Tote Officials Meeting
The 18th day of the 12th month of the Holy Year 904 at 6:24 pm—in Tote’s meeting hall. The Security squad’s leader, Mos, sat in on the end-of-year officials meeting.
“—is the budget plan for next year. Please state any plans for the surplus funds after raising your hand,” the village chief said, and the officials raced to get their hands up.
“We, the agricultural department, only have one request: add more fields. There’s so much land to expand into still,” one official said.
“Oi, oi,” another chimed in. “Didn’t we add 100 fields for you guys last year?”
“That’s right,” a third said. “We’re already losing 50% to tax. If we add any more fields even an idiot would start watching us closely.”
The officials crossed their arms and groaned.
“Shouldn’t we use the land to raise more livestock that don’t get taxed? What about the Wind Cows we received from Saint-sama? Wouldn’t we be able to sell milk, butter, and cheese at high prices?”
The merchants’ information network is scary. Mos didn’t know how they heard about it, but recently there’s been an influx of merchants visiting Tote. As a result, the village has rapidly developed and not even a single trace of the village of the past remained.
“No,” the assistant village chief said. “If we raise our revenue any further, they’ll start taxing our livestock. Shouldn’t we find another solution?” The rest nodded their heads in agreement.
“Then please divert some of the budget towards the manufacturing department,” Pause said and bowed down. He was a chestnut-haired youth who had returned from a two-year long training with Sagami Co. just half a year ago.
In around half a year, he managed to build factories and create a popular product among women not suited towards farming or raising livestock: the mirror. He was the village hero who brought enormous profits back.
He studied under the tutelage of Leroy-sama, who headed Sagami Co.’s R&D department, learning various skills during his time there.
“No objections here,” one official said.
“Yeah, the Commerce Guild has jurisdiction over the merchandise and they’ll never tax it. It’s the most profitable thing. I agree as well,” another added.
Voices of agreement echoed one after another, and while the budget plan received a few more corrections, it was approved in the end.
After the meeting finished, Mos exited Tote’s meeting hall.
His eyes stopped on the villagers in the windowed stores who were preparing to go home.
After that incident, Tote continued to develop and expanded to the edge of the Ancient Forest, growing to dozens of times larger than before.
“The village has changed a lot,” he pointed out.
There were well-maintained roads and buildings, and the tall, thick walls that surrounded the village warded off monsters and currently served as a talking point in the village.
Mos’ group had used the high-rank earth magic they had acquired to easily construct the stone walls, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that merchants began staying longer because of the walls.
“Only three more months……”
Soon, the village’s guardian deity-like being would leave Millard.
It was because of Grey-sama that the village could develop at such frightening speeds. He had brought new knowledge and systems, and most importantly, had taught them the heart to never give up. Now, Tote enjoyed wealth incomparable to before.
He increased the variety of crops and skyrocketed productivity. Moreover, the villagers couldn’t rely solely on crops so he gave us a set income, and thus the food stores wouldn’t be at the weather’s mercy.
He outfitted several schools for children and had the roles of village chief and assistant village chief be determined through an election.
The biggest change of all was the villagers’ awareness. The had previously believed that there was no other way to live than following the feudal lord’s every word. Now, they constantly tried to slip through his watch and wracked their brains to improve their profits.
With just a simple change in awareness, they’ve come to see an entirely different world and personally experience just how valuable knowledge and information can be.
“Mos,” a voice called out.
Mos turned his head towards the voice behind him to find Tana, the woman who lost her brother during what could be called the start of the incident.
“Tana, I heard you’re going to participate in Sagami Co.’s medical development team,” Mos said. “Congratulations.”
She was currently working with Grey’s attendant, Carla, to provide medical care throughout the village, but recently her achievements have been noticed and she has been permitted to join to the company’s medical development team.
“Hehe, Thanks. You’re going to have a ceremony with Ageha next month, right? Congratulations to you, too,” she bashfully said while itching her face.
Ageha was the fairy girl with butterfly wings who Grey had saved during the goblin raid incident a few years prior. She currently served as the vice-captain of the security squad and often took on bodyguard jobs.
At first, maybe because of the difference in races, she didn’t mesh well with the others, but by putting her all into the common goal of protecting Tote, they gradually began to grow closer and she turned into an unreplaceable member of the squad.
“So, didn’t you have something to ask?” Mos said, forcefully changing the subject.
“Is Grey-sama really going to leave Millard?”
“He isn’t the type of person to go back on his word.”
“I know that! But—”
Mos cut her off with a wave of the hand. “Last month, Grey-sama said, ‘You’ve already become independent.’ Remember? That’s the highest praise he’ll give. The only thing we can do now is to not sully his expectations.”
Last month, Grey had said that when the villagers returned the money they had borrowed until now.
“If Grey-sama succeeded the head, this land would prosper even further!”
Recently, seeds of pride and attachment to the village have been growing inside everyone—it was probably due to the fact that they could afford to relax now.
“Give up on the other villages,” Mos said. “The only thing we can do now is develop the village even further.”
Because of the village’s development, it would be impossible for the current head to unjustly exploit them.
The citizens of Tote weren’t slaves. The only rights he had over the village were the rights to levy taxes and conscript soldiers.
As he would never use his right to conscript soldiers, as long as they were wary of his right to levy taxes, they could effectively ignore him.
Actually, that well-known messenger of his visited several times with special tax orders, but they politely turned her away on the basis that as long as there wasn’t any documentation, they wouldn’t pay.
The messenger clamored about how they would be executed for treason, but everyone just shrugged her threats off. Even if she attacked with her private army, these sturdy walls shouldn’t fall after all. And if she tried to conscript soldiers from other villages, the villagers would sent a report to Central. There were also wealthy merchants that dealt with the village. It should be much easier to give the village independence than have the greedy nobles join in the fray; Central would probably send a mediator as well. And if it came to that, their destruction would be all but assured.
However, that wouldn’t hold true if the villagers deceived Grey-sama and began managing other villages. Worse case scenario, it could even be used as a reason to declare treason.
Tana chewed her lip in frustration, only muttering, “I know.”
“Then let’s send him off with a smile. That’s the greatest way we can repay him.
Suddenly, a villager yelled in excitement. “Saint-sama has arrived!!” Soon, everybody moved to the central plaza.
“He’s as popular as ever,” Mos said.
“Obviously. It’s Grey-sama after all.”
With a smile on his face, Mos headed for the plaza.