Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 386

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After discovering the reason their nikancha informants had been disappearing, Kefist requested merit on Borkal's behalf. Most importantly, Borkal managed to gain a firm footing in Port Vebator with his bull-sale business and formed a network that could allow him to protect himself within a short half year. While he still couldn't get in touch with the city's elites, most of the low-ranked officers and bureaucrats had a decent relationship with him.

In a sense, Borkal could get even more detailed information than the colony's viceroy. He was allowed to go to most off-limit areas. Even Kefist himself, the intelligence department's head, praised him to be a natural, top-class secret agent.

However, gaining intel alone wasn't enough to gain recognition. He had also managed to earn more than three thousand crowns in just half a year. Smuggling food didn't yield much as the food crisis had by now been more or less handled. He only made change by purchasing workhorses at double market price and sending them back. However, he later smuggled lots of luxury goods, ingredients, and alcohol and used their sale to make well-placed acquaintances in the hierarchy.

Thanks to Thundercrash's amazing efforts, the troops in Port Vebator didn't dare leave and strike, causing prices of all sorts of alcohol to skyrocket. Not only did Borkal not need funds from the intelligence department to cover his operations, he made enough to be pretty well off himself. Kefist praised him much for his resourcefulness.

Claude signed the request and stamped his seal. It was too bad he had just heard Borkal returned to Port Vebator again. Everyone knew he was simply there to do business, but nobody criticised him. He made sure to let the Ferd household have forty percent of the shares, the logistics department thirty, and the intelligence department twenty. He took only a tenth of the profits. The city had also lately cut off contact with the rest of the colony and prices were rising even more rapidly. He would never let such a good chance slip by.

Even Claude had to admit his childhood friend was quite capable. Not only was he an adept businessman, he also made sure to take care of his connections. Claude initially wanted Angelina to purchase the company and make it a Ferd family business and lend it to the intelligence department. To ensure Borkal could go to Port Vebator to collect intel with no troubles, he would let him play the role of a shareholder and smuggle. He planned to give him twenty percent of the profit.

But when Borkal returned, he had Claude give out another forty percent of the shares while he gave up half of his shares to the logistics and intelligence departments. He knew that not sharing delicious food could easily inspire envy. Claude had been field marshal at the time, so the departments would have no choice but to cooperate and close an eye to his smuggling.

But wouldn't it be better to just tie them to him? If they had a share of the company's earnings, they wouldn't just be cooperating because Claude ordered them to. Many things could be settled without him having to personally deal with it. For instance, the logistics department could automatically give the company supplies they didn't need and the intelligence department could work with the company to target other unauthorised smugglers.

After signing the merit request, he had to deal with civil affairs with Sir Bernard. The last batch of settlers were dealt with and General Birkin's 4th Monolith was finally completed. They were currently being trained. The reason this had to do with Thundercrash at all was the matter of the sale of workhorses during the third colonial war. More than five thousand of them were put up for sale and they got a huge sum of around 30 thousand crowns.

Claude had exterminated the voluntary Canasian forces during the conflict and obtained more than 50 thousand war horses and some two thousand workhorses and race horses. Then, they took out the Nasrian corps and Shiks' Tofeid. The total number of their race and workhorses rose to nearly three thousand.

Apart from giving Eiblont 35 thousand war horses, he distributed the rest among the three other folks in the theatre. Sir Bernard switched out the workhorses from the three folks with war horses before selling them to the settler households. Around five thousand of them were put up for sale and that greatly relieved the lack of any beasts of burden.

Now, close to 30 thousand crowns had been deposited in Thundercrash's account and would be distributed, since the horses were spoils that were sold. Thirty percent would go to the top, another thirty would go to the officers, twenty to the rest of the soldiers and the last twenty percent distributed as pension for the dead and injured. Claude gave the figures a look before leaving Siegfeld, the chief logistics officer of the folk, in charge of it.

He spent the whole afternoon dealing with urgent paperwork to make sure he didn't leave any mess for the next field marshal to take his place. That way, the hereditary count wouldn't be able to nitpick anything. He began to relax and prepared to return to see his wife and child he hadn't met for the last eight months.

The women of the Ferd household were used to Claude popping up once in a long while. Since he was a major-general of the kingdom, his family didn't really worry for his safety either. As his mother would put it, he was well defended by his personal guard and wouldn't have to charge into battle and take risks himself. She was most worried about his brother, Bloweyk, who was still a mere master-sergeant. There was no avoiding the fate of cannon fodder for this one.

Kefnie was busy raising their second son. She'd left their first to his mother. Thankfully, Mister Weyblon, their landlord, had helped him hire two Aueran settlers to take care of some of the chores. Kefnie didn't have to work so hard anymore and quickly recovered.

When he got home, he greeted his mother. After swearing his brother was doing well and was lively as a bull, he shrugged off her nagging. He had a bath and got a change of clothes before toying with his baby son for a while. Dinnertime came quickly. Just as he was about to take his wife to Lake Lanu for a walk, Gum came to report Weyblon's arrival.

The man came with the latest news. While General Bolonik had gotten updates on the theatre from the mining association, Claude got word from the association about Shiks from the royal capital through Weyblon, as well as all sorts of other gossip. That was a great help for him and he could base much of his strategies on them.

He decided to check out updates from Shiks first. While the information was mostly collated by the association through newspapers and tabloids, he still felt relieved after reading them. There were internal problems in Shiks and they probably wouldn't be able to continue the war on Nubissia in the short term.

The most obvious proof of that came from the Kingdom of Bleyotte, a Shiksan neighbour nation. Their morning newspaper published an article filled with schadenfreude. Following a forced conscription order from Shiks, a local keeper force from a prefecture called Lysemenda seemed unwilling to go to Nubissia and conquered the prefectural capital's armory before fleeing to a nearby mountain to raise their flag of rebellion.

The three keeper units Shiks sent there to quell the rebellion had been defeated, with some even ending up joining their ranks. Their military had no choice but to send a standing corps to deal with the insurgents, but as they were mostly hidden in the mountains, it became a game of hide-and-seek that came to last more than a month.

However, the reason for such a rebellion wasn't publicised. Claude looked around and wasn't able to find anything about that in the newspapers Weyblon brought him. He then asked whether there were other related reports to the keeper rebellion.

Weyblon gave it some thought and said there was. The newspaper from the Kingdom of Mambamark documented the reason for the rebellion. Claude quickly found the paper called 'Whitehorse News' and flipped to the second main header to find an article about it.

According to it, Shiks was a nation that still kept its traditional feudal system. The wealthy king, Majid III, had hoped to change that to erode the power of the nobility and bolster the authority of the royal family. So, he enacted a few policy changes. First, new noble fiefs would only be given in the colonies on Nubissia. Second, existing noble fiefs were to be downsized and replaced with double or triple the territory on Nubissia.

Perhaps he believed that these changes wouldn't incite too strong a reaction from the nobility, as there was limited space in the kingdom. The number of nobles also increased year by year. New noble fiefs had to continuously be created. In other words, the land the royal family controlled got smaller and smaller. If that was allowed to continue, the kingdom might end up becoming a duchy.

However, the Shiksan nobles weren't willing to develop new land in Nubissia. They could simply send others to the colonies to mine for wealth anyway, so there was no point in tying down their descendants in a desolate colony far away. That was why Majid III's policies became universally panned among the nobles.

As a result, the king started the war on the colonies. The seven standing corps of Shiks destroyed by Miselk were actually forces belonging to the noble families of the kingdom. Majid III was tempted to give the general a huge award for helping him decrease the influence the nobles had in his military.

But the Shiksan nobles were no fools either. They soon realised what the king was trying. After all, the royal family wasn't affected much apart from losing money and face throughout the two colonial wars. The seven standing corps all belonged to the noble families. Even their officers were members of those families. Yet, they had become Shiksan captives who couldn't be ransomed back due to the near complete collapse of relations between these two nations.

Even the ten standing corps Shiks proclaimed to be building would source their men from the noble fiefs. The nation was more than happy to let the nobles take up high positions in the corps' hierarchy and provide decent funding on the condition that they be sent to Nubissia to participate in the war.

Some more level-headed nobles realised that it was a ploy to chip away at their influence in the military. It was one thing if they won during the war, but it would be trouble if they failed. Even if they managed to escape and return to the mainland, they would no longer be able to serve in the military ever again. In terms of combat prowess, one Shiksan corps couldn't even rival an Aueran folk, especially given how many tricks they had up their sleeves. The worst case would see their forces completely eliminated without them even finding out the reason the enemy managed to defeat them in the first place.

As such, the Shiksan nobles began to resist the order to form the ten standing corps in their fiefs, resulting in the plan only being carried out halfway so far. The two corps that were completed and trained were sent to Nubissia immediately. The other three that completed formation were still being trained. As for the other five, they couldn't even gather the officers to form a basic hierarchy yet.

When word of their loss of the third colonial war spread to Shiks, the nobles decided to call it quits. The Auerans had attacked their colonies and crushed their three standing corps like they were withered trees. The fact that the new corps couldn't stand up to enemy attack at all was plain for all to see, so the nobles beckoned Majid III to send the eight elite standing corps belonging to the royal family to the colonies to stabilise the situation there.

However, Majid III refused. Among the 15 elite standing corps of Shiks, the seven belonging to the nobles had been exterminated by Miselk during the past two colonial wars and the eight royal standing corps that remained was the only thing the king could use to maintain his hold over the kingdom. There was no way he would send them away.

So, he sent ambassadors to Canas and Nasri in hopes of hiring a few more corps, but the two nations refused the request. They wouldn't hand over the few corps of troops they had remaining.

In the end, Majid III turned his sights back to the nobles. He had the military give a forced conscription order to draft the private troops of the nobles, in other words, the local keeper forces, to form a new combat corps to be sent to Nubissia.

That was the last straw for the nobles. They had endured letting their subjects be drafted, but touching their private forces was the bottom line that should never be infringed upon. In the end, they conspired together to start the rebellion in the Lysemenda prefecture, occupying the mountain and making a huge commotion. Behind the scenes, it was a struggle for power between the nobles and the royals.

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