Chapter 290 “What a heavy handed stick” (Part two)
So, ten days ago, Zack released news that he’s going to carry out his monthly auctioning event, and exactly at that time, an incident occurred that was neither big nor small.
During the winter of this year, one of the provinces in the southern part of the empire suddenly suffered a catastrophic snowstorm. The climate in the southern reaches rarely snowed, but it’s not unheard of for this anomaly to occur. Naturally, the finance department would be responsible for carrying out the relief efforts on this disaster
It’s just that this incident coincided with the annual gathering of the various archbishops in the Temple of Light. When his majesty the Pope C who has been living reclusively for many years C heard this news, he passionately made a decree to void the religious taxes on the parishes involved in this disaster for one year.
You can say that it’s not a big deal, but with the Pope leading the effort, it’s only natural that the powerful followers of the Temple would make their own contributions. In the end, many wealthy nobles began donating significant sums of money to the cause.
This matter caused quite the stir in the capital for several days. Eventually, the situation devolved into an embarrassing scenario for the court: With one call from the Pope, the amount raised reached an astronomical number of three million gold. There’s no doubt the Pope’s appeal was strong within the Temple, but there’s likely another player pushing from behind.
And exactly at this time, a malicious rumor began to spread around the capital saying the regent only managed to raise thirty gold coins pared to the three million that the Pope gathered in his name, evident proof that the Pope’s prestige was far higher than the Regent’s.
Such rumors are naturally filled with ulterior motives, but the facts are there in front of them, how can the court deny this when the Pope did indeed raise that amount?
In no time at all, the prestige of the Temple went into high gear while the Regent loses face with each passing day.
The fighting between the royal family and the Temple has been longstanding. What made this stand out was the Pope’s uncharacteristic high profile maneuver to snub the royal family. For all these years, that old man had lived a low profile life and remained reclusive, but now suddenly he es out and makes a scene? Something’s not right here.
Everyone in the elite circle are old weasels. With only a little sniff, these sly bastards can easily smell the different flavors hidden underneath.
If things went according to the norm, these dignitaries would immediately stop donating to the temple when such rumor arises, otherwise, their actions would be no different from slapping the Regent’s face.
Yet that’s precisely what happened here, it’s weird!
Prior to the rumor, the pace of the relief collection inside the Temple was lively enough as it was, but when the words from the rumor broke out, the situation practically surged overnight!
This phenomenon was extremely abnormal!
It was said that during those few days, the faithful’s who heeded the Pope’s call to donate was so high that the line outside the cathedral covered nearly two streets and more! In the end, even the Holy Knights had to be summoned to maintain order around the crowd.
What was originally three million gold coins incredibly doubled in less than two days!
This way around, the Pope’s appeal would awe anyone that learns of this. In turn, the Regent’s side seems bleaker.
“Are these rich people in the capital all blind and deaf?” Du Wei frowned: “It’s obvious someone’s pushing the tide and cheering for the Pope while covertly losing the Regent’s face! Are they not afraid of offending the royal family to join in on this type of show?”
Zack shakes his head: “My Duke… You’re wrong! Strangely, the majority of those who run to the temple to donate are not from the rich part of society. I’ve asked around and noticed most of these people have a foreign accent, as if they are from the south…. I don’t know why there are so many southerners ing to the capital city recently, but all of them seem to be carrying large sums of money with the sole purpose of donating before they depart… This thing is an obvious and deliberate move to make the royal family lose face.”
“Southerners?” Du Wei coldly laughed: “How could the capital suddenly emerge so many rich merchants from the south? It’s obvious someone organized this!”
“I know right?” Zack smiled: “It’s a shame you didn’t e back earlier. Two days ago, the scene outside the Temple was like a sea of people, endless!”
Du Wei shakes his head and asked, “What about the royal family, how are they reacting?”
“It’s precisely because they have no response which makes it weird.” Zack smiles wryly: “Even an idiot can see this is the Temple’s deliberate provocation, very inconsistent with the Pope’s usual manner of doing things! Strangely though, the Regent is having no reaction, remaining silent and….”
“And you don’t find it odd? To say a petition of wealth, do you think the Regent is afraid of the Temple is that field? Let’s not mention the royal family, merely Earl Biliaibuer and Count Taklanshan can easily throw over several million gold coins to stack the odds, so why? There’s so many rich individuals in the Regent’s faction, yet none are speaking.”
Du Wei began pondering with question.
For this matter to be so obviously carried out… It can’t be a scheme against the royal family for its too clumsily planned.
The Temple of Light’s been doing well so far, why suddenly challenge the authority of the Regent?
Then there’s the people from the south……
Can it be the Xieni faction?
But what’s the reasoning for the Xieni faction to do this? Other than provoking the ire of the royal family and raising unpleasant rumors, what good can they get of this?
Too many questions and too little answers, Du Wei can only set aside these questions for now: “Hmm, what does that incident have to do with the auction today?”
“Just two days ago, someone came to us and listed one of their ‘item’.” Zack’s face turned very ugly at the topic: “Guess who sent this item?
“The Temple!” Zack showed a face full of bitterness: “The presiding judge of the temple personally came here and handed me a decree from the Pope himself! The decree is one of the items for sale today and has been deposited in our vault for the past two days!”
His Majesty’s orders were very clear and that the decree will go to the highest bidder! As for the proceeds from the auction, it will all be used for the disaster relief fund in the south and the winner of the auction shall receive a personal signed pledge from the Pope: Whoever gets this promise, regardless of their background or status, good or bad, dumb or smart, faithful or unfaithful, that person’s child will receive the honor of being personally baptized by the Pope himself and the child will also be formally recognized as a god child of the Pope.
Now that’s newsworthy, even Du Wei could barely keep himself upright on his chair.
The Pope himself presiding over the baptism ceremony? HOLY CRAP!!
Every generation of the pope will never give a baptism to any ordinary person, that was of course unless you were the emperor of the Empire!!
In the nine hundred and sixty years of the Roland Empire and the Temple of Light, this tradition has never been broken, nor will it ever be allowed to be broken!
In a way, this could even be called a standard of legality for the reigning emperor to claim legitimacy!
Unconsciously, people have even erected such a concept: without the Pope’s personal presence during the emperor’s baptism, that emperor is not lawful!
And flipping it around, as the supreme ruler of the Temple of Light, the pope mustn’t casually perform a baptism!
This is the iron law!!
“Is his Majesty the Pope insane?!!!” Du Wei suddenly jumped up: “What the hell is that old fraud thinking, is he stupid?”
This is provocation! A blatant provocation!
Du Wei’s face was pale too as he stared at Zack: “You are also stupid! How can you take on something like that!”
Zack’s face was white too as he shouted, “Oh heavens, my Duke! You think I’m a fool?! You think I don’t understand the weight of the situation? You think I want to accept something like that? It’s just that back then the presiding judge was standing in front of me and waving the Pope’s personal decree at my face! You think I can deny it? I’m not you, I’m not a Duke! I’m merely a small little steward managing your business. In front of a character at the level of the Pope, how do you expect me to refuse? I have to say yes even if every fiber of my body screams no!!”
Thinking it over, Du Wei had to admit… In front of the Pope’s personal decree, he himself wouldn’t be able to refuse, let alone this monkey.
On the whole continent, who can openly say no in front of the Pope?
“Besides.” Zack made a face full of bitterness: “That day right after I accepted that thing, I immediately sent someone out of the capital to find you on the road. At that time, you should’ve been halfway to the capital, did you not meet them?”
Du Wei’s heart grew gloomy. Calculating the time and day?
Hmm, two days ago, wasn’t that exactly the time when he saved Maximos from those Xieni assassins on the river?
“I did not meet the messengers you sent out.” He hastened to ask: “Then what about Prince Son? What does the Regent have to say about this news?”
Zack’s face was weird before he made a strange smile: “Just last night, I wanted to seek you out in the middle of the night… But I was intercepted by a messenger of the court and handed a copy of the Regent’s order, and then….”
“Then that person took the listed item away, which is the Pope’s decree.”
Hearing his words, Du Wei felt like his face had been punched. Fuming with fury, he screamed: “Took it away?!”
Swelling with anger, Du Wei slammed the table with his palm and snapped at the monkey: “Zack! Why did you not tell me something so important last night! Why now!!!”
“I’d like to, I really wanted to.” Zack shook his head: “The messengers from the court kept me busy here throughout the night. Without so much as a word, the two men stormed into my office and just stayed here. I couldn’t even find a mage to transmit the message to someone because they had me pinned down like a hawk. Forget about leaving to inform you, I was even followed into the latrine for goodness sake!”
Du Wei nodded. He did find it odd that Zack did not receive him at the gate yesterday. As his lord, it’s only natural the steward would be there, yet even this morning the monkey had to call for an audience at the shop instead of ing to his residence.
“It wasn’t until this morning did the court messengers allow me to invite you over. I don’t understand what the Regent is doing either, I can only do as they say and call for you. Even just now those people from the court were still here, but minutes prior to your arrival, they left. I’m willing to bet they placed some lookouts on the street.”
Pausing, Zack smiled bitterly before continuing: “I sent multiple people to inform you two days ago because of the urgency of the matter. Aside from the road, I also had them take the river to find you, but looking at things now, I can see they’ve been intercepted by either the Temple or the royal family.”
Du Wei slowly calms himself down.
It seems this was done intentionally by Prince Son.
Deliberately blocking the news along the way and not letting himself learn of these matters until he es back to the capital, what was he planning?
As for Earl Biliaibuer and the others, those guys also didn’t poke a word either last night, obviously ordered by the Regent too!
But why all this, what’s the point?
Seeing Du Wei plunging into a long muse, Zack bitterly smiled and said, “Milord, now is not the time to dwell on these questions, what’s urgent now is the auction at noon today…. But we don’t have the decree that everyone’s waiting for, Prince Son took it away last night! What are we supposed to do when our hands are empty, is the Regent intentionally messing with you?”
Du Wei furrowed his brow… Prince deliberately messing with him? That’s not it. If the Regent did have that thought, then why shower him with a grandiose ceremony upon his arrival and gift him with the old family manor of the Rowling clan? There’s no reason to set this up today to frame him.
Take away the Pope’s personal decree? It’s a good way to ruin the auction that’s for sure, but there’s no reason to embarrass him like this.
Exhaling deeply, Du Wei finally clears his mind: “I understand now…”
Rubbing the muscle on his face, Du wei sighed, “The meaning of his highness is obvious… Deliberately sending someone to snatch the decree up before the auctioning is to not allow anyone else to get their hands on the item! His point is very clear: use any means necessary. Win the auction and not let anyone get their hands on the Pope’s promise!”
“Then what should we do at the auction?”
“This is the part where we need to find our own solution.” Du Wei sighed: “Now that we’re on topic, the only way out of this is to buy it ourselves. At the auction, no matter how high the calling price is, we must win!”
Damn it, to be forced to bid for something at his own auction house, what kind of irony was this?
Zack was slightly stunned, but he was also a wise man. With his eyes lighting up, he exclaimed: “I understand now! This must be what the Regent means! Just that, why didn’t he discuss the matter with you prior to this event? Instead, he sends someone to snatch it away and not let me inform you?”
“This is to not give me a chance to play any trick.” Du Wei grunted with displeasure.
From the looks of it, this Prince Son seems to understand him very well. Fearing Du Wei wouldn’t want to touch this troublesome matter, the Regent forcefully dumps the problem into his hand without letting him know until the last moment!
Prince Son will never admit to the fact that he took the decree away. If Du Wei doesn’t have the item at hand after someone wins the auction, he will be stuck being blamed for the crime of “losing the Pope’s decree”. In order to not bear this accusation, Du Wei can only bid for the item himself and win it. But as a result, Du Wei will end up being the bird that stands out!
Based on Du Wei’s style thus far, it’s a certainty that he would absolutely be unwilling to stand at the cusp of this! So, the Regent simply made the decision for him and cut off any escape route, forcing him to do so without his consent!
Du Wei sighed inside: And here last night he was still worrying about the stick after the carrot.
Seems the stick is quite the heavy handed one!