Dream Life Vol 3 Chapter 13.2: “Baronet Gateskell: Part 1”

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~Gateskell’s Perspective~



 Then Aurella merchant Olaf Ouellette showed up.


 He was an old acquaintance of Harrison Gunnell, my subordinate, and offered a large loan and slave labor in exchange for the cultivation of a plant used to make a certain medicine.



 I was suspicious of him, but I took Ouellette up on his offer because of its attractive terms.


 About five years ago, I began to produce the raw material for the drug, “Blood of Lucidus, God of Light.” The “Blood of Lucidus” is a drug used in the Holy Kingdom of Lux, a kind of narcotic intended to improve the morale of soldiers.



 The drug is used to elevate the spirits of soldiers, improve their physical abilities, and strengthen their resistance to dark magic, as well as to make them more faithful to the commands of their commanders. It was a devilish drug that enabled poor peasant soldiers to go toe-to-toe with elite troops who had fought many battles in the past.



 Of course, there are disadvantages.


 The effects are short-lived, lasting only about four hours, and the drug is extremely addictive, meaning that the user is unable to act without taking it.



  Involvement in the manufacture of a drug that would normally benefit the belligerent Lux Holy Kingdom would be considered an act of hostility. I questioned Ouellette on this point.



“I was born into a family of imperial knights. I’m proud of that. Isn’t your proposal an act of self-interest?” (Gateskell)



 Ouellette tried to persuade me with a smile plastered on his slimy face.



“Master Gateskell is only selling to my trading company. As far as I know, there is no law against doing business with a merchant who does business with Lux. Furthermore, the blood of Lucidus is a potent drug that even Lux is trying to ban. Isn’t spreading it a noble plot to lower the national power of our enemies?”



 According to Ouellette’s information, the Holy King’s Office, the executive branch of Lux, is lobbying the headquarters of the Light God Church to stop the use of “Lucidus’ Blood.”


 The officials of the Holy King’s Office claim that the use of “Lucidus’ blood” not only wastes the peasants but also causes a decline in national power because many addicts are produced in the process of manufacturing the drug.



 However, the Church, especially the Holy Knights, is opposed to the idea, saying that if the peasant soldiers do not become a fighting force, the country itself will be in danger. In fact, the main force of Lux is manpower by peasant soldiers, and if the use of the “Blood of Lucidus” to support them is stopped, the stalemate on the Western Front could change drastically.



 I did not take Ouellette at his word, but I decided to go along with his irreverent logic.



 As promised, Ouellette initiated a low-interest loan of 1 million C to the Viscountcy of Tysburn. This allowed the Viscount, who had been struggling with high-interest rates, to breathe a sigh of relief.



 In addition, slaves were supplied in units of 100 as labor. Although the ownership of the slaves belonged to the Ouellette Trading Company, they were actually loaned out free of charge. Of course, food and other maintenance costs are borne by the Viscount’s domain, but even so, the cost is quickly covered by the cultivation of a plant called “Blood Lotus,” which is used as a raw material for the “Blood of Lucidus”.



 This plant is a member of the lotus family that grows in marshes and ponds. As the name suggests, it produces blood-red flowers several times a year, and after the petals fall off, it produces black-colored berries that look like scabs on the skin.



 The Viscountcy of Tysburn is located in the northeastern part of the empire, along the Farthus River – a large river flowing from the Kingdom of Caum – and has many tributaries flowing into the Farthus River, so there are many wetlands and ponds.


 The fertile and well-watered land would normally be suitable for farming if it were cultivated, but due to a lack of funds and labor, the land has remained untouched. Fortunately, there remained a lot of land suitable for Blood Lotus.



 Ouellette naturally knew of these favorable conditions.


 The production of “Blood of Lucidus” went well from the first year. Ouellette bought all the Blood Lotus berries that would be used as raw materials and transported them to Aurella. The Viscountcy of Tysburn repaid its loans from the proceeds of the sale.



 In the second year, the amount of the loan was further increased and the territory’s infrastructure was improved. The roads were improved, farmland was cultivated, and commercial guilds were attracted… all of which worked well.



 Ouellette began producing “Blood of Lucidus” last spring.


 When asked the reason for this, he said that the control in Lux has become stricter, and that bringing the product directly to the guild is less risky and more profitable.


 The only concern was addicts would be made during the manufacturing process, but this did not become apparent when slaves were used.



 It is said that the reason why the control became stricter is a result of the political changes in Lux and the Holy King’s Office’s attempt to regain control after the change of the head of the Light God Church.



 These were my peak years.


 All my policies were successful, and Tysburn, which was said to be the poorest in the northern part of the empire, was transformed into a rich land comparable to Welburn.


 My reputation was unparalleled, and as a result, four years ago I was knighted as an associate baronet. Furthermore, I took Master Constance’s daughter, Eloise, as my wife, and my days were filled with fulfillment in both my private and public life.



 However, those days of contentment came to an end.


 The Viscountcy of Tysburn, which had been developing rapidly, was under suspicion by the Governor of the North, Count Roswell.



 At first, he did not notice it because he was only making an inspection tour, but his handlers began to search all over the territory.


 Fortunately, he did not seem to notice the cultivation of Blood Lotus at that time, but the old frontier count had probed me many times.



 I was not sitting idly by.


 Even before the frontier count began to probe me, I had already begun to shake the Roswells.



 The Roswells have a clear weakness.


 It’s the successor.


 This weakness was also an opportunity for Master Constance.



 The move I took was the marriage between Rosalind, the daughter of the Frontier Count, and Master Constance’s heir, Egbert.


 Egbert would join the Roswell family, and the current Governor of the North, Hubert Roswell, would be made to retire due to his advanced age. After that, there would be no legal or moral problems if Master Constance became the guardian of his grandson Francis and legally controlled the Roswell family.



 A year ago, the Frontier Count made the first move. That was the announcement of the engagement between Rosalind and Roderick, Lockhart’s heir.



 At first, he did not think that the Lockharts, who were only frontier knights, would be an obstacle, but as he investigated, he found that the Frontier Count was quite cunning.



 The Lockhart family was the only one who could move the blacksmith guild, and all the countries were trying to recruit the Lockhart family.


 The Frontier Count strengthened the political base of the House of Roswell by bringing in the heir as a son-in-law.



 If his son-in-law Roderick became the head of the Lockhart family, he would be able to move the Blacksmith’s Guild according to the wishes of the Roswell family. Whether he can actually move it is not the issue at all at this point. The important thing is that the Roswells appear to have acquired a powerful force capable of burying even the rulers of Lux.



 To make matters worse, Roderick is returning to the frontier count’s estate upon his marriage.


 The Lockhart family’s territory, the village of Rathmore, is an enclave in the eastern free border region, a land almost beyond the reach of imperial power.



 In other words, it would be practically impossible to destroy Rathmore and the Lockharts at the same time. Therefore, if anything happens to the Roswells, the Lockharts will turn against them. Only a fool who did not think of the implications of this could touch the Roswells.



 Assuming that the Roswells’ heir, grandson Francis, was harmed, the perpetrator would face intense retribution. Not only would they be unable to do business with the dwarves in the future, but they would also be unable to do business with merchants who cared about the wishes of the dwarves.


 This would mean a fatal stagnation of commercial activity. Unless I was prepared to do so, I could not touch the Roswells.


 Yet I still had some leeway.



A/N: The story progresses immediately while solving the mysteries in the previous and subsequent parts.




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