Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 355

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Aueras celebrated after receiving the news from Nubissia for up to a month. It was a victory they hadn't expected. During the 10th month last year when news first broke about Shiks sending five standing corps to attack Cromwell, the Auerans felt rather down and hopeless about the whole situation. They believed that they would be losing a few of the kingdom's colonies at least.

Yet, Ranger achieved an unexpected victory. Even though they had been raised from folk to corps status, there wasn't enough time to transport new recruits or equipment from the mainland to the colonies. Ranger was fighting enemies ten times their number. Even with the help of two colonial corps, people knew how much help the new corps ultimately amounted to. While they could serve defensive duties, they would be no better than cannon fodder for offensive operations.

When word of the triumph first arrived, most thought it was but a wild rumour. It sounded like a miracle for Ranger to have defeated five corps of 300 thousand men and even take out Seaking. It was simply too hard to fathom, let alone believe. However, the ministry of the army and the House of Dignitarians corroborated the news and immediately put the kingdom in a celebratory mood.

Perhaps the victory had come as too much of a surprise, or it could be because the prime minister, Duke Cryus Man Duncan was too worried for the bedridden Stellin X's health, the proceedings went on slowly. They only sent a response a month later. The kingdom once more sent an ambassador to Shiks to seek a resolution on the matter of Nubissian colonies and sign a peace treaty.

However, now that Aueras was the victor, they no longer had the intention to give Cromwell away. Instead, not asking Shiks to pay reparations for war damages was already gracious enough on their part. After all, Shiks had lost seven out of their fifteen standing corps. The kingdom's ambassador believed that following this painful lesson, Shiks should agree to their peace terms.

If Shiks were to attack Aueras on Freia, it would have to send its armies through three different kingdoms, namely, Nasri, Bleyotte and Mambamark. But after word of Aueras' triumph spread, the ambassador was warmly welcomed. Even their archnemesis, Nasri, expressed heartfelt respect and congratulatory sentiments.

The ambassador hadn't expected he would be forbidden from entering the kingdom by a soldier during his glorious arrival. Even though he repeatedly highlighted his status and mission, the tentsman dared refuse him entry.

He initially thought a mere officer was intentionally trying to mess with him and said he would complain to his superiors about it, but the officer merely stared at him for a moment before conversing with a nearby subordinate, who quickly retrieved a notice from the wooden building behind them.

It was a missive from the capital. It instructed the officer to deny the ambassador entry to the kingdom.

The ambassador almost collapsed from a heart attack. It was pure insult to both the kingdom and him. He had never imagined Shiks would actually throw diplomatic protocols out of the window and forbid an ambassador from entering the kingdom. It was unprecedented on Freia, but that also meant that Shiks had closed all doors of negotiation with Aueras and would remain their nemesis.

Having nobody to complain to, the ambassador feigned illness on the return trip. He was so humiliated he couldn't face anybody else. It took around half a month for him to return. When he reported what happened, the high officials of Aueras were livid. It was so ludicrous that the ministry of the army issued the order for Ranger to conquer Port Vebator, the only working Shiksan port on Nubissia, immediately to cut off Shiks from their colonies once and for all.

By the time the order reached Ranger, two months had passed. Miselk and Ranger set off for Port Vebator. Just as they were about to enter the colony when they were at the border of Cromwell, they were shocked to find Canasian light cavalrymen patrolling the borders.

What in the world was happening? Miselk ordered his men to set up camp and not make any harsh moves. He then sent a representative to ask the cavalrymen why they were in Port Vebator and whether Canas had any intention of declaring war against Aueras.

The Canasian cavalrymen denied being part of the duchy's army and called themselves mercenaries. They said they had been hired by Shiks to protect the border. They also proclaimed that their honour and sense of duties as mercenaries compelled them to resist Ranger's invasion to no end despite knowing they wouldn't be their match.

Only a fool would believe their claims, however. They were armed with Canas standard-issue gear and even wore Canasian uniforms! They even had a properly set up defence line! It definitely wasn't something normal mercenaries could achieve. It was the obvious work of elite soldiers who had experienced the five-year war.

Miselk realised that he had made a huge mistake. He had been busy settling the 300 thousand captives of Shiks down and integrating the recruits into Ranger during their expansion as well as handling the reconstruction of Port Patres' cannons in Robisto in the past half year.

As a result, he had neglected to pay attention to changes in Port Vebator. The Shiksan colony was low-hanging fruit for Ranger which they could pick with ease. However, they were ordered not to attack it to not further anger Shiks in hopes of reaching a peace settlement. Little did they know that an elite Canasian unit would show up on Nubissia all of a sudden.

In Miselk's predictions, Shiks wouldn't be able to recover within a year and a half after all they have lost. Even if they wanted to send more troops to Nubissia, they wouldn't have enough ships for that effort.

Initially, word of the kingdom's ambassador travelling to Shiks had been sent. Due to their victory in Balingana, they were confident the two nations could end the colonial conflict and achieve peace.

However, Shiks turned their embarrassment into anger and ignored all diplomatic convention by refusing the Aueran ambassador entry. Not only did that close doors for the negotiations, that also meant they would continue fighting it out with Aueras on Nubissia.

So, Miselk immediately gathered the corps and set out for Port Vebator after receiving orders to conquer it. He had thought they'd have no trouble taking the place which was defended only by a line of troops. If they were lucky, they'd even be able to pocket a few ships of Seaking that were being repaired. Nobody expected an elite Canasian unit would be deployed at the borders of Port Vebator, however, one that set up a proper defence line no less.

Since the situation was off, Miselk didn't give the order to attack and chose to set up camp and wait until the military intelligence officers found out what changes transpired in the Shiksan colony.

The intelligence officers found two secret reports sent from Port Vebator dated two months ago that stated that the allied navy of Nasri and Canas sent over one standing Canasian light-cavalry corps and one Nasrian standing corps to defend Port Vebator. The forces of Canas then rushed to the border.

The report was made two months ago, yet everyone missed out on it. It was a huge blunder. Miselk was greatly enraged, but the window of opportunity had closed. They would no longer be able to accomplish their task of conquering Port Vebator.

If the ones blocking their way were two Shiksan standing corps, Miselk wouldn't hesitate to attack them with Ranger. No matter how trained or brave their soldiers, Miselk was confident he could use their precision-firing muskets and advanced tactics to suppress them. He could obtain victory by paying only a small price even when they had to face twice their number.

However, these were Nasrian and Canasian standing corps, and they were way different. They were sworn enemies of Aueras who also participated in the five-year war that raged on in Eastern Freia. While they were the losers of that war, they gained lots of experience facing off against Aueran troops. They were the hardest foes to deal with, especially when they fought defensively. Even if Aueras could win, their victory would be pyrrhic at best.

Miselk had no choice but to report to the kingdom that the best Ranger could do was be ready for an enemy attack to prevent being the one to instigate war in Eastern Freia once more three short years after the peace treaty was signed. The kingdom wouldn't benefit the slightest from another war.

The royal capital received Miselk's report a month later. After being informed about the Nasrian and Canasian troops and the defence line in Port Vebator that prevented Ranger from carrying out their mission, the officials were dumbfounded. Nobody understood what was going on. A few days of discussion later, they decided to send an ambassador to question those two nations about whether they were trying to restart the war.

Miselk only received a response from the royal capital after three long months of waiting. The authorities of those two nations all swore that they had never sent any reinforcements to the Shiksan colonies on Nubissia. Allegedly, they didn't even have colonies there themselves and weren't interested in the conflict going on there. They couldn't afford to send their men to interfere with the conflict either.

They proclaimed that their peace was hard won and they wouldn't dare do anything that might provoke Aueras' ire. Not to mention, their economies hadn't recovered from the five-year war and they had undergone demilitarisation on a large scale to decrease their military budget.

Some high-ranking officers in the military of those nations believe that it was likely that Shiksan agents had recruited the laid-off soldiers from the two nations to form mercenary corps to be sent to Nubissia. Since it was a civilian matter, it had nothing to do with either nation.

After listening to the excuses of the two nations, the angered ambassador of Aueras pointed out that Aueras had proof the allied navy of those two nations helped transport the troops to Nubissia. Additionally, the troops were using standard gear. How could those be explained?

However, the two nations excused themselves by saying that they weren't able to keep their navy running due to the bad economy, so they opted to let Shiks hire their fleet for three years in exchange for a huge sum to help their economies recover. There were even receipts for the agreement to prove it. Since the beginning of last year, the fleets of the allied navy were no longer under control of the governments of those two nations.

As for the gear, they explained Shiks had imported a large amount of military gear from them, which was probably used to arm the mercenary corps. On the other hand, the kingdoms laid off the soldiers due to financial constraints and let them keep their uniforms as a form of consolation.

While it was nothing short of humiliating, they had no choice but to let the Aueran ambassador know about it to ensure that there was no misunderstanding. It wasn't weird at all for laid-off veterans to willingly join private mercenary units.

The ambassador almost vomited blood from the sheer anger at those responses. The officials of Canas and Nasri were so shameless that they could even come up with renting the navy out as an excuse! The allied navy was greatly cherished by Canas and Nasri. It was the only thing that kept the waters of those two nations safe! Who would believe those two nations would actually rent it away for three years?

However, the receipts and agreements were there as proof. Now, the allied navy had nothing to do with the two nations and were under Shiksan management. The officials even feigned sympathy and said that they fully supported Aueras' effort to wipe those mercenaries out since they had nothing to do with the nations.

Apart from the official response from those nations, the ambassador also brought word from Shiks. A month or so ago, Shiks would form ten more standing corps and send them to Nubissia to continue the colonial conflict to the very end!

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