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Friday, 7 August 2015

Felicia's Second Life Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Let's Start A Revolution!

Good evening, everyone. My name is Felicia Belphere Metrune. I am the only daughter of Baron Alphonse Lartes Metrune. I am 9 years old. I haven't always been Baron Metrune's daughter though.

 I am a reincarnated person.

For the past year I've been building up some industry in father's poor barony using my newly acquired wealth. Then suddenly, after nearly 10 years of peace, somebody decided to go to war on us. Is it not enough that we're poor? Can't you just leave me in peace?

Hi everyone, it's your favourite reincarnated Lady Felicia again. How are you all doing? Me? I'm doing good, well, a little dusty, though.

See, I'm currently at the closed off tin mine at the far western border of the barony. With the heavier dependence on iron these days, the value of tin, which was used mostly in bronzewares, had fallen so low that father considered it was too expensive to run. So he had it closed off.

It was a good business decision. If something's not working out, better to stop it and focus on something else. If I knew what father knew, I would likely do the same too. Fortunately, I came from the modern world, I knew a lot more than he did. Ghehe.

I was originally Malcolm Stokes, born and raised in Cornwall. I died in Cornwall too, hit by a truck while walking home from a pub. So how did I become Lady Felicia Belphere Metrune of the Barony of Mruna?

Maybe you forgot, but I reincarnated. Yes, I reincarnated into a girl. On my 6th birthday, I suddenly received all the memories of my 29 year previous life. It put me into a week-long coma. Apart from having my tiny young head crammed full of memories from my previous life though, I was fine.

With that knowledge, I set about to improve the barony in my own way.

The first step was agricultural revolution. I aimed to improve the farming practices in the barony and improve food production in our mostly infertile farmlands. It was too successful, so much so that one could call it an oversight. I alone produced almost as much food as the whole barony put together, unfortunately much of it was sitting idle in my personal granary, becoming bait for mice. The lone merchant that came to this isolated barony didn't have enough goods to barter with me. In summer he came back and purchased my grains with gold, but he still didn't have enough gold to purchase all that I had offered. Still, because of that, I had 30 gold coins that I kept in my stash under lock and key.

Gold coins are what high ranking nobles and royals use. Silver coins are what people normally use for high volume or high value purchases. Generally people would use the copper coins, either the small copper (copper coin with a circular hole) or the big copper (single sheet copper coin). For the majority of the rural areas though, none of these coins were in use, people traded through barter and job payments were paid in foodstuff.

The second step was talent development. The first one was of course my lifelong best friend, Lilicia. I taught her maths, reading and writing, a knowledge generally only reserved for nobility and wealthy freemen. Next I taught the same things as well as modern farming knowledge to Lemy, another of my childhood friends. I intended for him to be the supervisor of my farm, but after three years of watching him work on my farm, I believed that he might've been destined for something greater. I wouldn't call him a genius, but he had a flair for management and administration, perhaps even a talent for it. It made me feel that I may one day have to let him go.. Together with my three other childhood friends, the insecure girl Serin, the slow-witted brute Somme and the short-tempered boy Gani, these five made up the first of my farmhands.

I think father intended for these five people to be my loyal retainers in the future, but he probably didn't expect them to spend much of their training on farming instead. Father still didn't neglect their martial training, though. So in this sense, they were more like warrior farmers instead of common serfs. Even Lili and Serin were taught how to wield daggers, swords and how to test for poison. I didn't think they needed to go as far as learning to test for poison in my food (by eating it themselves), but father and Sir Mosro believed that it was absolutely essential.

Mother, while watching them eat poison for the sake of training, just made a small smile and said ,"Oh my, oh my."

Mother is so unhelpful.

Anyway, I also ended up training Somme's 8 year old little brother Gonne. The moment I looked at him, I could tell that Gonne hid inside him a cleverness and a yearning for a different life. I could tell that he was greatly dissatisfied with being born as a serf's son. So I also took him under my wing and taught him reading & writing, maths and bookkeeping. I was expecting him to become a successful merchant who would owe me a life debt one day.

Look at me, only 9 years old and already a scheming little bitch. >_<

Anyway, my third step was turning the barony into a fully industrial area. This was mostly because with the success of my farm, I attracted the attention of many undernourished serfs begging me for work. Not only the serfs from Mruna, some of them came from another barony altogether. Some even came from as far as Renus and the duchy capital of Renus. I would have loved to help, they were Forlendians too, but I didn't need ten people working the same field. I had the irrigation ditches and the oxen-driven ploughs and seed drills for that. Regardless, I couldn't just refuse.

So I started a paper industry. I bet this is expected by those of you who read a lot of stories concerning time travel to the middle ages. You need to remember though, that this isn't medieval Europe. The paper-making process has been known in this region for at least 100 years. It is an involved process, and paper is still expensive, though not as expensive as parchment or papyrus. My operation however, aimed at producing affordable paper which was thin enough to be used as wrapping paper. In comparison, all of the other paper factories in this region produce thick, hard, cardboard-like paper made of flax fibre and wood dust.

Okay, so I'm hearing some voices clamouring for a printing press. There's a reason why nobody has attempted that yet. It's because our writing system is fairly complex. Unlike English, we have 34 different 'strokes' and each stroke adds together to make a word. If I want to make a printing press, I will have to make 479 different print heads, that's how many words we have in common use. If you want to compare it to Earth's writing system, it's similar to Chinese Hanyu or Japanese Kanji. To understand more, please refer to the example below.




See how hard it would be?

Some time after starting my paper business, I found an iron ore deposit in the rocky patch about 5 miles west of the town while looking for a rumoured herd of wild horses to drag back to my farm. I didn't find the horses, but I did find a lot of iron ore. It seemed like father knew of it, but didn't have the resources to fully make use of it except for small scale open field minings at the start of every winter.

With the discovery of the large iron deposit, I started the building of a steel foundry as well. We already had a town blacksmith, but he dealt in wrought iron products. Wrought iron is soft and not very good as armour or weapons, though people make do with it since there's no better alternative. Unfortunately nobody knew how to make a steel foundry, even I could barely recall the basic setup of an open hearth steel foundry, so although the structure itself was built quickly, there was no furnace to put inside it.

Unrelated to that, I then started exploring the area around my land while getting a breath of fresh air. It was during one of these explorations that I found out about the tin mines and I figured, great, this will definitely solve one of my worrying problems. What problem you ask? Food spoilage, of course. I don't think I need to mention canning and its value in a medieval society.

So you're wondering how can a 9 year old girl afford to build all these? And if a 9 year old girl can afford to build all these, why didn't my father the baron build it in the first place?

I need to remind you that we don't use coins here. Payment consists of grains, mostly barley or rye, with wheat normally being valued higher. With the success of my farm, I had these in excess. In a way, you can say that I'm currently richer than father. It isn't like father is incompetent, it is just that father is a knight. What would knights know about farming or mining?

"My lady, would you like to stand a little farther away? Your dress is getting dusty," Lili suggested as she pulled my hand.

I looked at the dust that collected at the hem of my dress. "You're right, let's move aside a bit. Mother will cry if she sees my dress in this state."

"There's not even a need for you to be here, my lady."

"I need to see how much tin we have. But I guess you're right, we'll go back after Somme returns with the tin ore."

Somme returned half an hour later, carrying with him a basket filled with mostly tin ore and some trace minerals. From what he said, it seemed like I had enough tin for what I had in mind for at least 100 years with current mining practices. That was an estimate for that mine alone. There could have been other tin deposits nearby, but I had no need for so much tin.

******

As with middle age Europe, this land wasn't free from conflict. One day father returned from a meeting with Duke Melstad, to whom we swear fealty, and relayed to us a disturbing story. It seemed that the neighbouring kingdom of Surfes was gearing up for war. And our king, His Majesty King Lodris The Second, believed that Surfes's target would likely be us, judging from generations of conflict across our border for one reason or another. Nobody even remembered why we started fighting each other, but I guess men just didn't need a reason to fight. No matter which world you go to, wars will always be a common occurence.

Since it was the middle of winter, there wouldn't be any war yet. But come summer, after the fields were harvested and resown, we could expect a declaration from Surfes. As one who held the title of baron, father would of course be expected to fight in the war as well as provide troops and supplies befitting his position for the war efforts. The supplies part was easy; while the barony granaries weren't exactly filled to satisfaction, I could easily supplement it with my own stock. The troops part was a little more troubling.
As mentioned previously, our army consisted of one (1) knight, and that was Sir Mosro. Everybody else were volunteer peasants. Sure, we could raise maybe 200 fighting men, but these fighting men would mostly be armed with pitchforks and cloth armour. We had neither the money nor the equipment to arm them properly.

This meant that these peasants would likely suffer heavy casualties.

I wanted to volunteer my foundry, but it wasn't finished being built yet and probably would not be finished until the end of spring. By then it would probably be too late to start making weapons for 200 peasant soldiers.

Of course, father didn't blame me at all. When I mentioned it, he just pushed the matter aside and told me not to think too much about it. Then he told me to go to sleep because it was late. Obviously, he wasn't expecting anything from me because of my age. He probably thought he was being considerate, but it pissed me off instead.

Still, as a knight and a baron, this was father's forte. I, who came from a world where wars were fought in faraway countries only knew things taught in school and on television. What would I know about medieval wars? Even despite practicing swords with my childhood friends (with leather gloves on to keep my skin soft) since Sir Mosro refused to teach his boss's daughter swordfighting techniques, I was no good with it.
I could lift wooden swords just fine, and probably could fight well with more practice. However, the moment I tried to lift a real sword, I gave up. I never knew that real swords were so heavy! Forget fighting with it, I couldn't even wield it without going weak in the knees. Compared to that, a spear was more my style, but spears were for peasants. Nobles would be laughed at if they fought with spears.

In my former life as Malcolm, I've had my fair share of Live Action Role Play and Roman Era Re-enactments. I was no stranger to swords, bows, spears,javelins, gladiuses and axes, even throwing axes. I also knew the strategy involved in deploying them on the battlefield or how to counter armies armed with these weapons. However, those were all make-believe. Had it been real, I would likely have died at least twenty times for the past five years.

I later found out that father ordered 80 spears from the local blacksmith while ordering 100 bows and enough arrows from the merchant. He also had the carpenter make 100 round shields for the spearmen. To pay for it, he had me pay him an early land rent with my large food stock, so I would be exempted from paying land rent in the summer. He also charged me a fee for the license to mine the barony's minerals, so I ended up having to take out 38 gold coins for it. I had no problem with it, I could afford it. As previously mentioned, my farms were producing almost as much as the whole barony put together. After selling my produce, I still have plenty more gold left.

On top of my land rent, this would be enough for all the weapons and probably some minimal leather body armour as well. I offered to lend him the rest of my gold, but he said there was no need for it. He told me to keep it in case he was captured and needed to be ransomed. But I knew he was just joking. Barons swear fealty towards the local duke, therefore, it was the duke's responsibility to pay their ransoms if they were captured.

******

War. It really came. Being located in the southeastern part of the kingdom, far from the Surfesian border, the Barony of Mruna wasn't directly affected by the declaration of war. Despite that, since father was a landed baron, we were obligated to send military assistance to the Duchy of Selestin, where most of the fighting would take place.

The Kingdom of Surfes, ruled by a warlike king by the name of King Garren The Mighty, is located to the northeast border of our Kingdom of Forlendia. The Kingdom of Surfes is significantly bigger than Forlendia, especially after the Surfesians captured the River Country, a former protectorate of Forlendia with several big rivers and hundreds upon thousands of miles of fertile farmlands. While Forlendia had managed to hold their ground since then, we never succeeded in retaking River Country. So about 10 years ago, the former king of Forlendia and the current king of Surfes signed a truce. However, it seemed that the king of Surfes had now broken the truce and was mobilizing past the River Country.

The ducal decree to deliver military aid to Selestin came shortly after harvest. Father, Sir Mosro (and his squires) and our 200 peasant spearmen and archers would meet up with the ducal army at the ducal capital of Renus. Once all of the ducal forces had arrived, they would march together towards Selestin. We were expected to prepare our own provisions to last until the start of winter, when it would be too cold to fight.
Of course, this would mean we would have less manpower to sow the seeds. I wasn't worried, though; with my 'inventions', including the new harvester which trapped stalks of grain for the 3 sickle blades to cut and for the harvester to collect, we had little need for manual harvesting for the summer. Men generally worked the mines and cut the trees up until the conscription. So I wasn't worried much about our farm work.

You ask why we receive a ducal decree instead of the royal decree? The way our nobility works is a little different than medieval Europe. You see, it goes like this: barons and baronets swear fealty to the dukes or counts that give them land, and the dukes and counts in turn swear fealty to the king. So in essence, while all of us swear allegiance to the king, as a barony, we are under the command of Duke Melstad who lives in Renus. On the other hand, knights and manorial lords can belong to any of these ranks, but their ranks aren't dictated by the ranks of their lords. In other words, a royal knight isn't superior in any way to a baron's knight, unless the royal knight is also a royal bodyguard, which gives him a voice of similar rank to a duke's in matters relating to the royalty he protects.

Maybe you noticed in the previous chapter that my mother's family name was also Melstad. You got it right, my mother is the current Duke Melstad's second daughter. So that makes Duke Melstad my grandfather. Father is also descended from the original line of Melstad, the Rusenfel. My great great great grandfather was the second son of the Rusenfel and was given the barony of Mruna following his mother's request to the first son. Great great great grandfather later became the patriarch of a new branch of Rusenfel family, the Metrune.

At first, out of spite, great great great grandfather was granted a rocky and infertile land, the place where our tin mining operations now centered. His nephew, the first son of his older brother, pitied great great great grandfather who couldn't even afford to keep his family clothed, so he granted extra land to great great great grandfather, which included a large area of wooded land. Because of this, our barony can be compared to a small county in size. So we have plenty of land but only slightly over half of it is useable for farming.

The price for that, however, was great great great grandfather's first and second daughters. Apparently, this nephew took great fancy to both of his own female cousins and made them the condition for the granting of land. There wasn't much written in the family history, but it was believed that they lived happily ever after. Truth be told, if I have a sister, I don't think I'll ever be able to marry the same man as my sister, but that's probably just me and my modern values.

Somewhere along the line, the men of the main Rusenfel family died off, some from plague, some from the battlefields and some from assassinations. Thus only one unmarried Rusenfel lady was left. Since out of the branch family of the Rusenfel, the Metrune, the only one still unmarried was a 4 year old boy, the leftover lady of Rusenfel had to marry into the new noble house of Melstad. Back then, the noble house of Melstad was just a new house, formed by a hero who was granted the title of an unlanded baronet by the king. They were considered of inferior lineage back then. Grandfather, the current Duke Melstad was the result of their union.

To silence the voices of those who objected to it, mother who was the second daughter of Duke Melstad was married off to father who was of pure Rusenfel bloodline, despite carrying the Metrune name. Eventhough the Metrune was a branch family of the Rusenfel, we were still of direct Rusenfel bloodline. Had there been an unmarried Metrune man of age, Rusenfel's great grandmother would have had a matrilineal marriage with the Metrune man instead.

Later on, to strengthen the bond, they even discussed about engaging me to the Melstad future heir. I strongly refused, simply because I was too young and also because the future duke's first son was a jerk. I'm not exaggerating. The few times I met him, he came off as nothing but an insensitive jerk.

For this war, though, Duke Melstad would not be leading the ducal army. The ducal army which included my father, would be led by his first son, Lord Smilnof, the father of my 15 year old supposed fiance. My supposed fiance would also be going to the war, though only as a commander of the light cavalry. In other words, he'd likely be the guy who'd chase and cut down routed enemies, the easiest job in the whole campaign.

You're asking why I still call him my fiance when I already rejected him? That's because I was too young to have any say over who I marry. So my objections were ignored. It is also because he is an idiot who can't take a hint. I hope his army commanding ability is a lot better than his tact.

*Felicia's personal diary. Age 9*

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5 comments:

  1. I imagine the mother to one of those types that always have their eyes closed and kept smiling and saying Arara, Ara Ara. the one you can't get angry at.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, it's the kind of mother that you can only accept and not get angry of. Even if you get angry, you'll just feel silly afterwards. Thank you for your comment.

      Delete
    2. But when she gets angry and opens her eyes, u know ur screwed

      Delete
  2. I can't continue with the story, you skipped quite a bit and made the MC a Mary Sue. The guy started an agricultural revolution by himself, and no one seem to think that a 6 year doing it is weird? The author skipped and just told us the personalities of the secondary characters, but they don't matter in typical Mary Sue literature. How did Malcolm, who's from England I suppose, learn to make all this machinery and why wasn't it in place beforehand? Not only know of it, but know enough to direct the product of multiple pieces of complex tools. Plows were used way before Medieval times, why don't they have it?
    I was also lost when talking about lineage, the reason I assume the author is British is because of that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thank you for your comment.

      That's why the MC stated nobody actually took her seriously and that's why her workers are only kids.

      The machineries are really basic stuff. In the case of the plow, everyone has one. The difference is in how deep the plow can go, that was why I named it deep-plough. Everything else were simply wooden construction that anyone could've made, if only they have thought of it.

      Thank you again for your comment. I try to avoid Mary Sue, but I had to push forward instead of lingering in 'Introduction Arc'. The real story starts when she's 11. Anything before that is simply background story to make her something of a threat.

      Should I have elaborated it further?

      Delete

You may say whatever you want, even if you don't like the story. All I ask is that you be polite about it. For example, "You suck, you should rot in hell" and "Balduadapdahdaydai" are totally not acceptable. If your comment is "Your grammar is horrible, please find a grammar checker", then it's fine.