Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 387

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Something seemed off. Claude put down the reports and dove into his thoughts. If they were accurate, it was easy to conclude Shiks couldn't send more reinforcements for at least the next half a year, which meant the forces currently in-colony would just continue to coop up in the city. It was a perfect time to stage the nikancha rebellion.

But whether they did now was no longer important. It was more important to know when the situation in Shiks would stabilise, and who won the fight between the royals and the nobles. Majid III had given the order to conscript the nobles' levies and had refused to send the royal corps.

At the same time, Nasri and Canas had refused to rent their main corps. Thundercrash and 3rd Monolith had flattened both voluntary corps and it hurt enough to make the two countries second guess their involvement in the war.

In Canas' case, only three of their corps had survived the last war. They had rented one out to Shiks, which had died on Nubissia. They were not about to do the same with the two they had left.

While Nasri was in a better situation, about double what Canas had had, they were also very much still recovering. On top of that, they were walking on thin ice with Aueras, and didn't want to risk provoking a direct response. They could explain away the corps they'd already sent as retired veterans choosing to join Shiks of their own accord, but the excuse would not work for any of their other forces.

Claude finally understood why Majid III had instigated this series of wars. The Shiksan colonies were mostly landlocked. They were covered in mountains and forests. Very little of the territory could be used to produce the fundamentals to survive, like food. All the minerals in the world meant nothing if you couldn't keep the people who mined them alive, an endeavour made all the harder thanks to the abundance of disgruntled natives.

The Bleyotte article had called Majid III delusional for thinking he could just relocate his nobles to the colonies. No one would want to move so far from the centre of power, and even less so when all that awaited them was rocky mountains and angry natives.

All this changed, however, when they got Vebator. With a good port, Shiks' inland colonies had access to the sea and resources for developing the colonies were sent non-stop. The nobles discovered mining was a rather profitable endeavour, so they hired merchants and proprietors to prospect on their behalf.

Majid III sensed the change in the nobles' attitudes. They had become more amenable to relocation. A new problem quickly surfaced, however. Many of the nobles had set up commercial mining operations in the colonies already. Handing out fiefs had thus become a minefield. Give the wrong piece of land with a mine from one noble to another with whom the first had a feud, and you just angered two nobles for the price of one.

The king thus decided to procure more virgin ground, and who better than a kingdom just ravaged by war and licking its wounds? He was particularly partial to Cromwell and Balingana since they were the most fertile, close to his colonies, and had already seen some basic development. They also came with a little bonus. The Albator Plains, which straddled the border between the two colonies, is home to a substantial annual migration of bull herds. Their skins, meat, and horns were a veritable goldmine.

The paper reported the nobles were in full agreement with their king's plans. Some even proclaimed their willingness to be moved to the new continent entirely. It further cemented Majid III's determination to demand the two colonies from Aueras.

Less than three years had passed since the end of the last war at the time. Aueras had still been worn and its economy a wreck. Shiks, on the other hand, had been untainted by war for generations and had sat on their throne in the north unchallenged for decades. Majid III and his ministers believed they could strongarm Aueras just like they did all their minor neighbours. Wounded as Aueras was, however, it had won the war, and the people's, and the aristocracy's, pride would not let them give in to Shiks' demands.

Thus started the first official war on Nubissia. Shiks thought it could overwhelm the Aueran forces with two standing corps, but they disappointed after the four decades of peace the nation had enjoyed. It took them half a year to take Wickhamsburg, which was more than enough time for the Auerans to respond.

The months thereafter had seen Ranger's magical performance. The two so-called elite Shiksan corps were exterminated. The noble faction to whom the two corps had belonged went mad with rage and demanded vengeance.

The king went along and gave the order to have five elite noble corps sent to Nubissia. He also declared that anyone with sufficient achievements would be given land, even titles. The kingdom was willing to give all of Balingana and Cromwell away to reward its brave pioneers.

Not one noble thought they would actually lose. Five corps was 300 thousand men, whereas Aueras only had a folk of 32 thousand. They had ten men for every one Aueras had, and no one thought Aueras' soldiers were worth the shit they shat. They didn't even count the local forces, they were nothing but peasants with sticks as far as Shiks' nobles were concerned.

The nobles who put in the effort and funding soon gathered the supplies the five corps needed and launched the second colonial war. But their grand plans came crashing down like a house of cards. Unlike what they had imagined, their five standing corps were led around by Ranger on a leash and even got into huge trouble. In the end, what remained of their forces had to surrender when Wickhamsburg, their supply base, was burned down.

When word of the complete and total extermination of the five standing corps spread to Shiks, the only person beam with joy about it was Majid III. With the seven noble corps gone, the eight royal corps became the pillar of the kingdom. The royal family became the sole voice in matters of the kingdom and no noble was willing to step up to oppose them.

However, he was well aware that the nobles still had deep foundations despite the loss of their forces. He decided to strike while the iron was hot to cause the nobles to bleed further. After their defeat in the second colonial war, some ministers did advise for the royal corps to be sent to Nubissia to salvage the situation, but they were ignored by the king who cited that their arms were still insufficient to deal with the Aueran threat.

What he did later caused everyone to gasp in horror. He hired the troops of Nasri and Canas as well as their navy to stabilise the situation in Nubissia. Then, he forbade the Aueran ambassador entry with the excuse of venting rage on the nobles' behalf, closing the door to the negotiation table for good and humiliating the Aueran ambassador and the Stellin royal family. That also forfeited all hopes for the nobles to ransom back their captured relatives.

He then gave an impassioned speech on revenge and voiced his support for the nobles to form new forces to continue the fight on Nubissia. The royal family would fund the formation of ten standing corps. Now that he had offered such a great deal, the drafting of the troops would no doubt have to come from the nobles' fiefs.

It was then when some nobles looked back at all that had happened and began to ponder. It only just occurred to them that the nobles had been doing all the heavy lifting throughout the two prior wars while Majid III cheered from the sidelines. Apart from paying some money out of his pocket, all he did was make grand promises and gestures without bearing any of the consequences from the two wars.

And now, the formation of the ten standing corps would deprive the nobles of their manpower pool in their respective fiefs and allow the royal family an opportunity to stretch their influence into their fiefs. With nearly all the troops in Shiks in the royal family's control, if Majid III ever wanted to prey on the nobles, they wouldn't be able to resist the assault of the elite royal corps with their private keeper forces at all. The consequences would be unthinkable.

The nobles who were aware of the ploy began resisting the royal family and Majid III in the only way they knew how: secretly not cooperating and delaying the formation of the standing corps as best they could. In the coming year or so, only two of those corps were formed and the other three couldn't get fully staffed no matter what.

Majid III also found out that his ploy was discovered, but he didn't really mind and sent the two formed corps to Nubissia while pushing for the other three to be staffed. As for the other five, since the nobles weren't interested, he didn't mind delaying their formation. He'll let the situation on Nubissia develop and encourage them to do so again once they began seeing yields. He understood the nobles really well. They wouldn't bite unless there was bait.

The way the king and the military saw it, they didn't really care about the failure of the two colonial wars and believed it to be a result of the nobles being too eager and greedy to see results. Majid III decided to fight firmly and patiently. He would wait for the three other standing corps to be formed and trained first before starting the third colonial war.

By then, there would be seven main corps in the colonies. With the two voluntary corps leading the charge and the other five at the back, they would first clear out Cromwell and set up a tough defence line there before attacking Balingana. He and the military advisors believed that the five enhanced Aueran folks wouldn't be able to resist being overwhelmed with numbers like that at all and their best bet was to give up on Balingana and Cromwell to retreat beyond Dorinibla River to use it to stop the Shiksan offensive.

As long as he could gain the two colonies, Majid III would be able to fulfil his promise to the nobles and give them fiefs relative to their efforts and the losses they suffered in the past two wars as reparations. After tasting profit, the nobles would no doubt drop their suspicion for the royal family and go through with the formation of the other five standing corps without delay.

Once that was complete, Shiks would have 12 standing corps in Nubissia. The king believed nobody would be able to stop them after that. They could even take all the remaining Aueran colonies to make up for their two humiliating losses.

After that, the reputation of Shiks would once more skyrocket on Freia. The nobles would no longer be against having their fiefs moved to the colonies. Majid III would no doubt go down in the history books as the legendary monarch that ushered in the golden age of his kingdom.

Yet, lady fate was ever so fickle. Never would Majid III dream that the new field marshal, Miselk's successor, would take the initiative to start the third colonial war. He launched an attack on the two voluntary corps from Nasri and Canas with Thundercrash, a mere folk. In three triumphant victories, he crushed the two strong corps and even swallowed the new Tofeid corps up. The remaining standing corps turtled up in Port Vebator and secured the only chance Shiks had to fight back.

All his plans evaporated with the horrible loss in the third colonial war. When the news broke, he smashed all the precious art pieces in the royal study. Sometimes, even the most perfect of plans could be ruined by subordinates who didn't do their part. Even so, he still wanted to try one last time and immediately sent ambassadors to Canas and Nasri in hopes of hiring their corps and sending them to secure the situation on Nubissia once more.

But no matter how hard the ambassadors tried, the two nations refused to hire their forces away. Majid III wasn't willing to send his own royal corps there either, so he decided to use the royal family's rightful authority to forcefully conscript the private armies of the nobles for the five corps he intended to send away.

The nobles didn't openly call for a rebellion, but secretly gave the order for their troops to resist forced conscription and escape to the mountains for a game of cat and mouse with the corps Majid III sent after them. With Shiks in such turmoil, its king couldn't be bothered with what was happening on Nubissia at all.

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