Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 356

The news that Shiks wanted to form ten new corps and send them to Nubissia didn't bother Miselk that much. He knew ten corps couldn't be conjured up by words alone. Even if Shiks was a superpower in Northern Freia, it would take at least two or three years to do it.

Miselk had his strategists collect as much information as they could from Port Vebator and wrote to the ministry of defence to request their close attention on the progress made on the corps. He also personally surveyed Cromwell and Balingana in preparation for his own project; a never-before-seen fortification network specially designed to handle a Shiksan invasion.

The rest of the year was taken up by the project. Their reward finally arrived, stingy as it was thanks to the kingdom's economic struggles.

Miselk was one of the rare soldiers to not be disappointed with his reward. He'd defeated five corps despite his crippling disadvantages, and even crippled an entire flotilla. In recognition of his achievements, he was promoted to Lord Militant. He was only the 17th person in the kingdom's history to be granted the title. His Title was also upgraded from honorary to trigenerational, with a bundled manor in the capital.

Compared to the grand rewards the general received, the rest of the men were given mere pittances. The grunts were given a single crown, sergeants two, junior commissioned officers five, and field officers ten. Merits enough for promotion were also only doled out to those with confirmed kills.

High Command simply said the victory was thanks to the general's strategy, not any special effort on the soldier's part. Of the soldiers, only a couple select units in Ranger saw any real combat. Ranger's scouts and cavalry, and their cannoneers were the only ones to engage in fights worth rewarding.

The only unit outside Ranger to be given merits were the 1st Colonial Corps' cannoneers, who'd held on to Port Patres under extreme and concentrated fire, losing over 80% of their men in the process.

High Command, while recognising that some of Ranger did engage in decent fighting, didn't recognise it as an extraordinary contribution. Clearly they didn't fight that hard since they'd barely lost any men. They'd merely tailed the enemy as the general had ordered.

They also downplayed Line 131's contributions. Whilst they had captured Wickhamsburg and had driven the final nail into the corps' coffin, they had not done much actual fighting. They were thus not awarded any merits.

Miselk had pushed for Claude's efforts to be recognised, especially his incentives in preserving the supplies in the city rather than burning them, which had allowed them to keep their captives fed and alive. High Command dismissed his requests, saying it was at best cancelled out by the trouble his acquisition of the 800 carriages had caused.

That said, they weren't so shameless as to not give him anything. He was given a single first-class merit, which left him still two short of his next promotion -- one which would see him become the youngest major-general in the kingdom's history. He was but 29 after all. He still had another 6 years to make major-general and still be a legend.

Claude's brother was about as lucky as the general. He'd shone during their assault on Wickhamsburg and been promoted three ranks to master-sergeant and was currently undergoing training. Myjack also made a decent showing. He now only needed one more first-class merit to make it to major.

Claude was too preoccupied to consider whether to be unhappy with his reward or not. Five hundred thousand crowns had vanished from the storehouses in Wikchamsburg. They'd captured it with the city. It was the funds supposed to settle the five Shiksan corps' backpay and bonuses. It had all been in Shiksan currency, in gold keptons, silver kylars, and bronze fernis.

The explosions had devastated the city. A giant crater was all that was left of the munitions warehouses, and that had been where the funds had been stored. Ranger's chief of logistics, General Fansnik refused to accept the loss, however, and still had hundred of officers scouring the crater, literally digging in the scorched soil with their bare hands for anything that might look like it had once been coinage.

They found nothing, and Fansnik had accused Claude of embezzling the money. He'd already interrogated Claude thrice.

Claude naturally pleaded his innocence. He'd never even known they'd captured that much money. They'd taken quick control of the city and had immediately moved on to other concerning matters. The only supplies they'd investigated were the food and other necessities. Money had not once crossed his or any of his officers' minds. They'd not even glanced at the munitions warehouses.

Claude told the general to ask around among the sentries. They confirmed his story. He'd not been near the warehouses since they were posted there. He'd not even spoken to the staff responsible for administering those warehouses. The first he or any of his men heard of the money was when Fansnik showed up with his accusations.

Fansnik was not convinced. Claude's personal guards were the last to leave the city, and they did so with five fully-loaded wagons. Fansnik was convinced those wagons had carried the money away. Claude's wagon of honour blades didn't do him any favours with Fansnik either.

Honour blades were awarded only to the most valiant of Shiksan officers. They were ceremonial blades, with all the bells and whistles that entailed. There was nothing wrong with taking spoils of such a nature and handing them out to one's subordinates, but those blades were supposedly stored in one of the munitions warehouses, which meant Claude had checked them out.

Claude would not admit to anything, however. It was only right that he was the last to leave. He was of the ilk that believed an officer led from the front. He should be the first to charge into battle and the last to withdraw.

As for the five wagons, they'd been laden with luxury goods his guard had pilfered from the rest of the city. They were of the likes of silverware, rugs, and wines, all fair plunder. He could have kept all five wagons for himself, or for his unit, at least, but he'd sent four to corps command to let the rest of the corps share in the spoils of war, if only a little.

In those four wagons Claude had given away 60 thousand crowns of plunder. He did not think that a man greedy enough to stool the 500 thousand crowns Fansnik was alledging would give away a quarter of it so easily.

As for the honour blades, he told Fansnik to talk to the enemy chief of logistics and see what they had to say. He'd found the blades in the first storehouse in the complex, the one most eye-catchingly decorated.

The rest of the line had clean and clear records of their spoils, where they'd come from, and what they'd done with them, so Fansnik had little on which to prosecute them. That didn't mean he'd let Claude off the hook. He dragged the entire command structure of the line through his office in single file to answer his questions. It lasted so long and its interference became so severe that Claude had little choice but to throw a fit in General Miselk's office.

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