Knighthood, 99

When Working on A New Strategy, The Most Surprising People Can be Strategists

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Edwin shouldn’t have to spend his days off working, but according to Gavin, that was how being important worked.

Edwin wasn’t important, but he was using his day off to work on keep management stuff. He was finalizing the paperwork for Sylvia and Edna’s farm to be sold to Willy, Walt and Winston. Or rather for him to buy out Sylvia and Edna’s stake in it and then transfer their loan to the three brothers. They were there now, learning how farming worked, and when Edwin had last seen them they’d said they were happy with how it was going. Sylvia and Edna seemed happy too.

In between filling out all those numbers, he was also working on a plan to do something like what the bards had done. He’d talked about it to Owen and Gavin and he was pretty sure he could make something like it work, as long as he got enough people onboard. Not just squires, but some other knights, too. He knew he could count on Erik, and he figured he’d start by talking to Parry and Evan and the other guys who’d just recently been knighted themselves. He didn’t need to get everyone to help, just enough people that it would make a dent in the order’s armour.

He really wanted to have all the details of his plan laid out before he asked anyone for help, though. Owen said he should just charge forward and do it now, and Gavin said he should be quiet and make sure he had a bunch of allies before he struck. But those weren’t Edwin’s main worries. He would be asking a lot of people to get in trouble with him, and he was still struggling to justify that. It was to help Rudy, but asking a lot of people to risk their jobs for one person seemed selfish.

He should get something to eat, though. It must be lunchtime by now. It was Erik’s day off too, but he’d gone into the city saying he was finishing up something important, so Edwin hadn’t bothered to pay attention to the time. If it had gotten too late, Nigel would have come in and guilted him about not eating, though.

Just as he was standing up, the library door opened and in came Ned, holding a book. “Hi,” he said, looking surprised. “I thought it was your day off.”

“Yeah,” Edwin said. “I did too. I was going to go see if lunch is ready, have you eaten?”

“Yes. But not today.”


“No,” Ned agreed, blushing. “Sorry.” He put his book on a shelf, then pulled another one down. “I’ve been reading all your books. You have a lot.”

“Yeah, the guy who built the keep was super into them, I guess,” said Edwin, waiting for Ned before leaving the room. “I don’t really have time to read them, so I’m glad someone is.”

Ned nodded, following him out. “If you ever get time I can tell you which ones are good. Or help you get new ones that you’ll like if you don’t like those ones.”

Edwin looked at him. “That’s a funny thing for a spy to do.”

Blushing, Ned shrugged. “I used to be a librarian. Sort of.”

“Sort of?”

“Well. It was when I was a kid. Then I got my magic and became a soldier.”

“Wow. Most people with magic now seem to be librarians,” Edwin said.

“Yeah.” Ned looked at his feet. “I think about that sometimes. We had to become soldiers. And I like to think we did it so that people like us could be allowed to be librarians in the future. And that’s…how I know fighting was right, even if the war wasn’t. I know Robby wants to be a knight like you, and he should do that if it’s important to him. But I look at him and I think that he’s choosing to do that, and he could just as easily become a librarian when he gets his magic. And that’s okay. And I feel better.” Ned blushed again. “Sorry, that was a boring rant.”

“It wasn’t,” said Edwin. Robby was, according to Cameron, going to get magic powers someday. It was one of the reasons he was throwing himself into his training so hard now, so that a lot of it would be past when he had to enroll in the academy. Knights could have magic—Sir Yolanda was a mage, and apparently there was another kid in Robby’s cohort who was a wizard—but it wasn’t easy to study for both at the same time. “You’ve had a more interesting life than you think.”

Edwin couldn’t help but think about what Ned had said. Knowing that everyone had it better today made the sacrifices he’d made worth it. Maybe it would be the same for himself and his friends. Not everyone got to live for thousands of years and see the consequences of their sacrifices, but what Edwin was planning was a lot more short-term than that anyway.

“Not really. I’ve spent my whole life just trying to convince people I wasn’t good enough at stuff to be asked to do it.”

Edwin patted his back. “Me too. But I keep getting stuck doing things, and I want to do them well.”

“Me too, but…” Ned shrugged. “Sorry, you were literally just trying to go eat lunch and…”

“And you were coming with me and we were talking,” Edwin told him. “I’m trying to work on something that I think will help squires not get abused so much in the future. And I think you just told me how to convince people to get onboard.”

“Oh.” Ned blinked, looking at the book in his hand. “Really? What are you planning?”

“Treason, technically? I think?” Edwin asked.

“Really?” Ned asked, doing a double take. “Aren’t you dating Prince Gavin?”

“Yeah, I told him about it.”

“Well then it’s not treason?” Ned asked. “Not to be all prescriptivist grammar librarian. But it’s only treason if you’re committing it against the crown. If you’re doing it to your superior officers it’s just mutiny. And even then that’s only if you’re trying to take over. If you’re just trying to make them do stuff they don’t want to, it’s just insubordination and all of history’s best soldiers have done that at least once.”

“Oh.” Edwin thought about that as they went down the stairs. He slowed down so Ned didn’t have to rush and fall. “That sounds way better than the way I was putting it, shit. I might be able to actually convince people to listen to me now.”

“I think you could have done that anyway.”

“Maybe, but…” Edwin took a breath. “Can I tell you about what I’m trying to do?”

“Of course. You’re trying to get Rudy out of trouble, right?”

“Yeah. I mean. He killed someone. It’s not like I’m trying to say people should get away with murder. But his trial isn’t going to be fair, because the order doesn’t think the circumstances that led to him killing Howard are important. One of the circumstances is that Howard was treating him really, really badly.”

“Right, you still shouldn’t kill someone over that,” Ned said. “Which is what the order is going to say, and they’ll be right. So maybe lead with the thing about the demon that was possessing them both, actually.”

“Oh, you already know about that?”

“Well, I have been living with him for a while. And also Sully told me.”

“Right. Okay, great. Maybe I should go back and get a pen.”

“I mean, I can come sit with you after lunch too.”


Ned smiled. “Yeah, of course. I’d be happy to help you out. Especially because I think you’re just trying to convince yourself that your friends won’t disown you when they find out about your plan, which they won’t.”

“We’ll see,” Edwin muttered. Edwin had no idea if he’d have friends or a job after this. But it didn’t matter. This was important. Not just for Rudy, but for Robby and everyone who followed him into the order. Edwin’s duty as a knight was to help people. And that, as far as he was concerned, included people he hadn’t met yet. “Okay so my plan for this all started when I met this bard the other day…”

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