Chapter 41 - The Drought
There wasn’t anything Cladis could do about Ella’s decision. Although he could have ordered her to do as he willed, he didn’t want to. Not only that, Ella’s determination to go against her fate rang something within Cladis. Although he wasn’t in that suffocating room anymore, he still felt uncomfortable. He took a deep breath, but he still found it difficult to breathe. It appeared he needed more time to find an answer to end his confusion. From there, the two of them parted ways.
* * *
Ella stood still as she watched Cladis disappear from a distance. Instead of heading to the garden, he went to his horse and rode away. She was worried about what she would do if he insisted on going to the garden with her. Luckily, he chose to leave, which caused her to sigh in relief. After that incident, Ella’s day went by calmly. There was an instance, however, where the duke, sitting at the lunch table, called Ella multiple times before being stopped by the duchess. Other than that, it was a tranquil and ordinary day. By nighttime, Evan, who had been away since morning, ran straight into Ella’s room the moment he returned home.
“Ella, do you mind if I talk to you?” asked Evan.
Ella, who was relaxing by reading a book, was surprised by his unexpected visit. Evan was proudly smiling like a puppy, yearning for a compliment. What made him smile like that? She was about to ask him that question when Evan handed her a thick pile of papers like he was showing off to her. She took the papers and read the first page, then was shocked by what she read and looked at Evan. Proud of his efforts, he bragged about his findings.
“Here. This is everything you wanted to know about Lady Mellin. If it weren’t for her weird actions before attending the Academy, I could’ve brought it sooner. I found some interesting information on her,” said Evan as he pointed to the bookmark and opened the page.
Count Mellin strongly opposed Clara’s admittance to the Academy. After the count had cancelled her application, she applied once more. This information was proof that Clara singlehandedly decided to go to the Academy. What’s more concerning, however, was the information below.
Count Mellin began to switch the focus of his business. He was now buying large amounts of grains, anything that he could get his hands on.
Ella scoffed as she read the documents. The next page showed a list of goods that they had purchased. Now, Ella knew why they had purchased so many grains. They were planning to use the drought to increase their wealth at the cost of countless lives. She clenched the paper in her hands. Although Ella considered herself selfish, she would never value wealth or fame above the lives of others. She couldn’t let it happen.
“Brother. Can you start gathering grains so that the count is unable to purchase every grain available? Try not to overdo it so that the grain prices don’t increase. I heard the Janet kingdom had an abundance of crops last year. Maybe we can purchase it from them.”
Surprised, Evan thought Ella would only be interested in the Academy application part. Without her father’s consent, Clara had chosen to attend the Academy. It was proof that she had some motive to go there. Ella, however, seemed to be angered by something entirely different. Eventually, Evan came to the same conclusion as Ella once he looked over the documents once more. But Evan thought the possibility of that happening was very low.
“Are you worried about the drought? I know it hasn’t rained for the past two months. I’ve already looked into it, and we have enough water to last through the drought. There’s nothing to be worried about.”
Each village’s water reservoirs had enough water to use for the upcoming fall. Although some villages had less water stored, it was still manageable if they borrowed water from another village. It was concerning that there wasn’t much rain recently, but it posed no threat if there was at least a bit of rain. Evan tried to calm Ella by explaining the info he had gathered.
“Even if they’re collecting grains, it’s only a small amount. It’s not to the point where it can be a problem.”
Ella wanted to solve this problem by asking Evan for a small favor, but it seemed Evan wasn’t willing to do anything, even if it was a simple request. Evan concluded that there wasn’t any problem. According to him, before the water supply runs out, it will rain. Of course, there wasn’t anything to be concerned about if his assumption was correct. Even if Mellin purchased most of the grains available on the market, the price was going to drop after the harvest.
Grain prices, however, were steadily increasing even when neighboring kingdoms like Janey and Courtney had a huge harvest last year. Many believed that the Toiken empire purchased every crop harvested from the Courtney kingdom. In reality, Mellin was responsible for keeping the crop prices the same by buying every possible crop available. Ella realized this when she was planning to buy some crops once the price dropped but wondered why it never did.
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