I Don’t Trust My Twin Sister - Chapter 6
The important thing was the flow of funds from the Order of Veridian. She had to check the fluidity of the ongoing business taxes.
There must have been a reason for his obsession with money and that prediction hit the mark.
Over the last decade, the overall budget had been declining by 5 percent every year. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was a year or two, but it created a problem when it continued for 10 years.
The sudden decrease in the budget was due to a number of things, but the most obvious reason was debt.
Debts have always existed irrespective of a person’s riches. But, it also served as security for business.
The Aztane family was also in considerable debt. Of course, its size didn’t affect the family.
However, the debt of the Order of Veridian had been rising over time. It was not a case where interests could be paid by buying private bonds. Due to the lack of money, they’ve been increasing the size of their sub-units every year.
The Duchy required plenty of goods to maintain the army. Laurentia had also been told that she should be prepared in line with the families of Northern Allied Powers, which were raising troops every year. She had also seen a newspaper article saying that the allied nations bordering the country were continuing to engage in military action.
‘Then, why was the Grand Duke enjoying debauchery in this situation? It doesn’t add up. I thought he was at least a sensible man.’
Scratching her forehead, she asked the guild member who was standing before her desk.
“I heard the Imperial family was providing military support, but these are much lower than I thought. Am I missing something?”
“You’ve seen it well, Miss. The Imperial family has spent a budget to maintain the military, but the scale is rather small. It’s not enough. As a matter of fact, the Grand Duke had also asked for an increase, but he was completely ignored. I think it was because of the increase in military reinforcements that the Duke of Veridian is under debt.”
Although the Imperial family didn’t provide generous support to the Ducal family who had devoted 600 years to the Imperial Army, they seemed to have set aside a minimum of actual aid, only enabling the military to meet the shackles. It was a perfect situation to say that hounds were not fed abundantly.
“By the way, the debt is huge. What do you think can we use as collateral?”
“We have 12 mines that can be used as collateral.”
She glanced at the documents again. The sum of interest was so huge that it could make one drop their jaw. That’s right, it was the debt and interest of a decade. A terrible price to pay for after the Grand Duke of Mollind, a former patriarch, who believed in the Imperial family too much.
She scratched her head, thinking for a moment. At this scale, it could be said that half of the entire Empire’s annual budget was in debt. So that’s why he was obsessed with money.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Oh, it’s nothing.”
She finally seemed to have figured it out.
After asking the servant, she was told that he was working in his office.
After lightly tapping on the door, she stepped inside as an answer came through the door. Ian was busy scribbling, sitting on a chair between piles of papers on his desk. She thought if she could convince him well, she could put her plan into action.
“Ah, isn’t it Miss Laurentia?”
“Are you in a state to have a conversation?”
“Ah, I’m fine. It’s you who looks tired.”
Pressing his eyelids with his fingers, he leaned against the chair. As she approached him with a faint tired face, her eyes fell on papers that were scattered on the floor. It was a document related to the preparation for winter.
She bent down, picked up the documents, and handed them over to him.
“This room is a mess.”
“Well, that’s the function of this office. Anyway, why are you here Miss Laurentia? Uh….did you come here to give me those two gold coins?”
She chuckled, taking out two coins from her pocket and throwing them over to him. He caught them, put them on his desk, and looked at her with astonished eyes and a grin on his face.
“Looks like this Miss doesn’t act much like an aristocrat.”
‘Well, it’s inevitable when you run a business with older men.’
“It isn’t even winter, but even if so you’re already busy preparing for it, aren’t you?”
“Winter is a tough season. The food supplies become insufficient and it becomes twice as hard to defend the borders. The morale of the soldiers should be increased and their supplies should be taken care of.”
“Of course. Fortunately, the west borders aren’t that cold.”
“Yeah, but it’s definitely cold where ice caps protect the country on the northern border.”
Twirling his pen in between his fingers, he lifted up his upper body, leaning on his desk, and looked at her with glistening eyes. The corners of his mouth crept up.
“Miss Laurentia didn’t come here because she was worried about the soldiers protecting the country, was she?”
“…..Well, as a matter of fact, I am.”
He nodded, putting down his pen on his desk before staring at her. She stared back at him for a moment before shifting her gaze elsewhere. The silence lengthened before she shifted her eyes back to him gently as he spoke.
“I’m neither a merchant nor a businessman. I’m not a civil servant either whom you could use for different reasons.
“What’s the purpose of your visit?”
She wasn’t familiar with such a type of tone. But either way, she asked back.
“Do you have any concerns?”
“Yes. Might be a very big one.”
“There’s no such thing.”
“Don’t lie. Everyone has problems to face in their lives.”
“Really? Is that the same for you as well?”
“Of course, it is.”
He grinned, his face glowing lightly.
“So, do you think I’m facing one now?”
“Wow, interesting. The Aztane family, who was known to be well versed in business, is actually a family of wizards who can read people’s minds.”
“Well, you have to be able to read one’s mind so that you can be the top choice of a contract.”
He said, stretching his back. Unlike his words, his slightly frowning eyes reflected his mood.
“Then, I think Miss Laurentia knows what I’m worried about.”
“Uh, to some extent.”
“Can you tell me?”
He smiled slightly, raising up his chin at her.
“The Duke is running out of money.”
The moment she saw him frowning, she continued.
“I know that you have a lot of debts to meet. It’s not about what you want, but that you keep accumulating unjust debts.”
“But the internal financial situation is a secret. How can you know that?”
“There is no secret in the world that the Aztane family wouldn’t know of.”
He stood up from his chair and sighed. Her eyes followed him as he approached her. He soon faced her, standing at a distance of about four steps away from her.
“So, you came here to warn me about the debts? To tell me not to waste much money?”
Watching his crumpled expression, she took a step closer and looked up as she said,
“I’m here to make a deal.”
“Personally or publicly?”
“Umm, I’d say…….both.”
It seemed as if he was satisfied with her answer. She continued with a smile.
“Grand Duke of Veridian,”
“Why are you still addressing me like that, Miss Laurentia?”
“I’m the next housekeeper of the Aztane family.”
He shrugged as she continued.
“In the name of power, debts are being unfairly weighed down on the Grand Duke, considering the fact that the hounds who shield the Empire are not getting enough supplies.”
She grazed her fingers along her chin, looking up at his expression.
“Grand Duke Veridian, I’ll take care of your debt.”
And it was the best and only way for Ian to get rid of his debt.
For 10 years, the total amount of debt incurred in the Veridian order was 30,000 gold coins. When the increased interest was added, the amount went up to 45,000 gold coins.
When she first heard the amount,
‘Are you kidding me?’
Imperial gold coins were highly valued due to their high gold content.
Gold coins were not usually used by commoners. Only silver coins were used for transactions in public affairs.
45,000 gold coins. Furthermore, increased military expenses naturally gave rise to more debts.
Perhaps, the Imperial Household wasn’t going to solve this situation. Clearly, they were going to refuse the Duke for two or three times before reluctantly extending a helping hand to lay a big debt.
She remembered hearing it vaguely that the Grand Duke withdrew from his post after the Order of Legation was dissolved.
It wasn’t a detailed memory. She used to be so engrossed with her own business that she wasn’t interested in that kind of information.
“You’re going to support me?”
“Yes, and you owe me.”
“But, how can that be? How am I going to pay you according to the Order of Confucius? Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be that easy.”
‘You could think so. But I don’t want to take such a complicated and dangerous gamble.’
“No, you don’t have to pay me back with the money you owe me.”
He looked as if he were dumbfounded. Of course, anybody in this situation would. He was bound to be surprised that she wasn’t asking him to pay her back.
“Are you joking, Miss Laurentia?”
His reaction was understandable. But it was more important for her to protect her family.
“Is this some kind of a prank?”
No matter how generous a person was, he was bound to get angry if he thought he was being pranked with such an important matter.
Ian gazed at her suspiciously. He might have been thinking that she was some kind of fraud. So, she prepared the next card.
“I think I’ll have to convince you.”
She approached his desk and passed by him. She picked up each document, giving a read to its contents. Some of them were related to the operation of the land, but most of them were related to projects to finance and budget expenses.