Chapter 5: Reasons

"The Second Law of Thermodynamics: Heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body without causing other effects, or it is impossible to convert heat from a single source into work without causing other effects, or entropy always increases in an irreversible heat reaction."

Roland carefully wrote this down using the language of this world. At a glance, the text resembled a moving earthworm, and he really didn’t understand how the locals could learn so many complicated characters.

If asked which of the physical laws was the most depressing, Roland would definitely choose the second law of thermodynamics. It states that heat will always pass from high to low temperatures, thus adding chaos to order and increasing entropy. Eventually, everything will become nothing and the universe will become morbidly silent.

Somehow, this world was exempt from the issue of increasing entropy. It could produce magic power out of nothing, which was much more impressive than a perpetual motion machine! "The forces of evil?" Roland scoffed to himself. "The people here don’t see the nature of this power, which could possibly change the entire universe."

Of course, he could start by changing this small border town.

Roland hummed a tune, tore up the paper he had written, and threw it into the fireplace, where it was reduced to ashes, feeling a sudden joyous freedom.

The Assistant Minister was confused by Prince Roland’s actions, but fortunately for Roland the old prince had always acted this strangely, and Barov could see that the prince was in a good mood.

"It’s been done. The ‘witch’ was hanged at noon," reported Barov.

"Good, could anyone tell?" Roland asked while writing, "All of the condemned wear hoods anyways."

In order to prevent trouble with the Holy Church and the Witch Cooperation Association, Roland ordered the prison warden to find a death row criminal with a similar figure and use her to replace Anna at the gallows. Besides the Chief Knight and Assistant Minister, everyone who was with him in the dungeon was given 20 gold royals of hush money, which was a huge amount for them.

Barov even suggested killing all of the witnesses to ensure total silence, but Roland rejected this. He knew he couldn’t prevent this secret from spreading, but this didn’t matter because he actually wanted someone to spread the word—just not now. He would clash with the Church sooner or later, since he couldn’t tolerate those idiots would waste such valuable resources! If other witches heard there was a town where they could live freely and even get special treatment, what would they think?

No matter the era, talent and human resources were the most important.

"Good," Roland said, "and next I need you to give me a summary of the past year’s trade, taxes, and expenditures. I would also like you to record the numbers and sizes of steel, textile, and pottery workshops in the city."

"I’ll need three days to prepare these records, but…" Barov first nodded, but then fell short of words.

"What is the matter?" Roland asked, knowing that his ability to lie was about to be tested. Barov undoubtedly had questions about what happened yesterday, since although a scoundrel would always be a scoundrel, having a bad character didn’t also mean being brainless. In the eyes of the Assistant Minister, harboring a witch was akin to declaring war on the world.

"Your Highness, I don’t understand…" Barov wrestled with his words. "Although you’ve caused trouble in the past, it was always harmless, but now… risking so much only to save a witch? It was the Church that passed the law to hunt them, but even your father, his Majesty Wimbledon III, supports it."

Roland thought for a moment and asked, "Do you believe that this border town is a good place to live in?"

"Uh, this…" Barov didn't understand what this question had to do with the problem, but eventually answered truthfully, "Not really."

"It’s awful. Compared to Valencia or the Port of Clearwater, what do you feel my chances are against my siblings of gaining the throne?"

"…" The Assistant Minister opened his mouth but didn't answer. "Almost zero. So, I can only choose another path." Roland watched expressionlessly as Barov walked into his trap. "A path that would even impress my father."

He did not argue that witches were not inherently evil, because it would be useless. Barov had been the Assistant Minister of Finance for twenty years and was a pretty competent politician. For politicians, personal gain was more important than moral law. Also, if Roland recalled the previous prince’s actions correctly, using emotion wasn’t typical of him because he wasn’t considered as a righteous person. So, he chose to use the eternal conflict between religious and secular authority, as the expanding power of the Holy Church was a constant issue for Wimbledon III.

The Church claimed that the world worked under the will of God and that the Pope was the voice of God. If the people found what he said was full of lies, the dominance of the Holy Church would be greatly undermined.

It would be hard to convince the Assistant Minister by saying, "Witches are not evil, so I want to save them," but replaced with "witches are not evil, and I can use them to attack the church," Barov could easily be persuaded.

"No matter how the territories of my brothers and sisters flourish, everything will eventually be in the possession of the Church. They had already declared the divine right of kings, which states that rightful rulers must be blessed by the Pope, so are we even the real rulers of this land?" Roland paused and said, "My father will see a new hope in me: a leader who isn’t suppressed by the Church and who holds all the exclusive rights of a royal king, and his choice will be very clear then."

Changing the "enemy of the entire world" into "enemy of only the Church" was easier to accept, especially since Barov himself stood on the side of the royal family.

"Similarly, if he realizes that witches have extraordinary powers that could aid in fighting the Church, the execution orders will be nothing more than a joke. While there is no possibility to guarantee success, it’s not impossible either. Do you think it’s worth the risk?" Roland stared at the Assistant Minister as he said, "Don’t doubt me, Barov. You’ve been an assistant minister for twenty years, right? If I can become Wimbledon IV, I could remove the assistant part, or even make you… Hand of the King?"

Watching Barov leave, Roland felt relieved. It was obvious that he didn’t think much of this promise, which was normal, since even Roland himself did not believe that this hasty and bold plan could be achieved. However, it was more important to convince Barov of his seriousness. This simple plan thought up by a sheltered noble son reflected Prince Roland’s hatred towards the Church and paved the way for attracting more witches.

As for his real thoughts? Even if Barov knew, he wouldn’t be able to understand them.

Roland summoned the maid. "Tell Miss Anna to come to see me."

"Now back to business," Roland thought happily.