Wizard! Chapter 538
Uzoma found himself in a strange spot, pondering his recent life choices. They had led to him still being alive, so that was a good thing. Convincing others to surrender had also led to them being alive. Uzoma didn’t consider himself much of a leader, but he was able to spot people who just didn’t care.
Even though they were alive, he had to ask himself if more people would be alive if he had done things differently. Perhaps convincing a third of the troops to surrender had led to the defeat of the army and the death of those remaining. He thought about it, then rejected it. A few more troops here and there wouldn’t have helped, and New Eclea hadn’t even managed to send reinforcements yet. If they hadn’t surrendered, even if there hadn’t been any attacks, they would have starved to death soon enough… or had to move out to attack a fortified position or brave the wilderness.
Even so, Uzoma didn’t find his current living conditions to be particularly pleasant. Not that he would have expected anything better as a prisoner of war. New Eclea wasn’t going to ransom them- and “old” Eclea probably didn’t want the trouble. That second part was just Uzoma guessing, because he wouldn’t have wanted to take in a bunch of failed soldiers either. Not that they’d ever had a chance.
Still, Uzoma could imagine far worse circumstances to be in. There was being dead, for one… but also there was being tortured for information or just tortured. Being a prisoner of war had been unpleasant because there was nothing to do. Uzoma had suggested a change to make that more tolerable… but it was still unpleasant.
Still, farming was better than doing nothing. More importantly, it would make Cruonia more pleased… or less displeased? with their drain on resources. It had taken a while to produce anything from the seeds given, and even spread out in a dozen groups they still didn’t have enough land or produce enough food to cover everything they were eating. After all, they had to be watched to make sure they didn’t escape. Not that they would have had anywhere to go, but nobody wanted them causing trouble for nearby towns.
As the instigator of the surrender, Uzoma had managed to put himself in the position of a leader of sorts. He wasn’t sure he liked it, because it turned out being a leader just meant having more power you can’t really use to do what you want. Still, at least he got to move from group to group, settling conflicts and making sure everyone was treated well. Settling their own conflicts was important, because if Cruonia decided they were just too much trouble… well, that would be the end.
Because they couldn’t possibly have enough land to keep all of them busy, they had been left with some gaps in their time. Uzoma had struggled for what they might do there, besides a limited amount of talking and swapping stories. However, that was all well and good for afternoons and evenings, but entire days of idleness made people restless.
Then he thought of it. There was an opportunity to make things better. It might take some time, but he gave it a try. Surprisingly, he was quickly accommodated as his request was passed up the chain of command. It only took a month for teachers to arrive in the first camp.
Of course, if there was one thing New Eclea didn’t lack, it was education. Everyone had at least had the chance to learn before… but there was one critical area that had been lacking. That was language. If he thought about it, that also included history of other nations, besides “The Demon King was bad and there were lots of wars with the demons and sometimes the other humans.” It was only after he convinced the guard liaisons to provide some teaching opportunities that he learned that the Demon King was already dead… super dead, destroyed forever.
His initial reaction was to reject that notion. He was willing to believe the Demon King wasn’t quite as bad as he had been told, but he was destroyed and the new Eternal King was a fair and just ruler? That was harder to believe. On the other hand, he wasn’t dead.
Several of the teachers assured him it was the truth. The change was especially clear and obvious to them… because some of them had been alive before it had happened. Hearing their personal stories was much more convincing than stuff that had been written down in books… though some of them had written the books as well.
William sighed as he wondered what to do with an entire city’s worth of prisoners. They could do what they were currently doing, but in the long term it wasn’t really good for everyone. He was spending resources to keep them alive, but they weren’t contributing anything but part of the global population. That didn’t mean he just saw them as numbers, but he wasn’t sure how to change their actual effects. He was hesitating with some of his ideas until one of his advisors cleared it up for him.
“Just let them be citizens. Eventually. It worked for my granddad, didn’t it?”
The advisor in question was a dwarf. Some of those captured in the initial war had stayed to live in Cruonia, and had descendents. Not that there were many of those, but Balmaeck was definitely one of those. He was even one of the few dwarves who could trace his ancestry back to when they were chased off the continent by the Demon King. Probably. That sort of time left lots of room for error.
“What do I tell the people who had homes destroyed, or family killed, or goods lost?”
“Tell them… ‘suck it up, war happens.’ Besides, for the purely material side of things… everyone already got paid courtesy of all that magical debris in the harbor, didn’t they? If we count that, feeding a few people for a year or two doesn’t count for much. Now I’m not saying you should lie and say that none of these particular soldiers were involved in the whole mess… but the officers were the ones really at fault and they’ve already been dealt with. That… and of course some of the leadership back in New Eclea is the most responsible.”
“Fine. Write up an integration plan. We can even offer a portion of them a chance to settle in other countries. Maybe not ‘old’ Eclea, at least not yet, but we’ll see how things go. As for that leadership… “ William sighed again, “It brings back unpleasant memories.” Warmongers weren’t necessarily related to the Demon King… and any fragments of him should have already long died out especially if reborn among humans. Even so, people advocating for war with little reason couldn’t help but give William unpleasant thoughts, regardless of other associations.