De Sandro was also present when Cardoj brought his personal cavalry to 2nd Division's headquarters somewhere in the valley's rear end. 2nd Division, as a fusion of the levies of many major nobles, was fraught with complicated relations. As one of the four margraves of Faustian, De Sandro was the leader many nobles. He was in fact the most popular margrave among the nobles.
Whether it be the grumpy Margrave Marmen, the strait-laced Margrave Woode, or Margrave Shia who was closely related to the royal family, all of them were not good at socialising with the nobles. That didn't mean noble networking was inherently complicated. It was more so because of the fact that the three margraves of high standing and they did not dare to take the initiative to help the smaller noble households. For one to be able to reach the rank of a margrave, one would need to tread carefully and have wise advisors.
De Sandro, on the other hand, did not have any of these concerns. That was because he was the only one among the four margraves who did not command an entire corps. Marmen was the corps jarl of the Falcon corps, Woode was the corps jarl of the Gale corps, and Shia was the corps jarl of the garrison corps of the capital. As for Lion corps, command was held by Prince Kenzir.
Perhaps out of the need for maintaining a power balance between the margraves, Faustian allowed De Sandro to rally small and medium nobles to his. Fortunately, De Sandro was powerful and virile, having more than 20 children. The margrave planned to train a few of his closest children to become his successor. Other than those few, he married off the rest to gain support through marital ties.
Baron Cardoj was one of the fortunate few. He was the only baron among the minor noblemen. In Faustian, only counts and margrave s were major nobles. Viscounts were pseudo-major nobles; they straddle the no man's land between the two categories of nobles. Some viscounties had been passed down in the same family for generations over hundreds of years. Others had fallen from grace along the way. Barons, baronets, and knights who were below viscounts were considered minor nobles. The private forces of these little nobles made up nearly half of 3rd Division.
In the tent, De Sandro was having a discussion with the other nobles. Naturally, he noticed Cardoj outside the camp. The margrave smiled and beckoned to Cardoj. He was considerably satisfied with this son-in-law of his who supported a company independently despite being only a baron. Cardoj was definitely capable. As far as he knew, Cardoj had the experience of studying in Aomar with Prince Kenzir. Not to mention, after meeting Cardoj a few times, De Sandro grew to him than his daughter whom he married off to Cardoj.
"We are discussing the search to be carried out in Bering Mountains. Since you're involved in it, come over and listen too," the margrave said, smiling.
Cardoj got off his horse and nodded. He noticed that the people in the camp were all counts, who returned his greeting with a smile. They had heard of this son-in-law of De Sandro before who boasted of having even stronger forces than many viscounts.
Cardoj was surprised to learn that Princess Angelina, the sister of Prince Kenzir came to the frontlines in secret. The situation of her escort was unknown and they didn't even know where the princess had gone. Prince Kenzir ordered all the corps to send troops to locate her. They were to escort her safely to the headquarters of Lion corps.
The only information they had now was her itinerary; she would have arrived at the Morphey Forest on the southern border between Shalor and Faustian. This rescue operation was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Both Cardoj and the nobles knew that. However, when they thought about the fact that Princess Angelina was the only sister of Prince Kenzir, everyone felt relieved. The prince's love for his sister was well known among the nobles. Some even joked that whoever married the princess would own half of the kingdom.
"In this rescue mission, all three corps will be sending some men out. Gale, Lion, and our Falcon will enter Bering Mountains from the north, east and south respectively. We must find the princess at all costs," the margrave said decisively.
"Yes," everyone answered. The nobles in this tent were all about to send troops for the search and rescue mission. The mission this time was a huge one with many personal benefits. There would not be much danger and finding the princess would be a great achievement. The most important thing was that one could not take part in the upcoming siege of Bimore with valid reason. Although the city was a mere part of a county and didn't pose much of a threat, it was defended by most of the remaining forces of Shalor. It was a tough bone to bite and nobody wanted to lose their men there.
After the meeting, Cardoj conversed with De Sandro for a while. This time, he talked to him as his son-in-law and junior. Gone was the strict division between superior and subordinate. Cardoj's platoon was formed with the support of De Sandro before the war, and the losses in recent years had been even greater. All of this still happened despite De Sandro's support. Even Cardoj's presence in 2nd Division was thanks to him. It could be said that one third of the success Cardoj achieved was due to De Sandro. Cashel instead was assigned to 3rd Division.
Even though Cardoj was speaking to De Sandro in private capacity, his attitude was still respectful. In addition to superficial matters like these, Cardoj also asked for a guard to bring a sandalwood box to him. In front of the margrave, Cardoj focused his impetus on his palm and slapped the box, causing it to snap open instantly. A gorgeous and soft light illuminated the gloomy tent. It was a box filled with jewellery of Shalorian make.
"This is from the siege of Farlans," Cardoj said.
"The territory of the margrave's son? Not bad!" De Sandro smiled with affirmation. The margrave's servants closed the box of jewellery and stashed it away.
The mood of De Sandro improved considerably. Actually, the margrave was the one who hinted for Cardoj to attack Farlans. Having a broader picture of the situation, De Sandro had more information on the remaining forces of Shalor, such as where they were more abundant, and which places were easier to attack. Farlans was a surprise for the both of them. The box of jewels was valued at at least two thousand gold thalers, which was a delightful sum even for a margrave.
As to why Cashel was with Cardoj during the attack on Farlans, it was because he had decent backing. Casters were not so easy to hire, after all.
After bidding De Sandro goodbye, Cardoj went to headquarters. His group was affiliated with Falcon, after all. His father-in-law was in the 2nd Division, so all he needed was to send a notice instead of meeting the corps jarl in person.
After the briefing, Cardoj went to Marmen's camp. Marmen had just dismissed a group of clerks who came to make their report. He sat down and poured himself a cup of tea, listening quietly as Cardoj told him about the casualties in previous battles and the upcoming operation in the Bering Mountains. Strictly speaking, Cardoj was not qualified to report to Marmen. But due to his participation in the upcoming operation, Marmen had to take Cardoj's account into consideration. He also truly hoped that this baron could help him to find Angelina.
After leaving Marmen's tent, Cardoj invited Wyr who had just returned and walked out of the camp together. They needed to regroup with Solon's troops.
Wyr had just made a trip to the supply camp. High-rank Knechts trained differently, unlike Locke and the others who simply used their impetus and exercised every day. What they needed was to push the limits of the human body with help from specially brewed potions. These potions were very valuable, and only the logistics department of headquarters would have them. The logistics department would only provide such services for high-rank Knechts like Wyr who served in many parts of the kingdom.
Wyr was Cardoj's most valuable and helpful subordinate, especially in combat. Because of Wyr, Cardoj could perform better than most viscounts. Why did De Sandro see Cardoj with that much favour? Was it really because of his abilities? The most valuable resource in this world was capable people. If Cardoj didn't have Wyr as his trump card, who knew if he would really get to marry the margrave's daughter?
There were other nobles with ulterior motives who were desperately in need of the high-rank Knechts to suppress the subordinates that had attempted to poach Wyr. Many were counts, but Wyr had not once forsaken Cardoj. It was not only because of the gratitude he had for the Cardoj household assisting his family through the three generations, but also the experiences the two shared during their teenage years. Their friendship had been reforged during their time spent studying in Aomar. Back then, they even had to share one biscuit to survive, experiencing many such moments of life and death together.
When Cardoj and Wyr led the guards out of the camp, they met Baron Cashel, who had just arrived. Cashel was about to step forward and say hello and why Cardoj's troops had changed destination. However, Cardoj just gave him a friendly nod and left.
This embarrassed Cashel, who had already raised his hand halfway for a greeting. He could only put down his hand as his anger simmered. Although the two had worked together many times, the more they cooperated, the further they felt from one another. The last argument at Farlans had caused their relationship to fracture.
Though, there wasn't much he could do against Cardoj. Although he had a low-rank caster under his command, this Meister Wilson was actually introduced to him by a secretive viscount backing him. Usually, the caster did not pay Cashel much heed. At this moment, Cashel envied Cardoj for having De Sandro as an ally.
Cashel shook his head to drive those thoughts away and led his men into the camp. He did not have the support of De Sandro in headquarters like Cardoj did, so he still needed to meet the jarl of 3rd Division in person.