“Ah, yes, uh, I was trained at the Schway watch,” he replied, consciously fixing his posture. It seemed like he wasn’t used to nobles speaking to him.
“The Schway watch? I think I heard that they don’t really do proper training there.”
The man frowned and looked down. “Yes… now. But before, they did things properly. Until the budget was cut. I was there.”
I stared at him and asked. “What’s your name?”
“Jake, how old are you?”
“I’m thirty two.”
Thirty two. He was older than me in my previous life. And looking at his face, it seemed like he’d been through quite a bit. “How long has it been since you left Schway watch?” I asked.
“It’s been 5 years.”
“How was your life until now?”
The man awkwardly smiled. “I didn’t think you would be interested to know, but I was a guard at places like bars. I earned just enough to get by.”
A bar guard. It was a lot of wage but also hard work. Especially if it was a lower division bar.
“Why didn’t you choose to guard merchandise for the merchants? You’re from a watch.”
All the merchants used guards when they were moving merchandise to another city. They tend to move luxury items so it was much safer to use guards. Bigshot merchants had personal guards; the rest of them used mercenaries.
Jake smiled bitterly. “No one trusts the Schway watch. Especially in the city of Schway. If I go to another city it might help that I’m from a watch in the capital, but here… everyone knows how poor the Schway watch level is,” he said.
I stared at him. The hesitant expression on his face seemed to show he had more he wanted to say something more, but he didn’t continue.
“Schway is a rich city so why is the budget for the watch dwindling?” I asked.
“Schway isn’t that rich. The royals didn’t like the Schway watch getting stronger,” he said.
I frowned. Many types of merchandise came in and out of Schway. Everything is taxed by the city finance. Moreover, even local merchants who sell merchandise, nobles that were staying, and everyone else remitted tax to the city finance. I wondered whyever he would say Schway was not a rich capital.
Jake quickly spotted the look of askance in my face. He licked his dried lips nervously and in a quiet voice, he said, “Schway is a city where the palace is. The palace comes first. It’s the same with money. The palace comes first before running the city.”
“Are you saying the Palace takes more tax than other cities?”
Jake didn’t answer. The answer would probably be like insulting the palace; he couldn’t dare say it.
The palace took quite a bit of Schway’s income and didn’t do much for Schway, and they didn’t want the Schway watch to become stronger in military strength. The city watch was treated differently from the palace knights. There was no reason for the watch to not join the citizens and start a revolution. And a revolution caused with the soldiers would be much more dangerous than one caused only by poor citizens.
Hearing the stories back at Madame Sirca’s salon, I had thought it would be best that they had made Schway the palace city and controlled it themselves. If the palace took Schway’s money and said that they have nothing to do with Schway, and Schway is an independent city, wasn’t it akin to brewing trouble in the future?
Jake glanced out the window from time to time with his mouth shut. I thought for a bit and asked again.
“Why didn’t you go to another city? You said it would help if you went to another city.”
Jake sighed. “I lived my entire life in Schway. I don’t know anywhere else. I’ve never farmed. And if it was just me, it might be different, but I have no ability to get permission to move my entire family with me.”
‘Ah..’ If he didn’t have any family, it was easy for a guard to move to another city for a job. But moving with an entire family was different. The city they originally lived in wouldn’t like it as the number of people paying tax would reduce. Similarly, the city that would receive them wouldn’t like that the number of lower class people increases. The feudal lord bickered about this from time to time.
It was similar to other places. Much of it was driven by human nature and geopolitics. I think I could consult Aaron about this topic. Even though he’s an idealist, Aaron was quite knowledgeable. Unfortunately, he’s in the palace with that problematic princess.
Again, the palace. Every problem came from that place.