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Chapter 325: Lack of manpower

Fiery clouds dotted the sunset, and a refreshing breeze gently soothed people’s hearts. All of the numerous potholes and scars that disfigured Brettel City had been fixed as reparations poured in.

The main city gates had two huge magic crystal cannons stationed on either side. They gave off a faint red sheen under the dying rays of the sun, seemingly ready to spit out flames at any moment.

Helen Tina was currently standing in front of the city gates after having been forced to sign the contract. She looked up at the two magic crystal cannons that’d originally belonged to her, unsure of her feelings. Han Shuo stood on the city’s walls, smiling merrily as he held the contract aloft and waved goodbye, “Dear honorable Duke Helen Tina, we won’t be seeing you off.”

Helen Tina inwardly gave eighteen generations of Han Shuo’s ancestors a good cursing. However, she was worried about the rebellion that could break out at any time in her Helon Duchy. Having recovered her mental strength, she slowly levitated into the sky. Her shining eyes glared fiercely at Han Shuo as she gritted her teeth and growled, “Greedy evil demon, I’ll definitely be back for revenge!”

“Have a safe journey. Remember that you have to pay back the gold coins you owe me in three months!” Han Shuo beamed radiantly, waving the contract in his hand as if telling Helen Tina not to try and weasel her way out of her debt.

“Hmph!” Helen Tina turned her head angrily. She transformed into a fiery shadow, flying towards the direction of Helon Duchy. Beneath the sunset, the fiery shadow looked like a rainbow arcing the horizon.

“My Lord is truly too evil. Not only did he take this poisonous beauty, he even exhorted a huge amount of gold coins. Truly eating people down to the bones!” Chester shook his head emotionally, looking at Han Shuo with eyes that burned with worship.

“I didn’t think Helen Tina was this beautiful, no wonder Benedict of the Narsen Duchy is so obsessed with her. A pity, ah, a pity. He definitely wouldn’t expect that our lord was one step ahead in plucking this flower!” A tinge of schadenfreude in his voice, Dick chuckled, making malicious speculations about how ugly the situation would turn after Benedict learned of this.

“Your Lordship, I think that with her malicious nature, Helen Tina definitely won’t be willing to let this go. Hmph, if she spreads the news about our Brettel City extorting four hundred thousand gold coins from her, it might arouse the greed of the other seven grand duchies.” Faulke tone held worry as he approached Han Shuo, as his eyes followed Helen Tina’s departure.

Han Shuo looked at the red clouds painting the sky, a silent frown creasing his brow. His eyes flicked towards the blurry outlines of the mountain ranges around Brettel City. He spoke, “Dick, send messengers to the surrounding mountains and ask the leaders of the mountain people to pay a visit to Brettel City. Just tell them that I’m inviting them for a meal.”

“My lord, because the former city lords were all incompetent and mediocre leaders, they couldn’t help the mountain people resist the bandits. So the mountain people have never harbored any good impressions, let alone respect, for the city lord. I can pass the news to them, but I’m afraid that they won’t come out of sheer contempt.” Dick hesitated before he explained the matter, a difficult expression on his face.

“The current situation is different from the past. Fulkin of Mount Tali will come for certain. If he informs the others beforehand, the other leaders will know of our strength. I think they’ll be willing to come, heh heh. The past is the past, the present is the present. The entirety of Brettel City is my territory, and they are all my people. If these people really can’t tell good from bad, then I will make them learn how to respect a city lord.” Han Shuo’s voice was as inexorable as the tides.

Nodding his head, Dick promised, “Alright then, I will definitely notify them.”

Dick was also a mountain man. He’d already initiated and even secretly maintained a good relationship with the people in the surrounding mountains before Han Shuo had arrived in Brettel City. He’d had no hope in Han Shuo originally. But now that he’d witnessed the latter’s knowledge, power, and schemes, Dick understood that his stubborn people would definitely eat a bitter loss if they provoked Han Shuo.

Therefore, Dick was determined to persuade those stubborn fellows to come as soon as he heard Han Shuo’s words. He didn’t want any of those people to die at the hands of Han Shuo’s undead army.

After Dick left, Han Shuo said to Faulke, “Use the gold coins we have to arm the entire city with everything we can lay our hands on. War chariots, catapults, oil, goblin missiles, everything you think is needed. As for equipment, I have entrusted some of the merchant guilds to transport them here. Also, instruct the masons to reinforce any fragile areas of the city’s walls. Make it taller in areas where it isn’t tall enough.”

“Your lordship, the craftsmen have already increased their overtime to do these things. What we lack the most now are soldiers with sufficient combat effectiveness. Brettel City has suffered through many battles, and it’s been devastated multiple times by fires. The total population in our city is only fifty thousand or so, a pitiful amount compared to the millions found in some of the big cities. The number of young people is even fewer. We have been conscripting men by providing enormous temptations recently, but we have only recruited two hundred or so. Our population is far from enough!”

“Brettel City is so big that it’s simply impossible to protect all four gates with only roughly three thousand soldiers in the city. Even if we have overwhelming firepower, we still need people to operate it! If the problem of the population can’t be resolved, I think Brettel City will still remain in this half dead atmosphere.” Faulke was indeed a knight who’d been tempered by the flames of war. He only needed one glance to point out what the city lacked the most, its biggest weakness at the time.

This was truly a difficult problem. Han Shuo also knew that what Brettel City lacked the most was people, but he didn’t have a proper method to address it. Brettel City had always been bathed in war for so many years that it was publically known as a hell on earth due to the number of emigrating citizens. Even ordinary citizens of other cities might not be willing to migrate to the Brettel City, never mind the natives who had left

The first thing Han Shuo could do now was secure the safety of the city before gradually expanding in other aspects. He then could slowly attract people from other cities to inhabit Brettel City by leveraging its security as a benefit for development.

However, this wouldn’t be an overnight process, it required quite a long transition period. At minimum, the pillaging and threats from the seven grand duchies had to be firmly stoppered before Brettel City could slowly prove to outsiders that it was safe. Only then would fear and panic be dispelled.

“Mhm, I know this is indeed our biggest problem. We temporarily have no way to attract new residents. However, as long as we can stop the pillaging of the seven grand duchies and spread the news that Brettel City is safe, some original inhabitants who yearn for their hometown might be willing to come back. We will have to tackle this problem from multiple angles. I think Brettel City will turn into a bustling city sooner or later.”

“First, about the lack of staff and soldiers, we can start from the mountain people in the surrounding mountains. That’s why I’ve invited them to the city. I heard from Dick that there are thirty to forty thousand of them, of which around ten thousand can fight. If we can firmly grasp and use this force, in addition to being equipped with six advanced magic crystal cannons and a sturdy city wall, our odds of successfully blocking the invasions of the seven grand duchies will be much higher.” Han Shuo had considered this issue early on and serenely explained why he’d invited the mountain people.

“If my lord has put careful thought into it already, then I will say no more. On the other hand, young master Lawrence will soon send over several talents who are knowledgeable in city and financial management. The military of Brettel City is also getting into fighting shape.” Faulke said respectfully.

Nodding his head, Han Shuo said noncommittally, “Mm, for the time being these things are under your jurisdiction.”

At present, there were hundreds of things waiting to be completed in Brettel City. All kinds of talents were greatly lacking. Lawrence’s arrangements of talented military and political personnel would indeed play an important role. However, since they were arranged by Lawrence, it would be difficult to remove them once these military and political talents officially took control.

If this situation was left to develop as it would, if Han Shuo still continued to use Lawrence’s people, then this subconscious infiltration would slowly turn Brettel City into Lawrence’s territory. Han Shuo was now much more mature than in the past and understood this drawback clearly. Unfortunately, he didn’t have any of his own people he could use at the moment. He also temporarily couldn’t identify if Lawrence’s help was motivated through good intentions or other purposes. But right now, what Han Shuo currently lacked the most was manpower, so he could only leave things as they were.

However, Han Shuo had started thinking of the future and was seriously considering using his own trusted people. Be it developing or discovering these people, neither were simple matters. He slowly walked to his room, musing over his idea.

For the next two days, Han Shuo stayed in the city lord’s mansion, monitoring the progress of the city defense upgrades during the day and tirelessly practicing demonic cultivation and necromancy magic at night. However, breakthroughs in cultivation became harder the more he progressed, and there weren’t many gains to be had in his boring day to day practices. On the other hand, since his mental strength was at the grand magus rank, his grasp over necromancy magic actually made rapid progress.

Therefore, Han Shuo put more effort into studying necromancy magic. Using the secret chamber in the city lord’s mansion, he could easily transport himself to the Cemetery of Death – the most perfect training grounds for necromancers. Not only the scent of death there dense, it even had plenty of magic tools and laboratory space. Han Shuo stayed here alone every night and captured some live magic beasts to practice his “Soul Tremor” spell.

For a demonic practitioner at the separate demon realm like Han Shuo, their soul had transformed into the even more mysterious consciousness, which possessed some truly wondrous uses. Based on his study of the soul, in addition to his memories of demonic magic, Han Shuo gradually came to feel that there was a link between the understanding of the soul in necromancy and the changes in the consciousness in his demonic cultivation.

However, this wonderful idea was still extremely difficult to implement with Han Shuo’s current ability because his knowledge had yet to reach true proficiency in any field. It would require a long period of exploration and training if he wanted to master the two aspects. It seemed this wasn’t a feasible idea, at least not in the short term.

This spell “Soul Tremor” used the consciousness to attack an opponent’s soul. As such, Han Shuo had repeatedly experimented on living magic creatures over the past two days. As a result, he had obtained certain insights in some areas of using the mind to attack, gradually grasping some of the key parts of this spell in two days.

Han Shuo walked out from the Cemetery of Death on the third day. Basking in the warm sunshine, he felt satisfaction trickle through his body. While he walked around, checking on the progress of the city, Dick made his way to Han Shuo’s side and said respectfully, “My Lord, I have sent out the invitations according to your orders. The five mountain leaders of the surrounding mountains have all agreed to come to Brettel City in seven days.”

Smiling lightly, Han Shuo looked at Dick deeply before finally saying, “Dick, you are also a mountain man. I knew you wouldn’t let me down if I placed this in your charge.”

‘But of course. Otherwise, with your methods, all the leaders who didn’t come would definitely meet with some accidents. I didn’t want to become the villain of my people.’ Dick thought inwardly, his expression still respectful as he said smilingly, “My Lord has gained the mountain people’s trust after you exterminated the Red Beard bandits. I believe they’ll be coming here with hearts full of hope.”

“Perhaps with more fear than not, haha!” Han Shuo laughed heartily with Dick. How could he not know what these people wanted to do? Dick had said all that needed to be said, so they naturally knew what to do.

“Eh… They actually are a bit afraid. Heh heh!” Dick answered with a laugh. He looked into Han Shuo’s eyes and felt as if the latter could hear the thoughts that hid in his mind. Involuntarily, Dick felt fear take hold of his heart.

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