"How did you find out about that?" asked Claude curiously.
Borkal whispered by Claude's ear, "My father returned home really excited and went into his study for quite some time. When I went inside the next morning, I saw a map wide open with three lines drawn on it.
"A black line stretches from Whitestag to Port Neru. That's a route that has existed for quite a while. There's another red line stretching from Whitestag northward and connects to the few islands in the Storm Seas before continuing straight north all the way to Tyrrsim on Nubissia.
"So, I guessed that my father and our father intend to start such a trade route." Borkal was rather excited about sharing the secret plan these fathers were cooking up with Claude.
"My father told me before that Whitestag wouldn't stand a chance to being promoted to city status and breaking away from Baromiss's control based on population and trade growth alone. However, that would be possible if Whitestag becomes more strategic a location for the kingdom.
"Being one of the main crossing points of the many roads throughout the three southwestern prefectures, we don't play that important a role during times of peace. The traveling merchants just stop here for some rest and resupplying. We're hardly a trading hub nor a centralized material distributor.
"So, my father believes that if we can let Whitestag gain city status, we must hold a more consequential role in the kingdom. Even though we can't compete with the three southwestern prefectures in terms of market, industry and raw materials. But Whitestag is close to the ocean. We also have Lake Balinga, a perfect place with enough depth, making us a perfect fit for a port.
"I really hope that our fathers' plans will come true. If this maritime route is successful, Whitestag's development will be worth looking forward to. Even if the Simlock prefecture's Banjis Isthmus plan gets the green light, they won't be able to stop Whitestag from soaring!"
Claude nodded. What Borkal said made sense. If the maritime route succeeded, Whitestag's importance in the kingdom would keep on rising. Getting city status would no longer be a fleeting dream.
According to the map of Aueras, the three southwestern prefectures looked like a bottle gourd. It was surrounded by mountain ranges from all four directions and even the northern coast was nothing but high cliffs. Whitestag on the other hand was located near the 'opening' of the bottle-gourd shape and it was an important outlet from the three southwestern prefectures to outside territory.
Additionally, from the map of Freia, the three southwestern prefectures was located near a very large bay that looked like a bite out of a biscuit. Whitestag was located at the deepest part of that 'bite'. It also took a day's sailing on a waterway to travel from the bay to Whitestag itself.
So, the kingdom's ships that travel along the trade route to the nations on West Freia mostly neglected a small fishing port like Whitestag and sailed outside the bay in a straight line. Only ships damaged by storms or encountered some other trouble would think of sailing into Whitestag for repairs.
That was the reason the kingdom officials missed out on considering Whitestag when they were planning to expand their naval force. Whitestag had the advantage over Port Neru in that Lake Balinga possessed enough area and depth for three long-distance warships to dock, not to mention that it was protected from the strong winds and waves of the sea. However, the waterway that led there stretched more or less five kilometers long and it hampered the speed at which the ships could be deployed.
Additionally, in an all out naval battle, Whitestag's fishing port could be considered an unstrategic location. All the enemy had to do was to close off the waterway with a few ships to seal the forces in Lake Balinga. They could also set up a second line of defense at the bay itself. A fleet would be enough to prevent any ships from sailing out to sea from the bay.
Lastly, the three southwestern prefectures was too far from Port Neru. It would take three days of sailing to travel from Whitestag to Port Neru. Additionally, if Fearless Fleet engaged in a large naval battle with the allied naval force of the five nations, the battlefield could only be located at the eastern or northeastern waters of the kingdom. By the time the ships from Lake Balinga arrive at the zone of conflict, the party would've long been over.
The maritime traders and kingdom's military both neglected a small fishing town like Whitestag, so it had no other choice but to develop its fishing industry. The issue was that the poor transportation also affected the fishing industry. For instance, a carriage would take a day to travel to the prefecture capital, but the demand for fish there wasn't that high. Not everyone there wanted to buy fish. Apart from the rare catches that would sell out, the fishmongers might even suffer a loss if they brought too much to the prefecture capital.
Selling it at some other place wasn't an option either. There were many hilly areas across the three southwestern prefectures, so apart from the capital of Balivia, Baromiss, it would take around three days for those of the town to reach other areas. The fish would spoil before they arrived. Hence, fresh seafood was Whitestag's largest industry and a famous local specialty.
If Borkal's guesses about their fathers' plan to start a maritime route from the town to Tyrrsim in Nubissia was right, Whitestag would be a strategic location for the kingdom if they succeeded.
The new route would not only shorten the time it took to sail from the kingdom to the other continent by more than ten days. Most importantly, they would be able to shake off the unstrategic location of their port. Fearless would no longer have to protect the lifeline of those transport ships. They could even take the initiative to launch an attack on the allied naval force and stop their ships from entering the kingdom's waters.
Apart from that, the new route would be incredibly valuable to the town's industries. Whitestag could be the hub where goods from Nubissia were traded. They could become one of the first distributors of such goods. It was no wonder Borkal's father was so excited last night after returning home and stayed in his study for so long. As a well-known merchant of Whitestag, he could notice the business opportunities and profits that awaited him.
Thinking back at how Eriksson's father was there during the dinner as well, Claude knew that this plan definitely couldn't leave the famous Captain Altroni out. It was common knowledge that Captain Altroni was familiar with the situation in Storm Seas, which was situated near the bay. His Shark of Red Sea had traveled multiple times there to fish, so he knew the islands there quite well.
The captain's involvement would ensure that Storm Seas wouldn't be a threat. What was left was traveling north through Tranquil Ocean that was located between the two continents. That would be the biggest trial for their endeavor to forge a new maritime path. In comparison to the route that traversed the side of Tranquil Ocean, the ocean area itself was a few times wider. There were countless unknown dangers within that area.
"Do you know where my father drew the other red line?" Borkal asked with an air of intrigue, "I bet you wouldn't be able to guess that he drew a red line through Lake Balinga, Swamp Kemda and Tordesass prefecture's Normandis River. I believe that they intend to build a waterway through those three locations to make a canal. That way, the goods from the three southwestern prefectures no longer have to go through the arduous mountain routes. They can be shipped straight to Whitestag through that canal and cut the cost and time they need to transport them."
Borkal waved his hands with excitement. "Think about it. If the start of these two routes succeed, Whitestag will be one of the most important locales in the southwestern part of the kingdom! Even the capitals of all of those prefectures wouldn't be as important as Whitestag! We will develop into the largest port city in the southwestern area!"
Claude tugged at him and said, "Hush, don't be so loud. You just got Instructor Vincent's attention. Also, are you really that excited for it?"
"Ah..." Borkal hurriedly say back down. Seeing Instructor Vincent no longer paying attention to him, he whispered, "Aren't you surprised at all that our fathers are going to start those two new routes? This is a plan that can completely change Whitestag! The more I think about it, the more excited I get! It's like what our history instructor, William, said. We exist at a time rife with change. We are witnessing the creation of history itself, and history is also watching over our every move."
"Pffft!" Claude really couldn't hold it in any longer. After all, Borkal was 16 years old like he was and youths of that age were most susceptible to middle-schooler delusion. Borkal was proud of the fact that he was born in Whitestag thanks to the constant brainwashing by the history books, which hailed the town as the origin for the kingdom's restoration.
"Boa, I understand what you told me just now. I am also rather shocked at our father's plan. But think about it. We're only 16-year-old middle-school students. What could we possibly do to help our fathers execute this plan?
"Like you guessed, our fathers are planning to forge two new routes. However, they're still at the planning stage. Simlock prefecture's Banjis Isthmus plan has been held back for the whole time because of the huge budget. And now, we don't even know how much this plan of theirs will cost and where they will source the money."
Due to the geographical layout, the three southwestern prefectures were the most remote of areas in Aueras and only connected to the other territories through Whitestag, causing its economy to be far less developed than other areas in the kingdom. As such, some scholars in Simlock suggested the Banjis Isthmus plan. They would take about five to six years and 100 thousand youth laborers to make an outward path a Falins Mountain Range's Banjis Isthmus.
If the plan turned out well, the three southern prefectures would have yet another path connecting it to the outside world. The produce from that area could then be transported across the kingdom and it would greatly improve the economy of the three prefectures and allow them to assimilate into the kingdom's development.
The only downside to that plan was that if it was successfully completed, it would greatly decrease Whitestag's importance to the three southwestern prefectures. By then, the traveling merchants who frequented the town would no doubt choose to go to Banjis Isthmus as the route there would be far shorter.
So, when Whitestag Dawn Edition published an article about that plan, the townsfolk reacted really negatively to it. But good news soon spread and it was said that the project would cost 300 thousand gold krons, which was equivalent to 1.5 million silver thales. If each silver thale was the equivalent of 100 bucks, then the budget for that project was 150 million bucks.
Naturally, a project of that high cost was shut down immediately when it was brought to the lower house. The upper house of nobles would definitely not support a project that cost so much to fund, especially when that budget was only an early estimate. The additional costs were still not know and nobody would be willing to bear the responsibility of approving such a project.
"Do you understand now?" Claude asked Borkal, "What we can do now is not to spread it around and leak their plan. Since we don't have any way to help them out, we can only pray for their success."