This is a dialogue-heavy chapter in which characters meet up who have not been in the same scenes previously. That’s always a fun opportunity, whereby you can use the juxtaposition to shine a new light on those personalities and see how they react to each other.
This is also an important moment because it’s when Baron Lief – and Captain Holst – realise for the first time that the situation is murkier and more complex than he’d realised. Prior to encountering Stryke, he had assumed that everything had happened according to the king’s whims, and that there was a coordinated effort to destroy Bruckin and reshape the valley. He’s now discovered that there are factions even within the palace, and that Guijus is most likely in deep over his head. Stryke not knowing the truth about the suit of armour is a critical piece of information, and it’ll change Lief’s approach. Imagine, for a moment, what he might have done if he’d managed to return to Bruckin without learning these details.
Much of The Mechanical Crown is about what happens when extreme power is wielded by people with limited understanding and knowledge, and when communications break down. War is so often not an active choice, but a passive state which nations slip into inexorably, almost by accident.
Also, an admission: while these Stryke-focused chapters are important to the story (as subsequent events will attest), they’re also there to serve as tension crankers before we return to the really BIG stuff happening across the border and up in the clouds on Aviar. After two chapter, next week we’ll be heading back there to find out whether Tranton is still with us or not.