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Chapter 19

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Minister’s point of view.
I didn’t expect him to destroy the town and then shoot magic at the woman who had become a civilian, how on earth could he do that, no matter how much the Sage ordered him to?
You should have done what you should have done, either by offering money or preferential treatment or bowing down.
… No, is it the noble’s pride or his sense of discrimination that wouldn’t allow it?

As I recall, the reports of the Royal Guards and others described Heinz’s unusual, discriminatory attitude toward the commoners.
I had often heard that people raised in the nobility were discriminatory towards people of lower status than themselves, but is it a problem with the way they were brought up? Or is perhaps the system of the nobility itself?
At any rate, if we don’t find a solution to this problem, the gulf that has already been created by the disappearance of the barrier will only get bigger.

Letting out a sigh, I wrote a letter to Henschel, telling them what Heinz had done and that his sentence of exilement was about to be settled on, so that they can punish him in any way they want.
I handed the letter to my men, telling them to send it to Henschel, and went to my private office to change into my formal attire.

Perhaps because it was about the matter of the Sage, but I was ordered to come to His Majesty’s private chambers in the early afternoon.
I felt like it was not needed to spend any more time on that old man, and that the matter could have been settled through writings, but I’m sure this is just His Majesty’s whim.
Whatever the case, I hope Louis will receive a heavy punishment from him.

Standing in front of the lavishly designed door, I straightened my collar, took a deep breath, knocked on the door, and announced my name.
As usual, I get nervous whenever I stand here. I’ve been through this more than a hundred times already, so I would like to get used to it.
While I was thinking about this and waiting for an answer from inside, I was called to come in a little later.
I opened the door and entered, bowing to the King as he took a seat by the window and drank tea.

“Sit in that chair.”

His Majesty pointed to a chair—not the comfortable chair that I always sit in whenever I come here, but a worn-out wooden chair that was unbecoming of the King’s private quarters.
I had a bad feeling about this, but I meekly followed his instructions and sat down in the chair.

“Now, I know that you want to say something about the chair, but let’s start with the punishment of the Sage, Louis. As I recall, you wanted him to be sent to the mines, didn’t you?”

“Yes. He has committed a variety of crimes, including embezzlement of large sums of money, neglect of duty, and intimidation. Even though he has many past accomplishments, I have decided that it is not a good idea to not punish someone who has committed so many crimes only with light punishment, such as exile or dismissal.”

Hmm, the King nodded and sipped on his tea again and put the cup on the table.

“All right. He will work as a slave in the mines. Beheading is too of a light punishment for the man who betrayed my trust.”

Oh, thank God. I wondered what I should do if he started saying that he would only take a pay cut.
I was feeling relieved when His Majesty told his personal maid standing beside him to bring me something as he made eye contact with me.

“That maid is a commoner. You once said you are never going to hire her ever again.”

“I, I’m sorry.”

How does he know? Did the other maids who were present at that time spread it to others, perhaps?
As my heart thumped, the maid brought over a jute bag containing what appeared to be a large number of gold coins and paper with a quill pen.

I looked at the king, unsure of what was going on, and he smiled at me with an amused expression.

“I have been watching the castle rot since you became the minister. However, the stupid you did not even notice it, and you weren’t even trying to do anything about it. That’s why I used to call you here from time to time and give you all sorts of hints, but…”

After receiving the paper and quill pen from the maid, His Majesty suddenly looked at me with a serious face.

“The woman who got dismissed… was her name Emiel? Write her a letter of apology right here, right now. Have it delivered to her immediately together with these gold coins that were confiscated from her.”

“T, then, who will do my job…”

“I know there are a few good seedlings among your assistants. Before long, I will have one of them become the new minister, and you, their assistant.”

… Me? An assistant? After all the work I have done?
When I thought so, His Majesty shook his head, looking at me with an astounded face.

“Don’t get me wrong. In light of the fact that you have been working diligently for this country for some time now, I only demoted you to the assistant position. Originally, you could have been beheaded or sent to the mines to get along with the Sage for causing corruption in the state, do you understand?”

“… I am grateful.”

… It’s frustrating, but it’s certainly true.
My lack of competence as an administrator has led to the corruption of this country. That fact alone will not go away no matter how much I try to hide it.

I wrote down on the piece of paper my apologies for dismissing Emiel without investigating her, and for the corruption caused by my lack of management skills, which had created a situation where she was forced to do countless tasks on her own.
When His Majesty saw this, he nodded his head in satisfaction.

“Go and have it delivered. The sooner you apologize, the better.”

“I will be off then.”

Receiving the jute bag from the maid, I bowed to the King and proceeded to the exit of the room, holding the bag that was heavier than it looked.

“I had high hopes for you… how unfortunate.”

When I looked back after hearing those words, His Majesty was staring at me with a blank expression on his face——and I naturally bowed my head in silence.

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