Chapter 13 – Territory (7)
When Cornelius lowered his head, Jana shook her head once, leaving her fiery red hair to flutter in the wind and looked at him from the corners out of her eyes with dissatisfaction.
[You’re free to bend your knees, but don’t bring us into it.]
But even if they were unpleasant to listen to and she wanted to find fault with his words, she had to admit they were Brendel’s subordinates and they ought to do what he wanted.
They understood today’s conclusion from the actions they made yesterday. The young man in front of them was right, they had already offended the previous lord and the powers behind him, and they would not dare to offend another. The only people they could blame were themselves for acting rashly after Graudin’s insults and gave Brendel a chance to spur them into action.
She clicked her tongue lightly in annoyance before her eyes went back to Brendel. She was puzzled when she heard his new tax policies for the city. Vaunte’s nobles did not need to have the people’s hearts because the power they wielded was ironclad. If Brendel were strong enough to resist Count Randner, the citizens would not dare to resist such a powerful lord, and if he did not, it was pointless for him to administer the policies. Therefore, there was no meaning to his actions.
[Doesn’t he understand that he needs more money to set up a proper foothold in this city?]
If he was able to gather more funds, he could at least recruit more private soldiers to his army.
Brendel rubbed his forehead in thought as he looked at Cornelius and the other two commanders: “We’re surveying the lands. Bring along around a hundred of your men each.”
Felaern blinked her eyes puzzledly. She knew that he was about to fight Graudin’s remnants and he needed to win at all costs, but it sounded like he was about to bring the mercenaries to subjugate the sawmills. The Subterrane dwellers lived in the harsh Underworld, and their average warrior was at least an Iron-ranked fighter. Even if he was confident in winning, how was he going to avoid the loss of his men?
Was it so important to regain the sawmills?
“Survey the lands?” Cornelius was confused at the answer.
“There are four sawmills and two quarries near Firburh. Today, our mission is to bring them under our rule.” Brendel said.
“My lord,” Jana immediately spoke up, “we know of the sawmills, but the Subterrane Dwellers are occupying them. Are you telling us we are supposed to seize them back?”
Brendel merely looked at them without answering.
Cornelius and Jana’s expressions turned ugly. They had been here for quite some time and knew of the creatures in the woods. They were especially fond of night battles; their strength was high and their bodies robust. If they fought, they truly did not know how many of their men were going to be killed. Just the night battle yesterday alone, had caused them to pay a considerable price, and this battle seemed like it would be no less difficult.
Also, at this moment, it did not seem like it was a necessary battle when there was going to be the retaliation from the nobles in Trentheim.
They felt like the command was unreasonable.
“…… My lord,” Cornelius raised his head up after considerable difficulty, “The Subterrane Dwellars…… They come from the Underworld, and any of their individuals can match any of my best men. If we are to fight them, we will definitely be at a disadvantage. This…… isn’t a problem, but my advisor believes that Lord Macsen, a nearby retainer of Graudin, would be gathering his forces and marching on us soon.”
His voice softened as he felt that Brendel would know what he was insinuating.
Amandina shook her head: “Certainly, Lord Macsen is Graudin’s retainer, but why does he want to attack us?”
The three mercenaries looked at her with questioning eyes, wondering if she somehow fell and hurt her head.
“Isn’t it clear enough, Lady Amandina,” Jana replied, “he’s Graudin’s retainer, and we killed Graudin—”
She paused for a moment and added: “Furthermore, there’s Count Randner behind him, if he doesn’t move, that old bastard would probably pressure him—”
“You’re right. So our true enemy is actually Count Randner, and Lord Macsen is nothing more than a pawn being used to test the waters,” she nodded and said without any expressions: “But do you think that we are capable of fighting against the Count currently?”
The three looked at each other. This matter was something that worried them the most. Amandina did not reveal the contents about the Druids and the princess’s letter, and they had no idea how Brendel was going to handle the situation. It seemed possible that he might hand them over as sacrificial lambs. They glanced at him nervously.
Brendel was quietly musing to himself as he nodded inwardly to Amandina’s answer. She was starting to catch up to his thoughts, and her growth was shockingly fast ever since the battle of Chablis.
If he was going to fight Count Randner, he had to expand big enough in a single month to cause significant damage to both sides if it came down to war. Trentheim was currently a poor and indefensible location, and it seemed like an impossible task.
Valhalla and the Druids were his trump cards, and the Exploding Crystals from Amandina were also a source of strength.
Besides the time needed to acquire them, he needed resources. The most important thing was to restore functionality around his city. Acquiring the sawmills and quarries were necessary to repair the walls, build a workshop to create Exploding Crystals, training grounds for the militia and many other buildings. Once he was done with all these, only then would Romaine be able to execute her financial plans.
He must finish the battles before the autumn harvest so that his territory would be on track to raise a proper army. He could also finally start on the myriad things he needed to do for the political battles ahead. It was a tight schedule.
“Amandina is my advisor, and her words can represent my own.” Brendel said, and Amandina’s expression was slightly moved: “My family can ensure my safety in this war, but you lot are different. I’m not one who abandons my followers, but I have my limits. If I lose in the war, you can imagine what your fates would be. We’re traveling the same ship, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be choppy waves coming at us all the time; there are opportunities and treasure. Compared to Graudin, I believe I’m a generous lord. As long as you do not disappoint me, I will not disappoint you.” (TL: In case you don’t get it, it’s a fake family.)
But the three mercenaries continued to look blankly at him, so he spoke again.
“As for the Subterrane Dwellers…… Do you know that the wizards from Karsuk’s Black Tower fought against the Underworld in order to vie for resources? It was a war that lasted for a decade.”
Raban was quick to catch the point: “My lord, you have a strategy?”
“I always do,” Brendel answered, although it was a lie that the wizards fought against the Underworld.
While the three mercenaries set off to gather their men, Brendel ordered Felaern to get someone to find a guide from the slums.
“My lord, what are your plans for gaining money?” Amandina asked after the mercenaries were gone. “If you are not taxing the citizens, I assume you have another source for money?”
Brendel pondered for a moment. He was quite aware as to how territories functioned in the game. Funds came from various places, but the majority came from these: Trading, taxing, and money from mines.
Population and resources were important aspects of development. Trentheim produced silver and processed lumber, but they had quite the lacking number of workshops, If it were not for the silver mine, Graudin would be considered as poor as a beggar amongst most of the nobles.
“How many blacksmiths do we have in the city? How many pieces of armor do they produce in a month?” Brendel turned to Felaern.
“There are less than twenty blacksmiths, and that includes the apprentices. The production’s limit is no more than ten suits of armor, be it chain or leather. Also, their skill in magic and techniques are below the normal standards.”
[…… This fucking piece of garbage. The entire Trentheim’s production line seemed like it has been stagnant since fifty years ago. The whole Firburh, a population of thirty thousand and yet only this number of blacksmiths are employed?]
Brendel cursed Graudin in his mind. He knew that very little of the silver mine’s profits actually went into Graudin’s hands. Count Randner took the largest portion, while the royal family and the Holy Cathedral of Flames took two more portions.
[When the civil war starts, and my hands are fast enough, I might be able to control the entire mining process for two or three months. It’s just that I’m not sure how much it’s worth. I never did become a lord in the game, and only the biggest guilds monopolized them and ran them like a company. But at the very least I think I can get at least ten million Tor coins. I know the people around me are questioning my tax policies. But how many coins can I tax in a year? Three hundred thousand? That’s small change. I’m already opposing the nobles, and the last thing I want is to have the citizens opposing me too. It’s better to gain their hearts and think about the long term.]
“I’ll talk about my thoughts in detail when we come back from the excursion, Amandina,” he said.