Chapter 305: Protection Fee Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
"Master, there is a stench of blood." Just as Lin Li was feeling suspicious, Norfeller, who stood at his side, frowned suddenly.
Norfeller was a true high-ranking Vampire whose life source came from blood itself, which explained his incredible sensitivity to the presence of blood. If Norfeller said there was a stench of blood, then it had to have come from somebody in Black Clouds Town…
"What place is it coming from?"
"The Church Square."
Lin Li released a Levitation Spell before he finished speaking. With the spell, Lin Li flew to the Church Square as though he was swept by the wind. The month spent on studying the core magical mantras had brought him many benefits, and he could make a simple Levitation Spell quicker than lightning. Fortunately, n.o.body was around to witness this, for they would have been scared out of their wits. For someone to be able to use a Levitation Spell the way an Archmage used a Legendary-level Flying Spell, could he really be human?
Lin Li flew to the Church Square in an instant with his near Legendary Levitation Spell, and was stunned by what he saw. The somewhat small place was crowded, with at least a thousand people there. Black Clouds Town was neither the prosperous capital Alanna, nor was it the chaotic Jarrosus filled with the 17 powers; it was merely a remote town near Doland, with a little over a thousand families. That meant that almost every family had a representative in the Church Square.
"Move it quickly and stop dilly-dallying, pay up and go home! If you hold me back from dinner, I'll have you suffer next month!" The voice that came from the crowd sounded nasal as though he had a serious case of sinus.
Lin Li looked down in his shock, and saw a strong man in his thirties standing behind a long table with a chest sitting on it. The man shouted curses as he placed silver coins in the chest, while the townsfolk lined up before the table and presented their silver coins at his orders…
Lin Li had initially thought that it was the tax officer.
It made sense—the borders of the Felan Kingdom had grown increasingly restless over the years, especially last year. The two great human kingdoms, Felan and Ledin, had fought a few wars consecutively, and while they were small in scale, everyone knew that the two human kingdoms would ultimately engage in a big war. Wars and taxes always came together, hence the heavy taxes in recent years. Lin Li had only been here for a month, but even then, he had seen the tax officer's carriage twice…
But something did not seem quite right—since when did the tax officer who dressed in black and rode a carriage look so arrogant? Look at him: beady, angled eyes, a strong, robust face, and saliva flying as he shouted at the top of his voice. With both his legs hiked up on the table, he looked das.h.i.+ng, with a touch of style—no tax officer looked this arrogant!
"d.a.m.n it, all you stingy fellows, if not for the Syer Bandits protecting you all these years, could your crops grow so well? Could your businesses remain prosperous for so long? Also, could your kids become so big? We're only charging a bit of money, and here you are taking such a long time—haven't you any conscience? Let me tell you, our boss said that prices are rising these days, and our spending has increased, so from next month onwards, each family is to pay another 50 silver coins. You'd better prepare that money now, and not take your time like today!"
As the man continued his rant, Lin Li finally understood what was going on. This guy was way more arrogant and das.h.i.+ng than tax officers, but at least they had to calculate carefully how much tax they would collect, unlike this guy who simply decided how much protection fee he wanted them to give him!
Lin Li had never liked the idea of protection fees. Hence, he slowly descended from the sky with the intention to talk to this man, but then he heard someone call his name.
"Felic, why are you here?"
Lin Li turned around, and saw an old man with white hair. "Good evening, Uncle Salatt."
This old man named Salatt was Lin Li's new neighbor. He ran a small blacksmith shop, and made a living by making farming tools. Black Clouds Town was a small town, and most people did not replace their farming tools for a few years at a time. Hence, Salatt's business had been slow—often not a single person would drop by his shop for days. On top of that, his son was a good-for-nothing who dreamed of making it big as an adventurer, and had been hanging out in Doland since he was a teenager. While he did not become an adventurer, he was quickly becoming a lowly thug. Since he did not make much money these years, he had to rely on his father to support him. With slow business and an incompetent son, Salatt often struggled financially.
While he struggled financially, Salatt was a well-known Samaritan in Black Clouds Town. Take Lin Li for example—when he had first moved here, Salatt had taken very good care of him, always asking if he was well, and treated him like family. Even now, when Salatt made something to eat, he would always call on his young neighbor to share it. Lin Li was thick-skinned, but even he felt embarra.s.sed by Salatt's hospitality at times, and always told himself that he would have to find a chance to repay this kind old man someday.
Right now, Salatt's face was filled with panic. "Felic, quick tell me, why did you come here?"
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"Haha, I went out in the day, and didn't see anybody in town when I returned…"
"I see…" Lin Li nodded, and said nothing more.
"Alright, Felic, I've told you what you wanted to know, you'd better get going now. You may not know this, but these blood-suckers not only collect money—they often take the town's young men and make them join them or turn them into slaves. You've seen my son, haven't you? If not because I feared the blood-suckers would take him away, why would I allow him to fool around in Doland?"
The old man was worried sick as he said this. If it was up to him, he wouldn't want to see his young neighbor hurt. While they had only met not too long ago, the old man treated him like his own child, and this young man was the exact opposite of his son. He was humble and mild-tempered, a polite smile always on his face… Lin Li was always respectful even to a lowly blacksmith like him, and asked him about his work when he came to visit in his shop.
Such a nice young man, how could he bear to see him taken by the Syer Bandits? He would either die from torture or be brainwashed into a ruthless bandit!
"Don't worry, Uncle Salatt, I won't be taken by them…" Lin Li knew what Salatt was worried about. After comforting him gratefully, he looked over to the man sitting behind the table.
He had to admit that it was quite a ch.o.r.e to collect protection fees. There were over a thousand families in Black Clouds Town, and 50 silver coins a family would mean over 50,000 silver coins in total. It had to be tiring to collect all of them; no wonder the boss wanted to raise the price next month…
"Alright, you d.a.m.ned misers, move faster and stop taking your time, I'll skin you alive if you delay my dinner!" Rosu shouted as he clinked a few silver coins in his hand.
Lin Li pursed his lips as he prepared to tell this guy that he would not have time for dinner. However, there began a stir in the crowd at that moment.
"Let me go you b.a.s.t.a.r.ds, let me go!"
A few armed bandits were escorting a young man from the center of the square. He looked to be in his twenties. At a glance, he even looked quite similar to Salatt!
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