Story for the day: The Treasurer
I received a letter in the mail today. This is what ensued.
|Rautu will not pay your taxes. Ever.|
The commander had intended to spend the whole of Gods’ Day within the private aegis of the commons. Although she did not enjoy squandering her day away from her duties in the barracks and court in a listless languor, her mate had made many proposals the evening previous of remaining with her for the morning instead of his usual training to enjoy the quiet their recently emptied residence afforded. The chief of the day was to be spent in the rapturous act, the commander on her back inciting her mate to decimate her and the giant obeying her every disparaging command.
Their revelry, however, was interrupted just before midday. The herald had made his visit to the commons to deliver the Den Asaan’s correspondence and when the letters were slipped beneath the door, the commander went to retrieve them. She found among the stack of notes a letter address to herself from the Frewyn Treasury.
“What could this be?” the commander said in bemusement as she tore open the official treasure’s seal. She unfolded the single document within the parchment envelope and read the few lines inscribed with an incredulous countenance.
The Den Asaan noted his mate’s sounds of disbelief and grimacing features, and he came to her side from his place at the fire.
“I haven’t seen one of these letters since Allande sent one to my father the day he removed our lands from his possession,” the commander exclaimed as Rautu placed his hand on her shoulder.
Rautu narrowed his gaze. “What it is?”
“A note from Frewyn’s treasurer,” she replied in disgust. “He is the unsavory gentleman whom everyone in the kingdom is allowed to despise. Someone in the possession of treasurer makes certain that everyone in Frewyn who earns money or owns land pays taxes.”
The giant lowered his eyes as he searched his understanding for meaning to the foreign word. When he could not fathom a response, he looked to his mate for explanation.
“A tax is a small portion of one’s collected earnings given to the treasury of Frewyn in exchange for certain services. The armed forces and royal guard, sanitation, building restoration, the orphanage, Church services-- all of these are paid for by the citizens of the kingdom.”
The giant deliberated on the subject for a moment and then shook his head in misunderstanding. “Your people are made to give compensation for services they may never need?”
“Well, I daresay protection and cleanliness are necessary services.”
The giant was relieved to find that at least one nation of the mainland considered cleanliness as important and hummed his approval.
“The Church services, however, I am certain many in Frewyn would be glad to miss. Alasdair asks for so little from his subjects. Fortunately his hateful brother collected so much from the poor and did so little with it that Alasdair has the luxury to keep his kingdom in good condition.”
Rautu huffed at his mate’s statement, for though he believed Frewyn to be in more fortuitous situation than most other lands between the two continents, the comparison between the supposed perfection of the islands and the capital in which he was currently residing must be made. “Is the necessary amount you must give taken from your compensation?” he warily asked.
“Usually it would be, but there are those of us who are exempt from paying such remunerations. Those who are part of the Church, those who do not work, although I daresay they are the same thing,” she said with a smirk, “and those who are in his majesty’s service are excused. The position of treasurer is such that whoever performs this occupation must calculate everything collected and then decide who has evaded payment. On the first day of the spring, the royal guard is meant to travel across the kingdom and gather a specific amount from each unsuspecting citizen. Everyone makes an enormous event of the day as if there was little idea of such a collection taking place. Many hire moneylenders to calculate their yearly earnings and give the amount to the royal guard merely so they do not have to reflect on the event more than is tolerable.”
“And those who are not able to compensate are punished?”
“The penalty for a small sum unpaid is exceedingly lenient, Iimon Ghaala,” the commander assured the suspicious giant. “A few days at most in Karnwyl prison will have done for those who cannot or refuse to pay. Those in the royal houses are taxed on their income and their estates. The chief of our wages comes from what they must pay to the treasury.” She paused and gave her mate a terrific grin. “You may smile,” she bid him.
Rautu could not help but share her sentiment, as the notion of Frewyn’s insipid nobles paying for his sweet habits was somehow fitting.
“Everyone attempts to persuade their hired moneylender into making a mistake in the reports tot eh royal guard in their favor. They believe they have cheated the kingdom and there is much rejoicing and gaiety all across the capital, until one receives a wretched note from treasurer stating otherwise.” The commander looked again at the note in her hand and scoffed. “The treasurer is the most incommodious creature in all of Frewyn. He will send two notes, one day after the other, the first claiming one owes a certain sum and the second claiming one has not paid after receiving the first letter,” she exclaimed. “In this letter, he states that I owe the kingdom a decent amount for past few years.”
“You are a commander and a leader of your people,” Rautu contended.
“I am well aware and so is the rest of the kingdom. However, because of the invasions, I have not had the opportunity to tell him that I am no longer a farmer in Tyferrim. He knows I live in the keep because he sent the letter to the commons.”
“Then why does he not change your information in his records?”
“Because it is his sole occupation to make everyone abominate him,” the commander said, crushing the letter in her hand. “Now I shall have to pay him a visit to quiet his conjectures.” She sighed for her plans for the day being disrupted and she decided that perhaps an equal retaliation was in order. Her expression of dour disdain vanished and she suddenly smiled at her mate. “Would you enjoy joining me, Iimon Ghaala?” she asked with a pleasant air.
“I would,” Rautu replied, gripping the hilt of his sword to display his fervency for exercise.
They left the castle keep and traveled toward the residential quarter where the treasure kept a private house away from the rest of the capital. His home was small, as small as should be for a diminutive and old man. The front door was marked by the presence of two royal guards, as it was customary for someone to attempt his murder during the tax collection season, and the chimney of the house was always billowing with smoke, as a man so despised by the society had rarely left his abode. When the commander and Den Asaan came to the door, they were requested to leave their weapons with the two royal guards. The commander complied willingly if only to gain an audience with the treasurer but the Den Asaan adamantly refused. The giant was denied entrance but was given the promise that if there were something that should require his attention, he would be called to force his way through. He grinned at the two trembling guards and promised to wait outside while his mate conducted her affairs.
Before the commander could knock on the old wooden door of the home, it opened and in her path stood the very person whom she came to see. An elderly man, decrepit in form and sour in face, greeted her with silent scowl. His crescent spectacles reflected the light of the midday sun, giving him a curmudgeonly appearance. He wore a vest and pantaloons of fine silk and a flounce hat topped with a large plume. The commander nearly laughed at the humorous sight of the little man until he cracked his dry lips to speak.
“Wipe your feet, madam, before entering my residence,” said the treasurer in a rasping voice. “I will not have impropriety here. And you, sir,” he said to the Den Asaan, “hang your coat before entering my office.”
The commander noted her mate’s livid features and assured the horrid old man that the giant would remain outside and with his furs around his shoulders. She was treated with a sigh and a wave of his hands and bid to follow him to his workplace. She was asked why she bothered to make a personal visit and when they came to the old man’s worktable, the commander tossed the envelope he had sent before him in reply.
“You do realize I am a commander in the Frewyn armed forces because you addressed the letter to Commander MacDaede,” she snidely said.
The treasurer seemed confused by her declaration. He lifted his spectacles upon his crooked nose and examined the article she tendered him closely. “Yes,” he said, recalling the letter. “This was addressed to you but it was over the matter of a one, Jaicobh MacDaede.”
The commander sighed for the impertinence. “My father passed on some time ago.”
“And in the last year before his death, his taxes were unpaid.”
“You called me here to settle my father’s debt?” she said, raising her voice.
The treasurer pointed a bent finger down onto the letter. “Someone must pay it,” he asserted. He looked at her expectantly but received nothing beyond a livid glare.
The commander had done with this business. The immodesty of the old man’s character was unmerited and her father had not suffered all the injustices of life to be further disparaged by a man in pantaloons. “Excuse me,” she seethed, and she turned to leave the room.
She thundered out of the house and told her mate to wait for her return. She marched back to the castle with a clenched jaw and tensed fists, muttering the many painful punishments she had in mind for the decorated old goblin. She stormed into the royal parlour where Alasdair was enjoying a leisurely meal with Carrigh and conveyed to the king that there was a matter which required his immediate attention. He leapt to join her and she repeated the events of her day as they returned to the treasurer together.
“This is ludicrous, Alasdair,” the commander hissed. “I understand that he is the royal treasurer but that does not give him the right to be a royal ponce.”
“Don’t worry,” the king sighed. “I will sort this out.”
Although Alasdair had meant his amendment of the situation, his correction would not be obliged. The king and commander came to the residence and the Den Asaan was ordered to follow them as they entered to impress upon the old man the severity of his impudence. They marched toward his worktable, the king made many assertions on the subject of clemency and respect for those who had passed on during the war, and all was understood by the treasurer but nothing was abided. Instead of apologies given, there were only more accusations of late payment, and not on the commander’s side but on the side of the king.
“Aldus,” Alasdair firmly said. “Isn’t this beyond your duties as treasurer?”
“No, majesty. You are a member of a royal house and therefore must may the ten percent on your estate and the two percent on your income.”
“I’m the king. I don’t have an income other than what the kingdom incurs and my estate is the castle. There hasn’t been a Brennin plot since my grandfather died.” Alasdair paused. “And I’m general of the Frewyn armed forces. There, I’m exempt.” He made a smug harrumph and folded his arms, happy that he had thwarted the old man’s attempts to gouge him.
The treasurer gave the king a leathery smile. “There is the matter, majesty, of the month between the end of the war and your coronation. You were no longer in the armed forces but you were not yet a king. You still gained income during that time. I have the figures here if you would like to see them.” He took from his desk a small slip of paper. On it was written the calculations of the Brennin total earnings within the month suggested and at the bottom was indicated the meager amount due. He handed the paper over to Alasdair and made fleeting smiles to see his majesty so infuriated over no more than two silver.
The king’s eyes widened and his hand quaked as his anger surmounted him. “You want me to pay taxes to myself?”
“Everything must be accounted for,” the old man said coolly.
Alasdair took two silver from his pocket and threw it onto the table. “Here, you bastard. You’re just going to place it back into the treasury anyway. And here is what her father owes. Don’t ask her for anything else.” He tossed a gold coin onto the table and though he knew the amount to be less than what he gave, he wanted to be assured that the vile man would not find another reason to vex his intimate friend.
The treasurer grinned and collected his prize but he had not done with his torment. “And then there is the matter of you, Sir Den Asaan,” he said, pointing to the giant.
“I am not one of your people. I own none of your lands and I am a commander in your armies,” Rautu quickly affirmed.
“But you arrived to Frewyn one year before becoming an officer.”
“And?” the giant grunted.
The two stubborn men lifted their chests and the barrage of inquiries began.
“What was your occupation in that time?”
“I was a prisoner and then I saved your lands from invasion.”
“Were you a member of the Frewyn armed forces?”
“Were you being given remuneration by the kingdom?”
“Did you receive any money as mercenary’s compensation in that time?”
“No. And I am not a mercenary,” Rautu growled.
The treasurer and the giant glared at each other. They responded to one another with equal looks of destination and suspicion, neither one of them willing to bend to the other’s resolve. Obdurate spirits and pursed lips prevailed until the old man had relinquished their silent match of wits.
“You may go,” he said to the giant and glowered at his opponent as he walked away.
The commander and the king were eager to leave and the Den Asaan followed them out of the treasurer’s home. They had come believing they would leave the victor of the fiscal battle when it was the giant who endured the miser the best.
“Honestly, Alasdair, why does he have to be such a miserable git?” the commander said, feeling her sense of calm return to her.
“Because if that bastard wasn’t as horrendous as he is, the kingdom treasury would be empty. I know no one enjoys paying taxes but it is something everyone must do for the good of the kingdom.”
The Den Asaan thought to join in the conversation of hateful tenor until he caught a glimpse of the shingle for Diras Delights and his want for argument was replaced by his need for appeasement after such a tiring debate.