Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 546

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On the 7th of the 4th month, Year 603, right after the Moloshikian corps' great triumph at Milankorda River, during which up to 80 thousand pamigars were wiped out. The kingdom's forces intended to put a stop to the revolt in one go. However, their forces were suddenly attacked by unknown forces from their left flank. After a heated battle, they crumbled completely with less than a thousand managing to escape alive.

The two corps Moloshik sent to the colony weren't both standing corps. Instead, they were a combination of one standing corps and one corps of reserves. To ensure a certain level of combat capability, the commanders intentionally split both corps into two corps respectively, pairing one folk with another and moving two separate ways towards Milankorda River for their victorious attack.

While the forces of Moloshik did succeed, they suffered substantial casualties. The two standing folks at the vanguard lost about half their numbers and needed some time for reorganisation and recovery. However, their command didn't really mind, as the casualties of the pamigars were much higher at around 80 thousand. The remaining 60 thousand were terrified and scattered all over the place. All that remained would be the reclamation of the lost towns and cities.

Following their victory, Moloshik's war command considered how they would deal with Lesnia and Wasilisk in the meantime. Some reports said that the two colonies already formed one folk of troops at the border each. It was highly possible they would occupy the towns the pamigar took near the border once the situation was set. By then, the forces of the three nations would be entangled in a huge mess.

Just as they decided to rest a few days before going two separate ways to reclaim the settlements so that the other two colonies wouldn't have a chance to take advantage of them, they suddenly received word of their left flank being attacked. The enemy also split into two and clamped in the middle of the left-flank corps. The left-flank corps was formed from a folk of standing troops and a folk of reserves that were split in the middle. That was where the enemy had targeted.

The reserves at the rear were the first to crumble, being completely unable to respond to the sudden assault. The stronger standing forces still managed to use their camps to put up some measure of resistance, but it only bought them half a day's time. War command sent the right-flank corps in immediately to reinforce them, but they ended up ambushed by a pamigar folk. Word from the frontlines was that those pamigars were elite fighters not inferior to their standing forces one bit.

Once the left-flank folk was eliminated and the escape soldiers came back with no idea who attacked them, Moloshik's war command was completely confused. Who was the mastermind behind that? Could it be Lesnia or Wasilisk? Were they trying to start a war with Moloshik?

Even so, war command's priority was to rescue the right-flank folk. After the folk was stopped by the ambush, the unknown forces that wiped the left-flank folk out split into two to come for the right-flank folk. The Moloshikians were surrounded in their camp by three separate groups, already on the brink of a wipeout.

Ambassadors of Moloshik were sent to the two neighbouring colonies to criticise them for their shallow plot to help the pamigars attack the troops of allies. However, they found that the local officials of those colonies were just as confused as they were. They insisted they didn't know from whence those unknown forces came, but said they could get news from the pamigar. Soon, they found that the white-man forces were actually Shiksan captives.

And so, Moloshik sent ambassadors to the autonomous region immediately to state their strong objections with the council administration and military administration. In their meeting, Lord Militant Claude said that the autonomous region was a supporter of peace, independence and self-defence. Even when the western colonies raised an embargo against them, the region didn't use military force as a response. Instead, they even downsized the forces in the region.

He also said there was nothing he could do about the former Shiksan captives, who had served their terms and were free men. With how Shiks still hadn't signed a peace treaty with Aueras, the 500 thousand plus Shiksans had no way of returning to their kingdom and were free to roam about. The chaos they caused even resulted in many security issues the region had to deal with.

The region had only heard about the pamigars seeking help from the voluntary folks of the Shiksans and had no way of stopping them. After all, there was no law or regulation stopping those Shiksans from forming what were essentially mercenary bands to fight on the pamigar's behalf. It was their freedom to do so.

As for the region providing muskets and other supplies to the pamigar, it aligned with the region's values on free trade. As long as the region's safety wasn't threatened, anybody with money could engage in trade with them. If Moloshik wanted to buy the arms produced by the region, they were even willing to offer them a good deal for quality goods.

The ambassadors left dissatisfied by that response. On the day they boarded the ship, the region's newspapers published word of the elimination of the right-flank Moloshikian corps. The region's officials expressed their sympathies as they sent off the ambassadors and asked them to not return, as they would merely be taken captive by the pamigars should they do so. Despite that, the Moloshikian ambassadors sailed off in their colonial light-class sail warship.

On the 23rd of the 5th month, the Moloshikian right-flank corps that had been held up for most of the month ran out of food, having been surrounded by two voluntary Shiksan folks and the pamigar forces. After obtaining assurance for their safety, the remaining 30 thousand Moloshikians surrendered.

Just like that, the two Moloshikian corps numbering around 100 thousand men were wiped out. Only the high-ranking commanders at the rear remained. When word got out, the local Moloshikian population and officials broke down into chaos. They all fled for the port cities with their families and belongings in hopes of being able to get a ferry ticket back to the mainland.

The stage in the Moloshikian colony was set. President Taganem announced that their liberation had been helped by the allies of justice and freedom of the world. The two Shiksan folks were a huge help in their liberation and he expressed his eternal gratitude to them on behalf of all pamigars.

The pamigars would always remember the brave warriors that fought for their freedom from the oppression of their conquerors. President Taganem hoped that the pamigars would unite as one so that they would no longer fall to outside forces. They would chase the Moloshikians out of Nubissia for good to further contribute to the founding of their nation.

Claude entered the meeting room. The high-ranking officers all saluted him. Claude returned the salute and waved for them to be seated.

Fodres was the first one to speak. He briefed them on the situation in Moloshik. "Only two port cities, Port Felimz and Port Saint Niklas, are still in the hands of Moloshik, defended by fewer than three thousand. There are more than 100 thousand Moloshikian settlers in those two cities. Now, the price of a ferry ticket back to the mainland is tenfold its normal price due to insatiable demand.

"If the Pamigar Liberation Front launches an immediate attack, they'll only need three to four days to reclaim those two cities. However, Colonel Borkal suggested a slow attack to buy enough time to prepare a defence against a surprise attack by the forces of Lesnia and Wasilisk at the border. While the two colonies appear neutral, they're still rallying their forces nonstop."

"How many forces did the colonies of Lesnia and Wasilisk gather?" Natass asked.

Fodres replied, "Initially, the two colonies only had a folk each at the borders. But when they found that the Shiksan voluntary folks were fighting with the pamigar, Lesnia started transferring their troops there nonstop. Now, they have a full corps at the border.

"Wasilisk's forces still amount to a folk, but they've begun to form a reserve corps by recruiting settlers and giving them quick training. Their folk is also forming a defence line along their border. They seem like they aren't intent on joining the war. Instead, they only want to defend their own colony."

Natass broke out in laughter. "Perhaps those two Shiksan folks' demolishment of the two corps of Moloshikian troops frightened Lesnia and Wasilisk's colonial officials. They're trying to protect themselves now, so I doubt they'll dare to invade the pamigar nation."

Claude nodded. "It would be ideal if that were the case. We won't have as much trouble either. But whether the two colonies will attack the pamigar nation isn't dependent on the forces they gathered, but whether they're recruiting youths to form new corps.

"If the pamigar found their own nation, Lesnia and Wasilisk definitely won't give that chance up. Moloshik is a lone nation without aid. Of the two corps they sent to Nubissia and the colonial corps, all three of them, up to 200 thousand men, were eliminated. No matter how unhappy they are with the result, there's no way they can make another corps magically appear out of nowhere.

"At least, within eight months to one year, Moloshik will have no control whatsoever in their colony. Forming new corps takes time, after all. Wasilisk and Lesnia definitely won't let up. They can immediately send a corps or two here to join the party of splitting the pamigar nation up.

"So tell Colonel Borkal that he has no need to worry about the two colonies gathering their forces. Before the troops from the mainland arrive, they won't attack the pamigar no matter whether the two remaining port cities fall. Have them prepare to defend themselves after they declare independence."

"Yes, Lord Militant. I will inform President Taganem and Colonel Borkal of your opinion," Fodres said.

Natass came to the map of the western colonies on the wall and said, "According to our original plan, once Lesnia and Wasilisk's forces invade the pamigar nation, we would incite a revolt among the losman peoples in Lesnia's colony and jisdor peoples in Wasilisk's colony to cause their troops at the frontline to crumble.

"Nowadays, the jisdor are really envious of the pamigar's success and are trying to replicate it. However, the losman in Lesnia's colony still waver. It's said that the one we sent to contact their great chieftain didn't respond to us, nor was he willing to help forming an independent nation for his own people. With that, I believe we should pick the losman to go next."

Fodres said, "Great Chieftain Unamas Diya Modrikus is the losman with most high renown in Lesnia's colony. We already did our best to try to convince him to follow the pamigar's path and form an independent losman nation.

"But he refused to agree, thinking that independence would cause the losman to come under the wrath of Lesnia's revenge. He thinks they would suffer even heavier losses that way and cause the other losman folk in the colony to suffer. So, he isn't willing to do as we advise and only wants the losman to continue their herder lifestyle in peace."

"Is there no better candidate?" Claude asked.

"There are a few nephews of Unamas who are chieftains of their own losman tribes that are quite ambitious, but none have the influence and reputation of Unamas. If they turn traitor, Unamas only has to say a word for those helping the traitors to give up on the cause. The Lesnian colony wouldn't have to send in their forces anyway. The great chieftain alone is capable of calming the losman down," Fodres said, troubled.

"Since he isn't willing to cooperate, can't we just deal with this stupid great chieftain?" Natass suggested in anger.

"It's difficult," Fodres said, "It's not that we haven't considered it. We've even tried a few times to make sure he never wakes. However, this great chieftain seems really alert about his own safety. He even has somebody taste his every meal. There are also always proficient witch doctors and strong, fearless guards around him around the clock. There's no way for us to make our move.

"If we risk an assassination and can't kill off all the guards and staff to silence them, it might expose us as the masterminds behind this operation. We'll only earn the hate of the losman. So, we can only patiently wait for our opportunity. It's a shame we haven't gotten any yet. In fact, our incessant encouragement caused them to drift further away from us."

Claude knocked on the desk to stop Fodres from continuing. "Alright, I know that this isn't within your normal duties in the department of intelligence. The great chieftain refusing to cooperate is within my expectations. There are many who are all too eager to stand up for themselves until the time it actually comes to do so. Didn't the losman get ten thousand muskets from us to form a self-defence force? Well, if they don't intend to defend themselves, I'll force them to.

"Our next step is to wait for the colonial forces of Wasilisk and Lesnia to invade the pamigar nation. All we have to do then is to secure the border of Wasilisk's colony and focus our troops to fight the Lesnian colonial troops, before pushing further into the colony. We'll spread word that the troops have been invited by the losman great chieftain to liberate them. That way, this Unamas won't be able to sit back even if he wants to."

After a moment of silence, Natass said, "Lord Militant, even though the pamigar said they would form three corps of 200 thousand men to protect their nation, it would be a miracle if they are able to hold out against the Lesnian colonial forces. The only forces available to send into the Lesnian colony are our two Shiksan voluntary folks. We'll need more men to achieve your goals."

"We'll send the fully formed 3rd Folk of Monolith with four garrison lines there as reinforcements, wearing Shiksan voluntary folk uniforms, of course. We'll call them the Voluntary Shiksan 3rd and 4th Folks. Once Lesnia's colony is occupied, we'll recall them," Claude said, tapping on the map of the western coast where the Fochsian colony of Cape Loducus is. "Our objective is to swallow up Cape Loducus and unite Loki Mountains for good. That way, Ironclad will gain a naval base on the western coast. We'll no longer have to worry about maritime threats from the west any longer.

"Additionally, we'll be able to ship the mining yields from Loki Mountains through the sea once Cape Loducus is ours instead of transporting them through the perilous mountain paths, wasting time, manpower and money. So, send the voluntary Shiksan folks to Cape Loducus immediately after the conquest of Lesnia's colony.

"Once the voluntary folks take Cape Loducus, our region's forces will have an excuse to launch a counterattack to stop a Shiksan invasion of Loki Mountains. We'll swallow up Cape Loducus and Fochs won't be able to do anything about it. If anything, they'll have to knock on the door of the Shiksan volunteers first."

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