William stood with one foot on Lord Herrera’s body and projected his voice toward the army, “Well, what are you waiting for? I killed Lord Herrera and the assassins he planted here. Send someone to come bring the bodies over for you to look at.” William wasn’t interested in carrying the heavy body into arrow range while he was tired, so he asked them to come to him.
It was a few moments before two soldiers moved forward. William backed up slightly to make them feel more secure as they nervously walked forward. They cautiously flipped the body over and grimaced, but one of them took his hands and one took his feet as they carried him toward the army.
William really didn’t want to fight this army… so he had sent them a message. He didn’t particularly like it, but he consoled himself that most of the damage was done after Lord Herrera was dead. Other than his face, everything was beaten and broken, including the magical armor that looked like a pile of bloody scrap metal.
William knew that displaying himself as brutal wasn’t particularly good… but he hoped they would also realize that he let nearly the entire army away unscathed- all but the hidden assassins. He was true to his word on that point. After more soldiers came to pick up the other bodies- after carefully asking for his permission- William hoped they would see that he even treated the assassins with some form of dignity. At least they were just dead. Only their lord was without his dignity. Once they had sufficient time to react, William called out to them again, “Go on, get going! And take all that junk in your camp with you!”
They were cautious as they watched William’s army across the valley, but William’s men stayed where they were without interrupting the preparations of the men who had once followed Lord Herrera. As they could, they packed up and walked away… leaving behind only Lord Herrera’s body. It was likely none of them wanted to be responsible for it.
William took a risk in letting the soldiers keep their weapons and armor, but his gamble was successful thanks to a general trait of people. They didn’t like to get involved in things they didn’t have to, or to risk themselves for a cause they didn’t believe in. The strongest among them might even appreciate what he had done, since it left the position of lord open for the taking. As he travelled through the territory, nobody further attempted to stop him.
He still left spies to make sure that they weren’t just waiting for him to try to send supplies through the territory, or gather to attack him from behind. Just because it was in their best interest to leave him alone didn’t mean they would always do so.
He received word that the other lords were successful in their advances as well, though they went less smoothly. Even so, the other lords had support of mages from the academies- at least the ones that were willing to listen to the Archmage. Lorelei had understood which group was which, and avoided informing those who wouldn’t listen of the plan. Some forces were being devoted to keep those who were less cooperative but in the southern territories under control. As long as they didn’t do anything, they would be left alone.
William’s army didn’t have any mages from the academies, but he had trained some of his soldiers to be equivalent to a standard mage, at least in the area of magical combat. While William would certainly have loved to have more mages and especially Lorelei or Lila with him, it wasn’t an optimal arrangement of troops. It was also good to have people he was certain he could trust in other locations.
The other lords weren’t necessarily to be distrusted, but they each had their own objectives. If things started to go poorly he couldn’t be sure what they might do.
Tiburcio stared out into the forest that would soon become a battlefield. This time there would actually be a real battle. Somehow, they had managed to avoid most of those up to this point. The fort had been a real battle, but it wasn’t dangerous. Lord Rutten had done most of the work there, and all he’d had to do was go inside with some others to take it over.
Then they hadn’t even fought the next army. Lord Rutten had just challenged the enemy lord to a duel and killed him. After that, the army didn’t want to fight. Tiburcio could understand that. He didn’t want to die either.
Considering that he might have died already if he hadn’t been drafted, he wasn’t sure exactly how to feel. After the war with the humans ended, he stays signed up in Lord Rutten’s army. He somehow hadn’t died under his command up to that point… and he didn’t want to go back to sleeping on the streets. Life in the army came with food, pay, and shelter- though not comfort.
Even though he would almost certainly die in this war, Tiburcio thought it was better than being on the streets. There, he had almost wanted to die. Now it was just his inevitable fate.
The enemy lord was at fault here, but he couldn’t blame him for refusing to duel Lord Rutten. He wouldn’t have accepted it either. He knew he was going to die, but he wanted to at least try not to die. Putting an army between you and certain death was a good start.
Tiburcio wanted to put an army between himself and the enemy army, but somehow he found himself on the frontlines even though he had been promoted. At least he was paid more and had better equipment. Maybe it would protect him from the inevitable ambushes and traps that he would find in the forest.
When Commander Jordan’s orders came, Tiburcio obeyed. Nobody was perfect, and Commander Jordan was no exception… but at least listening to Commander Jordan’s orders resulted in significantly less death for his side than the other side. Tiburcio wasn’t good with numbers so he couldn’t say how many more, but it was many. He wondered how many enemies he would take down today, before he got killed. After all, he knew gevai were much stronger than humans.