Chapter 13 - The Mysterious Events Of The Rawling Ancestral Residence
translated by A013
The Roland family’s mansion inherited from ancestors were located on south west of the Roland Prairie. A tributary of the Roland River passed through this place. The land was fertile. Several farm villages and even towns were established there.
This was the origin of the Roland family. A few hundred years back when their ancestors were a little noble who owned just a small village, their bloodline started to spread in this land.
The carriage crossed a black tree forest. The trees were lush and the air fresh. Following an even path you could see a little hill on the left, and a high tower on the right. That was the Roland’s mansion.
After several hundred years of glory, the small village no longer existed. The mansion was also reconstructed countless times and it’s size grew considerably. A red stone wall embracing a castle. The castle was built using white colored stones mined from the hill. It was said that there was once a small mountain to the left, but after several hundred years of mining, that small mountain became a hill.
The arrival of the eldest son of the chief of the family received much attention. The Roland family’s private army, three hundred soldiers, who guarded the castle put on their shiny equipments and waited under the red wall in an array. The arched entrance gave Duwei a feeling of vigor, and he could see this wall could become a solid defense when needed.
The three hundred soliders demonstrated qualities of abundant training. They rode on horses with a straight back and showing adept riding skills. Their equipments were also of fine quality. These soldiers were selected from the various private armies throughout the Roland Prairie. They were well trained and could even rival the local military of the imperial city.
The black forest outside the castle was a natural hunting ground. Hunting events were held annually, which was also a type of training for the soldiers.
The castle’s main body consisted of two towers. One taller than the other. It’s even taller than that hill. Duwei knew from learning his family history that there was once a weird chief of the Roland family. Even though he’s a general, he was especially interested in Star Reading Techniques. He even married a Star Reader. That taller tower was built for his wife so she could better observe the sky.
Red carpet span from the door of the castle to Duwei’s carriage. When Duwei was about to get off, a silver haired elderly man came up to him. The old man had a slender build, dressed in a charcoal formal suit, acted old fashioned and serious.
As Duwei stepped on the ground, the old man bowed down deeply and said with a deep and slow voice, “Little master, I am the butler Sier Roland. I received info about you coming three days ago. Everyone in this castle had prepared to welcome you. Please follow me.”
Then the old butler led Duwei up the stairs. His ettiquetes were flawless, humble yet did not flatter. While Duwei was walking on the red carpet, he carefully walked along just outside the carpet to let Duwei experience this honor to himself.
The first impression inside the castle was the big flag hanging on the wall. The flag was about eight by six meters. It almost covered the whole wall. This was a flag of the family’s emblem. The flag gave this castle a solemnity feel to it.
All the servants and maids were standing on the sides of the lobby in uniforms to welcome Duwei. Though Duwei wasn’t interested in this weird “inspection”. He nodded casually and said to the butler with a low voice, “Mr. Butler, will you lead me to my reading room now? And everyone else, please go back to your work.”
Butler Sier followed Duwei’s order precisely. Soon, Duwei was led to a reading room. Well, Duwei was more willing to call this place a library. Because it was huge.
The room was circular, even the ceiling was rounded, and carved in decorative designs. On the sides were statues, most of them were ancestors who expressed excellence. Surrounding the room were huge shelves. These shelves were two stories tall and filled with books. Duwei roughly calculated, the number of books were several ten thousands. There were also many metallic cabinets used to store important stuff, such as the family tree or important files.
As a family that gain their power through war, even the reading room gave off a scent of warrior. A two handed sword and a huge axe hung on the wall across the entrance. One side of the wall had shelves displaying various weapons, though most of them archaic.
Duwei was attracted by these weapons. He could see these antiques were maintained very well.
“These were the weapons of the family’s ancestors.” The butler’s voice came from behind. “These weapons were a record of their glory.”
Duwei touched the desk softly and looked around. He could see everything was carefully cleaned and maintained, yet traces of age were obvious. Even the desk under his hand was probably older than the butler.
“This room used to be the center of family politics. This was where the chiefs of the family ruminated and made decisions. Every piece here carried the traces of those glories. Although the decision making room had since moved to the imperial city. According to family tradition, every cheif that came back to this castle has to spend his first night in this room so he would not forget the family’s glorious history and his responsibility.”
The butler looked at Duwei then lowered his head, “You are the eldest son of the current chief. You came here for inspection on his behalf, then will you...”
Duwei nodded his head cooperatively, “Traditions are traditions and must be followed. I am no exception. Even though I am not the chief, but as his eldest son and coming here on his behalf, I will follow the tradition and spend the night here.”
The butler’s expression and voice softened, “I will have the servants prepare. Well then... I know you are here to inspect on the businesses in this territory. Where will you begin your work at? I already have the income and expenses accounts prepared. When will you start reading these? Or do you want to wait...”
Duwei interrupted him with a smile. He casually walked passed the desk and sit down behind it and said, “Mr. Butler, I am feeling hungry after the long journey. Please prepare me some food then I will start looking through the things you prepared.”
Soon enough, Duwei enjoyed a very traditional afternoon tea. Just as he was finishing up a pumpkin pie, butler Sier directed two strong servants into the room. The servants were pushing a cart with a mountain load of books.
“These are all this year’s accounts?” Duwei frowned, suspicious that the butler is fooling with him.
“Little master, these all are.” The butler said seriously. “These data included the land size of the family territory, size of farmable land, the accounts of six towns, military expenses of three private armies throughout the territory, harvests, construction budgets, and even some budgeting I done for the next year.”
Duwei touched his nose and looked at this mountain of books, “... are they all here?”
“This is only part of them, and the rest...” The butler sounded a little less serious for once. “I think you will need a week for the rest.
Duwei frowned and silently inspected the butler.
This old butler doesn’t seem to be joking. Is he really that naive to think a thirteen year old boy like me can understand all these accounts? Does he think a boy can be responsible for all the family’s businesses? Then he must know I was sent here as a banishment. So what is his purpose for doing this? Is he dissatisfied with me? Afraid that I would take away his authority in this castle? Or did he cheated the from the family’s businesses and wanted to slip away by fooling me?
Everything seems like a possibility.
Duwei didn’t said anything, nor brought up any of his doubts. He took an accounts book from the top and started looking through.
After a while, he raised his head and saw the butler was still at the side.
“Oh, Mr. Butler do you still have something to talk to me?” Duwei acted carelessly and said with a cold tone, “I don’t like people at my side when I am reading.”
“Yes, master.” Butler Sier showed a hint of surprise, he opened his mouth as though to say something, but then turned around and left with the servants.
After the door to the reading room was shut, Duwei put down the book and took a few steps around the room. Then muttered to himself with a smile, “Perhaps, there’s really something worth expecting here.”
For the rest of the day, the butler came over twice. Once to refill Duwei’s tea and the second to bring him candles after nightfall. To butler Sier’s surprise, this little master was really reading those accounts. And it’s not acting but for real! After the old butler lit the candles, Duwei casually asked some questions about the accounts, and those questions really got to the points. This proved the little master wasn’t fooling around.
Is... is this the retarded little master mentioned in the messages from the imperial city?
Even though the butler tried to hide his expression, but Duwei still caught a hint of that surprise. After the butler left the room, he finished the last page on his hand.
These accounts were interesting.
Duwei spent an whole evening on these accounts, but he didn’t really look at those numbers, and not interested in seeing whether these accounts were real or fake. After all, he’s not a genius and it wasn’t possible for someone who had no knowledge of businesses to see anything wrong.
Perhaps no one would know, Duwei’s reading the accounts with a different method.
Who said that accounts could only record financial expenditures? At least Duwei learned a lot from them! And these things were not recorded in the family’s history.
Duwei got a grasp of how much the Roland family had control over their territory through the contents in these accounts. The Roland family had their own ruling system and even a fair amount of freedom from the kingdom. They had the power to decide on the final taxes, and nominate local officials. Even though the kingdom’s tax rate was fixed, they had their means of manipulating it. As long as they submit a proportion of their taxes to the kingdom’s financial center annually.
And in military power, you could see from the military expenditures in the accounts that the kingdom only had a small army garrisoned in this land. Two military reserves were garrisoned on the edge of the land, and more importantly, their supplies and gears were provided by the Roland family. The Roland’s private army maintained law and order in most of the land.
Duwei easily got a hold of the family’s current situation in economics, politics, and military through these accounts. Perhaps if the butler were to see that he could understand these accounts, his eyes would widen in disbelief.
Duwei confirmed two points: First, through taxation, the family had total control over this place, second, it was also true in military aspects.
From what Duwei learned from the other world, there’s an important common sense: a country’s control over it’s territory was reflected upon taxation and military. And these were controlled by the Roland family! What did this signify?
That the kingdom had lost control of the territory, half of the Kete Province. This place had almost became an independent kingdom itself.
Duwei leaned on the sofa and ruminated, he’s surprised by the current situation. Because when a country’s political power was losing authority, it was usually the prelude of war.
Duwei just sat their for a while. The room was silent with the occasional crackling sound from the candle. Then he stood up abruptly, turned around and stared at the wall behind him. By the wall were shelves filled with books, nothing seemed special.
Yet Duwei felt there was something special... that moment of sensation wasn’t wrong.
Because Duwei had a higher mana pool and spiritual power than the average person, he’s more sensitive to his surroundings. And just a moment ago, he felt that someone was looking at him. As if a line of vision came from unknown and hidden corner, and silently stared at him.
There’s nothing wrong with the shelves. Duwei moved his eyes up higher. Above the shelves were portraits. These portraits lined across the top. Their age varied from many decades ago to recently. They were the portraits of all the chiefs in the Roland family’s history.
The first one on the left seemed to age the most. The person was in an army uniform. He was that marshal that won the war for the kingdom and won the Roland Prairie. He looked vigorous, and those eyes had the same grimness and firmness similar to Earl Raymond. It seemed as if those eyes were looking at Duwei.
Duwei took a few steps backward, then walked left and right while staring at that portrait. Then he laughed and sighed and muttered, “Perhaps I am too sensitive... It’s just a portrait.”
He turned around to pick up another account when that marshal’s portrait behind him blinked!
Yes, a person in a portrait blinked, those eyes that kept staring at Duwei. The still eyes that originally belonged to a portrait acted as they were given life. They looked at Duwei with a sense of curiosity.
At the same moment Duwei turned around abruptly staring at the portrait. A person and a portrait crossed sight.
“Stop trying to camouflage. I know you are looking at me.” Duwei raised his hand. He was holding a silver spoon, the one that he used for the pumpkin pie. The spoon shined just like a mirror!
“You were looking at me, and I was looking at you through this. You don’t have to camouflage anymore. Don’t you know it’s rude to peep behind someone?”