"He who fights in the rain, dies sogging wet." ~ famous Grindian proverb

On the 10th day of the 12th month, Year 1788, Andinaq launched another assault in the Falik Plains. Auguslo led Whitelion and crushed the first line of defense, strongholds across the man made canals, within four days and arrived at Robertway. Andinaq was among the first to use the catapult and almost all the Union higher-ups believed Robertway would fall in less than three days.

However, the defenders filled the walls and turned them into ice fortifications. No matter how many times Andinaq fired, they couldn't breach Robertway's walls. Angered and frustrated, Auguslo led Whitelion on a couple of direct attacks without any successes and moderate casualties.

Auguslo had planned to use no more than a month to deal with all the strongholds in the plains and conquer the three cities before moving on to Morante. He'd either conquer the city, if there were exploitable weaknesses in its defences, or besiege it and force the Union's leaders to surrender. In the following negotiations the Union would either have to ceded vast swathes of territory, or give up most of their wealth.

It wasn't that Auguslo wasn't willing to fight a protracted campaign; his vassals were getting tired and wanted to go home. They'd only joined the campaign because they thought it would be a quick campaign, not this now three-year-long war. They'd also been fighting for most of the three years and had suffered many casualties. Fatigue had weathered their resolve and enthusiasm. Some had even started finding excuses to sit out on battles.

Things had gotten worse much faster after the Nortons left. He had to move Pegasus and Fisablen's reserve and frontier legions in to fill in. They did well, but they didn't have the Nortons' staying power, they were being whittled down much faster and the two dukes had already asked to be allowed to return home and recouperate.

Auguslo had made the audacious declaration that he wouldn't stop until he set foot on Morante's central square as the city's new master, but he was actually fine with ending the war as it was now. The old empire had fought with the Union for centuries and had never even made it near the city, but he'd taken three of the Union's most powerful citadels on the plains and taken back everything the empire had lost and then some. This was already enough to cement his name in the history books for centuries to come. He was already on part with the Empire's founder.

The forty years of peace since the empire's fall had made the towns on the plains rich, especially the three citadels. The nobles didn't believe their eyes when they saw the inside of the vaults, filled to the brim with plunder. And this didn't even include House Norton's plunder, which they hadn't even let him see. This would normally be considered a supreme lese majeste, but since Lorist was now the kingdom's most powerful warrior, its sole swordsaint, Auguslo let it go.

Auguslo now turned his mind to the coronation ceremony he was going to have when he returned to the capital to crown himself First Emperor of the new empire. First, though, he had to wrap up this little war. He wanted to make sure it would be centuries before the Union ever thought of making trouble for the Empire again, and millennia before they actually could.

He didn't think he would be stopped at Robertway, the fucking ice-fortress. Karitoke, the leader of the city's garrison, had been holding him at bay for over a month now. He'd also heard that the man was made a baron for his efforts. He used to be one of Auguslo's subordinates, which stung even more. He'd defected to the Union several years earlier, and the Union made every effort to mock him for his inability to keep good subordinates on his side.

His advantage on the field in his most recent campaign was not because of his own tactical brilliance, or the power of his forces, it was thanks to the catapults he got from Lorist, in that sense his glory was only partially his. Karitoke's use of the canals to counter his tactic, however, was entirely to his own credit, all of that glory went to him. It bit at Auguslo's pride.

It was in the midst of this struggle that Tarkel and Reidy visited Lorist in his cabin again. Camorra had taken note of his lord's orders and had dealt with the situation. Loze and Potterfang had arrived with their legions and the immigrants and were resting up. Josk and Jaeger were still lagging behind though.

The great borrowing didn't run into any trouble, apart from a few unwilling nobles who had to be convinced with a firmer hand. Camorra had, however, sent word back with the messengers asking how to settle the immigrants since the food would only last them till the end of the rainy season and Winston couldn't accommodate anymore people.

Lorist prepared a letter to be taken back with Tarkel and Reidy ordering the baron to send 500 thousand to Wild Husbandry and start resettling the land. Josk would accompany them with Jaeger and see to their safety. A hundred thousand of the most skilled among the immigrants were to be settled in Windbury and Pedro to boost their industries. The new settlers in Wild Husbandry would also jumpstart the abandoned trade routes to and in the province. The rest would be used to finish any unfinished infrastructure projects. They would be settled in the Northlands once Lorist had taken care of the rebels.

Lorist continued his training after his two messenger boys left. The rest of winter and the rainy season passed, soon it was harvest season. Lorist was now back to rank 3 blademaster level and only needed another two month to be back to full strength.

Arriotoli was declared pregnant in the 6th month, finally putting and end to Lorist's torture.

Tarkel and Reidy came round again on the 17th of the 6th. Only Tarkel came to the cabin however, Reidy was rolling in the bedsheets with his little lover back at the castle. Tarkel brought news of Auguslo's defeat on the plains. He'd retreated to Krido and was standing his ground there. The confrontation had cost the two sides 170 thousand men, two thirds of which were Union dead.

Lorist was speechless when Tarkel informed him that it wasn't a set piece battle at all. Neither side had thought a big battle would happen. It had started as a skirmish, but both sides, each unwilling to lose it, kept piling in reinforcements. They only realised what was happening when it was already too late, and they were completely committed. Auguslo only withdrew because he realised he couldn't match the Union.

Tarkel also talked about the winter campaign between Auguslo and his former subordinate. Auguslo kept going at it until the snow melted, but was completed swamped when the rain fell. He couldn't cross the morass the excess water made before the Union's reinforcements arrived and was forced to fight the now numerically superior enemy. He called up his vassals, but the morass between the two forces kept both from making any decisive attacks. The forces were separated into many smaller units scattered across the morass on the small firmland islands.

Auguslo's forces were upstream of the Union and one of his vassals suggested they send fire boats down the river into the Union's wooden fortifications. It didn't do much, only burning a couple bridges and setting fire to a few camps. The Union retaliated a few days later. They set Auguslo's main camp on fire one night, killing almost a hundred men and burning almost a third of the camp to the ground.

Auguslo retaliated in kind, which prompted the same from the Union in a to-and-fro which lasted several weeks. In one of these exchanged, the attacking side got bogged down in the fight, and both sides kept sending in reinforcements, which eventually turned into a full-on battle. By the time the two sides realised what was happening, neither could back out. If they did, the enemy would push their forces forward and rush their camps, driving the other side out of the morass altogether and possibly crushing much of their army in the process.

Auguslo was slightly faster than the Union in committing all of his reserves and got the early upper hand, but the Union wasn't far behind and the stalemate was soon re-established. The forces were eventually forced to return to their camps, but the fighting didn't really stop. The islands became like a chess board. When one side lost an island, they would soon take another.

Seing where this was going, and with less forces he could afford to lose, Auguslo was forced to withdraw. Auguslo lost 60 thousand in the month-long campaign, the Union 110 thousand. Despite their heavier losses, however, the Union now had the initiative and drove Auguslo back to Krido. Auguslo had lost fewer forces, but he also had fewer to begin with.

"It's time I returned home," said Lorist.

"Is Your Grace fully recovered?" asked Tarkel.

"Yes. Come, let's go home. I have some house cleaning to do."