Chapter 113 Warning
Since the end of the Month of the Demons, it has only rained for two days in the West, all the other days had been sunny days, apparently, this was compensation for all the snow during the winter. The musty air in the office had also been swept away, becoming fresh and clean as nature, and when he opened the windows the sweet smelling fragrance of spring would sometimes float into the room.
At this time, the road between Border Town and Longsong Stronghold had nearly been restored to its former quality. But with each passing day, Roland would become particularly more concerned about the matter with the stronghold.
Every year after the return of land traffic there would also be merchants coming to Border Town selling their fresh goods, but until today he had yet to see any merchant coming in from Longsong Stronghold. Lightning was by now flying two times a day to Longsong Stronghold, to ensure that they would have an early enough warning to be well prepared for the enemy's arrival.
Over the past week, the First Army has entered the comprehensive exercise stage, which included setting up the defensive line in order to welcome an enemy’s attack and also trained in how to pursue and attack an enemy. For the former they heavily relied on Lighting to always inform them of the distance between them and the enemy, the artillery and gun teams would shoot according to her orders – making it much easier, regardless of whether it concerned giving orders or acting on given orders. For example: Shooting solid shelling at 800 meters and 500 meters, while using canister shelling when the enemy approached 300 meters, and firing with firearms at 50 meters and so on. As long as they saw Lightning raising the corresponding flag, the team leader would then give the signal to his team to attack.
The key for the victory on the battlefield laid in the pursuit and attacking stage. According to Roland's plan, when the enemy was defeated, they would turn around and retreat to Longsong Stronghold, for which they would also need to use three days. Even if the Duke fled on his own, leaving his militia and the hired mercenaries behind, he would still need two days for the journey, so he had to stay for at least one night out in the wild.
This gave the First Army the perfect chance to chase them. The whole process of monitoring would be done by Lightning, while the first army would always be out of the enemy’s scouting distant but ready to catch up at any moment. The artillery and ammunition would be transported by the town’s civilians. When the enemy had established their night camp, it was time for the First Army to completely encircle them, and at dawn of the next day they would start the attack, completely annihilating the opposition.
Even though the plan didn’t seem complicated, it was almost impossible to coordinate the two troops because of the absence of any modern communication devices. Roland could only hope for the witches, to make up for the lack in communication. How the final result would end up, even he himself was unsure.
Another critical point was that his gunpowder reserves were running low, because of this the First Army was unable to use live ammunition during their comprehensive exercises. However, the main goal of the training had been to increase the Gunner Team’s and Artillery Team’s collaboration, as well as the coordination between the First Army and the witches. Roland has sent people to go further down the Redwater River to Fallen Dragon Ridge and Redwater City, hoping to find new sources of saltpeter. If I’m unable to replenish my reserves of gunpowder, I am afraid after two more fights, the guns in the hands of the First Army could only be used as spears, Roland thought.
Roland wrote a number of items he had to procure on paper which included saltpeter, grain, seeds and other supplies, he intended to send one of Barov’s apprentice to the King’s City to try his luck. That place had sufficient merchandise, it especially had enough saltpeter – with the summer approaching, the King would surely have started to gather saltpeter by now. As a city filled with wealthy aristocrats and also wealthy merchants, when the weather started to get hot, the consumption of saltpeter would become staggering. He hoped to find a stable supplier who could provide Border Town with a stable stream of the raw materials needed to produce gunpowder.
Prior to this, he had already sent out two of his personal guards, one to implement the plan called "Gathering the Witches" and another to work on the "finding the fruit" program.
The former had posed as either a traveler or a businessman, and spread out through the streets and lanes, pubs and other places the rumors of Border Town being a safe haven for witches. Of course, it hadn't been said that the host was the 4th Prince himself, instead he news that spread had been that they had been able to find the Holy Mountain, and that the Witch Cooperation Association was now looking to recruit new members.
The other had gone directly to Clearwater Port, and purchased some peculiar crops from the Fjords from across the ocean. Of course, when he found any particular seeds in any of the city’s on the journey, he had also sent them back.
Having finished with his purchasing list, he handed it over to Scroll, allowing her go to the Town Hall and hand it over to Barov. After Scroll left Roland stretched out his hand to drink some water, but only to discover that his cup was empty.
Just as he was about to get up and take the kettle off from the fire, Nightingale was already bringing over the pot to the table. More than that, she even smiled while she filled up the cup, and when she put the kettle back.
Roland slowly sipped his tea, while trying to think of what would have happened to make her smile like this. Recently the attitude of Nightingale was somewhat off. In the last few days she had always had a smile on her face, and even more, she was now even taking the initiative to serve him tea, does she secretly want a raise in her wages? Previously, she would only sit on the sofa while holding a pot of dried fish and gnawing on some for the whole afternoon long.
Although, Roland had already asked her what had happened, she only laughed and refuse to answer, he simply had to let the question go.
Could playing Gwent really make people so happy? Later when he “invents” Poker and Mahjong, he could just open a casino, and the money would come in on it's own... Stop. Roland shook his head, pushing the thought to the back of his head. Now wasn’t the time for pleasure seeking, he still had to consider what he would do after achieving his victory against Longsong Stronghold.
Should he perhaps relocate his office to Longsong Stronghold? Roland had considered this point for a long time, moving to a more prosperous land would seem to be quite tempting, but it wouldn’t in fact be a very good choice. Longsong Stronghold had more than a hundred year longer history than Border Town did, so there were many different forces that were struggling for power, while the other nobility also took a lot of power.
The territory was supervised along the principle to divide and conquer, even as the Lord of Longsong Stronghold it was difficult to handle matters in the territories of his subordinates. In the case that Roland would want to grasp all of this power for himself, it would be very hard to achieve without causing a revolution. Even more, it was a territory where the fish and dragons were mixed in together, so his own safety also couldn’t be guaranteed. He did not want to walk in the streets while always having to fear that a radical aristocrat would attempt an assassination.
Compared to this, Border Town was completely different. Here only he had the final say, the surrounding land was vast, so he wasn’t in an urgent need to expand his territory. Most of the people were either miners or hunters, or all from the same social rank, and with his success during the Month of the Demons, his reputation among the people has greatly risen. Most importantly, after the integration of the First Army and their propaganda, most of the people have accepted the existence of witches. When compared with Longsong Stronghold or other cities where the Church had a lot of influence, Border Town was much easier to turn into the witches' safe haven. Therefore, Roland decided to use Border Town as his core area.
As for the fortress, he decided to let others manage it on his behalf and that he would only be there to provide support from afar. After all, as long as they provided him with a steady flow of work force as well as paying taxes, he would be satisfied. What he was missing the most of at the moment was people and money.
So Roland’s consideration for Longsong Stronghold was that they would provide him with the coins and the people for the continued construction of Border Town. Like this, the gold royals from the defeated nobles would return back to the hands of the commoners, who would then use it in the markets of Longsong Stronghold, from where he would get the money back in form of taxes. In addition, maybe he could through a number of preferential policies to convince some people with special skills to stay for the long term in Border Town.
But all these were still only some rough plans. Things such as who would administer Longsong Stronghold in his stead, or the specifics of the taxation system, would have to wait until the end of the battle to be considered.
At this moment, a figure in yellow suddenly flew through the window only to stop beside the prince’s table – this figure was Lightning.
"You've worked hard, have a drink first," Roland took his cup and gave it to her. She took the cup from him but she didn’t drink, instead she only shouted, "Your Highness, they are coming!"
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