Anfey stood still and watched the blazing sunset. Before coming to this world, he kept himself away from society and did not have any emotional connections to anyone. Here, everything he had once believed about himself was changing. He initially only made contact with people in this world because he needed to survive, but now he knew that was the beginning of his change. He felt the warmth of friendship and trust. He didn’t care for friendship at first, but he had come to value those friendships more than anything. So many people trusted him and believed in him now. He had never expect he would find people who would believe in him.
He did not know whether this change was good or bad, but he did not care anymore. Even if it was bad, even if it was wrong, he would not turn back.
Suzanna walked over quietly and joined him. She laid a hand on his shoulder and smiled. "What are you doing here?" she asked. "Don’t you want to go see how everyone’s doing?"
"I want to train them," Anfey said with a grin. "They need to know how to work without me there, you know."
Suzanna smiled and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Did they distribute the food?"
"Not yet," Suzanna said.
"Because we can’t!" Alice said angrily and stomped over to Anfey. "I need money."
"What? You’re the…"
"Yes, yes, I’m in charge of internal affairs," Alice said. "But I don’t make money!"
"Fifty thousand for now."
"That’s impossible!" Anfey said, his eyes widening. Fifty thousand was a big number, and Alice said "for now", which meant she would need more in the future.
Alice sighed and handed him a piece of paper. Anfey glanced at it and saw that it was a list of all their expenses. He frowned as he read it. "I’ll find a way," Anfey said after he finished reading the list. "Distribute the food."
"We cannot," Alice insisted.
"We can’t ignore the mercenaries’ tradition," Alice said. "Traditionally, the leader of a group will only give the mercenaries a certain amount of wages. The group will only be responsible for paying the mercenaries when there is a mission."
"But we aren’t a normal mercenary group anymore," Anfey said.
"Tradition is called tradition for a reason," Alice said. "It’s not easy to change a tradition. We still need to pay the mercenaries even if we distribute all the food. You cannot replace wages with food. We’re better off paying them wages and letting them buy whatever they want."
"That’s a good business plan," Anfey said.
"It’s not business," Alice said, shaking her head. "How are you going to determine rations? Some mercenaries eat more than others. Some have families, some want good food. We cannot satisfy everyone if we distribute rations."
"I see," Anfey said. "What do you think we should do?"
"It’s easy," Alice said. "A lot of mercenaries have families, but we aren’t responsible for the families. Ever since we founded the alliance, we haven’t paid any wages. We need to make up for everything. The older mercenaries will be paid more. We can’t become a sanctuary. We need fighters, not people who just joined us so they can get free food."
Anfey sighed and glanced at the paper again. "Fine," he said. "I’ll talk with Lord Marino about this."
Alice nodded. She turned to leave, then turned back as if she had just remembered something. "Another thing," she said. "We attacked Shansa Empire’s border city, which is a good thing, but you shouldn’t have placed Ozzic in charge, no matter how much you trust him! The spoils of that battle are not his alone. They’re Shinbella’s, and Orsie’s. Do you really think he will distribute the spoils fairly and evenly?"
"We’re all in this together," Anfey said. "Do we really need to divide everything so evenly?" In the past, he had always trusted Feller with their money and supplies. Leaving one person in charge of all the supplies had become a habit for him.
"We must!" Alice said, wide-eyed. "We need the mercenaries to know what we took, how much we took, and how much each mercenary should get. If we can’t do that, the mercenaries will never fully trust us."
Anfey looked at Alice in shock. She had never really talked back to him, but everything she said today was true. "What do you think we should do?"
"I counted everything," Alice said. "You can read it over and decide."
Anfey nodded. He looked at the paper Alice gave him and saw that she had categorized all their recent missions. She had also listed the mercenary leaders and the wages for each of them. Under the names of mercenary leaders were wage categories for normal mercenaries.
Anfey frowned when he saw how much money Alice had calculated for him and Suzanna. Alice asked for fifty thousand gold coins, and out of those fifty thousand, almost ten thousand would go to him and Suzanna.
"Alice," Anfey said. "Suzanna and I don’t need this much money. I’m sure Christian and the others don’t, either."
"My numbers are correct and fair," Alice said.
"I’m not saying that. I’m saying we don’t need it. The mercenary’s wages I agree with, but we don’t need this much money."
"You can always donate your wage," Alice said. "That’s your business, but you must be paid. But you are still in charge and you can decide the wages for the mercenaries. This is just my calculation of what I believe is fair."
"I understand," Anfey said. "We must be fair."
Alice smiled and nodded.
"What kind of wage can the new mercenaries get?"
"Eight silver coins."
"That is too little," Anfey said. "They can hardly feed themselves with that money."
"They’re new," Alice said. "They shouldn’t expect too high a wage." She looked at Anfey and said quietly, "I never realized you are such a noble person."
"What do you mean?"
"Why are you so worried about the new members? They need to earn their wages. If they immediately get the same wage as a mercenary who has been with you since the beginning, don’t you think it’s unfair?"
Anfey sighed and nodded. "I’ll talk to Ozzic," he said. "Then I’ll talk to Marino about this."
"Of course," Alice said. "One more thing."
"What is it?"
"I saw that you had a memory crystal yesterday," Alice said. "I hope that you can give it to me and I will auction it off. Anyone can join the auction. No one has the right to keep spoils of war. We need the process to be as fair and transparent as possible. You appointed me to be in charge of internal affairs. I hope you can support my decision."
Anfey nodded. He found the crystal and handed it to Alice. "Alright," he said.
"Good," Alice said with a grin, wrapping her fingers around the crystal. She nodded at Suzanna and turned to leave.
Suzanna chuckled. She had never seen Anfey follow someone else’s orders without questions.
Anfey glanced at her and smiled. Suddenly, both of them felt strong pressure coming from afar. They both frowned and glanced into the distance.