“Ah, Rhudy, Driscoll,” came Gerard’s voice.
“Gerard,” said Rhutgard, nodding, falling in line with Gerard’s horse. He nodded in dismissal to the Colonel who had led him to Gerard. “I understand there was a wolf in the vicinity last night.”
“Yes, bloody loud one at that. Dirty, unshaven beast. Howled half the night.” Gerard grinned as he rubbed a hand across his beard.
Driscoll snorted and Rhutgard laughed. Tales of King Gerard singing “To the Victors” with the men at the bonfire and howling like a wolf had spread throughout the ranks. Rhutgard wholeheartedly approved and could just envision Gerard baying at the moon though Driscoll considered it childish antics and foolery. Driscoll was ever the statesman and would never sink so low as to howl, thus continuing to earn the designation Silver Statesman that Rhutgard had coined. As King, Gerard was The Wolf of Ghiverny and what he had done last night breathed life into his ranks after the Ormons had ambushed them.
“We are bloody glad of the troops, let me tell you,” Gerard commented as he waved an arm at the fresh infusion of troops that Rhutgard and Driscoll brought with them from Delsynth and Romeny.
“Something else you’ll be glad of – we come with news,” commented Driscoll. “Those Ormons you drove off with their tails between their legs, scouts tell us they are sitting off to the west stirring up a little storm, getting ready to attack again.”
“You found them? Excellent!” Gerard’s grin was almost bloodthirsty.
“Understand that this is not the full host, Gerard,” cautioned Rhutgard. “We’ve reports that the full host is under command of a Colonel in the upper northwest of the EverWinters. Sizable, but not problematic.”
“I don’t care. I want these men out of Ghiverny.”
Driscoll and Rhutgard exchanged a glance.
“Have you had no riders this morning?”
“No, none. Of course, if we had one yesterday, he was probably killed.”
“More Ormon troops are on their way down the Northern Countries Crosslands, headed toward the EverWinters.” Rhutgard took no joy in informing his old friend that Ormon troops would be marching through his country.
At first, Gerard was silent. Finally, he responded grimly, “Well, we just won the Battle of Rossdon, or that’s what the men are calling it, since Rossdon is just miles from here. Should the men stay behind to meet them? What think you, will the Ormons be invading Ghiverny? Or are they headed only for the EverWinters?”
Martmain, Ghiverny’s capital city, and Genwith City, were easily within marching distance of the Ormons’ path, and Rhutgard knew how the Ghiverns valued their cities. Ghiverny was a country of art, music, and literature, and he knew how both cities would fair should the Ormons take it upon themselves to invade, though both cities were well fortified in times of war.
“I am told they are headed to join the EverWinter troops,” Rhutgard told him.
“And just who is your source? How credible is your source?” asked Gerard.
It was hard not to be irked at that, but he squashed his irritation, for he would fear the same if Ormon troops would be passing through Romeny close to Fairview and Sherrigan.
Driscoll responded for him. “Captain Firthing is his source, actually. You might be interested in knowing that he got the information from a dying Ormon soldier.”
Gerard seemed to take heart and realized that he was also in the company of the Eastern Shield. There were times when, like his sons, Gerard forgot that.
To dispel the awkwardness developing, Rhutgard said, “Well, the Battle of Rossdon may be won, but we have another battle to be fought. Let us use time to our advantage. Get your men mobilized, so that we can win another battle today. Then we can march for the EverWinters. If we hit the EverWinters before the Ormons reach them, they will know they cannot simply camp out in the East and expect to win.”