Governor's Bride - Chapter 30
“To take root deeply, the quantity of water and sunlight has to be carefully paid attention to. So the roots grow in that manner…”
Lachlan murmured softly as he slammed his pen down onto the table. The sharp nib of the pen pierced through the paper and into the wood below.
“You’ll live here for the rest of your life.”
His voice was full of dangerous joy.
A man on a small boat muttered. The dark blonde & blue-eyed man looked towards the shore, eyes narrowing at the sight. Though half of it was already covered in sand carried by the wind, there was no doubt about it being a body.
A few hours prior, a sunken ship had been sighted. Saul’s sea was so clear it was beyond easy to spot it. Numerous divers went under to identify the ship. The Baiyan. The ship that was scheduled to dock at Bernst a few weeks ago.
The Baiyan wasn’t the only ship that failed to dock. Both the cargo ship that had travelled alongside the Baiyan, and the steamboat that had left before them hadn’t arrived. It’s no coincidence that all three ships can disappear just like that.
Hence, the search had to be done meticulously. To think a ship of such a size would sink and leave behind not a single passenger on board is evidence that someone had interfered.
“Get off the boats.”
“Lord Richard, we can’t set foot into Endeavour’s land without permission.”
“Shut up and move.”
One look at Richard’s cold eyes, the soldier donned in Ramedes uniform shut his mouth tightly and bowed. Richard realised that no matter what he said, the only thing he could truly rely on was the cold bullet of his. Before long, Richard, followed by several soldiers, landed on the shore.
As he approached the body, a large swarm of flies that had been hovering over them quickly flew up and away.
“Go up the hill and search for any traces that might’ve been left behind.”
The soldiers quickly moved at his order. Ignoring them, Richard flipped the body over with his foot. There was a large hole present in the head of the rotting body. Richard’s face contorted as he took sight of the wound at the centre of its forehead.
“Lord Richard. Take a look over here.”
“What is it?”
Having been called, Richard wiped off traces of the body from his military boots onto the sand and approached the voice.
“It’s a woman’s body. I searched the body and found this in her pocket.”
“An identification card.”
The body’s face was badly mangled. On the identification card was a redhead with prominent protruding cheekbones and a face full of freckles. And the only body left intact was one with red hair. A woman named Beth, a criminal sentenced to life in prison for numerous cases of theft.
“One of the prisoners on the Baiyan.”
“There were many signs of an attack on the sunken ship and women who survived had mysteriously disappeared… It’s obvious there were two groups of forces involved. Endeavour and another.”
“Then, the women…”
“Went to Endeavour.”
At Richard’s answer, the faces of soldiers close to him twisted. They were the soldiers who had been appointed to collect the female prisoners planned to arrive. The crushed pieces of the identification card fell to the ground at Richard’s feet.
On the Baiyan was a present of his. Deertes Evelyn Russell. The Forest Fairy of Ramedes. And the woman who was to be his bride.
Before Count Russell was tried, he had already been writing to Richard from Ramedes. In it, told Richard to be prepared for Lady Deertes. Along with the letter, the ship that had arrived came with numerous native plants.
Richard was then handed another tightly sealed letter. A letter from the king. That day was the first time soldiers had seen Richard’s face distorted so badly. It was so shocking that they did not dare to blink. Richard was not one to show expression on his face, so much so that even he wondered if he was alright.
The next day, Richard had ordered the construction of the governor’s estate with his usual emotionless face. Many prisoners and natives had been whipped to plant and manage the native plants that had been sent from the home country. All this for Bernst to be properly prepared to receive the gift from Ramedes. But.
“…Lachlan, that bastard…”
A long while ago, Richard had met Lachlan along the border of Bernst and Endeavour. Quickly, he felt a huge distaste for Lachlan who is a governor of Endeavour despite being half native blood.
He was disgusted by the half-blood trying to imitate a human being. What’s worse is he dared to take what was Richard’s.
Deertes wasn’t just a bride. Not to mention all the rights and titles she would bring along.
Richard thought back on the letter from the king. If the king were to find out that Deertes ended up in Lachlan’s hands, no one in the world would be safe. They needed to quickly find a way to, somehow, bring Deertes back to where she belonged before the home country found out about it.
Richard’s eyes turned to face in the direction of Endeavour.
‘I will get you back, at any and all costs,’
“I’m not talking about her alone. Of course, I’d like to know more about her since she’s your wife. Anyway, she’s the only woman who knows about Deertes and what we’re guilty of.”
“…Should I contact Bernst?”
By ‘Bernst’, he meant contacting an Endeavour informant currently stationed in Bernst, not an official contact. Brian considered the number of informants left in Bernst. Two in Bernst City Hall, five disguised as merchants, and three more as ordinary housewives.
There used to be one who had entered a farm near Bernst as a contract worker but they had recently been uncontactable.
Noticing Brian’s expression darken, Lachlan waved his hand.
“Leave it. It’d be better to stay more cautious for the time being as they’ve probably realised by now that the women hadn’t arrived. Anywho, what’s the situation with the informants?”
“Nothing new. Since Bernst isn’t receiving proper investments and is solely relying on aid from the home country, corruption is common amongst soldiers. Just like…”
Lachlan’s mouth curled up, satisfied at having completed Brian’s train of thought for him. Brian smiled, nodding.
Brian thought back on Endeavour’s past. When a ship docked, all the citizens would quickly flock to it. As crates and cargo labelled ‘wheat flour’ are unloaded one by one, the people would beg for a share of it with their skinny arms reaching outwards.
Soldiers would have their guns pointed at such citizens and would kick them. Their hands would then tightly hold and hang onto the soldiers’ clothing, fighting to live another day.
Brian could remember the price of flour then. A bag of flour would be exchanged for a girl under the age of 16. Boys would be worth half the value of girls. The reason was that they could not give birth.
Many other things could be exchanged for flour. Gold rings, gemstones secretly smuggled from the mines, expensive home country clothing worn by an aristocratic woman.
Eventually, hungry people ended up giving up their futures to soldiers, such as through years of contract labour, farm sales contracts, and harvest waivers. With each passing day, the number of people who died of starvation increased whereas the amount of money each soldier possessed remained large.
“Get a hold of yourself. Get back to work.”
Lachlan tapped Brian’s shoulder just as his face started to stiffen and he started recalling incidents of that time.
“Don’t mind. Relax your face. If anyone were to see it right now, they would think that you’ve killed a few people. Also, I have one more thing you need to know.”
“Next month, Deertes will be going to city hall.”
“Huh? Are you insane?”
As Brian spoke, his voice started increasing in volume.
“Will you speak softer! I can hear you well enough.”
“I refuse to believe you can hear me… No way…”
Brian glanced at the door leading to the connected conference room. Brian asked Lachlan in a much softer voice.
“…Is Lady Deertes over there right now?”
“Yes. I’m doing as I’ve planned.”
“…What do you mean? As you’ve planned? No, what else do you have planned?”
With that, Brian’s eyes proceeded to slowly scan Lachlan’s office. He was trying to figure out what had changed since he had last entered. What is it? What could it be? When in his office, Lachlan only handled urgent documents and matters. As such, his office remains unchanged for the most part.”
Stuffed heads of unknown animals found in the forest of Caran trees, gemstones found in newly discovered mines, paintings and decorations from merchants and nobles who obtained them in the home country or when coming into Endeavour.
Brian’s eyes were like those of a hawk as he continued looking around until they finally landed on Lachlan’s desk. There was only one thing Lachlan was currently bothered by. It was personally replying to letters from farmers and merchants from their home country or neighbouring settlements.
Since Brian was too busy to do it for him. And the sender and contents of the letter were much too important to leave for someone else to do. Lachlan would end up grumbling before reluctantly sitting down and doing it himself. This, in the end, led to Brian sighing whenever he read through Lachlan’s response.
If bad handwriting was a crime, Lachlan was sentenced to death.
“I can’t read the letters…”
“My deputy has such a good eye.”
“And what should I do if you end up secretly writing about her in the letter?”
“Do as you please. It would be pretty entertaining.”
“…Are you going to laugh right now?”
“Are you going to cry?”
Hearing Lachlan’s usual sly remarks and seeing his smirk made Brian feel like banging his own head on the corner of the desk. Brian could feel his insides burning up.
“I asked you, just what exactly are you planning?”
“I’m thinking of planting a tree.”
Lachlan continued spinning his pen around his finger as he spoke. The corner of his eyes slowly lifted.