Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 483

The autonomous region hadn't received word about the newly conquered territories of the kingdom for quite some time. They only got word that Prince Hansbach was assassinated as he was retreating to the new territories. Among the territory occupied by Bluefeather was that of the former Duchy of Rimodra. The other three standing corps each occupied a former duchy's territory respectively.

A famous publication at the western coast, 'Spearhead Forums', once published a discussion piece about the chaotic battle that would ensue between Aueras' four corps that would allow the first prince to declare independence from Aueras. Naturally, the assumption was the four corps weren't compromised by outside influences. But in practice, that was impossible.

Compared to the kingdom's traditional territory, the new territories were surrounded by enemies on all sides. When Hansbach was still alive, he could still hold the fort. But his assassination caused the internal factions of his army to fracture. None of his four corpsmen were willing to choose another as their leader and they were even suggesting unfit candidates as the prince's successor. Had it not been for the bad state of the territories, Nasri and Canas would've taken them for themselves and chased the four corps out.

Sidins, Rimodra, and Askilin were exterminated during the five-year war. Their territories were absorbed into Aueras, but both sides suffered crippling losses. Because of the losses, despite the vast swaths of territory Aueras gained, it could not lay claim to being the clear victor. Its weakness at the end of the war also sowed the seeds for its future civil war.

Among the exterminated duchies, apart from Duke Askilin that surrendered, Sidins and Rimodra escaped the moment the situation turned south with their wealth and families to Nasri. Their desire to restore their nations was strong and they had been constantly inciting rebels in the new territories to cause trouble for Aueras. After all, Nasri and Canas suffered huge losses to aid them as well.

Since the Aueran civil war ravaged the new territories, Nasri and Canas merely watched and didn't involve themselves in the war. Nasri, being Aueras' archnemesis, was quite satisfied with the current state of things. They could achieve all their goals without having to go to war themselves.

The foolish Stellin XI even returned the four border prefectures Aueras took from Nasri in a war six decades ago so that the two nations would no longer have territory to fight over. At the same time, Aueras also loaned from Nasri three large sums of money to aid in the war effort which amounted to about 4.8 million crowns. The payments would be made in the next three, five and five years respectively and total up to eight million crowns with interest.

But Stellin XI couldn't pay his debts on time and borrowed loans from Nasri to cover the interest alone. It was almost certain, given what he'd done thus far. The moment he borrowed more than 20 million, it would mean that Nasri effectively controlled the economy of the whole of Aueras.

Unlike Nasri, Canas had no ability to apply pressure on Aueras at all. Back then, they rented a voluntary 'mercenary' corps to Shiks formed from discharged soldiers, at least, that was the excuse. In actuality, they were the most elite light-cavalry corps of the duchy. Since they were exterminated by Ranger, however, Canas was even worse off than it was after the war.

Canas had only had two light-cavalry corps at the time. They were forced to rent one of them to Shiks. Before the war, the four duchies could help each other out economically, but three of the duchies were exterminated in the war. Back then, the livestock market Canas had access to was no more. They weren't able to keep two corps of troops given their financial situation.

Little did they know that the corps they rented out would be completely exterminated on Nubissia. Even though Shiks paid them a huge sum to make up for it, it still heavily decreased Canas' military might. So, they had no choice but to sit on the sidelines during the Aueran civil war. It wasn't that they didn't want to help the other two duchies rebuild. They simply weren't confident enough to get into the fray.

Hansbach was quite deserving of his reputation as an amazing commander. His troops were strong and even after his death; the four corps of his wouldn't just crumble out of nowhere. Not to mention, the troops were being driven mad like rabid dogs for not being able to find the assassin, so Canas wouldn't provoke them at such a crucial time. They could only stay patient and spend another year in the newly conquered territories.

Currently, there were two famous jokes on Freia. One was Majid III, who started the war on the colonies and spent the stockpile of the Shiksan treasury in the past two decades. Additionally, they lost ten corps amounting to a million troops. It was a losing scenario through and through.

Ever since becoming king, Stellin XI not only didn't even attempt to fix things, he doubled down on the balls and parties. He also charged every supporter of the first prince for treason to scour their wealth for himself and causing quite a lot of distress to build up among his people. In the end, he forced the colonies to declare autonomy and deploy troops on the mainland to rob it of its industrial equipment and recruit refugees.

To the Freians, Stellin XI was now a synonym for a mad king. Together with Majid III, they were known as the two crowned fools. Majid III was also known to his people as the bullish king who would never admit defeat and charge straight ahead without looking. Stellin XI was the unsalvageable rich kid who bankrupted his whole family.

Nobody expected that Duke Sidins and Duke Rimodra would turn to Shiks for their revenge. They went there to have an audience with Majid III and managed to convince him. Secretly, Nasri and Canas snuck four of their standing corps to attack the newly conquered territories during the 7th month after splitting into two forces.

The war came all too suddenly. Canas' forces attacked the former territory of Askilin. The four corps respectively were two Shiksan corps, one Canasian light-cavalry corps and a Nasrian standing corps. They formed the Army of the West to take the defending corps off guard. They weren't able to respond at all before the Canasians cut off their communications route. After the corps was split up, it was exterminated.

However, the most important location in that area was the Askilinian three southern prefectures where the industrial complexes were located. It was also the main stronghold of the first prince. There were fortified defence lines in that area that could allow one folk alone to hold back the allied army of three nations to buy the troops at the rear the precious time they needed.

However, Nasri's two standing corps and Shiks' own two formed the Army of the East and attacked the Sidins area from Nasri's border. Now, the first prince's forces were sandwiched in the middle. The corps stationed in old Sidins was completely unprepared for such a sudden strike and were overwhelmed instantly.

Only Bluefeather, that was stationed at old Rimodra, managed to bravely resist. But against enemies of superior numbers and their endless source of mortars, Bluefeather's resistance only lasted half a month before they were eliminated. The only standing corps still defending the three southern prefectures also held on for some time, but they fought in retreat, escaping after suffering the loss of only two lines' worth of men.

The war lasted but two months. Shiks, Nasri, and Canas mobilised eight corps between them and eliminated the four understrength Aueran corps. Their army stormed the new territories in a pincer, wiping them clean. Majid III had finally made his troops' name.

They lost 50 thousand men in the war, only half that of the First Prince, and captured another 100 thousand. Only some 20 thousand Aueran troops escaped, all of them into the mountains where they turned into bandits and highwaymen. Freia's kingdoms were flabbergasted. The Aueran throne didn't so much as peep, however, despite owning the territories. Stellin XI happily celebrated his brother's demise in the relative privacy of his palace with a grand banquet.

On the 5th of the 9th month, the Duchy of Sidins returned to Freian maps. So did Rimodra on the 21st of the 10th month. Askilin's territory, however, was annexed by Shiks. Majid III proclaimed it was only just that he should gain some land on the mainland since he'd not gotten anything for his efforts in the colonies.

On the 18th of the 11th month, Shiks, Nasri, Canas, Rimodra, and Sidins announced the formation of the Union of Eastern Freia (UEF). Although the members remained politically independent of one another where affairs internal to each member were concerned, they would operate mostly as a single block to any outside kingdoms, and would allow their currencies be used in territories of member nations. Any aggressive action against any member nations would thus be treated as an act against the entire union.

"It's obvious the Union is trying to eliminate Aueras! It's just a rehash of the Alliance from back then!" Bolonik said with a grim look.

The ones with him were troops that also participated in the five-year war in Eastern Freia. They also knew what the old general was referring to. The Eastern Freian Union just so happened to exclude Aueras, so their intentions couldn't be clearer. Back during Stellin X's reign, the other nations didn't really care much about the Alliance and their nations.

But now, it was completely different. With that failure of a king on the Aueran throne and the civil war just having wrapped up, Aueras lost much of its might, especially with the king squeezing his people for wealth. The UEF's formation was clearly done with ill intentions for the Auerans. Aueras now faced a serious threat of extinction.

Claude himself was also on the edge of his seat. Transmigrator he might be, but he had been in this world for at least 20 years and grew fond of it. He was also now used to his authority and position. He had fought through thick and thin, bullet and blood for the sake of the kingdom. He came to unconsciously see himself as a proud Aueran soldier. As such, he also felt his hostility festering at hearing what Bolonik just said.

However, what use would there be for them to panic there? Both Shiks and Nasri used to be on the losing side against Aueras. They only managed to stand back up because Shiks got involved. Even so, what could the autonomous region do about it? To be fair, they were the ones who cut ties with the kingdom. As long as Stellin XI sat on the throne, the hostile relationship between them would never improve.

Soon, the 2nd month of Year 596 came. Thundercrash's last batch of refugees arrived safely and were escorted back to the region. The mass migration operation officially came to an end.

When Eiblont came back, he brought Claude a letter from the linesman of Griffon, Marquis Julius Hou Hadro. The letter mentioned that Griffon would soon be stationed in Whitestag to prevent attacks from the enemies and Blacksail at the coastal area. He also expressed his desire to resume trade with the autonomous region at fair market prices, with the only condition that the region would only trade exclusively with Griffon. They hoped to use the profits from the trade to make up for their empty ranks.

In actuality, Griffon was just trying to monopolise the kingdom's trade. Claude smiled and left it to the council to deal with it. As long as profit was present, merchants would immediately join in. But with Bolonik and Skri dealing with that, Claude didn't have to worry about it.

His main focus now lies in the expansion of Blackstone Arms Factory as well as Sonia and Angelina's weapons development. Currently, the explosive shot and rockets were being tested with light-infantry cannons. There was progress with the explosive shots and the new infantry cannons entered the design phase of development. There was also great progress with the rockets.

Another piece of good news was after the success of Liboyd's train. He dove back into researching steam power. So far, he managed to make a near-shore boat with a steam engine and add metal plating armour to a long-distance transport vessel before testing out what kind of power a steam engine driving that ship would require.

On the 21st of the 3rd month just as Claude was about to go to Port Patres to witness the steamship testing, a carrier eagle came with an urgent letter from headquarters. Word was there was a coup in the royal capital with Stellin XI being shot dead in his quarters. Fourth Prince Fredrey had been elected by the royal guard as the next ruler, King Fredrey I.

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