Cadoc settled into his role as Lord of Skeinhold and guardian to his brother’s children. He spent his first year pacifying much of the valley, extending his rule right to the border with the Duchy of Mendoc. That had been the bwgal’s idea. It doubled the size of his realm with little effort for the villages and hamlets that dotted the valley welcomed the protection he offered. Cadoc drew a line a comfortable two miles north of Abercrav and didn’t attempt to cross into the Venyk kingdom, staying true to his promise to Pietrov.

Months after his return, he’d learnt that Duke Artur had survived the fall of Antios only to return a broken man, crippled with the loss of his leg. The bwgal’s second piece of advice was to sign a treaty with the duke, and so he despatched word to Kas Mendoc, inviting the duke to talk.