By the time Lorist arrived at Jillin Harbor with the Dinas, Fimrock Legion's first division had just got into a small conflict with the second legion of the royal defense legion. It all started because a group of one thousand riders wanted to storm the refugee camps the Nortons were in charge of to chase those refugees away so that the Nortons would not be able to recruit them.
When their warnings went unheard, the riders launched their attack. The soldiers of the Norton house did not hesitate to retaliate with their steel ballistae against the charging riders. Under the rapid fire of bolts from all 500 steel ballistae, the whole group of one thousand riders perished after only five volleys.
This time around, the second royal defense legion was in a verbal argument with those of Firmrock Legion. Potterfang announced that anyone that dared approached the refugee camp within a radius of 200 meters would be killed without question.
On the other hand, the messenger sent over by the second royal defense legion roared with a face flush with anger, "We have orders from the authorities at the imperial capital to take over Jillin Harbor. If the Norton house doesn't comply and insists on occupying the harbor and attacking our forces, you can be charged for treason!"
Potterfang laughed and said, "Open your eyes wide and look. This is the official permission drafted by the security chief of Jillin Harbor, Baron Fenston, that allows our forces to stay here for three whole months. Where is your evidence that we occupied this place by force? The number of refugees is only growing because of the volatile situation at the frontlines. Baron Fenston had asked us to help only because he was worried for the safety of Jillin Harbor. To think that those at the imperial capital would not only refuse our offer to go to the frontlines to help out His Majesty... I really don't understand what you fellows are up to.
"It's like you guys don't even care that His Majesty is trapped. Your second royal local defense legion took one whole month to crawl slowly like snails from Yungechandler Province to the imperial capital, and the first action you take is not bust through Kanbona Province to restore contact with His Majesty, but send half of your forces here to take Jillin Harbor back. Am I going crazy, or are you the crazy ones? What's so important about Jillin Harbor? Will occupying this place help you save His Majesty? I'm really curious about what your intentions are.
"Even with the forces of the Union occupying Kanbona Province and sending small units to pillage the two southwestern provinces, the imperial capital didn't do anything to retaliate. Instead, you guys ordered the defending soldiers to abandon most of the citadels and hole up to protect yourselves, allowing those of the Union to do as they please without obstacle, killing and plundering our people and forcing them to have no choice to become refugees to escape! Yet, you want to forbid the Norton house from helping them out? What the heck are you thinking?! Is that how you repay the trust the king has shown you by allowing to take charge?"
The messenger was not able to retort with Potterfang's arguments, only bringing out a handkerchief to wipe some sweat off before he said, "Sir, those at the imperial capital have their own thoughts on the matter as well. Even though His Majesty is currently trapped, he does have 100 thousand elite soldiers with him, so he won't be defeated that soon. Also, Jillin Harbor is a port of the kingdom, so it would be incredibly inappropriate for it to be occupied by a private military outfit. It was because of this that those at the imperial capital sent me here. Now, you may hand Jilin Harbor back to us. With us here, you don't have to worry for the safety of this place any longer."
"Then tell me, what's the deal with you sending your one thousand riders to attack the refugee camp?" questioned Potterfang unforgivingly. He did not have the slightest intention of letting the harbor go either.
It was then when Lorist stepped into the main tent, causing Potterfang to stand up in a hurry for a salute.
"We can give Jillin Harbor back to you, but we demand that we be allowed to gather refugees outside a 2-kilometer radius of Jillin Harbor. If we don't butt into each other's businesses, then we won't bother each other. Tell those backing you to not infringe upon the interests of the Norton house, lest you want to make enemies of us. Naturally, you may not enter the range of our troops either. Those who do will be killed without question!"
Upon getting Lorist's promise to give the harbor back, the messenger hurriedly returned to make his report. As for the thousand riders who were completely wiped out, nobody remained hung up on that matter, since getting Jillin Harbor back was worth far more casualties than that. The important thing was that their goal had been achieved.
"Milord, why are you giving Jillin Harbor back?" asked Potterfang, dissatisfied.
Lorist brought out a newspaper and tossed it in front of Potterfang. The commander flipped open the paper and saw that it was the Morante Daily published on the 27th day of the 7th month, which detailed the successful occupation of Frederika by the allied army and the king of the Andinaq kingdom being missing in action.
"The second highness is..." mused Potterfang with great shock.
"Read the headline down there," said Lorist.
Potterfang took a look only to read an article about how the Union was going to form a negotiation council in preparation for a visit to the Andinaq kingdom, with eventual peace on the horizon. The report below that was an opinion piece by a journalist that stated that even though the second highness was nowhere to be found, some reliable sources claimed that he had actually fallen sick and was unable to show up on the battlefield. Now that Frederika has fallen, it was believed that the god of war of the new generation would soon be found and captured.
The journalist believed that the reason for the Union's occupation of Kanbona Province of the Andinaq kingdom was due to the looming threat of the young god of war's possession of a force of 300 thousand soldiers to the Union, and the fact that he did not acknowledge the unification of the Lormo duchy and the Union. The attack on Kanbona Province was meant to be a wake-up call for the god of war to remind him of the Union's might.
Now that the army sent to the Redlis kingdom by the Andinaq kingdom had mostly been decimated, with the second highness missing, and the remaining forces within the borders of the Andinaq kingdom numbering less than 100 thousand men, the kingdom did not have enough forces to launch an attack, but was more than capable of defending itself. That was why the folks of the Union who felt that the conflict had been dragging on for a little too long formed a negotiation council that would travel to the imperial capital at the Andinaq kingdom to begin peace talks.
"Do you understand now? The authorities at the imperial capital isn't quarreling with us over this matter because they want to control more territory. They're worried that their talks with the Union would be leaked, causing them to be blamed as traitors to the kingdom. I would like to see what the second highness's reaction will be when he hears of the plans of his subordinates," explained Lorist to Potterfang in an insulting tone.
"Milord, do you think that those at the imperial capital don't know about the news that the second highness's army has been defeated and about his disappearance?" asked Potterfang.
"I'm not too sure about that, but I can be rather certain that someone at the capital has some kind of thing going on with those of the Union. Perhaps, they are merely pretending to be ignorant of that so that they can put pressure on the second highness together. Right now, we should compromise with them and see what their true plans are. From the newspaper, we can see that the Union is planning to visit the kingdom for the talks, and the fastest way to travel from there to here is through sailing to Jillin Harbor. That was why the folks at the imperial capital want it back so badly. They would even be willing to lose more than half of the second royal local defense legion to kick us out from here. Given this state of affairs, I don't wish to clash with those idiots. Let's just hold ourselves back for the moment."
The forces of the Nortons smoothly ceded control of Jillin Harbor back to the second royal defense legion and set up another main camp at the shores roughly two kilometers away from Jillin Harbor. There, they would recruit fleeing refugees and send them to Silowas through a temporary port they had built at the shore.
Ten days later, the recently strengthened Oceanic Legion encountered two long-distance merchant vessels in the oceans roughly ten kilometers away from Jillin Harbor. On the ship were the negotiation council and guards from the Union. An interesting thing was how the arrogant negotiation council members instantly turned obedient the moment they heard that they were dealing with the Oceanic Legion of the Norton house, answering every question with a smile, stating that they had been invited to the imperial capital by the authorities there to seek a peaceful resolution for the situation at the Redlis kingdom while requesting to be allowed passage.
Senbaud reported the information he got from questioning those of the Union to Lorist. After some consideration, Lorist instructed for the negotiation council to be allowed to pass and ordered Potterfang to hurry up with sending the refugees to Silowas before retreating with all their troops there, leaving not a single soul behind at Jillin Harbor. At the same time, he would send back the reorganized Jillin Harbor Garrison back to Baron Fenston.
"Milord, are we going to stop meddling with the matter here at Jillin Harbor?" asked Supervisor Hansk, the governor of Silowas.
Lorist nodded and said, "The current situation smells extremely fishy to me. If our forces stay at Jillin Harbor, we might be perceived as an obstacle by some. It's better if we step back carefully to see what they intend to do. Stopping the negotiation council in their travels can be passed off as giving them a friendly greeting. With them knowing that we are not far away, those from the council should know that any decision they make concerning the kingdom must take us into account."
On the 20th day of the 8th month, a messenger from the imperial capital arrived at Silowas with a document that required Lorist's signature. Lorist scanned the document and realized that it was a proposal. Given that King Auguslo, the second highness, was missing, and the fact that a kingdom cannot be without a leader, the nobles of the Andinaq kingdom were requested to pass a motion to allow Princess Carey to temporarily take the throne and position as queen so that the peace treaty between the kingdom and the Union can be signed to put an end to the war.
Lorist merely laughed and refused to give his signature, causing the messenger to threaten that the Nortons would be forced out of the noble circle of the Andinaq kingdom and not be recognized as nobility by those from the imperial capital.
Lorist simply said that the senior noble of the Norton house is the Andinaq royal family, which was led by the king himself. With the king being missing, the Norton house would not submit to any other. Even though Princess Carey carries the blood of the royal family of the Andinaq kingdom, she was far from qualified to be a senior noble of the Norton house.
Thus, the messenger left. But Lorist did not expect that what transpired after would be even weirder. After another half month, Lorist received a report that left him speechless.
The Redlis kingdom had officially been eradicated, with Majik Province being absorbed into the Handra duchy. On the other hand, Anderwoff Province and Bodolger Province where Frederika was situated became the territory of the Union, with Anderwoff Province becoming the official dominion of the Wessia Merchant Guild.
Hanstmost Province of the Andinaq kingdom, where the Dina barony was located, and the northwestern area of the Redlis kingdom had united and formed a new duchy, called the Zitram duchy, with the new duke being rumored to be one noble of the Redlis kingdom that had used the flooding tactic to defeat the second highness's army of 70 thousand and crowned a new genius military strategist.
The two southwestern provinces that used to belong to the Andinaq kingdom had also fused to become the Allied Duchies of Britt, with three dukes having joint control of the Union. One of them was President Britt from a smaller, second-rate merchant guild. Another was the leader of a famous mercenary band, called Dragon's Talon, with the last being the head of a military-based noble house from the Teria duchy that had defected to the side of the Union, who had sent his troops in the first wave of attacks on Frederika and succeeded greatly, ending with him being made a duke.
Currently, Andinaq kingdom was ruled by the queen. Princess Carey had been coronated only recently and had also signed a peace treaty with the Union. Not only did she cede away the conquered northwestern area of the Redlis kingdom, and the two southwestern provinces of the kingdom, as well as Hanstmost Province. All the Andinaq kingdom had left was Central Province where the imperial capital was, Welbassia Province, and Yungechandler Province which used to belong to the Madras duchy.
Nowadays, the imperial capital had already become a border city, with Flowater Creek at its northern border and Jillin Harbor at its west. The funniest part was in drawing of the new territory of the Andinaq kingdom on the map: Silowas had actually not been included within. In other words, Princess Carey and the other nobles of the Andinaq kingdom no longer acknowledge the House of Norton as being one of the kingdom. In other words, the Norton house was a rogue noble house with no senior noble.
"What the hell is going on here?" Lorist scratched his head in a troubled manner, no longer understanding the implications of the current situation.
Potterfang and Supervisor Hansk on the other hand looked elated.
"Milord, our current situation is just like the one of the founding emperor of the Krissen Empire. With nobody commanding us around as a result of the Andinaq royal family's willing abandonment of the Norton house by not acknowledging us as their junior noble house, we are just like the house of Count Krissen a few centuries ago. However, back then, Count Krissen was first exiled before being cut off. It was from then on when he gathered his troops at The Northlands and the northeastern area and ended up founding the old empire. However, our current situation is far better than his," said Supervisor Hansk with joy.
"You're saying that the lands our forces conquer will belong to us solely and that nobody would question the legitimacy of our ownership over those lands and revolt?" asked Lorist.
"That's right, Milord. With the Andinaq kingdom's territory not including Silowas, that is a sign that they no longer care about us. With only a word from you, Milord, we can take Jillin Harbor right away and let our troops storm straight to the imperial capital," said Potterfang.
"No, something that convenient won't just fall out of the sky like that," Lorist said as he scratched his chin, "Let's wait a bit more for now. We'll train our forces prim and proper before we look for our next target. Either way, this situation still seems too odd to me. Tarkel!"
"Milord, I'm right here," said Tarkel as he stepped in from the door.
"With the war at the Redlis kingdom ended, I want the agents of Furybear to infiltrate Frederika and see if you can find the whereabouts of the second highness. I have a feeling that he would not be defeated that easily. Go take a look so that he doesn't pop out of nowhere and cause trouble for us at the most crucial moment," instructed Lorist.
"Yes, Milord," replied Tarkel, before he made a cutthroat gesture and said, "Milord, do we give him a 'sendoff' if we find him?"
Shaking his head, Lorist said, "Just report to me if you locate him. Don't act without instruction. This is not something you can decide, understood?"