Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 364
While Claude was a mere logistics manager in his past life, he had seen many different markets and industries operate. It was just like the saying, 'one can eat a lot of pork without even knowing how a pig's feet look like'. That was the reason for the disparity between his obedient behavior in front of Miselk and his absolutely casual attitude towards Mister Weyblon.
Even though the mining tycoon had invested an astronomical sum in Claude for the sake of his business, Claude didn't show any surprise or veneration at all. Instead, he remained rather ambiguous. It didn't seem like he would continue to let the mining companies reap the benefits after taking over from Miselk. However, he knew that merchants were after profit. He was well aware that they wanted to invest in him because they wanted even more profit.
Claude initially thought that Weyblon was just going to talk about the first two matters. He didn't think that after some guessing about the kingdom's war situation, the man would just toss a new bank account in front of Claude.
"What do you mean by this?" Claude asked, as he wondered whether Weyblon was trying to bribe a public official. Doing so was a little too blatant, to be honest.
Weybron, however, merely laughed. "Lord Baron, this is an unmarked bank account. The password is back there. No matter who puts their name on it, they'll be able to withdraw the money within using the password. However, there's only one riyas in it for now.
"I'm sure you've heard that the viceroy and high-commissioner of Anfiston obtain ten percent of the dividends of profits from the mines. This book is for the account that receives that dividend. The money will only be transferred at the end of the year. Currently, Anfiston is considered part of the war theatre, so there's no longer a viceroy and high-commissioner occupying those positions. That's why the field marshal of the war theatre shall enjoy these benefits."
Claude laughed and looked at the account book. It was indeed without a name. However, he immediately tossed it back to the table. "Why are you giving this to me so soon? I believe Lord Militant Miselk is still the field marshal for now. You should give it to him. I should wait until next year before I get that bonus."
Weyblon nodded in admission. "The Lord Militant naturally has one such book as well. The dividends of the past two years were claimed by him. However, he wouldn't be getting any this year, as he will be returning to the royal capital on the 11th month. We will send him off with another grand gift on a separate occasion. Either way, the dividends from the mines are only issued during the end of the 12th month, so he no longer qualifies to receive it. Since you're going to take over, this should belong to you."
"Wow, you guys are really superficial. Lord Militant Miselk missed out on such a huge chunk of income because he worked one month short... Maybe I should convince him to return to the royal capital on the 1st month of next year instead. At least, he'd be able to get this year's."
Weyblon's face reddened a bit. "Lord Baron, it's not that we don't value our past relationships, but such is the regulation of the association. The dividends are only given to the highest authority in Anfiston, whether it be viceroy, high-commissioner or field marshal. No matter new or old, the one serving during the day the dividends are distributed shall receive it."
A local lawyer was always more reliable than a faraway judge. Odd as that saying sounded, it was a rather reasonable one. There was nothing anybody could say about it save complain about their luck. Miselk was just short of a month to receive those dividends. However, Claude simply smiled. Miselk naturally wouldn't care about that kind of money. He suspected that he only received the money before to work with how things were done in Anfiston instead of causing them trouble.
"Alright, my friend, I'll accept the goodwill of your association. Is there anything else?" Claude asked. Seeing him shake his head, he pressed, "Didn't you say there was a personal matter you needed my help with?"
"Oh, well..." Weyblon began his explanation.
He had two sons and a daughter. His daughter, the eldest, had long been married and his younger son was still a child and would only mature in two years. Currently, he was studying in the middle school of Grinosburg as an academic stream student. What made Weyblon worry was his elder son, Drivick, aged 29.
What surprised Claude was that Drivick was actually a retired soldier that had taken part in the five-year war. Claude recalled that there was no draft in the seven colonies of Nubissia at that time, so how did he end up serving?
He didn't think that Drivick would actually sneak to the mainland of Aueras on Freia to join the force as a voluntary conscript. Weyblon had initially wanted his son to serve military service in Anfiston's local garrison. The unexpected actions of his son almost caused him to have a heart attack. His wife went to the war god shrine to pray day in and out for their son to come back safely.
And maybe, her devout prayers really managed to move the war god. Their son managed to survive the five-year war without a single injury and was even promoted to first lieutenant. However, he was now part of an irregular corps. During the post-war layoffs, Drivick was one of the low-ranking officers to be let go. He couldn't even continue serving if he wanted to, so he eventually returned to Anfiston.
Having returned home, Drivick settled down some more and became a manager of Weyblon's mining company before marrying a year later. He was now the father of three. In a few more years, Weyblon could hand over the family business to him. Little did he know that his son's penchant for misadventures would still exist despite being in his late twenties. He had been thinking of enlisting to become a soldier once more to fulfil his dreams and eventually, the family fell into chaos and arguments. That didn't, however, change his determination to join the army.
"Why does he want to enlist no matter what?" Claude wondered. Discharged soldiers, especially junior officers, wouldn't be forced to enlist in the force even if they didn't have dignitarian status unless it was the most urgent of times when nearly all men would have to head to the frontlines -- weapon in hand. Either that or they could enlist willingly and gain a post fitting to their previous rank.
For instance, most of the discharged soldiers of the 100 thousand households were peasants and lived in poverty. That was why they fell for the new nobility's bait to move to Nubissia. For the sake of their families' livelihoods, they were willing to pick up their weapons once more to serve and fight on the battlefield.
Drivick, however, was different. He didn't have to worry about his family's livelihood at all. In fact, his family could be considered to be among the top ten richest on the continent. He was nothing short of a rich tycoon. Not to mention, there was no difference between a peasant and a dignitarian in the Nubissian colonies. Apart from some slight difficulty in getting public servant jobs, the peasants shared most of their rights with the dignitarians.
"He's never let go of his childhood dream of becoming a general..." Weyblon helplessly explained. Apparently, it was Drivick's childhood dream to join the force and fight in a war and eventually gain enough merits till he ended up becoming a famous general of the kingdom by the end of it all. However, as he happily went to the royal capital on horseback and suddenly fell off it, his dream ended just like that.
"Back then, he told us about his dreams and I remembered encouraging him by saying that he might one day become a famous general. Perhaps he took what I said to heart and immediately believed that the start of the war in Eastern Freia was the call of fate for him. That's why he bought a ferry ticket behind my back to the mainland and volunteered for service..."
Given his voluntary enlistment and brave feats that earned him a promotion, he would've been retained as an officer after the war ended. However, he was born in the colonies and had should've served there instead.
Not to mention, his unit was an irregular corps which had to be decreased in scope after the war. So, he was forcefully discharged and left with nothing but a recommendation letter he could use to continue his career in the military in the colonial forces.
Though, Drivick was completely uninterested in joining the forces in those seven colonies, having participated in the five-year war. He knew what kind of people made up those forces. Being an officer there was nothing but trouble, not to mention most of the officer positions were taken by those close to the high-commissioner. Someone like Drivick wouldn't be taken to kindly in any of those colonial units.
As a result, he had nothing better to do than to help out at home. He didn't think Shiks would turn their attention to the colonies, however. Ever since the war broke out on Nubissia, Drivick had wanted to serve, but his wife happened to be near her next delivery. Fearing that she would suffer from shock, not to mention the lack of a proper enlistment order for him and the pleading of his parents, he gave up on the notion.
Yet, he didn't think Shiks wouldn't let up after losing two series of battles on the colonies and even declare they would form ten more standing corps to send them to Nubissia and wipe away their humiliation. Drivick couldn't hold his desire to join the army again back. His youngest child was now two and a half, so he no longer hesitated and steeled his resolve to enlist.
Unable to convince his son otherwise, Weyblon could only look for a good unit for his son to enlist in. After much thought, he came to the conclusion that Claude's unit would be the best for it. First, Line 131 was an aggressive unit that often earned huge merit in battle, so it was most likely for his son to get promoted there. Additionally, Weyblon also noticed that Claude won with surprisingly few casualties.
So, he personally came to ask Claude to let his son join his unit. Perhaps, in his eyes, letting his son join Claude might give him an actual chance of eventually becoming a general. If he could get a noble Title by doing so, then Weyblon could die with no regrets.
"My friend, is this really your decision?" Claude said with a worried look, "Joining the force is a dangerous affair. Anything can happen on the battlefield and even I sometimes have to fight for my life. If you really decide to make him my subordinate, you and your wife might have to brace for losing him. I am not joking."
Claude tried to be honest, but Weyblon simply nodded. "Lord Baron, I am aware that our request is already rather troubling for you. But since our son Drivick is so set on becoming a soldier of the kingdom, we decided to let him pursue his dreams.
"After making this tough decision, we understand that this won't be an easy path. It is one filled with both glory and danger and we might lose him at any moment. All we hope is for him to manage to become a proud soldier of the kingdom, even if he falls while doing so. It is a path he chose to take, so we won't feel too pained over it."
Claude mulled in deep thought for a good moment before nodding. "My friend, since you've gone so far to request it, I shall give your son a chance. Line 131 will be moving from Ferro to Lanu soon. Just bring Drivick to our command post by then. I will make him our strategist.
"As for his rank, he'll resume service as a first lieutenant, the same one he had when he was discharged. Let him familiarise himself with the military first. He has, after all, left the force for so long. He'll also have to relearn our new tactics. Naturally, I am not able to make him a ranger directly. I'm just giving him a chance to become a proper soldier once more.
"Lord Militant Miselk has decided that within three months of his resignation, we will have to form the framework of the five enhanced folks. Later, more settlers will arrive and we'll have enough men for the folks. We'll only need to recruit enough from the towns to staff the folks fully. If your son truly has talent in leading, I'll make sure to put him to good use and give him a good position in the folk I'm in direct command of."
"Thank you, thank you, Lord Baron." Weyblon was overjoyed.
After sending off the couple, Claude could finally get a few good days of rest. However, it wasn't as rejuvenating as he'd thought it would be. His mischievous and disobedient son gave him quite a bit of a headache and he felt the urge multiple times to give him a good beating to teach him a lesson, only to be stopped by his mother from doing so. The stinking brat already knew that he could escape all consequence for any mischief as long as he went to his grandmother. No matter how mad Claude got, there was nothing much he could do about it.
Apart from his son, his mother's constant nagging really got to his head. He wasn't the target for all of it, however; Angelina was. Sometimes, Claude wondered if his sister mixed up chemistry and physics. She was no longer doing herbal experiments and preferred to mix around the explosives Claude taught her to make in her alchemy array. She had no choice but to move her laboratory to a decrepit corner of the lake to make sure the explosions from her experiments didn't startle the other townsfolk.
A week later, Line 131 arrived in Lanu. On the same day, Claude received an eagle message from Miselk that summoned him post-haste for the preparation meeting for the new war council.