Half a month later, Claude went to the shipyards at Port PAtres for a survey and stayed there for half a month to have an in-depth discussion with the ship-designing team led by Liboyd. They held more than ten meetings and successfully came up with large, ironclad passenger ferries, cargo vessels, and large fishing boats. The four shipyards already received more than ten orders for them before the ship designs were even finalised, much to their glee. Who knew civilian ships would end up netting them more profit than warships?
Claude's personal meeting with Liboyd about the luxury timepieces also got the latter's attention. He believed exquisite items like timepieces could greatly enhance the technology and skills of the region. However, he would be letting his grandson Marcus take charge of it, believing he was fully capable of doing so. Claude didn't keep anything from his illegitimate son and told him everything he could recall about the timepieces watches of his previous world and drew a few watches and clocks for him as reference.
Additionally, he also talked to Liboyd about the possibility of forming a university of technology, only to be given a cold talking-to by Liboyd. Faslan technology was mainly based in alchemical arrays, and rune magi were the main driving force behind any of those developments. In a sense, technology was merely a distant application and extension of magic.
Starting a university to let the mundane folk learn about these technologies was akin to trying to destroy the legacy of magic and rebuilding everything from the ground up. It wasn't impossible, but it would require too much time, effort and funding. There was absolutely no profit to be made. The mundane folk wouldn't know how to conduct magic experiments. Even if they did have theoretical magic knowledge, it would be useless if they didn't have any ability to use magic.
For instance, rune magi could use their array to experiment with how different materials react to different situations to understand their properties. A mundane person wouldn't be able to perform any magic experiments, so getting them to understand the basic properties of allows, for example, required someone who understood the subject matter and was able to perform a magic experiment to demonstrate it. All in all, the costs added up to an astronomical amount.
Claude understood where Liboyd was coming from. There simply wasn't a repository of physics and chemistry knowledge in this world, with all the knowhow being kept in the hands of magi and called alchemy. They were also not systemised studies of the fields and the applications of said knowledge were almost always isolated with interrelation with one another. Liboyd, for example, went from being a gunsmith to researching hot-air and steam-powered engines, before turning to shipbuilding. He was someone who dug deep to study the specifics of a subject he was interested in.
Other rune magi were also similar in that respect. Their procedures for accepting and training apprentices also varied greatly. Some even had their apprentices watch what they did until they comprehended it themselves. There was often no unified syllabus with following subjects building on preceding ones. Whether the apprentices could master the craft depended on their own efforts. It was beyond pathetic.
And even if the rune magi discovered any breakthroughs through their experiments, they would hide them instead of sharing them with other magi, which heavily slowed the progress of technological development. Had it not been for the wildly unconventional autonomous region, Claude would've not seen much technological advancement, if at all, throughout the whole time since he transmigrated here.
If he could start a magic academy like that, the region could form their own magi council and provide annuity and bonuses. Perhaps awards and alchemical journals could be ushered in to encourage the magi to share their breakthroughs. Liboyd was a little moved by Claude's suggestion, but he wasn't optimistic on the exchange of information between rune magi. Most of them saw those advancements as their trump cards and it would be hard to convince them to shake off those traditions.
Nevertheless, he said that he would try to convince the magi to buy into this notion. He was still doubtful that a magic academy would be a good idea, as magi were framed as evil to the populace for the past few centuries. Even the rune magi employed by the region hid their true vocation from the public and conducted their experiments in secrecy. It was hard for him to imagine how the public construction of a magic academy would affect the magi as a whole.
After much consideration, he still told Claude he was being too hasty. It would expose the magi and their apprentices to the public eye. If the general populace objected to the notion of magi, it would be hard to ensure their safety. It would be far better to train suitable magic candidates in secret by calling the magic academy something else to hide its true nature.
As for the formation of a magi council, Liboyd thought it was a good idea. The other rune magi would definitely be happy to join since it was a recognition of their abilities. Nobody would refuse the yearly annuity payment and other bonuses as well.
The only issue left was how to convince them to give up the results of their findings, though that could be solved easily by having high rewards. For instance, the shipyards could seek out help from the magi council if they ran into problems that they couldn't solve, and any magus that solved it would be given a prize.
Upon hearing Liboyd's response, Claude did feel he was being a little too hasty. The current model of magi cooperation with the region was a rather successful one. The region paid them to do research and hand in their results. All 400 plus of top-secret innovations Birkin brought up were basically acquired in the same fashion. Though, the costs for the reward were a little heavy for the region.
Once he went back to Lanu, Borkal came to report to him about his interaction with Eriksson. His warmth was received completely coldly. Despite Borkal's concern for Eriksson as a friend, the latter didn't accept Claude's request that quickly on account of their 'friendship'. Instead, he dared to counter with a ridiculous demand for six ironclad warships before the deal and six more after he did the deed.
"How did you bring it up to him? Did you tell him the reason the region can't act?"
Borkal nodded, crestfallen. He had much correspondence with Eriksson over the past two months, six times by letter alone. Initially, Eriksson's replies were enthusiastic. He said he would be willing to work with the region to surprise attack the Fochsian fleet together with Ironclad and raid their coasts.
But when Borkal realised he misunderstood him, he immediately wrote back and stressed that Blacksail's task was to wipe out the Fochsian fleet alone and receive six ironclad warships as payment. Eriksson's tone immediately cooled. The next response accused Claude of considering Blacksail a pain in the eye and wanting to send them to their deaths.
Borkal could only write back, saying that Claude didn't have that intention at all and was giving Eriksson and the pirates a chance. Once Blacksail successfully eliminated one Fochsian fleet to prove their dedication, the region would seriously consider collaborating with them. It would be a great opportunity for Eriksson.
Eriksson then asked Borkal why he thought that was a great opportunity. The way he saw it, leading Blacksail into battle with the Fochsian navy was an act of suicide. However, he would be confident enough about his success if the region's navy lent him ten or twenty ironclad warships first.
To convince Eriksson, Borkal had no choice but to reveal some of the internal workings of the military administration. That way, he would understand that their offer was sincere. That would establish an amicable relationship between the region and Blacksail and also grant Eriksson's wish to have his own ironclad warships. Yet, when Eriksson got the inside information, he got greedy and demanded six before the attack and another six after he succeeded. He didn't promise that the attack could be completed either and only gave his word to at least carry out one attack. Additionally, he wanted the region to provide a million crowns' worth of supplies as payment for the casualties they would incur.
Borkal wrote another two letters to try to talk Eriksson out of it to no avail. It was then when he realised the true difficulty of his task. He couldn't promise Eriksson anything on behalf of the region, so he came to Claude to admit to his failure.
Claude wasn't the least bit angry and merely burst out laughing. He went to his wine rack and poured Borkal a cup on his own accord, before telling him he was expecting him to fail all along. Whenever it came to Eriksson, Borkal would always have his judgement clouded due to their childhood relationship. He wasn't behaving like a soldier nor a merchant at all.
Had Borkal been able to keep his wits as a merchant, he would've realised the purpose of Eriksson's letters wasn't to rekindle their friendship but to get more information about the region's military. At the same time, Borkal would be the spokesman of the region's pirates and they could obtain limited goods through him. Eriksson was well aware that he wouldn't be able to overpower Borkal using his money or status, so he decided to use friendship to pull him in.
With enough time, rock would give way to even just flowing water. Eriksson was counting on using years of writing to cloud Borkal's judgement. Over the years, Eriksson also held up his side of the deals he conducted with the wild-bull company run by Borkal's father, never giving him anything to worry about and building up the trust he had for him.
Borkal had failed as a merchant and did just as badly as a soldier. No proper soldier would ever trust the words of a pirate. Even though Eriksson was Claude's childhood friend too and didn't cause the region much trouble, Claude still kept his guard up against him without caring about their old relationship at all.
Borkal, however, trusted Eriksson deeply and even argued with Claude on his behalf. Yet, Eriksson refused the chance Claude gave him. Claude analysed it really clearly for his good friend to hear that the trust Eriksson had established with him didn't cost him any money, and even allowed him to gain word on the region's plans and actions. Borkal was a good source of information, so Eriksson kept in touch to maintain their friendship.
But when Borkal asked him to attack the Fochsian fleet, he would have to run a whole new cost-benefit analysis. Being the leader of Blacksail, he would have to refuse the olive branch the region offered and his friendship with Borkal to keep his band of pirates from harm and maintain their strength. If there was a law the pirates followed, it would be might makes right. Should Eriksson dare to harm his band just because of his friendship, he wouldn't be able to maintain his position as leader.
Claude consoled him by saying that it was a good thing they found out about his true nature that way. It would be far better than finding out once Eriksson used Borkal to do harm to the region's interests. He asked Borkal to give up on the matter and focus on the visit to the pamigar republic with him. He hoped that he could focus his efforts on Wasilisk's colony by researching the origin of the conflict between the jisdor and the skro.
Operation Wildfire's first phase could be said to be a half success and failure. The successful aspects were the region's conquest of Cape Loducus and the formation of the pamigar republic in Moloshik's colony -- the first native nation at the western coast. They also defeated the expedition troops sent by the host nations twice.
However, they didn't manage to liberate the natives of Lesnia and Wasilisk's colonies. In Lesnia's second colony, after the losman great chieftain was killed by local officials, everything fell apart. While they did manage to chase the invaders away in the name of avenging the great chieftain, they massacred many innocent settlers of the colony and even got wrapped up in a chaotic struggle for power with one another.
Thanks to the strong pressure from the region, they united for a brief while against the expedition force of the three nations but began their infighting anew once the war ended. Even with the region coming to help them forge the losman tribal union, it was futile. It was nothing but dressing on the surface. In the nation, there were seven factions constantly fighting against one another, neither wanting to submit to the rest. The nation was a total mess.
Wasilisk's colony was even greater of a headache for the military administration. According to initial plans, they would send troops to liberate the jisdor and skro and help them form their own nations after the formation of the pamigar republic. Naturally, they would have to put in their own effort to revolt and attack the Wasiliskian colonisers.
The revolt, which was more of a violent riot, did begin. The forces stationed in the colony weren't able to resist the two rioting tribes and had no choice but to request the neighbouring colony belonging to Opsaro for military aid. Just as things were looking bright, the jisdor and skro began to turn against each other. It developed into an all-out war that wouldn't stop until either side was completely wiped out.
Currently, the natives there no longer cared about revolting and driving their oppressors out to form their own nations. They were too busy fighting themselves. They ignored all help they received from the pamigar and the invasion of the expeditionary troops of the colonisers stubbornly focused on wiping out the other natives for good.