Develop 128

Chapter 128 Ideal and Reality

Edited by: Kanaa-senpai

 I have conveyed the current situation to Niya-san in detail.

 I openly admitted that despite knowing the captured individuals possessed Hanahaku’s knife, which inevitably leads to a death sentence, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to stoop so low as to dirty my own hands.

 I knew that as a ruler, I shouldn’t show such weakness to others, but since Niya-san already knew my secret, I didn’t feel any resistance to revealing my vulnerability.

 ”I see, so that’s what has been troubling you.”

 ”I can’t help but feel pathetic about it. Yet, I still have this desire to avoid getting my hands dirty.”

 ”Pathetic, you say? From the perspective of a ruler, that may be true. However, isn’t it natural for humans to shy away from killing?”

 Though I almost teared up at Niya-san’s support, I continued the conversation from my position as a ruler.

 ”Thank you. Hearing you say that makes me feel a bit relieved. But as the ruler of this settlement, I must deliver an appropriate punishment to the criminals.”

 I could clearly see that if I were to show leniency based on personal emotions, no matter how severe their crimes were, it would attract individuals who would entertain the idea that they could avoid the death penalty.

 In order to maintain peace in the settlement, I absolutely couldn’t allow any actions that would overturn the death penalty. I understood this, and yet―

 ”I don’t want to do it. Despite knowing it’s my duty as a ruler, I’m currently postponing it under the guise of interrogations. I’ve always said it, but I’m simply not cut out for a responsible position.”

 They say that one’s position shapes them, but even after being reborn as a noble and assuming the role of managing the settlement, fundamentally, nothing has changed about me.

 I have always been a timid person who fears conflict with others and only thinks about resolving things as smoothly as possible.

 ”It’s truly pathetic that I can’t bring myself to act even in this critical situation.”

 ”…I can’t comment on Master Neil’s aptitude as a ruler, but don’t you think you’re being too submissive? You don’t need to be that lowly.”

 ”It may seem that way, but even though the death penalty is a certainty, I’m rejecting the choice based on my personal desire not to dirty my hands. I’m refusing to make a decision.”

 ”You’re refusing to make a decision, I see. Then can’t you consider it from a different perspective? Instead of saying that Master Neil can’t choose to kill them, couldn’t you say that you’ve chosen to spare their lives?”

 ”That’s… taking it too positively, don’t you think?”

 ”It’s possible, but if there were any other method besides killing them, wouldn’t Master Neil choose it without hesitation? In other words, you didn’t need to hesitate from the beginning; you have already made that choice.”

 ”No, it’s not as simple as that, and Niya-san knows it too. Personally, I don’t want to kill them. But the Empire’s law doesn’t allow it, and it’s clear that disregarding the law for temporary self-satisfaction would lead to disastrous consequences. If we consider the future of the settlement, there’s no choice but to impose the death penalty on them.”

 The personal emotions and the sense of responsibility as the ruler of the settlement clashed within me, and Niya-san spoke to me.

 ”There is a way to keep them alive while still adhering to the law.”


 ”It seems that Master Neil equates death penalty with execution, but in reality, they are different. The result of being sentenced to death is execution, but death penalty and execution are separate matters. The question is what to do after someone is sentenced to death. There are various ways to handle death row inmates, but my proposal is to use them as criminal slaves for the benefit of the settlement.”

 Criminal slaves are a status reserved only for those whose death penalty has been confirmed. Unlike regular slaves, they are magically bound to never defy their masters, and they are not guaranteed their lives or basic necessities. They are treated as expendable beings and are used until they die in harsh conditions.

 ”If they become criminal slaves, you can have access to their secrets with just a command. There would be no need for troublesome interrogations, and you would have a workforce for dangerous tasks. At least it would be more acceptable than senselessly killing three people for just a knife. Since you would be saving their lives, you would have the freedom to treat them as you please.”

 ”That’s one way to put it.”

 ”Are you not pleased with the idea?”


 Facing Niya-san, who spoke coherently, I couldn’t help but smile wryly.

 ”I wonder why. I find myself accepting it so easily. In the end, the essence hasn’t changed. It’s just that I’m perceiving things in a way that is convenient for me.”

 Turning someone into a criminal slave meant taking away their freedom through magic and manipulating them to work according to my will. This was something I had abhorred, much like being a killer.

 It seemed like a selfish and cunning thought that it’s better to make them work for me since I saved their lives, rather than taking their lives in vain.

 Usually, I wouldn’t be able to accept such content, but with the noble cause of saving lives, I strangely found myself prepared to accept it.

 ”Twisting things to suit oneself is the specialty of the imperial nobility. Without that ability, it would be difficult to live as a noble in this empire. At least, if you continue like this, I can see that you won’t be able to fully accept your own actions, and your heart will weary.”

 ”That hurts my ears.”

 In the future, I would undoubtedly be faced with situations where I would have to make ruthless decisions as a ruler.

 As Niya-san said, if I kept agonizing over each decision like this, I would break down before long.

 I was once again forced to choose between pursuing ideals head-on or finding a compromise with reality.

 ”…I actually thought I could do better. Even though I knew it wouldn’t reach, I couldn’t give up. It’s as if I’m trying to seize something that I know is out of reach.”

 I reached out toward the stars in the night sky as if trying to grasp something I know I can’t reach but can’t give up.

 ”At first, I didn’t think I would be able to complete the settlement work without any problems, and I thought I would have to worry about some problems. I knew there would be issues and dilemmas to deal with. And once we started the settlement process, indeed, various problems arose. But I was fortunate and blessed with talented individuals, and the settlement developed more smoothly than I had anticipated. Perhaps that’s why I started thinking that the settlement would continue to prosper even if I remained the same, that I didn’t need to change.”

 By continuing to rely on others and refusing to change myself, this is the result I have brought upon myself.

 I neglected to face the reality of having to judge criminals, and now I am being admonished by Niya-san.

 ”I can’t believe someone like me is the ruler of a frontier settlement. It’s laughable.”

 ”Well then, it would be good to change from today onwards. Master Neil is still young, so it’s not too late to change.”

 ”Can I really change? This is ingrained in me, you know? Even if my position and birth change, I’ll still be the same.”

 ”You can change. After all, even an ingrained weapon of war like me has changed.”

 Niya-san gently smiled at me, wrapping both of her hands around the hand I had stretched out towards the night sky. Niya-san, who usually wore a stern expression as if she was angry, looked kindly at me.

 ”Well, how exactly has Niya-san changed?”

 ”Hehe, well… I wonder what it could be.”

 Niya-san replied with a meaningful tone and gently released my hand.

 ”Speaking of which, Master Neil, I haven’t heard your answer yet.”


 ”Yes, what are you going to do about them in the end? And can I still be employed?”

 Right, I hadn’t clearly stated it yet.

 The answer had already formed in my mind, and Niya-san probably understood it from the flow of the conversation.

 However, the reason she asked for an answer from my own mouth was probably because it was the first step for me to change.

 ”Human beings aren’t something that can change overnight, so I think I’ll continue to resist change. So, Niya-san, if I still show resistance to changing myself, can you advise me like you did today?”

 ”Yes, I understand.”

 ”…Thank you.”

 Now that I have asked Niya-san for a favor, there is no turning back now.

 In that case, all I had to do was take the first step to prove that the words I said earlier were not a lie.

 ”As for them, I will announce the death sentence for the crime of possessing Hanahaku’s knife and make them into criminal slaves. I will thoroughly investigate their connections as well.”

 ”What specific treatment do you have in mind for them after making them criminal slaves?”

 ”Basically, I will provide them with food, clothing, and shelter just like normal slaves. Since they are currently valuable human resources, I won’t waste them. However, the nature of their work will involve hunting and exploring undeveloped areas, which will come with risks. This is not only a punishment for them as criminal slaves, but also the result of considering their aptitude.”

 ”Who will give them instructions?”

 ”I will be their contractor, but Diana will be the one giving them instructions. So I will give the order for them to follow Diana’s instructions and delegate the authority to her.”

 I had thought that Diana would not make lenient judgments like I did and would treat them as criminal slaves, but Niya-san intervened.

 ”Master Neil, if it’s alright with you, could you entrust that authority to me? Considering the nature of the work they will be assigned, I think it would be necessary to have someone who can accompany them and give instructions on-site.”

 ”Indeed, Diana is already managing the people working within the settlement, so it might be better to separate the chain of command inside and outside the settlement… But in that case, Niya-san might also be in danger.”

 ”I am aware of the danger. I was originally someone who fought on the battlefield, so I have no resistance to it now.”

 ”…I understand. Then, I will entrust you with the authority over those working outside the settlement, Niya-san.”

 In this way, I continued to discuss with Niya-san as if I was making up my mind.

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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.

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