185 Change of times

22nd June 1574


Just when all the pieces were finally about to come together and turn from a bunch of elaborate parts into a modern rifle, a messenger came directly to the assembly line for the guns. 

"What happened?"

With no more than a single look at the desperate face of the young man waving a sealed parchment around, I was convinced that I already knew the content written on the paper. What puzzled me, was how the heck did the news managed to arrive so quickly?

"Here you go, my lord!"

Taking the piece of the old paper made by the skin rather than created with the wooden dust, I couldn't help but notice for the first time ever, how big of a difference my investments were bringing to this world. 

What others considered a fully natural and expensive commodity, in all my lands was already replaced with cheap paper produced by nothing but a tiny shed placed right beside the carpentry plant. To make matters even more interesting, I wasn't the one organising its operation at all!

It all happened way back when I was explaining the process of making pellets, where one of the craftsmen heard me muttering something about what a waste it was to not use the remaining powder in papermaking. As I had no clue how to do it in the first place, outside of the fact that I knew that the original paper was made with wooden residual products, after answering all the questions that I was able to, I only had to wait for two days for the first prototype sheet of paper to be made.

Obviously, as it was nothing more than the initial attempt at making paper, by one of the craftsmen that came to this place on their own volition after receiving the invitation from one of their colleagues that were already working here. With how he had to produce some results before receiving any help, the first batch he provided was honestly awful. The threads were too thick, the paper was coarse and too thick to be used with any form of ink… But it was a great step forward already!

As the production of steam horses reached the daily output of three, I had no problem supplying two of them to his business and explaining to him how he could use them to make simple press and other mechanical tools.

And just like that, the very first private investment was created in the mining town! Even though the building where all the production was going on was as big as the shed that was initially mounted on top of my steam paddlers for my own comfort while travelling on the river, from what I heard, the profits from selling the paper both to the local managers and in small quantities as a luxury product in the entire province, this once a small craftsman was already the first man to request some of my building materials! 

While the idea of having people themselves investing their time and knowledge into developing this place was great, his attempts at creating a proper paper factory had to be stopped. Not because I didn't want him to grow… But because with how messy this entire place was slowly turning out to be, if I didn't take care of the internal logistic now, then when people tempted by his example would flock this place to try their own luck, it would only take a single year at most to put a hard limit of how efficient all the factories could be due to the insufficient quality of the roads and transit lines!

"Dear Mike, I'm writing this letter to inform you, that our beloved King made a decision to temporarily return to the Kingdom of France. Due to the death of his brother…"

"... as such, I'm worried that our investments might experience quite a lot of problems when trying to obtain external sources of financing…"

"I wish you great fortune, Jan Bone."

After skimming through the content on the message, I couldn't help but just shrug my arms, gnash the parchment into a ball and throw it into the fire that fueled the steam horses. Seeing how the dried-up skin almost instantly turned into ashes, I nodded to the messenger before directing my attention back to the weapon manufacturing process.

Just like with the problem of a paper factory, rather than being located near all the other projects that we' developing by the river, it was moved all the way to the other side of the mining town, at the foothold of a small hill where I was planning to build a proper fortress in the near future.

Despite how King's escape was still a secret that only a chosen few knew about, it would only take a few days for the news to spread like a wildfire through the entire country. That was also one of the reasons why nearly half of my stock of gunpowder was hastily moved to this place, allowing me to fully focus on weapon production.

It was only a matter of time before some of the nobles would treat the ensuing chaos as their opportunity to steal a piece of the pie that I was baking here, either by stealing some of my production, raiding the place to kidnap some of the workers and force them to explain the ways in which this entire place was operating or just burn the entire place down for the sake of pulling someone who was doing better than them, down.

That's why despite how the news still has yet to reach the ears of common nobles, I already dispatched most of the troops that would usually lie low in Tarnow to protect the areas, establishing simple bunkers all around the place with a simple system of protected fires aimed to be nothing more than a signal that an unwanted party was approaching the premises of this golden land! 

I couldn't prevent anyone from attempting to do harm to my projects. It was their own decision to do something like this, and with how I failed to reach the stage where I could push some of the major powers into cooperation with me, outside of official backing of Jan Bone, I was left all alone.

But I wasn't going to just bank on the goodwill of my neighbours! 

In just a few days, as soon as the test would conclude, those new weapons of mine would replace the inefficient firearms that all of my troops were carrying. As soon as the stockpile of both the weapons and ammunition would reach the minimal point, the recruitment would start, allowing me to bolster my numbers from just below one hundred armed men to up to half a thousand! 

Even though the cost of keeping such a huge force on standby at all times would put a great strain on my finances, I couldn't keep all my interest to the production alone. In the chaotic time, unless one was ready to defend himself, all his other attempts at increasing his wealth or power would be useless!

That's why, if everything would go according to my estimates, within just a single week from now, the house of Tarnow would turn into one of the most powerful military forced in the entire commonwealth!

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