“Fine,” said Luther, “you win. I will tell you what I have done.”
Helen’s gaze flickered. She hadn’t expected him to give in so quickly. He didn’t look especially unsettled by Helen’s threats, either.
“There is nothing you can do,” he said. “That is why I am telling you. Because it is already too late.”
Helen merely waited.
“You see, I have discreetly removed all of the money from the Royal Treasury and replaced it with borrowed funds. Atreya now holds nothing but debt.” He didn’t smile. If anything, he only looked even more callous than before. “You think you have won your kingdom back, sister? Far from it. Atreya belongs to over a dozen other countries.”
She said nothing, still, only letting her eyes drift vacantly to the side a little. If he was lying, then she would confirm it easily enough; but Luther would know that, of course, which meant that, for now, it was a safe assumption that he was telling the truth.
“They will come to you soon in search of their money,” he said. “Some may be understanding of your circumstances, but I do not think Intar, Horsht, Korgum, or Dozer will be very agreeable. You owe them quite a sum, and any one of them might become upset when they learn that you have done business with the others.”
Intar, Horsht, Korgum, and Dozer. Intar was difficult to deal with on a good day, but the other three were easily the most volatile nations on the continent. As soon as he uttered their names, there was no hope of Helen concealing her exasperation. She shut her eyes and turned away from Luther to press a hand to her forehead.
She needed to think. She’d expected the problem to be bad, but this? Could anything even be done? If the Royal Treasury really only contained borrowed money now, then everything would be made more difficult.
Whatever the case, she had to start asking questions. She required information, and Luther was perhaps the only person who could give it. “You are talking about nearly two hundred billion troas. How could you have possibly removed that much money from the Royal Treasury without anyone noticing?”