"Fue! What a hassle are these servants and maids!! Anyway, Sir Peder, do you have all soldiers ready at command. I hope you do, because the morning is rising quickly." Asked Felixyon to Sir Peder, who had returned quickly, also bringing a large map of Cainshire with him and the soldiers.
"Yes Sir. They are all ready to march." He replied with a slight bow.
The soldiers escorted all the servants and maids back inside to the Keep rooms. Felixyon stood silently as he stared at all the servants leaving the door, especially the girl named Linda. She was the first one to step out of the crowd and for some reason, Felixyon found her gaze of determination special. After the last person, who was Mr. Chester left the room, Felixyon heaved another sigh. He turned to Sir Peder, who was all this time standing silently with his captains and sergeants.
"Sir Peder, lets get started with the planning. I hope you have clear understanding of what is in my head by now, isn't it?"
"Yessir. An uprising." He replied straight-forwardly and calmly.
"Yes! Now, come here. Here are your orders. There is a total of 500 soldiers in the keep right now and another 200 soldiers are in the outer walls of Cainshire. I want you to take a total of 125 soldiers, follow the Lubero Road and ambush the garrison of Colonel Reggie's stronghold at the edge of the town. There will be a total of 600 soldiers but out of which, nearly half are conscripted and therefore, with enough intimidation we can have them desert. Will it be doable?"
Sir Peder frowned as he stared at the large map, which has been placed on the table. He stared intently at the Lubero Road, which was actually a long straight road leading directly to the edge of the town. The garrison was only a few minutes before the outer wall of Cainshire.
"But sire—I mean, Milord, the Lubero Road is a straight road with little bushes, undergrowth or trees. It would be vastly impossible for such an amount of soldier to move to the garrison stealthily. Not to mention the cavalryand all the checkpost stationed on the way. Bypassing all of them would be impossible. Instead, why don't we bring our entire cavalry and directly strike them with a force of 500."
"No can do, Sir Peder. You're forgetting the time. It's the 'harvesting' time of Colonel Reggie's men and the three Frigates of his are currently armed and ready to fire. We can't risk them noticing our cavalry or else they would start firing at the Castle and the town. I can guarantee that the Castle might survive but the town won't. And since the motive of the uprising is to free the people of Cainshire from such leaches, we need to make sure that we don't kill the patient itself during the operation. Additionally, such frontal attacks would mean high number of casualties in both sides. We need to minimize casualties as much as possible in both sides. After all,today's enemies will be tomorrow's allies."
"Sigh… Milord, you're making it a lot harder than our soldier can actually handle. But if that is the order, I'm happy to oblige, even if it means that I will die in its course."
"Haha!" laughed Felixyon. "Don't worry, Sir Peder. I do not want you dead so soon.Aslak would take all the 175 archers, infiltrate the market and follow you closely. They would provide archery cover to your men and eliminate all the checkpoints around that path. But both of you need to coordinate exquisitely, after all you would be messing with the cavalry down there. The best places to take cover would be the market but contrarily, the enemies could also hide there, so Aslak, you should be a bit more careful than usual."
"Don't worry, bro. I'll handle them easily." Smiled Aslak.
Felixyon nodded and continued, "Good. I want another 100 men to go to the eastern-most part of the town and flank the docks. Sir Peder, do you have someone in mind who can take such charges?"
"Hmm. Sir, why don't we ask Lady Aarti to take the charge." Sir Peder said smiling.
"Me!!" cried she from behind. "But why me?"
"Because you're the best among all of us, Lady mother." Replied Felixyon. He turned to her and said, "I …. Can I trust you with the left flank, mother?" asked Felixyon with a rare emphasis. Lady Aarti looked a bit stupidly at him for a moment but then she sighed and replied, "Gosh! Child, when have I ever disappointed you. Man! I feel heartbroken when you talk to me like this, Felix. I feel so old all of a sudden, so maybe I'll pass."
"Haha!" laughed Felixyon, "…. You speak rubbish, mother. Well, I think I can trust your relax attitude. Thank you, mother, for all the support."
"Geez!" she pouted, "But then you owe me one, remember"
Felixyon sighed and nodded tiredly, "As you wish, mother."
He then turned back to Sir Peder and said, "Is everything clear, Sir?"
He nodded. "Yessir. By the way, Sir, who is going to lead the rest of the army to attack the docks?"
"Hehe! I will, but I won't need an army for it. I will go alone and storm the docks head-on. On the way, I will try to rescue as many of the townspeople as I can, but you might want to be faster. If the Frigates sees action, they might start bombarding the town and that would be catastrophic."
Everyone frowned at the thought of the Frigates.
"Sir, then what would the last 100 men do?" asked one of the captains.
"The last 100 men would… man the mortars and cannons to destroy the ships. I've faith in Sir Loann. He would be able to take care of the ships with the help of the cannons, but the timing of the attack needs to be accurate. If Sir Loann start firing before we get out or if the Frigates start firing preemptively, we are going to suffer huge losses. So…"
"S-Sir, what's the minimum time limit?" asked Sir Peder, swallowing his saliva.
Felixyon smiled inside his armet and replied, "40 minutes at most."
"What!!" shouted Lady Aarti from the side. Even Sir Peder and Aslak was surprised and murmurs started rising in the ranks of the officers, but it subsided quickly. Sir Peder heaved a large sigh and said, courageously, "It will be done, Milord."
"Good!" replied Felixyon happily. He turned to Levi and said, "Levi, you're the accountant and the second person who has a clear understanding on the armaments and resources of the Castle. I appoint you as the Treasurer of the Keep, for the time being. I will give you a formal position after this incident. For now, I want you to accurately divide all the arms in the keeps among the soldiers, within 15 minutes. Also focus more on the archers, because they will be lifeline of the division of soldiers led by Sir Peder. I don't want them dead. I hope that you won't disappoint me."
Levi was the youngest advisor and also the coldest among all. His eyes and face emanated coldness just from looking at him, but it was undoubtable that he was also one of the most talented accountants of the court. And also, the most loyal. He bowed slightly and marched briskly out of the court.
Felixyon turned to Peder and he too left after saluting him. He then turned to all the remaining people and said, "My fellow brothers, this is the moment for Cainshire. If you falter now, your family, children, parents and friends in the town would be slaughtered. So, do not falter. This is the moment of freedom. Dismissed!!"
Felixyon had no idea what impression he made on the captains and sergeants but whatever the result was, Felixyon was happy. He got the attention from all his men and there didn't seem like anyone who was openly against it. He considers it good, at least for now. Right now, he had fifteen minutes to get ready, but in truth, he didn't need to because he already had his armor worn.
"Are you nervous?" asked lady Yasmina. She was the only one left in the court, alone with Felixyon.
"Yes…," replied Felixyon, drooping his head on his palms. She smiled and walked closer to him. "You should be … after all this is such a big step for you. Leading your own army like this."
"Maybe… isn't that what all lords do?" asked Felixyon, peeking from the slit holes of his armet.
"Oh! No, not at all. Believe me, I've seen many battles and not in a single battle have I seen a Lord lead a charge… like what you're doing. All I've seen them do is assign this job to a Commander or a General and when the battle goes down, it's always the commanders and Generals to blame. Your father was the first person I met who actually fought in a battlefield. He was a Lord… just like you. I … still remember the … blaze of his Sigil. It was like a sigil of justice and hope to us, the … heathens. That someone was there who would listen to us and not slaughter us like game. I … am proud of you, you know Felix."
"Is that so… mom." Cried a teary voice within the armet. Lady Yasmina stared silently at Felixyon, because he never called her like that, even when she tried her best to be like one. Even when she tried her best to fill in for the lunatic of a mother, whom Felixyon tried to cure day by day, he never called her anything closer than Lord Mother Yasmina. And now he did.
"Sigh…" Felixyon sighed tiredly and put his steel hands on his armet. The next moment, he pulled his armet off and showed her real face to her. A face which looked as if it hadn't touched a drop of water in ages. Felixyon's entire face was bruised with cuts, lacerations and dried blood coked all over. His lips were as dry as wood and cracked. His hair matted with dry blood and as for his eyes, they were worse. His right eye was blood red, while his left eye had a large burnt mark with the veins around bulging like tattoos. Infact, his left eye looked like it was about to bleed out.
Felixyon smiled weakly at her and replied, "My father … said the same things to me, mom."
Lady Yasmina was completely stunned by the face she saw and his words broke her out of her stupor. She shook her head and dashed towards him. "Oh my goodness! What the hell has happened to you, dear? Don't…. D-don't tell me that t-the … crown d-did this to you …. How could you do this to yourself, you buffoon!!!"
"Hehehe… mom, don't fuss… this is nothing. Nothing compared to … to my mother. I …"
"Don't! Don't Felix. stop talking. You've done a lot for this family. please stop beating yourself like this." Tears flooded her eyes and she caressed his dried cheek. Felixyon smiled weakly at her and replied, "Don't worry, mom. I won't die. The crown…. The 'thing' inside the crown, the 'thing' which is sealed inside the crown has promised me. He won't kill me and guess what. It turns out to be true…. What you said turns out to be true. It was the guy named Jed Marelok. He's the one who sealed 'that' into the crown…. He knew everything… he did it intentionally."
Two tears fell down Felixyon's eyes. Lady Yasmina was confused. She understood the part about Jed Marelok but what about a 'thing' being sealed there. Was he implying that there was something evil sealed in the Fabled Crown. From the Fabled Lands! But that was impossible. She couldn't either believe or deny it but that wasn't more important to her right now. What was important was Felix.
She caressed his cold pauldrons and said, "Don't worry, Felix, I would get Sir Doncan here this instant and he can—"
"Don't!" interrupted Felixyon. He smiled and replied, "Don't worry, mom. Instead, tell me something …."
"Can I trust you?"
"What!!" she cried, petrified. It was a stupid question but Felixyon's eyes were blazing with seriousness and determination. He stared at her silently and it was then that she saw something weird. She saw a flash of a certain someone in his left eye, but before she could recognize 'it,' it blinked away. Puzzled, she shook her head and tried to get a better look at his eyes but Felixyon was staring intently at her. She unconsciously spoke the first thing she could thought, "Yes…"
Felixyon smiled back at her. He seemed to say something but didn't say it. instead, he sighed and replied, "Well, good then, mother. I hope … I hope that you continue to take care of mother, like always."
Lady Yasmina sighed at said, "Listen Felix, if you've got something to say. Just say it. I'm your mother, after all."
"It's nothing," he said, "I'm… just worried about my soldiers. no matter how much I change, I can't change the fact that I've trained with them for the last three years."
"Indeed, you have, dear." She caressed his cold pauldrons and waited silently, as if waiting for an answer. "You want to take command of the Hassassins, don't you?"
Felixyon sighed tiredly and replied, "Yes, I do. Not completely, but I want them to sabotage one of the Frigates. It would be easy for them, won't it?"
"It would. The Hassassins of the land of Yasmin is famous at subterfuge. Let me handle it but in return, I want something." She said coyly at him.
Felixyon smiled broadly and replied, "Very well then, mother, you can be the lead strategist."
"Not that. I want you to talk with your mother. Don't let her be in pain. She cried a lot yesternight. Please, dear."
"Fine…" he sighed, "I will talk with her."
"Thank you, dear. And please take care of yourself."
"Liven up, boys!! Today's the final day of your training and the day of results. Let's see how much you've learnt from your Lord. Your result and the fate of Cainshire, your siblings and your families, lie on your shoulders. So, be frosty, be sturdy, careful and GIVE HELL TO THOSE BLOODY BASTARDS!!!!"
"HELL TO BASTARDS!!!!"
"HELL TO BASTARDS!!!"
"HELL TO BASTARDS!!!"
Soon, small contingents of soldiers marched out quickly through the gates of Cainhorn under the directions of their superiors and captains. Everyone seemed to be on their toes, but Felixyon seemed completely relaxed. Almost frosty. Sir Loann, who was the only superior officer left in the Castle, walked calmly to his side.
"Don't worry, kid. There are still some veterans in those squadrons of soldiers. They will be fine."
"Its not the veterans that I'm worried about. Its those rookies. Guys who've never seen blood even once. They will break in the battlefield and that can be severe."
"Everyone has a first time." Sighed Loann. He glanced at him and muttered, "Even you had your first kill recently, didn't you. Don't worry."
Felixyon shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
"Master, you know your job, don't you? The life of the town depends on you."
"I know, I know. You know what, Felix, you're just like your dad. Worrying about small details right before the battlefields. You only get yourself distracted by them, didn't I teach you that, kid?"
"Well, these small details could also save me and my armies' a*s one day, so, I'm good to fuss about them." Felixyon countered Loann. Loann smiled but didn't reply. He simply watched the Castle gates open and the marching armies leave the safety of the castles. Both of them silently watched the leaving armies.
"Sir Loann, can I trust you with this responsibility?" asked Felixyon in a tough voice.
Sir Loann glanced at Felixyon in a strange look but then smiled profoundly. "Yes, you can. I will see to it that the Frigates have a nice ending and that this campaign is not a failure. I merely hope that you will pull through your end."
"Haha!!" Felixyon laughed gently. "Of course, I will."
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