The 195th chapter “eroded situation”
Du Wei would of course never bring the newly incorporated soldiers with him. After all, this matter isn’t very glorious – and certainly, he doesn’t expect this move of his to fool anyone, especially the regent back in the capital. Even though Du Wei is well aware of the fact that Prince Son already knows this, but in order to survive in the tiger’s den known as the Northwest, he must at least have some chips to play with. 4,000 soldiers, this number can’t be called large or small, so it is within Prince Son’s tolerance level. Not to mention Prince Son have been demoting every member of the Rowling Household, so the guy can’t expect him, a grand duke, to go to the Northwest empty handed, right?
Special circumstances call for special solutions, Du Wei believes the regent should have at least this much generosity.
But this matter still isn’t something that can be openly put on the table, so as long as they both have an understanding then that’s good enough.
Like this Knight Robert along with 200 royal guards went ahead with the 4,000 soldiers. Ignoring the big roads, they intentionally took to the small lanes to avoid attention. And along the way, they never have to worry about supplies because Du Wei already provided them with a document to procure supplies from the local governments.
As for Du Wei, he still needs to slowly move forward because he intends to thoroughly survey the region. Reading the reports is one thing, but experiencing it is another.
The capital of the Nuling province is called Mulan City. If this city was placed in the bustling southern or central part of the continent, this place can only be regarded as second rate with a population of 100,000 citizens. However, this city is already considered to be quite prosperous in the Northwest.
Acting as a key location in the trade routes of the Northwest, this city is the last stop for any caravan trade group before going off into the desert. That’s why, whether they are merchants from the south, or native fur traders of the Northwest, all these people would converge at this location for a short period of time to rest and resupply.
Once the carriage and his escorts drew close to the suburbs of Mulan City, Du Wei had already opened up his window to peer at the view before him. Leading the way with 4,000 light infantry, Knight Robert’s job of escorting Du Wei have now fallen upon the 500 royal guards that was previously in charge of clearing the way..
Northwest, because of the geography, there will always be two months in each year where large volumes of dust gets blown through the air – this is after the fact that the hill surrounding this city is a natural barrier.
Strong winds with lots of sand; this is the unique characteristic of the Northwest. For this reason, there is absolutely no building over 10 meters high – the only exception to this is the city walls standing at 12 meters tall.
And due to height limit imposed on the structures, the amount of land used by this medium sized city of 100,000 citizens is exceptionally vast.
At the Southern part of the city is the largest market available in the area. Originally a town outside the city, this area has evolved into the largest trading venue for those passing through. When Du Wei’s convoy passed by, he could immediately feel the boisterous atmosphere created by the crowds.
Going through the main street, Du Wei can already see all sorts of things in the bazaar: those sticking their heads out of the balcony, those rubbing shoulders against each other, those ethnic minorities of the Northwest, and the assortment of leather goods cluttering the shops here…..
Even though there are so many things to see, the only thing that really caught Du Wei’s eye is the money bags hanging off the merchant traders.
“My Lord, this here is the largest trading site of the Northwest. Mulan City’s population may not be very large, but the tax revenue each year from the commodities sold here is very impressive. This barren land is not suited for farming; hence, the main source of revenue is from trading.”
The one saying this is a delicate looking young man sitting across from Du Wei inside the carriage. This guy’s last name is called Philip, one of the leading figures in the 80 scholars recommended by Mr. Blue Ocean. Though he is already 28 years of age, his facial feature is too young that it didn’t quite match up together. Once recognized as a prosperous family a thousand years ago, the ‘Philip’ name is an old noble family that once held great influences before the continent’s unification. But with the passage of time, this once glorious family has declined to the point where it is no longer recognized as a noble household in modern days.
This Philip’s origin is of common birth, a son of a scholar in the capital. Through Mr. Blue Ocean’s endorsement and several meetings, Du Wei’s attention was quickly caught by this guy. Quick witted and knowledgeable, Du Wei expects great things from this promising scholar, especially when Philip already had prior experience in coming to the Northwest.
Mr. Blue Ocean is someone that favors practical experience over conventional teachings; as such, most of his students would head out into the world for a short period of under the encouragement of their teacher. Years ago, Philip worked as an accountant for a trade caravan that went to all sorts of places in the Northwest, thus, his knowledge in the local customs and political situation is top notch.
Du Wei did not expect the situation to erode to such a point in the Northwest, but after his experience in the so called Sin City, he can finally feel a sense of absurdity towards the so called provisional decree!
War is over for 20 years already, yet the wartime order still hasn’t been abolished? Because of this, the Northwestern army still maintains the overall controlling right in the region? And even replace the resource distribution right of the empire?
This is absolutely ridiculous.
Isn’t this an outright annexation of land? No wonder the empire didn’t interfere with the situation of the Northwest, they can’t! After the war in the Northwest is won, the emperor never actually took any effective measures to clean up the mess he created. Instead, he focused all of his attention on his grandiose projects and the wealth that was hidden away in the Southeastern Sea!
After so many years, the Northwest army has finally developed into a ruling entity within the state. Self-sufficient and not bound by the central high command back at the capital, the Northwestern Army willingness to obey is growing smaller and smaller with each passing year!
If nothing else, just the story of how the previous two lords were sent packing is a good example – one of them even lost their life! Such arrogance!
Then again, the military power is already in their hands, so who is the Northwestern army going to fear?
After finding out all these details, Du Wei immediately called for Philip. Along the way, Philip was always in the carriage to give him an in-depth explanation of the Northwest. Worst of all, the more Du Wei learned, the more scared he became! Truly, he regretted not speaking with this Philip early.
From Philip’s mouth:
“The current governor of the Nuling Province is called Baron Bohan, southerner, and it just so happens that his mansion is stationed in this Mulan City. This guy does indeed has some background. Serving as the financial chief officer of a province, he climbed the ranks with the merits he achieved over the years back in the south. I don’t doubt this guy’s skill because just the fact that he was sent here by those in capital is a clear indication that the high command is on alert towards the Northwestern Army. Therefore, this Baron Bohan is the tool chosen to restore the empire’s authority in this place. Even though in the past few years Bohan is doing well financially, but this place is after all not the south, so his military efforts are at a standstill. This can’t be blamed entirely on him. Those bastards in the Northwestern Army kept throwing forward the decree from twenty years ago. Not only is the Northwestern Army allowed to take a portion of the yearly tax revenue for themselves, they can even delegate their own military officers to command the city garrison forces as they see fit. For this reason, many governing bodies in smaller towns have already been skeletonized by this maneuver; this is the so called military governing.”
Du Wei’s brow curls: “If so, then is there no one that can suppress these warlords in the Northwestern Army?”
“There are.” Philip slowed down his words at this moment. Clearly, he is still hesitant when talking about matters regarding these powerful bosses: “When I came to the Northwest year ago, I felt the situation had already eroded to the extreme. Privately…. I even thought that if the central didn’t take action soon, then within five years, the Northwest will develop into a country within a country. Here, the administrative documents of the empire are far inferior to the orders handed down by the Northwestern army. Such a thing is quite terrifying. Yet in recent years, the situation in the Northwest seems to have fallen flat. Such an achievement can all be credited to this Baron Bohan.”
“Oh?” Though he didn’t show it, Du Wei was desperate to learn more about this Baron: “Tell me more about this Baron Bohan.”
“Speaking from an outsider’s perspective, I say your honor, I really respect him.” Philip’s young face made no secret of his admiration towards the Baron: “I even think that this Baron Bohan is the best talent to come forward in the past 20 years! While I was here in the Northwest before, the situation was far worse than what you see now!”
With that said, Philip suddenly pulled out a thin booklet from his baggage: “When teacher had us follow your lordship, I already made preparations and wrote down all that I know about the Northwest, this includes my view and some interesting facts. I believe you will find them quite interesting.”
Northwestern Army may dominate the Northwest, but they also have one major weakness and that is:
The region is not suited for grain production. Every year, the majority of the food supply consumed by the army is procured from elsewhere because the demand far exceeds the supply in the region.
That’s why most of the grains are from the South…… Not missing this, the central high command used this mean as a constraint for the Northwestern Army.
Of course, Baron Bohan also caught on to this!
The provisional decree back then allows the Northwestern Army to directly intercept the tax revenue from the local government to replenish their military supplies, but…. This is only limited to agricultural income!
“This decree is very era defined. When it was first announced, the region was embroiled in war with the natives of the desert plains. That’s why; no merchant would willingly risk their lives to transverse the long dangerous roads needed to reach the trading hubs. Also, the cattle’s, sheep’s, and horses at the time were scarce goods to begin with, so the annual revenue was already low. The only revenue that could be tapped would be the agriculture and it is precisely because of this foundation that the provisional decree was created on. Anything outside of this boundary, the Northwestern Army is not allowed to touch it, this is the key.”
With that said, Philip flipped open his booklet and smiles: “My Lord, behold, this here is my calculation. According to the official statistics of the Imperial Treasury, oh, the data may be watered down, but it’s still good for reference.”
“Before Baron Bohan took the office, the annual provincial income is 3.8 million, with 2.4 million of it coming from agriculture. Look further down. After the first year, the agricultural income began to go down to 2.2 million, then 1.8 in the second. Finally, in the third year, it went all the way down to 1.2 million, more than half of the original number! So what does this mean?”
Du Wei eyes gleamed with light: “Baron Bohan wants to ‘starve’ the Northwest army.”
Philip smiled: “My Lord, the term ‘starve’ is very accurate. In fact, after Baron Bohan took hold of the office, the entire Nuling province began to cut down on their food production as a whole! Through a series of policies…. These orders are very amazing because he was able to fool those bosses in the Northwestern Army. It may seem harmless from the surface, but once it takes root, the damage is astronomical! Like this, the Northwestern Army’s reliance on the central high command for food increases, meaning the empire’s grip grows. Although this method is a bit underhanded, but it is very effective.”
“Of course, lowering the food production isn’t the perfect solution. Abandoning the farming industry in the Nuling Province can indeed weaken the Northwestern Army, but this also means the standard of living for the citizens also deteriorates. Regarding this problem, Baron Bohan did a good job in finding a solution. Commercially developing the local businesses, he managed to increase the tax revenue for the province to a completely new height!”
“Then again, the Northwestern Army also has its own approach in dealing with this. At least in terms of military power, these warlords still maintain a firm grasp on the region. Take for example the local garrison forces in the western region. Though Bohan is the governor, but the material supply……. Under the wartime provisional decree, the allocation of supplies is all controlled by the Northwestern Army. As such, the level of equipment in the entire western region is completely lacking. Aside from the lack of weapons and armor, those bastards would always delay the shipment of supplies like food and clothing. Even though the local garrison’s fighting capacity is low, but there is simply nothing Bohan can do on this point. While there is plenty of money to supplement his forces, but if he tried to procure his own equipment, the Northwestern Army can use this excuse to say he is going against imperial decree. This move is smartly played by those in the Northwester Army because it’s obvious Bohan doesn’t dare act rashly in this department. However, I have reason to believe Bohan did some things under the table. At the very least, I know some local garrison forces are well equipped in this Mulan City and are regularly trained.”
“Generally speaking, only Governor Bohan is putting up a stand against the Northwester Army. After years of confrontation, the Northwestern Army still looked like they have the upper hand due to that provisional decree.”
When it comes to the end, Phillip’s couldn’t help but complain: “My Lord, this decree is the Northwestern Army’s biggest reliance. After 20 years, this temporary decree is still being used even after the war is over; such a thing is ridiculous to the extreme.”
“But central command still hasn’t been able to cancel this order, right?” Du Wei sighed in sadness.
“That’s right.” Philip nodded as he turned to another page: “Look here, this is my record. The Northwestern army’s spring drill is very strict every year. This is clearly a show of force. From my point of view, Baron Bohan’s weakening policy will have a very difficult time of finishing off these bastards because even if they are weakened, the military power is still in the other side’s hand. That is unless….”
Speaking up to here, Phillip stopped his words.
Du Wei did not avoid the taboo and said it in a light voice: “Unless the Empire is willing to fight a civil war!”
Philip’s body began to shake. Watching this young Duke with the chilling eyes before him, a thought crept into his head: “Such coldness…. There’s not a shred of a child’s innocence in those eyes.”
“My-my Lord……” Philip forced a smile: “Such words cannot be loosely said.”
“Humph.” Du Wei smiled as he shook his head: “I can only say it. With the Empire’s current strength, do you think we can go through a civil war?!”
Phillip’s eye went dark because he understood what Du Wei said just now is the truth!
In order to completely eradicate the mess in the Northwest, a weakening policy will not do. Unless a heavy price is paid, the situation can never be resolved!
But the price… Can the Empire afford it?
Thinking of this, Philip could not help but take a look at the Duke. Frankly speaking, Philip was still holding a skeptical attitude when his teacher first recommended him and his peers to this Duke. After all, Du Wei’s reputation may be booming, but his age is way too small. Less than 15 years of age, a young boy is supposed to step into this tiger’s den and not get swallowed whole?
Even if he is a powerful magician, but a single individual can’t control everything!
But after conversing with Du Wei these days, Philip can already feel the amazingness from this Duke.
Without doing much, Du Wei managed to take in a complete regiment, fully trained and experience to boot! With that single showcase of far sight and ability, Philip is certain this Duke is more than qualified for him and his peers to swear their loyalty!
However, Du Wei’s occasional cold eyes and determination caused him to hold some worries inside.
Such a boy coming to the Northwest, will it bring prosperity or calamity?
“Philip.” Du Wei’s face carried a smile as he knocked him out of his stupor: “Look, we are nearing the gate. Surely, the Governor would have already sent someone to greet us. I really want to meet that Bohan.”
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