The general of Lord Landeau’s army looked at the enemy commander. Based on the relatively small size of the army, he’d assumed a lesser lord was in command. They hadn’t had more information than that, but the reports had clearly been missing key information. It was a relatively smaller army- not less than his own, but surely not a full army- but it wasn’t just any lord in command. It was Lord Rutten… or perhaps it was safer to say the new Eternal King.
The Eternal King responded simply to his request to negotiate terms of surrender. “The terms are simple. Throw down your arms and everyone’s lives will be spared.”
The general frowned. That would leave them completely at the enemy’s mercy. “What about my men?”
“They are also included in ‘everyone’. I gain nothing by killing them. Within a few days they can be back with their families.”
The general’s frown deepened. It seemed… too easy. “How do I know you will keep your word?”
“I always keep my word. However, you don’t need to trust me in this. Trust the people of this city. You can enter the gates a handful at a time and give up your weapons to people you know. We don’t even have to enter the city.”
The general closed his eyes for a moment. Was there even anything else he could do? He opened his eyes and nodded. “Very well.”
The general nodded and turned back to his lieutenants. “In that case… orders are to hand over your weapons and hope this new king is half a merciful as the rumors say.” The general cemented the orders by walking toward the gate along, hoping that the archers didn’t shoot him down.
The gates opened, and beyond them he could see a number of people. Some of Lord Landeau’s former guards… and a number of regular civilians. Among them was even the owner of his favorite pub. “You’re in on this too?” he asked as he handed over his spear.
The pub owner nodded, “While soldiers are good for business… if half of them are dead they’re not worth as much as a bunch of farmers. Besides, I’d miss everyone’s stories. Under Lord Landeau there wasn’t much hope of things getting better… but this new king will be different.”
The general shrugged. “We’ll see.”
William wished more places went as well as Omoria had. While they’d managed to win over the population of some other cities, circumstances prevented them from actually taking over without bloodshed. Unfortunately, such results would get harder and harder as time went on.
The old lords were now taking things seriously. They had expected Lord Stirling to win. All the other losses were inconsequential to them- including any other lords. They clearly hadn’t expected a large scale rebellion aimed specifically at them. William wasn’t sure whether or not they understood that he could destroy their souls- but they wouldn’t wait around for him to kill them in any fashion.
The last portion of the country would be hardest to conquer, for many reasons. The old lords had larger personal armies- and more importantly they could train magical beasts. William supposed he could as well, but he wasn’t willing to risk his own people during the training process- something the old lords didn’t share. Wyverns, for example, were vicious flying beasts with poisonous stingers- and they would be just as happy to use them on their riders or handlers as anything else, if they could get away with it.
All types of magical beasts were extremely dangerous and took huge quantities of food to sustain. If left in the wild in a balanced ecosystem they could merely be captured as necessary. The years required to capture and train significant amounts usually was inconsequential to gevai- but William’s war had been carried out quickly, by gevai standards.
Wyvern riders were dangerous- but not without their own weaknesses. As they lived in the cold north William didn’t have to worry so much about giant lizards or snakes, but dire wolves and bears were possibilities. There were other magical beasts that were nearly impossible to train- but that didn’t mean they couldn’t be captured and set against William’s armies to cause havoc.
“Sieges are boring.” Lorelei commented as she stared at the castle in front of them, guarding a pass that was the most convenient way for them to advance. She turned toward William, then her eyes flicked toward the back of the camp.
William shrugged, “Unfortunately their walls are protected against trebuchet fire. It will take some time to build more and gather sufficient ammunition to overpower the wards. Until then, we wait… and we can’t spend all of our time in the tent.”
“Guys, I’m right here.” Lila shook her head.
“I know.” Lorelei grinned. “If you’re jealous, I’m sure we could find someone to your taste. You have your own tent, you know.”
Lila rolled her eyes, “No thanks. I’m not interested.” Then she sighed, “They even remembered to protect their foundations. That means no sinking the entire fort into the ground. What about collapsing those mountains onto them? With the three of us it shouldn’t take more than a week or two…”
“…Followed by months of cleanup.” Lorelei shook her head. “At that point, we might as well just go around.”
“But if we went around… we would have to constantly worry about a pincer attack- and our supply lines would be that much thinner.”
“I know.” Lila shook her head, “I miss the days when my biggest problem was beating up trainee wizards. War is nowhere near as fun or glorious as people make it out to be.”
William agreed, “Being powerful isn’t nearly as wonderful as everyone says.”
A soldier came forward and saluted, “My king! Reports are in from the scouts. Commander Jordan requests your presence.”
William nodded. “Very well, I’ll be there shortly.” After the soldier left, William shook his head, “Why do I feel like we’re going to wish we stayed bored?”