Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 351






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Rodeman Hills was named after a settler and adventurer. It was a small hill range at the eastmost part of Balingana covering tens of peaks some 300 metres above sea level.

Shiks' Tanya corps encountered Aueran resistance in that area. The Auerans set up strongholds on those hills in an attempt to stop Tanya from advancing, but the great might of the corps soon forced the enemy away. In a short day, the brave soldiers of Tanya drove the enemies away from seven of those hill strongholds.

Tanya's 1st Combat Folk was now deep in Rodeman Hills. Another combat folk was protecting their supplies at the rear at their campsite outside the hill range. So far, their casualties were quite heavy. Tanya lost around seven tribes. Having left another line of troops to defend the town they occupied, they were three lines short of being fully manned.

However, the high-ranking officials of Tanya believed it to be worth it. As long as they could break through Rodeman Hills, their forces would arrive at Dorinibla River and they would have been the first corps to fight their way through Balingana to reach the river. They would be the first of the four corps to arrive there and it would be quite an achievement.

So, the officers at the rear held a grand feast and prepared to break through the three other hill strongholds early next morning. That way, they could reach the bank of Dorinibla River in the afternoon. As for the other hills around the outer parts of the hill range, nobody really cared much for them. All they had to do was to break through the centre of the range to scatter the defenders around the fringes. If they didn't run, all the main force needed to do was turn around and hunt them down.

As the officers drank away with their faces flushed and ears hot, they gradually noticed the cutlery on the table undulating. The officers who had their fill laughed at how the cups and plates were dancing and they really got drunk.

......

Eventually, an officer that didn't have too much to drink snapped awake and cried, "E-enemy attack!"

It happened during the early hours of dawn. Ranger's forces launched a surprise attack on the main camp of Tanya at the rear. More than 20 thousand men on horseback galloped across the reddish ground of Nubissia into the enemy camps and drew their blades, hacking away at every Tanya soldier they saw. The soldiers that had just been startled awake from sleep weren't able to regroup and put up any form of effective resistance. They cast away their gear as they ran for the camp entrance towards the depth of Rodeman Hills. Those who managed to get out knew that their only chance of survival was to run into the camp of their main force at the frontlines.

Ranger didn't hunt the escaping soldiers down. They cleared out any survivors in the camp and captured near five thousand surrendered troops before fortifying the camp's defenses and keeping the enemy trapped in Rodeman Hills.

There was one unique feature of the hills that the soldiers of Tanya weren't aware of: the lack of a water source inside. The only source of water was the small stream next to the rear camp, and that was bad news to the 30 thousand soldiers of Tanya who were surrounded and trapped within. There wasn't a single drop of water in the vicinity despite their search efforts, which only made them tired and thirsty.

Some officers who mustered their courage bravely led their men to attack the three hill strongholds up ahead with the intent of breaching enemy defences and rushing their way to Dorinibla River so that they could have all the water they wanted.

But when they reached their targets, they realised how heavily defended the two strongholds in front of them were. No matter how many desperate attacks they launched, they all ended in failure. These strongholds were completely unlike the easily conquered ones the day before. The soldiers weren't even able to touch the ground 50 metres around the strongholds and only let body after body of their dead comrades pile up.

It was the first time in forty years since the soldiers had felt the great power of war. The attack and defence tactics they learned from their textbooks were all rendered useless. The neat square formations they had been getting into, the orderly line forward marches, firing in volley only when they were tens of metres away, before charging in with their blades drawn, were completely inapplicable on the current battlefield.

Yet, they stubbornly stuck to doctrine and marched in neat lines towards enemy fortifications, being mowed down by cannon fire along the way. By the time they were 200 metres away from the fortifications, they became sitting ducks for the musket-wielding enemies in trenches. When they were finally a hundred metres away and gearing up for a charge, the enemy used four light-infantry cannons that covered the whole range to blast scatter shot at them nonstop. Not a single soldier from Tanya was able to so much touch the enemy fortifications.

Such an attack was repeated for five to six times before not a single soldier was willing to be sent to their deaths. In fact, the officers who kept badgering for their men to prepare for another attack felt chills running down their spine. The gazes their men were giving them were red with bloodlust. The thousands of corpses left on the hills was a stunning sight indeed. They weren't going in for an attack; they were marching in to be slaughtered.

The 26 thousand remaining soldiers of Tanya had completely lost morale and the officers sent out all their carrier eagles in all directions to request help from the other four corps in hopes that they could come to free them from their predicament. They only received a reply during the evening. Apart from the more distant Kujoa corps, Wicklan, Cybok and Faybort's replies asked them to hold on for four to five more days and promised they would definitely come to their aid.

While humans could survive for around one week without food, they couldn't last longer than three without water. Not to mention, the soldiers that were chased from the rear to join the main force during the night attack a few days ago had drunk up all the water they had stocked up. They didn't even have any more water to cool the cannons down. It was only after not being able to locate another water source the next day that the soldiers were made aware of their predicament. They figuratively bashed their heads against the three enemy strongholds and now, all soldiers were completely demoralised. They knew that it was all over for them.

Another day passed and the 26 thousand remaining troops of Tanya raised the white flag and ended their foray on Nubissia. What awaited them was a sentence of ten years of labour in various projects in the Aueran colonies. The surrendered men of Pancry before them had already been assigned to the newest construction projects.

In the Battle of Rodeman Hills, Tanya was eliminated apart from the logistics line troops they left in a town in the rear. Of their 60 thousand men, there were 20 thousand casualties and 40 thousand captured. News of that came as a huge blow to Shiks, who had sent the five standing corps to Nubissia in high spirits.

A few days later, the three corps, Wicklan, Cybok and Faybort rushed to Rodeman Hills and was only in time to catch the aftermath left by the battle. They sent out all their mounted scouts like madmen in an attempt to find traces of the enemy. After all, a force that could wipe out Tanya entirely definitely wasn't a small one. Given that there were tens of thousands of soldiers from Tanya taken captive, they should be able to find something out with their many scouts.

Regrettably, all they found were signs of ships docking at the bank of Dorinibla River past Rodeman Hills. It was quite obvious to them that the Aueran forces were hidden in the dark like snakes in the bushes. The officers of the three Shiksan corps concluded that the Auerans had suddenly struck when Tanya was caught off guard from their relaxing foray through Balingana and retreated to the other side of the river.

According to the reports Tanya sent them, they reasoned that the enemy probably suffered a huge number of casualties even if they had managed to eliminate Tanya, so they were no doubt licking their wounds on the opposite side of the river and recovering their forces. It stood to reason that they were temporarily out of commission.

So, the three corps set up their camps along the riverbank and decided to wait for their supplies to be sent over. They had their soldiers fell trees to make ships and floating bridges to prepare to cross the river and continue their attack on Robisto.

AFter receiving the eagle messages from the three other corps, the top brass of Kujoa, that was all the way at the westernmost point of Balingana, breathed a sigh of relief. While Tanya had been obliterated, the enemy had retreated to the opposite side of Dorinibla River. In other words, no more enemy troops would stand in their way. Kujoa could march to Dorinibla River without having to worry about attacks and find a good crossing point to force the enemies on the defence and decrease the pressure the other three corps would face near the eastern side.

However, Kujoa was surrounded and attacked by Ranger's light cavalry as they were marching. Countless battle precedents showed that on the wide and open plains, infantrymen were powerless before cavalrymen. Despite their numbers, being double those of their enemy, without any terrain to use as cover, rapid fire weapons for suppression power, and being in a relaxed state during the march, Kujoa wasn't able to last fifteen minutes before crumbling from the sudden attack.

There were brave officers that rallied their men for a brave resistance in hopes of buying time for the main force to defend themselves. There were also many brave cannoneers that braved the threat of being attacked by enemy cavalrymen and loaded their cannons in a trained manner, set them up on the firing platforms and made preparations to fire. They swore that they would make the enemy pay the price in blood even if it meant giving their own lives.

However, the brave soldiers of Kujoa weren't aware that their enemies weren't just simple cavalrymen. When the rangers noticed Kujoa's men making preparations to defend, they stopped their attacks and put distance between themselves and the enemy, before dismounting, getting into prone and picking the enemy out with their muskets.

Clear gunshots rang out one after another. The cannoneers beside the cannons and the soldiers that got into neat lines all fell following the bangs. Kujoa soon crumbled into a chaotic mess. Though they had wanted to strike back, their enemies lay flat on the ground. When they tried to charge in for a melee, the enemy got on their mounts and ran, before turning back and taking the heads off the charging soldiers with their blades.

By the time the three standing corps at the riverbank received Kujoa's urgent request for aid, it was three in the afternoon. The battle on the plains was coming to a close. The three corps could only watch as Kujoa followed in Tanya's footsteps. The distance was too wide for reinforcements to be sent; it would take at least five to six days to make it to the battlefield, and it was obvious that Kujoa wouldn't last nearly as long.

Yet another Shiksan corps was taken out just like that. Kujoa suffered nearly half its numbers as casualties and 40 thousand men became Ranger's captives. Ranger also suffered a line's worth of casualties, but there were only a thousand dead or crippled soldiers. The other three thousand injured would be able to return to service after adequate treatment.

While Ranger had been given the green light to expand, they kept their folk structure throughout their battles against the two Shiksan legions as the recruits from the Aueran mainland hadn't arrived in Nubissia. Miselk had been fighting with a severe disadvantage. First, he used the defensive strongholds to bait the enemy into his trap before attacking the rear camp of the enemy with light cavalry and trapped the rest of the enemy forces in a place without a water source. He made the rest of Tanya despair with the last few heavily defended strongholds and forced them into surrender.

After eliminating Tanya, the other three standing corps were attracted and drawn away, leaving Kujoa alone at the westernmost part of Balingana. Ranger then took advantage of Dorinibla River's waterways to transport themselves to the west of Balingana and relied on their mobility to silently encircle Kujoa before going in for a sudden attack, instantly crushing enemy resistance and eliminating them whole.

The two standing corps' downfall gave the three remaining corps a false impression that they had fallen into an Aueran trap. The reason they were unobstructed through Cromwell and Balingana was so that they could be baited in. So, Wicklan, Cybok and Faybort decided to stay united and not split off like they had before so as to not let the enemy have any more chances to break them apart.

It was at that time when they received word from the rear that almost all their supply lines and convoys had been attacked. Not a single shipment was being made to the three standing corps at the frontlines. After some discussion, the three corps sent out a combat folk to secure their supply line at the rear, but it was then attacked by Ranger on the march.

The combat folk had two light-cavalry lines, but they weren't a match for the cavalrymen of Ranger. After much difficulty, the Shiksan cavalrymen managed to break out of encirclement and ran back to the main camp of the three corps to report their encounter. The rest of the folk ended up swallowed by Ranger.

The encounter of the folk further convinced the high-ranking officers of the three Shiksan corps that they were in fact heavily encircled. Furthermore, none of the scouts they sent out ever returned. Some of their men also noticed enemy light cavalrymen spying on their main camp not far away. Traces of the cavalrymen could be seen from time to time.

Fortunately, the three corps brought with them a month's worth of supplies. They could make them last longer if they rationed them properly. They weren't willing to leave Dorinibla River in hopes that Seaking could break into the river and deliver the supplies they needed and also take them across it into the heartland of the Aueran colonies.

As long as they could cross the river and establish defences there, the Aueran defenders in Balingana would be cut off from the rest of the colonies. They would have no other option but to surrender. All strategists of the three corps agreed that their only choice to turn things around was to cross the river, given that the enemy had surrounded the three sides of their camp.





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