Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 407
Rapidly Changing World
All the generals in the war theatre, Claude included, hadn't predicted the absolute tsunami of immigrants to the colonies of Cromwell and Balingana as a result of the land and property policies they enacted for the soldiers of Thundercrash and Monolith. The changes still hadn't stopped half a year later. The war theatre's generals had stiff smiles when they witnessed the sheer number of soldiers' family members swarm to those two colonies.
With Anfiston's 100 thousand households as a sample, each soldier was estimated to have five to six direct family members. There were around 130 thousand soldiers spread out in the two corps in the war theatre and any kind of estimation wouldn't put their family members too far above 500 thousand, which wasn't that significant a number for both the colonies in the first place. They would only need to construct a few more towns to accommodate them.
However, Claude had forgotten the huge change in their situation. Coupled with the sheer masses of poorer Aueran subjects attracted by the prospect of being given land and the fact that they didn't specify the families of the soldiers to be only their direct family members, many of them found loopholes to bring in other relatives as well. When the first officer about to retire took some 50 family members with him to register, including his distant uncle, cousins, and other relatives, the ones in charge of the registration were made aware of the true nature of the problem. Some even asked him whether he would be able to sustain so many people with his 16 acres of farmland.
The officer merely said there was no need to fear. As long as they were willing to work for their fair share, they would be able to earn a living even if they were to work in the fields. The main reason they brought all those relatives over was to give them a chance. Perhaps in another two to three years, there would definitely be another group of old officers going to retire, so if the relatives could be sent to join the recruitment, they would be able to gain at least five acres of land per person.
That officer wasn't the only one with such plans in mind. Many of the lower-ranked officers thought the same. Those that didn't, when reminded, immediately wrote to their family members and friends to grab this chance. Given how the economy in the Aueran mainland wasn't doing particularly well anyway, and how Stellin X just passed away with Prince Wedrick being the successor and Prince Hansbach nowhere to be found, many saw the current situation to be a bad omen. As a result, the combined factors sparked the largest folk migration wave in the history of Aueras.
Half a year later, near three million immigrants migrated to the five Aueran colonies in Nubissia, causing those in war theatre headquarters to be busy to no end. Everyone was shocked by the sheer number and scale of the whole ordeal. The three million immigrants brought extreme changes to the colonies. One such change was the busy ocean trade route stretching from Port Tyrrsim, Port Patres to Port Vebator.
Claude, however, was having a rather relaxed time. Both his broken legs had mostly recovered. Apart from spending time with his wife and children in Weyblon Manor, he would get Gum to push his wheelchair to an empty lot in the manor to have a contest of accuracy with their revolvers. They practised how to shoot their targets based on rough feel alone without aiming down the sights. Oftentimes, they would get into arguments about who hit what.
The reason the two of them were allowed to waste cartridges in that fashion was the completion of Angelina's first brass cartridge production line. It was a mostly man-powered production line with minor automation that hired ten female family members of the corps' soldiers. Each day, they worked nine to ten hours on production and could complete 12 thousand brass cartridges fit for use with the revolvers.
The completion of those brass cartridges meant the revolvers could soon be mass produced. It also meant that further development of revolving rifles could continue. However, Claude had given the rights to produce revolvers to the old nobility's five military industries, so they were the only one who could mass produce them. Additionally, they would only be sold in the colonies and not in the mainland.
Bolonik and the rest believe that a fearsome weapon like the revolver shouldn't be sold to civilians and should only be offered to military personnel. Given the high price of 12 crowns per revolver and one thale per cartridge, Bolonik grit his teeth and ordered a thousand revolvers and 30 cartridges for each. He was about to offer them to field officers and their personal guards to ensure their safety and prevent similar assassinations from being carried out.
That came as quite a disappointment to Angelina and Sonia. They couldn't be bothered to start a new production line for such a small order, so they simply fired up their alchemical arrays and made all the parts necessary for that order themselves and had them assembled. They were simplified versions with no intricate decorations, which was more than apt for soldiers. If they wanted to pretty them up, they were free to pay others to do it for them.
When Claude finally recovered and visited Angelina and Sonia to check on their research progress, he had to listen to his sister's complaints. Initially, she had planned to make a huge sum of money from the revolvers. She didn't think they'd only be getting a small order for a thousand.
While they did make a profit of more than seven thousand crowns, it took them a whole week of nonstop hard work. Yet, it wouldn't be worth the effort to design a production line for a small order like that from scratch. They would have to pay too much for the machines and salaries for the employees.
Claude didn't really have a choice either. The war theatre couldn't afford to come up with more funds. Currently, the administration in the mainland couldn't even bother with Nubissia anymore. They received a succinct message from the royal capital last month to maintain the status quo and not trouble the bigwigs in the royal capital for every little matter during such a crucial and volatile time for the kingdom.
It was indeed rather volatile, given how Prince Hansbach and his attendants had suddenly reappeared in the three eastern prefectures of former Askilin and wrestled control of Bluefeather. He staged a small-scale bloodless mutiny. The officers of Bluefeather were apprehended and marched back to the royal capital by the soldiers they supposedly held command over.
That could be nothing else but a precursor of Prince Hansbach's rebellion. The ambassadors of the kingdom and advisors quickly rushed to the newly conquered territory in hopes of being able to defuse the heated conflict between the two royal brothers. The top brass of the kingdom couldn't be bothered with whatever happened in the colonies with that on their plates and being able to maintain the current status quo was already ideal for them.
Currently, the funding crisis in the war theatre was not caused by the five prefectures in the war theatre, but the other three not under its jurisdiction, namely, Tyrrsim, Mormaly and Aduras. Those colonies had been administered not by the war theatre, but rather, their respective viceroys and high-commissioners. To fight the war against Shiks, they had relegated most of the taxes they collected to the war theatre as war funds.
However, they began to refuse funding Thundercrash and Monolith as of late, citing that the conflict had ended with Port Vebator's capture. As such, the taxes they collected would go to their respective treasuries and would no longer be sent to the war theatre as war funds. It was the convention for funding for irregular corps to be provided by the ministry of the army during peacetime, after all.
In fact, this was a united ploy to test the waters for the viceroys and high-commissioners. They wanted a cut of the taxes. Given how far away the kingdom was, they believed that they wouldn't have the energy to care about what happened in the Aueran colonies given the current state of affairs. Additionally, the reasons they gave were sound. Before, they had provided funding to the five enhanced folks due to the ongoing wars.
With Port Vebator taken, and Vebator made the eighth colony of the kingdom, that meant that another war with Shiks on Nubissia was impossible. In other words, they had won. Since the war was over, there was no need to give their taxes to the war theatre any longer. They would instead send the collected taxes straight to the national treasury.
Tyrrsim, Mormaly and Aduras hadn't been engulfed in the flames of war. However, Cromwell, Balingana and Robisto had been where most of the battles had been fought. Most of the civilians in these colonies had fled to Tyrrsim, Mormaly and Aduras, which brought great economic development to those colonies. In terms of economic power, those three colonies were doing the best and their subjects enjoyed the highest standards of living among the kingdom's colonies.
Similarly, their taxes had become the greatest funding source for the war theatre. Suddenly having all funding from them cut off absolutely infuriated Bolonik, the acting field marshal. He rushed to the three colonies immediately for negotiations.
When Skri went to Anna Farmstead to collect the order of a thousand revolvers, he told Claude that Bolonik had reacted in a less-than-ideal manner. He shouldn't have been in such a rush to negotiate, as that would make it apparent that the war theatre was in dire need of funds. It would easily be used as a crutch against them by the viceroys and high-commissioners. Since the three colonies could afford to ignore the ministry of the army's orders to continue to send funding, the war theatre would be in the right to send their forces there. There was no need for Bolonik himself to go at all.
Eventually, Skri's worries became the truth. When Bolonik returned, they were informed that the negotiations concluded with the colonies being allowed to keep thirty percent of their taxes for the development of the colonies and infrastructure with the rest going to the war theatre as funding. Thankfully, the captured Vebator could make up for their funding deficit and they wouldn't have to worry about lack of funds yet.
During the half a year from the 10th month of Year 590 to the 4th month of Year 591, the Aueran mainland, Nubissian colonies and the other Freian nations witnessed a huge historic occasion.
First, the late Aueran king, Stellin X, passed away and ascended to the war god's kingdom, leaving a will appointing Prince Wedrick as his heir instead of Prince Hansbach, who had been managing the kingdom since the king fell sick. Angered, the first prince left the royal capital and disappeared.
The colonial conflict on Nubissia ended after the Aueran colonial corps conquered the only Shiksan port, Port Vebator. Shiks was no longer able to send troops there and the remaining inland Shiksan colonies were slowly being devoured by the newly founded nikancha nation.
In the same year, Claude, a corpsman of a colonial irregular corps, invented the revolver. After the five military industrial complexes of Aueras obtained the rights to produce them, they changed the name of the revolver to spinwheel short-barreled guns and ushered in a new page in the history of Freian firearms. The new design and rapid-fire capabilities made them the favourites of many top officials, making them a staple self-defence weapon.
It was a shame that the five military industrial complexes didn't intend to promote the spinwheel short-barrels on a large scale. They only intended to sell them to nobles as luxury products that could be given as gifts or used for self-defence. Each short-barrel would be laced with gold or silver patterns and the cheapest of them cost above a hundred crowns. The rich and powerful all across the continent would get one for themselves to show off to their peers.
Following the sudden appearance of Prince Hansbach during the 2nd month of Year 591 in the three prefectures of Aueras' eastern border and his wrestling of control of Bluefeather, the kingdom's situation got tense once more. It seemed like a civil war would break out.
Compared to that, news of the tax dispute in the colonies wasn't eye catching enough. The war theatre suffered a huge loss of funding following the negotiations.
During the 3rd month, Majid III of Shiks did something that completely shocked Freia for how low he was willing to stoop.
It all started when the three Greytower magi were escorted by the ambassadors back to the Aueran mainland. It didn't take long before the captives released their statement that Majid III was the one who paid Greytower to send their members to Nubissia to assassinate the generals in the Aueran war theatre with the aim of causing their troops to fall into turmoil and delay their attack on Port Vebator. The matter came to heated public debate.
However, Majid III shamelessly insisted that he was being framed and had never paid for such an assassination, calling it nothing but an Aueran conspiracy.
But the proof was clear for all to see and public opinion seemed to sway in favour of the Auerans. As such, Majid III decided to host a grand banquet for ambassadors all over Freia to reemphasise that he had nothing to do with the assassination. Halfway through the banquet, the palace guards reported that Aueras' ambassadors requested an audience. The other ambassadors present were rather curious as they hadn't heard anything about Auerans sending any ambassadors over. Not only that, didn't Shiks refuse entry to their borders to all Aueran ambassadors?
The two that showed up before everyone else moved oddly and didn't seem like ambassadors at all. They advanced with purpose unrelentingly and removed their ambassadors' robes when they were some ten metres away from Majid III to reveal the grey robes they wore underneath before they launched magical attacks on the king!
According to the description of one ambassador present during the incident, Majid III was covered in layers and layers of magical barriers. The flash from the barriers as they mitigated the spells was enough to blind the eyes of many ambassadors temporarily. The two ambassador imposters were arrested on the spot and they immediately confessed to being Greytower magi that were hired by the Aueran first and second princes to assassinate Majid III.
It was too bad that with Stellin X dead, Majid III had nobody else but the princes to frame for the assassination. He had forgotten about the deadlock the two princes found themselves in; they were about to go to war for the Aueran throne. How could they possibly conspire to assassinate the Shiksan king?
Not to mention, the assassin magi weren't professional at all. Not only did they impersonate Greytower magi, they also seemed to act as if they were begging to be arrested. Many ambassadors saw through the pathetic tricks and laughed at Majid III for putting up such a laughable show of cops and robbers for them to see. They had a renewed opinion of how low this king was willing to go.
After word of the assassination performance spread to Aueras, it was said that Duke Duncan, the Aueran prime minister, coughed out blood out of sheer anger for the shamelessness Majid III displayed. However, given that civil war in Aueras seemed to be on the horizon, the kingdom would be trying its best efforts to quell tensions between the two princes and couldn't be bothered to follow up on the Shiksan scandal.