If nothing else, William admired the soldier’s determination. They couldn’t get through the gates or climb the wall, so they built a pyramid several people high and tossed a soldier over the wall. Of course, he met the same shocking fate as the rest of the soldiers who crossed the property line… but even if he hadn’t the guards waiting behind the wall would have gotten him.
Seeing that none of their tactics were working, the enemy captain called for a retreat. They had likely assumed the defenses continued around the entire property, and they would not have been incorrect. However, the defenses could not last indefinitely. The energy had to come from somewhere, and there wasn’t enough natural mana to support continuous use. On the other hand, to get to that point they would have to sacrifice more men.
As they started to move away toward their horses, William called out, “You think you can leave just because you wish to?”
The captain looked toward William, “And what can you do, cowering behind your walls like that?”
William shook his head, “A wise commander uses all tactical options even when they aren’t necessary. As for what I can do…” William thrust Chris out toward him. From a distance of almost a dozen meters, it seemed like an empty gesture… until the captain slumped forward on his horse. William’s voice rumbled throughout the area, “None of you are leaving. You can either surrender… or die.”
William had stepped out past the gate, wich made some of those soldiers think it was an easy opportunity to attack him, but as a dozen of them charged toward him, he merely swept his staff across in an arc, and all of them collapsed before even getting close.
Out from the gate poured dozens of William’s guard. Though they weren’t as numerous as the enemy, almost half of the enemy soldier were defeated now- and all of those ranked higher than a squad leader. Some of them ran for their horses, or just ran… but it just took William a series of movements to defeat them as well. “If you throw down your weapons, I will guarantee your lives.” William spoke calmly, but he projected his voice out so that all of them could hear him easily. “Just throw down your weapons.”
The enemy soldiers started dropping their weapons. It didn’t seem like they had any way to win, or to escape. Some of them were hesitating, but when they saw more guards riding around from each side of the manor, they also threw down their weapons.
William didn’t really have room for so many captives, but he made it work. The biggest problem was restraints… but he wasn’t too worried. His guards would be able to deal with it if anyone tried to escape. They were stronger on an individual basis, and they would be the only ones equipped. There was no need to worry about them being overpowered, though he did leave a dozen guards on duty at all times, just in case. They wouldn’t be staying in his manor dungeons for long. There were better places, and he wouldn’t be keeping his guards at the manor.
People coming to abduct him at night was a perfect excuse to trigger the next stage of the plan. He would have come up with some other excuse for whatever other way they approached him, but this one easily achieved the results he wanted. Perhaps they thought it would be easier to catch him off guard, or perhaps they thought he wouldn’t dare to resist a summons from the grand council… but that was exactly what he wanted. Besides, he did plan to go to the meeting chambers of the grand council… he would just have an army.
William could have re-raised his army much more quickly if he didn’t care about disrupting the economy of his territory… but he did. Thus, he started with a quarter, including those who were in the active reserve. It didn’t matter if it took him a bit longer, because the other lords would be even slower, and he didn’t need a fully army right away.
That said, he still had a use for the portion that was ready. Lord Heinrich’s territory was just to the north, and if they were going to start a war William might as well start off strong. Unless he had been particularly subtle, Lord Heinrich didn’t have any real army in his territory. He might have had several times as many soldiers as he brought with him, but they would be spread throughout the territory. There might be some city guards or such, but William didn’t have to fight them. He wasn’t planning to touch the cities at all, besides taking over important points for management.
Part of William’s strategy was to make it very clear that the regular citizens had nothing to fear from him- which actually meant his presence would likely improve their lives. It wasn’t of any benefit for William to burden their economies with heavy taxes or to treat the citizens with cruelty. He could just kill the old lords, and that would be it.
Of course, he knew that even in an idealized scenario he couldn’t just stop there. Many lords would die, destabilizing the country as a whole. William wasn’t going to just leave it at that, because otherwise what was the point? Well, he supposed it would eventually recover, but even though it was better than intentionally causing war and deaths for his own personal gain… it was still right to clean up afterward. He was glad he wouldn’t have to handle it alone.
He tried not to think about the fact that, if he lost this war, the old lords would be perfectly happy. While it might throw whatever numbers they had off somewhat, many gevai dying would be to their own benefit and it would allow them to exert more control. That was why William wasn’t going to lose.