Claude and his three friends once more exited the school through the rear wall. But this time, they had their lunch at school first. Like Borkal had said, even though they had money, they ought not spend it recklessly. Eating out every day would no doubt drain their reserves quick. When Claude treated the lot of them at Big Fork, he spent three whole riyases. The other reason for avoiding eating out was that they would get used and spoiled by it and wouldn’t be able to stomach school food once they ran out of money.
They had to admit that what Borkal said was rather sensible. Even Eriksson, who was constantly pestering them to eat something delicious in town, was convinced to have the plain and hard-to-stomach lunch in school before leaving for the rest of their break.
The four of them were headed for the slum docks where Mock’s Fishing and Boating Tools was located. Even though the new owner, Wakri, renamed the shop he had inherited, he didn’t give up on its old business. The bullets and gunpowder Claude required could still be bought there.
Yesterday, Morssen and Claude had a long talk about Claude’s future plans, allowing him to understand that his father’s plan was incredibly well thought out and detailed. He didn’t have anything to say about it and accepted what was in store for him.
He didn’t really have any choice. This wasn’t like his past life where he could simply find a random job to survive in society. The societal structure of this world was completely different and the freedoms of man were greatly restricted. As a peasant, he would be subjected with extensive interrogation and checks if he tried to leave the immediate area without any good reason.
During wartime, someone intending to cross the border might even be suspected of being a deserter, which was a crime that was seen not only Aueras, but also all other nations on Freia, as a grave felony. The lightest punishment was ten years in a labor camp while the most severe could be serving in one for an indeterminate amount of time.
In Aueras, only dignitarian citizens had personal freedoms because they had contributed their due to the kingdom and earned their positions as dignitarians. That was the reason they were allowed to travel to any part of the kingdom both for travel and business. They would also be allowed to freely carry a firearm. Naturally, that didn’t exempt them from breaking any of the kingdom’s laws.
Nubissia was a rather sparsely populated place. Even though conflicts frequently broke out there, most of them were more or less the kingdom’s army suppressing the native resistance. Even if those natives obtained some help from other nations and switched their traditional weapons, such as stone axes and wooden spears, for more advanced matchlocks, they were still no match for the Auerasean army. Tens to even a hundred native fighters had to be sacrificed to even claim the life of a single kingdom soldier.
Being the godson of the governor of the Tyrrsim area, Viscount Jerrihausen Van Cruz, even if only nominally, Claude would definitely be cared for if he enlisted in his godfather’s unit. At the very least, he wouldn’t be posted to stand guard at dangerous areas and would most likely be assigned to the governor’s personal guard. Would there be a safer spot than by the side of the governor in the whole of Tyrrsim?
That was Morssen’s reasoning. He believed that if Claude had any wit to him, he would be able to gain the viscount’s trust. Given his status as his godson, it wouldn’t take more than half a decade for him to become the viscount’s trusted confidant and have his position greatly elevated.
That way, it wouldn’t take 15 years for Claude to achieve dignitarian status. Perhaps only seven to eight years was enough. After all, making contributions on the battlefield was no difficult feat. Even if Claude remained mostly away from the frontlines, he would gain some points for giving commands or helping out with logistical operations from the rear.
In terms of safety, Morssen believed that the war between the anti-Aueras faction and the kingdom would only begin in a couple more years and it wouldn’t affect the status of the colony in Nubissia either. The kingdom had already stationed near 100 thousand soldiers there and it was more than enough to clear the rest of the colonies of the other nations off the continent, especially when their forces altogether numbered less than 30 thousand. They would definitely be no match for the kingdom’s army. Should the kingdom choose to go for a full mobilization, the enemies would most likely surrender and be taken captive.
So, the bloodiest battles would probably only occur in the east of Freia. There was no doubt that it would turn into a conflict that would take the lives of a few hundred thousand, or perhaps even a million, people. The five anti-Aueras nations wanted to suppress the kingndom’s growth, while the kingdom had to ensure the safety of its maritime transportation route to Nubissia. The most probably location where the two sides would fact would be the port cities located between them. The kingdom would have to conquer two of them at the very least to have enough space to dock the new battleships they would be getting from their navy-expansion effort.
Morssen didn’t doubt for a moment that Aueras would emerge victorious, but it would no doubt come at a heavy price for the kingdom. That war might last up to three to four years until both sides expended their resources and went to the negotiation table for a parley to restore peace in the east of Freia.
However, he believed that the war would be followed by two or three decades of peace. Both the victors and the losers would require time to lick their wounds and recover and gather more forces for the breakout of the next big conflict.
By then, Claude should’ve been able to gain dignitarian status despite having avoided the war in Nubissia. He would be able to choose his path in life once more; whether he would advance his career in the military further or retire to Whitestag to spend a life in peace. Or, he could also join the administration as a local officer, perhaps something along the lines of a patrol guard.
Morssen had tried his best to perfect his plans to ensure Claude’s safety. However, whether his plans would bear fruit would still depend on Claude’s luck as well as his own effort. As Claude’s father, Morssen had already satisfied his obligations to his son. He also spent a huge sum to buy Claude the newest aubass mark 2 matchlock for Claude as a gift; something he’d rarely do on normal occasions.
“This gun of the newest design cost me six gold krons,” Morssen said with a pained look, “I asked Rublier to buy it for me from the gunsmithery at Baromiss. He had wanted to buy a cheap gun for Boa to practice his marksmanship and I advised him that since he was going to get one to familiarize himself with the gun anyway, he ought to spend a little more to buy the standard issue gun of the kingdom’s military. That was, if he does join the military, he wouldn’t have to relearn the way to use a different gun. He was convinced and bought the same gun for Boa as well.”
Rublier ws Borkal’s father and a rather well-known merchant in Whitestag. Their small business, Bodeman Trading, had quite the reputation across the three southwestern prefectures.
“Wait, Boa’s father bought him the same gun as mine?” said Claude with a look of surprise.
Morssen nodded. “Yes, just like you, Boa is going to enlist as well when he reaches the age of 18. Even though his father had considered paying the non-enlistment tax, Boa would be conscripted nevertheless if a huge conflict occurred between the kingdom and the anti-Aueras faction. So, his father plans to use his connections to get him drafted into a logistics unit so that he wouldn’t be put on the frontlines and used as cannon fodder.”
Hmm, the snakes and rats all have their secret burrows to hide in. They have all made their arrangements.
“Claude, I’ve already given you this gift, but I also have certain conditions I want you to abide by,” said Morssen solemnly.
His father had three conditions for him. The first was that Claude would only practice shooting outside of town. The second was that he would have to pay for his own bullets and gunpowder and the household wouldn’t bear that cost. It seemed that Morssen was aware of the rough extent of the money Claude made in recent times.
The last condition was that Claude couldn’t show his gun off in town no matter what. While he didn’t mind if Claude used it for hunting, putting other townsfolk at risk of physical harm was something he ought never to do. Morssen said that should something like that occur, he wouldn’t hesitate to confiscate his gun.
Claude agreed to all three of the conditions without hesitation.
The next morning, he bragged to the other two with Borkal the moment they met about how the both of them got the newest model of gun produced in the kingdom. That caused Welikro and Eriksson to envy the other two for a couple of days. In the end, Eriksson decided to go home and ask his father to get the same gun for him too.
“Hey, Wero, how can I improve my aiming?” asked Claude.
“You have no choice but to keep shooting to get the knack of it. The more targets you hit, the better your feel of the gun gets. In time, you will be able to shoot a distant target accurately with an acceptable margin of error Only after you master this, you’ll be able to automatically adjust for the margin of error and shoot with great accuracy.”
This is far too inefficient… According to Wero, I have to fire the gun with my eyes clothes and I can only adjust for the offset of my aim with practice…
That was also how Welikro felt when he first started practicing his shooting. During the trip to Egret, he had shot a deer in the head in the dark of night with nothing but a little moonlight, by the stream from a distance of five or six meters away. However, his aiming was spot on and not rushed. If he had simply aligned the two dot sights, or firing points, as Welikro called them, to the deer, the trajectory of the bullet would be unpredictable.
However, Welikro understood the offset between the aim and his target well. So, he had aimed a finger’s length higher than his target. With a light of the match and the pull of the trigger, the deer’s head got hit and it fell to the ground, powerless to even escape as it twitched while its life ebbed out of it. Aiming and firing was just that simple.
Claude understood that Welikro wasn’t lying. He had only perfected his aim through repeated practice, just like the story of the old oil peddler he read about in a textbook from his past life. ‘It was only a matter of practice’. Based on that principle, it was really hard to properly describe how firing should be properly done. He had no choice but to grasp the feeling after repeated practice and understand why his shots wouldn’t hit before he could say that he had mastered the peculiarities of the gun he used.
However, that method was far too inefficient for Claude. He had spent the whole morning brainstorming and finally came up with an idea. However, it would still require him to familiarize himself with the operation of the gun. Practice was still a necessary part of his plan, so he left for the docks with his friends right after lunch to Wakri’s to buy some bullets.