Monarch of Evernight - Volume 10 - The Flag of Evernight (1183-) Chapter 1208: Money Problems
The Royal Guard retreated hastily from the restricted area Qianye had designated and didn’t stop there. After a short rest, they packed up camp and returned to the Royal Capital. Apparently, Commander Xue had no more face to remain here after being pushed back by the warship. As for how he would report back to Nan Ruohuai, Qianye didn’t care at all.
In the days that followed, Pagoda City was drowned in strange phenomena. A great maelstrom of dark clouds could be seen spinning over the city. It was as though the end of the world was nigh and that the sky itself was moving.
Amidst the chaos, Xu Jingxuan went out to the city in-person to inform the people that the phenomenon was caused by Commander Qianye’s cultivation, and that there was no need to be alarmed. This calmed the people down but also led to fervent discussions.
Who would’ve thought a person’s cultivation could move heaven and earth?
In truth, Qianye himself was feeling quite depressed. Zhang Boqian had considered every aspect during the modification, but he simply didn’t think about the commotion involved.
Although the cultivation caused a fair bit of disturbance, there were unexpected benefits as well. Word spread like wildfire, and everyone in Pagoda City ended up worshipping Qianye like a god. The zealotry was superior to what people felt for the late Royal Tutor. Some even claimed that they were citizens of Qianye and Qianye alone, that they had nothing to do with Zheng anymore. Some of them even began discussing what to call the new country.
With Xu Jingxuan around, operations for the western expedition went on in an orderly fashion. Batch after batch of scouts was dispatched to collect new intelligence on the dark races near the western border. The closest scouting party had returned at this point and added new markings to the big map in the war room.
By the time Qianye summoned the generals again after a period of cultivation, this map was crowded with a dense array of markings. Even the smallest tribe or fort was clearly labeled.
Those who understood the field were full of praise for Xu Jingxuan after seeing this graded map.
The mercenary generals were also able to witness the man’s methods and great prestige during the recent training of new troops. As seasoned soldiers on the battlefield, the generals naturally understood what kind of units were of use in battle. In just ten days, Xu Jingxuan had dragged a bunch of inexperienced civilians to the level of a basic soldier with absolute obedience to orders. Every general wanted such troops.
Most of these mercenary generals had grown up in the wilderness. But, as people who had survived for so long in the neutral lands, they were able to tell if someone could actually fight or if they were just citing books. Everything on the battlefield was real, and theoretical people would not last long out there.
Xu Jingxuan stood before the map, his back straightened unknowingly. His demeanor was calm and confident as he pointed to a series of markings. “This great western corridor stretches five hundred and fifty kilometers and is ninety kilometers wide. The narrowest point is at the fifty-kilometer point. It turns to the north at this point and stretches a hundred and forty kilometers to the Jade Sea, wherein lies the werewolf main camp.”
He spoke little more about the Jade Sea and instead turned back to the great corridor. “According to the latest intelligence, there are a total of one hundred and sixty-six tribes living within a hundred kilometers, totaling thirty thousand in population. Additionally, the dark races have erected two big fortress groups, with two main fortresses and twenty-some smaller strongholds or stone castles distributed nearby.”
Some of the mercenary generals looked serious, but the captain from the Song clan looked fairly at ease. “Building small fortresses and stone castles in this day and age? Isn’t that just giving us practice targets?”
Finding the remark to be true, the mercenary generals broke into a laugh and began mocking the dark races for their stupidity.
Qianye knocked on the table to quiet them down and allow Xu Jingxuan to continue.
The general explained with a bit of a blush, “Zheng never had this kind of airship fleet, nor did we have any vessel able to withstand their cannon turrets. Normally, the air force would only be used for exploration, chasing down routed enemies, and wilderness battles. They would never join the siege.”
Qianye nodded. He had seized a dozen or so smaller airships from Zheng—all of them were old models, and their mobility and firepower was nothing to write home about.
In truth, Zheng’s city defense cannons possessed certain characteristics, likely to deal with the dark race nobles. They were powerful and possessed great armor penetration, so much so that the bolts almost blasted the battlecruiser’s armor open. Considering this firepower, even a cruiser might not be able to withstand the turret-fire.
Qiany’s battlecruiser, on the other hand, was enough to change the rules. The defensive system that had kept the dark races safe all this time would crumble with ease. After uprooting all the small forts in the periphery, the two big ones wouldn’t last long.
Xu Jingxuan ordered two diagrams to be hung on the wall, depicting the structure and defense distributions of the main fortresses. They weren’t exactly detailed—the facade was fairly clear, and the internal structures were quite messy—but this was an extremely valuable piece of intelligence for the current Zheng.
Qianye went over the information and nodded. “You’re quite thoughtful.”
Xu Jingxuan, “This subordinate’s wish for many years has been to fight our way out of the great corridor and lead our forces to the Jade Sea. That’s why I’ve been collecting information in my free time.”
Qianye smiled. “This is a good mindset. Follow me well, and before long, you will see your wish come true.”
Xu Jingxuan took deep breaths and bowed solemnly.
Zheng was beyond weak—its great land and resources had been wasted on internal strife, while its military strength was no better than an Imperial county, regardless of how the ranks were assigned. Such a nation could never push into the depths of the great corridor even if they had a talented general like Xu Jingxuan. All they could do was hold the pass and stop the dark races from charging out.
After Xu Jingxuan withdrew, Song Hui arrived before the stage and hung up a diagram of her own. The generals below broke into bitter frowns as they looked at the complicated contents filled with charts, numbers, and formulas. Most of these generals were used to communicating with pictures. Even reading was straining for them, let alone these numbers. As for the formulas containing both numbers and letters, everything was greek to them. They still couldn’t make heads or tails of things despite their earnest observation.
Even Qianye had to look carefully to see that this was an economic structure chart.
Song Hui not only included Zheng in the calculations but even the neutral lands and Ningyuan Heavy Industries. Qianye didn’t remember her ever going to the neutral lands. Could she have drafted such a complicated system just from the documents he had brought along with the airship?
Song Hui made a simple introduction to the model, lasting less than five minutes in total. In truth, it was useless even if she said more since even Qianye couldn’t understand all of it. Those generals below watched with mouths agape, almost as though they were listening to some heavenly scripture.
Xu Jingxuan wasn’t in a better state. He was quite good at leading troops into battle, but how could he understand the Song clan’s wealth management methods? He only discerned that there were some rules related to military affairs and logistics.
Song Hui skipped over the calculations and went straight to the conclusion. “With Zheng’s current production of black stone and other fuels, the entire country’s yearly production can support three months of flight for our airship fleet. According to the information at hand, if we start building new mines and refineries, we can double the production in six months and quadruple it in one year, but that’s the extent of it. This means that we have to either get more mines from Zheng or ship more fuel from the Empire. With the latter, the shipment costs will exceed the value of the fuel itself.”
Qianye frowned. He had prepared a large amount of supplies and fuel for this expedition. It was just that he had never imagined they would expand so quickly after arriving on Fort Continent. The fuel expenditure also doubled. Zheng’s old model airships were mediocre in firepower, but their fuel demand was not small, each devouring blackstones like a wild beast.
The current fleet would remain operational for over a month, but they would need to resupply soon.
Song Hui gave Qianye some time to think before continuing, “We’re only talking about black stone fuel right now. We still haven’t gotten to spare parts and maintenance…”
Repairing an airship, of course, required a workshop. It wasn’t too hard to imagine how big of a workshop a battlecruiser would require. Building a workshop required equipment, technicians, and a kinetic tower, as well as lodgings for these people… The rough calculation alone contained over a hundred and seventy items, not counting the detailed expenditures under each category. Parts, for instance, contained thousands of items and consumables for varying models. Just the thought of everything made one’s head ache.
Fortunately, Song Hui’s conclusion was that they could get most things in Zheng. Things that couldn’t be found in Zheng could be obtained from the dark races. Fort Continent itself produced many of the required resources. It could not compare to the higher continents in terms of high-end materials, but the lower-end ones were fairly abundant. It was just that the origin power here was too chaotic and the locals did not have the right mining technology to improve output. This resulted in its current state where no external investments were coming in.
Things that couldn’t be found here could be shipped from the neutral lands or the Empire. It was just a matter of price.
Turns out all they needed was money. Qianye heaved a sigh of relief after understanding this.
Song Hui saw through Qianye’s thoughts and said angrily, “This isn’t just a matter of money.”
“What else then?” Qianye asked humbly. He was already quite distressed by those formulas just now and in no mood to look through them again.
Song Hui slapped the map, saying, “Didn’t I just say it? Most of the resources can be found in Zheng. What’s the point of leaving it as is? Just take it directly. You’ve already occupied a third of the territory, so it’s no big deal if you take the remainder.”
Qianye never realized that this Song Hui was a battle-hungry demon through and through. However, he really didn’t want to go back on his promise to Nan Ruohuai as long as he was loyal and dutiful. Besides, taking the land was easy, but maintaining the occupation was much more difficult than Song Hui had mentioned. Save plundering the cities and leaving, things would eventually turn into a war of law and order.
Qianye said after some thought, “This land is all there is to Zheng. Taking over it entirely doesn’t have much merit. We’ll take whatever we need from the dark races. All departments, begin preparations for war, we set out in one week! Also, the logistics and supply management will be in Song Hui’s charge, you have full authority to adjust the resources within our territory.”
This authority was substantial, but Song Hui wasn’t happy. “I don’t want to stay at the back, I want to fight!”
Qianye wasn’t about to agree, no matter how big her chest was. He ignored her angry gaze and began making other human-resource arrangements, then dismissed the meeting.