Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 382

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"Can we go back now?" Eiblont asked as he excitedly entered Claude's tent.

While he hadn't made it in time to join the battle, 3rd Monolith still played a role in Wickhamsburg's conquest. Claude could finally change his unit to 2nd Thundercrash, so he had been in a fantastic mood. All he wanted to do now was send the captives back and boast in front of all his friends and colleagues.

Claude shook his head.

"No, maybe in another fortnight."

Eiblont stopped in his tracks.

"A fortnight? Have you not dealt with everything here yet? Why the delay?"

It had been ten days since they'd taken the city, and the audits had been completed. There was nothing else for them to do there.

Claude handed him a folder.

"Look at that."

Eiblont took the file and flipped through it. It contained the transcripts of hundreds of Nasrian officers' testimonies. He briefly inspected several, but couldn't find anything odd.

"Claude, is there anything noteworthy about these testimonies?"

"Haha, noteworthy? Maybe not, but look at Page 14," he said.

"Page 14?"

Eiblont paged to it in a hurry to read it, only to be disappointed. The captive officer had only spoken about daily life in his unit. He discussed how they often brawled or argued with the Shiksans over insignificant things. They did not have much regard for Shiksan combat prowess either.

"Page 21," Claude said.

Another testimony. This time he was a Shiksan instructor. His comments were quite divergent from the previous individual's. He considered Shiksans to be excellent soldier stock. In his own words, 'they just lack proper experience... if they weren't all green as spring grass, they'd be a force with which to reckon!'

He even demonstrated a hint of fondness for their young junior officers. He thought them brave, though brash in their youth. Significantly, he lauded their willingness to be sacrifices on the altar of their kingdom's prosperity. Despite his fondness for them, however, he could not stop himself from a rather scathing objective review of their command skills. They were largely incompetent, rigid to the bone, and stuck in the barbed wire of their bureaucratic and aristocratic hierarchies.

The Shiksans overall, in this officer's opinion, had first-rate soldiers in the making, second-rate junior staff, and third-rate senior leadership. If they didn't accept radical reforms, and soon, they would be mud giants for the rest of the war, and probably lose it, too.

"Mud giants? Hahaha!-" Eiblont bent over and clutches his stomach, his back and shoulders shaking quietly as he fought to regain control of himself and preserve some of his dignity. "--It's the first time I've heard a description like that. Though, given Shiks' performance in their previous wars, I can't argue with it."

"Haha! I am in accord. It couldn't be more appropriate. Did you notice anything else from the testimonies?"

Eiblont's expression stiffened.

"You're trying to target these two corps..."

"Yes. Now, look at Page 28. You'll understand why the Nasrians chose to set up their supply base in Wickhamsburg."

Eiblont flipped to the page. On it was the testimony of the chief logistics supervisor of the Nasrian corps. In it, the volunteer Nasrians and Canasians' struggles and conflicts of interests with the officers of the two new Shiksan corps were detailed. Among them included how the two non-Shiksan corps were forced to enter Cromwell. That was the main reasons the Nasrians took Wickhamsburg to be their supply base.

Ever since their loss in the second colonial war, Shiks hired the Canasian and Nasrian corps to form their respective voluntary corps to stabilise the situation in Vebator. It was quite the witty move. It caused the eager Ranger to give up on taking that prefecture for itself. Apart from that, Shiks got to keep a fine port on Nubissia.

Similarly, the extermination of the five standing corps caused Shiks' reputation as a superpower to dwindle. Having enjoyed peace for the past 40 years, they were no longer feared for their military might. So, Shiks had no choice but to hire Nasrian and Canasian officers who participated in the five-year war as instructors for the ten standing corps they were about to form. They would then recoup their reputation in the third colonial war.

However, the officers who went to Shiks to help train their army gradually noticed they were treated rather oddly. The low-ranking officers greatly welcomed their new tactics and classes as they were usually focused on raising the survival rate on the battlefield and everyone paid stern attention. But the high-ranking officers and commanders were sceptical and often doubted their tactics, always having something to say about them. Quite a number of them criticised the tactics for being too cowardly and lacking in the warrior spirit. They would rather have their men die than let them shrivel in the trenches like moles.

In the end, their instructor assignment ended after the two new standing corps were formed. They were then transferred to Vebator to their respective voluntary corps. Eventually, jokes of the stupidity of the Shiksan warriors soon spread and the voluntary soldiers from the other two nations laughed and looked down on the combat prowess of the Shiksans. Not one of them had any high hopes for the new standing corps.

Initially, Vebator's defences were supposed to be taken care of by the Nasrian combat corps whereas the work of securing its border was given to the Canasians. With the two new standing corps there, however, they had to turn their attention to solving the food crisis. After it passed, the two Shiksan corps received orders to capture nikancha people near the coastal areas of the colony.

They sent a part of them to the mines as slave labourers and forced the other youths and elderly to farm potatoes outside Port Vebator. In a short half a year, the two standing corps had killed up to ten thousand nikancha through overwork or punishment.

For the Canasians and Nasrians, while they didn't see the nikancha that highly, they would never treat them that harshly as slaves. Some of them even loved going to the nikancha women to spend their extra energy.

But everything changed when the Shiksan corps arrived. The coastal nikancha settlements had been destroyed by them and many of them were captured. There was no regard for leaders or the elderly. Anybody with red skin was an unforgivable sinner and captured into slavery. The Shiksans also declared they would cleanse the colony of that race and make it a new haven for the white folk of Freia.

That was why the Shiksans were jointly mocked and regarded with contempt by the other two corps. No normal army would do something that unjust and damaging. They cursed the Shiksan slavers for sullying the honour of a proper military force. Only lowly keepers or garrison soldiers would do something of that calibre. They refused to acknowledge the Shiksans as proper soldiers.

As such, all sorts of conflicts arose in Port Vebator. Any time the troops from both sides encountered each other, a brawl would be soon to ensue, only for the Shiksans to not be able to match up to the far more experienced veterans of the voluntary corps. It didn't take long before they ended up trapped in their own camp. They weren't able to resist the provocations of the voluntary soldiers from outside their camp at all.

As it all got larger, the Shiksan officers found it hard to deescalate and decided to send the two voluntary corps to the frontlines. After all, they were the ones who paid the bills. Since the two corps weren't willing to be obedient, they were ordered to go to Cromwell and start conquering the neighbouring colonies around Vebator to form a buffer zone to protect the colony.

If those two corps had obediently headed to Cromwell as they had been ordered, it would have been great trouble for Claude. If the Nasrians kept Wickhamsburg well defended and the Canasians focused on operating outside it, he wouldn't be able to wipe them out with all five enhanced folks, to say nothing of using Thundercrash alone. The two sides might end up suffering just as many casualties as each other.

Fortunately, the Canasians didn't take the Shiksan orders as a royal decree. They decided to go their own way after leaving Vebator, choosing to make money by hunting the wild bulls. Perhaps it had something to do with how control couldn't be centralised between both voluntary corps. During the five-year war, Canas and Nasri were allies with Nasri being the leader. But now, the two nations' troops were being employed by Shiks, so they were on the same level of hierarchy.

Perhaps the reason the Canasian corps left Cromwell was because they were no longer willing to take orders from the Nasrians. The five-year war was over and nobody would be willing to play the subordinate role for no reason. Going to hunt wild bulls for more provisions was merely an excuse to do so. It only ended up giving Claude the opportunity he needed to crush them before moving on to end the Nasrian corps as well. They were nothing but history now.

Claude opened up another map; it was one of the colony of Vebator. He told Eiblont, "Come here to look at the map we got in our spoils. On it, the 27 crucial strongholds near the border are marked. Around 13 days ago, I ordered my subordinate's scout clan to infiltrate the border to check whether this map is correct. I just received an eagle message two days back that they indeed are. The map is accurate.

"Let me emphasise that we got this map from the main camp of the Nasrian corps. You should know that they were formerly in charge of defending Vebator at the border. Unfortunately, their place was taken by the new Shiksan standing corps. Fortunately for us, however, they didn't hand the map back when they left and now, it has fallen into our hands.

"According to intel from our scouts, the Shiksans' standing corps, Tofeid, took over defences on the border. They don't seem to be up to anything apart from defending the strongholds like the voluntary corps used to. However, I found out about one grave mistake they made. They had forgotten that unlike the elite Canasian light-cavalry corps, Tofeid is merely an infantry corps."

He pointed at the points marked on the border. "Eilon, look. These 21 strongholds are crucial to the border's defence and form a defence line. The Canasians had stationed one main tribe in each of the strongholds and three mobile cavalry lines at the three strongholds further back to reinforce any one stronghold when they came under attack. The other three spots are supply strongholds to ensure a constant stream of food, ammunition and medicine to those 21 strongholds. The gold stronghold furthest away would be their command centre.

"If the Canasian cavalrymen were the ones stationed there at this defence line, they will indeed cause us much trouble. No matter which point we attack, it'll only take a short fifteen minutes for reinforcements and more supplies to come from the rear. But now, the Shiksan infantry corps, Tofeid, are the ones manning the defence line. They have nearly no mobility at all and I don't think one of their tribes can last one hour against our attacks.

"The greatest weakness of this defence line is if we conquer any one of the strongholds, the rest would be pointless. If we breach one stronghold and continue straight to the ones in the rear, we can easily cut off information and supplies from the 20 heavily fortified strongholds in the front. The Canasians could've made up for it with their horses and mobility, but an infantry corps like Tofeid just jumped into a grave of their own digging by replacing the Canasian voluntary corps there!"

Eiblont had to agree that Claude made some good points, but he still seemed a little worried. "Now, we have less than five full lines of men capable of entering combat. We also have to leave part of our men behind to watch the captives and Wickhamsburg..."

"There's no need for that many men at all. A main combat line, Strike Tribe 131 from Thundercrash and two lines of your troops should be enough. We'll leave the rest to guard Wickhamsburg. We're only taking on newly formed Shiksan corps, not elite Canasian or Nasrian troops."

On the 23rd of the 10th month, Year 589, Claude led Thundercrash into the Shiksan colony, Vebator.

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