Chapter 508: The Game
Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
"Your... Your Majesty, I... I don't understand." Marquis Wyke wiped the sweats from his forehead. "What... What do you mean by 'out of the game'?"
"Those who are out will either be hanged, banished from the kingdom, or sentenced to heavy labor in the mines. Or, perhaps, all of their assets will be confiscated." The prince explained airily. "The rules of the game conform to the royal laws. It's fair enough."
"No, I've served the royal family faithfully since the reign of your father. You can't..."
"But now I'm the king. I can do whatever I want." Roland interrupted him and continued. "Don't panic. Those who have answered all of the ten questions correctly will get promoted or rewarded. It'd be boring if there were only punishments and no rewards, right?"
"I... can't accept this," said Sir Pilaw, shaking his head. "Those punishments you've mentioned should only be ordered by the court. We can't take such serious things so lightly. Your Majesty, I'm sorry I feel uneasy. Please allow me to take my leave."
He turned around and tried to exit the room, only to find that the door had been closed and that there were two expressionless soldiers now standing by the door. They blocked his exit and would not budge.
"I'm not asking for your opinion, Sir Pilaw," said Roland, "and, if you insist on quitting the game, I'm afraid I'll have to add one more punishment," he made a gesture as if shooting a gun and added, "that is, to shoot you."
The frightened nobles opened their eyes wide and spontaneously stepped back a few paces, while the soldiers around them lifted up their guns and calmly looked at them.
"So, now, time for the game." Roland stood up and clapped his hands. "The first question, did you get involved in the matter of forcing refugees to invade the Western Region? Let's start with you, Mr. Prime Minister."
"..." After a moment of silence, Marquis Wyke said, "I did follow Timothy's order to recruit refugees from the Eastern Region and the Southern Territory, but I did not take part in the other matter you stated."
He felt Nightingale lightly pinch his right shoulder.
"I'm sorry. I told you that you'd only have one chance to answer each question honestly." Roland waved his hand. "Take him down to the jail beneath this hall."
"Your Majesty, what I said is true..."
"No, you and I both know that you're still lying, even now." Roland promptly rejected the Prime Minister's appeal. He watched him get dragged out into the hallway and then slowly said to everyone, "If you're smart, you'll understand that lying won't do you any good, because, I can tell whether or not you're telling me the truth."
The nobles all stood with mouths agape, and no one dared to speak.
"If nobody volunteers to answer the question, I'll just call out names." Roland looked at the Minister of Justice and said, "What about you? Sir Pilaw."
It had turned out just the way he had wanted. This was a trial.
He had to cut the Gordian knot by efficiently dealing with the nobles here in this manner. As he also had to handle the situation with the area to the south of Fallen Dragon Ridge, he could not afford to waste too much time here. The post-war city management would be transferred to the personnel trained by the City Hall, and the resistance they would meet was from the local nobles and Black Street gangs.
Given that he needed the city to smoothly get back to normal and that now there was not enough time and energy left for a long screening, he held the trial to quickly remove the guilty nobles who had worked in collusion with Timothy and to pick out the clean, honest nobles to work with. As for the Black Street problem, he would leave them to Theo.
After all, the purpose of the surprise attack was to prevent Timothy from using ordinary people to wage a meaningless, long-lasting war. If he were to just step away from the city after overturning Timothy's rule and leave the city in chaos, he would be no different from their previous King.
He did not plan to absorb King's City into his kingdom, nor did he want to find another agent to run the city for him. After a whole year of hard work and development, he just did not have the strength.
No matter to act against the noble or the church, he had the ability to beat them.
"Now, the last question, have you ever bullied or oppressed the people, including witches?"
After asking nine questions, less than 10 out of the over 50 still remained in the hall. Such a high outing rate did not shock Roland at all, as he knew for sure Timothy had already kicked the incapable ones out of the palace. They were the people who either thought he usurped the throne or questioned the cause of King Wimbledon III's death. However, what did surprise Roland was that there were still seven nobles working in the City Hall who had nothing to do with either Timothy's schemes or the church.
"Your Majesty, I'm guilty," said a noble, falling to his knees and sweating profusely. "I've ordered my men to beat up a civilian because he smeared my trousers with his feet. I failed to hold back my anger at that time and..., but I just beat him. I did not kill him."
"I, I had a secret love affair with a shop owner's daughter, but she seduced me first!"
"My housekeeper slept with my wife while I was out hunting. I cut off his penis straight away instead of sending him to the court... But, Your Majesty, a housekeeper doesn't count, right?"
Roland did his best to keep a straight face while hearing those various, funny answers. Those trifles were not considered misdeeds or even mistakes by nobles usually, but now they were apparently so frightened by the questioning that they spat out all those things in fear that it would be regarded as lying.
After they had all given their answers, Roland cleared his throat and asked, "Is there anything else?"
"No," the nobles said.
When Nightingale pinched his left shoulder, he finally nodded and said, "Congratulations, you've passed."
The nobles were greatly relieved.
"I did say that the winners of the game would be rewarded... Trust me, I'll keep my word, especially when there're so many vacancies in the City Hall, but I still have one question." Roland looked at the two people standing at the back of the room, who seemed to have never broken any laws since they hadn't said anything but "No" in reply for every question and their answers were all approved by Nightingale. "What're your names and positions in the City Hall?"
"I'm Alva Taber, Your Majesty," one of them replied, "and I'm in charge of the issues related to the star image."
"Blanche Orlando," the other person, a woman, said, "I'm the ceremonial officer."
"That's the reason. People in positions like theirs don't get many chances to do bad things... These two are indeed the only ones with clean hands in the City Hall." Roland went back to the throne and said, "You can leave the palace now. I'll send for you after I straighten up a few things with my family." He paused and added. "My way of ruling will be very different from my father's and Timothy's. You'll see that soon enough, and remember what got you through the game... Keep it up. This isn't going to be the last game you play."
The nobles withdrew submissively and then Roland left the hall and headed to the basement with Nightingale, thinking to himself,
"Time to meet my 'dear brother'."
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