Book 6, The Road to Revenge – Chapter 22, The Enormous Fine

“This Kanter Debs should be that third brother of the Debs clan.” Clayde laughed softly towards Linley, and Linley nodded. Linley and Clayde merely watched these proceedings, while the Debs clan’s members all felt terror.

All of those viewers from the Debs clan were now so nervous that they were trembling.

“Clatter!”

The sound of shackles rattling could be heard, as under the escort of two soldiers, a thin, ashen-faced, golden-haired middle-aged man entered the court. The gazes of everyone in the court were drawn towards him, including Bernard, Kalan, and Nimitz.

Seeing that golden-haired man appear, Bernard let out a long sigh, then shut his eyes.

“It really is the third brother of the Debs clan, Kanter!” From the watcher’s gallery, the sound of discussion could be heard. Many of the nobles present recognized and knew Kanter Debs, due to his position within the Debs clan.

By now, the Debs clan had no further hope of trying to dissemble.

Seated up in the magistrate’s chair, Merritt looked towards Clayde, who nodded.

“Bernard.” Merritt looked at Bernard. “As things stand, do you still have something to say for yourself?”

But Bernard didn’t look at Merritt. He turned his head to look at his third brother, Kanter, fixing Kanter with his gaze. Kanter, too, was staring at his elder brother Bernard. The gazes of these two brothers met.

“Third bro, why did you do this?” There was disbelief in Bernard’s eyes, as pain and rage caused his entire body to shake.

“I’m sorry.” Kanter said softly.

Bernard laughed bitterly, then shook his head. In a solemn voice, he said, “It isn’t me you should be sorry to. It’s the entire Debs clan. How many years has the Debs clan existed? It was only thanks to countless generations of hard work and effort by our ancestors that we enjoy our current level of success. But you….you…” Bernard was in so much pain that he couldn’t speak.

“Thud!”

Kanter fell to his knees within the court, and two streams of tears began to flow.

“Big brother, I deserve to die!”

He slapped his face severely with his shackled hands. Crying miserably, he said, “Big brother, I’m sorry. This is all my fault. I was greedy and wasn’t satisfied with that little bit of authority and wealth I had within the Debs clan. That’s why I used the clan’s gold to engage in this smuggling operation. This is all my fault. Big brother! This is all my fault!”

This scene startled everyone present.

Linley and Clayde both raised an eyebrow, while the sentencing magistrate, Merritt, frowned.

“Since things have already developed to this extent…” Bernard raised his head, forcing his tears to stop. He seemed very desolate. “Third bro, it’s no matter a question of whose fault it is. Your actions have caused our entire clan to be in danger of annihilation. I, Bernard Debs, as this generation’s leader of the Debs clan, will not be able to face our ancestors, even in death.”

As he spoke, Bernard’s tears once more began to fall.

Bernard suddenly turned to look at Clayde, kneeling in his direction. Crying miserably, he said, “Your Majesty. It is the greatest misfortune possible for our Debs clan to have given birth to this miserable, petty traitor to the kingdom. As the leader of the Debs clan, I, Bernard Debs, cannot escape responsibility. I, Bernard, am willing to use my death in order to beg you, your Majesty, to spare the Debs clan. After all, the vast majority of people within our clan are innocent!”

Clayde looked at Bernard.

And then he looked at Merritt, nodding once.

Merritt understood Clayde’s intentions. Immediately, he called out, “Fifteen minute recess! Fifteen minutes later, we will announce the final sentence!”

……

All of the nobles present had to leave the court, and could only come back fifteen minutes later. The direction this case was heading towards had become very clear. As for how the Debs clan would be punished for its crime of smuggling, that was totally up to his Majesty.

Such a large-scale smuggling operation could definitely impact the entire clan. Even if the clan was exterminated, it would be understandable.

But of course, Clayde could also be more benevolent and merely punish the Debs clan but allow it to survive.

The result would be entirely up to Clayde.

….

Outside the court, Duke Bonalt was chatting with Linley.

“Linley, did you see that? These main branch descendants of the Debs clan are really quite good. That Kanter had been captured quite a few days ago. But, instead of committing suicide, he waited until today to put on that show just now.” Duke Bonalt laughed.

Linley nodded in praise as well.

“If Kanter had killed himself, then the Debs clan would be in an even worse, more passive situation.” Linley laughed as well.

If Kanter had committed suicide, then his corpse would have been used as evidence proving the guilt of the Debs clan in engaging in smuggling. The Debs clan would have had no way to argue against it. But now, Kanter himself was acknowledging that he had acted alone, giving the Debs clan a chance at life.

But of course, whether or not the Debs clan would live was entirely up to his Majesty.

“Kill’em, kill’em all.” Bebe, on Linley’s shoulders, bared his fangs while mentally speaking to Linley. “This Debs clan is too good at playing games. I, Bebe, can’t stomach them.”

Hearing this, Linley couldn’t help but laugh.

“Squeaaaaak.”

The door to the court opened. Fifteen minutes had passed. All of the nobles outside made their way back into the court, all of them quietly assuming their previous positions. Just then, the only people present in the court had been Merritt, King Clayde, and a few other people.

“Linley, take a guess. How do you think I will sentence him?” Clayde smiled towards Linley.

“No clue.” Linley replied succinctly.

Clayde grinned secretively.

“All rise!”

Saying these words, Merritt rose solemnly, and all of the nobles in the court followed his lead. His head raised high, Merritt said in a solemn, clear voice, “This is the sentence of this court: Kanter Debs, a member of the Debs clan, did flagrantly engage in the large-scale smuggling of a huge quantity of water jade, and is therefore sentenced to execution by hanging, with the sentence to be carried out on October 11th.”

“The total value of this smuggling operation was in excess of forty million gold coins. We sentence the Debs clan to receive a punitive fine of double that amount, eighty million gold coins. Bernard Debs is to be released. Court adjourned!” After hearing these words from Merritt, Bernard, Kalan, and Nimitz all let out a sigh of relief, but in their hearts, they felt very helpless.

Eighty million gold coins!

What a terrifying sum!

The entire net worth of the Debs clan was only around a hundred million gold coins, and that was including all of their illiquid assets. For them to be able to pay such a huge fine would certainly require them to sell off many of their illiquid assets. Such a large-scale auction, in term, would definitely result in a great deal of lowballing and haggling from the buyers.

Although their illiquid assets were worth eighty million gold coins, the chances of them actually receiving eighty million gold coins was really too low.

“Linley, what do you think?” Clayde looked at Linley.

Linley laughed and nodded. “Admirably done, admirably done.”

The fine which Clayde had levied against the Debs clan was carefully calibrated, precisely because the valuation of the Debs clan’s illiquid assets worth around eighty million or so. If Clayde really were to sentence the Debs clan to extermination, then without a doubt, he wouldn’t have been able to get his hands on a single coin of their liquid assets.

But if the penalty fine was too high, perhaps the Debs clan would even risk extinction rather than pay the fine.

The fine of eighty million gold coins was neither too high nor too little. It was just right.

“Father.” Kalan and the others instantly went to help Bernard to his feet.

But Bernard only stared at his third brother, Kanter. A gloomy, calm look was on Kanter’s face. He only nodded towards Bernard. After he had been exposed in leading the smuggling operation, Kanter knew that he would die, without a question. But now that he was dying on behalf of the clan, the clan would most likely treat his son and his wife well.

Bernard nodded towards Kanter as well.

Two brothers. From a single exchange of glances, they knew what the other was thinking.

“Let us…go back.” Bernard said with a sigh.

After experiencing this tribulation, the Debs clan had suffered a major blow to its vitality. At absolute best, they would have a tenth of the economic power they previously had. From this day forward…the Debs clan had toppled from its previous position of power at the highest levels in the Kingdom of Fenlai. They could only be considered a fairly wealthy clan, now.”

…..

Within Linley’s manor, in the Hot Springs Garden.

Linley was seated on a chair, quietly staring blankly.

“Linley, what are you pondering?” Doehring Cowart came out of the Coiling Dragon ring.

Linley glanced at Doehring Cowart. Sighing, he said, “Today, when I saw the Debs clan be sentenced, I suddenly thought of my own clan. My clan was once a clan which dominated the entire Yulan continent, but now, after all these generations, who is left? My father died, and my mother’s whereabouts are unknown. Little Wharton is now in the O’Brien Empire. In the entire Holy Union, I am alone with no kin.”

Linley was gripped by a powerful, lonely melancholy.

His parents were gone, and he was engaged in a mission of revenge that couldn’t be revealed!

On this road to revenge, Linley’s heart was tightly spun up, and he didn’t dare to slacken off in the slightest.

Looking at Linley, Doehring Cowart felt surge of pity. Although superficially Linley seemed very mature, and didn’t have any problems at all dealing with those important nobles…Linley was still only seventeen years old this year. He had just graduated from the magus academy not too long ago.

“Linley, relax. Don’t give yourself too much pressure. You have plenty of time.” Doehring Cowart encouraged him.

Linley looked at Doehring Cowart. On this lonely road he had been travelling, it was good that he had Grandpa Doehring with him, along with that mischievous rascal, Bebe.

“Thank you, Grandpa Doehring.” Linley said gratefully.

Doehring Cowart began to chuckle.

“I really want to know what happened to my mother as soon as possible. I want to kill Clayde as soon as possible.” Even if they ignored the fact that Clayde had abducted his mother, the fact that he had caused his mother to be separated from their family for over ten years, resulting in the death of Linley’s father, meant that without a doubt, Clayde had to die.

“Who knows when that ‘King of Killers’, Cesar, will bring that poison recipe.” Linley was beginning to grow impatient.

…..

Each day, Linley had been urgently awaiting the return of Cesar, the ‘King of Killers’. But each day passed with no news of Cesar. Time passed, and in the blink of an eye, it was now October. During this past month, the Kingdom of Fenlai had been fairly tranquil. The only major affair was the large-scale auction carried out by the Debs clan.

Many clans seized the opportunity to try to haggle with or lowball the Debs clan. However, the value of the Debs clan’s illiquid assets really were very high, so there were quite a few bidders from other clans as well. Thus, the price at auction wasn’t too low, in the end. The assets, previously valued at around eighty million gold coins, ended up selling for around seventy million gold in total.

After paying the fine of eighty million gold coins, the Debs clan could finally be considered as having escaped from danger.

But after this affair, the net worth of the Debs clan had essentially shrunk by 90%.

…..

October 10th was the day before Kanter’s execution. This day, Linley remained in the Hot Springs Garden, training as he always did.

“Lord Linley, Lord Cesar has come!” A female attendant called out in a high-pitched voice from outside!

Linley had instructed that he must be immediately alerted if Cesar came.

“Cesar came?” Linley quickly threw on some clothes and immediately rushed out of the Hot Springs Garden. Given Linley’s current speed, in ten seconds, he arrived outside the main hall. Right now, Cesar, still dressed in those long, loose robes, was seated lazily with one leg crossed. He was drinking a cup of tea.

“Mr. Cesar.” Linley called out from afar. Three steps later, Linley entered the main hall.

Seeing Linley, Cesar’s eyes lit up, and he immediately rose to his feet. “Master Linley, my truest apologies for only coming today.” As he spoke, Cesar withdrew an envelope from his clothes. “Linley, this is the recipe I mentioned. It’s all yours.”

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