Chapter 164: The Lords Scheme, The Knights Worry

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“Should we really be trusting them?” Gerald asked. It was not the first time since they had started moving that he had asked this, he had let Braydon know quite well how little he trusted the pair of knights that they had never met. Not at all.

“Rhydian seems to think that it is worth a shot.” Braydon responded, having given up on convincing Gerald the third time he asked the question. It was not like the plan that they had previously been pursuing was miles better than the new one. One was dependent on the outcome of several battles and the other on the whims of men. Braydon was not sure which he would prefer to put his trust in but he knew that neither was a sure bet.

“And if we are betrayed?” Gerald was much more in the mood to discuss it again than Braydon was. Likely because he had nothing better to do whilst they were marching, or in his case riding. It was not like he could slack off.

“Then we are betrayed.” Braydon replied facetiously. He was honestly not sure which other party it would be better for Duke Rotleach’s knights to side with if not them. Both Duke Ryder and Duke Burn would squeeze them of all they are worth and then discard them afterwards, likely why it was the King who received a letter from them. 

Even if Braydon had his suspicions on who exactly it was who caused the death of Duke Rotleach, it did not mean that the knights had the same suspicions. And even then, if they did they might still make the same choice. Their options were limited regardless. Given what he had learned about the relationship between Duke Rotleach and Duke Tetland, Braydon doubted that the pair would even consider their countryman as an option.

“How long until we meet?” Gerald finally gave up on talking about a futile topic, moving on to something else. If they were going to carry out this new plan, it was predicated on them being able to join forces with the pair of knights and then later Duke Tetland.

“It should be two or three days. Cutting it close if you ask me.” This was the most risky part of their plan. Should Duke Ryder decide to turn around and attack them, there was little that they could do but go further south into Ryder’s own lands. Something that they wanted to avoid. Braydon had no doubt that Duke Ryder had left at least some men behind, that or his faction members had. 

“Even if he finds our movements odd, does that mean that he will give up on going after Duke Burn?” Gerald asked, but Braydon had no clue either. Duke Ryder had presumably given up on taking out Duke Rotleach because Duke Tetland was too close and would arrive first. But if Duke Tetland slowed down to allow them to meet up with the now deceased Duke Rotleach’s army, it was only a matter of time before Ryder put 2 and 2 together.

“I am not sure. My guess is that he would look at how close we are to meeting up. I doubt that he would turn around if we had already joined forces by the time he gets to us.” It made the most sense to Braydon, at least it felt like Duke Ryder had been trying to keep his enemies split apart from their allies all this time. Otherwise he would never have turned around when he had already reached the Harmony.

“Then I pray that our ‘friends’ are at least somewhat competent.” Gerald was still not best pleased by the situation he was going into. But the lack of more questions showed Braydon that he was assuaged for the moment. How long that would last was another matter.

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“Should we really be trusting him after he changed his terms at the last minute, Sire?” The knight asked his lord. They had been over the moon upon reading the original terms of the agreement and had set out almost immediately after. But now they had just received word from King Aled that Duke Rotleach’s knights were going to be trying to meet up with him. And there were changes in how things would play out.

“We have little choice. It seems that our approach has that dead man’s dogs scared shitless. I would rather know what they are doing at the cost of some benefits than have them be complete unknowns.” Duke Tetland was not feeling too happy about it either but he at least could see that he would gain more from going along with this new course of action than calling it off because he would be getting slightly less out of it.

“But what of Duke Ryder, and how do we know that they are not lying to King Aled even if he is telling the truth?” The knight was getting worried now that so many unknown variables were appearing just as they were about to make great gains. It felt like his liege’s goals were trying to fly out of his grasp.

“So long as we are fast, Duke Ryder should not even think of coming south to fight. And I am sure that the faster we go, the faster those cowardly dogs will run into Aled’s arms.” Duke Tetland may not have been involved in the goings on in Fiveria for long but that did not mean that he was clueless. He had been keeping a close eye on how things played out. He could tell that Duke Ryder was trying to keep his enemies divided as he slowly ate them one by one, but he did not want to fight multiple at once in case they all attacked him at once. Being the most powerful player had its advantages and disadvantages.

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As for his thoughts on the pair of knights scheming to save their own hides, Duke Tetland did not put much stock into their ability to think clearly at all. If they had truly wanted to guarantee that they lived, they would have taken off into the night and abandoned the army that they lead. But they did not, and their ambitions would be their undoing. They may have been smart men but they were not Rotleach’s equal, Duke Tetland knew that for sure.

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