Release that Witch Chapter 1032
At the headstream of Silver Stream located in the Southernmost Region of the Sand Sea.
Brian sat in a tent, waiting for news from the front to arrive. Sitting opposite to him was the chief of the Wildflame clan, Guelz Burnflame, and the elder of the Osha Clan, Thuram.
The two men had become the representatives of the Mojin Clan.
Together with the commander of the Gun Battalion who represented the chief, all the leaders who participated in the decision-making process with respect to the Sand Nations were here.
The cold desert wind whistled outside the tent, but the interior of the tent was quite warm as if it were sitting on the top of a giant brazier. No matter how cold the ground seemed to be, every time Brian buried his feet into the sand, he could feel heat escape from underneath. It was even warmer than the brick beds and the heating system used in Neverwinter.
The locals invented this so-called "sand bed", which was a shallow hole as wide as a man in the ground. Native people would first replace the coarse sand with sifted fine sand, and then bury themselves in it to keep their body temperatures. The fine sand had a soft touch and was even softer than burlap matresses. With just a tent and a sand bed, the Sand Nations could spend their winter very comfortably.
Sadly, it was also the same terrestrial heat that destroyed the life here. As seawater gradually evaporated, the desert within 100 miles was wiped out by seasalts. Hardly any sandworms or scorpions lurked around, let alone trees and flowers.
Without an oasis, there would be no food. The entire plain was thus a bleak emptiness. Perhaps, nowhere in the whole Southermost Region could be more dismal and dead than here except Blackwater Swamp.
For the past hundred years, Mojins had erected several wooden houses here and there in this saline-alkali land to provide accommodations for traveling salt merchants. However, things had now changed.
"You don't seem to be worried at all, young man." Guelz ended the silence. "The Wildwave Clan and the Cut Bone Clan were two biggest clans in Iron Sand City. The chief can easily crush them, but this doesn't mean those small tribes can do that too. Do you really put so much faith in them?"
As Guelz spoke out, Thuram also said, "In the past one year, not a single tribe in Iron Sand City has been promoted to be one of the six big clans. Apparently, Wildwave and Cut Bone have kept all the resources to themselves. With sufficient food, a clan in the Southernmost Region can easily recover from a previous loss. They're now probably stronger than prior to you coming here."
"Faith? No..." Brian slowly shook his head. "I don't put faith in them."
"Then... why didn't you request troops from the chief?" Thuram asked in surprise. "100 soldiers and the warriors from the Wildflame Clan and the Osha Clan would be more than enough to deter those brutes from setting foot on the small oasis again."
"Then what? The First Army would be permanently stationed in Silver Stream Oasis protecting those small tribes?" Brian stared at him. "Do you think His Majesty wants a future like this?"
"Um, well..." Thuram was at a loss for words.
Shortly after the relocation, they had started exploiting the resources in the Southernmost Region. Apart from building the Festive Harbor at Endless Cape, another key project was the development of the saline-alkali land at the headstream of Silver Stream. Since there was no river, they had to rely on manpower and animal power to transfer those salts out of the desert, to the closest branch of Redwater River by cart.
For this reason, Fallen Dragon Ridge and Port of Clearwater had provided competitive wages and benefits to the laborers, in hopes of attracting more Sand Nations to help with the transfer.
Within a year, various tents had been pitched in the saline-alkali land, and the place was soon alive with busy workers.
The laborers dug wells and drew consumable water from the underground stream of Silver Stream. They not only drank the water but also used it to filter salt.
Shortly afterwards, plants were built. Without steam engines or other machinery, they did all the work manually. The whole working process was similar to gold mining. People separated the scattered salt from the sand and gravel, collected and crystalized them before shipping them to the inner land of the Western Region where they would be further processed. The repetitive and tedious work gradually became a new mundane routine of everyday life in the saline-alkali land.
Although there was no oasis, sandworms or scorpions around this area, the place started to get teeming with life.
Many relocaters, as well as some small tribes who had been hesitating to come simply could not resist the good compensation. They came to the border in groups and offered to work for the project in exchange for wheat, dried meat and fabrics. Some of them returned to the oasis with the food while others stayed, becoming one of the earliest settlers.
The big clans in Iron City were not happy about this. The more tribes that chose to move out of the oasis, the fewer resources they would obtain. The increasing tension between the big clans and the small tribes had finally turned into an open conflict two months ago, where the Wildwave and Cut Bone Clans had dispatched infantry and killed some tribesmen departing the oasis. They had left their heads on the road leading to the north, apparently to deter people from the Sand Nations from leaving.
The big clans did not have the courage to openly provoke King of Graycastle, so they had attacked the small tribes who had yet to submit to his rule. They had thought the chief would dismiss the matter, for no northern king would actually care about the lives of hundreds of Sand Nations. They had not expected, however, that this would be the very thing that Roland detested.
Brian knew very well that King Roland dreaded any loss of the population for no reason.
Before Guelz had sent his letter to Neverwinter, Brian had already prepared himself for a probable war.
"What if they lose?" said Guelz Burnflame as he massaged his forehead apprehensively. "If I remember correctly, those people received training on how to use a flintlock just three months ago, right?"
"Then we'll be slaughtered, and your clansmen would be reduced to slaves in Iron Sand City," said Brian as he closed his eyes. "Prior to the war, I told you that it's going to be your battle, not mine. I've provided you with weapons. If you still can't save your clansmen from their swords, you don't deserve the honor of being one of the soldiers of Graycastle. I can always train new people if I want."
"..." Guelz's manner tightened abruptly into a grave expression for the first time as if he was re-evaluating the young officer in front of him.
"Plus, you forgot that the training three months ago was only for flintlocks." Brian went on, "Apart from flintlocks, they also use swords, daggers, their fists and teeth. These are weapons Sand Nations have been using from the moment they were born, aren't they?"
The members of the Sand Nation troop selected by Brian were all from the small tribes that had relocated to Port of Clearwater. Unlike the big clans such as Wildflame, those tribes were still concerned about the tribes left behind at the oasis, even though they had chosen to live at Graycastle. As these people were not politically involved but still maintained a relationship with the desert, they were perfect for forming a local military power. They used old, outdated flintlocks as their weapons.
Suddenly, outside the camp came the little pattering of feet.
"Stop there!" The guard hollered.
"I'm Jodel from the ambush unit. I have something important to report to Mr. Commander."
"Let him in." Brian opened his eyes abruptly.
The tent flap was pulled open, and a man stumbled in, his face smeared with blood, all shaky and breathless. He sank to his knee, panting, but his eyes were glinting with excitement.
"Sir, we won!"