"If you can't kill the old one, just make a new one."



"One hundred and eighty-six years ago, Duke Forde Morante who controlled the Falik Plains made a sudden declaration that caused an immense upheaval that would end with the abolishment of feudal society within the lands he conquered and the establishment of the Union. Uniting with Twinhead Dragon, Wessia, Mayflower, Riwald, Peterson and Chikdor, Forde formed the Forde Trade Union and traded with the other nations from their heartland in the plains. The Union's formation allowed the merchants, usually oppressed by the nobles, to finally have a reliable and trustworthy backing. Their statuses rose considerably as a result. They had a sovereign voice in the continent's geo-politics for the first time in history."

The room was filled with all the house's administrative officials currently in Morante. Everyone had answered Lorist's summons.

Charade stood on the podium and lectured everyone on the Union's history, his proposal, and it's suspected benefits for the House.

To people who knew Morante well and had lived there for more than a decade like Lorist, Els, Charade, and Yuriy, the officials that didn't understand the history and background of the city were rather troublesome. Loze asked why Lorist wouldn't just force half of the citizens to the north, like Yungechandler. His thoughts were simple. They would move half of the population to one place and solve two problems at once.

Lorist smiled bitterly.It'd be great if things were that simple. The Union had fought against the Krissen Empire for at least a century. Its old principles were ingrained in the people deeper than even religion. The Krissen Empire was also their sworn enemies. They'd rather die than become their subjects. The people saw doing such a thing as disgracing their entire family line.

Moving them to his land would do nothing but invite the trouble into his home. Like zealots amongst heathens, they'd spread their beliefs to his people and eventually his own people would rise up against him. He couldn't even take willing people because they'd spread their ideals like a cancer, even if they didn't mean to.

"The time of its founding was very tough," Charade continued, "The surrounding nations refused to have anything to do with such heretics for years. Many sealed their borders entirely, killing anyone that tried to cross the border. For years it was as though the world outside the Union's borders didn't exist at all. The Krissen Empire saw their chance and tried to swallow it up.

"Krissen IV forgot one important thing, however. The Union was a heresy on the way the continent worked, but it was far less of a threat, at least militarily, than his empire. The other kingdoms were more than willing to work with the Union to stop him once he started mobilizing.

"When they joined sides, the Union undid their prejudice enough to let them accept them, even if begrudgingly, and even became somewhat admired.

"The decades of war that followed engrained their beliefs in them like a religious person suffering tribulations. Their final victory made them prideful and arrogant, on top of almost zealous belief in their principles. The people here would often tell me and His Grace that they were 'free men' with giant smirks on their faces. 'Here you are no different from all the other common people', their eyes always said. We can never accept them as subjects. They will never bow their heads to someone else.

"These people are a unique breed. They will never subjugate themselves to anyone. They are also, however, merchants. Gold is their god.

"The big heads in the guilds couldn't have made a bigger mistake by implementing the aristocracy. They wanted to be equals to the nobles from the kingdoms and empires, but they've broken their connection to the freedom-loving people as a result.

"They originally wanted to take land from the empire, but then the War of Glass broke out and their plans changed. The big guilds benefitted from the wars, but the rest of the Union suffered. Then the guilds went and moved their operations to their dominions, destroying the city's economy even further.

"The war with us is actually very convenient for the Union because they can shift blame to us for the suffering."

"All that said. We fought in this war for three years. We took this city to end the war but instead of negotiating with us, the bigwigs just pulled back and are preparing to drag this on even further. These merchants may have the titles of nobles, but they have none of the education and principles, none of the character, that has to come with it.

"I finished my investigation a few days ago. We wiped out all traces of the old guilds in the city, and with it their system to feed the people. As a result that burden now falls to us. If we treat all the old guilds as foreigners to the Union, which isn't far off since they're all now based outside the old Union territories, then wouldn't this basically be the same Union of old?"

What did Charade mean? Apart from Lorist, everyone stared at him blankly. A few realized what he was saying. He was going to form a second, a new, Union. Without all the old merchants.

Was this even possible?

"We can do it," Charade declared, as if reading everyone's thoughts, "Duke Forde did it with even fewer people than we have now. And none of them were as educated and skilled as the million plus we have now. A century of war against kingdoms and empires have sculpted these people into irreparable egalitarians. Why not give them their wish?"

Charade's words stunned everyone. Most were nobles or about to be nobles, how could such thoughts come into their minds. One of the oldest feudal societies on the continent was now discussing how to form a second egalitarian one? What kind of a joke was this? If irony could kill...

"B-but…" Potterfang stammered, "the Union had the support of the six largest guilds. Their support is what let it survive. Morante has nothing like that now. Most of the merchants hate us to the bone as well, as do many, if not most, of the people. Why would they work with us?"

"It is easier to draw on a blank canvas." Charade smiled, "This is exactly why this is the perfect time for something like this. Without any big forces to interfere and stamp their own mark on this, we can shape this new Union however we wish. We can lift the syndicates up to replace the old guilds if need be. Without big guilds holding small merchants and individual entrepreneurs down to hold on to their own hegemonies, I have no doubt we'll see a miracle."

Charade's plan had several key goals. First, uplifting the syndicates to fill in the space left by the now-absent guilds together with the shrine guilds and unions. Second, removing the old restrictions so everyone could trade, make, sell, and buy as they wished. The guilds were previously in control of lawmaking and set up policies that benefited their competing economic interests at the expense of everyone else. Charade would keep these two forces completely separate so the governing body could be objective and make laws that benefited everyone.

The house would only take recruits taken from the southern provinces as laborers, the rest would be used to fulfill his plan's third goal: forming a new defense force to man the city's surrounding citadels and, if possible, the rest of the positions in the plains. This would free up Lorist's legions to return home. It was not good to leave it so sparsely defended.

The fourth goal was to reinvigorate the new Union's industries. First on the list were the shipbuilding and fishing industries. These had the biggest potential for growth because they were now the most desolate. These were previously completely monopolized by the big guilds and had no small competitors. They were thus now completely empty and ripe for new guilds to take over.

Finally, bringing merchants back to the city from the surrounding lands so they could start up shops and other businesses in the city and begin rebuilding its trade economy. At the same time, some of them would be made to focus on farming on granges outside the city so the population could be moved there partially. The city had to be downscaled, and the farmlands repopulated, this was unavoidable.

Everything sounded great in theory, but Spiel knew the practical was far from it.

"And where will we find the money? Our coffers certainly can't pay for this," he asked.

"We don't have to put anything into this. Morante has enough money hidden in it. We just have yet to dig it out of the ground."