46 Chapter 46 Meeting 2 with the Generals
Court was cancelled the next day as the king had decided to meet with his top advisors to discuss Duke Winston's plan. Joseph was very amused as everyone arrived for the meeting in his rooms. General Peter was acting rather bold, as if he should be patted on the back, because everyone knew that he was the one who leaked the information to the duke.
Joseph was able to find out, after discussing with Charles late into the night, after they were done practicing dances, that Peter was married to the niece of Duke Winston. He was used by the duke in many political maneuvers and was rewarded by various promotions and rewards from his uncle. Charles and the king assumed that they skimmed at least 5% from the kingdom on finds for battalions needing urgent resupply whenever they went through Winston's territories, but had no way to prove it. Joseph figured they were swapping the weapons and armor in guise of repairs whenever they were at the capital armory. Charles was surprised at the idea and had left to meet with the king about it.
Apparently, word had not trickled down to Peter yet, as he sat smugly in his chair this morning.
"So, the road problem has been taken care of, the next thing to review is all of the documentation regarding previous barbarian wars, especially long-lasting ones. The long wars obviously divert a lot of able-bodied men from the field work, leaving the young children and women to do all of the farming. Now, we all know that there are plenty of men who dodge conscription and become brigands, so the public order suffers as you then have to divert people from the war front to deal with the increase in bandits." Joseph didn't pause long enough for anyone to jump in and stop him.
"According to these documents here, there have been at least two times, in the history of your kingdom, where the losses during the war were so severe, the king allowed polygamy, though in my opinion, the man favored his second wife over his first, which is why he allowed the polygamy. No king has done it since because the kingdom was almost destroyed by the civil war that broke out. Fortunately, both the oldest princes died of mysterious causes and the single male heir was able to avoid assassination."
Everyone in the room was looking very uncomfortable with his report, but again, he didn't give a single one of them a chance to speak up.
"So far, I have discovered an average decrease in crop yield of 10% every year the war continues. It generally goes: 90%, 81%, 73%, 66%, 59% and then stabilizes around 50% during non-war times, but depending on losses can take around 30 years to recover. Unfortunately, the amount of food actually required by the kingdom remains the same, unless the casualty rate of the men is very high, so massive starvation occurs. The increase in banditry and lack of public order only makes the issue worse. This leads to secondary plagues as starving people get sick more easily and recover more slowly. A loss of a lot of men also delays recovery."
He paused to take a drink, but strangely no one really wanted to speak up, so he continued.
"These reports here, back up what I have stated. The king didn't bother preventing me from reading them, because they are all over 30 years old."
Timothy looked rather disturbed. "What do you plan…
Daniel interrupted him, "So, what can we do with so many men being pulled from the fields?"
"Well, I intend to conscript your mages from all across the kingdom. They will bless the fields, heal the peasants and work for free or cheap, summoning elementals for harvesting crops and building public buildings. Whatever we need."
All of them broke out laughing.
"You can't be serious," chortled Peter, wiping tears of mirth from his eyes.
"Currently, your mages are under various nobles who compete with each other and even if mage A could solve problems over here, due to a lack of manpower he won't because his noble and the noble ruling that area aren't friends," Joseph explained carefully.
"Boy, I don't think you understand how things work," said General Walter, realizing that he was being serious. The others calmed down when they saw the same thing, and because serious as well.
"Even if we overstepped our bounds, and forced the nobles to hand over their mages, there still wouldn't be enough manpower to do what you are proposing," said David.
"I am proposing that every member of this kingdom stepping up and doing their very best where ever they are most needed, in order to keep this kingdom, your kingdom, from taking 30 years to recover from this war. War is upon us gentlemen, don't pretend it's not.
"These are the reports, you are welcome to read them as I have. They are the journals of past kings, past treasurers, past tax collectors and census takers. Should a year with a bad harvest occur, the cut in harvest could reach 70% in the first year of the war.
"War always breed famine. Famine always breeds plague.
"I have notes from over 30 different incidents in the last 400 years of your kingdom, from your own library, and written from the hands of your own scribes. You have two days to come up with a better suggestion or a legitimate reason why this can't be implemented. We can not wait until 2-3 years into this war to start using the mages. The cut in harvest would be too severe at that point.
"Also, Timothy, David, you are to pass these messages on to his majesty, and the head of the court of mages. I need access to the registry of mages for the kingdom, and don't tell me you don't have such a thing, it was referenced too many times in the documents I've already read. I need abilities, runes, known and current locations of residences. I have to make sure every region is covered."
"Now wait just a second! How does all of this even apply to you?" said David, standing in anger.
Joseph turned to him and without missing a beat, "if this kingdom cannot provide all of the supplies that I demand in order to protect your northern border, then you are all doomed to suffer the fate of the kings demise when the contract fails. For if your king is killed, then your kingdom will fall to a civil war, and I can guarantee that the kings to the east will not sit by idly to wait for a new king to step up. They will be knocking at your door with armies of their own. I am sure you are already too aware of that?"
David sat back down as Timothy started making notes on a piece of paper.
"I guess we are dismissed for lunch then?" asked Daniel cheerfully, looking around. Everyone gave him dark looks as they stood to leave. "Good job, boy. You'll make a fine politician yet!"
Joseph nodded his thanks to Daniel as he left, then waited patiently for the spies in the room to leave. He got out some of the kings stationary and made himself a little note. It would be wonderful if he didn't have to use it. He sat back to look at his handiwork. His impression of the king's signature was getting better, he thought.