War and Peace


A weary and wounded band rode into the courtyard of the citadel. Dismounting, the king and his thanes left their horses with the stable hands and moved with tired steps inside. As the sun had already been up for a few hours, their return was noticed by the inhabitants of the castle. Quickly, speculation gave birth to rumours as the courtiers wondered what had taken place during the night. They received no answers from the warriors, who returned to their quarters in order to rest and tend to injures.

Stumbling into his chambers, Brand tossed his helmet on the table, grabbed a pitcher of water, and drank from it straight.

"By the manner of your return, I assume the garrison has not fallen," Godfrey expressed.

Brand placed the pitcher down and glanced at his visitor. "Not yet. Your intelligence proved true. How did you know?"

"You must allow me some secrets."

"As long as they serve this well, I shall not complain." Brand let himself fall back into a couch. "I do not have the count yet, but from what I saw, our losses could mirror theirs. Last night put a dent into our forces."

"Our enemy is well suited for fighting in the dark. You will have to increase your vigilance."

"It is due to those beastly warriors they have." Brand's hand fiddled with the hilt of his sword. "Not to mention, too many of my soldiers are barely trained. Placing them on the walls is little different than leading sheep to slaughter." He paused briefly. "How many of those dark warriors does the Godking command?"

Godfrey scratched his head. "I would wager twenty to thirty."

"Last night, we faced five." Brand exhaled. "I am not sure we can defend."

"I do not think he will take such a risk. Neither in terms of leaving himself exposed and send his personal guards into battle, nor risking that should the assault go wrong, he might lose his strongest warriors. The Godking calculates every move," the wanderer claimed. "He is searching for our weaknesses and vulnerabilities. He attacks and evaluates. If he believes he can win by whittling us down, he will do so."

"He has reason to believe so," the king admitted. "Our walls do not give us the advantage they should. We are losing soldiers too swiftly to replace." He looked at his companion. "What should I do?"

"Despite all my experience, I am no captain nor commander of men." Godfrey returned the look, and for a brief moment, his face seemed to age, looking sixty rather than thirty. "I will aid you with all the intelligence I can offer, my king, but I do not know how to win wars. It is not my task to know."

"I suppose that has been given to me instead."

"I do have further knowledge to share. Doran came by an hour ago, bringing news."


"The first highlanders have arrived. You do not fight alone."


Through the day, the warriors of Heohlond marched through Woolgate to enter the city. Some came in honour of the old bonds between Adalrik and Heohlond. Others because their king or clan lord had commanded it. The remainder did so in support of the high king, himself the son of a highlander.

They arrived one clan after the other. In comparison to the oppressed mood hanging over the city, the highlanders seemed at ease. The weather was mild, their journey had been gentle, and they came to defend a city known for its impregnable walls. For many of them, who had never left the highlands before, Middanhal was a place known from legends and tales, and they spoke eagerly with each other, talking in the sight of the great Citadel.

Besides the clans, two beggars saw their opportunity to slip into the city as well. They were a strange pair; their rags and blindfolds stood in contrast to how they carried themselves, walking tall as if they were dressed in princely clothes rather than worn garments. Both of them also had a heavy sack, and despite the warm weather, each had a large cloak around him. As the highlanders moved to the Citadel, the beggars sought towards the Temple.


"There are rumours throughout the castle." Arndis stood in her brother's chambers, looking at him.

"Consider me shocked." Brand sat by his chessboard, moving the pieces around.

"When the court wakes to find the king and his guards gone, only to see them return in a wounded state, it raises questions."

He glanced at her. "I would have thought even the dullest courtier could guess what had happened."

"Nobody doubts that fighting has taken place," Arndis replied impatiently. "Rather, the fact that the king himself felt it necessary to ride across the city and fight on the walls in person," she explained, "that makes people question the strength of our garrison. Have we no reinforcements left that even the kingthanes must be sent to the walls?"

"We do. Last night was different. I received urgent intelligence and decided to rouse the garrison myself. But I have no duty to explain my stratagems to every courtier in the castle," Brand replied, moving his pieces around again. "If you were not my sister, you would not receive any either."

"I only ask that I may disseminate this explanation throughout the court," his sister retorted, "to your benefit, I might add. People are anxious. You have an interest in keeping them calm."

"Why?" Brand's eyes shot up. "How many soldiers will that provide? How many provisions?"

She regarded him with a cool expression. "Do not be so busy winning the war that you lose the ensuing peace."

He returned his attention to the pieces in front of him. "If I do not win this war, there will be none left to contemplate peace."


Placed between the river and the southern walls, Lowtown felt the siege more than any other part of the city. Some buildings had been torn down as they lay too close to the fortifications or to clear pathways. Others had been requisitioned for quartering troops, necessary to be nearby that they might act as reinforcements. Nearly the whole garrison in Middanhal now lived in Lowtown, and the addition of more than thirty thousand soldiers could also be felt.

Thus, while the appearance of a jarl with two thanes would have drawn looks and perhaps even daggers in normal times, it caused barely a raised eyebrow under the present circumstances. Riding through the streets, Valerian and his protectors made their way to one of the few warehouses placed in Lowtown; most merchants preferred the districts north of the Mihtea where the risk of theft was lower.

Dismounting, the jarl approached the entrance while his thanes hurried to do the same, grabbing the reins of his horse along the way. A guard stood outside, wearing good armour and a grey surcoat with a large shield upon the chest.

Valerian let his eyes glance over the soldier. "You are a member of The Unbroken Shields, I take it by your crest."

"That's right. What's it to you?"

"Your company is quartered in this building?"

"Yes, what of it?"

"How many?"

"I am here to stand guard, not answer questions."

"Your entire company is said to be quartered here, but given the size of this warehouse, that is impossible," Valerian claimed. "Where is the rest of your company?"

"Some are outside the city, guarding merchant caravans," the mercenary replied. "Listen, you want to know more, ask my captain. This isn't for me to say."

The jarl frowned in thought. "How many are quartered here?"

"Look. I don't want trouble, but if you start any, I got a whole company just past this door to back me up." The guard looked at each of the thanes in turn.

"If you will not tell me, stand aside!"

"That would be directly against my very simple orders of keeping people out."

"I am the jarl of Vale," Valerian growled. "You will not hinder my passage!"

"We're not in Vale, milord, and I take orders from my captain, not you. I remind you, I got a lot more on my side than your two dogs here."

Anger ran across the jarl's face, but seeing the guard remain recalcitrant, he turned and left.


"Your dragonlord has arrived, my king."

"Send him in." Brand looked up from his seat by his chessboard to see Theodoric enter.

The jarl of Theodstan gave a bow. "You summoned me?"

"While my mind is on war, I do not wish to forget other matters. Tell me if any whispers have reached you that I should know."

"If any did, my king, I would not delay to inform you," Theodoric replied. "A few of the southern landgraves grumble that their troops have been pulled to the capital, leaving their lands in danger of the enemy. Yet given those troops defend all of us, their complaints fall on deaf ears."

"What of your fellow jarls?"

"Isenhart is easy to account for. None have visited him besides his brother, as permitted by you, my king. Nor have I heard anything from Silfrisarn. Isenwald has taken up his father's position and does very little with it, which all seem to find satisfactory."


"He has been busy, but all his meetings fit with the nature of his task as treasurer. I truly believe he could not be happier than he is. I would not judge him to be a risk of any kind."

"His brother?"

"He has sent some letters to Ealond. Once I can copy them, I will let my king know of their content."

"Good. Ingmond?"

"Sulking in his mansion. He still refuses to let any of his troops defend the city, few as they are."

"Let us hope his actual forces in Ingmond do more to harry the enemy," Brand remarked. "Once this is over, he will have to be dealt with. Has he done anything that would warrant dragging him before the Adalthing?"

"I fear not. He has only met with the alderman of the guilds, presumably about the building of the temple in Inghold."

"Let me know if anything changes."

"I shall, my king."

A note from Quill

I came across another story I thought was worth mentioning to you guys, The Oath of Oblivion. It's got a much better style than most of RR, I feel, and I like both the mystery of who the main character is as well as the premise of someone entirely broken slowly gaining their own power. Do beware that it has the traumatising content tag for a reason.

Support "The Eagle's Flight"

About the author


Bio: Indie writer with various projects, currently focused on writing Firebrand. See my other fictions on this profile or my website for my previously completed projects.

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