Chapter 31: Little Phoenix
Translator: StarveCleric Editor: StarveCleric
A meter-tall mountain of documents filled 3 office desks. The entire room is stuffy and unbearable. A little lass and her 2 helpers were busy in work while moving between the desks.
The overly tall mountain of documents made it such that no silhouette of anyone could be seen, only sounds of screaming, footsteps and the scribbling of pen on paper could be heard. This was my first impression when I walked into the office of the City Lord.
On one side of the wall, bamboo swords, take-copter, gomoku and many different types of toys were scattered over the floor with a thick layer of dust over them. Looks like Adam hasn’t been to this room for a while.
TL: Take-copter -> Doraemon’s helicopter while Gomoku is a game like tic-tac-toe except you have a much big board and you are supposed to link 5
Truthfully, to be capable of turning the office into a game room, he is a masterpiece among city lords.
Annie is 1.7m and considered pretty tall for females using human standards. But right now, she resembles a Dwarf student stuck in front of a desk. Looking from the front, only the documents and book can be seen.
A thick black eyes circle is on her face. Due to being overly busy in her fight with the sea of documents, she wasn’t even aware of my arrival.
Walking there, I signaled to stop the helper that was going to call Annie and picked up a few random documents to take a look.
‘The Proposal for the Reparations of the Municipal Facilities that were Destroyed During the Chaos in the 7th to 9th Street’, ‘3 Proposals to Finish the Drainage System Before the Rainy Season’ and ‘The Settlement of the 4 New Tribes in the City’
“Lord Wumianzhe, this is Lord Margaret’s will. All of the B-class and above files of the Internal Affairs Bureau must be looked through by Miss Annie for her opinions for the matter before passing to Lord Margaret to give her opinions. Then, it would be passed back to Miss Annie to look through before going through with it.
That is to say, every file, before any documents are finalized for actions to be carried out, Annie must deal with it once before Margaret gives her own opinion on how the matter should be dealt with. Then, it is passed to Annie for her to finalize the decision, so she has to look through it twice.
This is literally teaching her step by step. I silently sighed. Looks like Margaret really decided to wash her hands clean of these, that’s why she’s using this kind of ‘fill up the holes’ kind of teaching method. She is hoping that Annie could quickly grow to be capable of independently dealing with governance.
“Is that how you Internal Affairs Bureau work? All of the documents must be personally looked over and signed by Margaret? Individually dealing with all of the governance tasks?”
After receiving the other party’s answer as though it was something incredible, I looked at the incredible mountain of documents and couldn’t help clicking my tongue in amazement. The entire population of Sulfur Mountain City is near 3 million. Just thinking about it and you would know that there is an astronomical amount of work to deal with, but to look over each and every one of it? I can finally understand by Margaret rarely comes out. It is fortunate that Margaret is an immortal who basically needs no sleep. But…
“This kind of method to deal with matters of governance is too primitive. It is just like how ancient kings use only their wisdom and knowledge to make judgement. An immortal who don’t need rest and is forever rational could perhaps achieve it but for humans…”
The mountain of files here might even only be accumulation from a day or two. If we were to leave everything to the city lord to handle, she would probably have totally no free time at me.
My job is to create a qualified city lord and not a lunatic who is crushed by work. Thus, I coughed lightly to signal my presence to the city lord trainee.
“Annie, do you know what is the essence of governance?”
What is the essence of governance? To make everyone contented with life and work? To convert make utopia into reality? To let all the race and tribes live harmoniously?
No, no, it is not that complicated. Governance is just working within a fixed system, ideals and other things can’t be achieved through simply governance means.
But governance isn’t that easy as well. A gap in the administrative organs could result in the workings of the city to stop and an overly inefficient governing body would result in great discontent against the government. It is indeed an existence that no city can go without.
“As the city lord, I… I will try my best to make everyone happy.”
“Don’t think too much with that small brain of yours. I’m just asking you the essence of governance. Forget it, I’ll just tell you directly. Anyway, you really need a rest right now.”
I pulled the lass to one side and indicated the helpers to bring some tea over.
The lass’s face was a little sunken in without a hint of liveliness, the fiery red hair lost much of the luster it used to have. She seems to be avoiding my gaze, afraid that I would reprimand her.
Shaking my head, I can roughly guess what has happened. Margaret is an impatient perfectionist who would always entrust task to her subordinates according to her own abilities.
‘If I can do it, why can’t you’, ‘don’t try to reason with me, hypothetical situations are meaningless’, these kinds of words are her catchphrase. But in reality, as a Saint that is recognized as the ‘Mobile Library’, coupled with her identity as an immortal who is has no limits to her stamina, how can ordinary people keep up with her pace…
As Adam’s disciple, Annie’s combat talent and her physical body is excellent, but for intelligence… For a pure warrior, intelligence can be said to be the most useless stat. Adam that rascal only has 9 points in intelligence (the intelligence here refers to the main stat of a Mage, normal people have 10 points. The basic stats in this novel is very hard to be improved), but he still gets by day to day happily. According to my system, Annie has 11 points in intelligence, making her much better than her dumb father. But if she were to go by Margaret’s 26 point in intelligence standards in learning… She would be driven mad by just learning by the standards of a 13 point, needless to say 26.
Somehow, I seem to see how the Internal Affairs Bureau ended up being her personal organization. She probably couldn’t stand those ‘intelligence-lacking’ ‘inefficient and slow’ subordinates of hers, thus she took on the burden of doing everything. In the end, she got used to it and decided to just do it all by herself.
This kind of person would probably be considered a sage king in ancient times. But their fatal flaw is that it would difficult for their successor to cope. After all, you can’t expect the son and grandson of a sage king to be an indefatigable and wise sage king as well.
“Hey, as expected of an immortal, to think that this kind of workload won’t tire her to death. Annie, don’t take Margaret’s scolding to heart. Her way of teaching really isn’t reliable. In the past, Elisa and Kale almost got played to death by her, and furthermore, they are Mages.”
Hearing this, the young lady started to whimper and instead, shakes her head vehemently.
“Big Sister Margaret didn’t scold me, she is just very disappointed. Annie feels useless, Annie is really useless. Annie doesn’t have the confidence to become a good city lord anymore.”
The tears of the young lady fall down drop by drop onto the floor. Looks like Margaret’s cold gaze when she’s disappointment and her action of walking away silently while shaking her head afterwards had left a deep wound in her heart.
This kind of silent resignation, this kind of disappointment that comes straight from the heart, it hurts the other party more than any other sharp-edged sarcasm, making the other party start to doubt their own capabilities and intelligence…
Why am I so clear of that? In the past, when her lessons aren’t going as ideal as I hoped, Elisa would be very depressed over it and even secretly use me to vent her frustration… Although I was the first one to use that technique to hurt Margaret. Hmph, blame it on her lack of skills in chess, acting to smug despite being so inflexible in her thinking.
Alright, you need to find the one who tied the knot to solve the knot. I finally comprehend why Margaret said that I must come visit Annie today. She must have been subconsciously aware that she used that technique to drive Annie to tears, but had no idea how to resolve the situation.
“Haaaa, stop crying, let Uncle Bones teach you. Actually, Margaret’s way of doing things is a mistake by itself. It is normal that you aren’t able to do it her way. On the other hand, it would be troublesome if you really learn it her way.”
Annie’s eyes widen, her eyes spelling incomprehension.
“Actually, governance isn’t that complicated. Its essence is just to solve problems. That’s right, governance is just a means to solve troubles and problems.”
Yes, governance us just the act of solving problems and the Internal Affairs Bureau is an organization catered specially to solving problems.
‘This job isn’t within the range of job scope, please direct it to our superior to deal with it.’ = ‘Bro, this trouble is too big for us to deal with, talk to our boss instead’.
‘This plan should be carried out, but the cost involved is too high and we are unable to fulfil the requirements currently, so it is placed on hold temporarily.’ = ‘Bro, what you said us excellent and we want to do it too. But, our treasury doesn’t have any money so just leave it first’.
‘We understand your difficulties but this job concerns the privacy of others, so it isn’t convenient for our department to intervene. Please settle it internally’ = ‘Idiot, don’t waste my manpower. It is such a small matter so deal with it yourself’.
What is the point of saying it so complicated and kindly, the main goal of governance is to settle the problems and troubles that turn up in daily life or development, allowing most of the population to lead stable lives… The book I personally wrote «The Art of Language, Step-By-Step Guide to Deal with Complaints and Resolve Arguments (Also known as The True Meaning Behind Official Dialect Manual)» has been well-received and it significantly improved the governing efficiency of the judiciary. The citizens interviewed even said that ‘Even though I didn’t understand what they were saying, but it sounds impressive. It feels like my opinions are respected.’, but the side effect to that is that people are shooting me weird gazes and I even see people flipping the book while listening to me talk…
“In reality, you all have underestimated Adam that 9 point intelligence dumbass. Actually, in my eyes, I find him an excellent city lord.”
Hearing that, Annie raises her head in shock with disbelief on her face. These days, she has heard countless complaints against her surrogate father.
“But… Everyone says that it is because of Big Sister Margaret helping out, that’s why he can become a good city lord. If he could take on more responsibilities, everyone’s job would be easier and life would be more…”
“Then Sulfur Mountain City would not be too far from its doomsday. Yes, he does depend of Margaret to deal with most of his governing affairs but even if Margaret isn’t here, he could have got other people to deal with it for him, despite the lowered efficiency. His greatest strength is that he knows how to use others and trust them, after entrusting the matter to others, he won’t interfere and create trouble.”
“You are the city lord, not the head of Internal Affairs Bureau. What you need to just to find people who can solve problems for you and dump it all on them, not to solve it yourself.”
Annie seems to be about to say something, but I interrupted her.
“Look, he entrusted affairs of the legal system to me, Internal Affairs Bureau to Margaret and the troublesome civilian problem to the Public Council. No matter how it went, at least this city is the fastest developing one in the underground world and winners don’t have to be criticized. Besides, city lords also have their own responsibility, and that is much more important than these boring matters on governance.”
“Responsibility of a city lord?”
“Yes, you might feel that Adam is obviously lazing around, but the citizens still respect him a lot. That is because he is fulfilling his main duty as the city lord.”
“Main duty of a city lord?” After savoring these words, she recalls the daily routine of her father and suddenly, sparks appear in both her eyes and the young lady found her own shine again.
“Protecting everyone, right? So as to let everyone live peacefully in this chaotic underground world?”
I smile and nod my head.
“Yes, protecting everyone and be the one that leads everyone into the future, allowing everyone to be able to have good expectations for the future. This is the true job of a city lord. As for the other meddlesome affairs, find a few fellows with good head and dump it on them. If they screw it up, just sack them and find someone to replace them. There is bound to be someone suitable.”
“In this chaotic underground world, military might is a must and you should quite talented in this aspect, being Sulfur Mountain City, no, the entire underground world’s youngest quasi-legend.”
Hearing my words, Annie nods her head forcefully after finally finding her strengths. In my eyes, it looks like a cute dog that was happy and satisfied after finally finding its own worth.
“Godfather says that I’m just a step away from Legend-rank. I can enter legend mid phase right after I accept the Phoenix Heart at the end of the inheritance. Afterwards, I would be able to attain Saint-rank within 30 years.”
“Wow. This speed is really inconceivable.” Even I am stunned by this astonishing speed. The average age of normal legends is past hundred and Annie isn’t even 20 yet. I was also past 100 when I first got to Saint-rank. “But, to be smiling so happily, she probably doesn’t know what is the Phoenix Heart.”
Shaking my head, I decided not to interfere as it is their family affair, I should not be the one to say such things. For now, my goal is only to complete the main storyline quest and groom Annie into a competent city lord…
“Un, after 2 days, follow me to the Underground Alliance. I will teach you about the other job of a city lord. ‘How to use the carrot-and-stick approach to maximize the gains in a negotiation’, but since it is an underground city, I’m afraid that I can only teach you about the stick.”
“Anyway, the goal of this trip is to show our might, so there will be many chance for you to strike out on the way. I will also be bringing the city’s biggest troublemakers like the Beyar brothers, Stormeagle and the other living treasures of my subordinates. You just have to responsible for giving a tough face on the surface and leave the rest to me. We’re going to play big and overturn the entire Underground Alliance.”
“Adam’s Soul Imprint is the Undying Phoenix, making him suited for long battles. As long as you are unable to kill him in a single go, he will absorb the damage and the Phoenix’s Cradle will become stronger and stronger before exploding in one go. It might be an inheritance but you might not be suited to his fighting style. I feel that you are more suited for an offensive style that suppresses the opponent right from the start. This requires battle experience, so give it your best in the fight with the Underground Alliance.”
TL: In Chinese mythology, the more damage/grievance etc. a phoenix goes through during its ‘cradle’ stage before its, the more magnificent and stronger it would be when reborn.
She was indeed still like a little girl on the inside. She would tighten her will and do the governing affairs she hated with a crying face but when you start the topic of something she likes, she would immediately become very energetic and enthusiastic…
“Governance? This is simple, isn’t it just solving problems? Find a few merchants that are good at financing and let them do the accounting. Un, just create a new department in the Internal Affairs Bureau and call it the… Finance Department.”
“As for the building of public amenities, we can look for miners, architects and building companies. But, we must first strip them of their self-interest. Right, we could call it the Infrastructure Department.”
“Don’t follow Margaret’s footsteps, it is too tiring. You just have to lay out the backbone and choose people suitable. If they can’t do it well, just change the people on the job. To protect this city in the future, you have to devote much of your attention into training. Hehe, I would like to hear of the heroics if the new generation of Red Lotus Hero.”
“Don’t panic, you are already ahead of that dumbass by a lot. The Adam back then was much more useless than you. He can’t be anymore silly. The first time he tried to settle other people’s feud, he actually…”
Slowly, Annie, who have not slept for 2 days and just undergo a great fluctuation in emotions, actually fell asleep on me while listening to me speak.
Looking at the deeply asleep young lady who was snoring lightly, I can’t help but reminisce the past.
“Humans are really a unique life being. Yesterday, she was still a snotty brat but in a turn of an eye, she’s already an adult today.”
Back then, when Adam brought Annie home, she was so small but now, not mentioning that she has already physically matured, she us already intending to take on the heavy responsibilities that her elder left her with.
Seeing the black circles below Annie’s eyes, I felt a little resentment towards Margaret.
“Seriously, she left Adam to be so carefree yet treats Annie so strictly. Adam too, Phoenix Heart, it is the heart of the Phoenix. Such a heavy responsibility, do you think she will be able to shoulder the truth?”
“Uncle Bones, Big Sister Margaret, Father…” Suddenly, the tears seep out from the sleeping young lady as she calls out our names.
“…Don’t go!! Don’t abandon Annie! Annie will be obedient.”
The dream of the tragedy made my outstretched hand stop in midair…
I never said that that I was leaving and even more so, Margaret and Adam never mentioned that the current city lord was going to die… But it looks like we underestimated this seemingly talkative and sloppy young lady.
It was after a long pause then did I carefully wipe away her tears and caress her hair.
That apologetic mumble was something I couldn’t even hear clearly myself.
“I’m sorry, little Annie. Adults are all selfish… We are a bunch of selfish jerks.”
But what I didn’t know was that in the City Lord Residence, 2 people were speaking the exact same words as me.
“I knew that Roland could solve the problem. Stop blaming yourself, Margaret. Little Annie is actually much stronger than we think she is.”
“…Stop crying, Margaret. This isn’t like you. If you can’t bear to leave her, you still can choose to stay.”
That’s right, the one who was silently whimpering at the corner isn’t Annie who was hurt unintentionally, but the one who asked for my help. Due to being too worried, she went against her principles of listening in, the perpetually calm Saint Lord Margaret…
Hearing the words of the heartless man, fire of anger started burning in the eyes of Margaret who still had tears on the side of her cheeks.
“You also could have chosen not to die! Then everything would be solved! You selfish bastard!” If looks could kill, Adam would have been pierced by thousands of arrows.
“…Yeah, who asked us to all be selfish adults. It’s just that we are all apologetic to little Annie. Besides… hehe, don’t be worried about it so early.”
“You’re laughing? You…”
“Calm down, no matter what, I am still Annie’s father. There is no reason why I wouldn’t know what she wants and needs the most. Hehe, relax, I have it all planned out. It would definitely be a happy ending, a happy happy ending.”
“I will believe you once more, the final time!! You selfish bastard!” The Saint abandons her image and grinds her teeth while roaring furiously.