Chapter 163: Tomorrow

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“You look like you are about to go to war.” Braydon commented half in jest as he saw Rhydian entering the tent. From the face that Rhydian had, it looked like there was a change in plans and they were going to come thick and fast. He just wondered what exactly the change in circumstances were that caused Rhydian to look more serious than usual.

“I thought you had left the bad jokes to Gerald.” Rhydian replied, looking over to see what reaction Gerald would give. It was a shrug, Gerald had long gotten used to that role, he was not about to fight it now.

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“Duke Ryder decided that he wants to attack someone else now?” Braydon asked. No matter what happened in this war, it felt like in the end everyone was acting based on what Duke Ryder did. He was in charge of the most powerful faction in this fight, it was only natural that what he did held a lot of importance. And his constant change of target was not something that the other factions were fond of. 

“Not yet, though when we make our move, expect him to come at us with everything he has.” Rhydian said something which caused Braydon to pause. Their entire strategy had been to let everyone else fight for them. What had happened in the last several hours that turned that on its head? At least Braydon could not think of a reason for it.

“Are you drunk? What could possibly have changed our plan so much in so short a time?” Braydon really wanted to inspect Rhydian’s head to see if something had gone wrong. They were still the smallest faction left standing, and rather than their enemies becoming fewer, the ones that remained were becoming stronger.

“Let us just say that our friends in the Twin Duchies have decided that Duke Burn was not the right man for them.” Rhydian said with a grim smile. ‘Friends’ was not exactly his thoughts about them but it was the closest that he could think of. At the very least they would have to act like friends until the war was over.

“You mean to say that Duke Rotleach has lost his mind?” As much as Braydon would have loved to believe it, he could not. There was nothing so fortuitous in the world, not without effort.

“Well you could put it like that, his life has been forfeit too. And now his knights fear Duke Tetland getting rid of them and claiming his army.” Rhydian commented, Braydon now seeing what Rhydian was getting at when he said that there had been a change of plans. But he still had one question.

“If Duke Ryder decided to give up since Duke Tetland would arrive before him, how are we going to arrive first?” They were even further away from Duke Rotleach’s troops than Duke Ryder. Even if they had an advantage in mobility it was not so great to overcome the much larger distance. Duke Tetland would get to control his late coruler’s army and Duke Burn would still stand to benefit in all of this.

“And that is where the King’s connections come in. Apparently the King already had a deal with Duke Tetland to neutralise the threat posed by Duke Rotleach, but now that the pair of knights has decided to save their own heads the plan has changed slightly.” Rhydian himself was not sure that the plan would work. But that was different from thinking that it was not worth trying.

“Do we know how Duke Tetland feels about this?” Braydon was unsure that making more enemies was a good idea. They already had enough to deal with as things stood. It felt like going back on such an important deal would not best please Duke Tetland. Braydon and the other Fiverian lords might not have cared for the man’s opinion before the civil war, but now he was one of the key players, and he was not even Fiverian.

“The King has sent word to him, I presume that he would not abandon our relationship just yet. His own goals are still yet to be achieved, it would do him well to have a friendly face sitting on the Fiverian throne.” Rhydian made a good point, likely the one that the King had made to convince him. Braydon could guess that things were not sunny in paradise if Duke Tetland was effectively asking for the murder of Duke Rotleach.

“So we come out of this with Grand Dukes to our east and west?” Braydon asked, thinking of how unlikely it was. It was rare for a Duke to gain independence from a monarch at all, for Fiveria to be bordering two Grand Duchies from completely different origins would truly be a rare sight.

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“Well, there might be a Grand Duchess on one side.” Rhydian added, and Braydon understood what he meant. Braydon doubted that if the Duchess regent in Shuluk won her own civil war that she would just rule in lieu of her son. It was likely that she would try to take the title for herself, once again making her infant son the heir rather than the Grand Duke. Even if she had to bend a few rules to make it happen. It was not like there would be much opposition left if she won.

“And we move tomorrow?” Braydon could already guess that they would have to move as soon as possible. It was not going to be an easy thing to pull off behind Duke Ryder’s back. There was no way that he would let the King try and scheme his way to victory. Not whilst there was already one professional schemer in Duke Burn.

“At dawn.” Rhydian nodded, he had decided that they should move as early as possible. Whilst it was not feasible to avoid Duke Ryder’s scouts, it would at least give them an advantage if they moved before the latter was able to. It took a while to lift camp without preparation.

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