Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 161
Whitestag in the Fifth Month
Claude wasn't that against his sister's wish to learn magic. He took out the translated copy of the diary in the cookbook and showed it to his sister while explaining some of the basic history recorded within. He then took out Landes' two diaries and notebook and told her how to learn from them. And, finally, he revealed why he'd really gone to Egret. His little sister had lost the ability to gasp by the end of the whole story.
She accepted the books, then listened to his lecture on the differences between rune magi and battlemagi, which was swiftly followed by a rehash of what he's learned from his teacher about the kingdom's situation, and that of the broader continent, where magi and magic was concerned.
Angelina's desire to become a magus had not wavered by the end, so Claude accepted that she was going to walk a similar path to his own. He took the one book back from her, opened it, and explained hexagram meditation.
From the shape of the hexagram she had to engrave in her void space and how she should use her mental power to selectively draw in essence photons of her element into the hexagram, Claude did his best to guide his sister through everything.
He also watched over her first meditation session, and she took just an hour to complete it. Claude supposed this had to mean she also had a decent talent for it. With her hexagram completed as well, they finally knew what affinity she had. It turned out her affinity was for water as the essence photons which gathered the quickest for her were blue.
It was quit the damper for Claude, as it meant he could not help her much more than he already had, and most importantly, he didn't have any special spells for her. The minor upside, well, it honestly wasn't that small of an upside if not compared to the textbooks, was that Claude's teacher and mistress also had an affinity for water.
When Claude recalled this fact, an idea blossomed in his mind.
"Do you want to learn herbal medicine?"
"Yes. It's a great supplement to magic studies, and it'll help you learn about magic material and some of the basic alchemical techniques. Take a look at that potion over there. You can't get potions on the market, only concoctions, but if you combine your ability and knowledge for magic, and the skills and techniques you'll learn from herbal medicine, you can concoct these yourself. Becoming an apothecary is also a great cover for being a magus, since you'll be working with much of the same materials."
"Let me try learning herbal medicine, then. I'm not sure if I'll like it though."
"It's fine. When you're free, just read some of the books on the subject in the lab and understand the basics of the field and its scope. Most importantly, you have to read up on the different materials and herbs and their properties. All you have to be able to do is to differentiate freshly picked herbs and learn how to treat them properly. That's all I'm expecting from you now.
"Additionally, as you train in meditation, make sure not to forget your studies in Ancient Hez. You must be incredibly familiar with the words and grammar and as fluent as you are in Hebrai. All the ancient, and therefore important, magic tomes are written in Ancient Hez.
"Incantations and runes are also all written in it. What they teach you in middle-school isn't anywhere near enough, either. You have to study it on your own as well.
"I bought a couple books on the pronunciation and vocabulary for the language back then to teach it to myself. I'll give them to you. You can ask me anything if you need help. You don't have to rush all that though. You're young and still have time. Don't regret wanting to become a magus just because of all the things you have to learn. Nothing in this world comes without effort, and you have to strive hard if you want to succeed. No pain, no gain, got it?"
"I understand, I'll do my best." She hugged the books and went back into her room upstairs.
After the matter with his sister was done for, Claude continued to busy himself with the development efforts. Under his direction, almost all of the youths in the slums were hired by Normanley Real Estate. The construction team of more than a thousand people got Rodan screaming about its unsustainability, as Claude specified that each worker had to be paid a high salary of two thales. In total, the salary that would be paid to them would total five hundred crowns.
However, there was no choice. This world wasn't like Claude's former one. Every single youth was a reserve soldier waiting to be conscripted. The most troublesome part was that the various nations tried their utmost ability to restrict the freedoms of their subjects, which could be observed from how they weren't allowed to move as they pleased or travel around in the kingdom freely. It was only after Thomas' reminder that Claude was reminded that there were no farmers coming to the cities to work during the off season. If he didn't prepare the workforce in advance, he likely wouldn't be able to get enough people to work when the project began in earnest.
So far, the work at the slums still wasn't properly started, mainly because most of the work concerned flattening the land, tearing down the old buildings and moving the materials somewhere near to site. Workers were also needed to fell trees at Normanley Wood. Additionally, Rodan had to contact the mines and quarries to supply large amounts of red bricks and purchase sand and stones, cement, ropes, clay and other related materials.
Their funds were running out fast, so Rodan had come to consult Claude about his worries.
"It's fine. We can split the construction of the eastern sector into three phases. First, we finish the buildings in phase one. After we sell them away, we'll have enough for phase two or three buildings. There's no need to have everything readily constructed before selling them off. Maybe, we can even have prospective buyers pay half of the cost of the house first and collect the rest after the construction is finished," Claude confidently said.
With two-thirds of the slums in hand, Claude wasn't worried about anything else. The money they had with them was enough to finish up phases one and two at least. If Maria's leak about Stellin X declaring the development of Whitestag into a military city was true, the price of land and property would no doubt skyrocket. The earnings from the buildings of the first phase alone was enough to help the whole project break even. What remained would be nothing but profit. The real estate industry in his past life was just as, if not more, profitable, after all.
On the 12th day of the 5th month, twelve class two and three naval ships anchored down in Lake Balinga. Rumor had it that they were the first group of ships sent to take care of the piracy problem. They had received orders to gather at Whitestag and the townsfolk frantically gathered at the docks to witness the prestige of the royal navy.
On the 15th day, Stellin X went to the Council of Dignitarians and declared the reclamation of Whitestag under royal family control and its subsequent rise in status to that of a city, as well as his plans to develop it. However, he left out the details of making it a base for the navy.
At the same time, an envoy was sent to Whitestag from the royal capital one day before and read out the decree of Stellin X at the town hall before all the officials. It appeared to be rather delightful news for them as, from that moment onward, they were equals of those lofty and prideful bureaucrats at Baromiss, the prefectural capital. Their salary and bonuses increased greatly.
The most excited one was no doubt Mayor Robert. Never did he dream that he would be mayor of a whole city. He now felt that the huge price he paid to be made mayor of the town was more than worth it. If he could contribute to Whitestag's development and gain dignity through that process, he might earn the capital's favor and his Title of baron might be allowed to be passed down for three more generations.
Granted, opportunities to make money were far from lacking during a time rife with growth. The mayor already had the advantage of total control over the town hall and he believed that anybody that came from the royal capital to seek opportunity would have to cooperate with him. Perhaps he would be able to get in touch with the rich and powerful in the royal capital and get someone to back him.
In stark contrast to the mayor, Sir Fux appeared rather crestfallen. The change in status of Whitestag to a city meant that he would no longer be the only dignitarian council member in town. According to the regulations of elected representatives, any city in the kingdom had to be represented by three members of the Council of Dignitarians. In other words, Whitestag would have three of those in the coming year and that was akin to Sir Fux losing two-thirds of his power in town. How could he not be in a bad mood?
However, he did finally understand why Maria invested so much into the slums and tried to develop it. He almost couldn't suppress the urge to curse her for not asking him to join in on such a profitable venture. She didn't hold him in the slightest regard at all. Alas, all he could do about it was whine alone in his study. He knew that Maria was far from someone he could deal with.
It was one thing for the other members of the town hall to ignore Maria. They were ignorant to her real status in the first place. But Sir Fux knew the sway she held in the royal capital. As a council member, even though he had great influence in the town hall to the point that the local officials had to bow and greet him, he was but a teeny little insect in the eyes of the citizens in the capital. Had Maria not helped him out on account that he was from her hometown in the first place, he might not have gained a seat in the Council of Dignitarians.
So there was nothing he could do if Maria didn't want him to be part of the venture. Whitestag was now under the jurisdiction of the royal capital and Sir Fux could no longer solve problems by getting the senior bureaucrats in the prefectural capital to deal with it. The prefectural capital no longer had any say on what happened within Whitestag.
Since he didn't dare to offend Maria, the least he could do was try to mimic her. He sought out the mayor and also decided to form a real estate development company and set his sights on the western part of the slums. He also agreed to give Bidlir a couple shares so he could include their territory, Old Street, in their plans. It would also convenience much of the 'relocation efforts' of those who lived there.
What Sir Fux and Mayor Robert didn't expect was that as Butcher Bill commanded his henchmen to move away from the slums and caused the residents there to boil with anger, a tribe of troops was sent out from the ships on Balinga. They shut down the entire slum and chased Bidlir out. A few officers were also sent to town and declared the slums part pf the naval base.
Robert was dumbfounded. What of his new company? Would he be reimbursed for the land he'd already bought?
One officer took out a document and read it on the spot. Any transactions made concerning the slums before the 15th the month would stand, whilst anything done afterwards would be void. The transactions would not be acknowledged. Compensation would thus only be paid to the owners of the land in the slums as they were registered on the 15th.
All of Robert's purchases had been made after the 15th, so he would thus get nothing. Sir Fux came over later that day and asked about the portion of the slums being developed by Normanley Real Estate. The officer merely told him that, while they were be incorporated that land into the naval base as well, since the development was already well underway, they would work with the company on the development and handle matters of ownership later rather than force things now while work was already under way.