85 Chapter 85 Drama
Trying to get 20,000 people to move in a day was exhausting. A few small groups, equaling about 200 people in all, did wander off into the north. Joseph considered his demonstration successful.
Many of them only managed to be ready to move because they had nothing. They had to abandon most of their belongings to flee the cold. Joseph had his slaves moving among the people giving advice on what to do and how to pack. Many merely fell back on their nomadic ways.
As soon as Chug signed the contract, they became his for a year, and he did not intend to treat any of them differently, aside for a few special cases. Chug, Tekaun, three grand shamans and two tribal chiefs that Chug respected despite his defeat over them, all joined his breakfast table the next morning.
It took all morning to get people up and moving, and they officially headed back right after a late lunch. The injured and amputated were put on the few wagons or animals they still had. As much as Joseph wanted to rush back to deal with whatever issues awaited him, he decided against it. The last thing he needed was some petty noble interfering with his people as they traveled from the valley, and starting trouble while he was distracted.
Stella was very popular among the women, as it was very hard for barbarian women to overcome the strength difference and become elite hunters.
Joseph sent several messengers ahead to make sure they knew they were coming, and so they would understand the pace they were traveling at. He also sent orders to specific slaves, to ride out to get word to his father about the agreement with the northern people. They should have plenty of time to reach him before he was summoned before the king again. The only thing that bothered Joseph, was the possibility of the border being closed.
Three days out from the towns Joseph had being built, Daniel and Walter both arrived on horses that had been driven hard to get there.
"Thank the heavens you're all right," said Daniel.
"I'm so very sorry that things have gotten so bad during your absence," said Walter.
"Come and ride beside me. Your horses look to be needing a breather. Tell me what has happened."
They pulled their horses up next to Joseph's horse, that he had been given by one of the barbarians as a gift, and proceeded to tell him everything that had happened.
Five days after he had left, Ivan, the former leader of the military camp, declared that since Joseph had left, he was once more in charge. Obviously, Joseph's people disagreed, but he had bought out a number of locals in the crowd and almost started a riot.
Daniel felt that most of the people had preferred Joseph, but not strongly enough to fight over it. Because none stepped up to fight, Dominic jumped in with the fact that he was the highest noble, sent by the king, and thus he should be in charge.
Joseph just shook his head and rubbed his temples. He had expected something like this, but so soon?
Dominic had demanded that the healer left behind for the slaves, be given to him, for his personal needs. He had even drawn a large lightning rune to intimidate everyone. Surprising to him, none of Joseph's people were that impressed. Apparently, that had never happened to Dominic before, because he seemed to be at a bit of a loss after that.
Daniel had spoken up and informed everyone that Joseph had left detailed plans before leaving, and that if they were not achieved before his return, there would be problems. While Daniel may have been a general in his day, he had never mastered the art of speaking to a crowd that was not really intent on listening to him. He had been incredibly relieved when Walter arrived to speak for him.
Walter then proceeded to tell them that the plans were to make sure there were enough homes for people to keep warm during the winter snowfalls. That if no one wanted to work, he would build his own house, and no one would be allowed in it, save himself. He then proceeded to explain that Joseph had gone to get the barbarians to help build the wall, so they could focus on building their homes.
That had calmed a lot of them down, because no one had explained it to them, despite Joseph's orders to spread the news.
Walter and Daniel had spent the next two days, traveling from one group to another, explaining what they had missed out on, and making sure they were doing what they were supposed to. When they got confused on the slow pace of things, he had explained that Joseph wanted to make sure that they didn't get hurt trying to rush their work. The concept of someone in charge actually thinking of their well being, struck them all as odd, even though he was a child.
That was when they found out that nobles had been spreading the rumors that he was a figurehead and a tyrant. They had especially been told that he was enjoying a wonderful meal every night when they had been forced to eat bugs.
Joseph was stunned. He was the one who came up with some of the recipes with the bugs.
Dominic then had the mages start complaining that they were forced to do menial labor not fitting their many years of training. Some of the lazier craftsmen also started complaining that Joseph yelled at them and forced them to work faster. One mage started to tell tales about how Samuel was punished for holding back, when he was working himself to exhaustion every day.
Samuel, who was listening in, was so startled, he almost tripped.
Daniel and Walter made sure that they all were made to understand that the extra food, the better roads, and the houses for everyone, were all Joseph's ideas. That he had planned everything out, so that they didn't have any room to complain about anything. There was plenty of room for them to work at their own pace.
The camp was split into several factions, but they both agreed that Joseph's people were great. Fortunately they were the largest faction and Dominic's was the smallest. It was only his claims of being a mage and a noble that kept the common people in line. Ivan had most of the top craftsmen on his side, so it was hard to get stuff done without him. Then there are those who don't want to be involved and just wanted to be free once the year was up so they could go home, or somewhere far away from the barbarians.
The trouble was almost constant, with each new day bringing some new kind of drama that was driving Daniel insane. He was ready to whip the lot of them and start building a stockade to hang a number of them. Walter had managed to keep him sane and was able to smooth troubles so much, Joseph found himself deeply in his debt. He had figured there would be trouble of some kind, but nothing like this. It would be interesting to see what would happen once he arrived back.