"This dungeon town looks thriving well to me though."
"It might be good enough had it been a viscountcy. But this is far from sufficient for an earldom. Please think about it. Even Ninae is a viscountcy."
Lecan had no idea that Ninae was a viscountcy up until a second ago, thus he was a bit surprised at the news.
True enough, in term of town's scope, prosperity, and dungeon items' quality and quantity, Golbul ranks far below Ninae. To the point that you'd think it was Ninae that's an earldom instead.
"So, how does <Dagger of Harut> fall into this story of yours."
"Father plans to present <Dagger of Harut> to the royal family and petition to get Golbul territory changed into a viscountcy."
"I don't get it. Will that come true for sure if you present <Dagger of Harut>. Can it really not be done without presenting the dagger."
"Father had the idea after he heard about <Dagger of Harut>. He can't think any further than that as of now."
"What do you think."
"I believe it's better to continue reporting the current situation of this town as it is to the royal palace."
"Is there really that much difference in amount of taxes between an earl and a viscount."
"There really is. However, the problems aren't limited to tax payments to the royal capital. We have to draw a clear line showing the difference in ranks between an earl house and a viscount house with our mansion at the royal capital. That includes clothes, wagons, everything. We also must maintain our pride as a house of earl as we mingle with neighboring nobles."
"What do you get as populace of an earldom."
"They can take pride in being a part of an earldom's population."
That stuff can't fill your stomach, thought Lecan, but he's talking to a noble. The guy probably believes you can simply bear your hunger as long as you have pride.
"Things are fine for now. We're getting by by putting dungeon items on the market within our territory and get on all kinds of dealings. But everything is over if a war breaks out."
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"No big wars have yet occurred in the last few decades. There were skirmishes, but they took places around national borders at the kingdom's western regions, they've got nothing to do with this area. But if a big war erupts, we will be obliged to send forces. The load imposed on an earldom is incomparable to that of a viscountcy. Our territory will collapse on itself."
What an insipid story, thought Lecan.
In the end, the present House of Douga is suffering because the previous earl desired for the position of an earl rather than a viscount. His people must be suffering from that since he must have imposed the taxes on them back then.
Tomaj said the government officials responsible reported the dungeon was on the level of an earldom on their own, but the previous earl definitely had hands in making those officials do that.
A greed for ranks, unique to nobles, tormenting the people.
Compared to that, the previous lord of Vouka is worthy of praise. He probably desired for rank as well, being a noble and all, but he chose to develop his territory the steady way instead. Town of Vouka was said to be a poor town back then, but it's gotten comparatively affluent now. It's currently on a steady yet reasonable pace toward prosperity.
However, everyone could only keep fighting on in the situation they're thrust in.
The current earl of Golbul, and his sons have no way of changing their starting line of Golbul being an earldom. They're struggling hard to improve their situation even a bit more. He can't blame them for that.
In any case, even though it's a matter Lecan is unfamiliar with, the line of thinking that they could obtain Viscountcy as long as they have <Dagger of Harut> seems way too simplistic and old-fashioned.
The people of Golbul House could only come to that conclusion because in their mind, everything taken out of Dungeon Golbul is theirs.
After going through many sessions of mental gymnastics, they absolutely can't bear the thought of Lecan 'snatching' <Dagger of Harut> from Dungeon Golbul. It's unforgivable. It's probably something that goes beyond logic, unquenchable until the dagger falls into their possession.
However, dungeons are not like farmlands. Nor are they like silver or gold mines. The stuff produced in a dungeon isn't necessarily the landlord to take just because it's located in their territory.
Lecan will never concede that point for as long as he's adventurer.
If they're going to try to deprive him of <Dagger of Harut> he won over in the dungeon by shedding blood, he will fight back tooth and nail. No mercy.
Lecan's resolve in it grew stronger after listening to Tomaj Douga.
"Lecan. The duel won't end until one of the participants died. But, I'd like you to give up if you could. I'll take responsibility and end the duel myself if you do. I don't want to kill you."
Tomaj said that with sincere eyes.
Tomaj might be surprisingly sportsmanlike, considering this and the feast last time. He didn't smell too much like a schemer either from what Lecan saw today. He's probably being honest at not wanting to kill Lecan. Lecan can't help but to think of him as a good man, at least for this one.
"Knights take pride in their honors. Adventurers have their obstinacy to boast. The moment this duel is decided, the only outcome is live or die. I won't hold a grudge even if I die. I expect you to not hold a grudge if your proxy dies either."
Tomaj's face cramped as he nodded.