“My king… Archmage, Headmistress…” Jordan spoke carefully to give the report, “A large force of enemy soldiers is approaching. They outnumber us. In addition to the fort and the troops therein, we will be at a tactical disadvantage.” Jordan placed several tokens on the battle map. “We have more troops in the area that we can call upon. These two groups represent significant forces and can be contacted through phones- but they will take longer to reach us. The other three are much closer and will be able to reach us in a timely manner if we can contact them quickly. Overall, I would say we have the advantage except… the approaching army has a half dozen lords. Three of those are on the critical list. Combined with the one in the keep and the two regular lords there… it could be problematic.”
Lorelei nodded seriously, “A powerful display of force, but I would expect no less. With the king here and the importance of this pass, they couldn’t do much less. In fact, it almost seems like… not enough.”
“Maybe they don’t know we’re here,” Lila gestured between her and Lorelei.
“I’d bet there’s more we haven’t seen yet,” Jordan pointed out. “Besides, they have a pretty dangerous lineup if they just one to kill one or two people…” Jordan’s eyes flicked to William’s right arm.
William shook his head, “Oh, don’t worry about me. I won’t hold us back a bit. We just have to figure out who is dealing with what…”
Lila was left in control of the portion of the army that stayed behind to watch those in the castle and prevent an attack from the rear. While any sort of offense would be meaningless against the castle, if the defenders inside left their protection they would give up their biggest advantage. That said, they could cause all sorts of havoc if they were ignored.
The rest of the army moved to meet the approaching enemies- and friendly reinforcements. That let them pick the terrain they wanted, and it would prevent the two enemy groups from meeting up. Of course, that was the same for themselves- but that was a calculated risk.
William knew morale was important for armies, and while mockery seemed rather childish it was very useful. “Your lords won’t fight me in single combat… or in any fair arrangement.” WIlliam projected his voice far enough that the entire enemy army would be able to hear him clearly, “I don’t see what good will come of serving such cowards!”
Grigor Neroni, one of the leading lords, responded in kind. “We are not afraid of you in fair combat, but we know that you will play some tricks like you have done in the past!”
“You really participate in fair combat? Like when Lord Stirling’s cavalry charged me as soon as he was losing? You have interesting definitions of fair. It’s reasonable for you to be afraid, but you don’t need to make up excuses.” The enemy didn’t dignify that with a response. William looked out over the enemy army, and they barely seemed effective. Their combination of discipline and propaganda was apparently enough for them to be affected very little. William was hoping for more, but at least his own troop’s morale was sufficient.
Skirmishes started quickly, with probing attacks being sent out from both sides. Sometimes armies just faced off for days with nothing happening, but that was not the case for this particular encounter. Perhaps the enemy wanted to fight before the anticipated reinforcements for William’s side arrived, or perhaps they had other plans. Either way, the fighting soon escalated.
William wanted to be at the frontlines mowing down enemies, but he had to consider his own safety. Besides, he had to save his strength for those who truly mattered. If he saved a few lives and then got himself killed… he didn’t want to think about the consequences.
All he could do was wait… but fortunately the enemy lords were quite willing to enter the fray themselves- even if they weren’t interested in single combat as the only form of battle. William watched the flow of the battle. At first, it looked like a chaotic mess… but because he knew the plan he was able to pick out some details. The enemy was managing to push forward into their battle lines and they didn’t seem to be able to do anything to stop it- but William saw that the various lords were funnelled to exactly where they were meant to go. Speaking of which… Lord Neroni was getting rather close. William prepared himself for another extremely taxing battle.
Today, Tiburcio had received a personal mission from the king. He felt very honored to have received it, and was only worried that he would fail to complete it.
The King had come to him specifically, “Tiburcio. I have a very difficult task for you.”
Those weren’t good words. Everything Tiburcio was assigned to was difficult and nearly got him killed, but this time it was actually said… from the king’s own mouth too. Even so, he’d made it this far… it was a pretty good run. He’d almost started to think he might see the end of all the fighting. “Yes, king, what do you want?” Tiburcio tried to pick his words carefully, but he still felt like he fell short. It wasn’t appropriate to speak casually to him when he was just Lord Rutten, but now that he was the Eternal King it would be even worse to do. Hopefully his slip ups wouldn’t be a problem.
“See that man? The commander with green skin and gilded armor?”
Tiburcio was handed a viewing glass, and though he hadn’t used one much it wasn’t too hard to find who was spoken about. Commanders stood out on the battlefield pretty well. “Yes, king.”
“When the battle starts, he will be led to around that area,” The King pointed, “Once he arrives there, I need you to hold him off as long as possible.”
“Hold him off?”
“Yes. Engage him in combat and keep him busy. Don’t let him do whatever he wants.”
“Is that… all?” Tiburcio thought it was a pretty tall order already, but he had to ask.
“That’s all. Of course, you will be fighting him so things change. It won’t be easy to hold him off forever. If you can kill him, that’s fine… but if you could incapacitate him for capture that would be even better. However, the most important thing is that you keep him busy for as long as possible.”
Tiburcio nodded, “I understand.” That commander was one of the strong lords- almost as strong as the King. Everyone was afraid of them. Fighting one in single combat was suicide. Making it into a long fight was probably impossible… but Tiburcio would try. Dying to a lord wouldn’t be such a bad way to go. At least someone might remember him for it.
Besides, he would be dying for something. This King was strong- and treated his soldiers well. Aside from people constantly trying to kill him, Tiburcio had a much better life than on the streets. The King also fought himself. Not just against regular people but against terrifyingly powerful Lords. Tiburcio had seen the big crater made by the explosion that had almost killed the Eternal King. Almost. If the king had faced that, how could Tiburcio not try his best as well?