“My report will be short, My Lord,” Tecious announced. “I currently command only two divisions. They are both in training and will not be ready to be activated for some time.”
Mandrean’s demeanor changed drastically. After returning his goblet to Fendri, he walked forward with concern. “How are the new Legions doing?” he asked.
Tecious sighed and leaned on his cane with both hands. “I have trained armies for this Empire for over forty years and never have I seen a sorrier group of recruits than this last batch you sent me. I understand the Cangon Clan has chosen not to sell us any more goblins. My belief is they came to that decision before sending us this lot. It is not like it used to be where the crème of their warrior crop was ours for the choosing. These goblins are too lazy, too old and too young. I expect half to wash out in training and the rest will take at least a year to be battle ready.
“As for economics, my Province has fertile farmlands producing everything from hard-fruit to grains. The grape harvest is beginning and our wine production is reaching new heights. Unfortunately, we have no one with whom to trade. Only Ravensburg accepts our goods outside the empire. While they call themselves a ‘Free City’ the taxes they charge on every transaction border the ridiculous.”
Mandrean began to pace. “I’ve heard about the Cangons,” he affirmed. “We will have to look in different directions to fill the Legions.”
“I have made this statement before and I stand by it,” Tecious noted. “It is time to reintroduce Men back into the army. The shortage of manpower has been overcome and the goblins are running amuck. Even with the best training they loot from our own people. Crops are pillaged and stores confiscated.”
“Are the usurpers dealt with swiftly?” Mandrean asked.
“Of course,” Tecious answered. “I have put more goblins to the sword for theft in the last two years than I did years ago in all the Border Wars with the Goblin Nations. We are being sent the dregs of their society. While our fine men work in the fields, these scoundrels carry the Standard of the Empire. It is time to reverse their roles.”
Mandrean was silent as he walked over and politely gestured to the seat where Tecious had been in a nonverbal request to sit. The general rolled his eyes and shuffled back to his place. “Go ahead,” he mumbled on his way. “Say it.”
Mandrean obliged. “Great Tecious, you are a Master Trainer and no finer have ever lived…”
“But?” Tecious interjected.
Mandrean despised being predictable but felt no choice but to finish his thought. “You know my plans. We stand to take considerable losses. I would rather goblins form the fodder rather than our people.”
“As always, My Lord, I am your humble servant and will comply. Do consider, if the makeup of our forces were different, our loses may be as well.”
“If you are wrong,” Mandrean corrected. “We face a decimation of the populace not seen since the War of the Unclaimed Territory. The people would revolt.”
“They are not far from that point now,” Tecious added. “Our people are tired of the goblins and the crumbling infrastructure. They are nearing their threshold.”
Mandrean walked to his throne and spoke. “It will not be long before our people’s fears are alleviated and all will be well. I assure you.” Tecious simply nodded his acknowledgement and said no more.