Claude stopped outside the capital of Sidins, Efenasburg. He had to discuss with Eiblont on how they would deal with the administration of Sidins and Rimodra and to prepare for splitting their forces. Thanks to Claude's speedy impersonation plan, they managed to get rid of all the nobles and officials of the two duchies. The few that managed to escape that net were powerless to cause any more trouble.
The two were quite troubled by being so lacking in troops. The three folks of Thundercrash had 120 thousand men in total. 1st Folk was taken by Berklin to take Polyvisia, the Nasrian capital, as the first step of Operation Crescent Moon. They would shoot the proverbial tiger in the heart to take it out in one hit. They would exterminate Aueras' archnemesis once and for all, wiping it off the map of Eastern Freia.
Myjack took control of 3rd Folk and stormed into the former territories of Askilin, which was now part of the east of Shiks. His main priority was to take the three southern prefectures where military-industrial complexes were focused so that they could start producing many kinds of ammunition as soon as possible to sustain the usage of the whole corps. It was a task on which Thundercrash's survival depended.
Dyavid and 2nd Folk went to exterminate Sidins and Rimodra. His mission was now completed, but 2nd Folk's forces were scattered across the three cities of Rimodra and two cities of Sidins, which needed to be stationed and defended. Currently, Claude only had a direct combat line, two logistics and support tribes, one guard tribe and another tribe of military police.
A folk of troops had four main combat lines and an enhanced combat tribe. The Port City of Carmentoll in Rimodra, Port Floric, Efenasburg, Castle Rivaserro of the duke, Efenasburg and Eimis were all strategic locations which 2nd Folk had to be spread out to guard. They had already lost their mobility and were being used as garrison troops.
Claude had originally planned for 2nd Folk to be the first to sweep through Nasri, but that won't do now. He had two options. The first was to wait for another two months for the six garrison lines to come from the region to take over 2nd Folk's current duties, thereby freeing them to continue storming Nasri.
The advantage was that 2nd Folk could take two months to rest and get ready. They would also be armed with sufficient ammunition that would come with the reinforcements. However, 1st Folk would have to defend Nasri's capital after taking it during that time, and Nasri would be able to rally some local forces to respond to their attack, introducing far more unpredictable variables into the situation.
The second option was to give up on all cities apart from Port Floric so that 2nd Folk could focus on destroying Nasri and crippling it for good. However, there was a possibility Thundercrash would be surrounded from all fronts that way. Without a reliably secure supply route, they would be in grave danger if they ran out of supplies and ammunition.
But at that time, Claude received word about the Triumph of Ambruiz by carrier eagle. The victory was far beyond what he imagined. He believed that Monolith would be able to hold Ambruiz, but not score a win of such proportions by fighting three defensive battles and attacking the enemy encampment at night while their morale was low using the new cannons and rockets, completely chasing them away.
Most shocking was the comparison of the casualty counts. The Union lost three out of their four corps, around 200 thousand men, whereas Monolith captured near two corps, more than 130 thousand men, while only suffering some 1700 casualties, less than 300 of which were deaths. It was a ratio of close to one to a hundred, a number that almost blinded everyone in the royal court.
"Looks like Bolonik will be having tough days ahead," Eiblont said.
The Triumph of Ambruiz was like a shot full of adrenaline to the royal court. The nobles in the court were ecstatically chanting the slogan of reclaiming all the kingdom's lost territories within a month. They had a really interesting method they used to calculate that timeframe. Since Monolith alone could take on seven corps, then they would be more than capable of counterattacking with the help of the three reorganised main corps and one irregular corps of the kingdom to chase all the enemies out of their lands.
Bolonik and Birkin harshly refused, not being drawn into the groupthink-like atmosphere. The battles had sapped them of half their ammunition, and they wouldn't be able to get replenishments in two months and a half because the region's fleet had to first transport ammunition to Thundercrash. Monolith's mission was to only defend Ambruiz.
"This victory bought us half a year. The enemy will not think about attacking within that time," Claude said as he tapped on the map, "The reason Rimodra and Sidins fell so easily to us, apart from them mistaking us for being troops of the Union, is that they sent the two corps they just formed to the royal capital. Otherwise, we would still have to fight them first.
"While the Union has lost three corps in the Triumph of Ambruiz, they are still in the process of recruiting new troops at the royal capital. All we know now is that there are five corps of reinforcements waiting at the royal capital, among them including one Shiksan standing corps, one new Sidinsian corps, one Nasrian standing corps, the Canasian light-cavalry corps that just arrived, and Rimodra's new corps. It's said that another Nasrian standing corps is on the way.
"Shiks also managed to form two standing corps with the intent on sending them to Nasri. We have no idea when they will arrive, but I've sent Admiral Moriad's Ironclad fleet northwards to ambush Seaking's transport fleet. I'm sure we'll receive word about this soon enough.
"So, the nobles have to be delusional to think about counterattacking when the Union still has ten corps of troops, numbering more than 600 thousand. However, Monolith conquered the enemy camp and got lots of supplies, which the ministry of the army is vying for. They demanded that Monolith hand those spoils to them to fund their military activity and are still negotiating with Bonik and Bick."
Eiblont slammed the desk in rage. "How shameless must they be to demand that from us despite losing and running back to Whitestag? They should be raiding enemy camps themselves if they want it so badly!"
Claude read the second eagle message and tossed it onto the desk. "Hehe, Bonik and Bick refused the ministry's demand to launch a counterattack. Do you know what the ministry said? They demanded Monolith to hand them our new rifles and cannons, saying that they'll do it themselves if cowards like us wouldn't dare.
"Do they really think we only relied on our weapons to win? What fools... How did they even get their positions... However, Bonik thinks we can give them part of our spoils to decrease the pressure on Monolith. Currently, our troops are getting a little restless themselves, thinking that the enemy will fall in one hit. They aren't too keen about guarding the trenches.
"So, Bonik and Bick hope we can quicken our plans to wipe Sidins and Rimodra out for good. Once word of Polyvisia's conquest spreads, the Union will no doubt fall into chaos. Our counterattack will go much smoother then. We only need to deal with the Shiksan and Nasrian forces."
Eiblont shook his head helplessly. "But 2nd Folk's troops are mostly caught up doing defence duty... We conquered five strategic cities and still haven't cleared out the surrounding areas, so we must ensure a safe route. If we give up on those cities, the Union's troops can easily take them back when they retreat. We'll truly be surrounded if that's the case."
Claude tapped on a point on the map. "Actually, the only truly crucial locales in Rimodra and Sidins are Port Floric and Audin Mountain Range. Port Floric is crucial to our shipments and Audin Mountain Range is the entrance to our kingdom. I already ordered Wolfang to work with 2nd Folk's independent tribe to conquer that place, since it's only defended by one Sidinsian garrison line.
"We don't really need to have 2nd Folk guard all five cities. We only need a tribe each for those two, since our tribe can rival a whole line of enemies anyway. We'll have our guard tribe, logistics tribe and military-police tribe guard those cities while 2nd Folk gathers and follows me and 1st Folk into Nasri.
"I'm worried that if we don't move for two months, Nasri will manage to retreat their standing corps in time to surround us. Additionally, if Ironclad doesn't run into Seaking and the latter manages to bring two Shiksan corps to shore, our plans in Nasri will be greatly affected. With 2nd Folk with us, however, I'm confident we can wipe out the two Nasrian corps that will be coming from the royal capital."
Eiblont nodded. "Understood. I'll stay here to take care of your rear. When the transport fleet comes back with our supplies and the six lines, I'll bring our forces and ammunition to you in Nasri."
Eiblont had to be left behind as the two duchies covered quite a large territory. Someone needed to be there to make decisions on the spot, both in military and administrative matters.
Even so, gathering 2nd Folk would still take some time. Two urgent pieces of information came from the frontlines during the wait. The first reported on Myjack successfully taking the three southwestern prefectures back from Shiks. However, he reported that he found four labour camps in the Askilinian capital, Bravisosburg with soldiers that used to serve under Prince Hansbach.
Those four camps had up to 50 thousand labourers who came from the first prince's four corps. After his assassination and the splitting of the new territories, a warlord system began to develop. However, Shiks worked with Nasri and Canas to attack the newly conquered territories of Aueras with the excuse of restoring Sidins and Rimodra. They quickly wiped those four corps out and captured many soldiers to put in their labour camps.
What Myjack found troubling was how they were still Auerans, despite having sworn different allegiances. The liberated soldiers now joined with the intent on exacting revenge against Shiks. They were treated horribly in the camps. In two to three short years, countless had been starved or beaten to death. Only 50 thousand of the original 60 thousand were left.
"I'll leave you to deal with it," Claude told Eiblont, "Pick some of them to form garrison forces here. Assign the weapons we got as spoils to them. They're veterans, so let them rest and reorganise. They'll help alleviate some pressure on us. Thundercrash must always remain mobile to be able to react to any kind of situation."
The second important news was from Berklin. He fought a rather bland siege with 1st Folk and successfully took Polyvisia. Most of the members of the Nasrian royal family have been captured, alongside most of the ministers and nobles. However, the two Nasrian princes were leading troops far away and luckily avoided capture.
After Berklin took Polyvisia, he scoured through the city to capture all the important officials first before daringly splitting his troops to attack all over the place. He crushed all garrison troops defending towns nearby the capital and moved all supplies to Polyvisia. Now that word was beginning to spread about the city's fall, they might come under siege again from the local Nasrian forces.
"Major Masonhughes, tell the troops the ruse is up." Now that Operation Crescent Moon was a success, there was no longer a need for subterfuge. No ship of the Union would be able to sail from the two port cities.
"Also, report to the court in Whitestag about Thundercrash's conquests and elimination of Sidins and Rimodra. We reclaimed our lost lands and took Polyvisia as well. The two duchies' nobles and ruling families will soon be sent there for the court to deal with. As for the Nasrian royal family, we'll need a little more time before sending them to Whitestag." Claude also briefed him on the two reports.
Just as Masonhughes was about to leave, Claude stopped him. "Wait. Also, get 2nd Folk to hurry up and finish rallying in two days. We'll rest for two more after that and depart in five days for Nasri."
When word of the reclamation of the newly conquered territories, the conquest of the Nasrian capital, the two duchies' extermination and the captive nobles was sent to court, they basked once more in a glorious mood.
"Yes, Your Majesty. I guarantee that this is true." Bolonik understood why Fredrey I couldn't believe what was happening. Not only did Monolith fight off seven corps and secure their defence line, Thundercrash silently took back their territories, wiped out two newly restored nations, took the capital of their nemesis and captured most of the rulers and nobles of their enemies.
Any fool would be able to see the kinds of changes that would follow. The scales had tipped once more in Aueras' favour. It was a complete turnaround. Fredrey I was so overjoyed he grabbed Bolonik and shook him as he repeatedly asked if what he was hearing was true, afraid that he was kidding him. In a short hour, the king repeated the same question four times.
"That was why we were against the ministry's plan to counterattack. As long as Operation Crescent Moon succeeds, we'll be able to watch the enemy panic as they crumble from within. Then, we'll make our move when enemy morale is at its lowest. They'll either perish or surrender. We won't have to sacrifice our brave soldiers attacking their defences unnecessarily. All we have to do is to maintain the pressure we put on our enemies," Bolonik gleefully said.
On the 2nd of the 4th month of Year 600, Claude entered Nasri's borders with Thundercrash 2nd Folk.