We have begun developing my newly built dungeon.
Our major goal at the moment was to be known and trusted by the people of the territory. To that end, we needed to do something that was impactful.
And so, we were preparing even through the night.
“I guess it’s no surprise that it’s not going to be as smooth-going as it was in Avalon.”
I was in a room in the lord’s estate, watching the activity below.
The Dwarf Smiths and the High Elves were hard at work. However, because they were just born, they didn’t have any personal experience and techniques, which then meant a poor work efficiency.
“No, it’s unfair to compare them to my long-serving monsters.”
Even my monsters in Avalon couldn’t do everything from the get-go.
Plus, these girls were doing the best they could. The Dwarf Smiths were absorbing lessons at a very fast rate from Ciel and the High Elves from the veteran High Elf I had in my [Storage]. It was only a matter of time before they were ready.
“Either way, the die has been cast.”
By making a dungeon, I was at a higher risk of being attacked by other Demon Lords.
Demon Lords each had their own information network, but the chances of my dungeon being discovered right away was low. Even so, I took precautions such as not telling anyone where I would be building my dungeon as well as making Ciel use her skills at almost regular intervals to see if there was a spy.
It was important to catch the attention of the humans so that they could move here, but preparing the dungeon’s defense was just as important, if not more so.
“Whatever, I’m sure we’ll manage.”
Fortunately, there were plenty of weapons stored within Ciel’s body. That should be helpful in planning for our defense.
To no one’s surprise, my monsters were exhausted. However, thanks to their hard work, the desired outcome was achieved.
Not one stone remained in the tilled fields; the water systems sufficiently covered every area; water mills were even made.
“Pyufuu~ I can’t pyui go on anymore”
Ciel seemed so tired she could change from her blue-haired girl form into her teardrop slime form at any moment.
Similarly, the Dwarf Smiths behind her were also so tired they had to sit down.
“Ciel, Dwarf Smiths, great work.”
“Pyufufufu, are you thankful enough to name me one of the [Eight Demonic Champions] now?”
“I’ll think about it.”
This slime was ambitious, no two ways about it.
Ever since we got here, Ciel has proven more and more how invaluable she was. If we could return to Avalon safely, a feat she would no doubt be a key factor in, endorsing her to be one of the [Eight Demonic Champions] would be a no-brainer.
“High Elves, you did great as well.”
The High Elves, each currently leaning on a tree, gave a salute.
“Wait, you didn’t improve any of the fields that were in use before?”
To that, the oldest High Elf gave a nod.
“Based on the locations of the bodies of water as well as the condition of the soil, we concluded that it will be much faster to cultivate and bless entirely new fields instead. To be clear, those old fields can still be made abundant, but that’ll require time even for us. We predict that it’ll take us as much time as it takes for the humans to grow and even harvest crops using the new fields. We’ll submit the full report later.”
“Hmm, based on the fact that we have useable fields so soon, I’d say there’s nothing wrong with your assessment.”
Now, we’re ready.
My monsters had marvelously done their part, it was now my turn to do mine. But for that, I would have to wake the fox sisters up first.
On that day, we gathered all the people within what was now my dungeon.
Unsurprisingly, the people weren’t enthusiastic about such an announcement, but the moment they heard there would be free meals, their reaction quickly turned around. Some of them couldn’t last a day longer, so hearing they could eat for free must be quite the powerful invitation.
As for the venue, we would be using the plaza built in the center of the area. In order to show majesty, the environment to show it in must have a certain majesty to it as well. In stark contrast to the rest of the former baron’s entire territory, the plaza was well-maintained. It even had a stage to look down at all the gathered people.
And for their meal, it was porridge made by the fox sisters. Due to the people’s malnutrition, there was a chance they couldn’t digest heavy food right now. On the other hand, a porridge with medicinal herbs and soft-boiled eggs should be work wonders.
The fox sisters got the recipe for the dish and how to prepare the medicinal herbs from Ciel, so it was sure to work.
According to the slime herself: This uses a combination of meat-based broth and seafood-based broth. As for the medicinal herbs, we made use of Aura-sama’s personally grown herbs. The rice is even the finest in Avalon. It’s so crazy good, even someone at death’s door due to starvation will be jumping in seconds.
Ciel wasn’t exaggerating. The people whose struggles were apparent on their faces became healthier by the second.
Is it really alright to feed them this? Oh well, it’s not like their condition improving is a problem.
When the fox sisters announced that there was enough for a second serving for everyone, the people quickly lined up again. In an instant, all the prepared porridge was gone.
It’s about time, I guess.
After assessing that the people’s wariness has somewhat loosened, I ascended to the stage.
Beside me were the fox sisters. The reason I made the sisters be the ones to serve the porridge was so that the people would warm up to them, which in turn would make it easier for the sisters to be our bridge to the humans.
When I was on stage, the previously starving citizens turned their gaze toward me.
“Hello, everyone. I am Procell. And starting today, I am the new lord of this territory.”
At that, the people grew noisy. Which was understandable given I was a complete stranger to them.
“I am the adopted son of the former baron. In order improve this land, I was sent to another country to study as well as to find funds and people of talent. The porridge you’ve eaten just now is but one of the many fruits of my labor abroad.”
Some looked down at their empty bowls, while some looked at the person beside them and talked.
“This delicious porridge, it’s from abroad?”
“He’s totally unlike the former lord.”
“As long as he’s going to feed us such delicious food, he can claim to be king for all I care.”
“There’s a lot we don’t know about him, but such a generous guy can’t be a bad person, right?”
Hope trumped their distrust.
These people were at rock bottom already, so for them, things could only get better if they trusted me. Such was the persuasive powers of food.
“I have a few promises to make to you. Firstly, we will be offering food like this to each of you every morning. No one shall die of starvation ever again.”
To that, the people cheered.
I could have offered to give them three meals a day, but that might make some of them become lazy. Rather, I wanted them to become people who had dreams, something they strived for.
“I have also prepared fields you can work in as much as you want. Look over there!”
I pointed my finger to a vast and splendid field, which was in direct contrast to the barren and poorly maintained fields the farmers were used to. They should also notice the water systems in place that would ensure the crops were watered at all times, regardless of the weather.
“Those fields are born from the funds and talented people I’ve gathered from abroad.”
When I said that, the Dwarf Smiths and High Elves gathered below the stage and then bowed.
“Those fields would be divided equally among all of you. Not just that, seeds would be distributed as well.”
The strong Dwarf Smiths then carried a lot of bags.
Inside the bags were high-quality seeds.
Because of their years of experience, the farmers could tell at a glance just how wonderful these seeds were. So much so that they couldn’t help but gulp down.
We had bought wheat seeds from Eligor’s city, planted them in the blessed fields, accelerated their growth, and then harvested the crops. Those crops then provided improved seeds. Crops grown from these improved seeds were sure to be more resilient, to be tastier, and to be of higher quantity than normal.
Upon hearing my announcement, the citizens’ feelings of joy as well as of hope for a better future began flowing to me.
Still, it wasn’t enough. I needed their hope to get stronger.
And then, one of the citizens timidly raised his hand.
“Ahm, I-I’m very grateful for the seeds, but how much will they cost? How about the interest?”
“…y-yeah. Between the taxes and paying back the previous lord for the seeds, nothing’s left to us.”
Once every three years, the country predicts how much a territory would harvest and then take a part of that as tax. Based on the baron’s lands and workforce, it had been decided back then that the country would take 30% of the predicted harvest amount. Either the sales of the crops or the crops themselves were to be accepted.
That much was tough enough, but the baron saw to it to impose another 40% tax which, officially, was to go to the upkeep of his territory. It was an open secret that part of this additional tax would go straight to the baron’s coffers.
That left 30% of the predicted harvest for the people. However, because their fields were no longer suitable for farming, the predicted amount by the country couldn’t be met anymore, which in turn meant keeping even that 30% was uncertain at best.
On top of all that, the farmers didn’t have enough seeds. The former baron offered the people a loan for seeds, but his interest rates were so steep, some ended up with a debt several times that of the principal amount. In order to pay that debt, some took another. This cycle of debt would continue until the people’s choice was to either escape or die.
“Before I answer that, let me announce that I’ve reviewed the current tax system… and from now on, the total tax will only be 30% of the harvest’s sales. In the case you want to borrow seeds, the tax will be 40%.”
“30%? Sorry, but did I hear that right? That’s so much lower than any we’ve ever had before!”
“You heard right. That much is enough for me to manage the territory.”
Because I didn’t need money for the operating expenses, I decided to forego collecting tax for those.
Moreover, because of our efforts, the people should now have a harvest far exceeding the predicted amount. So, even collecting just 30% of the actual yields would be more than enough for me.
“The new lord seems amazing, doesn’t he?”
“As long as we can make it to next year’s harvest, we’re going to live!”
“Let’s give it our all!”
Such great tasting emotions. Ahh, this is what I was looking for.
If I wanted to, I could have fed on the people without such convoluted and roundabout ways. However, that wouldn’t have produced any strong emotions. On the other hand, if I gave them all their needs as one might take care of farm animals, I would miss the chance to consume zeal and hope.
In other words, I had to provide an environment where they could work hard and be rewarded for it. The free breakfast allowed them to not worry about starving to death, while the blessed field and the lower taxes gave them a chance to have a better harvest. That was pretty much all I needed to do for them.
“Now that I am your lord, hard work will always pay off. I have provided you with the right opportunities, but how you make use of it is completely up to you. If you want a happier life, go and take it!”
The people gave a loud cheer.
No longer were their hearts seized by despair and resignation. Instead, they now believed tomorrow would be a better day.
…Phase one complete.
Like this, the population of the territory should no longer decrease dramatically.
The next phase was about inviting foreigners and converting them into citizens. Of course, building defenses was a priority as well.
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