The Governor-General’s Oath; Chapter 14

Winter was quickly approaching Romilmark, and Grundoon summoned his military leaders to gather before the snow began to fall. He hadn’t yet met with the commander of the Red Guards that were patrolling in the domain, nor the commander of the 8th Army who had set up operations in the town of Karpaburg in the northern half of Romilmark. Grundoon had no reason to suspect that the domain was in jeopardy from a new Romillian attack, but it was time to batten down the hatches for the winter.

It was nearly a month into his tenure as Governor-General that Grundoon held the big meeting with his generals. He had regular briefings with them via the communication crystal, as well as with the Herzgraf, but he hadn’t summoned the generals to Brakoff right away. Von Draeger he saw almost daily, and the two men had formed a strong friendship that while it had started rocky, was now very strong. Grundoon had discovered that von Draeger was a very capable commander, both brave and studious. His command was garrisoned originally at The Gate, the great castle that sat at the southern end of the Coreland. Most of his command was here in Romilmark now, but he wanted to be back at his command in the Coreland. Grundoon promised him early on that he would release the general from his obligations in Romilmark as quickly as possible.

The commander of the Red Guards, General Shr Argrowl von Unster-Kol, was another kind of leader altogether. He was a jor, and had no garrison to defend. The Red Guards were the battlefield elite of the Slothjemian military, and as such were prepared to race to wherever the combat was at a moment’s notice. Grundoon and Argrowl had met before, just before the battle of Garvin’s Gap. But that first meeting had not been necessarily good. In fact, Grundoon had pretended to be just a baron with a volunteer army, and had bluffed his way past the Red Guard in order to fight the Romillians. It hadn’t been until after that great battle that the Herzgraf had told Argrowl who Grundoon really was. As a result, Grundoon wasn’t entirely sure how the Red Guard commandant would react to meeting him in his new role as Governor-General.

General Shr Mathius Lemprellier of Waldenfelsen was one of the few high-ranking commanders of elven descent. He wasn’t a full elf, but he was clearly of elven stock. His command was the 8th Army, and they were responsible for guarding the small colony on Waldenfelsen, the spelljamming outpost of Slothjemia. It was a garrison, but not one that needed constant monitoring like The Gate did. Mathius had a reputation for being somewhat frivolous, and not taking warfare seriously. But he got results, and there were no reports of unrest in the northern half of Romilmark, so he must be doing something right. Grundoon looked forward to meeting him.

During this time there had been efforts to create an all new force, designated as the 10th Army, that Grundoon would command personally for the time being. Hilde had created posters and hung them all over Brakoff, encouraging young people to enlist in the Slothjemian army. In addition to regular salaries, it was a chance for those that signed up to make a name for themselves, and possibly end up being given a small parcel of land at the end of their service. That depended on what rank you were after having served for ten years, and while that seemed like a long time, most of the people that were born and raised here knew only a feudal life of service to begin with. Grundoon had designed the units he wanted for what he considered to be an ideal field army for Romilmark, and it had been approved by both the Lord High Marshal and the Herzgraf, and now Hilde was tasked with rounding up recruits. She had the various patrols that rode out to the countryside carry these posters with them, and had them posted at every wayside inn and village across the region.

There were a number of people from Slothjemia that came to Romilmark with orders to assist the Governor-General. The constabulary advisors that he had requested showed up, and had decided to team up to establish a proper police force in Brakoff, before splitting up to do the same in Karpaburg and Kederlenn. Rural constables were assigned to help patrol the highways, for the time being, and to scout for possible trouble makers such as bandits and the like. Hammerclaw’s dwarves teamed up with the survey teams from the 8th Army to take note of all bridges and fortifications that needed repair, as well as to verify the boundaries of estates. Delivery service for mail was in place by the time the generals met in Brakoff, and as soon as the road was reopened through Garvin’s Gap there would be coach service to and from the Coreland. A stage line was already being set up to run through the other passes into Slothjemia proper, an extension of the Royal Coach Company. Other companies would follow, and soon there would be reliable and safe transit available throughout Romilmark.

Tax assessors from the capital had already been in place for some time in the three cities of Romilmark, but had not yet gone into the countryside because who was running what had not yet been determined. This was one of the primary issues that the generals had to discuss; the survey of estates. It was a foggy, grey day when the generals arrived, and Grundoon had a decent sized feast prepared to mark the occasion.

Lemprellier was the first to arrive, and he brought with him a small retinue of cavalry. He was a genial fellow, and did a goodly amount of smiling and laughing. It was nearly impossible to discern his age, due to his elven blood, but Grundoon guessed he had to be at least middle aged. The half-elven general gave the Governor-General a written update on how things were going up around Karpaburg. “Nothing very interesting to report, although we have heard rumors of an orc settlement close to the border just south of us.” He had said with a smile.

Grundoon wasn’t sure what the half elf would have found interesting, but he personally thought that the presence of an orc camp qualified as at least mildly interesting. “Has anyone done any investigating of these reports?” asked the old orc, a hint of incredulousness sneaking into his tone.

“We haven’t, no. Most of my troops are in two of the passes. The northernmost we call the Karpa Pass, because it is close to Karpaburg, and the one south of there we have called Keder Pass, due to its proximity to Kederlenn. We’ve no idea what the passes were called before we arrived, but for our purposes these new names do quite well.” He shrugged his shoulders. “At any rate, we haven’t been able to do much exploring.”

Grundoon dropped the subject, but nodded at Jandle, who took out his little notebook to jot down a reminder to follow up on this. Lemprellier and von Draeger compared notes on how security was progressing along the passes, and Grundoon just spent some time absorbing the information. Von Draeger’s troops had the southernmost of the passes under their control, and following the established tradition of renaming things to make them easily identifiable, this was now called the Brakoff Pass. Both generals had reported the presence of old fortifications in these passes, long abandoned citadels that time, warfare, and neglect had turned into visually appealing, but functionally useless ruins. Not one of them showed any signs of dwarven craftsmanship, and there was no telling who might have originally built them. Their purpose, however, was abundantly clear; to secure the passes against enemy invasion. Grundoon nodded as he listened to the generals, and was pleased to hear that the passes were easily defendable, whether or not there were fortifications in place.

A little later in the day, von Unster-Kol arrived, not on horseback but riding a black dragon. He too brought a small staff with him, and all of them riding the great winged lizard made for quite an entrance in the city square. Grundoon and the other generals heard the horns of the sentries announcing the arrival of a dragon, and so they went to greet von Unster-Kol and his staff.

The proud jor that commanded the Red Guards smiled slyly, and narrowed his gaze as he saw Grundoon approach. Removing his gauntlets, Argrowl chuckled. “Well met, von Draeger and Lemprellier. And if I’m not mistaken, this would be Baron von Vorkel. Have you brought more volunteer militia to help secure Romilmark?” he said with a snicker.

The other two generals weren’t sure what to make of this, but Grundoon laughed. “Actually, yes. But this time, I am following orders.”

The two men clasped each other’s forearms, and smiled. “Tell me of your patrols, general.” Said Grundoon. “We’ve moved the headquarters for the 2nd Army down the street here, so talk while we walk.” The other generals followed along closely, and Argrowl began to report the progress his army had made.

“The dragons are patrolling all along the border, from the southwest corner around to the north, following the mountain peaks. The horsemen have been riding the roads, and the infantry have been sweeping the areas between the roads scouring for bandits and renegades.” He handed Grundoon a parcel of papers. “These are the surveys we’ve been able to complete so far, mostly in the western estates.”

“Have your dragons seen anything looking like an orcish settlement along the eastern border?” von Vorkel asked.

“Yes. But there hasn’t been any evidence of them venturing far from their base.” Said Argrowl. “I’ll show you on the map where it is.”

Grundoon nodded his head. “Any attempt to scout it out on the ground?” he asked.

“No, milord. Just aerial surveillance thus far.” He looked sideways at the Governor-General. “But as I’ve said, my troops are tied up in the west.”

“After dinner we’ll all get caught up and up to speed.” Said Grundoon. He wasn’t exactly disappointed in the reports from his generals, but he couldn’t claim to be delighted, either. He resisted the urge to beat himself up about not taking a firmer hand earlier on. The Governor-General was pleased with the progress that had been made in Brakoff, though, and it being the largest city in the region made the rest of the work to normalize Romilmark comparatively easier.

The dinner went well, the generals all got along just fine, and their staff enjoyed swapping stories about life in the various encampments. The Red Guard was not based in any particular city, but had a camp near the tee in the road just north of Kederlenn. Much like the 2nd Army, the 8th Army had found a temporary home in Karpaburg, first in the town hall but then, after von Draeger had tipped off Lemprellier, they had found an empty inn that they have converted into a passable headquarters. The one thing that all of the soldiers could agree on was that the natives were hostile to anyone that wasn’t a dwarf or a human, although Lemprellier had noted that the people of Karpaburg were much friendlier than any other Romillians he had encountered. There had been a few fights with the locals, but nothing very serious, probably due to the fact that the local people were not heavily armed. The animosity, however, was still there even if it didn’t manifest itself in violence.

After the dinner, the three generals and Grundoon gathered in von Draeger’s office to have their meeting. They started by going over the estate surveys, and plotted a schedule for the Governor-General to make the rounds and obtain loyalty oaths from the nobility that chose to stay in Romilmark. Next, they covered the winter quartering for the soldiers, and Grundoon informed them that they were to dispatch all but one third of their forces back to their original garrisons, except the Red Guard, who were to find someplace in Romilmark to settle in until spring. Of the forces to be left behind, the engineering battalion from the 8th Army was to stay, and enough soldiers to monitor the two passes that they were currently responsible for. The 2nd Army had to keep a similar presence in the pass they controlled, and to keep a small garrison in Brakoff. The Red Guard would take over all patrols and continue the rest of the surveys. Once they began to fully staff their operations, the 10th Army would take over everything, allowing the other three armies to leave Romilmark entirely.

Having gone over all of this, the generals then discussed the details of carrying out martial law in the region. A lot of responsibility was being given to the hundreds of officers scattered about the countryside. The generals were agreed that having somebody from the Judicial Corp step in to monitor things was a good idea, and Grundoon promised to ask for such a person to be assigned to Romilmark. There were not a lot of discrepancies between the old laws of Romillia and the new laws of Slothjemia, but where there were differences, those conflicts were significant. Luckily, the majority of the magistrates had not fled during the war, and if they were willing to learn new rules they could be invaluable to the transition.

To conclude the meeting, Grundoon took a deep breath and offered up this bit of orcish wisdom; “Gentlemen, we have before us an enormous undertaking. The one thing we excel at, war, is over. Now we must turn our efforts towards diplomacy and constructive endeavors. We must not rely on our swords so much as our shields, so be careful what you say and how you say it. There is much to be done, but you have already done fantastic work here. I thank you, and you have the gratitude of the Empress and the whole of Slothjemia.”

The generals left and went about their business, and Grundoon made his way home. Jandle followed him, and whistled quietly. Grundoon wasn’t so sure about not resorting to violence, but he tried at every turn to sell the idea to those around him. Time would tell if he was successful.

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