Wizard! Chapter 371
William’s army gained a reputation for prowess in battle. He knew that Jordan was a significant factor in their effectiveness, but he would have done a reasonably good job commanding himself. As they went through numerous battles both big and small William learned from their successes and even more from their failures. Some parts of war he had been completely mistaken about, either through his own assumptions. Jordan also became a better commander, though he still had some failures. At that point, the victory had to fallen on the skill of the troops. William’s army had good training, but real battle experience proved to be more valuable.
Even though they had gained a reputation, William wasn’t entirely happy. Besides the losses that had occurred to achieve the reputation, the reputation itself wasn’t necessarily good. It led to them being placed in more difficult situations and there wasn’t much William could do about it. The older lords had more authority than him, and they chose what battlefields he was placed on. Going against them would not be wise… but the most significant reason William didn’t refuse was because they needed him. At least, the gevai needed him. Though he wouldn’t exactly say the humans were winning the war, the gevai needed all the help they could get. The humans had started the war and were in gevai territory… and most of the soldiers were innocent. That was true for both sides, but William was currently more sympathetic toward the gevai. Perhaps that was because he was one of them now, but regardless that was the side of the battle he would have to be on.
William found himself transferred to the east. He would be north of Eclea, though more inland than near the coast. The mountain range that divided the continent branched out of the relatively solid single chain and formed clusters of mountains in the area. That left a number of routes large enough for armies to traverse, but each was highly defensible. With the dangers of rockslides and collapses in the area it was difficult to safely pass armies through, and thus the area tended to stalemate in the battles between humans and gevai. They couldn’t leave the area undefended but it wasn’t a key point of focus for the wars. Armies were more likely to invade through the port cities, or even move through the northwestern parts of Eclea or as far as Ostana if they were travelling by land.
As they approached the fort, William admired the mountains. The misty peaks brought about a feeling of tranquility and wonder, and he thought he would consider building a home here… if it wasn’t currently in a war zone. Jordan was also admiring the mountains and valleys, though with a somewhat different eye. “The entrance to that valley looks to be a perfect defensive location.” Jordan turned to the other side to stare off into the distance, “So why the hell is the fort over on that hill?”
William shrugged, “The hill isn’t the worst place it could be. At least they can watch the pass, and it isn’t defending mud.”
Jordan pointed, “See that forest there? Given a week, we could build adequate defenses at the mouth of that valley. So why isn’t there anything there? Not even a guard post.”
“I’m sure there must be a reason,” William said vaguely.
“Is the reason that everyone in command is an idiot? Present company excepted of course.”
“Lorelei isn’t. That said, I don’t believe everyone in command is an idiot either, no matter how much they might look it. Perhaps it’s just that some people have a vested interest in as many people dying as possible.”
“Ha. What a terrible joke.” Jordan rode in silence for a few moments, “It was a joke right? You almost sounded serious.” There was another minute of awkward silence. “…How could gevai dying benefit any of us?”
“It helps keep the population in control… and many of the older lords are happy in their comfortable positions. There’s more to it, but it’s best not to say.”
Jordan shuddered. “It actually sounds like you’ve already said too much.” He looked around at the troops nearby.
“Relax, I dampened our voices when we started talking about this.”
“Really?” Jordan frowned, “I must say, Lord Rutten, your abilities are more expansive than I thought.”
“A lord must have at least a few tricks. If I don’t have any, I doubt I will keep my position long.”
The commander of the fort was Lord Clyde Kendrick. He was the ruler of the particular piece of border they were on, and senior to William himself. He was not an ancient lord, but he had controlled the territory for almost a gross of years, after his father died in a hunting accident. William wondered whether the accident involved a spear to the back, as he doubted a few arrows would take out a lord who had survived a Demon King war on the frontlines. William didn’t remember anything about the previous lord Kendrick, but in his studies of the lords in this life he had learned enough to know he participated in that war. William himself had been in the regions closer to Ostana, so he hadn’t encountered him, not that he would have known his name anyway. There was a serious gap in communication between humans and gevai.
Lord Kendrick was a well muscled man with a neatly trimmed beard and horns that curled at the tip. Not many gevai kept beards, but those who did usually preferred them long. In combat, however, a long beard was just asking for someone to yank on it. Though he was likely weaker than the previous Lord Kendrick- or had been at the time of the accident- William could tell he was accustomed to battle. By this point in the war, he had been in a number of real battles, and William heard he participated himself instead of just commanding from the rear. William appreciated that… but he still didn’t like him. There was just something unpleasant about a man who almost certainly had his own father killed. When he spoke, his voice was commanding and regal… but there was something underneath that made William uncomfortable. “Greetings, Lord Rutten. It is about time you arrived. I have your orders for you.”