Much to his irritation, it didn’t take long before he found himself actually liking the Wilder prince. Barbarian he might have been, he was surprisingly knowledgeable. Then again, this young man had been raised with the intention of ruling his country, rather than simply supporting his brother’s reign. “But what if there is no loot to divide among the men?”
“There’s always loot.” Jurgen shook his head. “Just sometimes its intangible. Take your own history. Those bandits your people yanked out of the woods to help. Was it pay that was offered?”
“No, it…” Wendel slowly nodded. “It was restoring their status as citizens of a country.”
“Pride.” Jurgen shrugged. “You’d be surprised how far that’ll take a man. Paying your men is all well and good, but doesn’t you little if your opponent has more gold.” He waved a hand. “Learn their names, listen when they speak, tell them when they’ve done well, even if it’s just a quick nod of approval.” Jurgen looked over at him. “Man will fight dragons for a leader who treats him with respect.”
“Is that how Wilders do it?” Wendel raised an eyebrow. “I thought you just followed whoever promised a good fight at the end of the trip.”
Jurgen laughed. “But that’s part of it, yes?” He shook his head. “You respect your men, but you don’t coddle the bastards. That’s why we decided ruling your people wasn’t worth the effort. Need your swaddling clothes changed too often.”
“And here I thought it was just because your people were too lazy to bother with the work of governing.” Wendel rolled his eyes.
“You have confidence in your men. You tell them that. You tell them they are the most vicious fucks that were ever born and that their enemies are mere dogs before them. You tell them that, and you believe it…” Jurgen shifted a little in the saddle. “And they’ll believe it too, and they’ll charge when you tell them.”
“Or stand…” Wendel slowly nodded. Then he took another look at Jurgen. “Soldiers I have. It’s rangers I need. Where do I get them?”
“Well, you could pay a bunch of my people…”
“That would turn the nobility against me.” Wendel shook his head. “Or I rather think I would.”
“Then you get them the same place you got them the first time. You need a man who can sneak into a camp and come back with something you can use…” Jurgen gave him a serious look. “Then it sounds like what you need is a thief.”
He laughed a little. “Prince Jurgen…” He smiled. “If your people weren’t a bunch of undisciplined lunatics, I rather think you’d be dangerous.”
“Prince Wendel…” Jurgen smirked. “We’re dangerous because we’re a bunch of undisciplined lunatics.”
“That helps me with my army, but there are still the nobles to consider. Many will back my brother because of what he promises.”
“Then you make it clear that first off, he can’t keep those promises. Then you make it clear that following him might give them some small benefit, but not following you will cost them everything.” Jurgen gave him a level look. “Who is the most powerful of the nobles arrayed against you?”
“You answered that quickly.” Jurgen blinked.
“It’s not really a matter for debate.” Wendel sighed. “Frankly, I think he’s hoping my brother and I will kill each other and he’ll be able to come in and set himself up on the throne himself.”
“Well, that makes the solution even easier then.” Jurgen grinned again.
“And this solution?”
“Kill the jackass.”
“It’s not that easy.” Wendel started shaking his head.
“Yes, it is.”
“It’s really not.”
“Yeah, it is.” Jurgen laughed. “You call him out. Challenge him. Make him come to you, make sure people will laugh if he doesn’t. Kick him right in the pride.” Jurgen shrugged. “Then, kick his ass.”
“I…” Wendel opened his mouth. Then he closed it again. He tilted his head and frowned. Then he nodded to himself. “Actually, that’s rather good advice.”