"If the enemy has a powerful fleet, build a castle."

Senbaud was ready to escort the 800 transport ships to Cape Romani three days later. He asked to meet Lorist when they were near the coast.

"Your Grace, this is the list of people for the transport fleet as well as an inventory of the supplies they're carrying. There are 843 large to medium ships. Among them, 103 Dams are carrying the 100 thousand Union recruits. Most are just barely more than kids. More than 500 ships carry food and most of the rest carry military supplies. Oh, 38 Dams are also carrying ten thousand buckets of green vine glue," Senbaud reported.

Why would the Union need so much green vine glue? That's almost how much Romon produces in a year! Lorist thought.

According to the list, Twinhead Dragon had spent a lot of money to purchase a year's worth of the green vine glue from Romon, at three-tenths more than market price.

Weird... Why does Twinhead Dragon need so much glue?

After some thought, Lorist began to understand what was going on. After three years of war, most of the plains were rubble. The guild purchased so much glue to rebuild the area. Perhaps they could even use the glue to rebuild the destroyed walls and fortifications.

Each bucket of weighed 50 kilograms, so ten thousand would make 500 thousand kilograms. With that much vine glue as a binder, Lorist could finally do something he'd thought of in the last couple of days.

"Wonderful. I was just lacking laborers," Lorist exclaimed, "When we get to short, let the recruits off. I need them for something. Tell them if they serve us properly for five years, they'll get their freedom back and be allowed to return home. Also, immediately offload the glue when you get to shore as well."

"Oh? Your Grace, aren't we sending the glue back to the dominion?"

"Follow me," said Lorist. He brought him out of the captain's cabin onto the deck.

"See that? I plan to build a crossing here. This will be where we start taking control of the sunshine seas and the golden coast."

Senbaud opened his eyes wide and stared out over the deck but saw nothing but ocean. His gaze finally settled where Lorist pointed and he saw Cape Romani. Cliffs burst out of the ocean like giant sea creatures coming up for air.

He wants to build a castle there?

Lorist, having not received a response, knew he was way off the mark.

"What are you looking at? I'm not going to build it on the cliff. I'm going to have something built on the reef."

Senbaud finally realized Lorist's finger was pointed at the ocean surface. However, it simply wasn't possible to build a castle on the reef. The deepest areas were ten meters while the shallower parts were around three meters. Even after the tide receded, only a part of the reef would be exposed. Unless Lorist was trying to fill up the reef to reclaim the land, there was no way a castle could be built.

"This reef is near the golden sea routes. If we build a castle and use it as a customs point, we only have to station a few Blitzes here and fit the walls with some cannons to control the entire region. We'll cut the Union off from the sea completely. We won't have to risk our ships in the south either. This will be our safe spot in the south as Silowas is in the north. It also allows us to have a supply station in the south."

Lorist had gotten the idea after receiving Howard's report and had already sent people to survey the region.

"But, Your Grace, this is too big," Senbaud said, "We are still at war. Even if we have the supplies and 100 thousand laborers, reclaiming the land around the reef isn't possible quickly enough to avoid getting attacked. This will take years. Isn't it a little too wasteful to invest so much into such a risky project?"

Lorist laughed.

"If we really have to spend three or four years, it really wouldn't be worth it. But we can begin construction in two months. We'll be done in half a year!"

"What?! Impossible! Your Grace, how are you going to fill this entire area in in just two months? Even if we have 100 thousand laborers, it's still impossible!"

"It's possible. We don't have to fill in the area at all," Lorist laughed, "Senbaud, the battle's outcome is out. Only 147 of INvincible's original 472 ship are still afloat. Putting aside the 74 Daws we destroyed, the remaining 250 ships are badly damaged.

"Fixing them temporarily will let us take them to Hidegold Bay, but they'll just sit there and rot. And we can't keep using them in their current state. They won't survive the north either, so there's no way to send them to Northsea to be repaired properly.

"They're useless to us. If so, then why not make some use of them? We'll fill them up and sunk them around the reef to make a dam. There's an oval-shaped lagoon in the middle of the reef around ten to twenty meters deep. If we remove a couple of the rocks, the lagoon can be a harbor. The buckets of glue will be really useful. We don't even need to stir them. We just have to thin the glue and pour it into the ships. When it solidifies and sinks, the ships will be walls."

Lorist had recycling on his mind all along. He would first build a makeshift dam before building a wall atop them where cannons could be installed so he could control the region. The house would also have a naval base near the sunshine seas.

Senbaud was struck and admired his lord so much he almost wanted to kneel on all fours. His lord was practically making something out of nothing. Castles built near reefs were usually unassailable. What kind of ship could take on a castle? It would create a massive chokepoint and they could use it to strangle the Union.

"Milord is wise," Senbaud said with a slap to his forehead, "I didn't think such a thing could be done. If we really build a castle here, we can get another source of income from the tolls as well. No private ships will be allowed, or able, to pass without paying. May I use the funds from that to expand our fleet?"

Lorist was surprised.

"Senbaud, I've already commissioned ten Blitzes. What more could you want? We're also going to change up the Daws and make them support ships. Besides, what do you mean by toll?"

The moment he heard Lorist was going to have ten more Blitzes built, Senbaud burst.

"A maritime toll is a hidden tax. When Invincible controlled the seas, all privately owned ships passing through had to pay a fee for use of the waters and protection from pirates. If a ship was caught without the right permit, it was confiscated and became property of the fleet. As far as I know, a Dam pays 25 gold Fordes a year for its permit."

"Wait, wasn't Chikdor the real hegemon of the south? When did Invincible become the lord?"

"It wouldn't be wrong to call Chikdor the hegemons since they do have a huge share of Invincible, but when Wessia was wiped out, Twinhead Dragon absorbed the rest of their shares in the fleet.

"On the surface, Invincible was the kings of the south. It could do anything in the Union's name and the nations near the golden coast had to endure everything. Chikdor managed to secretly assume control of Invincible while monopolizing most of the produce of the southern nations. Their ships and trading fleets are the largest apart from Invincible.

"Some ports and harbors are completely under Chikdor's control. They have a huge trading network in the nations in the south. However, they didn't really prioritize their business, they focused on taking advantage of the profits of other people instead." explained Senbaud.

"Oh, I see. You mentioned we can collect a huge sum from tolls? What if the ships don't want to come?"

"Hehe, don't worry, Milord. If the merchants only sail around the south, they won't earn anything. THe profitable routes are all between the north and south, going past here."

"Is that so? And why do you know so much? Are you privately in this line of business as 

"I'm not doing anything like that. I heard this from the merchants I caught. They helped me a bunch and stopped the men of Invincible from sinking their ships and sabotaging the supplies. I asked them what they wanted as a reward and they mentioned wanting an audience with Your Lordship."

"Why do they want to meet me?"

Senbaud scratched his head.

"Their ships were requisitioned by Invincible. Now we have them. They hope you'll return their ships to them. I think the help they lent me in securing the fleet is worth only a few gold coins. We don't need to give them the ships."

"I guess I won't be meeting them then," Lorist said, scratching his chin, "Accept their request and return their ships."

"But, Milord, that's 300 ships! It's a lot of money!"

"Give the ships back. We have 800 ships in the transport fleet, so we'll still have 500 left. It doesn't matter if we have the ships or not anyway, we don't have the men to crew them. Besides, this is a great opportunity. We couldn't expand our trade routes before, but now we can. Chikdor and Peterson kept us out of business in the south, but now they can't. This is a great chance to take hold of their trade routes. We'll give the merchants their ships and offer them good prices and protection to trade with us rather than the Union. Also, we'll show them what we can sell them when they stop by Silowas to drop off the supplies."

"Understood, Milord."

"Alright. If we can make Silowas a trade centre, the checkpoint castle will rake in profit as well. I'll do a check by the end of the year. If the profits are huge, we can consider expanding Northsea to three flotillas. That should be enough for you to sail in the north freely."

"Thank you, Milord." Senbaud's smile cracked his face in two from ear to ear.

"Senbaud, your next mission is really important. Let Howard take control of your corsairs. He will need some people to supervise the 100 thousand laborers. Take ten Blitzes with you and move the rest of our haul and captives to Silowas. I have notified Camorra to head there and make arrangements.

"As for the remaining ships, I will take them to Armatrin to meet up with the sentry legion and Firmrock. Once you've dropped everything off on Silowas, come back and watch over the construction here. Once that's done, send the laborers to Kenmays's dominion in batches. They'll go to Yungechandler from Platinum Beach."

"But, Milord, aren't you going to attack Hidegold Bay and Morante?"

"We no longer need Northsea to attack Hidegold Bay. Just look at the ships we captured. We can use them to sneak into the bay and occupy Morante."

Disguising themselves as Invincible to sail into the bay was much safer and the enemy couldn't be prepared for it. If they sent Blitzes, they would only put the enemy on alert.

"Understood, Milord. I will complete my mission."



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