It was a somewhat hot day with the sun rising above the head.
A white cloud floats above the sky, while on the hill there were some sheeps eating grass.
Time flowed gently.
Certainly, there was a threat of bandits or monsters in this world. However, they rarely attacked the villages that had moats and fences around it.
And the probability of such villages being attacked was only once or twice each year.
Even when one lived in a world filled with war, it didn’t mean there was no place for peace.
However, such small peace was easily broken by just a little malice.
For small villages that didn’t have any strategic value, the officials dispatched from the central government or the feudal lord are usually the one who threatened their peace.
And now, in a small village located in the countryside of the Rozeria Kingdom, one could hear angry voices reverberates despite the peaceful landscape.
A square set in the center of the village. Villagers stood to form a ring showing a mixed expression on their faces. The group of the villagers directed their sight at the center of the ring.
Or more precisely, the man standing in front of the villagers.
“Please don’t joke with us… If you take more than this, we won’t be able to live…”
Words of plea come out from a desperate middle-aged man, that was being interrupted by a dull sound.
A big fist covered in metal glove easily punched the man’s face.
Taste of blood spreading inside the man’s mouth. The drip of blood coming out from the middle-aged man’s mouth stains the earth black.
Eyes mixed with anxiety and fear. A girl shakes off her mother’s hand and jumps into the center.
The young girl looked very young. She herself knew that even if she jumped to her father, she won’t be able to do anything. However, the girl was still unable to ignore her father’s appearance.
Looking at such beloved daughter, the man tried to calm her down by holding her shoulder.
In truth, the man didn’t wish for his daughter to see this kind of scene.
(Why… Why is this happening ?!)
Various thoughts emerged inside the man’s head.
Certainly, when Lupis Rozerianus ascended the throne, everyone felt a wave of new transformations. From the time when she was in charge of the chivalric order, the people familiar with her would describe the Princess as someone with a fair personality.
The man can still vividly remember the cheers he had with his colleagues when she became a Queen.
If one needs to say, then indeed changes definitely happen. However, the changes were not something good for the man.
“I will say it again… When are you going to pay the taxes ?”
From the back of the knight that hit the man, the tax collector smiled with a disgusting smile, casting cold words at the man who fell due to the punch.
Individuals who loves to dominates others were usually humans that won’t feel anything even when they tramples over others.
As a tax collector, the value of the man in front of him was his taxes.
It was the same as hunters who didn’t care about their prey.
“Of course, we will happily pay if we can… But, right now this is the limit…”
The man’s words once again were disturbed by a dull sound.
His diaphragm was struck with a punch which caused the man to be unable to breathe for a moment. The knight from earlier once again attacked.
“Geez, you plebeians are truly beyond help… Are you truly that stupid ? I asked you when you’re going to pay. I don’t want to hear your circumstances…”
In the merciless world of tax collectors, the man could not do anything but spat out cursed words inside his mind.
(Damn it, shit, shit… Doing whatever you want…)
Dark murderous intent springs up inside the man’s heart. In his mind, he wanted to stab the tax collector to death.
In the first place, the man had no way to pay the sums the tax collector wanted him to do. Even if the man can be said to be quite well off in this village.
And the man didn’t have the intention of avoiding taxes either.
Since the man who was previously a peddler understood that the Rozeria Kingdom was in crisis and needed more money.
That was why he closed the store he had built.
Originally, cash income from small villages was insignificant.
Self-sufficiency was the basic for such villages, and to supplement the things they didn’t have, they performed bartering with other villages.
They could only make cash if adventurers, mercenaries, or peddlers visit their villages.
To live in this villages it didn’t require much money. Well, that was until the tax collector appeared at this village.
(I’ve had even sold most of the store goods, yet is it still not enough now ?!)
It had all started with the slogan of rebuilding the country.
Of course, at first, everyone cooperated with it. Since they placed high hopes to the new Queen, and they also loved the country.
But, it didn’t end there… Once, twice, on and on, endless tax collectors came one after another… At first, it was just a small amount that it didn’t affect the villagers’ lives, but it gradually escalated.
Pressures started to build up.
And anger also starts to swell inside the people’s heart.
To be precise, if it was only once or twice, they would manage to pay. However, to the tax collector, such things didn’t matter. The only thing left for the middle-aged man was to sell his family as slaves. Otherwise, his family would have to move away and wander around without a home.
(If I could earn more money… Like this, will I just lose everything again ?)
Regrets and fear run throughout the man’s body.
He was not that of a great merchant.
However, he was an honest person with a kind nature that helped the people in the back alleys to earn some small income. Thus his friendship was wide and many people loved him.
As a good man.
Had he been born in the modern era, or at least in a developed country, he would’ve received high respect from the surroundings. However, in this world, such virtue could mostly bring harm instead.
Once upon a time, he was asked by a friendly acquaintance of him to lend some money.
At that time, he had a plenty of cash on his hand since he was a former peddler and had a shop of his own. He had the money, but he never had such big deals during his life.
However, the acquaintance of him bowed down and begged while pleading. Then he lends the money believing that he would return the money in time.
However, when the man visited his friend’s house following the deadline, he saw many creditors there. It seems due to a storm, the ship of his acquaintance sunk to the bottom of the sea along with the expensive cargo.
And his business partner disappeared with the money he lent him to. As a result, the man lost everything.
The failed big deal battered his credibility as a merchant.
The fact that he was deceived by his acquaintance who he trusted, raised a question mark regarding his competence. He was branded as someone who could not see a person’s character.
The way the man lent his money just because of a verbal promise also became a disadvantage for him.
Although he appealed to the feudal authorities, the lord didn’t listen to him and drove him away.
There was no effective way to clear a dispute in a countryside when the one he was up against had already disappeared.
In the modern world, the power of social security was very apparent, and the state organisations of enforcing such security was strong, while in this world, one can only respond in real time to disputes that happened.
Since it would’ve been very hard to investigate every territory and every people in this kind of era.
Thus, the man’s goodwill was being trampled all over and he lost everything. And towards him who was in such decline, no one was willing to help. Yes, including the business partner he was kind towards in the past…
He fell into the depth of disappointment and left the town, then he wandered around. He was just like a moving corpse back then.
But, his fate change when he meets a woman during the time he happened to stay in this village.
The love that appeared lit the fire inside the man’s heart, and once again he tried to stand up.
And a new life was born between him and her.
(No… No matter what, I won’t sell my wife and daughter…)
The one that the tax collector look at was not the crouching man. The tax collector was looking at his daughter who comes close to him and was shivering on his back. And after the tax collector got his daughter, he could guess that his wife would be next.
Despite coming from a small village, both of them looked refined. Even without their bright attitude and beautiful faces, their figure alone could capture a man’s heart.
For people who wants to get in a relationship, their appearance was much more preferable than the impossible-to-obtain absurdly beautiful one.
Thus, to change those two women into gold was not something difficult.
He could sell them to the brothel, and obtain enough money for his life and even enjoy some nightlife.
From the gold he obtains, he then would be able to pay some taxes and fees towards the tax collector.
Or rather, since it was this kind of tax collector, it was highly possible that the tax collector would demand to taste the two women’s body before selling them
The problem was that there was no way for the man to stop it.
(Didn’t her majesty say she will change our lives ?)
He spat his saliva to the ground and slowly stood up.
He clenched his fist firmly. There was a flame of dark anger appearing inside his eyes.
“Don’t just keep silent. In the first place, this strict tax is the order of her majesty the Queen. For rebuilding this country and protect our citizen…”
The tax collector walks up to the man while showing a dirty smile.
The two men stared at each other in close distance.
The smell of cheap cigarettes exuded by the tax collector entered the man’s nose.
“Her majesty Lupis Rozerianus need the tax money to defend and nurture the country you know ? And it is not only the feudal lord that needs to pay. If you don’t pay, itt is the same as going against the Rozeria Kingdom. Meaning a traitor… A rebel….”
Yes, when that happens, your family naturally won’t escape harm so easily. Even if you struggle, the result will be the same…”
The tax collector lifts his lips and laughs.
If one can put the stigma of a rebel to someone, it was the same as a death sentence for the person’s entire family, which will be turned into slaves.
It was no different compared to selling his family and paying the tax.
It was the villager who diverted his gaze first. Despite his anger, he could only cast his gaze down.
A patriotic man usually won’t feel guilty as long he regards what he did, was for the country’sake.
But what the man felt right now was fear. The terror of the overwhelming power of the huge system called a country.
Being overwhelmed by the merciless words of the tax collector, the man looked at the ground.
He could not imagine that he would be able to go up against a country when he was just a mere commoner.
For villagers, even if they complained once in a while, it never crossed their minds to go up against a country.
(Then what should I do? To protect my family… To protect my village ?)
The man desperately seeks a solution. This was the harshest situation he had faced since the time he was born.
For the villagers, for his family, for his own happiness… The man desperately worked his head.
A long silence dominated the square.
However, the time would come when he needs to speak of an answer.
A moment later, the time comes… In the form that nobody expected.