Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 544

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"Has Anderclost's workhorse convoy returned?" Claude asked.

"No," Masonhughes answered, "After they sent the supplies to Colonel Borkal in Moloshik's colony, they rested for a day then continued with another batch of smuggled goods.

"Councillor Anderclost and the rest built a large camp at the border of Lomonkdor Mountains. They would first ship their goods from Moknad to the camp before using the workhorse convoy to bring them into the western colonies.

"Additionally, the smuggling association made a large order for light rails to be laid on the secret path. I believe they're going to build railroads, so I looked into it and learnt they were going to use them for horse-pulled rail carts. That could save their time and horses needed by half.

"Additionally, the smuggling association plans to build three warehouses along the secret path to store goods to be smuggled to decrease shipment times. However, the road builders they hired got into a couple fights with nikancha in the area over trivial matters. Fortunately, they were mere brawls that didn't involve any weapons."

Claude was quite satisfied with his adjutant's succinct explanation of the smuggling association's plans.

"Write to the council member and tell him that 'smuggling association' has too many negative connotations. Let's call it the Free Trade and Transport Association from now on."

"Understood." Masonhughes quickly noted down the request.

"How much longer will it take for General Myjack to return?"

The lieutenant-colonel picked up a folder and scanned it.

"It might take more than ten days. The eagle message from the day before yesterday stated that General Myjack has finished reorganising the local garrison line in Vebator. His last destination will be Loki Mountains. After the two lines there are reorganised, he will return to Lanu."

Claude nodded as he took out a cigar from the box, lit it, and took a puff. "Are there any other urgent matters that need to be dealt with?"

"Yes. You haven't replied to General Drivick's request. It's been three days since it's made," he reminded.

Drivick made a recruitment drive to get the freed Shiksan captives to join the voluntary folk in the fight for the pamigar. He didn't think some 60 thousand people applied at once, far more than a folk could contain. The Shiksans that weren't picked were quite dissatisfied and kept on yammering outside the camp. Drivick had no choice but to notify Claude about it and ask for instructions on handling the matter.

Gritting his teeth, Claude said, "Whatever. Let's form another Shiksan folk. We'll let Major-General Sibylos Tar Borliot be the new folksman. I've been thinking... If the pamigar are really able to found their own nation in Moloshik's colony, Moloshik might send their army to Nubissia. That's when the second Shiksan voluntary folk can be put to use."

The two Shiksan voluntary folks would be funded by the region in advance and paid back by the pamigar anyways after the founding of their nation, either with money or goods. So, Claude didn't really mind forming another folk. He couldn't let the strong wills of those volunteers go to waste, after all. No matter their personal motives, their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the region's interests was not something to be let go of that easily.

Nobody knew what kinds of problems the pamigar forces would run into, nor whether Moloshik would retaliate. Perhaps the two neighbouring colonies from other nations would step in to interfere after the founding of the pamigar nation. It would be better to be prepared for that eventuality than not, and one more folk represented more capability to retaliate. Should they not have enough troops when the time came, they would collapse faster than anyone could react. The region itself couldn't send its troops in, after all.

Masonhughes finished making a note of it. "Master Liboyd and General Moriad sent a message that the refurbishment of the first batch of ironclad ships to be handed to the kingdom is complete. Please take some time out of your schedule to inspect them."

Claude nodded. "Tomorrow, no, let's do it the day after. I'll need to head to Port Patres on that day anyway and stay there for two days."

Masonhughes nodded as he marked Claude's new plans down. "Mister Weyblon reported that the first batch of new muskets, their ammunition, and old Shiksan-type mortars have been delivered to the camp. The first Shiksan voluntary folk can begin live-fire training immediately."

"Let General Drivick analyse the strengths and weaknesses of these new muskets. If they work well, we'll mass-produce the Weyblon Type-02. Also, send Borkal some of them for the pamigar to try out. We'll have them test the weapons as well."

"Understood, Lord Militant."

"Any news from the mainland?" Claude asked.

"It's the same from four days ago. The bandits of Mambamark often raid the border of the Nasrian region. Small scale skirmishes break out often and the kingdom has sent ambassadors to Mambamark for a strong request for the raids to be dealt with. The three main corps of the kingdom are adopting Sonia 591s and General Eiblont wiped out another nomadic tribe on the Great Plains of Canas. The expansion and development of Northbay is also underway."

Claude sighed. He had heard about all of those before.

Masonhughes closed up the notebook, bowed, and made to leave. He stopped before he left the office.

"Lord Militant, I want to join the forces..."

"Huh?--" Claude looked up at him. "--Which unit do you want to serve in?"

"General Drivick said that, with your permission, I am to take up the post of linesman under him."

"That bastard... He's poaching all my talent away..." Claude cursed. He looked back at Masonhughes. "Alright, I'll allow it. But you'll have to get me a new adjutant in three days, or forget about becoming linesman."

"Understood!--" Masonhughes bowed elatedly. "--I'll look for one that will satisfy you."

"Hey, deal with what I already asked you to do first!" Claude yelled as he shook his head with a smile.

That fellow had been by his side for years. It was about time he was given his freedom to go about on his own. Come to think of it, Claude had only had two adjutants thus far in his life: Myjack and Masonhughes. Parting with them was never easy.

On the 14th of the 10th month, Year 602, the pamigar revolt broke out in the colony of Moloshik. It was said that it all started due to the administration of the city of Jubilis starting to collect high taxes for the textiles made by the pamigars themselves.

The mainland of Moloshik was famous for its linen cloth, most of which were shipped and sold to their colony on Nubissia for a high price. Since the pamigars weren't willing to take part in the sham, they decided to make their own rough linen cloth. That caused the Moloshikian textile merchants to work with the colonial officials to erect many bans of planting rough hemp in many towns and cities to limit the production of local linen so that those from the kingdom could sell.

However, the merchants and officials were a little too simple minded. Since the bans only affected the cities and towns, that didn't stop the pamigars from planting hemp in the wilderness. It wasn't a hard operation to move anyway, considering how low the standards required of rough linen were. The pamigar often brought hemp seeds to the wilderness to scatter. In half a year, the plants grew and flourished, ready to be harvested and made into cloth.

Angered and annoyed, the merchants and officials made another ban. Any household discovered to have weaving machines had to pay a high linen tax. In other words, anyone with weaving machines was automatically assumed to be in the rough-linen trade and harming the profits of the kingdom and the colonial government. Either they paid those taxes or they got rid of the weaving machines in their homes.

Each weaving machine was as important to the pamigar women as dowry. With them, they could be self-sufficient. They could simply be using them to make rough linen for their own use instead of making them for sale. Some of them with dextrous hands could even use them to make cloth comparable to the likes of fine linen.

Had the linen sold by the kingdom been cheap, they might've reaped quite a lot of profit. It was too bad the textile merchants were far too greedy and intended to scrape all the wealth from the pamigars' hands with their product, having set the price of their linen to cost five times more than they did on the mainland. As a result, none of the pamigars were willing to buy them.

Initially, they could justify the poor sales thanks to the cloth produced by the Aueran Autonomous Region being smuggled into their colonies. But since the embargo was enacted, no cloth from the region made it through, yet, the Moloshikian textiles still sold poorly. To force the pamigar to buy them, the merchants and officials came up with the tax, thinking that they would have no choice but to buy them if they no longer had weaving machines. Otherwise, they'd have to go about naked outside.

When the revolt started, the pamigar used rocks, daggers, spears and self-made bows. They were easily repelled by the musket-wielding garrison forces of the colonies. Corpses of the pamigars littered the streets. The settlers and colonial troops thought it was just another run-of-the-mill revolt that would cool down in another three days.

Little did they know it would last half a month long. By the end of it, the pamigars were using a new kind of musket. They also seemed to be given strict training. The tribe of colonial troops and clan of garrison troops in Jubilis suffered heavy casualties before losing the city.

The loss of Jubilis came as a great shock to the local government. It was only then when they found out that the one that organised the revolt was the mix-blood baron they so often made fun of, Tazinger Nora Taganem. He announced the formation of the Pamigar Liberation Front to fight for the social and economic freedoms of his people, causing countless pamigars to flock to Jubilis.

Claude was quite frustrated as the revolt was actually an accident. It was not part of the plan, as the Shiksan voluntary folk was still being trained in Lanu. They hadn't set out for Moloshik's colony yet.

"They're almost two and a half months ahead of schedule. Most of the pamigar youths that took part in the revolt haven't received more than three months of training. Those darned nikanchas are really nothing but nikanchas. The inability to keep to strict discipline is deep in their blood! It's not something that can be changed just by calling themselves a new name!" Head of Strategy, Major-General Natass Bar Lawakoss, cursed. He hated people who couldn't stick to the plan.

"Colonel Borkal's eagle message said the reason for the early revolt is the huge number of pamigar deaths in Jubilis, many of whom were the family members of the pamigar youths that were being trained. After finding out about that nightmarish massacre, they couldn't hold their hatred in and secretly left with their weapons to join the riot.

"The rest didn't have a choice and moved forward with the revolt. Fortunately, Moloshik's colonial and garrison forces are weak and small in number, so they weren't the trained pamigars' match. By the time the members of the Pamigar Liberation Front entered Jubilis, Tazinger Nora Taganem had to make his stand or risk losing his right to be called leader of the revolt," Myjack explained as he read the letter. It happened all too quickly, so even Borkal had to go along with the flow. He had no way of stopping the pamigar youths from avenging their family.

"Lord Militant, what should we do next? Should we stop the training of the first voluntary Shiksan folk and send them to reinforce the pamigars immediately?" Fodres, the head of intelligence, asked.

Claude waved. He turned to Myjack and asked, "Did Colonel Borkal request us to send reinforcements immediately?"

"No. He only explained the reason the revolt started without saying anything else."

Claude chuckled. "Then, we'll let the pamigar do their thing. General Natass is right. Just because they call themselves pamigars doesn't mean they don't still have the bad habits of the nikancha. I believe Colonel Borkal and the officers we send there won't have an easy time. The pamigars will easily get ahead of themselves with their easy conquest of Jubilis.

"I heard that none of the pamigar revolts over the past two centuries worked, and that they've never taken one city before. This victory will definitely inflate their confidence. They'll plan to take most of the colony next and take control of many more towns and cities.

"They don't lack the manpower. Didn't Colonel Borkal say that countless pamigars went to join Tazinger? With the 20 thousand incompletely trained men armed with muskets, the forces of Moloshik won't be their match."

"Then isn't our plan and all the funds we invested in it wasted?" Head of Finances Seinarnoff Wai Bakum asked anxiously. If the pamigars founded an independent nation that soon, the two voluntary folks the region formed would have to be paid for by themselves.

Fodres, however, laughed. "Don't worry. Lord Militant Claude means that the pamigar can sweep across most of the colony, but not hold it themselves. By the time Moloshik reacts and sends a corps to stamp out revolts, the pamigar will suffer. We'll just be patient and wait for them to come to us for help. By then, they'll be willing to pay an even bigger price for our help."

Natass nodded. "General Fodres is right. It won't be too late for us to act then. I'm only worried that the Lesnian and Wasiliskian colonies next to Moloshik's will interfere in the revolt.

"If they send troops to help suppress the pamigar, I suspect they won't be able to hold on for our reinforcements."

Claude shook his head. "It's not something that can happen. Moloshik and Wasilisk are enemies in the first place. They've gone to war a few times on Freia and Nubissia. If Wasilisk didn't have the support of Opsaro City-state Federation, they would've been wiped out by Moloshik long ago.

"As for the Lesnian colony, Moloshik is even warier of them. A few conflicts have broken up at their borders and they aren't on good terms. The other two colonies will be more than happy to see chaos break out in the Moloshikian colony. They can't wait to see the pamigar nation get founded.

"Only after that can they send troops to take the colony back from the pamigar nation and get to keep the land. They definitely won't send reinforcements in the initial stages of the revolt. They might even privately provide support."

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