Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 470

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From the latter part of the 3rd month to the start of the 4th in Year 594, the transport ships docked at Cape Loducus returned to their respective ports. The colonies on the western coast were informed of the four remaining Shiksan corps' complete decimation, as well as the loss of the entire Alliance fleet. Even Cape Loducus was conquered. They'd allegedly just taken over the lease.

Shiks yet again became the theatre's laughing stock. Two years earlier, the king had announced the formation of ten corps and leased Cape Loducus from Fochs, swearing to continue the war until the Aueran colonies had been flattened.

Most initially thought Shiks would win, simply because Aueras was embroiled in civil war. How could they afford to divert resources or attention to the colonies? Shiks held the advantage in terms of both budget and troop numbers. Some even set up betting rings on all factors, such as when the war would end, how many colonies Aueras would lose, and so on.

Things went exactly the opposite way, however. The five corps involved in the first attack were dealt a heavy blow. The colonial forces eliminated three corps in one offensive. It made people finally take note of the true power of the colonies, hitherto hidden in obscurity. Most expected the war to still go to Shiks. They had the manpower and industrial and economic power to literally just swamp the defenders.

No matter what, Shiks had seven corps. It was enough to flatten a small kingdom on Freia. And the Aueran colonies couldn't rely on their mainland kingdom for any support. It would be nothing short of miraculous if they weathered the second wave of attacks.

After that came news of Shiks sending their troops to the fishing town. Word spread from the sailors who flocked to the western coast. Many newspapers were of the opinion that the Aueran side would suffer heavy losses at the hands of the masterful Shiksan manoeuvres.

Shiks sent three standing corps, about 100 thousand men, to encircle and attack the city of Lanu, where the headquarters of the war theatre was located. The defenders only had 13 thousand men, ten times fewer than their enemy had, which caused many to jump to the logical conclusion. Yet, the Shiksans ended up losing up to 60 thousand men after one month of bloody battles and still didn't manage to take Lanu. It was already unbelievable enough.

After that came reinforcements from Thundercrash from so far away. The commentators and strategists after the fact now thought the Shiksans' greatest mistake was not taking Dorinibla River Defence Line first to cut off the route the war theatre used to send reinforcements. The moment Thundercrash crossed the river and showed up outside the city, the Shiksans could do naught but shift to defence and hand the initiative over to the war theatre.

When the fishing town and floating bridge was burned down by Thundercrash, it marked the loss of the three Shiksan corps' escape route. After that, they committed another fatal flaw of retreating to Mormaly. That was the dot that marked the end of the three corps.

With Thundercrash being so proficient in pursuing and ambushing nonstop, the retreating Shiksan corps collapsed from sheer fatigue. Most of them ended up becoming captives of the war theatre. Even the high-ranking officers that managed to escape to the coastal town of Bobia in Mormaly could do naught but watch their warships far away at sea without being able to approach the coast. They had to surrender in the end as well.

Though the battle showed the true power possessed by the war theatre's two corps, both sides suffered just as crucial losses. The Shiksans lost three more standing corps once again while the war theatre suffered battle within its central territory. Lanu was basically reduced to rubble with a great number of civilian casualties as well as huge property damage.

When the newspapers at the western coast reported on the battle, their evaluation was that the two corps of the war theatre could rival five to six Shiksan standing corps. It was a ratio of one-to-two, or one-to-three, which was supported by the conclusion of the battle at Lanu that saw the Shiskans driven away. However, most of the publications envisioned that a period of peace between both sides would follow and that there would be a pause of at least half a year. The Shiksans had to resupply with the help of the mainland while the war theatre needed time to recover from the wounds it suffered.

As only four Shiksan corps, approximately 27 thousand people, still remained, they didn't have enough numbers to attack, though defending that number was plausible, especially with the complete fortifications set up at the border of the eastern mountains. There was no worry that the war theatre would be able to breach through those defences to take their supply base.

Apart from the war theatre's coasts being in the control of Seaking and the Alliance's navy, the war theatre had to prevent enemy troops from getting ashore. The coastlines of the war theatre were rather long and had to be defended, so they were hard pressed to gather troops to attack the Shiksans. As such, the commonly held opinion was that this colonial war would continue for much longer until either side couldn't keep up.

Who knew that before three months even passed since the Shiksans got to the fishing town, the war theatre's troops would suddenly appear at the rear of the Shiksan troops by hiding in the wild-bull company's transport ships and managing to slip past the patrol warships. They suddenly attacked the Shiksan main supply base and captured all the warships and long-distance transport vessels of the Alliance's navy.

Then, Thundercrash 1st Folk launched a sudden attack on the Shiksan defence line at Fanbix Hill, completely eliminating 3rd Expedition in the process. Then, they split their troops up for a pincer attack on 4th Expedition's camp at the border of the northern mountains with Thundercrash 2nd Folk, wiping that corps successfully as well.

Lastly, Thundercrash also launched a sudden attack on 2nd Expedition and 1st Penitence at the eastern border with the cooperation of Monolith 2nd Folk. Within ten days of heated battle, they managed to force the remnants of 1st Penitence and 2nd Expedition surrender, wiping out all Shiksan troops in Cape Loducus in one go along with the Alliance's navy.

It was a victory that was outright unbelievable. It wouldn't be far off to say that the war waged with Shiks for seven whole years had been put to an end with the war theatre's triumph. How things played out caused the jaws of the newspaper pundits at the western coast to drop so hard it sank into the core of the earth. The thought of the ten domineering standing Shiksan corps and their current pathetic state completely stupefied many.

The largest publication at the western coast 'Peak Forum Chronicles' commented that if Shiks wanted to continue the conflict, they would have to form ten new standing corps as well as a fleet. They would also have to wait for the war theatre's troops to move away from Cape Loducus after the five-year lease with Fochs ends to reestablish a lease deal with Fochs. Any sane ruler wouldn't invest the kind of wealth that would be necessary to resume a war they didn't have much hope in winning.

Most laughably, Seaking came with a corps to add to their numbers at the colonies at the end of the 4th month, only to receive word at a port they stopped to resupply at that they had lost Cape Loducus to the war theatre, with their four corps being wiped out and the Alliance's navy ships captured. It put the commander of Seaking at a complete loss as to what to do.

If they continued to sail south, they wouldn't be able to dock nor fight a naval battle with their ships full of troops and supplies. If they didn't, however, there was no other port at the western coast that would welcome them, especially with them transporting a whole corps of troops.

After all, nobody could tell for sure whether Shiks would attack to take their colonies. The moment they reached any port, they would be met with defenders on high alert and wouldn't even be allowed to approach for supplies. If they sent their transport vessels to make trades, they would be charged at a rate twice of market price.

After spending the next half month at sea, Seaking finally couldn't hold on any longer. They couldn't dock and would have to rely on buying supplies to keep themselves afloat. In the end, they decided to spend what reserves of funding they had for supplies on the return trip to bring the bad news back to the kingdom.

By then, Claude had occupied Cape Loducus for about three months. The battle took only around 20 days to start and end, but the aftermath took about two months to clean up. He had just finished bargaining around with the officials of Cape Loducus City to resign the lease on Cape Loducus for a full five years before having the troops retreat from that colony.

As they had defeated Shiks, everything in Cape Loducus became their spoils, including the lease agreement. The colony would be occupied by the war theatre and returned to Fochs once the lease period ends.

Seriously speaking, the war theatre's troops weren't really welcomed by the city folk and officials. Compared to the Shiksans, troops of the war theatre were really stingy, whether they came from Thundercrash or Monolith, and wouldn't spend much in taverns. Even the brothels set up by the city folk near the camps wouldn't have many visitors. They were also far more careful with their spending and would never spend beyond their means.

The Fochsian officials wouldn't stand to benefit much either, since the war theatre took care of its own supply line and wouldn't buy any from the city. Many of the city folk thus lost their extra source of income. The war theatre also obtained a huge stockpile of food and other supplies from the supply base which could last them a year and a half. Even when the officials wanted to buy Shiksan arms and ammunitions, the prices rose by 1.5 times. Back then, they were sold at a discount, but now they were sold at the original price without including transport costs.

The officials of the city grit their teeth and bought the Shiksan arms despite the price. When they came to ask the war theatre when they would retreat their troops, they got a nightmarish revelation from Claude: the war theatre's forces would not retreat and would stay until the end of the lease.

It was as shocking as thunder striking on a bright sunny day. If the war theatre's forces didn't leave, how long would it take before the Shiksans could come again to buy the arms they bought from them at a high price again? Claude consoled them by saying that they could sell the arms to the civilians at the western coast or the local garrisons instead. They were modern Shiksan arms, after all, so they should stand to make around 1.3 times the profit.

In the 5th month, news came that the Seaking lingered around the western coast for half a month while carrying a corps. After being unable to find a port at which they were allowed to dock, they had no choice but to sail back. Claude finally breathed a long sigh of relief. Cape Loducus would finally be firmly under their rule for the next two years.

The territory gained from the nikancha nation, both the northern mountains and eastern mountains combined, was now called the colony of Loki Mountains, being the ninth colony of the war theatre. While it covered mostly mountainous areas, it was rich in mineable resources, with there being around 17 middle-to-small-sized gold and silver mines alone and much more undiscovered deposits.

The 230 thousand Shiksan captives were transported from Cape Loducus to Loki Mountains and were used to build roads, citadels and other infrastructure. All those projects would keep them busy for the next four years at least. Claude also promised them on the war theatre's behalf that they would be given sufficient food, clothing, medical treatment and a sparse salary. They would also earn bonuses if they performed well.

In other words, the war theatre pledged to treat the captives as they would normal labourers rather than prisoners serving labour sentences. That was one of the final conditions for the surrender of 1st Penitence, which Birkin assented to.

In hindsight, the colonies had been dealt a really bad hand by the new nobility. Back then, Miselk agreed to their request to transport the 300 thousand plus Shiksan captives to them for 100 thousand immigrant households to the colonies. In the end, the Shiksan captives were harshly treated by the new nobility. When they were finally freed and reformed into the many corps, they became the most fearless and stubborn enemies the war theatre ever had to face, causing their two corps to suffer heavy losses.

This time around, Berklin was tasked with securing Cape Loducus with Monolith 2nd Folk. He would also be in charge of the development of Loki Mountains. Claude's 1st Folk would be stationed in Castle Moknad to remain alert to the movements of the nikancha nation and ensure Vebator's safety. Eiblont would return to Lanu with Thundercrash 2nd Folk to remain on standby for future deployment.

The more easygoing of the marines and sailors of the Alliance's navy Claude captured were picked out to join a tribe that would sail from Cape Loducus to Port Vebator, before going on to Port Patres under supervision of the war theatre's officers. Within the next three years, the war theatre would form their own long-distance fleet.

When Claude arrived at Port Vebator, he received an eagle message from headquarters about Borkal's overdue return...

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