Here's this week's third release, guys! I have been down for a cold these past few days (mostly to the annoyance to others XD!) but I still managed to get this out in time! Enjoy!
"Report! An eagle message was just received. Your Grace, the three Frontier Legion divisions at Windbury have been deployed. They're heading to Dawok and will arrive at approximately during three in the afternoon," said Tarkel after he rushed to the tent hurriedly to update Lorist on the military reports.
Lorist smirked and said to Count Felim, "Duke Fisablen fell for it. He might be under the impression that this is just an act of rebellion from the nobles from Dawok in opposition to the order to move. It's probably due to the Frontier Legion soldiers that didn't get to conquer the town yesterday.
"The other noble houses' banners are hung all over the town wall, after all. The garrison soldiers there must number roughly 20 thousand already. It's only normal for the 10-thousand-strong Frontier Legion division to lose three skirmishes, with about a thousand casualties in each. That's likely why the duke mobilized the three other legions. He wants to make an example of the nobles that dare resist him. Their extermination would certainly put more pressure on other considering doing the same."
Stretching his hand over the map, Lorist laughed.
"Let's continue with our original plan. Count Felim, your Pegasus Legion will take the left flank, Loze will lead Tigersoar and attack the right flank. Terman, lead the Ragebear Knights around their rear and cut off their escape. I will join you with a guard brigade. Els, Reidy, take a squad each and deal with the Frontier Legion's scouts. Don't let them escape no matter what."
"Understood, Your Grace," said Els and Reidy as they left.
"Will we press the attack after we encircle them, Your Grace?" asked Felim.
"Yes. Given how far they have to travel, the soldiers will definitely need to rest when they arrive. Our ambush will catch them off guard when they are most exhausted. They won't be able to run from our ambush. It's ideal since we want to exterminate them completely. Leave cleaning the battlefield to Loze. He will head to attack Pedro the day after. We will travel to Windbury through the night and take the capital city by morning.
"Oh, and Tarkel, did the message mention whether Duke Fisablen joined the assault personally?"
"No, Your Grace. Word is that the one leading the three divisions is the legion commander, Gold-ranked Knight Hemorrison. He's an old subordinate of the duke and also among the duke's most trusted aides. He's been working for him for more than three decades. He's reliable and has lots of experience," replied Tarkel.
"In other words, Duke Fisablen is staying at Windbury?"
"Yes. The message said he was preparing to take command of the capital and towns' garrison forces that used to be under the nobles he exterminated's command. He wants to form a defense legion with roughly 45 thousand men to take care fo Dawok, Windbury, and Twilight Lake Town's defenses. Perhaps he couldn't leave because of that, so he left exterminating the nobles to Hemorrison."
"Haha," laughed Lorist coldly, "It seems the duke still isn't aware that our attack on Iblia has started already. He's still going about his plans as usual. It's too bad we won't give him any more time. We ought to accept his gift with grace before we pay a visit to the war god himself at Windbury. I'm looking forward to seeing his flabbergasted expression. Let's depart!"
"Immediately, Your Grace."
"Why do I feel uneasy? Will Dawok go own badly?" mused Hemorrison.
The Frontier Legion commander looked around suspiciously.
"Double the scouts. Expand our surveillance area to 15 kilometers ahead."
"Is something wrong, Sir? Dawok is only 50 kilometers away from the capital. It won't take more than half a day by horse. We didn't see anything odd along the way, not since morning, right? We'll meet up with Sir Udinas in another two hours at Dawok. We can rest for the night before we take the town tomorrow. I'm sure we can deal with the ragtag bunch quickly and carry out the duke's order. It's but a relaxing walk in the park. Why does it seem like we're facing our archenemy?" asked Gold-ranked Knight Maqais, the legion's second-in-command.
"I don't know why myself… something just doesn't feel right. I have a sense of foreboding similar to what I felt when we launched that surprise attack on the greater and lesser golden creeks but I really can't find the reason no matter how hard I think about it. The duke predicted the nobles' rebellion.
"But we didn't think they'd manage to rally another seven or eight nobles and gather a force of 20 thousand. They even made Sir Udinas suffer such a loss… It seems these nobles intend to fight a defensive battle now they just harvested their winter wheat. They want to force the duke to take a step back by prolonging this confrontation. Even so, the traitors will definitely regret it the moment we arrive. Even though we're light cavalry, we pack quite a punch," laughed Hemorrison.
"Sir, perhaps I know why you're worried," offered Maqais seriously.
"Let's hear it."
"There used to be 47 old noble houses in Winston. However, thanks to that darned king, the second prince of the empire, who sold noble titles to gather military funds, more than ten new noble houses emerged. Despite their conflicts with the nobles of Southern, which was the undoing of more than ten noble house, there are still 56 in Winston.
"Last year, we were ordered to exterminate 23 of them and the remaining 33 accepted the duke's order to relocate. Currently, there are roughly 8 noble houses gathered at Dawok. So, the other 20 or so will definitely watch this conflict from the sidelines.
"If we successfully take Dawok and exterminate the rebels, the other nobles will definitely obediently as the duke ordered. But if this gets dragged on and the rebels manage to secure Dawok, the others might be tempted to join them and stab us in the back. Winston will then be swallowed by a large-scale revolution. I believe that's what's bothering you right now, Sir," Maqais explained in great detail.
"Your explanation is sound. However, what I'm worried about is that the nobles supposedly watching from the sidelines have already secretly formed an alliance. They may be in cahoots with the nobles holed up in Dawok and stab us in the back at the most crucial moment. That way, we can't occupy Dawok to carry out the duke's order. That's perhaps the thing that was worrying me."
"We can actually afford to fight at our own pace without rushing, Sir. Didn't the duke say he would send the reserve legion here next month to face off against the four Northlands houses? If the situation you described happens and all the Winston nobles rebel, we can just hold them off until the reserve legion arrives and takes them all out," said Maqais crudely.
Currently, about half of the five Frontier Legions were comprised of grassland barbarian recruits. They were mostly domesticated barbarians not only fluent in the common tongue, some even knew how to read and write. Having mingled for quite some time, they were no different from normal imperial soldiers. The reserve legion, on the other hand, was mostly formed from barbarians apart from the commanders and knights of the house.
In other words, while the reserve legion was one of the house's strongest units, it was also the most unruly. Many incidents of conflict occurred within the ranks. Duke Fisablen decided to mobilize the reserve legion to Dawok to prevent an invasion by the four Northlands houses.
"No, Maqais. What we need now the most is time," Hemorrison countered, shaking his head, "The four houses wiped Madras out when nobody was watching and helped Second Highness Auguslo reclaim his throne. His Grace was greatly shocked and decided to prepare to defend against them immediately.
"Normally, you would have to rest for at least two or three years after a war to recover. But, the four houses' casualties during their conflict with the duchy was so little they would require just two years to recover, and that's taking into account that the duke underestimated their might. After all, it was a war that wiped a nation off the map.
"However, when we heard House Kenmays and House Shazin relocated their dominions, His Grace breathed a sigh of relief and thought they wouldn't launch an attack on Iblia within the next two to three years. Dominion relocation is no simple affair. To tempt and misguide the four, His Grace sent messengers to the Nortons and the salt merchant committee to place an order for goods worth over two million gold Fordes.
"That's why His Grace launched his plan to clear Winston. It was to prepare it for becoming a battlefield suited to weather their invasion. We need to build citadels at Dawok, Twilight Lake Town, and Windbury. As long as we can control these three strategic locations, we can rely on the mobility of our forces to drag the battle out and wear them down. That way, we can force them to retreat.
"If we fail to take Dawok, the remaining 20 plus houses will rebel and escalate the conflict. As long as this conflict persists, it might attract the four houses. Even if they haven't recovered their might, our house is similarly unprepared for it. Should we clash with the four houses right now, it will greatly affect the house's plan. What we want the least is to attract the four houses' suspicion and ruin the duke's plans."
Maqais nodded solemnly.
"In other words, we just have to crush Dawok right away and let the spectating nobles preparing to rebel see us hang the noble houses holed up within right away so they can continue to head to their assigned dominions in Southern obediently. We can easily reorganize the manpower in the dominions those nobles left behind and complete the mission without problems, right?"
"Correct. Oh, the scouts are back. Let's see what they have to say."
A scout rode quickly like the storm and came to a sudden stop before he reported.
"Sir, situation normal 15 kilometers ahead. We didn't spot anything noteworthy."
"Thanks for the hard work. Keep up surveillance and report anything you see right away," Hemorrison ordered, waving his horse whip.
"Right away, Sir," said the scout before he left in a hurry.
"Increase our pace," ordered Hemorrison as he turned to the orderly behind him.
Around two-thirty in the afternoon, Knight Hemorrison and Knight Maqais made it to Dawok with their three divisions. The third division commander, Udinas, had long been waiting to receive them.
"Sir, the camp is set up. Do you want to rest now?"
"There's no rush, Udinas. Tell me more about the situation. We can go check out Dawok's fortifications afterward," Hemorrison said as he waved his hand before he turned to the orderly beside him.
"Have Sir Karichok and Sir Benbrik come over and survey the town's defenses later and discuss our plan of attack."
"Understood, Sir," said the orderly as he turned and left.
The First Frontier Legion of House Fisablen numbered 46 thousand divided into four main divisions and one logistics division. Its commander was Three-Star Gold-ranked Knight Hemorrison - also the first division's commander. Its second-in-command was Two-Star Gold-ranked Knight Maqais, leader of the second division. Gold-ranked Knight Udinas was the third division's commander and was at the two-star-gold rank. As for Karichok, who Hemorrison had just summoned, he was a three-star-silver-ranked knight and the leader of the fourth division. Benbrik Hand was a two-star-silver rank and the leader of the logistics division.
While Hemorrison was commander of the legion, he was extremely polite and cordial towards the two silver-ranked knights, Karichok and Benbrik. After all, they were knights bearing the surname Fisablen and were distant relatives of the duke himself. They were considered members of the house.
"Sir, we arrived yesterday morning and launched three attacks after we set up camp. We used the grapple horse jump during the second and third attacks and managed to scale the walls, but the enemy numbers up there were too high. Too few of our men made it up the walls, hence our failure," said Udinas regretfully, as he explained the reasons for his three failed attempts.
The grapple horse jump was a technique that took advantage of low defensive walls. A rider would toss a grappling hook up on the walls and use the momentum of the mount's gallop to propel oneself up onto the walls. That was a technique many grassland barbarians were familiar with, and many imperial soldiers of the Frontier Legion also knew that skill.
"How well-defended are the walls?"
"They're defended mostly by elites. There are about 20 thousand soldiers on those walls. Apart from five or six thousand experienced old veterans, the rest seemed to be the youth laborers only recently conscripted. Their weapons are all over the place, ranging from farming to sewing tools. There were even women on the walls. Most of them are not armored at all, wearing only some worn out leather clothes. However, there are roughly 400 longbowmen who caused almost half of our casualties," replied Udinas honestly.
"Sir, the walls of Dawok are only approximately six meters tall, and rather thin, We can use rams to take them down tomorrow. Sir Udinas suffered a loss because of having insufficient troops. Now that the whole legion is here, we only have to topple the walls to finish the traitorous nobles off," said Maqais when his sharp eyes caught the wall's weakness.
"Very well," praised Hemorrison with a nod.
Just as he was about to say something else, the loud blaring of the horn rang out in the distance and interrupted him.
"What's going on?" asked Hemorrison in a panic when he dropped his horsewhip unknowingly.
The cries of the scouts could be heard in the distance.
Some used their last breath to shout, "Enemy attack! It's the Nortons and Felims!"
Hemorrison paled as he mumbled, "That... that's impossible..."
On the 26th day of the 4th month of Year 1778, the Nortons led the four houses of The Northlands to launch their assault on the Iblia kingdom, starting with the extermination of the First Frontier Legion of House Fisablen at Dawok.
Legion commander and leader of the first division, Three-Star Gold-ranked Knight Hemorrison, second in command and leader of the second division, Two-Star Gold-ranked Knight Maqais, and leader of the third division, Two-Star Gold-ranked Knight Udinas, all perished in the battle. Three-Star Silver-ranked Knight Karichok, leader of the third division, surrendered to the Nortons. The First Frontier Legion suffered more than 28 thousand casualties, with another 16 thousand taken captive without a single soldier managing to escape. This is known as 'The Dawok Extermination'.