“Melchior!” yelled the Duke, over the racket of him and his riders. “If you had kept your mouth shut, Stahll wouldn't have been aware of your flanking force. Look now, as he prepares an assault on them. I hope your conscience can hold the weight of two thousand dead men.”
“I made him aware of their position for a reason Thomias.”
The Duke's eyes narrowed and his face became red. “I told you once, you reckless child. I am not to be addressed by my first name.”
“Hadrian holds my contract Thomias. So far as I know, he holds yours too. We are peers, whether you like it or not. Your northern clans are in the service of the Mordymon Empire. I'm not sure what you're expected to gain from your involvement, but it won't be Endry.”
The Duke shook his head. “Endry belongs to Hadrian through marriage. Even though Stahll's daughter is not even of ripe age, she's the only heir. The Mordymon Empire only gains it through him if Stahll dies. I'm assuming that's why Hadrian hired a thug like you and your Blackguard Brigade. What a fitting name for a band of thieves and rapists.”
With his attention returning to the field, Melchior continued. “The morality of my men is none of your concern. As I said, Stahll was informed of his flank for a reason. Watch him panic. He's already begun to split his forces. ”
They all turned toward the battleground and focused beyond the chaos at midfield. In the distance on the ridge line, they watched a large portion of Stahll's reserve force move toward the lowland.
“Hah!” Les laughed, slapping his thigh. “If he'd just let his Generals do their jobs he wouldn't put himself at such a disadvantage.”
Blaine nodded. “His force is plenty to win this battle, if only he would not think like a trapped rat.”
With that, Melchior turned to the Duke. “Hence why I told him of the egress. Now that he's split his force, we have a better chance at breaking through his line with cavalry and forcing him either off the field and into your archers, or into melee where I can easily cut his soul from this mortal coil.”
“Are you mad? I'm not riding into that!” The Duke said, pointing at the ferocious battle raging on the plateau. “My cavalry is for the end game, not for your fanciful heroics that will do nothing but get more men killed.”
“Your only concern is those men that have value. I heard the ass end of your speech to Stahll about his slain being on his head. You're no better. I've watched from the other side while I was still playing my part as Stahll's ally. I've watched you throw away whole cohorts. I was there on the field, their blood heavy on my blade.”
The Duke nearly growled. “You were ordered to cause minimal casualties.”
In one quick motion Melchior pulled the reins of his steed and faced the Duke. “I had to seem legitimate, Thomias, lest I be found out and our little ruse be put to court. Hadrian would lose his right to the rule of Endry and you would lose your head alongside my own.”
“Uh ... Melchior.” Bishop interjected. “I believe we have a problem."