Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 576

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Claude considered the Shiksan invasion to be complete, with only some minor things left to take care of. Eiblont was splitting the ten western prefectures to the three neighbouring nations that had territorial claims there. Typhoon, on the other hand, worked to suppress the insurgents while helping the homecoming Shiksans seek out their families. They also arrested local officials, nobles and rich men to confiscate their wealth.

All things in port Patkara were managed by General Siegfeld, much to Claude's assurance. Currently, Siegfeld was ambitiously using the manpower to develop the land near the city into the main food producer of the region. Claude was happy he didn't have to personally involve himself in matters there.

The only thing he had to deal with could also be handled in part by the department of intelligence, with Borkal having gone to the Duke of Sunset River's camp as a pseudo hostage and contact between the two sides. While there were quite a number of conflicts between the region and the duke's troops in the past three months, with gunshots fired and ammunition wasted, no side suffered significant casualties. The duke, however, kept on spreading his intent on resisting and not going down with a fight against the enemy.

Reddragon had already packed up and was on its way back to the kingdom. While Claude sent out a Thundercrash folk to escort them, it was actually to monitor them and keep them in check. Claude was in fact asked by Bleyotte to seal off the way to Shiks through Mambamark after they sent Reddragon off, something which forced Reddragon to have to leave earlier, much to their dissatisfaction.

As such, a folk was sent to escort them out lest they caused trouble in Bleyotte's borders because of their dissatisfaction. Fortunately, the four prefectures Reddragon conquered were still quite prosperous and it netted them some six hundred carriages' worth of goods and spoils, so they behaved themselves on the way back without harassing the local towns.

The Duke of the Northlands kept his word and only defended his eleven northern prefectures after the people in the name list were returned to him. Apart from taking in refugees from other prefectures, he didn't mobilise his troops at all. The informants' reports came as quite a relief to Claude.

It wasn't that he was afraid of a confrontation with the duke. He only felt that there was no need for any troublesome matters since the war with Shiks was already at its end. Thankfully, the duke was a smart man and didn't want to waste any of his troops on the region. Claude believed that once the region's troops retreated away, the duke would immediately mobilise and reap the most profit he could.

However, that was no longer the region's business. Whether the National Defence Army would be able to sustain the duke's attack would depend on their own abilities. Currently, their leader, Count Mullids Jay Kresit, had distributed Farklin corps into his ranks while recruiting even more to form 1st and 2nd National Defence Corps. In the past half a year, he had amassed enough troops to maintain full control over the ten western prefectures.

Of the ten remaining central prefectures, they were assigned to the split units of the National Preservation Front after Reddragon's retreat, Lupus included, where the standoff between the homecoming Shiksans and the troops of the Duke of Sunset River was taking place. The towns weren't affected by the standoff, so the transfer proceeded without issue. In the future, the development of the split units depended on themselves, now that the region had already given them some basic funding, food, arms and supply support.

All those matters were taken over by the department of intelligence. All Claude had to do was to make general plans and let his subordinates handle the details of execution. Broadly speaking, Claude didn't have much to do after all his delegations, but there were still many documents he had to look through and sign. He was slaving away day in and out in his office amidst a mountain of paperwork.

After sending off another batch of immigrants and spoils, Claude went to Saint Cyprean and received a notice and a personal letter from Blancarte. The notice was from the ministry of the army and they asked for a list of high achievers in the Shiksan invasion so that the kingdom would not disappoint the troops and give them their promotions and rewards quickly.

Claude was well aware of the intentions behind the notice. The Shiksan invasion had completely been organised by Claude and had almost nothing to do with the kingdom. In fact, the kingdom only sent Reddragon to enjoy the spoils after most of the invasion was carried out with great success by the region's troops.

What the kingdom was trying to do was to take credit for the Shiksan invasion after the fact. After all, the region's troops were under technically the jurisdiction of the ministry of the army. It would reflect really badly on the ministry if the region's troops were considered to have started a war without their consent.

Claude really wanted to laugh and say that they deserved it. He had reminded Blancarte that the region would be invading Shiks beforehand, but the idiots at the ministry simply didn't believe him and thought that there was no way the region could succeed based on their sandtable simulations. They were fully ready to watch from the sidelines as the region's troops crashed and burnt, only to be given a slap on the face by the subsequent victories.

So, before the region properly retreated from Shiks, the ministry jumped out of nowhere and wanted to reward the troops that made great contributions to the war effort. Claude believed once he submitted that name list, the ministry would make a big deal out of it by holding a grand celebration as a publicity stunt to emphasise the important role they played in the war.

He decided he would wait until the dust settled first, at least until all the region's troops retreated to Port Patkara before dealing with the matter of contributions. While they had eliminated the northern superpower of Shiks, the troops didn't achieve anything remarkable, as they didn't suffer any huge casualties or endure any tough battles at all.

The only battle worth considering was the extermination of Ironguard Corps and the two standing corps of the Shiksan prince, both of which were rather easy battles. Even the battle of Saint Cyprean didn't have any particularly high points. Instead, the nonstop insurgent attacks were far more troubling than any actual battle.

Even the sweeping of the Shiksan prefectures involved only eliminating the local garrison forces, which couldn't compare to fighting a proper army or besieging a city in terms of merit. For instance, Eiblont leading Typhoon to sweep through six western prefectures didn't earn him enough merit to compare with wiping out a proper standing corps.

Basically, none of the high-ranking officers of the region would qualify for any promotions. The most they would get was have an extra merit in their record. Claude's plans were too detailed and unexpected. After all, nobody would've predicted that Bleyotte would betray Shiks and work with the region and let their troops through to attack Shiks and go straight for their power base without warning.

Once Saint Cyprean fell to the region's hands all of a sudden, Majid III, the Shiksan royal family, the nobles and all the ministers were taken captive. The whole kingdom lost all its leaders at once, rendering the rest barely able to resist the invaders. The local prefectures weren't able to produce any worthy commander either; some even fought amongst themselves before they were wiped out by the region's troops.

Initially, the Duke of the Northlands seemed like a suitable candidate to unite the kingdom, but he didn't have Majid III's favour, so many local officials forget the notion when they thought about how they would reconcile with the king after working with the duke. They were also quite unfortunate that the duke had to recover from an injury during that time and was unable to send his troops to resist the region's invasion, which was among the final straws that cracked the camel's back, depriving the region's troops yet another chance to earn great merit.

As for the eight homecoming Shiksan folks, their goal was to reunite with their families and emigrate to the region. After the war, their units might not exist any longer, so the officers serving in those units would only get administrative acknowledgements instead of proper military merit.

Contrary to all that, the region did get a wealth of spoils from the invasion, but the ministry of the army would have no say in them. The monetary reward the ministry could give the soldiers alongside merits and promotions was merely symbolic and not worth much. Thankfully, the region already prepared their own bonuses for the troops. Even a normal homecoming Shiksan soldier could get ten crowns as a reward.

Shiks did have lots of wealth at their disposal as the northern superpower. Even after losing four colonial wars, their stores were still filled with military gear, food and funding. The royal territory and capital alone saw the region gain no less than 50 million crowns in coinage alone. Coupled with the wealth confiscated from the populace, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the region got 100 million in total spoils.

Claude assigned Skri ten million crowns for the development of Northbay and another 20 million for the council for the immigration costs. Another 30 million went straight into the region's coffers. Another 30 million or so crowns would be used to reward the two corps and eight homecoming Shiksans, which totalled up to 400 thousand men. Each of them stood to gain quite a lot in bonuses.

Additionally, near the antiques, jewels and magic items worth about ten million in total would be split among the region's elites in the council. Claude himself would personally get up to 100 thousand crowns' worth, which could be considered his war bonus. As he often said, there was no more lucrative venture than going to war, though, the prerequisite for that was going to war with a rich nation. A poor nation like Mambamark wouldn't even allow them to recoup their losses.

He tossed the ministry's notice aside and opened the prime minister's letter, only to discover something that troubled him greatly. A scandal that concerned him was spreading in the royal capital.

Blancarte told Claude that his mother had sued him, Angelina and Bloweyk at the noble court for unfilial behaviour as they didn't want to acknowledge the debt incurred by House Ferd in purchasing their fief and upgrading their hereditary Title, thereby not fulfilling their responsibility as a member of the household and not paying back their debt of upbringing.

The noble court immediately threw out the case, believing it to be unreasonable. While Claude, Angelina and Bloweyk were Madam Ferd's children, they didn't inherit House Sen Ferd's sobriquet or property, so they couldn't be held accountable for their debt. If the court accepted Madam Ferd's argument, it was sure to cause a huge commotion as non-heirs of the household would be slathered with the household's debt.

However, their mother didn't let up and submitted a second case soon enough, demanding the noble court to acknowledge House Sen Ferd as the main household and House Han Ferd as the branch, thereby obliging House Han Ferd to help House Sen Ferd out in their time of need and settling the debt for them.

Even so, the noble court threw out the case once more, as House Han Ferd had been formed before House Sen Ferd. Chronologically speaking, House Han Ferd would be considered the main household. But the lawyer Madam Ferd hired argued that the Title of House Sen Ferd had been posthumously granted on Claude's father, and there had been no precedent of the child's household being the main one while the father's household was the branch one. Currently, the case was still being fought in the noble court.

It was said that the king deeply regretted posthumously creating Morssen a noble. He didn't think Claude's mother would be such a shameless woman as to be willing to cause such a huge commotion and making a joke out of Claude among the noble circle. According to Blancarte's investigation, Madam Ferd sued her three children because she wanted to keep her fief but had no other option at her disposal.

This mainly stemmed from the debt of a million crowns she owed the royal family that had a yearly interest of five percent, which amounted to 50 thousand crowns. Yet, her and Arbeit's fief only had a town and two villages and yielded less than ten thousand crowns annually.

The queen graciously offered them three years without interest so that the fief could be developed, but one year had passed and nothing much changed. No matter how badly they scoured their subjects, they only came up with an extra 180 crowns, and that only worsened the situation by spurring the subjects to flee the fief.

If that went on, Madam Ferd and Arbeit's Title and fief would be rescinded if they weren't able to start paying interest once the three-year period ran out.

So, she turned her sights on Claude and his siblings. Back when she sent Arbeit to him, she only got 10 thousand crowns out of it, far from what she expected. Much cursing and complaining later, she heard about that idea from somewhere and decided to sue them for not bearing the household debt.

Blancarte advised Claude to rein his mother in and not let the matter grow any bigger, lest it spread throughout the rest of Freia and tanked Claude's reputation. As for how, what else could Claude do apart from pay up?

Claude merely smirked coldly. He's had enough. Since his mother wanted to sue, he would see her in court. The more commotion it caused, the better. He would let everyone know that even a Lord Militant like him could have that kind of mother. If anyone was going to lose face, they would do it all together. In fact, he wanted to see who would dare to mock him to his face about it.

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