should have. He was not as inscrutably arrogant as other nobles, who always treated civilians with an air of scorn and condescension. History taught him that a ruler would not be truly accepted by his people unless he viewed them as his equals.
Few people cheered for the prince's promise. Apparently, most of them were skeptical about Roland's alleged pension plan. Corruption and briberies among officials were normal on this land, so even winter relief rations were sometimes mixed with sand and leaves. How could they possibly believe that they would receive gold royals?
Nevertheless, Roland had already thought of a solution to maximize the effects of his advertising. He clapped his hands, and two soldiers from the First Army came up to the stage with a vault, followed by Petrov and Iron Axe. "I've got a list of the soldiers who sacrificed themselves in the battle here. Now the governor of Longsong Stronghold, Petrov Hull, will distribute pensions to you personally!"
When the soldiers dumped the shiny gold royals on the table, the audience finally became a little more enthusiastic.
"Ayat, from the First Gun Battalion of the Second Army!"
"Chapiter, from the First Gun Battalion of the Second Army!"
As Iron Axe slowly read out the names on the list, the soldiers' family members went up to the stage one by one and took the gold royals with excitement, bowing and kneeling in gratitude. For a time the theater was so chaotic that Roland felt Nightingale lay her hands upon his waist.
Fortunately, there were no accidents. By the time everybody had received their pensions, it was almost noon. Roland waved his arm to silence the murmuring audience. "Those who lost their homes during the war will also receive a shelter and food. Food will be delivered to you by assigned staff until the Months of the Demons end."
"Y-Your Highness, what about after the Months of the Demons?" asked someone in a loud voice. Of course, the "inquirer" was created by Echo.
"By then, the City Hall will have created a great number of jobs with competitive salaries and benefits. As long as you're willing to work hard, you don't need to worry about food!" Roland raised his right hand and announced, "The Western Region won't forget those who have contributed, and neither will I!"
By the afternoon, many more people had gathered at the theater. Since all the seats were occupied, many people squatted in the hallway, obviously waiting to watch the trial.
It seems everybody loves to see a prisoner be prosecuted, both in the world I used to live in and the current one.
Roland asked Iron Axe and Petrov to conduct the execution, while he himself sat in a box on the second floor of the theater as one of the spectators.
The verdict had been reached long before. The prisoners were led onto the stage and lined up on their knees in front of the spectators, with armed soldiers standing solemnly behind them. Iron Axe read out the counts, and Petrov the verdicts, after which the soldiers escorted them to the execution ground, the Stronghold Square.
At the sight of the prisoners, some of the victims' family members went up to tussle with them. As long as the fight was not life-threatening, the First Army just stood by. Nobody took pity on these scoundrels, who should have known the subsequent consequences the moment they committed murder and plunder.
In the end, 132 prisoners were sentenced to death, six of whom were great nobles. The rest were mercenaries, guards, and servants. The execution methods varied. Since gallows were limited in number, only the nobles had the privilege to be hanged, whereas others were shot. It was also the first time firearms were used for execution.
The other 900 people who had participated in the rebellion but had not committed murder were imprisoned, awaiting to be sent to the North Slope Mine in batches.
Now, Roland had weeded out all the nobles who challenged his authority in the Western Region.
The following day, he summoned the innocent nobles to the castle hall.
As it was just the beginning of the cleanup, he still had a lot of work to do before he could truly rule this region.
The most important step was to establish a new order.