Chapter 254: Looking to the Future

“Our skirmishes have been relatively successful, Your Grace.” A messenger from another lord wanting plaudits for doing barely more than what was expected of him, Alima had seen these kinds of messengers quite frequently. Rarely had their lord ever actually done something worth writing home about..

“Oh, you mean that he did not lose more men than the rebels in his skirmishes? What have these skirmishes achieved so far?” Alima asked. She knew the answer. F*** all.

“We have been pinning an adequate number of the rebel forces to their location, your Grace.” This messenger was at least slightly better at wording than a few of the ones that had been sent before.

“And you were doing exactly that before Earl Damaz and several other lords had to leave to deal with Earl Fiton. And now that they have left? Why is there no improvement?” Alima was getting more and more annoyed with every messenger that came. They oh so rarely brought news of a lord who was actually fighting. Well, that would change within the next two days.

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“Earl Damaz’s army was located in an entirely different location than my liege. There is no way for us to see any meaningful changes due to that, Your Grace.” That was at least fair enough. Alima had been taking out her frustration with that comment.

“You are dismissed. Tell Lord Bon that if he wants to send me news again, make sure that it is good news.” Alima waved him off. The messenger hurried off, more than happy that the Duchess Regent did not do anything worse than lambast his lord. There had been one or two Lords that had instructed their messengers to lie. Those poor souls did not have a good time when they tried to report their lords’ ‘performance’.

“At the very least these guys will be trying to gain praise for something worthwhile after a few days.” Alima shook her head. It had taken a few days longer than expected to gather the numbers necessary to start an actual battle since many lords were dragging their legs but she had managed to do it. If all went as predicted, there would be the first major battle  in three months happening in two days.

“Do we have word about how well Earl Fiton is holding out?” She asked out loud.

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“It seems that Earl Damaz and the other lords that left to deal with him reached Lord Ganz’s castle just yesterday. A few days too late since Lord Ganz already died in battle after rushing ahead to get the jump on Earl Fiton. Both he and Lord Shara were less than successful.” Her spymaster answered, appearing from a curtain by a window as usual.

“He died? And what of Lord Shara?” Alima was mildly surprised by that; she had not expected Braydon to be so quick to fight when he knew that a fairly large army was coming to attack him. It had turned out in his favour so she did not really mind either way.

“It seems he was more and less fortunate, Earl Fiton managed to capture a majority of his men though he escaped alive.” More and less fortunate indeed, losing a lot of men in battle was always a huge setback, especially when you had no way to recruit more.

“And? What of the siege?” Alima continued to prod. It was one thing that Braydon had won minor victories but those two were not exactly big players in their local region let alone that there were more important lords that were a part of the siege.

“They have basically been stopped dead right now.” There was no need for him to say more. They had already discussed this.

“Serchi’s men?” Alima knew it already. Nobody in Shuluk would be willing to make the Marquess their enemy without some serious forethought. Not when he could be the deciding factor in the current civil war. 

“Exactly. It is likely that without some extraneous factor, this will be a long term siege. The rebels have no way of knowing just how much support Serchi is giving Earl Fiton nor do they want to attack his men to test that theory. And I am pretty sure that Earl Fiton is more than happy with the way things are going.” That was an understatement. Braydon had gone out to take the lands around several of the iron mines in Shuluk and had been extremely successful. All that he had to do was wait and see what happened on Alima’s side.

“Then let us not disappoint him.” Alima was all the more invested in finding a way to break through the rebels’ positions so that they did not entrench themselves more than they already had. Braydon appearing and forcing them to rearrange their men had already disrupted the rebels, now all she had to do was finish the job.

“It is only going to get more difficult for you after you win, Your Grace.” He was right. The rebels were easy enough to deal with because they were openly hostile to her, it was her ‘allies’ that she was truly worried about. It was only a minority of them that truly supported her as regent. It would take a long time to come out safely on top.

“And you think that I am going to let Earl Fiton go unused in that battle. Whether he wants to be or not, with the lands that he has taken he will be a large player in Shuluk. And as for as everyone else is concerned, he is at best a mercenary and at worst fully on my side.

“I am not sure that he would be happy to hear you say that.” Her spymaster snickered. 

“He might not be happy to hear it but I know that he would fully agree with the assessment.” Alima could tell that Braydon would have already thought about this. Not to mention that they both needed each other to secure their own positions once the civil war finally concluded.

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