Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 570

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After sending off Moriad, Ironclad and the transport fleet, Claude and Avitelli I who rushed here to meet surveyed the terrain in the whole of Patkara. In the end, Claude, representing the region, signed an agreement with Avitelli I to lease Port Patkara from Bleyotte for fifty years at the price of 100 thousand crowns each, with the price increasing by ten percent every decade.

While the region was uninterested in conquering Shiksan territory, Claude didn't think they should just leave after the war. Instead, they should maintain a degree of military and economic influence on the area. As such, he decided to take a page out of American imperialism. The presence of their base in the area would make the locals constantly aware of the region's might and be unlikely to do anything without taking them into consideration.

Leasing the land would be far more beneficial than outright conquering it since the region didn't have any base to rely upon in that part of the continent. Might very often made right in Faslan, and most nations would choose conquest as an option. However, that came along with too many consequences for the future, such as the vengeance of the local populace. In the event of a conflict, the region also wouldn't be able to easily leave that area.

The conquered land would be the main point of contest, and public unrest would also cost the region who knows how much money to settle. Protecting a foreign conquered territory with troops to suppress the locals and appease them to accept rule by the region would eventually cost an astronomical amount, eventually taking a huge toll on the region's finances.

Just looking back at the empire on which the sun doesn't on set old Earth would show the failure of such a model. Apart from Hong Kong and India bringing the British empire any financial gain, the other conquered countries producing raw material also caused lots of native revolts and struggles for independence, which eventually caused the collapse of the empire. In the end, the empire collapsed and retreated back to their island nation. Eventually, they even had to use ferries to bolster their numbers in a naval parade.

However, the Americans' overseas bases being built on leased territory completely avoided that trap. While functionally, the two approaches were not that much different, some of the locals came to see the occupying forces as their protectors, unlike those that saw the British as conquerors and oppressors. That was why Avitelli I was so happy to hear about the region interested in leasing the port for a military base and even suggested the annual rent to be a symbolic one penny.

To Avitelli I, the region was a reliable ally. He knew perfectly well they didn't have any intention of occupying Shiksan territory, hence why they were so happy to hand the conquered territories back to the neighbouring nations. Bleyotte regained the three prefectures on Manori Plains and conquered four eastern prefectures, adding to their existing roster of 14 mountainous prefectures. Currently, they were a sizeable player on the Freian continent.

Avitelli I saw Claude's request to lease Port Patkara as a means to help him secure his rule. With the region's troops stationed nearby, he wouldn't have to worry about the safety of Manori Plains. Even if Shiks reunited in the future, they would be helpless to demand the three prefectures back from Bleyotte, given that Port Patkara was being leased to the region.

If possible, Avitelli I didn't want to collect any rent from the region at all. After all, the port yielded less than 50 thousand crowns, yet the region generously wanted to lease it for 100 thousand crowns each year with a rent increase every decade. While Bleyotte would lose jurisdiction over the leased territory in that time, that wasn't akin to selling the port to the region entirely. It ultimately still had to be returned to Bleyotte.

Grateful for the rent, Avitelli I included the area within a 25-kilometre radius of Port Patkara, including the mountain pass to enter Manori Plains, inside the area to be leased to the region, signing off on the Patkara Lease Agreement. Claude paid 5.6 million crowns, the rent for all five decades, to Bleyotte immediately. Avitelli I was so overwhelmed that he hugged Claude as warm tears flowed from his eyes, recognising him as a true friend of Bleyotte.

After the lease was signed, Claude could finally have the 100 thousand remaining homecoming Shiksans in Saint Cyprean transferred to the port. In the coming two to three months, they would work on building the port up to earn some extra money. It would be far better than just leaving them in Saint Cyprean to do nothing but eat and sleep.

In time, Port Patkara would become a huge trading hub in the south of Freia. Along with Northbay on the Great Plains of Canas, they would form a golden maritime trade route. Trade between the two ports carried products from the south and east of the continent and also connected them with the goods from Nubissia. One could only imagine how prosperous the future was.

As such, Port Patkara had to be expanded and renovated. The region had plans to overhaul almost the whole place. Thankfully, they happened to have enough manpower at the moment and could start working on it immediately. It was a win-win solution; the region got a trading port where they could also station troops whereas the family members of the homecoming Shiksans could earn some more money before they emigrated to the region.

Claude stayed in Port Patkara for up to a month. Once he was finished with all the planning efforts and waited for the Shiksan families to arrive, he left the rest in the hands of the Head of Logistics, Major-General Siegfeld Mor Vincent. Siegfeld used to be a lieutenant-colonel when he joined Thundercrash's logistics unit back then, but now, he was a major-general. Being a logistics officer, he was well aware of how hard it was for them to be promoted to the rank of a general officer, but years of serving Claude opened the door for him easily.

Claude returned to all sorts of busywork when he reached Saint Cyprean. He discussed Birkin's report with Eiblont before the latter told him he had been quite envious of Birkin for being able to return to the region to run the operation. He also ran a few sandtable simulations with Claude between the pamigar republic and the allied army of the three nations to try to project the future development of that war.

Claude wasn't too worried about Birkin not adopting his suggestion. While Birkin didn't seem to stand out, he was someone who carefully thought through and considered his actions. Having seen Claude's letter, he would naturally know what to do. Currently, the three nations at the western coast were the ones being beaten up without being able to fight back. They could do nought if the region chose to let the war drag on.

Before Claude handed Operation Wildfire over, he had already given the three nations a harsh lesson by exterminating the troops they sent to the colonies once. He had thought that would cause them to tone down somewhat and take the loss without pressing on, but he didn't think they would send more troops to try to reclaim the colonies after he left.

But now, it seemed like they had done all they could. If they failed once more, they would no longer be able to return to the western coast. Birkin reported that eight corps had been sent on the current expedition. Lesnia and Moloshik each sent three corps whereas Wasilisk only sent two, totalling up to around 400 thousand troops.

Claude really felt like laughing when he saw the numbers. A traditional corps numbered around 60 thousand, so eight times that should be 480 thousand, yet the three nations only had 400 thousand in eight corps. It was all too obvious those troops were hastily cobbled together and incomplete.

Those nations were unlike Shiks in that the inland Shiksan colonies were only there because the Shiksan nobles wanted to profit off mining. That was why they travelled inland the moment they reached the shore and eventually lost their hold on the coastal area because they found lots of mineable resources inland.

But even without occupying a coastal territory, decades of nonstop mining brought Shiks a nigh-endless supply of gold, silver and wealth that allowed Majid III to stubbornly not admit defeat and continue the war.

The issue was while Lesnia, Moloshik and Wasilisk were at the western coast, their colonies were bereft of mineable resources. They could only count on agriculture, fishing, logging and hunting for income. Trade between the colonies and their homeland overlords was the true source of income for the nobles of those nations.

Compared to Shiks' nonstop influx of wealth, all the income the colonies brought the nations of Southern Freia was pathetic. Being able to send a second expedition to reclaim the colonies already stretched at the limits of their capabilities. If those 400 thousand troops were wiped out once more, those nations would really have to bid the colonies goodbye.

Meanwhile, the region's plans to send troops impersonating pamigar fighters, losman cavalrymen and sending Liberty to liberate the natives of the three colonies didn't pique Claude's attention. All was going according to plan. What he needed to busy himself with was the expansion of Port Patkara and to transport all spoils and immigrants back to the region.

A few days later, Claude received a report that Blancarte came uninvited once more, this time, accompanied by a council member of the region, Baron Kannelt. Claude recalled that the man was one of the shareholders of the railway company and was put in charge of designing a railway for Aueras. Did his visit mean there were complications with that project?

Blancarte easily got to meet Claude. After they met, he immediately stated the purpose of his visit. He was there about reinforcements, railways and the lease. Additionally, he told Claude the surprising news that Arbeit Sen Ferd had come to see him on behalf of their mother to ask him for support to develop their fief.

The reinforcement request was actually from Reddragon. Unlike Thundercrash and the allied noble army, Reddragon operated with the most standard protocols. They killed anyone that resisted and spared those that cooperated, allowing the Shiksans that joined their side to help administer the territory they conquered.

Armed with the new weapons, Reddragon was put in charge of attacking the three central prefectures and the local forces weren't able to resist them. They either surrendered or were exterminated. The only thing they didn't account for was the huge consumption of ammunition. They only had around a million of the original five million rounds they got after occupying those three prefectures.

Usually, Thundercrash would gain up to a million or two million crowns from ransacking the local elite in each prefecture. The allied noble army, however, could net up to six million from their horrendous acts, including selling their captives to slavers.

Reddragon managed to earn three million crowns, mainly thanks to the prefecture itself being richer and the eager cooperation of the Shiksan officials that raised taxes to appease their conquerors. To continue to enjoy continued tax revenue from occupied territories, Reddragon had to station their troops there as a threat to those that would oppose the occupation.

Each of the three prefectures had more than ten towns. Since a town required a tribe to guard and a prefectural capital needed to be defended by a line of troops, Reddragon soon found themselves to no longer have any forces to mobilise. They couldn't possibly stop attacking, given that they had earned three million from a prefecture alone, so they requested reinforcements from the kingdom to take their place guarding the places they conquered to free them up.

The other matter concerned the railways. The original plan was for a single railway loop to be built in the kingdom across all the prefectures and the royal capital before it would be linked to Polyvisia in the Nasrian region. Then, two railways would branch out, one heading to Northbay, the Askilinian region and beyond that, the Rimodran and Sidinsian regions. The other would connect Polyvisia directly to the Sidinisian region, linking all three railways together.

The planning went without a hitch, save for their underestimation of the total budget needed to construct all those railways. Initially, Blancarte believed that 22 million crowns was enough for that project. But two years into the planning and budgeting, they found that it was only enough to finish the railways within the kingdom and to Polyvisia.

The rest spanning much of Eastern Freia required at least 30 million more crowns, so the royal court turned their attention to the region once more since they just attacked Shiks and were sure to have filled their pockets. Blancarte was there to persuade Claude to agree to invest the spoils gained in Shiks into the railway project in exchange for enjoying the benefits when it was complete.

The third issue concerned the lease of Port Patkara. The royal court heard about the huge sum that was paid in one go and thought it to be a horrible waste.

So, they began to brainstorm a plan to try to take advantage of it. Since Rimodra and Askilin were under the region's jurisdiction anyway and there were some eight port-cities in the area, they could lease them to the region just like Port Patkara too. The rent for the ports would be enough to cover the kingdom's budget for a whole decade.

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