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Chapter 20

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Minister’s point of view.
Returning to my private room, I placed the jute bag full of gold coins on my desk and crudely looked up at the teacup with the tea poured into it.
As I set the empty cup on the desk, I looked back at the Royal Guard standing at the door.

“Why was His Majesty spectating from the sidelines? What was the point of giving small hints?”

The Royal Guard, who showed troubled expression at my abrupt question, looked uncomfortable as he replied.

“He said he had high hopes for you, so I guess His Majesty wanted you to deal with the current state of corruption, Minister.”

“Why wouldn’t he order me to do so directly then?”

I looked from the Royal Guard, who had closed his mouths, to the jute bag in front of me and wondered if I can somehow return to my position as a minister.
However, since I am the cause of this great corruption, though not all of it, it is hard to imagine that my position could be restored even if I were to come up with an innovative idea to eliminate all of the corruption.
In the first place, I failed so hard that I couldn’t complain even if got dismissed, so when considering that I only got demoted to an assistant, trying to speak for myself any more could anger His Majesty further.
… Is it best to accept the position of assistant gracefully?

At the same time as I let out a sigh, there was a knock on the door and it was opened before I could reply ‘enter.’
Standing there was Zeke, an assistant minister of high stature, and well-arranged white head of hair, looking down at me.

“Are you… the next minister?”

“Yes, that is correct. People have been talking about that possibility for a few days now, but I didn’t think it was really going to happen.”

Despite saying those words, I felt something irritating from Zeke, who had a somewhat happy expression on his face.
No, it doesn’t matter. What matters is why His Majesty handed the ministerial seat to someone whose goal was to abolish the nobility and treat all humans equally, except for royalty.
Zeke put his hand to his chin as if he had figured something out.

“Perhaps you don’t understand why I was appointed as a minister even though I am for the abolition of the nobility?”

“… Yeah.”

“Minister… no, aide Werner. Do you understand what is at the root of this corruption?”

As if urged by my silence to speak, Zeke shook his head in disappointment.

“It’s the concept of nobility itself. It’s the way we focus on titles, not competence, that’s the biggest cause.”

“… That’s certainly true.”

“And as the result, the talentless nobility who made no effort to improve has been forcing the commoners who were willing to die to get this work to work as slaves, and growth of our nation was severely diminished. You know our neighboring country, Fosch, don’t you?”

Fosch… I’m pretty sure it was a ridiculous country that prematurely abolished the nobility due to corruption, adopted the principle of merit, and quickly caught up with the military power of our country.
… I see, His Majesty wanted to abolish the nobility and make it a country that favored people with ability.

“Can you understand now?”

“… I have one question. Why let it get corrupt on purpose?”

Zeke pretended to think, and then he looked as if he had an idea.

“Didn’t he want to make you, a person who sang praises of maintaining the nobility system, fail and make other nobles witness how corrupt the system is as a result? It would be difficult for any powerful nobleman to complain then.”

Indeed, if I saw my son or daughter bribing or forcing a commoner to do their job, I would be too embarrassed to complain.
But then, I can’t understand why he would be giving me hints. If the goal was to advance the corruption, wouldn’t it have been better to just leave it alone?
I asked about it, and Zeke pretended to be thinking again.

“Though you are bound by old ideas, I have no doubts that you are more brilliant than me. Didn’t His Majesty look forward to the possibility of you abandoning the titleist mindset yourself and becoming a meritocrat?”

At any rate, it is true that I have failed to live up to His Majesty’s expectations.
As my heart was wrapped up in something indescribably unpleasant, a knight came to report that the carriage was ready.
As I took the jute bag in my hands, Zeke seemed to remember something.

“Could you ask the commoner woman for whom you are about to apologize if she has any intention of returning? The current Royal Magicians has only a useless person left in it, and the work she has done so far is not enough for the wages she receives. I’d like to add to her in the form of a salary, too.”

“… Understood.”

I gave a brief reply and left the room.

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