Damien sat at his desk, scribbling ideas on a piece of paper. There had to be more that he could do on his own to secure his success. He couldn't just rely on secret deals and promises. He had to take things into his own hands to be sure.
Speaking of the devil, a shrouded figure stepped out of a dark corner of his office. Damien wondered how it was possible for the man to come out of shadows like that. It was a neat trick.
"What do you want?" Damien demanded. He was busy and wanted the man to know who was in charge.
"I came to congratulate you." The man's voice was smooth like a knife being pulled out of a velvet lined scabbard. "You have accomplished everything we asked so far."
"I know that." The man's bearing and dark clothing was sure to intimidate some, but Damien was not impressed. "Now, isn't it about time that I get what I was promised?"
The man uttered a deep chuckle. Though his mouth was covered by the cloth wrapped around his head, the man's eyes twinkled as he smiled. "You are an impatient man Chancellor Damien. You do not like to be idle. That is good." The man's gloved hand wandered over the edge of Damien's desk. "But if your actions are too rash, then you may end up with nothing."
Damien tapped the piece of paper with his quill. "So I must wait. Be patient. That's what your telling me? Otherwise you won't..."
"Otherwise you will ruin everything." The man interrupted. "We have no qualms with your ambitions and have no need to threaten to hinder you. We just want you to uphold your part of the bargain." The man's head turned slightly and he started moving back towards the corner he came from. "I came to inform you that we were satisfied so far, but there is still more that you must do."
There was a knock at the door. Damien looked away for one second and when he returned his gaze, the man had disappeared into thin air. "Come in!"
A servant entered.
"My lord, Commander Arenson has requested your presence." The young man stepped forward and placed a scroll on his desk.
Damien leaned forward to pick it up and broke the seal. It was a simple summons, lacking any information of what the meeting would be about. Typical Arenson. That man didn't know what his brain was for. If it weren't for his prowess in battle he wouldn't be in such a high position.
The young servant looked at him timidly. "What is it, lad?"
"The Commander asked for you to come immediately."
"Well, why didn't you say so? And this piece of paper said nothing about immediacy either." Damien shoved his chair back and rose to his feet. "Fine! Go on ahead. Tell him that I'm on my way."
The servant scurried off and left him to pack up his notes and scrolls. Arenson hadn't mentioned what the meeting was about, but it wasn't necessary. Damien knew what he wanted to discuss. He always knew what that fool wanted his help for.
He had gathered his things and made his way through the castle. When he reached Arenson's door, he paused. Drew in a deep breath and tried to relax. It would be no good to show his true feelings in front of his superiors.
Damien knocked and was let inside by the same servant that had called for him moments earlier.
"Chancellor Damien! I'm glad you could come. I wanted to discuss the preparations for the new battalion with you." Arenson stood by his desk, arms outstretched in a welcoming gesture, with a big smile on his face.
"Ah, yes. That is a good idea Commander. As it happens, I have a few documents here with lists of men stationed in other battalions and men who have recently enlisted into the King's army. There are plenty of prime candidates for this special battalion."
"Wonderful, Chancellor. Well done." Arenson gestured for Damien to take a seat while he sat down himself. "We will need experienced fighters. Strong and tall. The best of the best."
"I was thinking the same." Damien sat down and chose a few scrolls that he rolled out on the commander's desk. "Here are some experienced men who have proven themselves in battle. I also suggest these new recruits for the battalion. They are strong and tall as you said."
"Excellent! They will need some training, but that's what the experienced men will be there for." Arenson smiled, picking up one of the scrolls and going over the names Damien had marked as candidates. "It seems a large chunk of the battalion is still missing though." He was bound to notice sooner or later.
Damien fiddled with the rest of his scrolls. "Well, Commander, Sir. I wasn't sure about it at first, but your words have discarded my doubts. You said you wanted the best of the best. Of course, that would mean the royal guard. I wouldn't..."
"What?" Arenson looked worried. "That can't be done. The King needs to be protected. What would he say..."
"What would the King say if the new battalion wasn't the strongest it could be?" Damien raised his eybrows. "You wanted the best. The most experienced. That's the royal guard." Arenson was about to interrupt him, but Damien continued on heedlessly. "Of course, we can't take every soldier. Some experienced and smart men need to stay at their posts to train the new recruits for the guard. But I really believe these men are needed to make this new battalion what it needs to be to defeat the Orcs."
Arenson's brow began to unfurrow. A hint of a smile came to his lips. "You think that will really make the difference?"
"The Orcs are strong, but those gruesome monsters can be defeated. This new battalion will make sure of it." Damien raised his fist for show. Arenson had been worried that not even this battalion would be able to face the Orcs. His words were convincing the commander, making him eat out of Damien's hand.
"If some of the old royal guards train the new recruits and the rest join the battalion. I guess that will be alright."Arenson looked at the lists one last time and rolled them back up. "Take this with you again and prepare all the orders. This battalion will tear the Orcs apart. It will overcome any obstacle and will be triumphant."
Damien grabbed his things and bid Arenson farewell. Yes, the battalion would do great things, he was sure of it. But even greater things would be happening in the palace once the new recruits for the royal guard were in place.