“A war is not always won with daring, but it is always lost without.”
– Florianne Goethal, Princess of Brus
When the First Prince left the Arsenal, it would be with a talking corpse in a locked box.
The work on my end was done, and it’d been exhausting enough that I slept fitfully for a few hours after returning to my rooms. Archer kept watch, and intercepted messages and reports before they could reach me. I woke up halfway to Afternoon Bell with a stiff leg, the undead Red Axe remaining as a little bundle of senses in the back of my mind I could look into if I so wished. I could snuff her out again with a snap of my fingers if I so wished, a precaution I’d judged necessary given who the heroine had made deals with when she still breathed. Let Procer have its trial, and Cordelia settle her princes. I’d made it clear it was the last favour I’d be doing her for some time, and that now it was her time to deliver.
Among the messages Indrani passed me was one from her, which turned out to be a good start on that. She’d officially ratified a treaty making the ealamal a weapon under the Grand Alliance, if not a weapon of the Grand Alliance. Yannu Marave and I were being invited to post up to three hundred soldiers each to stand guard over the weapon, with Procer itself promising to limit its own garrison at five hundred. Twenty slots for ‘scholarly observers’ were offered for each us, with access to the doomsday weapon, though if Named were to be part of that twenty it would require unanimous approval by a vote of the signatory members of the Grand Alliance.
All this we’d agreed over the Lord of Alava’s strong wine, but the added list penned by Cordelia’s own hand of all Named she was willing to grant access was an unexpected boon. As I’d expected Hierophant wasn’t on it, but both Roland and the Forsworn Healer were. Only a few villains were among them: the Harrowed Witch, the Forgetful Librarian, the Royal Conjurer and the Hunted Magician. Three out of four were Proceran, but honestly of my lot they were the most decent folk that’d be able to get something out of looking at the corpse. The Affable Burglar was the only Named she went out of her way to specify would be allowed under no circumstance, which honestly was fair.
Aurore was delightful, but she had the worst of Vivienne’s old habits paired with a moral compass to make a priest weep.
I penned a quick diplomatic thank you note for the First Prince, then a longer message for Lord Yannu mentioning I was still willing to back up his nomination of the Healer if he was willing to do the same with mine of the Rogue Sorcerer. I was willing to get it all going this very evening, if he was. Most of the other messages were minor, the only one of decent importance a formal confirmation that the war council would begin tomorrow through the Mirage. I’d already agreed to that, though, so it wasn’t a surprise. What was, however, was the official report I got from the Arsenal research council that a functional, usable Unraveller pattern had finally been made.
Mind you the estimated costs for one were still higher than I’d like – about the same as a good horse – but it’d be worth the coin if they worked as advertised. I’d spend a good horse’s worth of gold on an artefact capable of destroying a beorn or even a turtle-ship with a single touch without hesitation, considering how necromantic constructs tended to be the Dead King’s means of shattering shield walls. Hells, with a decent supply of those the Lycaonese would be able to hold Twilight’s Pass until the Last Dusk – they were a damned stubborn folk, and their fortresses would hard to invest without Keter’s monstrous siege engines.
“We’ve got Unravellers,” I told Indrani, grinning. “We still need proper field testing, but they seem to hold up. The Blind Maker had a breakthrough while we were busy politicking – apparently wood soaked in Arcadian water works just as well as that murderously expensive stuff we were bringing in from the Waning Woods.”
It was easy to forget that, for all the intrigue permeating it at the moment, the Arsenal remained first and foremost a research facility. That’d not stopped just because nobility had swarmed all over it.
“I want a full quiver,” Archer replied without missing a beat.
“Sure, if it comes out of your pay,” I said. “Even for your beast of a bow the size of the thing will be a little hard, though.”
I passed her the report, which included dimensions, and she looked disgruntled. Yeah, that was more a lance than a javelin. She might be able to throw them – scratch that, she’d definitely be able to throw them – but unless she had a bow made specifically for firing Unravellers she’d not be able to use them as arrows.
“Alexis’s silver bow will be able to handle them,” she reluctantly admitted. “It’s a Gigantes artefact, it can change its shape some.”
Huh, good to know. Just for that the Silver Huntress had earned a guaranteed place among the Named that’d be joining the offensive into Hainaut. Assuming said offensive was agreed on by the Grand Alliance, though I expected it would be. That bridge the Dead King was building didn’t leave us much of a choice. I had a few questions for Indrani – including whether or not she could spare the Harrowed Witch, now that her old band had been gutted – but we were interrupted by a messenger. The White Knight was requesting, firmly but politely, a moment of my time. I didn’t allow myself to sigh until I’d sent back an affirmative that Hanno could call on me.
“Want me to stay?” Indrani offered. “If you want a loomer, I can loom.”
“I won’t be needing a loomer, no,” I amusedly replied.
“I’ve been practicing this thing with the knives, too” Archer told me, “Where I’m carving away all casual at a piece of wood, but then I change the angle and it makes this sinister scraping sound-”
“You’re not going to intimidate the White Knight with sinister wood scraping, ‘Drani,” I told her, lips twitching.
“You can’t know until we try,” she insisted, then peered at me piercingly. “Good to have that chat alone, then? Shiny Boots is bound to be a little miffed over your latest bout of corpse-snatching.”
“He’ll have to get over it,” I said. “I broke no laws.”
“Because that argument always works with heroes,” Archer drily said. “I guess you haven’t had a polite and oddly preachy argument in too long, something’s got to be done to scratch your itch.”
“Out with you,” I grinned.
“But what about what’s right, Catherine?” Indrani said in a deep voice, looking at me stoically. “Have you thought about the children, or how this will make angels sad?”
I bit down on my laughter, since otherwise it’d just encourage her.
“Away, witch,” I said. “Go chuck terrible sculptures at Masego.”
“Heard that might get illegal soon,” she replied, cocking an eyebrow at me.
I let out a startled laugh. I’d forgotten my teasing promise to Zeze from when we’d been mopping up the last enemies in the Arsenal, but I shouldn’t have expected him to – or to have failed to inform Indrani of it.
“I’ll make you royal art thrower,” I promised. “Court title with a legal exemption and everything.”
“Make sure it sticks under Vivienne too,” Indrani requested, “I’m fairly sure the wench likes him better than me.”
I managed to keep a serious face at that, which was quite the achievement, and ushered her out before the White Knight could arrive. I was a lot more dishevelled than I would have allowed myself to be in front of Lord Yannu or the First Prince, but unlike them Hanno had seen me on campaign. Staying in a tunic and comfortable boots wouldn’t be taken as an insult by him. I poured myself water waiting for him, and before long an attendant was knocking at my door. I dismissed the young woman in question at the door and welcomed him in myself, gesturing for the salon in front of my room. The White Knight was dressed just as fancily as me, his tunic grey to my green, and if anything his boots were more worn than mine.
I found Hanno’s face hard to read as he entered and sat, though his continued silence save for simple courtesies did not bode well. He sat and declined the water I offered, expression calm. I lowered myself on the seat on the opposite side of the table, raising an eyebrow to invite him to begin.
“You made the body of a heroine into an undead prop,” the White Knight said.
Calm, but it wasn’t a friendly kind of calm.
“Legally speaking, Procer did that,” I noted. “It employed my services in doing it, true, but I acted on its behalf.”
“I expected better of you,” he said.
“Oh, fuck off,” I flatly replied. “I wouldn’t have had to step in if you’d compromised with Hasenbach yourself. The way I asked you to.”
“What she asked for-”
“Was hard to swallow,” I interrupted, “but she asked it for a reason. Refusing her is fine, Hanno, but if you do then something has to be done to address those reasons. You can’t just call it politics and say it’s out of your wheelhouse, not when your heroes are half the reason we’re in this mess to start with.”
“There was no call to compromise, Catherine,” the White Knight said. “If the Principate is proving incapable of fulfilling basic treaty obligations it agreed to, it should not be further indulged with concessions. You are acting in a manner that will secure signatures for your Accords but destroy any trust there might be in them.”
“I’m acting in a manner that keeps Principate conscripts, food and coin flowing,” I said, voice grown cold. “You know, those things we need if we want to have any chance at all of beating Keter. What was done breaks no laws and did not interfere with the sentence you passed under the Terms. You have no grounds on which to complain.”
“You could have told me of your intentions,” Hanno said. “You chose, instead, to scheme.”
His eyes narrowed.
“I am not blind,” he said. “You pushed to have the details of the trial placed under seal so that word of the trial in the Highest Assembly will spread among the people of Procer long before the one in the Arsenal does.”
“Named will be able to ask about the sentence passed on the Red Axe, as is their right under the Terms,” I replied. “They will be told, if they do, that you personally executed her.”
It’d come out eventually that Procer had tried a walking corpse, that much was certain – there were too many Named for loose lips not to eventually spill the truth, and the Arsenal itself was not airtight – but by then it wouldn’t matter. Hasenbach would have had town criers all over Procer spreading her story first, an apparatus that no Named could hope to match in speed and scope. The people of Procer would treat is as rumours, not the true story, while Named would have the White Knight’s own word of having killed the Red Axe to count on. Hanno’s own reputation was being used to anchor this, which I suspected was part of the reason he was angry.
“You build your tower on a foundation of lies and confusion,” the White Knight said. “It can only crumble.”
“If this was about ten people, or even a hundred, you’d be right,” I said. “When it comes to a few hundred thousand, though, to millions, then all those stories in the back of your head stop mattering. The scope is just too large for a pattern like ‘the secret coming out’ to make a dent. Even if rumours linger, more rumours can be seeded to dislodge them.”
“More lies,” Hanno said. “Making a game of treaties can only lessens them, Catherine.”
His expression tightened.
“There was a moment, in that room where we had come to speak with the First Prince, where you decided I had become an obstacle,” the White Knight said. “Already you had it planned, suggesting that Procer to get custody of the corpse.”
“I’m not one of yours, Hanno,” I mildly said. “You got in your own way and it needed to be done, so I did it. If you want pretty ends, get them yourself. Below deals in much, but rarely that.”
“This has cost you trust, Black Queen,” he said. “From heroes, and from me. You made the choice to go behind my back instead of working together.”
And that was true, I wouldn’t deny it. But this pretence that I was just a scorpion stinging out of habit was infuriating me, because I wouldn’t have had to do anything of this if he’d godsdamned handled it himself.
“This has cost you respect, White Knight,” I replied, voice gone hard as steel. “Because the longer you speak, the more I can’t help but notice that for all your whining you haven’t given a single alternative.”
The conversation ended there, which was for the best.
Sometimes I thought about how much gold had been sunk into building the ‘Mirage’ and winced, but I had to admit that at least it looked impressive.
It wasn’t that the room itself was large, or all that richly decorated: it was a circle with a radius of maybe a hundred feet, and the place was aggressively bare of ornaments. Nothing had been brought into here that might interfere with the enchantments, and even we had been warned to keep our clothing simple. No jewelry, and no weapons were allowed in – and for me in specific, neither my yew staff nor the Mantle of Woe. At the centre stood a great table of stone, carved with small runes that could be touched to silently signal you were requesting the right to speak, and around said table twenty seats of stone had been assembled. Those seats were within boxes of clear glass, which would serve as the medium for the magic, but in truth the entire room was an intricate ritual array hid under the floor tiles.
With all the glass and the strange table, surrounded by smooth walls of polished stone, the Mirage made for an unusual sight. I claimed my seat with a limp, letting a mage attendant close the glass panels behind me, and breathed out in surprise when within moments I began to saw around the table people that were thousands of miles away. The illusions were damned convincing, too: I could see the flush on Rozala Malanza’s cheeks, and the details of the folds on Itima Ifriqui’s skin. It was a shame that there would be no refreshments offered at this war council, given how long it was likely to last, but Hasenbach had suggested that after an hour we vote on taking a pause so at least I wouldn’t stuck in this box forever. It was going to get warm in here, I suspected, considering the openings in the glass were small and meant more to let in air than address heat.
There were too many commanders in the Grand Alliance for them to all fit in one room, much less warrant the expensive arrangements necessary to be connected to the Mirage, so it was only the very highest rung of command that’d been invited to this war council. For the front in Twilight’s Pass the Kingfisher Prince had come in person, while an illusion Lady Itima Ifriqui of Vaccei stood in for the Dominion troops in the region. For Cleves, an illusion of my old foe Princess Rozala Malanza of Aequitan had been conjured up while Lord Yannu Marave had claimed his seat in person. For Hainaut, grizzled old Klaus Papenheim has been brought in phantom form while the Kingdom of Callow had its representative in my person. Though not a general, the First Prince naturally had a seat of her own as the highest military authority in Procer.
Going by numbers Callow’s presence in the room was almost slightingly small, and in truth I’d been offered the right to bring in an Army officer from the Pass to even the numbers a bit, but I’d declined. Dragging Pickler or Kilian into this was unwarranted for essentially the same reason that neither Razin Tanja nor Aquiline Osena were in attendance even though they fielded troops in Hainaut. Hells, it was why General Pallas wasn’t here even though her Tyrant’s Own numbered more than the troops Lady Itima had brough up north. None of those commanders were of the highest authority in the front. If I told Razin to send out his foot, the boy did it. If the Iron Prince wanted the kataphraktoi to screen the flanks of Alamans skirmishers, screen those they did.
While all those people would be told of the decisions made, and participate to the planning of the campaign itself, the hard truth was that none of them were influential enough to warrant a seat here. And not all seats were equal in here, either. I spoke for the entire Army of Callow and was the informal representative for the drow as well, which meant my word weighed heavier than that of any single Levantine or Proceran save perhaps Cordelia herself. Their authority was diluted by their numbers, not strengthened: Itima Ifriqui could not speak for the captains under another of the Blood, and Malanza couldn’t speak for the Lycaonese holding the Pass. My army’s chain of command was fundamentally unlike theirs, when it came down to it. Theirs forces were a messy patchwork of personal noble troops and free captains answering this way and that, while mine had been inherited from the relentlessly professional Legions of Terror.
Given the difficulties Cordelia still had in getting her princes in line I might actually have more soldiers under me than she did, regardless of Procer fielding a significantly larger force overall.
There was no small talk, and barely even greetings. Once the spells were stable and the mage-attendants had made sure the links were matched silence was given without even needing to be called for. Everyone knew why they were here, and how serious the matters at hand were. It was the kind of weight that tended to make small talk feel like whistling in a graveyard. Hasenbach did not let the silence linger for long, opening the council with a few brisk courtesies and then getting us started in earnest with the unfortunate realities of our war.
“All of you have, by now, received the information that the Witch of the Woods obtained during her sally beyond enemy lines,” the First Prince said. “The Dead King is raising a bridge in northern Hainaut, in the flatlands known as Thibault’s Wager. Troops are being massed on the northern shore, and fortifications have been raised to harden the site against assault.”
Itima Ifriqui of the Brigand’s Blood rapped her knuckles against the table before her, requesting the right to speak and having it granted immediately.
“Did we get hard numbers on what is being massed?” the Lady of Vaccei asked.
“The initial report by the Witch estimated around two hundred thousand on the northern shore,” the First Prince replied, “but that was more than two months ago. We have not been able to scry the location since.”
“I mean no disrespect to the skills of the Lady Witch,” Princess Rozala said, “yet it occurs to me that the Hidden Horror might well have allowed her this vision. I won’t argue against the necessity of break that bridge, but it seems to me we are being provoked to battle on his time and terms.”
She was right about that much, in my opinion. While I honesty doubted Neshamah had given up the game with the bridge on purpose – he wasn’t infallible, we took him by surprise sometimes – he was aware that we knew about his bridge and couldn’t afford to let it stand. He knew a battle was coming in this ‘Thibault’s Wager’, and he’d be prepared accordingly.
“I’ve been sending native outriders and Helike cataphracts deep into enemy territory,” the Iron Prince told us after being given right to speak, “and the reports from the survivors all speak to the same truth: the Enemy is withdrawing deeper into Hainaut. We still get regular raids on our lines but the army Old Bones wanted to strike with while the plague ravaged our backs broke into smaller forces. We think at least half of them are headed north.”
I touched a rune on the table with my fingers, which drew Hasenbach’s attention, and she gave me the right to speak a heartbeat after.
“It’s a safe bet he’s fortifying the Wager,” I said. “The longer we wait to make our offensive, the more heavily dug-in the dead will be. Revenants, constructs, earthworks. He’ll make that place into a fortress.”
Possibly literally. The flatlands would become even more strategically valuable after the bridge was built, should we fail to stop that, so it would be a sound use of resources to raise a fortress there. The right to speak passed back to Lady Itima.
“A surprise strike through the Twilight Ways is the answer,” she said. “A strong force with Bestowed can shatter the works and retreat.”
“And the moment the dust settles on that raid, the Dead King will begin raising a new bridge,” Frederic pointed out. “It would be worthwhile for him even only for the forced attrition – how many elite troops and heroes will we lose with every attack?”
“The work can’t be done in a day,” Princess Rozala disagreed. “It will slow him down enough that we’ll get breathing room to muster a proper answer.”
“Your theory rests on the Hidden Horror’s means to build staying the same,” Prince Klaus retorted. “They won’t. The longer this goes on, the more bodies he can mobilize.”
“If we strike at all, it should be to win lasting gains,” Lord Yannu said. “There is only so much blood we can afford to spill over that bridge.”
“The strategic reality is that a raid is just pissing away lives,” I bluntly agreed. “We have to be able to hold the region, or we’ll be doing this again and again. Even if we make this Wager impossible to build in, what prevents Keter from starting work on a bridge a hundred miles upriver?”
“We would be committing to a major offensive entirely on the Dead King’s terms, Queen Catherine,” Princess Rozala replied. “And if a severe enough defeat ensues, it seems likely that the Hainaut defensive lines will be unable to withstand the counterattack.”
“If Ol’ Bones gets two hundred thousand of his finest on the south bank, we won’t be able to withstand a plain attack,” the Iron Prince grunted. “Your instincts are good, Malanza, I mean no slight to them. It’ll be a nasty piece of war to slog through, for sure. But I don’t see that we have a choice. The Black Queen put her arrow in the eye: this is going to keep happening until we secure the shores of Hainaut.”
“It would make the principality easier to defend,” the Kingfisher Prince noted. “Barring disaster, having a moat between Hainaut and Keter should offset the casualties taken winning it.”
“A plan that accounts for victory but not defeat is not a plan, it is a daydream,” Lord Yannu said. “If disaster does happen, how does Hainaut hold?”
“I will be bringing reinforcements from Callow,” I said. “The Duchy of Daoine has agreed to send six thousand men, under condition that they are used purely for defensive warfare. Lady Dartwick will hold the command.”
Duchess Kegan had been willing to shake loose some of her soldiers, if they were used only to man the defensive lines. I didn’t even grudge her the limitations, considering those lines were going to have to be manned regardless: skilled as Deoraithe fighters were, on the field I would rather have more legionaries in the ranks. I would have liked some Watch, mind you, but Kegan had been understandably unwilling to let any of them near the greatest necromancer to ever live. I didn’t want Neshamah to get his hands on that mass of souls the Watch got its powers from either, so I’d live with the disappointment. Besides, if they stayed in Callow then they were for Malicia to worry about – and given how few troops were left to defend my borders I wanted her to worry as much as possible.
“Six thousand will not hold back the tide, Your Majesty,” the Princess of Aequitan said.
“Neither will hiding behind our walls,” I flatly replied. “And even if we suffer a defeat, the Ways mean there will always be a path of retreat the enemy can not follow us into. That will mitigate casualties, and the defeated force could then retreat to the defensive lines faster than the dead can march and replenish its ranks with the reinforcements from Daoine.”
“Companies of volunteers are also being raised from the refugees in Brabant,” the First Prince said. “Though they will not be ready in time to participate in a summer offensive, they can at least serve as a strategic reserve.”
“Starvelings in dwarven tinpots,” Lady Itima snorted. “How many of those poor souls are you raising?”
“Between ten and fifteen thousand,” the fair-haired princess replied.
A pretty number, especially when you added my six thousand Deoraithe to it, but no one here was fooled. How many of those ten to fifteen would truly be fighting fit, instead of sickly elders or children too small for the breastplate? If it was even half I’d count us lucky. Procer was at least a year past scraping the bottom of the barrel when it came to recruitment, these days it was digging into the floor under the metaphorical barrel. Still, warm bodies with spears could hold the defenses we’d raised. Not well, but long enough for reinforcements to arrive. And with Named to stiffen the backbone, we should be able to avoid a general rout the moment the volunteers first saw what an offensive by Keter looked like.
“Ten thousand starvelings can hold a wall, Itima, if they have a Callowan backbone spread through their ranks,” the Lord of Alava said.
“Might be,” the Lady of Vaccei grunted back.
“Though our hand is being forced, there is another reason I’m in favour of an offensive in Hainaut,” I said. “The Hierophant is close to a breakthrough on a weapon that would make an attack on the Crown of the Dead feasible – and reclaiming Hainaut would be necessary before such a step.”
It was good news I’d given them, and it was treated like it. Only Hasenbach knew of Quartered Season in any depth, though both Malanza and Marave were aware that I’d had Masego working on something since the foundation of the Arsenal. Klaus Papenheim, in particular, had finally traded that grim Lycaonese scowl for a distinctly wolfish smile.
“Within three months we should have the artefact itself,” I continued, “and though the time required to make it a fully functional weapon is uncertain, it would be ready for use by next summer.”
Meaning if we took back Hainaut this year and dug in over the winter, we could attempt to end the war in a single stroke the following year.
“Might we expect a fuller understanding of this weapon soon, Your Majesty?” Princess Rozala asked.
“Once the initial trial is complete, in three months, a briefing will be arranged,” I said. “Before that I will only fully inform the First Prince herself and a designated high officer for Levant.”
The Levantines shared a look.
“I will be that officer,” Lord Yannu said. “It will be confirmed by the Majilis before the end of the day.”
I inclined my head in acknowledgement.
“In light of what I’ve said, I’d like you all to reconsider how you’re looking at the offensive ahead of us,” I said. “While it’s true that Keter will be expecting us to attack, at this time I don’t believe the Dead King will be expecting an all-out and sustained offensive to reclaim all of Hainaut. This could be an opportunity for us to do real damage.”
“You’re suggesting we destroy the Enemy’s forces in Hainaut,” Frederic said. “Bold.”
“I’m suggesting that if this is to be our last offensive before we move against Keter itself, it’s in our interest to destroy as much of the Dead King’s armies as possible,” I said. “Better to face them on the field than behind the walls of the Crown of the Dead.”
That siege would already be hellish enough without Neshamah being allowed to pull back his armies in good order and turning his capital into even more of an impregnable nightmare.
“We don’t have the numbers for that kind of campaign in Hainaut,” Prince Klaus pragmatically said.
“The Firstborn forces under General Rumena are willing to participate to that offensive,” I said. “And I’d like for commanders on the other fronts to consider sending reinforcements.”
“The defense of Cleves will be made significantly harder by the absence of the Firstborn,” Princess Rozala said.
“Perhaps that will remember Gaspard Langevin the realities of his situation,” I said, tone gone sharp. “Sve Noc’s patience is not without limits. Besides, it is Twilight’s Pass I would expect more soldiers from.”
“Holding the grounds we’ve taken is not leisurely, don’t let the stalemate fool you,” Lady Itima said. “Your raiders ought to have told you this much.”
“You believe the Unravellers will stabilize our front enough we can afford to thin the ranks,” the Kingfisher Prince said, eyes narrowing.
There was some undisciplined talk at the talk of the artefacts, since to my surprise the news hadn’t made it everywhere. Lady Itima had held no idea, and to my surprise neither had the Iron Prince – he must have been away from reliable scrying relays.
“I wouldn’t take my mages from you, but Special Tribune Robber and Sapper-General Pickler would both be of great use on this campaign,” I said. “Not to mention a few hundred Lycaonese foot.”
Prince Klaus looked a little flattered, I saw from the corner of my eye. Well, he knew what I thought of his people as far as soldiering went. Lycaonese fought fierce and rarely broke, there were few better men to field against the dead. Frederic’s horse was famous as well, but they were mostly retinue troops and Hainaut was already well served in cavalry by my reckoning. Between my knights, Lycaonese cavalry and the kataphraktoi we had a fine array of heavy horse, while Alamans horsemen made for fine skirmishers and outriders.
“If the Unravellers prove reliable, I would agree to lending troops to the offensive,” the Kingfisher Prince said.
Not that he could keep Pickler or Robber from leaving if I recalled them, but it would be undiplomatic to withdraw my soldiers without first consulting the commanding officers of the front.
“You don’t need my lot, not when you’ve got Tartessos screamers,” Lady Itima noted. “I’ll send Moro and a company of sworn blades, but no more.”
“I would be willing to contribute Alavan captains,” Lord Yannu said. “Should the campaign be soundly planned.”
More heavy foot, these, allegedly the finest in Levant. I nodded in thanks at both Levantines.
“If the Firstborn leave and our Levantine friends split their forces, I do not believe I can spare much men,” Princess Rozala said, tone faintly regretful. “And of that little no horse, if the drow no longer screen the coasts.”
“Setting aside the details of the offensive,” the First Prince said, “I now ask formally: is this is council in favour of a summer offensive in Hainaut?”
The vote was unanimously in favour.