“But why do we have to give the Castellan any coin at all? He wasn’t there with us, now was he?” grumbled the dwarf.
“You know, as well as I do, that he loaned us twelve of his archers and a corporal of the watch! And he will certainly catch wind of what we pulled out of that hole. It’s better to offer up a small purse of silver than have him take it all, right?” Arden replied.
“Maybe, but his archers didn’t do anything! They just stood outside that goblin hole and waited for us to come back!”
“That’s what they were supposed to do, Thane. If we had come out of there loaded down with loot, we would’ve been in a much worse position when reinforcements began to chase us.”
“Harummphhh! I know I’m a dwarf and all, and my father would hit me for saying this, but I’d prefer to have our wizard friend just wave his hands around and scare them all away.”
“Corwin can’t be expected to save us everytime, now can he?” Arden grinned.
“I guess not, but maybe he could snap his fingers and “Poof!” a pile of gold and jewels would appear right in front of us?”
Arden laughed at Thane. They walked along the cobblestone street, climbing the low rise up to the inner gatehouse. The pair were met at the gate by a pair of guards wearing chainmail and standing with polearms. Arden paused as the Sergeant of the Guard was summoned.
The sergeant came out of the gatehouse and said in a gruff voice, “Don’t tell me you’ve come back for more soldiers? You’ve only been back a couple days.”
“Not yet, sergeant. We’ve come to see the castellan. I have sent a message earlier requesting a meeting.”
“Very well, then. Guard! Let them pass!” and the guards stepped away from the entrance to give Arden and Thane the right of way.
Guardsmen were on the practice field within the inner bailey. Men were in mock combat with wooden swords and shields. Arden watched for a moment and then continued to the Keep Fortress.
Sir Kent, Lord Castellan of the Keep, sat before the two in his office. Arden made no prententions about their relationship for no chairs were given and the two stood in front of the castellan. Even still, Sir Kent was cordial to them both. He looked at his desk where Arden had placed a small cloth purse of coins.
“Arden, you know that we had no such arrangement. My men were to accompany you and your company and assist you with longbow. Payment was not a consideration.”
“I know, my lord. Consider it a token of my company’s appreciation. We had great fortune in the Caves of Chaos and felt that your lordship and his men ought to benefit as well. I placed two silver pieces for each of the dozen archers and double that for the corporal. Also, I wanted to give the merchant’s reward of 100 silvers to you, sir. My company wishes to continue exploring the caves and may require your assistance in the future.”
Sir Kent smiled. “Of course, you have my support. You are doing good work for the crown. Please, don’t let us hinder you in any way. Of course the fact that I send my troops along with you will be viewed favorably by the duke and maybe will even reach the ear of the king. Better yet, I propose this arrangement. You shall have a contigent of archers to travel with you to the caves. I shall cover their expenses, food, board, and mounts. You in turn will offer the Keep a small portion of what you collect…let’s say perhaps a full share? How many of you take shares in your company now?” The castellan was figuring this in his head, but Arden beat him to it, “Seven, sir.”
Thane looked at Arden and made ready to correct him, but thought better of it.
“Very well, then. I shall be the eighth member of your company…but my men will go in my stead of course.”
The agreement was set forth and discussed with Arden explaining that he would return tomorrow after discussion with the company.
As Thane and Arden were leaving the fortress, Thane softly said, “There’s four of us that get shares, you know that, right?”
Arden replied, “When I heard the castellan’s proposal, I decided that Meklin, Handsome, and Catamont needed a promotion. We’ll give them a half share each.”
“Okay, that get’s us to five and one-half shares. Where’s the other shares going?”
“I don’t know yet,” smiled Arden. “Maybe Goat will get a share, but only if he starts shooting better and takes a bath. Maybe we’ll need to hire a couple more men…good fighters that will earn a share. Regardless, I’d rather spend it on our own men instead of giving it to the castellan.
They walked along, Arden content with the transaction, and Thane busy calculating in this head.