Arc 2, Crescent Moon
“They sure went home with bright and sunny smiles, eh?”
“That was the first time I saw such motivation on their faces.”
After Targes spoke, Sington replied to him.
Although Sington didn’t know what had occurred within the banquet hall, the face of the head butler who was always worrying over something or another was now cheerful, as well, as if he had caught this mood from the people of the fief.
“Lord Ernst, were you successful?”
“Do you even know what sort of discussions they’d been having in there?”
Targes teased Aldo for happily asking that question.
Up until the day they began, Ernst had agonized over whether he should invite Targes and Sington, as well as Ganche, to his talks with the people of his fief.
In the end, he finally decided to not allow anyone else to enter the room. The only time Targes and Ganche were allowed to enter was those two tempestuous days where Ernst alone couldn’t manage the people’s rising tempers.
He had several reasons for this.
One reason was, Ernst judged that Sington’s presence in the meetings would create an atmosphere too heavy and serious for his people to speak their minds freely.
During the absence of a Lord, it was Sington who connected Meissen with the lord of Linz fief. It was as if Sington acted as the deputy Lord.
Although Sington had acted as the deputy Lord for less than 50 years, during that period, Sington’s actions, words, and deeds were things which would never be praised.
Another reason lay in Targes and Ganche’s outward appearances.
Just the fact that Targes held the rank of a knight lent him an unapproachable atmosphere. Since Targes also did not originate from Meissen, the people of Meissen still did not feel familiar with him yet.
Meanwhile, Ganche’s appearance let off an intimidating air.
“Lord Ernst. What were you all discussing?”
Targes asked, having only witnessed the most discordant scene of the whole process. It was impossible to imagine what sort of conclusion they could have reached when he only had that moment to work off of.
Ganche was the only person with a calm expression, and that calmness felt like a triumphant look in the eyes of the other three who had absolutely no idea about anything.
He must have spoken to Ganche about it. What happened that day?? We want to know too!
Although Ernst hadn’t gone into much detail, he couldn’t help but tell Ganche a few things. Ganche had been able to glean the rest from how intertwined he was with Ernst’s thoughts, and as such, he more or less understood what had happened.
“How Meissen will be able to feed itself from now on, and matters like that.”
When Ernst answered like that, Sington nodded with a look that said, ‘Exactly as I thought.’
“Certainly… if Meissen continues on this way, the land will surely start to suffer famine all year round. Aah, so that was why. When you treated these people to meals, those meals were all prepared with crops from Meissen… You were trying to tell them something like this, right? ‘We’re able to harvest at least this much food in Meissen, so put more effort into working.’ In other words, you were inciting them to not slack off, I see.”
Ernst nodded ambiguously.
“Peasants really can’t do a single thing without a leader to guide them. Those guys might have bodies, but they’re lacking heads. Lord Ernst, it will be your duty to serve as their head from now on. I’ll leave it up to you.”
After saying, Sington stood up and exited the office.
“It’s alright, Ganche. Sington could be considered as the person who had been ruling Meissen up until now. Being the way he is, he must have worried himself sick over the current state of Meissen.”
Ernst soothed Ganche, smiling wryly.
“…So what Lord Ernst is saying is, what actually happened was something else? What did you speak to the people of Meissen about?”
Targes asked the question once again.
“Although Sington is prone to worrying… when enormous beings begin to move, the existence of such concerned people are absolutely necessary. If not, then when those enormous beings are put in motion, there will be no one to stop them.”
“By enormous beings, are you speaking of countries?”
This was the viewpoint of Targes, who had formerly signed up as a member of the King’s Army.
“Precisely. There is significance in deliberately arranging for these such people, who perpetually seek out worries. Yet for a small territory such as Meissen, it cannot always be said to be beneficial.”
Ernst stood from his office chair and walked to the other side of the desk, taking a seat at in one of the guest chairs where Targes and the others sat.
“I am unable to predict what sorts of actions Sington will take when he succumbs to his worry.”
The three soldiers kept their mouths shut as they waited for Ernst to continue speaking.
“…Targes. Previously, there was something we had discussed… What protects Meissen from an invasion by Lux Kingdom?”
“Yes. I remember. They were the Bastelis River and the Linz Valley.”
Aldo also seemed to share Targes’ opinion, and he nodded alongside Targes’ words.
“That is correct. After crossing the Bastelis River, it is impossible for a large force to pass through the Linz Valley…”
Folding his fingers, Ernst lowered his gaze, falling into contemplation.
One piece of firewood in the hearth completely burnt out while Ernst reflected on his thoughts.
The soldiers neither rushed him nor grew impatient, merely waiting quietly until Ernst finished his reflection.
“At that time, what I didn’t say was that Meissen carries another, even stronger shield protecting it.”
Ernst raised his head, continuing to speak slowly and deliberately.
“That shield is poverty.”
Not understanding Ernst’s words, the three soldiers exchanged glances.
“If Meissen were to have value, what would happen? What that means is that Lux Kingdom will come to seize only Meissen. If Lux Kingdom judges that the benefits gained from seizing Meissen outweigh the possibility of breaking out into war with Rintz Kingdom, then they will cross the Bastelis River and launch an assault.”
“That is… I can’t refute that it sounds possible, but would they really do that…?”
Targes was unusually dismayed.
“At this moment, Meissen does not hold value to that extent. However, would Meissen remain a poor and impoverished land forever? Let us consider how Lux Kingdom holds only half the amount of land as our Rintz Kingdom. The majority of the open flatland in that country has developed into towns for commerce. It is no exaggeration to say that this country has abandoned agriculture, and it procures nearly all of its food from both our Kingdom and the Kingdom of Silus.”
In Lux Kingdom lives a kind of spider called the Lux Spider which produces a golden-threaded silk.
In Rintz Kingdom and Silus Kingdom, the precious few pieces of golden cloth made from this thread are sold for very high prices, being ten times more expensive than silk made by ordinary silkworms.
These spiders, which were Lux Kingdom’s leading commercial industry, were very particular with their territory. They required an expansive forest on flat, even ground with no ups or downs whatsoever.
“Lux Kingdom is certainly a wealthy country. The golden cloth made from the Lux spider brings the country great wealth. With that money, Lux Kingdom is able to arrange its military, allowing it to possess a huge and powerful army… Yet nevertheless, in this world, those who are most powerful are those who hold access to food. No matter how much authority and power I may possess, since I am unable to cultivate a field on my own, I would starve and perish after a month had passed. Rintz Kingdom’s leading strong point is that it has set aside the greater part of its territory for agriculture, allowing it to supply two-thirds of Lux Kingdom’s food supply.”
“That’s absolutely true, but… what relation does this have with Meissen?”
Aldo timidly asked.
“Meissen makes up one-twentieth of our Kingdom’s land. However, Meissen’s produce does not make up more than one-fiftieth of Rintz Kingdom’s total agricultural production. Meissen possesses many fields which are no longer being cultivated, and there are not even enough tools for its people to work the fields. However, in a situation where all of Meissen’s people were given farming tools and provided with water and serviceable roads, how much harvest could be obtained from Meissen? Even if the land is barren, they could choose crops that can grow there. The people of Meissen certainly know many things through experience. However, there is much more knowledge to be gained in the world. If the people of Meissen were to acquire that already-established knowledge, wouldn’t you say that an agricultural revolution would occur?”
When the population of an area grows, then an agricultural revolution will without a doubt follow.
They would change the farming methods they had used, dramatically increasing the yield of their crops. Alternatively, they might improve the crops they grew, thereby increasing their yield.
Either way will lead to a higher harvest, filling people’s mouths and allowing them to begin increasing their numbers.
“In Meissen’s current state, it is unable to sustain more than the six-hundred people currently living here. Yet in the past, Meissen had a population of a thousand people. There are no records of Meissen having purchased crops from other fiefs in the past. In other words, Meissen previously had the ability to keep at least its population of a thousand people fed. However, back then in Meissen, only one-tenth of the land was cultivated. Although the current Meissen is currently 70% mountains and forests, this was caused by the spread and growth of trees during its 100-year absence of a Lord. Considering that the mountains and forests are the sources from which our waters flow, we cannot so simply cut down all of the forests and flatten all of the mountains to make flatland, but at the very least, we can deforest the areas which had no trees a hundred years ago… Presently, only 30% of Meissen is flat ground. If it returns to its state of a hundred years past, that number will increase to 60%. A thousand people were able to sustain themselves by cultivating 10% of Meissen’s land… If we were to cultivate all 30% of the lands we currently have, then thinking of it simply, wouldn’t we be able to support three thousand people?”
“That certainly seems true…”
“But that alone wouldn’t be enough. For instance, Gris Fief, which is called Rintz Kingdom’s breadbasket, is a territory that is only one-fifteenth of Meissen’s size. It is a territory that is even smaller than Meissen’s current farmlands. Gris Fief is a particularly temperate region where snow does not fall, giving it the advantage of being able to harvest crops all year round… But regardless, it may possess some farming methods which the people of Meissen do not know.”
“So what you’re saying is… if Meissen just changes its farming methods, then it’s very likely that Meissen will reap many crops?”
Aldo asked disbelievingly. Ever since Aldo had been born in Meissen, he had only known it to be a poor, impoverished land.
“Precisely. Eventually, I would like to select a young person from each village to go and study agriculture in thriving territories. That said… if Meissen were to raise its crop production to a proper level, then Lux Kingdom will inevitably turn its sight on us.”
“That’s… I suppose that’s really how it is. Considering how vast Meissen’s lands are, the amount of crops it produces should be the same as the whole agricultural production of their entire country, right?”
Targes said this, closing his eyes as he ran the mental calculations.
“Yes, that is what I believe, too. At the very least, when Meissen can produce half of their output – that is when Lux Kingdom will absolutely vie for Meissen. Even if the Bastelis river is too rough to cross, with Lux Kingdom’s power, they are not unable to build a bridge across it. Once they calculate between purchasing their food from other countries versus building a bridge to procure food our country’s territory, they will try to obtain Meissen. Other than the fact that both kingdoms’ royalties are undergoing internal situations which have not yet settled, the reason why Lux Kingdom does not battle with Rintz Kingdom is because there is the issue of the food they purchase from Rintz Kingdom.”
“…I feel like it’s possible for Meissen to increase its crop production. But will just that be enough to make Lux Kingdom come and attack…”
He was unable to see the value in the land where he himself was born and raised. Ernst felt a little sad when Aldo asked that question.
Not a single person in Meissen could take pride in where they came from.
“The matters which I will speak of from this point forward must absolutely never be revealed to anyone else.”
Ernst looked into each of the three soldiers’ eyes, as if strengthening his intention.
All three of them nodded firmly – Ganche, immediately; Targes, after he had made up his mind; and Aldo, like he was hesitating. It was only after Ernst saw them agree with his own eyes that he opened his mouth to speak.
Ernst had decided to tell to Aldo, who was unable to take pride in his own homeland, of the vast potential and treasures which Meissen carried within its arms.