BBYW Vol. 3 Chapter 34 (WN)
Chapter 34 – The Charlatan’s Dance
House Asbart, another powerful faction in the Sapphire royal court, boasted authority and influence on par with House Maynast.
Eager for a chance to undermine the position of their rival, they would readily set up Baraquemo as a traitor.
“Kh… you dare…!”
Baraquemo tore up the accusation letter, rolled the pieces in a ball and threw it on the floor.
“Oh dear, did you really have to go and make a mess like that? Well, a copy was already sent to House Asbart, so it’s fine, though.”
Baraquemo screamed, his hands pressed against his cheeks, in a very picturesque pose.
Once the letter reached House Asbart, his fall from grace was guaranteed. House Maynast would not hesitate to cut him off for the sake of self-preservation.
Not only was any prospect of success gone, his life might even be in danger.
Baraquemo dropped to his knees and prostrated.
“Oh? Are you feeling under the weather, Milord?”
The messenger affected concern in his voice, but Baraquemo had fallen too deep in despair to reply. Seeing himself lose everything and tumble down, with no end in sight, he could only stare silently at the floor.
Looking down at the defeated man, the messenger chuckled.
“Well, I certainly did not expect you to lose all hope so easily…if you so desire, I might intercede with them for your sake?”
“C-Could you truly…?”
A ray of light reached Baraquemo, already in the depths of hell in his mind. He clung to the messenger.
“If I send word immediately, it should be possible to stop the letter from reaching House Asbart. Convincing the people of Brutos will be difficult…but thankfully, they have trust in me.”
“P-Please! I beg of you! I can pay as much as you want!!”
“As much as I want…?”
The moment Baraquemo uttered those words, the messenger’s lips curved into a grin.
A grin that froze Baraquemo in place.
If a devil that made contracts with humans in exchange for their souls really existed, they would surely grin in the same way.
“In that case, all you need to do is sign here.”
The messenger took out a contract from his breast pocket.
The single sheet of paper fluttered down to the floor, before Baraquemo’s eyes — which promptly clouded.
“…donate half of my fortune to the reconstruction efforts of Brutos…? Transfer the reconstruction rights to the Merchants’ Guild…relinquish all taxes collected during my term as governor…?? Give up the title of commander of the security guards? W-What kind of absurd conditions are these?!?”
Accepting the conditions set forth by the contract would mean losing all privileges and benefits earned as governor of Brutos. Baraquemo would become governor in nothing but name.
“Are they not to your liking, Milord? You can always refuse.”
The messenger picked up the contract with a quick sleight of hand.
“To have not half, but all of your fortune confiscated, and be executed as a traitor. The punishment for treason extends to six degrees of kinship, as I recall — the end of a whole clan. But if that is your decision, what say do I have in the matter?”
“W-Wait!! Please!! Wait!!”
Baraquemo desperately clung to the messenger and snatched back the contract.
He held the piece of paper against his body, not to be taken away again.
“Oh? Have you decided to sign, then?”
Baraquemo nodded, with tears in his eyes. A heart-wrenching sight — were he in the body of an innocent maiden. Unfortunately, he was a pudgy man in his fifties, so his pleading just looked mildly disgusting.
Nevertheless, the messenger probably pitied the formerly powerful noble, reduced to tears by a youth less than half his age, and offered him some compassion.
“Please look at it this way, Milord: in exchange for your fortune and privileges, you earn personal safety and the glory of having beaten back the pirates. If you truly are a capable official, you will surely make good use of these advantages to further your career.”
“…I am going to sign, so get lost already. For the love of all that’s holy, don’t show yourself in front of me one more time!!”
Baraquemo’s shaking hand signed the contract, then abruptly pushed in onto the messenger.
“Certainly, looking forward to doing good business with you again in the future.”
Baraquemo did not react to the messenger’s aloof reply, and watched him leave without uttering another word.
Before the door closed, however, he suddenly opened his mouth.
“…now that I think about it, I didn’t hear your name.”
One hand on the doorknob, the messenger peeked from the gap of the nearly closed door.
“Oh dear, how careless of me. Yours tru…ahem, my name is Roh. Just a fortune teller at the beck and call of his missus…