Release that Witch Chapter 866
Things took a sharp turn after Edith's second question.
Four nobles were escorted out of the crowd by the new King's guards.
The crowd began to stir.
"Your Majesty.. what..?"
"Hmm, you guessed right. The four of them were telling the truth," Roland said with his hands laid out. "Their courage and their willingness to try earned them the qualification to come aboard my wagon. What we need for a reform, is people who dare to try" He then turned to the chosen nobles, "Do your best. Don't waste this opportunity that has landed in your hands."
"Yes, yes... Your Majesty!" the four nobles said, feeling somewhat flattered.
"Nonsense!" George could not help but growl in his heart. "Courage? Qualification? You must be kidding! Those guys are nothing but Barons who are on the verge of going bankrupt. They are title to nothing but barren lands with pathetic yield, poor management, and a lack of manpower. The output of their lands can barely make ends meet. So of course, they won't have a problem giving up on their lands. The lands under these "nobles" are but symbolic. Upon losing the lands, they won't even be invited to the banquet. People like them actually got the new King's special attention? Or... perhaps they've colluded with Roland Wimbledon to put on this absurd show?"
"Wait a minute..." He suddenly recalled an unsettling story that came from the King's city not too long ago.
There were only a few witnesses to this story about Prince Roland. It was said that after taking over the King's city, the Prince held a trial in the holy palace for those great nobles. Judging from the result, almost all the nobles who had controlled real power in the King's city had been swept away. Even Timothy was not spared. He had been sentenced to death. Rather than a trial, it would be more fitting to call it a purge.
The proceedings of the trial were extremely bizarre.
He heard that Roland had convicted the nobles with a Q&A game.
The nobles had been asked to answer ten questions. If they responded to any question incorrectly, they would be sent to prison—it was said that this seemingly ridiculous rule was due to mind reading.
Back then, George didn't heed this rumor any mind and had considered it a story fabricated by the nobles who had luckily escaped punishment to conceal their guilt and cowardice. He firmly believed that this so-called mind reading was just Roland judging the nobles based on his personal preference as he would never spare the former king's ministers.
But now, George was not so sure about his original judgment anymore.
"Could... the rumors be real?"
"Here comes the third sentence. Listen carefully," Edith's voice sounded once again, "I have no intentions of giving up my land and power, but in front of overwhelming power, I wouldn't want to lose my life over them either." She gestured to the crowd. "Now your turn."
The atmosphere in the hall changed.
Those who initially repeated after Edith carelessly were now filled with mixed feelings after they saw the first batch of nobles being escorted out the crowd after earning the new King's recognition.
This time, even the timing of the responses were off.
Yet the guards still picked out more nobles.
To George Nery's surprise, Earl Delta was also among them.
"What's going on?" Guye quietly moved to George and asked with a low voice. "Does this mean the new King has persuaded them?"
George did a head count. Altogether, 21 nobles had been chosen, among whom a few actually discussed with him the plan to fight against Roland not long ago. Without those nobles and their servants, the crowd was downsized a half.
"Im-Impossible. If Roland had contacted so many of them, I would have noticed." George gritted his teeth. "They must have been chosen on the spot."
"Then... why didn't they say so?" Baron Levitan also scooched closer to George. "That guy Huth was still with us in the beginning!"
"What?" George glared at him. "'My lord, you have wronged me. My lands are more important than anything else. I'd rather die for it'. Would you say something like that?"
"What an idiot." Georgy thought angrily . "The point here isn't the nobles who are being chosen, but those left behind. Roland Wimbledon could just close his eyes and pick anyone as his follower, then suppress those who are left behind. But how could he make sure those who support the Lord of Redwater City instead of himself aren't left behind?
If he chooses wrongly, it will only push those who have supported him to the opposite side. Such a trick has no other meaning than giving the nobles a warning. Or, could he just wanted to show off his mind-reading skill?
Looking around, once again G eorge made sure that the new king only took six guards with him. Even though only one or two nobles were left behind and the new king wanted to punish them as a warning to the others, these six guards most likely would not be enough to control the crowd.
At least, he and Earl Tririver would not sit idly by and do nothing.
"Submitting before power is nothing to be embarrassed about," smiling at the second batch of chosen nobles, Roland said. "Since ancient times, the powerful have ruled the weak. Being able to size up the situation correctly and act correspondingly is no less commendable than having courage. Your ancestors were able to take over a spot for themselves in Graycastle and even continued their bloodline instead of getting forgotten through the passage of time. This achievement alone is a proof of their capability. I'm glad to see that you all have inherited their wisdom. Moreover, I promise that you won't be treated differently from the previous batch of nobles. I only hope you remember what you said today. When you have to make similar decisions in the future, just make sure to keep in mind the might of Neverwinter."
Then he looked at the Pearl of the Northern Region. "Next sentence."
Edith nodded. "The fourth sentence—I don't want to give up either of them and I don't know which to choose."
This sentence was very short. However, from amongst the remaining nobles, only five or six of them repeated it; most of the others chose to be silent, perhaps because they had noticed that they were being differentiated.
Among those who repeated, the guards only chose three.
"Ahem. Your Majesty, we believe that you can read minds. So let's call it off now."
"Yes. After all, this is a welcome banquet. You see..." Earl Delta and Earl Tririver tried to appeal to the King one after another.
"There are fewer neutrals than I've imagined." But Roland acted as if he did not hear them. "Being irresolute and hesitant can't actually be counted as positive characters, especially so when facing the tide of reformation. But you still belong to the category that is reformable. Why don't you guys stay here for now? You will probably change your mind in a moment."
He paused, then said to the remaining nobles, "Here comes the last sentence, but I'm guessing that you already know what it is about. In this case, I'll spell it out for you myself—"
"No matter what, I'll not hand over my lands or power. For this purpose, I am willing to take a risk—as long as I can defeat the King, my house and fortune will live on!"
In a split second, the hearth seemed to sway without any wind.
Nobody in the hall dared open their mouth. The air felt icy cold.
"It doesn't matter even if you don't speak. As I said before, this isn't a suggestion but an order," Roland spoke slowly. "People who don't repeat will lose their qualification to get on my wagon. Your road ends here."
"What do you mean?" George scowled. "How can you convict us without any evidence or a proper trial?"
There were still 27 nobles remaining, which was far more than George had expected. According to their titles, each had two to four attendants with them. So altogether, there were more than 60 people left, some of which were probationary knights. "What good would it do for the new king to corner us like this?
Doesn't he worry about backlash from the nobles?
"Your Majesty, if you're just kidding, I think it's already gone far enough." Guye still managed to keep his kind face and said patiently, "Your last sentence carried the joke too far. We can't say it out. How can you be sure that's what in everybody's mind? At least I myself will never betray the Wimbledon Family."
"That's true... I'm wronged. I've never thought about anything like that!"
"Your Majesty, please reconsider your words!"
The nobles were shouting out their pleas one after another in loud voices.
"You know what? Mind reading works in such a way that the more you talk, the better it becomes" Roland was not swayed. He took over a crystal glass from Edith. "You can save your words for the shovels and ores."
"That's right. You'll be escorted to the North Slope Mine to labor for 20 years in punishment for your conspiracy—after all you haven't actually acted against me," the new king then spoke in a dangerous tone, "but... if you resist my verdict in any way, your conspiracy will become treason. When that happens, you'll be sentenced to death."
Roland drank the wine in his glass with one gulp, then tossed it.
The glass traveled along an arc before it fell at George's feet, where it shattered into pieces.