Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 315

Claude, Myjack, and Gum lingered around the college with the tent of garrison soldiers for around ten days before the rest of the troops arrived. Shipments of supplies came in non-stop from the 23rd of the 1st. They were accompanied by a small band to help with the work. The prospective students and staff started arriving half a week later. There was no sign of Moriad or Dyavid, however.

Lately Manrique had been dealing with many matters for Claude. He was intent on getting in the first prince's good graces, and had decided to do that by making sure the officer who'd caught his eye had everything he needed. He saw with his own eyes how the snow-covered ground was quickly cleared for quarters, classrooms, wooden cafeterias, and the bathhouse.

A notice was soon put up on the main entrance. It said the training would be divided into two grades, a total of sixteen classes. Ten of them were for low-ranked officers, basically, corporals to sergeant-majors. Myjack and Gum were listed in the classes. The other six classes were for lieutenants to captains and aimed to improve the fighting capabilities of each band or clan as well as ensure a basic standard for management and recruit training.

Claude saw Moriad, Dyavid, and Berklin's names on the list. The other names were the captains in 1st Rangers with whom he was familiar. However, he didn't see his name and wondered if someone had blundered.

He decided to pay the busy Manrique a visit. When the lieutenant-colonel saw him, he nodded and said he was just about to look for him and asked him to wait until he finished his current task.

Claude waited for quite a long while for Manrique to finish delegating his tasks and rush his subordinates out of the office. Tranquility returned to the room.

"This is for you," Manrique said as he handed Claude a document from his desk.

Claude opened if and saw the words 'Advanced Strategy Class' written on it and wondered why he was included. There were 26 names and apart from Claude, all the other officers were at least majors or above. There were eight colonels among the other 25 names.

Seeing the doubtful look on his face, Manrique laughed.

"Surprised? I was, too. After asking around, I learnt you were nominated to the class by General Miselk Kor Priest himself. He said even he couldn't defeat five thousand enemies with a whole clan of men. Since you got such an impressive achievement in the battle in Squirrel, there's no need for you to receive training in the other class. You're more than qualified to join the advanced class."

Claude seemed rather troubled. "The general is too kind. I was just lucky. By the way, what do they cover in the class?"

Manrique didn't answer his question. He instead changed the subject to the Ranger corps.

"Did you know that after the training session all officers will be promoted and hold a post in Ranger? It's too bad the corps is gone now..."

"What do you mean? There's no more Ranger corps? Does that mean the royal family compromised on not having their own force?"

"No. The corps may be gone, but we still have a Ranger folk."

Having a folk as its own independent unit? Claude didn't understand. It was unprecedented.

In Aueras, the smallest unit capable of doing battle independently was a tribe of roughly 1100 men. Coupled with two bands of cannoneers, a tribe had about 1200 men. Each line had four tribes and one additional keeper clan and some staff, numbering around 5400 in total. Above the line was a folk, which had four lines, a keeper tribe and cannoneer tribe. All units, including folk staff combined, numbered up to 25 thousand men.

Past the folk was the corps. Each corps had two folks, one cavalry line, one keeper line, and two cannoneer tribes. They totaled up to 60 thousand men.

But after hearing Manrique's explanation, Claude came to know what an independent folk unit looked like. One main force the size of a folk would be paired with a cavalry line, an independent enhanced combat tribe, and a cannoneer tribe. The total number of men in an independent folk was around 32 thousand men.

A folk was only half the size of a corps. The largest difference was that the folk relied on all five lines to carry out their missions, unlike corps that used one folk for attack or defence while the other was kept in reserve.

The formation of the Ranger corps caused quite a lot of dissent among the nobles and officials, and the four standing corps began to eye the 80 thousand war horses allocated to the corps. So, the ministry of the army also made their opinion heard; they didn't want another Ranger corps to siphon their budget.

That made finances and distribution of equipment the biggest hurdle for the royal family to build a force they could rely on. The finance minister stated that the treasuries were quite empty and they couldn't afford to form another corps. The ministry of the army on the other hand requested to change Bluefeather into a cavalry corps so that they could deal with the light cavalry of Canas.

Their desire for the 80 thousand war horses was blatant. While the horses were offered by Canas to the kingdom as a trade on paper, they were actually reparations to the kingdom. Canas had to give the kingdom all those horses while all Aueras had to do was pick out some older ordnances they obtained on the battlefield to trade for them.

The ordnances the kingdom obtained on the battlefield couldn't compare to their own in the first place, so being able to trade them for war horses was a great deal. It also saved them the money it would cost them to maintain the equipment. Adding to the fact that the ministry of the army had proven their infantry couldn't deal with the enemy's cavalry, they said they could avoid suffering the same defeat by making Bluefeather a cavalry corps.

Currently, Bluefeather was stationed at the border of Canas and being remade into a cavalry unit would even the odds against the light-cavalry enemies who harassed and raided them from time to time. Even though the two nations had signed a peace treaty, hostilities between the nomadic tribes and the kingdom's forces at the border of Askilin still hadn't ceased. It was local culture and even the Duke of Canas was unable to do much to stop it. Raids like those existed even during the times when Canas and Askilin were in the same alliance.

As for the Ranger corps, the ministry of the army didn't even include their formation in their considerations, to say no more about whether the kingdom could even afford it. Additionally, the Ranger corps was designed to be a rapid reaction force comprised of mounted infantry, not cavalry. In other words, they used horses to get to their destinations faster but had to dismount to fight. In that sense, there was no need for them to be given war horses. They could just use race horses for that since the horses didn't have to enter combat.

Faced with all the troubles the kingdom's officials were giving him, Prince Hansbach had no choice but to discuss with Stellin X and General Miselk. They settled on decreasing the scope of the force by making them a self-contained folk. That compromise was accepted by the ministry of the army and only after that was the new folk allocated supplies and equipment. Furthermore, since the Ranger folk would be commanded by the royal family, they would be the ones footing the bill for its formation.

Now, the Ranger corps was reduced to a folk. General Miselk argued that this would help them react even more rapidly to different situations. Not only that, the whole folk would be armed with Aubass Mark 3s. With muskets that could fire reliably and accurately, the kingdom's penchant to rely on massed volley fire would soon be changed.

The Ranger folk also didn't have to operate like normal corps, having one folk on standby while the other attacked. Up until the recent end of the war, the kingdom had been employing old tactics. When the enemy fought defensively, marching up to enemy lines in single-file caused them great casualties.

Manrique told Claude that the purpose of the advanced strategy class was to develop new tactics for Ranger to use. They had to simulate many different approaches to find new and effective methods of fighting.

Claude was struck with realisation. Even though he was just a captain, he was the first one that came up with loading in a proning position and crawling to advance towards enemy lines and rely on precise shooting to take out enemy targets. He had managed to take advantage of the Aubass Mark 3's capabilities to its fullest and caught General Miselk's eyes. It wasn't surprising that he was included in that class, considering his achievements in Squirrel Village.

"But I still have one question, and it has to do with you," Manrique said a little awkwardly, "There's been a little problem with your accommodation..."

"Accommodation? What of it? I'm staying here just fine. One tent is more than enough for me."

"Well, it goes like this..." Manrique spent quite a lot of time explaining the situation to him.

Thanks to the influx of new students, a tent-sharing arrangement had to be made. It wasn't a problem for the ten students of the lowest class. They would share a tent like a normal tent of soldiers. The six officers ranked lieutenant and above got better treatment. A simple wooden dorm was built and eight people could live in it.

As for the higher-ranked officers, they were allocated their own villas outside the college. Therein lay the problem: Claude was only a captain and he should be staying with the officers of the medium class. However, he was participating in the top-level class and didn't need to go through training, so it wouldn't be appropriate for him to stay with the medium class.

Claude didn't really care where he lived, but Manrique said that the officers in the medium class had to be trained all the way from the basics. In other words, they would have to gather on the field and march every morning. Claude's class on the other hand would be busy simulating battles on sand tables and it wasn't unforeseeable that some sessions would last into the night.

Since Claude's rest times were different from the other officers of his rank, he couldn't stay in the wooden house. Putting aside whether their different schedules would affect his rest, Manrique worried that the other officers might find it unfair and feel jealousy for the 'special treatment' Claude seemed to be getting. They had to wake up first thing in the morning for training, only to see Claude continue to sleep soundly day after day. To say that it would be demoralising was an understatement.

The tent Claude was currently staying in also had to be reclaimed by the college. The three were only lent the tents by Manrique since they arrived ten days in advance, but with the semester about to start and the accommodation settled, they couldn't let Claude continue to have his tent pitched on the field. There was no room for discussion there.

"Does that mean I'll have to move into my own villa outside the college?" Claude asked.

"No, your rank is insufficient for that." Though troubled Manrique was, regulations were regulations. Officers below the rank of major just didn't get their personal villas, and that wasn't taking into account the fact that one of the villas had to accommodate three officers unlike what had been planned due to not building enough villas as a result of budget difficulties. The other factor was the unexpected number of officers General Miselk invited into the class. Initially, only sixteen slots were planned, but now, there were ten more officers including Claude.

"You aren't considered an instructor of the college either," Manrique added. The other villas in the village sector had long been assigned to the instructors of the college. Some of them brought their families there and others had servants to take care of their daily needs. Nobody would welcome Claude into their homes.

It was no wonder Manrique seemed so troubled. Claude had been isolated without even noticing it.

"Then what can I do? You can't be asking me to pitch a tent elsewhere in the village, can you?"

"No need for that. I've solved the problem for you," Manrique said with glee, "I reached out to a household in the village. You'll be staying in with them during the term of your training and the costs will be covered by the college."

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