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After finishing his prayers in the main hall of the church, a few maids finally led the way to bishop Tapris.
Tapris was very frank the moment he started speaking, “My child, you seem to have run into some trouble!”
“Yes, respected Bishop. I urgently need teaching and guidance from the god of knowledge.” Leylin secretly grew a lot more relaxed just due to Tapris’ attitude. He was indeed like what Leylin had suspected, and only intended to take this opportunity to knock his family’s confidence. He didn’t have any plans to actually replace the Faulens.
If this was the case, foregoing a few benefits in exchange for his help was not a difficult issue for him to discuss.
Judging by his behaviour, Bishop Tapris must have also been nodding secretly to himself. As heir to the Faulen family, Leylin’s promises would have to be fulfilled even by Baron Jonas, and this was one made in a church with a deity as their witness.
‘It seems like Baron Jonas has an outstanding successor!’ Tapris thought slowly to himself, then looked at Leylin, “Dear little Leylin, have you heard of Viscount Tim?”
“Viscount Tim?” Leylin’s voice was filled with doubt. Under Anthony’s guidance, he certainly understood the upper class nobles of the Dambrath Kingdom, yet he hadn’t seemed to have heard of any deeds performed by this viscount.
“Oh, look at me, getting ahead of myself! Viscount Tim was just crowned a few months ago, so it’s perfectly normal for you not to have heard of him before. His father, on the other hand, is a distinguished person you must have heard of before. Marquis Louis!”
Tapris watched Leylin’s expression expectantly.
“Marquis Louis? The king’s brother!” Leylin exhaled lightly. Although he knew that things wouldn’t be simple this time, he didn’t think that the nobles involved would have a direct connection to royalty.
The nobility was never a tight knit community. The power struggle between the regional and central nobles had never ceased for even a moment, and although there was a possibility of them uniting as one in the face of divine authority, an instinctive battle for benefit would begin once the moment the pressure from the outside world was reduced.
Within the kingdom, the regional nobles and the kingdom’s central nobles were the two factions that put up the fiercest fights.
“That’s right. Viscount Tim is already of age. Although he’s the second son, Marquis Louis adores him very much, and even wishes to obtain a piece of feudal property for him…” Tapris held his tongue, and left the rest to Leylin’s imagination.
“So that’s how it is!” Leylin nodded seriously. Although the king and his people ruled over the entire Dambrath Kingdom, they couldn’t possibly own all the territory. Moreover, after the division of property across the generations and the emergence of other noble families, the amount of territorial land that the king now governed directly was already quite small.
To date, all the territories in the kingdom had been divided until there was practically nothing left. Even if one was a prince or princess, if they were not particularly favoured by the king, they would not even receive any hereditary titles. The highest ranked titles they could receive was that of an Count Palantine 1, or a Marquis, and they would only possess a few manors.
As a brother to the king of this generation, Marquis Louis was still able to fish up a decent amount of benefits. The Baltic archipelago was his fief, and the total area of the whole stretch of islands far exceeded that of the Faulens. He even owned several decent deepwater ports.
To put it bluntly, even the Faulens had to rely on a tremendous volume of trade in the Baltic Archipelago and play second fiddle in order to toil for money.
However, Louis still had to consider his first son. It would be very foolish of him to divide his territory, and hence he had set his sights somewhere else. Perhaps he had now turned his gaze towards the Faulen’s territory
Stripping another noble family of their inherited territory for no reason would definitely send huge waves rippling through the circle of nobility. But if this family was extinguished with no successor and Marquis Louis had Tim carry on their family name, then things would be a lot easier. His influence as a marquis would also minimise the consequences of this incident.
“Many thanks for being straightforward, respected bishop. From now on, the church of knowledge will be fully accepted by the Faulen territory. Additionally, we will portion out another plot of territorial land in the eastern part of the island to offer as tribute to the church,” Leylin rose and gave his thanks.
Although this was only an intelligence report, he felt like the possibility of it being true was extremely high.
Firstly, the territory under the Faulen family actually did thin out Marquis Louis’ profits. Even though it was only by a little, it was enough to upset him. Secondly, the Faulens were a newly rising noble family, and they didn’t have complicated relationships with other nobles that would have been difficult to deal with. There were only minimal consequences associated with making his move on them.
‘Could it be that this is also a contest between the regional and central parties?’ Leylin had experienced much more trickery than this, and had depth in his foresight.
‘The Faulen Family started out with military service, and were the king’s imperial bodyguards from the beginning. Thus, they could be regarded as part of the central party. But ever since they obtained their feudal property and arrived here, the family was actually already inclined towards the regional party. That was also how my father the baron handled it. However, what was awkward was that the people of the Faulen island had very little contact with the people from the mainland, as it was a lonely island situated far away. Hence, they haven’t been accepted by the regional nobles yet… Which is the reason why this family is now in an awkward situation in which we cannot rely on either side…’
After thinking thoroughly about this, Leylin was suddenly struck by a huge realisation, ‘No wonder. If I saw this situation, even I wouldn’t be able to resist taking action. There are plenty of advantages, yet the risks are very minor. Perhaps Viscount Tim is also pitifully begging for this opportunity…’
In fact, Leylin’s second guess was much closer to the truth than his first guess, but there were a few minor differences.
Although his opponent was just a viscount and seemed relatively less capable, he was backed by the marquis and was even the king’s nephew. If one took their eyes off him for even a second, he would easily trigger chaos.
However, it was fortunate that he was just a favoured second son. Even Marquis Louis wouldn’t spend much energy on him, much less alert the king. As long as he didn’t kill his opponent, there probably wouldn’t be much of a counterattack.
After all, when it came to issues like schemes to seize the territory of smaller families, because most of the bigger nobles did it on the sly, these rumours were restricted only to their thoughts, and could not be spoken of in polite company.
Tapris personally sent Leylin out of the shrine. Just as Leylin was about to board his carriage, Tapris muttered softly in a deep voice next to his ear, “It seems that a surge of pirates have escaped to the vicinity recently. I hope you’ll take care! May the god of knowledge bless you.”
“Got it!” There was a glint in Leylin’s eyes, and he gave Tapris a profound look before boarding the carriage.
The body of the carriage kept rising and falling as the wheels rolled on. Leylin sat in the carriage with his eyes shut, yet his thoughts kept moving.
‘That cunning Bishop Tapris. Is he preparing to lay his bet on both parties?’ As a matter of fact, Leylin really did want to get assistance from the church this time. If he could personally exert pressure on the marquis with the power of the church of knowledge, the marquis would surely give up on making such moves.
But this was evidently impossible. Even Bishop Tapris did not own some labour headquarters for him to exert his authority. If they dispatched warriors and priests from the shrine, they would be deemed to be in favour of the Faulen family. Tapris had also clearly rejected doing so.
Now it seemed that although Tapris had only given a bit of the intel, he had managed to immediately gain a heap of profits. Even if Baron Jonas was here, he wouldn’t dare to go back on his word. If Viscount Tim succeeded, he wouldn’t forget to rope in Tapris as well. If placing his bets on both parties would guarantee him profits, why wouldn’t he?
Of course, it wasn’t that there was no other way to obtain assistance from the church, but that would require dedicating all his territory to them. However, both sides would suffer and be destroyed indiscriminately if he used this method. Additionally, they would be boycotted by all the nobles from the mainland, and be seen as traitors by the nobles!
After weighing the matter, Leylin reached the conclusion that things hadn’t escalated to such a nasty stage, and he didn’t have the courage to abandon his social class. There was no doubt that he would use ‘that’ method.
“Pirates?” The look in Leylin’s pupils seemed distant. Since the other party was also a noble family that controlled overseas trade and had numerous harbours, they evidently had a formidable maritime force.
Even the pirates nearby might be secretly under their control. It was highly possible for them to send out a group of men to cause a commotion in the Faulen Island and use this to create pressure, or even attack the manor directly and silence the Faulens. They did it once long ago anyway.
“Relying on the hundred man patrol to get rid of this wave of pirates is rather challenging…” Leylin stroked his chin. He had never underestimated his opponent’s strength. With a marquis backing him, that viscount could easily dispatch tens of professionals.
“Someone above rank 15 is absolutely impossible, but there might be one who is above rank 10, and a few elite professionals above rank 5… It won’t be easy to defeat them…” Leylin quickly evaluated his opponent’s strength, just at the most basic level.
Of course, the Faulens didn’t only have the harbour patrol, but the real masters were definitely travelling with Baron Jonas. Only the the wizard Ernest had stayed behind to take care of things, but this source of help had also been dispatched by Leylin himself.
“The other party will obviously focus their main strength on the baron. The force they have sent over here should only be a small portion of their main force. It’s not like we can’t fight them with everything we have!” Leylin had a distant look in his eyes.
In fact, he had also considered cowering and hiding in some corner of the mainland, avoiding the situation at hand. He would then slowly accumulate skills and become a great wizard, maybe even a strong Legend. But putting aside the affection from the baron and his wife, even if he could heartlessly abandon everything he had, he was unable to give up on the benefits that the Faulen Family brought him.
A sea of resources was needed for a wizard to advance. Be it expensive materials for him to perform sorcery, or all kinds of magic books and such, a great amount of gold coins was required to purchase them. Without an influential power to gather wealth for him, Leylin would simply be incapable of meeting his needs alone.
1. Non-hereditary title of high rank
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