William almost found it unbelievable that they were winning the war. Of course, they’d made plans and preparations sufficient to win the war… but so many of them were working successfully that he wondered if he was dreaming.
Of course, if he really were dreaming, he hoped he would have dreamt something even better. Every victory came at the cost of too many gevai lives- ally or enemy. Even if everything continued smoothly it would take some time for all of the territories to recover. William also couldn’t forget about the other powerful lords. He had almost gotten himself killed to defeat one. Even if he could defeat them all in single combat, he likely wouldn’t have that chance. As they were pressed back and lost territories those lords who survived started to combine their armies. The armies weren’t a problem, as William’s side was also having to cover less territory. However, all of the strongest lords were in the last quarter of gevai territory that had not yet been conquered.
Despite his misgivings, William felt confident in how the war was going. It wasn’t because of any grand plan devised by him or Lorelei. It wasn’t the excellent strategy and tactics that Jordan employed. It wasn’t even the quality of troops they raised. If he were to attribute it to anything it would be propaganda and rumors- but those were merely the trigger that set off what almost felt like an inevitable chain of events.
Lord Landeau looked out over the city from the highest tower in his castle. Omoria was not the grandest city of the gevai, but it was among the richest. Even if it were not, it was his city. He wasn’t going to let the approaching army threaten it. “Prepare the men.”
“Yes, sir!” He second in command received the order and started the trek down the tower. Of course, it was far too late to begin preparations once the enemies were outside the city. They had been prepared long ago, and this was merely the official acknowledgement.
Lord Landeau continued to observe. The army was still a long way off… but something felt wrong. The activity in the city- the civilians were too active. In times of war they should run and hide in their houses but many were out on the streets. Far too many. “What’s going on down there?” Lord Landeau asked. It wasn’t a rhetorical question, and he waited for a response, but none came. He turned around to find his guard gone. Had he gone with the lieutenant? Someone was going to be punished for leaving him without even a messenger. As a lord, having to personally go find someone to ask about the situation was unacceptable.
It wasn’t that he had issues walking down the stairs. Only a few lords let themselves go so much they had trouble traversing stairs- and only those who had utmost confidence in their magic but not so much good sense. No, it was the mere principle of the thing.
He threw open the door at the bottom of the tower. Good, there were some guards. Perhaps they didn’t deserve reprimand, but they would serve to temper his wrath until he found the responsible party. “Where is my lieutenant? Why has he not returned yet?”
One guard stood awkwardly in front of him, only half turned toward him, “Ah… I don’t rightly know, lord. He said something about-”
Lord Landeau wasn’t incapable in his own right. He noticed something was wrong, but not until it was too late. He felt the pain on the back of his skull even as he looked at the guards who only had one arm. Perhaps he would have reacted faster if he’d known the faces of all of his guards.
Stefan looked at the unconscious lord, then up at the ‘guard’ behind him. “Good job. It would have been a real pain if we actually had to fight.”
The rebel shrugged, “Not too much. He relied on guards that he didn’t even pay well enough. Plus, he forgot our families were still poor farmers and craftsfolk. All of the money in this city ended up in his coffers, and a few others.”
Stefan shrugged, “Do you think he’ll live?”
“Well… I wasn’t going to hold back. His skull looks pretty much intact though, so maybe. At least, long enough to be executed.”
“Excellent. Would you gentlemen mind helping to carry him?” Stefan leaned down and grabbed one wrist… which left him with no free hands. One guard grabbed the other wrist and one took both ankles as they left to carry Lord Landeau through the castle. On the way, they passed many tied up guards and trembling servants. Stefan would have waved at the servants to try to ease their worries, but he had no hands free. “Don’t worry, we have no plans to harm common folk. It was just time for a change in leadership.”
They hadn’t been able to get all of the servants or guards on in the plan, because some would have inevitably refused and ruined their plans. Even so, they did their best to avoid killing any of the guards- except a few of the most loyal.
Lord Landeau’s army- small as it was- stood outside the city, facing off against the invading force. Though the castle was better fortified, they couldn’t fit all of the troops in the castle- and if they left the city open there was little point in keeping the castle. The general frowned, “Why haven’t we heard from Lord Landeau yet?” He turned around, only to see a squad of archers up on the walls- in enemy uniform no less. He sighed.
A messenger came running, “Sir! Sir! Lord Landeau’s personal guard rebelled, and enemy forces have taken over the city!”
“I can see that, soldier.” He shook his head. “I told him to pay the guards better… at least enough to provide well for their immediate families. He never listened.”
“Sir?” The various lieutenants under the general stood waiting, “Your orders?”
“Hmm.” The general looked in front, toward the army they had only barely hoped to match. Then he looked behind at the archers on the wall, and the closed gates cutting off their retreat, He looked toward the messenger, “What about Lord Landeau?”
“Captured, sir. They… they’re planning to hold an execution in the square.”
The general walked back to the front of the army. “We’re willing to negotiate a surrender.”