29 Chapter 29: Big Stick Diplomacy

Two days later and the sun was setting. Braydon 550 strong army, which was admittedly 10:1 made of mercenaries, were making their final preparations before they headed for battle. Braydon had decided it was a good idea to don more plate armour than he was used to wearing at the behest of Rhydian. This time a full suit, instead of the partial platemail that he was used to wearing. One thing that did make him glad was that he got to ride a horse this time. If he had to use that damned carriage even when going to battle, Braydon was sure he would have gone insane. Even if a horse would be all but useless in the siege itself.

Once again it would be Braydon and his two knights travelling together, something that had not happened since coming to Cliforge. Of course this time it would be their squires but not Steven as travel companions, if one did not count 550 burly men as travel companions.

"We should get going, if Monrow was going to send any men Abel's way then he's done it already." Braydon announced as the last of his armour was put on by the servants.

"Indeed. If we can travel part of the journey by evening light, it would be preferable." Rhydian nodded before heading off to rally the troops.

Braydon was getting excited again, it was the first time he would be taking the battlefield leading his own army. He had fought under his father's ranks before, but never as the leader. Another thing that George had been allowed to do that had been kept from him. His father did not want to give him any more prestige amongst his knights. The only thing that irked him about this was that he still had to march under the standard of House Fiton. He had technically not established his own noble house, something that had to be done under royal auspices. And it was something he was unsure if George would attempt to hinder to spite him or support to be rid of him.

"Well, let's get going Gerald. We have a town to occupy." Braydon said to Gerald as they mounted their horses to go meet Rhydian at the front of his army. Before he left the castle gate he noticed that Nela and Mireille were watching from the doors of the keep. He waved, joined by Gerald, but only got a response from Nela, leaving him unsure of what Mireille was thinking. 'Well that is nothing new.'

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Nela waved in response to Braydon and Gerald before noticing that only the three of them were waving. She looked down at the stiff faced Mireille, at least she thought this was Mireille being stiff faced. The girl did not have much of an expression at the best of times.

"Why didn't you wave to them?" Nela could not help but ask. She knew they had not had a falling out, Mireille spent almost all of her waking hours by her side, with Mea or both. And as she looked at Mea, who was stood to the side, the latter shook her head in confusion.

"Won't wave, not saying goodbye." This confused her even more. Why would she not want to wave Braydon goodbye?

"But he is going off to battle."

"And he will be coming back, so no goodbye." Upon hearing this, Nela giggled. She wondered what it was about Braydon that made Mireille do the cutest things.

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Dawn was about to break above Mapjess. It had been a sleepless night for Baron Monrow, he had been woken up in the early hours to be informed of a siege, several hundred in number. He nor his guards were able to sleep anymore after that. All they could do was watch as their attackers set up and build ladders for the siege.

It had been too dark most of the night to see who was attacking them. His first thought was Baron Abel, Viscount Braydon had informed him of Abel's ambitions the day before. But on second thought several hundred was a number too much for the man to muster, he'd have attacked long ago if he could. Abel was not a patient man, this much he knew. When it got light enough to see, one of the garrison came to inform him.

"So whose standard is it?" This was the most pressing issue. He might be able to talk a slighter friendlier person out of the siege. He knew he did not have enough men at hand. He had sent half of them out to attack Abel's army from behind.

'Is it Viscount Fiton? But he barely has enough men to man his garrison, where would he get several hundred men from? Then one of the neighbouring nobles. There have been one or two attempts at this before but nothing on this scale or good timing.' As he was thinking to himself, he realised that the guard had not said who it was.

"Well?"

"I am unfamiliar with the standard, Sire. It is not any of our neighbours, nor one of the dukes."

"Not one of our neighbours, my arse. I'll go see for myself." Baron Monrow refused to believe that it was not one of his neighbours. Nobody else would have any interest in his land otherwise, there were better towns elsewhere.

When he made it to the wall he was astonished. No wonder the guard did not recognise the standard, the person in question had only been a neighbour for a few months. What astonished him even more was that the man had been able to get an army several hundred strong without his knowledge. 'So was that letter a lie? I did not think the boy had it in him.'

"Baron Monrow, good morning to you!" Braydon shouted up to him. The traditional way of making any last minute negotiations before they gave up and went to fight.

"To what do I owe the pleasure?" Baron Monrow could not help but emphasise the last word, sieging his town was not exactly how normal people said good morning.

"The very walls beneath your feet. " Baron Monrow ground his teeth. Braydon was not only going to try to take his land, but mock him whilst he did it.

"I did not take you for a liar, Viscount Fiton."

"Not a word of that letter was a lie. Did you think I would attack one of you three without doing something to deal with the other two? I may be young but I learn from my predecessor's mistakes, Baron." At this point Braydon was not even bothering to call him by name.

"And there is no diplomacy that could sort this peacefully, Viscount Fiton?"

"This is diplomacy, I have a big stick and I am being very diplomatic in using it." Braydon got a couple of chuckles from the mercenaries at his side, his so-called 'big stick'. Though it did not get any laughs from Baron Monrow. It made him see that he was not going to be getting out of this without a fight.

"Well then, I hope you get what you deserve, Viscount Fiton." With that talk was useless, only strength would win the day.

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