Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 452

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Some 20 days later, Claude, Eiblont and Birkin brought their respective units, now temporarily organised into a line, to Lanu. After spending five days there for the funeral rites of the sacrificed warriors, Claude got a day's rest before he went home to tend to his many visitors. The next day, he went to the meeting at headquarters.

First, Colonel Fodres, the supervisor of the intelligence department, gave a report about the Shiksans. According to news from informants in Cape Loducus, they concluded that the three and a half Shiksan standing corps could no longer muster any force for an attack. They could only hope to survive and stockpile food.

Claude's sudden attack forced the Shiksan arms to be sold cheaply to the Fochsian officials. Even so, it was still a couple million.

However, he didn't sell the food stored in the base. Instead, he picked out all the ingredients normally reserved for high-ranking officers, as well as livestock that could be taken away and slaughtered when needed, before setting the rest of the food stores on fire.

The Shiksans had three main bases in Cape Loducus in total. Apart from the one near the city, there was a defensive one built near the border of the northern mountains where up to three months' worth of food for two corps was stored.

The camp near the border of the eastern mountains was where the attacks were launched from. It also served as a transfer point, so there wasn't much food stored there. It could only support three corps for a short number of days. The reason that was the case was that the Shiksans planned to attack the nikancha settlements to gather food.

Of the five Shiksan corps formed from the veterans, apart from the two stationed to defend the border of the northern mountains, the three in the east launched an attack. It was too bad the 200-thousand-strong force faced all sorts of trouble during the first month. They only managed to conquer the first defence line the theatre formed before their advance halted completely.

Killing more nikanchas was of no benefit to the Shiksans at all. In fact, their top brass intentionally stated that the nikancha didn't count for any military merit. For the Shiksans, their only true enemies were the two corps of the theatre. No matter which they ran into, whether it be Thundercrash or Monolith, it ended rather badly for them. Their casualty rate was enormous; it was even worse than losing three of their own for one enemy.

Sometimes, the Shiksan commanders themselves were shocked to hear about muskets that could fire consecutively and also have an accurate firing range past 150 metres. Not to mention, there was no need to light a slow match, which made them easier to hide at night and also usable in the rain. Lastly, there was also the hidden explosive weapons buried in the ground, all of which came as a new warfare experience for the Shiksans.

The Shiksan commanders weren't incompetent. They knew that if they had no countermeasures for the theatre's new weapons, there was no way they would be able to win in the colonial war.

However, their report about the new Aueran weapons to the kingdom was not well received. Majid III even wrote a personal letter to rebuke the high-ranking officers for being incompetent and making up lies to cover up for their losses!

Majid III and Shiks' ministry of the army naturally wouldn't believe their officers on Nubissia about the advanced weapons the Auerans had. If Aueras really had that kind of technology, they would've used it in the civil war between the two princes already.

There wasn't a single nation on Freia that would only assign new weapons to their colonial troops and leave their main troops out. Apart from the mortars, no other new weapon was sighted in those battles. If there were, the other nations would've long tried to develop some.

That was why Majid III and his ministry believed that their officers on Nubissia were merely trying to excuse themselves of their failures. Even though they had five corps against two, they still lost most of their conquered territory in the eastern mountains and even had their supply base in the rear completely ransacked and destroyed.

Not only that, the veterans in the two corps stationed to defend the northern mountain border were even more embarrassing. Despite having a really tough camp, they still ended up being blasted to ashes by Thundercrash's attack, leaving only ten thousand of them injured to varying degrees. The three corps of veterans in the east with 200 thousand men, on the other hand, couldn't even breach the second defence line defended only by a Monolith folk. It was nothing short of shameful!

That was the first war to start from the colony of Cape Loducus, as well as the fourth colonial war Shiks and Aueras had been involved in. The results were truly unexpected. Aueras, the underdog, managed to emerge victorious once more. All that remained of the five Shiksan standing corps was one and a half corps. Even if they included all their injured soldiers in the count, they wouldn't even have enough for two corps. It was nothing short of a complete disaster.

However, Shiks still had the ability to support the war. They only had to send their standing corps to Cape Loducus and recruit new soldiers to make up for the lost men to be able to gather seven more standing corps with 400 thousand men soon enough. There was still a chance for them to emerge victorious. Based on a cursory analysis on paper, Shiks did, in fact, have much more military might than the Aueran theatre.

However, Majid III and his ministry were still unaware of the true situation of the war. They were still under the impression that they only lost because their officers were incompetent. So, Majid III sent a loyal and gallant lieutenant-general to Cape Loducus along with his letter. The general was there to scold the cowardly, old and incompetent general, Count Norbridon Bang Belondi, in Majid III's stead.

Currently, there was only barely four standing corps in Cape Loducus. As most of the two corps stationed at the northern borders had been eliminated, the supplies that remained could still sustain the corps and a half that retreated from the east and the new reinforcements that just arrived for around two months.

The troops stationed near Cape Loducus City were the ones who just arrived in the third batch. They, on the other hand, were suffering from a food crisis. Apart from buying food from Cape Loducus City for a high price, the corps' soldiers were forced to fish and pick up shellfish from the coasts to keep themselves fed.

Most laughably was how the citizens of the city sold off all their food after raising their prices out of greed. There were only 20 thousand people living in the city, yet the Shiksan corps numbered up to 63 thousand people. The food stored by the citizens would only last the corps a month. Now, the whole colony had fallen into a huge food shortage.

The informants that infiltrated the city wrote that they basically had a cup of ale and one fish for lunch and dinner. There was no meat nor bread, and potatoes were rare luxuries. Food prices had grown up to ten times from before the war began. The poor city folk had sold their food for five times market price, only to have to buy them back at double the price they sold it for.

As the wild-bull company was still fulfilling the endless orders for ale by the Shiksans, even the Fochsian officers asked them whether they could help smuggle food from the theatre to the colony to be sold for a high price.

The Shiksans were in just as much of a rush to buy food from the rest of the continent to solve their crisis this time around, but it would take time to ship it back. Their food shortage was estimated to last for at least another month or so. As the one in charge of the wild-bull company, Borkal made an official request to the theatre to make a shipment of food there. They would make ten times the profit! Skri and Bolonik were still considering the matter.

According to Colonel Fodres' conclusive report, the Shiksans wouldn't pose a threat to the theatre and nikancha nation in the coming half year. They would need to let their injured troops recuperate, restock their food and supplies as well as wait for the following three standing corps to arrive. If there were no accidents, they should launch their attack anew during the 6th or 7th month.

The reason he came to such a conclusion was due to information from the Fochsian officials in Cape Loducus City that the next batch of three Shiksan corps would only arrive at the 4th month next year. Having learned their lesson from the recent battles, the Shiksans would let their men rest well before mounting an attack for maximum efficiency.

It was now the 10th month of Year 592. There would be eight whole months for the theatre to rest and recuperate. As Claude and the rest were fighting it out at the frontlines, Bolonik and Skri didn't slack off at the rear either. They had recruited a reserve legion and began training new troops.

The casualties suffered by Thundercrash and Monolith would be replaced by the talented ones in the reserve and garrison units.

After Fodres finished his report, it was time for Bolonik to speak. His core task was to inspire confidence into the theatre's high-ranking officials that they would win the war with the Shiksans. The war between the nikancha and the Shiksans had yet to affect the theatre negatively. In fact, civilian life standards had greatly improved.

The lack of support from the mainland caused the theatre to have to meet all demand for various supplies locally. The mass of orders instigated rapid growth in various industries. Any proprietor that could provide solutions to what the theatre needed would be able to earn a modest income.

The formation of the overseas bank also allowed the colonies to be financially independent of the mainland and kickstart their own development. Paper money was also smoothly rolled out and its use was spreading without issue, relieving the shortage of currency in the colonies. Bolonik excitedly told the officers that the overseas bank managed to print more than ten million crowns' worth of paper money and loaned up more than ten million crowns as well to inspire even more growth and development.

That was also the reason Bolonik could afford to form another reserve corps in the theatre. The economic development of the theatre came with many benefits. The yield from this year alone was enough to cover the military costs. If the development could continue for three years, the theatre would be able to achieve full military funding independence.

After Bolonik finished his speech, Skri reported on the financial and supply situation of the theatre throughout the war. Thanks to Claude sending two Thundercrash lines to sweep through the territory of the inland Shiksan colonies, the theatre obtained up to 13 million crowns' worth of gold and silver.

However, the theatre was faced with a problem on what to do with all those precious metals. There was no longer a need to mint them into coins. The overseas bank already had a reserve of eight million crowns, as well as thales and other coins. After their distribution of ten million crowns' worth of paper money, they noticed that few people came to exchange the notes for actual coins. Minting more of them would only cause undue burden to the colonies.

That problem, however, was easily solved. Claude gave them the idea to refine the metals into bars of standardized sizes with serial numbers. For instance, they would use a standard of a hundred catties and have a room at the headquarters of the overseas bank built to be stacked full of those gold and silver bars.

Anyone visiting the bank as well as the workers would be able to see the room through the glass and metal bars. For locals with high status, they could even be invited inside. Doing so would no doubt boost confidence in the paper notes issued by the bank. So long as the people knew the bank had enough reserves to back their currency up, they wouldn't lose faith in the paper currency.

While the idea was well received, it still required much discussion with the shareholders and personnel of the overseas bank. As for safety, Claude wasn't the least bit concerned. Even if someone dared to barge into and rob the bank, they wouldn't be able to leave with those heavy bars. It was an era without automobiles, so trying to bring solid bars of gold or silver away was nothing short of suicidal. They would be nothing more than dead weight.

When Skri finished his presentation, it was the turn of the three generals at the frontlines to give a conclusive report on the battles. Claude allowed Eiblont and Birkin to speak first. The two of them praised the new rifles nonstop and were of the opinion that if all their units could be armed with them, they would be able to defeat all ten Shiksan standing corps with no issue.

However, the factory at Blackstone Hills could only manufacture up to 30 thousand of them in a year. There would be a few more years before all their units could be armed with them.

Birkin also praised the mines much and thought it was a great weapon to slow the enemy down in a defensive battle. He expressed his wish for the theatre to have a bigger store of them. He also had some criticisms for the theatre's mortars, mainly their weaker explosive power and range relative to the iron pumpkins which caused Monolith's initial defensive battle to end with huge losses.

Apart from showing their awe for their new toys, the two generals also talked much about the strong-willed and stubborn Shiksan veterans who just wouldn't give up, even in death. The Shiksan commander-in-chief, Count Nobridon Bang Belondi, was also not easy to deal with. He was slimy and cunning, not to mention his impeccable tactics with few, if any, loopholes.

Had it not been for the advantage granted by their new weapons, the five Shiksan veteran corps would've been the match of the two theatre's two corps instead of being their inferior. Fortunately, Thundercrash and Monolith managed to wipe out three Shiksan corps, despite their own heavy losses, making the enemy much easier to deal with in the upcoming battles.

As for Thundercrash and Monolith's performance, Birkin focused on the folk of Monolith that partook in the battle in the eastern mountains. As large numbers of veterans were transferred to local garrisons, the new recruits weren't that mature and familiar with the battlefield, so they would often be affected by negative changes and lose confidence.

For instance, the loss of the first defence line had a great deal to do with the new recruits in Monolith, who panicked during the night attack and lost their chance to use the mortars. Later, when the nikancha crumbled and fled, the new recruits unconsciously went along with them.

Had they reformed and launched a counterattack, they would've been able to blow the Shiksans away from their flank. But by then, Birkin's orders were no longer able to find their way to the frontlines, so he hoped that the next batch of men to fill the empty ranks would be veterans, who would serve as the backbone of the force. It was, after all, the veterans Claude took to the second defence line that quickly stabilised the situation.

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