BBYW Vol. 3 Chapter 19 (WN)
Chapter 19 – Without the Captain the Ship Goes
The pirates that approached the port simply dropped a set of one-sided demands and immediately sailed back on their boat.
The demands could be summarized in the three following points:
- Surrender the whole city of Brutos to the Lion King crew, without resistance.
- All security guards and mercenaries are to relinquish their weapons.
- Deliver 10 pretty boys under 13 years old to the ship as slaves.
If the demands weren’t all fulfilled by noon the next day, the port would be subjected to another iron deluge.
The next day, the attacking fleet would be double the size — at least according to what the pirates said.
“…the last demand must be some kind of joke, right?”
“The commander of this pirate fleet must be that Bartolo Blutpein…he’s rather infamous for frequenting male prostitutes, and apparently enjoys little boys in particular.”
“…a pedophile, huh? Fucking disgusting.”
I spewed out the words, together with spit, then rubbed the goosebumps on my arm.
Randy, the captain of the security guards, also clenched his fist with an expression of indignation on his face.
“Anyway, don’t you need to report these demands to someone? You’re not the one in charge of this town, are you?”
“That’s right…there is a governor, dispatched by the kingdom…I should hurry and take their instructions.”
Randy left the rescue operations to his subordinates and ran off towards the town center.
I did not have any particular goal in mind for the moment, so I decided to follow him.
“Do you mind if I join you? I’m interested in seeing who’s running this town.”
Randy thought for a moment, without slowing down his pace.
“You seem quite composed, despite all that happened. Are you a veteran mercenary, maybe?”
“…something like that. I’ve seen my share of battlefields.”
“I see…in any case, I’d be grateful if you came too. I have experience with keeping the town safe and arresting criminals, but I’ve never been on an actual battlefield. I would like to hear your opinion too.”
“Understood. My rate’s pretty steep, though.”
“I’ll make sure to let the governor know.”
We thus proceeded towards the center.
The damage to the buildings decreased as we did, but the streets were still packed with wounded survivors and the people carrying them, as well as people gathering their belongings and running away.
The town that had been bustling just minutes ago was now as dreary as an area hit by a natural disaster.
After about 10 minutes of running, we arrived at our destination. The gates of the town’s administration building were wide open: there seemed to be no one inside.
“There’s no one…? What’s going on?”
“I doubt they all went to take shelter, the cannons didn’t reach this area…”
Randy frowned and looked around. I too was of the same opinion as him.
In case of an attack by pirates…though in this case, it was more like an invasion by a foreign country – the Lion Kingdom – the governor’s palace would be heavily guarded, with soldiers and functionaries running around busily.
The palace, however, seemed completely empty: we could not see any functionaries, soldiers or even servants.
“This place’s completely empty, folks!”
“Who is that!?”
A man appeared from inside the palace. Randy confronted him with a sharp tone, a hand on the sword on his waist.
“Hey there friend, nice seeing you again.”
He was the fortune teller I had met earlier that day.
He waved his arms wide at us, to show Randy that he did not have any hostility.
“What a suspicious fellow…a friend of yours?”
“I’ve met him before…nothing more, nothing less.”
“How cruel of you! And here I thought we were soulmates, brought together by fate. Or basically brothers?”
“Fortune teller and customer, that’s what we are. Though I didn’t have you tell me anything, so…yeah, we’re complete strangers.”
Something about the word “brothers” gave me a strange feeling, but I didn’t even know the name of the fortune teller: he really was nothing but a stranger to me.
“The people in the palace have all run off already, by the way. The soldier, the servants…even the governor.”
Randy was left wide-eyed and speechless. And with good reason: the person in charge of the town had apparently abandoned it, together with its citizens.
“Whoa, isn’t it way too early for a decision like that? What kind of lord ditches their own domain?”
For a lord, the domain is like a part of their body. It’s not something you can cut off so easily: doing so means losing your title, reputation and source of income as well.
I might not be the most serious heir out there, but even I would rather die together with the Maxwell province than to abandon it.
“That’s the thing. The guy here was not a ‘Lord’, but a ‘Governor’.”
The fortune teller answered my doubt, opening his arms wide and shrugging dramatically.
“There aren’t ‘Lords’ in the Sapphire Kingdom, anyways. The whole country belongs to the king, who sends governors to rule over its various cities.”
The governor is put in charge of a town or village by the king and takes a cut of the taxes paid by the population as salary.
The term lasts 5 years, at the end of which the governor either returns to the capital and takes another role, or they get sent to another location.
The governors and citizens have a rather tenuous relationship, so there is no risk of any one rallying the people to revolt against the king. On the other hand, governors have an equally feeble attachment to the land, so in case of war or other emergencies, it is rare for them to take up arms and fight.
“Even if it isn’t their own land, they can’t just abandon it and go unpunished, can they?”
“The now ex-governor of this town is the little boy of the finance minister, though…plenty of room to wipe this scandal, I guess?”
No matter the country, there were always people who hold positions of power thanks not to their ability, but to their bloodline.
The governor’s pockets were surely lined with gold, thanks to the riches flowing in this trade center — and now they escaped without paying a dime of what they owed.
If the pirates attacked this town knowing of this possibility, they must have a skilled tactician on their side.
“I see…anyway, you sure know a lot about this country, are you from here too?”
“Nope? I’m a foreigner, just like you, my man. You got to be in the know to be a good fortune teller, right?”
“Information is vital, huh…what’s a fortune teller doing in the governor’s palace, by the way?”
“Well, we wanted to run away too, but we’re a bit short on funds, see? So we thought we might find some coin here or there…but the governor took everything, as it turns out.”
So he wasn’t a fortune teller, but a looter.
Despite the scandalous confession, the security captain was still frozen in shock and unable to react.
“We’ve got invaders at sea, but this ship has lost its captain and the hull is riddled with holes…what are we supposed to do now?”