Read Irons in the Fire Online

Authors: Juliet E. McKenna

Tags: #Fantasy

Irons in the Fire

For Chaz


First published 2010 by Solaris an imprint of Rebellion Publishing Ltd. Riverside House, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0ES, UK


ISBN(.epub): 978-1-84997-240-6

ISBN(.mobi): 978-1-84997-239-0


Copyright © Juliet E McKenna 2010

Cover illustration: David Palumbo

The right of the author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owners.

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Designed & typeset by Rebellion Publishing


Also from Juliet E McKenna and Solaris Books


Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution

Irons in the Fire

Blood in the Water

Banners in the Wind


The Hadrumal Crisis

Dangerous Waters
(Coming soon)






Irons in the Fire



Juliet E. McKenna

Taken from


The Political Almanac


Being a description of the current condition of those lands formerly provinces of the Tormalin Empire with notes on the status and reputation of those of notable rank.


Compiled by Marol Afmoor, Mentor and Scholar of the University of Vanam


Lescar remains a divided and fractious land with the prospect of unity beneath any undisputed High King as unlikely as it has been for these past ten generations.


continues to prosper thanks to its control of The Great West Road between the Caladhrian border at Abray and the border with Sharlac. Though it should be noted that merchant traffic from either east or west has not yet returned to the levels that generated such profitable tolls before the most recent conflict with Sharlac.

Prospecting for ores and quarrying stone in the hills between the Rel and Palat rivers continues. The horses bred by Duke Garnot's personal stable remain highly sought after, fetching the highest prices among discerning buyers.

Duke Garnot retains a force of mercenary troops but has not engaged in any military undertaking since the battle around the town of Losand where his troops engaged forces under the command of Lord Jaras, heir to Duke Moncan of Sharlac. The result of that battle was inconclusive, due to the deaths of both Lord Jaras and Duke Garnot's bastard son, Lord Veblen. However it is now clear that Lord Veblen would not have been lured into any incautious invasion of Sharlac's border, well aware that militia and mercenaries were ready to fall upon his forces. However it is widely believed that Carluse was preparing to follow the defence of Losand with a full-scale invasion of Sharlac, intending to cite this assault as provocation and justification.

The loss of Veblen, an able military commander much respected by the Carluse militia, put paid to such plans. His death has severely limited Carluse options. Duke Garnot knows he would be ill-advised to take the field himself until his noble heir, Lord Ricart, attains sufficient age and experience to rule with his father's firm hand, should Duke Garnot himself suffer injury or worse.

Relations between Carluse and Marlier remain tense, according to merchants engaged in shipping goods down the river Rel. Certain Caladhrian lords on the west bank of the Rel have reportedly warned Duke Carluse that any attempt to restrict trade or increase levies on river vessels while they travel between Abray and Marlier's border will incur their deep displeasure.

Rumours persist of threats of Caladhrian support should mercenary forces retained by Duke Ferdain of Marlier launch an incursion to secure both banks of the Rel all the way from Abray to the sea in the interests of open and secure commerce. Fortunately, there is no sign that any such attack is contemplated.

Duchess Tadira continues to promote close ties between Carluse interests and her brother Duke Orlin of Parnilesse. There is nothing to confirm or refute rumours of any greater understanding with Triolle.

Relations with Duke Secaris of Draximal remain cool given Draximal's long-standing alliance with Sharlac in order to deny Carluse control over The Great West Road. There have been reports that Duchess Tadira proposed a match between Lord Ricart and the eldest Lady of Draximal since Lord Jaras's death ended that bethrothal with Sharlac. It is widely believed that such an offer was soundly rebuffed.

Thus we can now discount Duchess Tadira's rumoured ambitions of securing the High King's crown for Lord Ricart through marriage alliances with Draximal and Triolle, her own ties with Parnilesse and the military defeat of Sharlac which would leave Marlier too isolated to oppose Carluse hegemony.


shows no sign of resuming its military adventures against Carluse. If there was truly a plan to advance Sharlac's boundary to the eastern bank of the Palat river while Caladhrian forces advanced across the river Rel to seize the land running up to the Palat's western bank, that has most assuredly been abandoned since the battle of Losand.

It is now beyond doubt that Duke Moncan had no knowledge of Lord Jaras's participation and would never have permitted it, had he known. He would never have exposed his heir to such danger, even for the sake of luring pursuing Carluse forces back across the border and into ambush.

Since that abortive campaign, Sharlac militia forces have been much reduced and are little in evidence beyond maintaining the peace of The Great West Road. Duke Moncan has reduced his retained mercenary force to numbers merely sufficient to garrison the castle and town of Sharlac itself.

Duke Moncan has been living largely in seclusion since the death of his heir Lord Jaras and is believed to be dedicating himself to the education of his younger son Lord Kerlin.

There is no evidence of increased ties or commerce between Sharlac and Triolle following the wedding of Litasse, Lady of Sharlac, to Triolle's heir apparent. It would seem this match was merely one of family affection, arranged between the Duchess of Sharlac and her brother Duke Gerone, late of Triolle.


has seen a peaceful transition from the astute rule of the much lamented Duke Gerone to the unproven hands of his son Duke Iruvain. The youthful duke has done little of note thus far beyond reducing expenditure on mercenary forces, apparently in order to present a less belligerent aspect to Marlier on his western border and Parnilesse on his east, given his father's quarrels with both.

Such a reduction in readiness to bear arms might be considered unwise given Draximal's historic ambitions to annex land up to and including the silver-bearing hills on Triolle's north-eastern flank. There is no indication of such ambition at present, possibly because recent reports agree the mines are all but exhausted. Reduced income may be why Triolle is currently relying on seasonal militia drafts for patrols and garrisons along the border with Draximal.

Bridges and ferries across the rivers Dyal and Anock continue to be maintained at Triolle's expense. There is no sign of the increased river trade that Duke Gerone hoped to promote. It is believed the dukes of Marlier, Draximal and Parnilesse all made it clear to Duke Iruvain that encouraging any trade that would lead to a diminution of commerce along the rivers Rel, Drax and Asilor would incur their grave displeasure. Marlier and Parnilesse continue to dominate all coastal trade along the Gulf of Lescar.

There is no indication thus far of any child issuing from Duke Iruvain's wedding to Duchess Litasse. The succession remains secure through Lord Roreth, though rumours of his betrothal to one of the younger Ladies of Carluse remain unproven. This would be a prudent match. Carluse assistance would be vital if Triolle were to withstand any Draximal incursions or become the battleground for some resumption of old hostilities between Marlier and Parnilesse.


shows no sign of increased hostility to Parnilesse or Triolle. The previous alliance with Sharlac to attack Carluse from both north and south has been abandoned. Duke Ferdain's attention has turned entirely to the west. He is currently active in promoting trade up and down the river Rel, facilitating a boom in shipping between Abray and Relshaz. His relations with both the Relshazri magistrates, the Caladhrian lords on the western bank of the Rel and the guild masters of Abray remain excellent, to their mutual profit.

This is doubtless in no small part due to the numbers of Marlier exiles living in such places and all along the trading routes throughout Ensaimin. Remittances from such exiles continue to alleviate the poverty that their families still in Marlier would otherwise have to endure.

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