Chapter 6

"Waylon there's no need for you to go yourself." Kerrin smiled at the other Emperor.

"I assured Regent Zarsan that I'd attend to the issue in person and I will. I'll leave for Luh in a few hours." Waylon answered.

"Only if you're sure. I'll organise an escort. Regent Lafi?" Kerrin asked doubtfully.

"He'll remain here. Please see him as your own Regent in mine, and Zarsan's absence."

"Thank you, Waylon. This is really very noble of you and I'm sure Zarsan will think so too." Kerrin said seriously.

"It's the least I can do. Regent Zarsan and I didn't get off to a very good start, did we? And he did spare Lafi a five day trek to Jullit." Waylon shrugged his shoulders.

"Your initial meeting was based on a series of misunderstandings, Waylon, that's all. It's in the past." Kerrin assured Waylon. He was actually quite impressed that the Emperor was trying to make amends, in his own way. "Have a safe journey."

Waylon avoided the barracks completely and went to join his escort at the gates. His horse skills were better than those of his nephew but he still hated the wretched things and treks through the Empire weren't his idea of fun at all.

"We stop at that smudge of a village to the north of Luh." Waylon ordered his escort.

"Gilby, sir." One rider answered. "Do I ride ahead and secure accommodation, sir? It is only a very small village and barely suitable for an Emperor."

"Oh don't fuss. Do you think I'm going to be there long?" Waylon snapped.

"Of course not sir. Wouldn't you prefer Luh? It's only an extra mile and a bit more comfortable."

"Are you questioning my order?" Waylon shouted. "Gilby!" The rider simply nodded and went to tell the rest of the escort.

The same rider, a man named Hannet, was sent on to Luh to escort Leader Jonas to Gilby to meet the Emperor.

"What? Are you mad?" Jonas said in surprise. "What in the Creek is he doing in Gilby and why weren't we informed?"

"Feel free to ask him yourself, sir. I like my job, my pay and my house." Hannet sad ruefully.

"The place has gone mad. Come on." Jonas swung onto his horse and headed north.

Emperor Waylon had taken over the only Inn in Gilby. He was busy ordering the Innkeep around when Jonas was shown in.

"Sir. I trust all is well?" Jonas said in concern.

"I assume so yes. Calm yourself Leader Jonas." Waylon waved his hand. "Just a minor hold up I'd imagine. The Division that was meant to relieve you had been called away on urgent business in Jullit. The Divisional Generals saw no need to delay the entire shift so you are to allow two Squads of your men to return to Agalia. The rest will join them once they're relieved, as per schedule."

"Sir we only have three Squads in total. You're certain the Generals said two Squads?" Jonas was extremely doubtful. That would leave Luh virtually defenceless.

"I didn't think I'd need a written assurance that I was telling the truth, soldier!" Waylon snapped. "Or is it my memory you're questioning? Two Squads!"

"Sir the men here won't mind delaying their shift until their relief gets here. One Squad will leave Luh very exposed." Jonas argued.

"You are trying my patience, soldier. I've relayed the order and now I'll give it to you directly, as your Emperor. Send two Squads back to Agalia immediately." Waylon shouted.

"Yes sir." Jonas said stiffly. "Sir? It's an honour to meet you. I didn't expect to see an Emperor out here in Gilby."

"Yes well this is a favour to Regent Zarsan." Waylon said arrogantly. "He wanted me to apologise for any inconvenience. My being here in person, is an act of good faith."

"Yes sir. I'll go and speak to the men." Jonas excused himself, his brain in a state of confusion. Zarsan had endorsed this? It was sheer stupidity! Luh had been protected fully for four years, despite the lack of activity. "Orders from the Emperor, Jonas. You haven't alot of choice."

Waylon exhaled loudly in relief. This plot had gone remarkably smoothly and that made him edgy. He smiled to himself when he thought about the origins of his plan. It was actually Zarsan that had provided the idea. He'd outlined it step by step, and in detail, every time he sent a report from Luh. Distract Ludrig and thin out the Agalian troops in Luh, was the groundwork. The tricky bit was informing the Golon and including them in this groundwork, namely the distraction of Ludrig. Then the Golon were welcome to Luh. This proved to be a simple matter to address. The jails were full of Golon convicts who'd be glad of a chance of glory among their people and orchestrating an attack on Luh would be glorious indeed. Not that Golon would be allowed to keep the town, it was far too important. Waylon was confident that Ludrig would soon recapture the place. The jailer was already dead and so was the Scout from Jullit. Jonas could get a reprieve if he believed this order came from Zarsan. Anyone else could be dealt with as any issues arose.

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