「北の王国」 (Kita no Oukoku)
“The Northern Kingdom”
You know I’m sorely tempted at some point to write a post just on Altair’s various politics and economics. No sooner than the show leaves me with a grin on my face that it turns around and gives something even better than before. Seriously, the economics of agriculture and starting a war in the best manner possible? In the same episode? I don’t think my body can handle it all.
While I harp on it excessively every week, what keeps sticking out to me about Altair is how learned it is. Last time was all about the downstream effects of economic change, but this week? Bird poop. It might seem funny at face value, but sterco (or guano, sterco is Latin for feces) is actually a vital resource. Before the invention of artificial fertilizer (i.e. the Haber-Bosch process), crops in Europe and North America were fertilized with guano largely mined off the Peruvian coast, bringing about the dawn of modern agriculture and turning agriculturally self-sufficient states into food exporting monsters. To say it would make Urado wealthy is an understatement—guano mining could all but sustain Urado’s population yearlong and make the entire damn state an economic powerhouse at the same time. Abiriga’s identification of the stuff is a fairly important deal, and something Urado’s king at least understands generally, if not specifically. When your country lives or dies by the success of its growing season, anything making that aspect slightly more predictable will easily win out in the end. Balt-Rhein may be able to provide Urado with food, but that only shifts Urado’s reliance from themselves to a foreign power—not the ideal arrangement. Plus when it comes at the cost of military access, well, you’re effectively a dead man walking. Just ask Belgium how well such deals play out.
The big thing this week of course was not so much the economics as its results. Executing the competitor as a sign of good faith to the chosen party? Not as glorious a declaration of war as Leonidas kicking Persians down wells, but you have to give Urado’s enthusiasm credit. Ironically this makes for a good example of the law of unintended consequences too, showing no matter how well one may prepare for a specific outcome, someone, somewhere will always act in a manner running counter to that objective. For Mahmut that factor is Urado’s severity, and something he almost assuredly did not consider in the slightest. As a test of strength though it’s harder finding a more appropriate scenario. With Urado now set to bear the full fury of a thoroughly pissed off Balt-Rhein, it falls to Mahmut to help defend his new ally in a fight he did not create, but certainly had a hand in arranging. There’s no guarantee Turkiye will want to get involved (they are likely not militarily ready yet for a brawl) and Urado’s harshness to its enemies could test Mahmut’s own (albeit shifting) morality. Sure Venedik may be on board with handling Balt-Rhein now instead of later, but a fleet is useless in the mountains against an enemy out for blood. It’s a war with no clear path to victory and one that will take every ounce of Mahmut’s learning to come out of victorious. I don’t know if I could get more excited.
It may have only been a transitory episode to whet our appetites for the conflict to come, but with war finally upon us Altair seems ready to make the most out of its gradual buildup. With Balt-Rhein and Turkiye finally at loggerheads, it’s time for Mahmut’s real test and this story’s final reckoning. Fridays, they cannot come fast enough.