Suddenly a runner came up in front of Claus as he sat and watched his men gather up the prisoners and the loot.
Or more specifically a mounted Cawanor soldier rode up close to him, dismounted in a single trained movement as he stopped and walked up to Claus with a scroll in hand.
-”Message for general Claus Rotstein.” The man said in a non nonsense kind of way, Claus got all boastful of being called general and smiling stood up and asnwered.
-”Yes, that’s me.”
-”You are to meet king Patrick De’Reimer, please follow me.” After he said that he gestured with his arm and went to his horse to mount.
To his annoyance Claus didn’t call for a horse, instead he walked alongside the rider.
After a while the mounted form of Patrick could be seen next to Evennis whom was also mounted. They were currently inspecting some imperial dead whom had been neatly gathered and put in a couple of rows. Nearby a pile of alliance troops were being stacked with little heed.
Claus was gonna make sure he didn’t mention his troops going around pilfering things from the dead when they thought no one was looking.
The Steel Fist didn’t loot the dead, but what people don’t know doesn’t happen after all.
Patrick looked rather troubled until Claus with a smile yelled out.
-”Ey boss, you wanted to speak with me. Damn mess you made of the Manshrew folks.” Followed by a grinning smirk.
Patrick scowled at Claus’s carefree attitude, Evennis on the other hand tried his best to hide a smirk from Patrick’s disapproving eyes.
“I see you survived your encounter with the alliance” Patrick replied sternly “I suppose you should be thankful, if you had died you would never have been able to spend that money I gave you” At this he turned to Evennis “Have the prisoners moved into makeshift cells, execute any of the enemy injured, our healers need to focus on our own soldiers” Evennis gave short nod in response before riding on to pass on his orders. Once again Patrick turned his attention to Claus
“I must say my opinion of you has improved considerably”
Claus thought a moment about the execution of injured, but then banished it from his mind. After all, they couldn’t give them proper medical care and it would be worse to have them suffer.
-”I try my best.” Claus said with his jolly mood and made a tip of the hat gesture on the cap of his helm.
-”I am however sad to report i couldn’t get Andrew, an…. Obstacle… came in the way.” He kept on, being a bit sour about the fact that lord Manshrew escaped his grasp.
“An obstacle”? Patrick said with a raised eyebrow “What obstacle could possibly get in your way to prevent you from catching the concords greatest enemy”?
-”Some paladin. Physically kept me from chasing after Andrew. So i physically stopped him from doing that.” Claus answered while gesturing punching his palm.
-”Was an honorable one too, to a fault. Kept preaching about how i should let the defeated go in peace.” He shook his head slightly.
-”Anyway, when i had knocked him about a bit i saw that Andrew had gotten away.” The bitterness was showing in his voice, but he cooled off as quickly as he had gotten irritated.
Patrick tried his best to contain his anger, the knowledge that such a fool had prevented them from ending the war there and then was enough to have him fuming.
“I, understand” He said through gritted teeth “You cannot be blamed for the idiocy of another, the man shall be executed for his betrayal and that will be that” as Patrick finished he had calmed down a bit “However that is not why I called you here. I am here to congratulate you on your many achievements, from preventing the eastern army from being wiped out, to defending Clarm, to even joining the concord army now when there was nothing in it for you. Such actions have not gone unnoticed, and are worthy of an award”
Being genuinely surprised about Patricks seemingly good intentions Claus first looked a bit surprised but managed to dispel most apparent skepticism in his eyes and followed with.
-”Just doing my job, i say we are the best, therefore we try to deliver the best.” Claus swelled a bit with pride and laid his clenched right fist on his heart symbolically.
While simultaneously ignoring that there would be some loot in the alliance baggage train that was of course ‘never part of the official baggage train inventory’ that would go directly into the Steel Fist baggage and thus most of it would go into everyone's pockets.
Something he realized he’d have to talk to Katrina about.
-”So what is this reward you speak of sir?” The steelhead asked curiously.
“You have proven to be skilled in both tactics and combat, far more so than most of my own commanders. As such I have decided to offer you a title worthy of such a position. I wish to appoint you as advisor of war on the high council and have your steel fist company to become the new royal guard”.
At first Claus couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The offer so unexpected he would never have expected it.
-”Advisor of war….. That is one fancy title.” Claus nodded as he said it. He kept on.
-”I am however unsure on how the fist would react to the offer of being royal guards. Not to mention what the old royal guard would think of that. We are mercenaries after all.” The skepticism in his voice was notable as he stroked his chin.
-”But, i do hope there’s some time to think over all this. Right?” Claus regained his usual good mood.
“Certainly, the Imperial army will rendezvous with the Wulfrick up north and route out the last of the traitors. You are to report back to the high king who will see that you and your men are fairly paid for your services. You will have plenty of time to decide by then. No need to worry about the royal guard, they were nearly all wiped out while in service to Helyot. King John viewed them as too expensive to replace, hence you won’t receive any resistance from them”.
-”Fair point, didn’ know that the royal guard didn’t exist. Explains why i had to work on your fancy party last time.” Claus pondered and then asked.
-”So sir boss, i’ll need a ride home. I assume you can hook me up with a transport back to Nyhem? Would take a fair while to walk over there.” His smirk was deep and grinning.
“Certainly” Patrick said as he gestured to a Cawanor soldier who promptly marched to Patrick’s side “we managed to capture a great many horses from the alliance, you and your men are welcome to help themselves, this man here will take you to them”
At first he was gonna say his men are infantry and don’t need horses, but then realized the opportunity.
-”Sure thing boss. Was that all? If that’s so i’ll take the fist to Nyhem. Oh.” Claus asked but then realized.
-”The Steel Fist has taken some heavy casualties in the last month, you wouldn’t mind if i tried to recruit some from the other mercenaries? Some of them seem to have gotten the hang of it. The ones that live that is.” Ending with a smirk.
“Help yourself to them, I currently have no further need of them. Afterall with the-” Patrick paused for a bit as he thought about what he was going to say, though Claus was a competent commander he didn’t trust him enough to give away his plans “with the preparations I have made, the invasion of Uzgob is certain to be another massacre for the alliance” he finished before riding off to meet with his commanders.
-”Have a good one then…. Boss.” Claus spoke mostly to himself.
He then began the preparations for returning to the Sypius plains and gathering the necessary things for that, see if the alliance sacked his first camp and make sure to keep the looting down.
If it was one thing he had learned, it was that you can’t keep mercs from looting. However he could keep it down, but most importantly, he could keep it low profile.
Especially now when he had someone who would be better at doing the number magics.
He’d have to have a chat with young Katrina though, as he realized that the young and still a bit naive girl would not know how things were run in the fist, especially after a field battle.
This would be a long day he thought, as he inspected some of the horses to see if he liked one. He ended up picking a brown one with ‘white socks’ to ride.
He didn’t think much of Patrick probably keeping secrets from him. Lords were secretive types after all, and he’d probably get to know what he needed to know should he accept the offer.
It was probably a good first step in getting his own landed title, the thought alone made Claus grin wide and even chuckle, probably grossing out several of the concord soldiers. He didn’t mind, he was a mercenary after all. War is business, and now, business was good.