Gale and Falcon would take Entil and Eilis, the main force, Lion, would march to the Shalorian capital of Audis. The city was built in the middle of two provinces. It meant Lion would face the strongest resistance. As such, Falcon and Gale had to regroup with Lion before the final assault.
"Farlans is merely a stepping stone. 2nd Division and the other companies have already taken the surrounding towns. Division command sent us orders to gather at Bimore city as soon as possible," the baron continued.
Voices were raised in hushed conversation. They were no stranger to the city, the capital of a county. It was the last obstacle between Falcon and its new objective.
"Is it really that urgent? Don't we have two months?" Mond asked.
They were still quite some ways off from Bimore and had to travel by several more towns. The count would no doubt put up a serious fight for his capital. Mond didn't want to take the hard way if he could help it, and he believed the baron shared his views.
Baron Cardoj shot him a glance before returning his eyes to the others and lightly knocking on the table. They all turned to look at him. After a pause, the baron frowned.
"The kingdom already can't take it. The war has to end soon." Those words caused the others to tense up in nervous thought.
The baron and many others in the capital knew well that the war had bled the kingdom of much of its manpower. The ratio of men to women had dropped to almost one to three. Women had taken their fathers, brothers, husbands and sons' places on the field. While they could just barely sustain themselves, they couldn't produce enough to feed the army as well. Not to mention Faustian was also deep in debt. A small nation couldn't maintain the kind of expenses to sustain the kind of running expenditure war demanded of them.
Since the baron had made it clear, Mond merely nodded.
"Since that's the case, we have to take Farlans as soon as possible."
"Farlans is a baronial capital, so we still have to be prepared."
"Our camp is lacking in many..."
The officers began to discuss the details of the battle amongst themselves.
The meeting's main agenda was to appoint two new platoon jarls, which they eventually got to. However, the jarls themselves didn't have a say in the decision of whom their replacements would be.
"Yes, we still need two platoon jarls. Do you have any recommendations?" the baron calmly asked.
The question had been brought up often, but no two discussions had ended in the same person's favour. This time, they would have to settle it for good.
"I believe that Roma brat is decent. He can fill the role," the jarl of 3rd Platoon said.
He recommended a squad jarl in his own platoon. With his platoon suffering heavy casualties in the last battle, even losing their vice platoon jarl, one of the platoon jarl picks this time would unsurprisingly fill a vacancy in his unit. He hoped it would be someone he knew well and would serve him loyally.
"What about Jersson? He's a five-year veteran and pretty capable," the vice jarl of 4th Platoon said.
His platoon had suffered even worse; less than a third were still on their feet after the battle at Felmo. He was now the acting platoon jarl. He was in urgent need of a veteran to take over and had recommended someone from 1st Platoon instead. He hoped to put someone in his old vice platoon jarlship to cement his currently only acting position as the platoon's new jarl. He wasn't worried about his power base splitting since most of the squad jarls were his long-time comrades.
"How about Fegney? He's a tough lad..."
"Jeep's a veteran too. He carries himself quite well..."
The six platoon jarls present each gave their own recommendations. Naturally, Yoshk had brought Locke, calling him reliable and gutsy.
"Quiet," the baron said finally.
At this rate, this meeting would end just like all the others.
"We'll decide it with a vote."
The men glanced at one another. No one had expected this to be resolved any other way in the end. Anytime there was disagreement in the battalion and the baron couldn't decide the matter himself, he would put it to a vote. Some said it was a habit he had picked up in his days studying in the Aomar Empire.
The mostly uneducated soldiers found this aspect of the baron rather odd. It was almost antithetical to how nobles usually conducted themselves. It was also a reason everyone gathered in the tent trusted the baron deeply.
Sir Wyrm started the vote, then in passed to each of the other six platoon jarls. Only two would make the cut, and the more popular picks were Roma and Jersson. Though it wasn't that the rest didn't have a chance either. Locke and Jeep also had their supporters.
Wyr himself gave up on his vote as he usually did in matters of appointment. He was a noble himself, having been personally knighted by the baron. His family had supposedly served the baron's household for generations, his ancestor being a personal subordinate of the baron few generations prior. That ancestor had fought with the then baron in Dor.
The Cardoj household didn't mistreat the Wyr household. They had finally repaid their loyal service with a knighthood. To prevent having too much of its territory ruled by nobles, Faustian limited the amount of vassal titles its nobles could great to just one of two ranks below their own. Barons could thus have only one knight. Viscounts could create one baronet, counts could create one baron, and marquesses could create one viscount. As for the land that came with the title, it had to be given from the one who had made the title's land of course. It meant the kingdom's nobles were very, very careful with whom they gave that honour, and often it went ungiven for several of the noble family's first generations. Other's didn't hand it out, ever, preferring to keep the possibility of its reward open as a carrot with which to motivate their servants and soldiers. That House Cardoj had finally given out its only knighthood showed how much they trusted and appreciated the Wyr family.
Faustian had no dukes. In fact, Faustian itself had been just a duchy until a mere couple centuries earlier. The king's forebears had all been dukes, so the royal family was well aware of the power and influence dukes held. When Faustian broke away from its former master kingdom, they had refused to great ducal titles and were thus the only kingdom any knew about that still didn't have any dukes.
House Wyr had not let House Cardoj down. They produced mid-rank Knechts almost every generation, and the current Sir Wyr was a high-rank Knecht with terrifying combat ability.
The one to vote after Wyr was Mond, followed by the jarl of 4th Platoon. No one looked at Solon. They expected him to do as he had always done and abstain. He hadn't ever before voted in the votes his father called.
Locke, recommended by Yoshk, got three votes and occupied a firm median position among the other candidates.