The sheriff closed the door behind him and looked at the prince.
"I've just got news that they've attacked the money transport again."
He stopped when he saw the emotionless expression on the prince's face. Very slowly the prince lifted his head and looked straight at the scarred face of the head of his guards
"So just to be clear: We sent out 3 identical carts with identical number of guards on three different routes through the forest and only the one with the tax money got attacked? Apart from us and the inner circle of people, who else knew which was the correct one?"
"Only a handful of people who were involved in loading the carts. Except for two of them, they all were guards who were with the carts and got killed in the attack."
"Who are those two?"
"Two stable boys who dealt with the horses"
"Arrest them and hang them tomorrow morning on the suspicion of working together with Rob Inwood."
The sheriff nodded and was just about to turn and leave the room when the prince continued:
"The emissary of his majesty, the Dragon made it quite clear to me yesterday that the Dragon starts to suspect that we are making up the attacks to avoid paying the tax for this region for our own gain. Should the next tax payment not arrive, they will send out troops to take control and I guess we both know what that would mean. His majesty really doesn't like people who don't pay their taxes!"
"Yes Sire, I heard the stories. I will send out Enric, the tax collector, immediately to get the new shipment together. The people won't like it, but I guess they won't like the Dragon's troops taking over either."
"We have to make it clear to those farmers that collaboration with this criminal in the woods means death. This criminal endangers the peace we have right now and that we pay for by taxes. Do whatever is necessary to get that message across! I trust in your expertise. And before you hang the stable boys, try to find out who their contact was or whether they know where that criminal is hiding!"
The sheriff nodded and turned round to leave the room, closing the door behind him.
The prince walked to the window and looked over the lake and the forest. He heard about the fate of the other leaders who weren't able to pay the taxes. His hand automatically reached up to rub the neck. He can't let that happen. There were rumours that Rob Inwood robbed the carts to give the money back to the poor. That means they have the money again to be taken.