Before the onset of warring states, the hegemony of Yue was weak. Everyone knew it is the survival of the fittest. Most chose to pledge allegiance to the stronger states, but there were also few unknown warlords, who were ambitious and wanted to build their own empire. Many did not realized there were several hundreds of unknown warlords then.
Everyone knew the size and wealth of the populace could well determine the fate of their state, but a few wise warlords knew reputation was a far more important factor for prosperity. It was reputation that drew able men from afar to serve. But reputation need to be built on the strength of one's army.
Lord Yang Jiang commanded a small but strong army. His strongest neighbor was the state of Qi. The ruler of Qi was in a state of stupor, in a mad race to develop the latest technology to build the greatest arms. Lord Yang Jiang knew it will be a painful learning curve before the state of Qi could advance to the stage of development of Qin, who were able to build weapons that allow troops to fight in the thick forests, and arrows that could be shot across the rivers. Ruler Qin was even able to build fortress on water, and hence, no warlords, dared invade the state of Qin although it was the smaller state among the powerful seven.
Lord Yang knew it would be a painful learning curve, and instead of joining that technological rat race to develop water fortresses, he chose to develop the fishing areas of the Yangtze river. He opened the state coffins and gave loans to fishermen to build bigger boats, so that they could venture further to fish. Many thought such money spent, were money wasted. But Lord Yang proved them wrong, many fishermen were willing to borrow the money to build bigger and better ships, and many fishermen along the Yangtze river came to Lord Yang's fief. The big demand of fishermen in turn attracted ship builders and carpenters. Because of the strong demand for his money, Yang start to charge exorbitant rates and only to bigger and more organised fishermen. He also developed the fishing ports into town areas. Very soon, when the state of Qi wasted more and more resources on the development of water fortresses, and drained the state resources, Lord Yang became an rich and successful warlord. He was so successful that the interests on the loans formed about 15% of the tax collected.
The success of Lord Yang did not go unnoticed, the ruler of Qi gave cheaper loans to attract the fishermen of Yang. He secretly persuaded the rich fishermen of Yang to default and come to his state, where he would welcome them in open arms.
Lord Yang knew he could not incurred the wrath of Qi, so he announced an edict that he will no longer gave out loans to fishermen, to appease Qi. For three months, he also took back about 2 billion silver coins of loans. Lord Yang knew he had to beat a small retreat to advance. Ruler Qi stopped his aggressive handout of loans too, worried that it would put a further dent to state's resources. 3 months after Yang's edict, he was still giving out loans, he was not in a hurry to wind down this lucrative trade, but to further assuage ruler Qi's worries, he surrendered the smaller fishermen port towns to Qi as tribute, and promised him a share of the profits.
Lord Yang has another plan, it was time to quickly build up his navy with the technology learnt from the community of ship builders, he wanted bigger and stronger war ships. His reputation grew, and many viewed him as a future power. Many forgot about the time bomb the ruler of Qi had planted in Yang's fief. It was not too long ago, that under the support of Qi, disgruntled fishermen not only refused to pay Yang's his loans but declared themselves independent of Yang's rule, they were very aggressive and with support of Qi, even attacked some of Yang's lands. Lord Yang was confident of squashing this small rebellion. But would this be the last, no one knew... Right now, Lord Yang continued to bask in glory and saw his reputation and fame increased.
Lord Li Po knew he had to expand quickly. Large swaths of land are neglected by his enemies. He knew his army was not large enough, so he spent money to recruit mercenaries. His biggest prize was Pluit Village, one of his largest town, with an area of 87,268 sq meters. He figured that the tax collected from the villagers will pay for the mercenaries. However, he realized to his shock that there were not many locals occupying the village. He made improvements to the village and hoped that more would moved in, he built homes for villagers. Many of these homes remained vacant until recently when finally 87% of it were filled.
However, while the money collected increased, Lord Li Po needs to pay his mercenaries more, as his mercenaries demanded to be paid in their Chu State currency. Given the poor development of his states, his money were not worth a lot when compared to the Chu state currency. Lord Li Po was pondering whether to start occupying some of the lesser areas of Chu to further expand. But that would mean recruiting more mercenaries, and he knew he did not stand a chance to snatch the crown jewels of state such as the bustling Jiang ling or Paragon City, which the locals call it. However, most of his villages and towns were closed to 100% occupied, the space for growth will be very limited if he did not expand. He could wait for his states to get richer, such that he no longer need to pay the mercenaries so much, but that would take a long time and he worried his reputation would take a hit.
My best attempt at company reporting through story telling. Well... LOL