Baron Malek was hosting the war council, he was the Deputy Minister of War. He had yet to let Lorist down in the two years they had worked together. He managed his forces incredibly well and even restructured the garrisons based on their new military standards, with the ministry at the very top.

This time, Lorist was going to use war to pressure the Trade Union even more. He wanted to beat their stubborn asses for good so they would never pose a threat to the Free Union again. Malek had been called in from the Northlands to lead the charge himself. Lorist wanted him to be promoted to Minister of War.

Lorist, Jindoz, and Charlando were the last to arrive. The council chambers were filled with knights and commanding officers from Tigersoar, Jaeger, the sentry legion, and the Free Union's military. Even Whitelion's general, Sybek, and five imperial knights were present. Everyone was seated and waiting for the meeting to start.

Malek walked to the map with a small stick. He tapped the table a few times and turned around.

"Silence, the meeting will now begin. Please do not make any noise. If anyone has a question, please ask it after the briefing."

Malek waited expressionlessly for the hall to quiet down before he continued, "Our primary objective is to topple the old Union so they will never be a threat again. We will launch a large invasion and finish the Union off. We will target primarily Casirota, Tenelik, Feldunba, and Sylugnika.

"Please turn your attention to the map. You'll notice the old Union's territory form a 'T'. If we don't include Falik Plains, it looks more like an overturned 'L'. Our targets sit in that corner of the 'L'. If we take those provinces, we split the Union in two.

"This here is the territory the Union took from the Alliance. That arm at the top was taken during the War of Glass. The territory we are targeting is old Union territory, they've controlled it for years. Right now Twinhead Dragon, Peterson, and a number of smaller guilds reside there.

"If we don't include the five empty provinces next to the plains, Chikdor's territory, and the Duchy of Magrut, the old Union only has 23 provinces. Our goal is this split. We need to cut the Union in half. It'll cut the majority of the Union off from any decent supply lines.

"What is worth paying attention to here is that Feldunba, one of our targets, is within the dominion of Mayflower. Sylugnika used to be the Duchy of Zikdor. Zikdor produced fine gold and silverware. It still has two gold mines and five silver mines. Mayflower paid for the territory with the glass recipe.

"Mayflower's forces suffered heavily in our last confrontation, but a dead camel is still larger than a horse. Mayflower is a huge guild with a long history. They've already  formed a new legion. It now also contains a division of heavily armored troops. The guild appears to be opposing Duke Cobleit, there are a number of rumors claiming the guild's president is scheming to take over Cobleit's position and the Union's leader.

"I don't care why they aren't surrendering. We will kill them all since they insist on opposing us. Wessia, Forde, and Riwald are landless. They are demanding the Union take back their land and are thus refusing to let the Union come to the table. Mayflower and the rest are pro-war as well, but unlike the former, they want Ducke Cobleit to resign. Peterson has stayed on the sideline of the debate and Chikdor is abandoning them altogether.

"We've singled out Mayflower because they're one of the strongest. If we take them out, we'll not only cripple the Union even further, we'll also send a clear message to the rest that they best not mess with us ever again. Chikdor will declare its independence and ally with us once we've split the Union in two. It should be the final nail in the Union's coffin."

Malek drew a red line through the five provinces around Chikdor.

"Chikdor's forces will occupy this area before declaring their independence. It'll half the Union's territory in the south. I don't think the Alliance will let this opportunity pass, so we can expect them to take the rest."

"Lord Malek, a question," General Sybek interjected, "Why don't we just push all the way and wipe the Union out for good?"

"We considered this originally, but the price would be too big and the Free Union would be saddled with more territory than you can control. It'll make you a prime target for other's ambition at a time when you cannot afford war."

"The land has four million people. Peterson and Twinhead have invested everything they have there. If this war drags on any longer than is absolutely necessary, they'll bog us down in a second Falik Plains.

"Not to mention that he's fortified it immensely.  We'll lose half a million men if a complete push goes well, and up to as much as two million if this goes badly.  Can you afford that kind of loss?"

"How?" Sybek argued, "Doesn't House Norton have those amazing cannons? What kind of fortification can withstand a bombardment from them? Just blast through their forts."

"The cannons aren't infallible," Lorist interrupted, "Don't place all your hopes in them. We've used up all our gunpowder. We have no reserves, so they are useless until we get our reserves back. We've built up a small stockpile, but, even if we are ridiculously frugal, we'll till use everything up to take the land we've already planned for. We just don't have the supplies to push any further. The rest will have to be won with blood, and I, for one, will not bleed so much for the Union's land."

Sybek lowered his head.

"I apologize, Lord Duke. I didn't know. Please forgive me."

"Don't worry. I can see you're only anxious to end the Union's threat. If they refuse to surrender after this as well, we'll keep then in check for two more years. We'll have enough gunpowder then for that final push. At worst we'll attack in wave, taking a province or two each year until there's nothing left."

"Understood, Your Grace."

Jindoz was next.

"Lord Malek, a question. We won't be raiding the four provinces clean like last time, right?"

It was to be expected for Jindoz to be anxious about that. He was to inherit rule of the land, he certainly wouldn't want to get nothing but more wasteland. The current state of the Union could barely support the people it already had, if they got another influx from those provinces, it would be the Free Union that would collapse, not the Trade Union.

"Don't worry," Malek acknowledged, "Sir Tarkel has gone to the Alliance to find the heirs to the duchies that used to be there. We'll reform the countries that used to be there. They'll no doubt rejoin the Alliance, which will put a buffer between the two Unions."

Jindoz breathed a sigh of relief. Seeing as nobody else had questions, Malek pointed at the map and continued the briefing.

"Next, is deployments. We will attack from Gudlink. The Union had fortified the empty provinces with ten divisions, so we can't march through there, not to mention it would be a nightmare for our supply lines. That said, we have to maintain a force on our side of that border so they don't roll into the plains once we begin or attack and hit us in the rear. Jaeger will have that responsibility. It has to keep the enemy there occupied. Don't give them a chance to build up for an attack. Everyone else will be part of the invasion. Remember, our goal is to take the land as quickly as possible.  Don't get bogged down in sieges, if the settlement or castle won't be a quick conquest, leave a token force to keep up the siege and move on. They'll all surrender once we end the war."

"Understood," answered Freiyar.

"Tigersoar will clean Gudlink again before we deploy" Malek continued.

The main participants of the attack from Gudlink included House Norton's sentry legion and the Free Union's own legion. Feldunba and Tenelik had mostly mountainous terrain and the Trade Union had stationed four divisions there and fortified the area. So, house Norton would deploy two artillery brigades. Tigersoar would join the fray after the two provinces were taken. The remaining provinces of Casirota and Sylugnika covered mostly steppes and it was perfect for cavalry.

General Sybek was really unhappy that his men would not be on the front but instead had o be logistics. They had earned a huge haul when they raided the five provinces and were hoping to make more profit. In the end, Lorist said he would let Whitelion and Tigersoar pick one province each after Feldunba and Tenelik was conquered.