Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 418

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As the head of logistics of the theatre, Skri was quite keen on the formation of a bank in the theatre. The lack of funding for development was becoming a huge problem and the stress that resulted had caused a third of his hair to whiten. He wore a frown on his face all day long as he wracked his brains on how he could get more money or make more savings.

With a bank in the theatre's control, however, funding would no longer be the chief of his worries. So, he was quite welcome to meet with Viscount Godic. The two enthusiastically discussed the matter and left poor old Claude to himself on the side. Skri was all too happy to take up Godic's suggestion to completely replace copper coins with monetary notes.

Among the coins of Aueras, the smallest unit of currency was the iron penny. Next came the green copper fenny. Ten fennies made a red copper sunar, and ten sunars was equivalent to one small silver riyas. Ten riyas could be exchanged for a large silver thale and five thales were equivalent to a crown.

The currency system instituted during Stellin IX's reign had persisted for eight long decades. Due to the rapid economic development during Stellin X's reign, iron pennies were no longer used among the populace. The smallest unit of currency used in daily trade was the green copper fenny. For instance, a fist-sized baked apple sold for three fennies and fresh milk usually cost one sunar.

However, that didn't mean iron coins didn't exist at all. The royal mint produced a set number of them for the national bank yearly, despite the latter's complaints. While pennies were small, they were rather heavy and troublesome to carry around in pockets. But after the five-year war, the economy tanked and iron pennies began to circulate among the populace once more. Nowadays, a fenny was a little too much for daily purchases and sometimes having five pennies around was rather convenient.

Anfiston was the colony that produced the most mineable resources in Nubissia. The mining association that was largely in charge of development and management of the mines had smuggled a few moulds for gold, silver and copper coins. They had planned to mint their own coins in the colonies to deal with the financial issue. That would also bring the theatre a yearly profit of 500 thousand crowns and relieve their tight spending on their military and local development.

The problem with that was minting gold crowns and silver thales was the most profitable and worth it. The profit for minting silver riyas was rather small at only 20 percent. However, the coins in greatest demand in the colonies happened to be the sunars and fennies beneath the riyas. After a cursory calculation, they found that minting fennies would result in a loss as the workmanship and materials alone would cost more than the fennies produced. Not only that, the more fennies were minted and released into circulation, the more they stood to lose due to inflation.

The mining association didn't want to mint any fennies, yet most civilian trade was conducted with fennies, sunars and riyas. Thales and crowns were occasionally used only in the minority of trades. While it was rather convenient to use them for intercontinental trade, the crowns and thales the mining association hoarded was no longer of any use due to the civil war in the mainland that caused maritime trade to be cut off.

Currently, the association was using the profit from minting riyas to offset the losses they suffered for minting fennies. They even started to mock themselves as making coins for the national bank for cheap. One thing they were thankful for, however, was how they didn't manage to get any moulds for sunars. Otherwise, they'd merely be seeking out trouble for themselves. They would rather not work than run an unprofitable business.

Godic's suggestion, however, was perfect to solve the problem of a lack of copper coins in the colonies. Replacing copper coins with paper notes of the same value would not only relieve the mining association from the troublesome and unprofitable minting of fennies, they could even stop minting the mildly profitable riyas. Any coin below the denomination of thales could simply be replaced by paper notes.

Aueran citizens also had the habit of saving, so they could easily save up enough paper notes for one thale and exchange them at the bank. That would allow the notes to flow freely through the colonies. Apart from that, bringing paper notes around would be far more convenient than copper coins. Sometimes, they would need to take a large sack or two filled with copper coins just to exchange for a thale and that was a rather huge burden and nuisance for most.

The longer the two chatted, the more heated the discussion got. In the end, Skri decided to cancel the rest of his plans for the afternoon and took Godic to his office to properly draft up a plan for the bank, leaving Claude alone in the dining hall.

Claude himself couldn't really bother to get involved with that personally. He had his own matters to attend to during the afternoon. After a short break following his lunch, he got into his carriage and left with his guard escorts.

Port Cobius was the capital of the colony of Tyrrsim and split into the inner and outer cities. Most residents in the inner city was the rich and powerful, whereas those living in the outer cities were mostly less-well-off settlers and immigrants without much property. As for the northern and western sectors of the cities, those were where the nikancha folk lived and worked. Countless shanties could be seen across those areas.

According to Port Cobius' registry, there were up to 80 thousand Aueran citizens registered there. However, there were easily 300 thousand nikancha people living in the northern and western city sectors. They worked the most tiring and hard jobs in the city. Almost all the cleaning and sewage work in the inner city was handled by the nikancha and many rich households would have a nikancha maid or two doing their chores. Most of the labourers in the docks were nikancha youths.

Ever since trade with the mainland stopped, the nikancha youth working at the docks became the most unstable element. They lost their chance to work and earn their keep and had nothing to do but to loiter around and cause trouble. Had Port Cobius not been put under martial law, another nikancha revolt might have broken out already.

Skri had consulted Claude once about a pressing matter in the three new colonies: the treatment of the nikancha folk.

In Vebator, a colony formerly under Shiksan rule, the enslavement of the nikancha by the Shiksans caused them to organise an armed rebellion. They conquered the coastal areas and mountains north of Port Vebator and founded their own nation, so no nikancha settlements in Vebator remained. The few nikancha folk that went to Port Vebator to search the garbage or steal some things would quickly be chased out of the border by the patrol guard.

Cromwell, Balingana and Robisto had undergone scorched earth during the war with the Shiksans. Following the massacre of the nikancha folk during the Shiksan occupation of Balingana and Cromwell, most of their ilk escaped the two colonies.

As Robisto was defended by the defence line at Dorinibla River, and Anfiston having Claude Defence Line near the Mosraka Mountains, most of the nikancha that made it to the border were chased away, mainly to keep the layouts of the defence lines secret. So, no nikancha settlement remained in Cromwell, Balingana and Robisto.

Following the capture of Port Vebator, the colonial wars came to an end. The immigration of the two million family members of the troops of Monolith and Thundercrash into Cromwell and Balingana came right after, so those two colonies were fully Aueran territory. There was no longer any room for the nikancha to exist, because most immigrants to those colonies were poor and were willing to work hard labour. They didn't have a habit of hiring servants of other races.

Robisto, on the other hand, had become where the original settlers of Aueras from Cromwell and Balingana settled in. Coupled with the approximate 300 thousand migrant family members of soldiers from that colony, Robisto had also become a majority-Aueran colony. During the settling process, the theatre forbade the nikancha from entering. If they didn't have any Aueran sponsor, even the former servants of Auerans wouldn't be able to enter.

Those policies were set by the theatre with the aid from the mining association. The inherent unruliness of their people was taken as a fact by the Auerans and the mining association wouldn't be able to hire that many nikancha miners had they not resorted to carrot-and-stick methods.

Among those in other colonies, the nikancha in Anfiston were the most well behaved, and that was mostly thanks to the years of education and tolerance by the mining association. Anfiston was also where nikancha youths earned the best wages and got the best treatment. They were actually no different from normal Aueran miners, save for the lack of benefits afforded to the kingdom's citizens. The nikancha were satisfied to see that they lived the same lives and earned the same wages as their Aueran counterparts.

The nikancha folk in Robisto and Anfiston were much better behaved and didn't cause trouble often or revolt. As long as they were treated fairly, the nikancha weren't as bad as people held them to be.

However, the nikancha folk in Mormaly, Tyrrsim and Aduras were truly odd. All the stereotypical bad nikancha traits could be found in them. They were considered to be the ones who couldn't be reformed no matter what. All sorts of negative words were used to describe them and they would often stage revolts in the three colonies. Each time, they would calm down and behave after tens of them were killed by the suppression efforts of the administration, but they would repeat the process all over again after some time passed. Nobody knew what they were trying to achieve by their frequent, futile revolts.

Naturally, most of that was due to the attitudes the high-commissioners and viceroys of the three colonies had when it came to managing them. Apart from taxing the nikancha folk, the officials of the three colonies considered them the lowest class of people or targets to be bullied. From time to time, they would send their garrison units to raid the nikancha settlements.

Not only that, citizens of those three colonies commonly discriminated against them. They looked down on them and bullied them on a regular basis. In work contracts between Auerans and the nikancha, the party that broke the contracts would usually be the Auerans. That caused them to earn the ire of the nikancha of the three colonies and was also one of the reasons nikancha revolts were so frequent there.

The problem was the Aueran population in those three colonies didn't even number up to a million, whereas the nikancha population was above three million. Claude believed that if the Aueran citizens and garrisons hadn't been armed with advanced firearms they used to oppress the nikancha, the three colonies would've long ended up like the current Shiksan ones where the nikancha people rebelled and founded their own nation.

Nowadays, Mormaly, Tyrrsim and Aduras had come under the administration of the theatre. So, the three million nikancha folk there became a high-priority issue to solve. The cessation of trade with the mainland had huge effects on the nikancha demographic. Their youths were no longer able to work as labourers at the docks and there was a lack of sailors frequenting the nikancha brothels. The children also weren't able to beg for coin from the merchants or sailors. As a result, a tense atmosphere built up in the shanty towns of Port Cobius.

Skri had planned to hire them as labourers for building roads and other public infrastructure to give them jobs, but before half a month even passed, he found himself facing an awkward problem. Placing his hopes in them was a huge mistake.

Usually, hiring a thousand Aueran immigrants would be enough to build five kilometres of road within ten days. However, a thousand nikancha youths were only able to build one kilometre in the same time and the quality of the roads didn't fit the standard either. Most of them only loitered around the construction site just to be able to eat. Sometimes, they would even steal the rations. The consumption of rations was three to four times more than normal.

What Skri didn't even dare to imagine was how they went on strike before even working for a few days to demand for an advance of their salary. Skri had wanted to pay them off with monetary notes, but they didn't want the notes that could be exchanged for daily necessities and wanted proper cash for wine and women.

In the end, he gave up on helping them and asked Claude if he had any way to deal with them. Naturally, he wasn't asking Claude to go massacre them or anything. However, the least he had to do was to send the tumour away lest they continue to cause problems within the colonies.

The mere mention of sending them away reminded Claude of the nikancha nation north of Vebator. He supposed sending them there would take the trouble off their hands. How the nikancha behaved once they reached their own nation wasn't his problem, nor was it the theatre's. They would have to deal with their own issues.

The next problem he considered was whether those of the nikancha nation would actually accept their own brethren. Additionally, would the nikancha in the three colonies actually be willing to migrate to the nikancha nation? The settlements in the three colonies had their own elders and leaders, after all, and they might not want to leave to keep their power and authority. Claude might have to resort to force to 'help' them along their way.

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