Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 410

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"Four of the five citadels we wanted to renovate back then are now complete. Within Cromwell, Wickhamsburg and Lanbichsburg are ready. Within Balingana, Beckhillsburg and Haroldsburg are ready too. Only Kasilyasburg is still under construction. We think it should be done in the 6th month of next year.

"When the five citadels are complete, we'll need to build a road from Cromwell and Balingana straight to Port Vebator's coastal defence area to make sure we're ready for an attack from sea and will be alerted appropriately. There's also the consideration of whether we should construct a fixed stone bridge across Dorinibla River to replace the two floating bridges now.

"However, it seems like any heavy construction projects will have to be held back. The city of Moknad in Vebator will have to be renovated and we'll need manpower as well for the silver mines there. The mines belong to the theatre. Back then, the nikancha rebellion more or less destroyed the whole city. Now, we have to get the city of silver running again.

"The mining association had sent experts to survey the place and if we have enough manpower, we'll be able to get the silver mines running in two months and produce an estimated yield of 150 thousand crowns next year. It'll be quite the sum to help our theatre out with the funding.

"Additionally, the city of Moknad is situated near the eastern mountain area of Vebator and only some 50 kilometres away from the nikancha nation. If we don't send anyone to take the abandoned mines, a third of Vebator's eastern area will be lost if they occupy it.

"I suggest we use the fact that the nikancha will need our military support since they had just founded their nation to draw clear boundaries now to prevent conflict arising from a confusing border. Nowadays, lots of nikancha enter Vebator and have to be chased away by our patrol guards."

It was the end-of-year meeting in the theatre. Skri made a summarised conclusive report on the theatre. Claude, Bolonik, Eiblont, Birkin, Bernard and the new chief constable of Balingana and Cromwell, Saljorak, were there in attendance. Most of the former heads of the theatre were there, save for the assassinated Sevict.

Moknad had to be rebuilt into a citadel like Wickhamsburg, not just to protect the mines nearby, but also because of the fact that it was near the border with the newly founded nikancha nation. When the colony was in Shiksan control, the other Shiksan colonies were nearby Moknad so there was no pressing need for defending it. That resulted in the city of silver to be easily taken. The nikancha who freed their enslaved brethren killed off nearly all the slave owners and drivers and set fire to the whole city.

Following Claude's capture of most of the Vebator colony, the one remaining Shiksan standing corps retreated into Port Vebator, leading to Moknad being abandoned. Now, Vebator had become the eighth Aueran colony on Nubissia. According to its old borders, Moknad and the silver deposits nearby should be within the colony and Skri set his sights on those areas, having been driven insane by the funding crisis.

"Our theatre is in the red now. We've spent nearly 1.45 million crowns, mainly on settling the immigrants down in Cromwell and Balingana as well as the infrastructure construction there. Currently, nearly two million people have been settled in the two colonies and 23 new towns have been built. The average number of relatives each soldier brought is 18, with the highest being 67 and the lowest being 6. That's what's causing our serious deficit.

"Fortunately, most of the soldiers in the two corps have moved their relatives here. There's only an estimate of 300 thousand more that will arrive next year. The problem with such a large-scale migration is the imposters from the Aueran mainland who aren't relatives of soldiers but are coming here to avoid the civil war.

"The Storm fleet in Whitestag only care about making money off the high transport fees they charge without caring about whether our colonies can sustain so many citizens to begin with. All they know is send ship after ship of them here. Additionally, the viceroys and high-commissioners of Tyrrsim, Mormaly and Aduras don't care about the livelihood of the immigrants either. They chase them straight here to the theatre without exception. Currently, there are around 200 thousand immigrants that have no relation with our troops whatsoever. They're all kept in Robisto.

"While our deficit amounts to 1.45 million crowns, we didn't have to pay out that much cash. General Claude had suggested that we issue out notes that represent cash to solve our lack of funds for the moment, but that doesn't mean the problem is completely resolved. We won't be able to collect taxes from Cromwell and Balingana next year either and have to transport the goods from the other colonies to Balingana and Cromwell for sale there.

"In other words, we'll be buying goods using proper cash and selling them for the notes we issue this year. That means we'll merely be pushing our deficit to next year. If possible, I hope we can replace crowns by releasing paper currency yearly instead.

"Currently, we're faced with two large problems. First is the lack of funds for development and construction. Even if we use up our military funding, it will be far from enough to fill the hole. Tax can only be collected from Cromwell and Balingana two years later, which means we'll only get back some money at that time. This, however, is a long-term process. We're estimated to require more than ten years to recoup the costs of development.

"The other problem is that the kingdom doesn't have a reserve of so much cash in the colonies. Even if we loan money from the national bank, we won't get nearly enough to cover that huge amount. They don't have that many crowns and thales, which is a huge problem for civilian and merchant trading in the colonies. For instance, there's a demand for goods produced in local factories here but there's no money to facilitate the trade. Bartering is far too troublesome.

"The mining association suggested that we mint our own coins in the colonies. They had privately purchased a few coin moulds that are prepped for recasting for a high price. They can be used to mint crowns, thales, riyas, and fennies. We only lack the ability to produce sunars and pennies. However, we can simply import them if necessary. The colonies have enough metals for the minting of such coins and they're willing to give us a yield worth 300 thousand crowns yearly."

Claude was quite surprised at the guts of the merchants in the association. They would do any kind of profitable business and avoid those that weren't lucrative. The kingdom had ruled that all coins had to be minted by national casting factories. Privately making them would be punished by none other than death! However, that restriction caused the development in the colonies to slow and the mining association was trying to break through that limitation.

If they didn't have enough coins, there wouldn't be enough profit. Back then, the kingdom basically took whatever resources they wanted from the colonies and the mining association was part of those plundered. The ores they produced could only be refined into ingots and shipped to the other continent for sale. The price was set and trade was facilitated by the merchant nobles, who controlled intercontinental trade. They took most of the profits and only gave the leftovers to the association.

The yields from gold and silver mines had to be handed to the national treasury for free. The earnings of the association amounted to less than ten percent, and that was after they cited the need for some reinvestment to develop their mining capabilities. Nobody could've expected them to make their own preparations for coin minting. They even tried to drag the theatre in to cover all their bases.

Claude knocked on the desk and said, "Tell the association that we'll agree to let them mint coins privately. However, they have to provide us with 500 thousand crowns yearly. We can also let them take over the silver mines in Moknad and help them with maintaining security. However, they are to keep the coin minting an absolute secret. If word of this spreads, our theatre will be in quite some trouble."

The kingdom was quite far away and the two continents were separated by the Tranquil Ocean. Given that there was also a civil war going on, the kingdom would ignore development in the colonies, which were in dire need of funding. They couldn't be expected to let themselves go bankrupt, could they? Whether they were going against the law no longer mattered. What they had to do was to solve the problem first to keep themselves afloat.

Bolonik nodded. "Come this new year, I'll go to Tyrrsim, Mormaly and Aduras and negotiate with the viceroys and high-commissioners to help us out and not keep thirty percent of their taxes for themselves since we're in financial trouble. That should be able to net us another 100 thousand crowns."

Claude secretly clicked his tongue. That was one of Bolonik's greatest weaknesses. He always assumed the best in people and believed they were fundamentally good. Did he really think the crooks would actually spit out the money they fought hard to keep? Then again, there was no harm in letting Bolonik go and fail for a lesson.

Sir Bernard said, "Due to the large number of immigrants in Cromwell, Balingana and Robisto, the factories in Anfiston received really huge orders. The taxes we can collect there will definitely increase in the coming year. There should be an additional 100 thousand crowns of income, which should relieve us somewhat."

Skri said, "If we have an additional 700 thousand crowns next year, I believe we'll fare much better. We don't really lack food now. During the 11th month of this year, winter wheat will be planted in Cromwell and Balingana and we'll get to harvest them during the 4th month next year. After that, we'll plant summer wheat. Following its harvest in the 9th month, we can even plant potatoes. The land in these two colonies are rich and suited to farming.

"Additionally, the five new citadels and 23 new towns' land is set to be half for public use and another half for personal ownership. Immigrants with land have already moved there to begin farming. In harvest season next year, the two million immigrants should be self-sufficient.

"The largest spending for our theatre this year was the construction of the five citadels and the costs of the 200 thousand Shiksan labourers. We only had to provide them with food and clothing as well as some simple medical treatment. The construction materials for the citadels amount to some 100 thousand crowns.

"However, hiring the relatives of our troops to cultivate land, build irrigation routes as well as roads and buildings in towns cost us a million crowns. Fortunately, General Claude suggested the issuing of notes in time to relieve us temporarily. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been able to hold on.

"But next year, we still have to continue developing the public facilities of these two colonies and construct small shipyards in coastal areas so fishing boats can be built. It'll be another source of income for our theatre. More importantly, we can't leave the two corps of soldiers doing nothing or the safety and order in the two colonies will be affected."

Claude grimaced. They still had many public services in the two colonies to deal with next year, such as the constabularies, elementary and middle schools as well as town halls that each new town needed to run smoothly. All that required large amounts of investment. It seemed that they would have to issue another round of notes the next year.

Bolonik rubbed his temples. He was facing quite a lot of stress as acting field marshal. In a short half year, half his hair had whitened. The creases on his forehead were even deeper than before.

"We'll leave it at that.... Now, we are all aware of the state of the theatre," Bolonik said, "Civil war has broken out in the kingdom and there's no saying which prince will obtain final victory and become our new king. What we must do is to take care of the management of the colonies under our theatre.

"After my discussion with General Claude, we decided that we have to start reorganising our two corps. Since the civil war began, we were unable to obtain updates on Shiks from the royal capital. Last month, a captain of a smuggling ship that stopped at Port Vebator for resupplying told us that the internal strife in Shiks has been quelled.

"Naturally, we can't be sure whether it's true. But even if it's not, we must consider it to be true. Given Majid III's temperament, he definitely wouldn't admit to losing the colonial wars. Perhaps he's already started recruiting for his new standing corps in preparation to attack our colonies once more.

"Next year, I'm going to move theatre headquarters to Wickhamsburg. Currently, Cromwell and Balingana are our core base. Even if Shiks manages to conquer Port Vebator, we can't afford to use scorched earth in those two colonies any longer. We must face them till the end.

"General Eiblont, take a folk from Thundercrash and station them in Moknad next year. Make sure the border between our colony and the nikancha nation is clearly defined. General Birkin, you're in charge of the defences and security of coastal areas near Port Vebator and Port Patres. Monolith's 1st Folk will be in your command. As for General Claude and I, we will take over defences and patrolling in the colonies in our theatre. When war breaks out, General Claude will be in charge of sending reinforcements."

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