Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 405

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On the 21st of the 10th month, Year 590, five days past Bolonik and Eiblont's arrival in Lanu, the ambassador's group finally announced the final decision on the assassination. As Claude and Birkin were injured, they were spared any accountability.

Bolonik rushed back to Lanu following the incident and made a quick decision to lead the royal guard on Port Vebator and ended the war. He didn't miss out on an important opportunity, so he was promoted to lieutenant-general and took over as acting field marshal.

As General Skri immediately led the troops on the hunt for the magi, managed to kill five, and provided stable logistical support to Bolonik, he would not be punished.

General Eiblont was located in Wickhamsburg and mobilised Thundercrash in support of the royal guard, making his own contributions to the battle. As such, he was spared any accountability as well. Before Claude's recovery, he would take over as acting corpsman of Thundercrash.

The most unfortunate was General Saljorak, whose fate everyone had expected. As a general had been killed in an assassination, one that had come to Nubissia for the merits required to be promoted to Lord Militant, somebody had to bear the blame. As a result, Saljorak, the one in charge of local defence and security as well as counterintelligence, was the prime candidate.

Even though he had given his best following the assassination and uncovered the mastermind, he still had to bear some responsibility. He was relieved of all posts and stripped of his rank. He was then discharged as a rank-and-file grunt. He was not, however, stripped of his dignitarian status as he'd served a largely meritorious fifteen years.

There was no difference between a dignitarian and a peasant in the Nubissian colonies, however. There weren't many rights dignitarians had over peasants in the first place, though one privilege was being given priority when applying for a position in the local administration. He wouldn't leave for the mainland after his discharge, since he had settled his family in Anfiston, so he benefitted little from this retention.

The assassinated general, hereditary count, and field marshal, Aljess, was posthumously promoted to Lord Militant. His corpse was cremated and his ashes collected to be taken back and entombed in his family mausoleum. The high-ranking officers of the royal guard killed were given the same treatment. As for the three magi captured alive, they would be escorted back by the ambassador's group and dealt with in the kingdom.

As the ambassador's group were informed of Port Vebator's capture before they departed, the ministry of the army granted them additional rights to make decisions on the positions and staff in the theatre. After some discussion, they decided to merge the three Monolith folks into one corps with Bolonik as their corpsman. When Birkin recovered, he would take up the post of chief strategist for the corps.

The theatre was expanded to include Vebator Colony, on top of the original four colonies of Anfiston, Robisto, Balingana, and Cromwell. The main objective was to keep Port Vebator and Port Patres well defended against pirate and Shiksan fleets.

As such, Monolith was in charge of coastal defence while Thundercrash would take over land-borne defence and border control as well as keeping tight supervision over the northern coastal highlands near Vebator where the war between the newly founded nikancha nation and Shiks was still ongoing. Defences had to be erected against a potential clash with the nikancha and to supervise the refugees the conflict created.

Claude had thought the theatre would be dissolved after Port Vebator's conquest, but the ambassadors said they didn't have the right to and could only make some adjustments to the troop organisation and staffing. Only the capital government could dissolve the theatre. At the very least, the city's conquest removed the need to worry about further Shiksan reinforcements.

Before Shiks and Aueras held peace talks, there was still a need to be wary of sudden enemy harassment or attacks. Without the theatre, it would be hard to ensure unilateral cooperation between the colonies in matters of defence. Though, having five of the eight Aueran colonies be included in the theatre was troubling as the funds of the two corps had to be covered by the three colonies outside the theatre.

Then again, the ambassadors did not have to worry about it. They believed that, before the bigwigs in the capital made a decision, it would be best to keep the theatre as it was. They packed up and left with the royal guard in a hurry because of urgent word from the capital that Stellin X had finally breathed his final breath on the 7th of the 10th month and returned to the war god's kingdom. In his will, he specified that the second prince, Wedrick, would inherit the throne rather than the first.

With such a huge event, many bigwigs couldn't even be bothered with the colonies. Prince Hansbach had angrily stormed out of the capital. No one knew where he was.

All the bigwigs in the capital had to deal with Stellin X's funeral and the ascension ceremony for Prince Wedrick, all the while searching for Prince Hansbach's whereabouts. They ordered all the local keeper forces to seal off main checkpoints in an attempt to find him. They all knew he had substantial influence in the military. Having him declare himself king in some other area would be a nightmare.

An urgent order by the ministry of the army for them to return with the royal guard troops followed soon after word of the old king's passing.

After all, the royal guard comprised mainly of the members of the old nobility. They decided to side with Prince Wedrick following Stellin X's death. Unlike the other units in the royal guard corps, the first prince had particularly low influence in this folk. So, the ministry needed them back in the capital to stabilise the situation.

Bloweyk followed the ambassadors. Claude instructed Butler Alek and two other attendants to go with him to deal with miscellaneous matters. Now he just had to recover, but he wouldn't be able to have it easy. While Bolonik took over as acting field marshal, there were a number of things he couldn't decide. He had called for a meeting on this day to talk about them.

Thundercrash and Monolith were faced with a mass retirement, especially among low-ranked officers that had served their 15 years. Most were veterans from Ranger that had taken part in the five-year war before joining Ranger and transferred to Nubissia to fight in the colonies.

Another five years had passed since then and Aueras had finally won a serious, lasting peace -- granted it could close the deal with Shiks, of course. As most of Ranger's troops had been transferred to the five enhanced folks, the veterans were promoted to junior officers. Now that the war had ended, many were ready to retire. Few had any ambition beyond their current station, and even those that did were too tired to pursue it. Around 20 thousand had moved to the folks initially. The lowest ranked of them was now a sergeant-major and the highest was a captain.

Nobody would've expected more than ten thousand troops to apply to be retired at once. It came as a huge shock to theatre headquarters. The most troubling thing was everyone had served their terms in full and could not be denied their retirement, not without a war.

They were not in the kingdom, however, where recruiting and training replacements would have been easy. The population in the colonies was relatively low, and could not afford to lose such a big portion of their labour force. Not to mention that almost everyone qualified was already enlisted. Every man that retired, was a permanently vacant position.

Bolonik didn't want the veterans to return home, but there was nothing he could do. They were loyal soldiers who had fought for more than a decade. They wanted to return home and settle with a family. There was no good excuse, certainly none that had legal backing, that could keep them.

The main corps could easily solve this by registering the retirees as volunteers and giving them better benefits and salaries and allowing their families to settle near the bases, but the four corps had strict requirements for consideration to make someone a volunteer. Only the best of the best were extended the courtesy.

Thundercrash and Monolith were considered temporary, irregular corps. With the men retiring on a large scale now that the war was over, they didn't have the funds necessary to request the retired officers remain as volunteers.

Bolonik had wanted to report the situation to the ministry of the army so that they could come up with a solution for the great impending decrease in their combat effectiveness. But he seemed even more miserable after bringing it up.

Given the current situation in the kingdom, nobody in the capital could bother with the mass retirement in the theatre. They wouldn't care about the lowered capabilities of the corps in the colonies. Even if they sent that report there, who knew how long the capital would take to come up with a reply?

The theatre couldn't hold the retired officers until they got a response, could they? According to regulations set by the ministry itself, nobody could hold the retired soldiers in their units as long as they fulfilled all requirements necessary for retirement. Anyone doing so would risk a mutiny.

Bolonik, Eiblont, and the just-recovered Birkin were stumped. Skri managed to come up with a few good solutions, but none were feasible given the current state of the theatre. He had no choice but to approve the retirements.

Claude couldn't figure out anything either. When he travelled back from headquarters to Weyblon Manor, he ran into a commotion caused by a fight between two settler households. He had wanted to send his guards to clear the road, but sudden inspiration caused him to immediately head back to headquarters and notify all the generals to hold another meeting.

"We can convert the retiring officers into voluntary officers. However, I don't think we need funding for added benefits and salaries as well as money to construct military bases. What we have here in abundance is land and we lack settlers. We can use settler status to coax the retiring officers to serve as voluntary officers."

Claude's idea came from the 100 thousand settler households that moved into Anfiston from the mainland. There were two reasons they were willing to move to an overseas colony. Some were poor on the mainland and wanted a fresh start and better economic opportunities on Nubissia. Each settler household would be given approximately 1.6 acres of land or a shoplot, which was something they would never be able to receive even after working their whole lives in their hometowns in the mainland.

The other reason was that many youths conscripted to join the war could continue their careers in the military on Nubissia after the five-year war ended before they finished serving their term. That would give them a chance to serve their terms in full and gain dignitarian status, raising the status of their families in society. Most of the 100 thousand households with discharged or retired family members moved to Nubissia because of that, even though it was at war.

Claude said, "Cromwell and Balingana are the most suited for agricultural development. Due to the colonial wars and Lord Militant Miselk's scorched-earth tactic, the two colonies have been razed to the ground. It is the perfect blank canvas to plan new development on. With Port Vebator in our hands, we don't have to worry about Shiksan reinforcements. We're also in the process of constructing five citadel cities in these two colonies for a firm supply line.

"Now, we can use the five citadels to develop the two colonies. We'll place a limit on the settlers and let only soldiers that have served our two corps to move into these two colonies. Naturally, those that qualify will be afforded even greater benefits, such as 16 acres of farmland or even a pasture larger than 165 acres in size..."

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