As he stood there with his men flanking him he found himself wishing he had been able to escape to his hunt before the messenger found him. Instead of the cool shade offered by the trees he was standing here in the open sun with a heavy cloak and heavier armour. Not only that his whole company’s tents were being relocated to even further from the command post which would no doubt irk Trackon.
Finally five men emerged from the west camp and his eyes swept over them. They drew nearer and he saw the almost invisible split between them before finally they came to a halt before him. The one directly before him stood alone with a casual air about him and a challenging glint in his side. Either side of him separated by perhaps two steps where two more men who were taught with tension despite what could only be their seconds standing half a step behind them. One of the men caught Raktacolas’s look and half smirked, “if you send your men away I’ll do the same with mine.”
The taunt unfortunately didn’t have the desire effect and Raktacolas didn’t blink let alone answer in anger. Instead his men silently turned and walked away to a distance where they could no longer hear but could still observe their leader. “I have no need to,” Raktacolas replied evenly. “They trust me to resolve this without their interference. If it was otherwise I would no longer be in command.”
The man who’d spoken looked uneasy and glanced over his shoulder at the man standing there. He was met by an unwavering stare that demanded an order on whether to stay or go, “my man stays,” he said at last. Raktacolas’s eyes narrowed at the man’s blatant breaking of his word. The second man nodded his agreement and the thirds composure finally broke his face settling into a look of disbelief. At least he wasn’t the only one who was appalled by the casual breaking of the man’s word, Raktacolas mused. “Why did you wish to treat with us?” The man asked when he realised there would be no reply to his statement.
“Due to your inability to ensure your various factions coexist in peace my company and I shall be moving to the west camp. We shall be ensuring that no faction gets better pick than any other.” Raktacolas paused to ensure that had sunken in before he continued, “Any grievances will be brought to us and not solved in undisciplined brawls like today, if you cannot control your men.” The men before him were staring in shock, “Are these terms acceptable?”
Despite his question there was a look in his eyes that told them any disagreement would be met by only the most vicious repercussions. The lone man inclined his head in a regal manner the tips of his lips quirking up the other two took a moment longer but then they too spoke their agreement. “Good, now ensure there is space cleared for our tents,” Raktacolas ordered and then he turned away back to the main camp. As he passed his men opened to let him through before they fell into step around him once more.
He managed to rescue his bow before it was packed away in a chest and with a glance at the rest of his belongings all ready to be moved he resigned himself to hunting in full armour. He was comforted though by the knowledge of the cool spring in the woods where he could strip off the armour and refresh himself. He was ready to leave with a quiver slung over his back containing arrows and the long hunting bow and had just finished telling his second what to do in his absence when, for the second time that day, a messenger arrived.
With a sigh Raktacolas turned to the messenger demanding his report with an impatience that rarely arose in him. The messenger looked surprised and he finally recognised him as one of Trackon’s meaning that he was used to his never ending patience. “Trackon requests that you attend him Lord Raktacolas,” the messenger said at last, his words uncertain as he strove not to raise the strange anger again.
Despite the fact the Trackon had probably only requested his presence Raktacolas knew an order when he heard one and without a word he swept away. As he left he heard his second telling the worried messenger that everything was fine and he’d done a good job. He winced as he realised it probably involved a bribe to keep the messenger quiet on his state of mind.
He came to a halt before Trackon’s command tent and waited while he was announced by the guards. Schooling his features he entered and came to a halt before the man who had pushed away from the paperwork strewn across his desk to relax back in his chair. It was only when he was subjected to silent scrutiny that he realised he still had his hunting bow and then it was only due to the slight widening of Trackon’s eyes. “Do you try to cause me problems, Raktacolas?” The man asked in the tone of one of the long suffering. He picked up a piece of parchment before him, “Orders to relocate your entire company to the west camp, including your command tent and your horses. Would you care to explain?”
“You ordered me to stop the mercenaries from fighting,” he replied with a shrug, “this was my solution.”
“I wanted you to march in there with your men break up the brawl and leave not move there,”Trackon replied angrily. “I’ve been trying to get you to move closer to my tent for days and now you move further away.” He stopped speaking as he made an obvious effort to reign in his temper, “how are you meant to help me to command this army when you’re living with barbarians?”
“I’m hardly far away,” Raktacolas said with the tone of one of the long suffering. He had been stubbornly refusing to move closer to Trackon simply because he preferred to be on the outskirts of the camp and if he was honest he hated the idea of moving to the centre of the West camp, not that he would ever admit it. Still if he had to be hemmed in, he would rather it was by the mercenaries than anyone else as they at least kept things interesting. “Is that all?” He asked, barely remembering to keep his tone civil.
Trackon’s eyes narrowed at the almost challenge that the man seemed to be issuing but it was being held back so he didn’t force it. “No, I need you to complete the inventory of our stores.” Raktacolas went to reply but he was cut off before he had chance, “as soon as possible.” With a sigh Raktacolas nodded and with a salute he spun on his heel and left his waiting second falling in at his shoulder as he left the tent. As soon as possible meant right away and that meant his hunt would be delayed again something he was sure Trackon had done on purpose as a punishment for moving further away.
Sure Trackon could have ordered his tent to have been moved closer rather than to the West camp but that would have no doubt led to a challenge for leadership they both knew he couldn’t win and so they danced this fine line of resist and compromise, orders and requests. The day Raktacolas tired playing was the day Trackon no longer commanded the army because it was the Lord they followed and his support that kept them following Trackon, of that there was no doubt.