Release that Witch Chapter 468
After clearing out the four noble families and Black Street Rats with an iron hand, he could, for the time being, start the reform of Longsong Stronghold from scratch. Relief and resettlement measures were underway in an orderly fashion. Although the gold royals and provisions seized from the territories of the Maple Leaf, Wolf, and Wild Rose families weren't as abundant as the ones seized from Duke Ryan, they were still a shocking amount. That was why he could expand the relief program to the entire city unscrupulously, and successfully promote his policies during the porridge distribution.
By the day of his departure, the Second Army had reached its target of recruiting 500 people, and the police department had newly added about 200 new members as well. Roland left half of his soldiers and Vader in Stronghold, so that they could not only manage defenses and maintain order, but could also train the new recruits into usable warriors.
He knew the time for him to implement his policies was limited. If he failed to facilitate the direct communication between the people and the City Hall and did not establish his authority among the masses quickly enough, the ancient power would return to fill the current power gap. As the saying goes, there could be no construction without destruction. He had already completed the destruction, and now it was time to construct and boom Stronghold.
Roland's source of confidence was Border Town, whose population had grown to over 30,000 people, more than half of which were receiving elementary education. This would equal to the size of two modern day middle schools, but it was a shocking number for this era. Furthermore, elementary education was not just about reading skills, but also included basic knowledge of science and politics, as well as a universal sense of patriotism.
The increase in literacy rate would provide him with enough manpower for the revolution. Also, compared to ignorant and meek civilians, a sense of patriotism will enable them to burst out unimaginable power. The town's subjects were each small sparks that would one day set off a great fire in the entire land.
As the sky dimmed, Roland saw the town looming against the darkness.
"Look... what's that?" a member of the nobility shouted behind him.
"That's impossible! How could such a long bridge be supported with only two pillars?"
"Wait... it seems to be made of steel!"
On the way back, apart from the witches, there were dozens of lower-level nobles on Roland's boat, who had not participated in the rebellion and therefore survived the cleanup.
According to Roland's plan, those lower-level nobles would learn to hierarchically manage the City Hall. After the city construction was officially under way, they would return to Stronghold and help Petrov build the secondary City Hall to carry out and give him feedback on his orders. After the nobles lost their feudal privileges, they would all want to improve, and the only thing they could rely on was their own abilities.
As the fleet passed the steel bridge, Roland heard the astonished gasps of the nobles behind him. Everyone held their breaths and stared as the steel bridge that stretched over the entire width of the river flitted over their heads.
The prince couldn't help but laugh at these people, who had not stopped exclaiming since they boarded the boat. First, they were shocked that a boat made of stone could float on water, and then they were amazed by the spinning wheel and the puffing steam engine. "It's a shame that the town's Three Supplies Project isn't completed," he thought, "otherwise their jaws would drop to the floor when they saw the power of light bulbs."
The boats slowly docked with a sharp whistle. Barov, Carter, and a group of City Hall officials had received the carrier pigeon and were waiting by the shore. When they saw Roland, they set off celebration cannons and welcomed him with a set of formalities fit for a king.
Roland smiled and patted the two men's shoulders, and then he brought Barov over to the Stronghold nobles and introduced everyone to each other. "You're in charge of these people's housing, lives, and education," he said quietly to Barov. "Don't mind their identities and titles, since they are barons at most. There're all kinds of people in the mines, and they all have to work to live an honest living. Train them like you would do to new graduates. I want to see the results as soon as possible."
When Roland returned to the castle, all the witches who had heard about his return were waiting in the lobby. Before he could even feel the effects of the heating system on entering the door, a warm body leaped into his arms. He smelled the familiar scent of her hair and patted her head, smiling. "I'm back."
"Uh-huh." Anna raised her head, her blue eyes sparkling with joy. "I've been waiting for you for a long time."
"And me! Coo!"
Soon, Roland felt an extra weight on each of his arms... He didn't even have to look to know that it was Lightning and Maggie, because no one else would interrupt him and Anna.
"Hey, you two basically went along with him." Mystery Moon complained.
"Yeah." Lily scoffed. "No shame!"
"I'm just glad you're all back safe and sound," said Wendy gently.
"We should celebrate tonight," Scroll suggested.
"Yay! I want ice cream bread!" Andrea exclaimed. "With Ashes' and Shavi's portions, I'll be feasting tonight!"
The last to walk up to him was Tilly Wimbledon.
She stuck out her hand and said casually, "You've had a long journey."
"Thank you." Roland smiled and grasped her extended hand.
After a hearty dinner, Roland returned to his office and sighed heavily. Although the castle of Stronghold was much bigger, this small place was much more comfortable.
Just as he was about to sort out the books he brought over from Stronghold, Anna entered the room.
"You came just in time." Roland pointed to the books piled on the rug. "Look, these are my presents for you. They're mostly historical records and legendary tales, while others are secret stories of the Western Region, and they were all taken from Duke Ryan's library. Oh, right, this one is..."
Before he could finish, he felt a pair of soft lips press onto his.
They brought a sweet scent mixed with passion and warm moisture.
"I really missed you," Anna pronounced each word with due stress after she disengaged from Roland, looking deeply into his eyes.
As he stared back at her, Roland felt a sense of warmth swarming upon his heart. "This book..."
"I'll read it later."
The two became entangled in a kiss.