Chapter 160: Change of Plans

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“Duke Tetland has moved his men across the border now too?” Braydon asked, it had been at least a week since Duke Rotleach had marched his army into Fiveria, he had assumed that Duke Tetland would not be coming.

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“Yes, my people have confirmed it. I am sure that everyone else knows about it by now.” The King responded. It was only natural. Even if the King had spies in the twin duchies, it took time to send a message. And they just so happened to be the furthest away from the western border. 

“Then what are we going to do? Do we still try to continue our strategy?” Cinar asked, they had been maintaining their distance from Duke Ryder but it was not certain what the Duke would do. He might be able to win a battle against the Twin Dukes alone but there were the King and Duke Burn for him to consider. Even if they did not get involved in that battle, assuming he won, they would just clean him up afterwards.

“I am guessing this is why Duke Rotleach stopped moving to meet up with Duke Burn then? I would be more comfortable joining forces with Duke Tetland first if I were him.” Ethan speculated. It was a reasonable assumption, even if the action was strategically risky with Duke Ryder marching towards him.

“How far away is Duke Ryder from Duke Rotleach?” Braydon wanted to make sure. It was likely that this would decide whether Duke Ryder would continue with his apparent plan. Fighting against Duke Rotleach and fighting against both Dukes Rotleach and Tetland were very different scenarios.

“He is still three days away. Duke Tetland should get there first.” The King added. For such an important piece of news he was a lot calmer than everyone else was. And Braydon didn’t know why, if Duke Tetland also mobilised to help Duke Burn, it was more than likely that Duke Burn was in the advantageous position. All that would be able to stop him is if they or Duke Ryder managed to keep him and his allies separated.

“It does little to change our immediate actions.” Rhydian said, drawing Braydon’s attention before he could think about why the King was so calm.

“How so?”

“We are on the wrong side of Duke Ryder to do anything about it. If we tried to go around him, I could easily see him using us in the same way we are trying to use him. And he has even more incentive to do that now that both of the Twin Dukes have gotten involved.” Rhydian did not think that they really had the ability to affect Duke Burn’s actions or that of his allies. It would all come down to how Duke Ryder decided to respond.

“There is no need to be too pessimistic. Perhaps things will sort themselves out as we bide our time.” The King said with a vague smile, confusing Braydon before he thought back on the slightly weird way the King had been acting in the last meeting they had. He was sure that the King knew something. And for him to be so calm, it had to be something big.

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“Duke Tetland you say?” Duke Ryder asked, feeling a minor sense of deja vu. His scout captain was before him again, reporting that Duke Tetland had marched his army across the border. He had wondered why Duke Rotleach had stopped and this would certainly be one explanation. But he felt that there was more to the story.

“Why would he come to Duke Rotleach’s aid? I thought that they have had several arguments over the years. Even if he agreed that meddling would be advantageous, I doubt that he would want to get involved himself. There is not much in it for him personally.” Duke Ryder could just not see that happening without there being something that he did not know going on behind the scenes. He had met Duke Tetland on a few occasions and he did not seem like the kind of man who would get involved for no real reason.

“Perhaps Duke Burn promised him something as well?” He muttered but was not convinced. He had heard rumours that Duke Burn had a good relationship with Duke Rotleach but never anything about Duke Tetland. Nor did he think that there was much that Burn could offer him.

“Is there any more news about Duke Rotleach? Duke Ryder asked. Even if the man was waiting for his fellow Duke to come and join him before he met up with Duke Burn, something about him just stopping in place did not feel right.

“There is no news, Sire. They have completely locked down their camp, there is no way in or out. It is almost as if they are protecting or hiding something important.” When the scout captain said it like that, Duke Ryder suddenly thought of something. 

“Something has gone horribly wrong in his camp. That must be it! Why else would Duke Tetland immediately come running as soon as his ally stopped moving?” Duke Ryder had suspicions that Duke Rotleach had not stopped for any strategic reasons but because there was some kind of crisis. It would explain the tight security of his camp as well as the involvement of Duke Tetland.

The Duke stood up and started pacing around, trying to think of his next move. He knew that if Duke Tetland met up with Duke Rotleach, then he would have no hope of beating them and then both the King and Duke Burn in succession. But the problem for him was that he knew that Duke Tetland would be able to get there before him, he had no way of preventing them meeting up. And the King would likely take advantage of it if he tried to engage them.

“We have to attack Duke Burn.” He would rather not have done it in such an order but Duke Burn was his most realistic option, the King’s army was prepared for him turning around and attempting to attack. Duke Burn on the other hand was, he hoped, less prepared. Even if he was, there would be less room for him to run. The Leighian League would not welcome him in their territory to escape any more than the Kingdom of Casburland.

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