Excitement edged out the nerves. Still, what were they not telling him? “I’d be happy to help, but I sense there’s something more.”
“You might be needed to comfort the general with your body as well as your magic. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you part of the reason we’ve chosen you is because you are the type of person Anders find appealing.”
“Oh.” Meck didn’t know what to say. “I’m not skilled in the bedroom arts.”
He stumbled over the words. He didn’t dare confess his virgin status, not when important wizards were eyeing him as if he were some godsend to the cause.
“That’s fine. We don’t need a professional whore. We just need someone willing to help.”
Was he? Meck searched his conscious. He’d hoped to be important to at least one person. It sounded as if the general sincerely needed someone to comfort him in his time of battle. He didn’t have any objections to warming Anders bed, he’d seen the handsome man before when he visited others and wouldn’t have minded it then.
Meck straightened his shoulders. “I’d be happy to do what I can for the cause.”
Despite his words Meck hoped the general was the patient sort. Jerking off with other classmates didn’t count as true experience.
“Excellent. I knew we’d made the right decision.” The triumphant look she gave the other senior wizards told Meck their decision on his assignment wasn’t unanimous. “In anticipation of your acceptance we’ve had your supplies readied. The general is on the front line in Cavisea. We have some fresh recruits leaving tomorrow. We’ll send you along with them for security.”
“I’ll be ready.” Meck promised. He bowed low and took the wizards nods as a sign of dismissal.
Vedder waited outside the doors gnawing on his thumbnail he straightened when he saw Meck. “Well, what did they say?”
“I’m to be assigned to General Anders.”
“But he’s on the front line.” Vedder’s mouth dropped open. Lightening crackled along his fingertips. A sure sign of his distress.
“I know.” His voice didn’t tremble while he uttered those words. Go him.
“Why would they put you in battle you’re not a battle mage?”
Meck blushed. “I’m not going to fight. I’m going to be Anders tent wizard.”
“What!” Storm clouds gathered above Vedder’s head. Actual clouds.
“Hey,” Meck grabbed his friend’s hands.
The clouds vanished.
“Thanks.” Vedder’s wry smile warmed Meck. “Maybe they made the right decision. I’ve heard the general is on the edge. If anyone can keep Anders from snapping it’ll be you.”
“I hope so. I’m not that experienced.” He hated to think his failure would result in the general
Vedder scowled. “If he tries to make you you to do anything you don’t like kick his ass or send me a note and I’ll do it for you. He might outrank you but you have rights too.”
“Thanks. I’ll be fine.” Meck hoped he sounded more confident than he felt. He decided not to outline all of his possible job requirements to his friend. Vedder could be overprotective and the war effort couldn’t afford to lose one of its best generals.
“I know you will.” Vedder gripped his shoulder. “Let’s go get some food.”
Meck nodded. “I was so nervous earlier I didn’t eat.”
“That’s what I figured. You’ve always had a sensitive stomach.”
“I’m going to miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too.”
Two weeks later Meck realized how true those words were. Biting cold and rain followed him and his escorts. He did his best to ease the way with warm food and dry bedding but it didn’t make the trip any easier.
“Here we are!” Briar, a friendly blond soldier with a kind manner pulled his horse to a stop beside Meck’s.
The anxiety he’d kept at bay for the past two days surged back in a head spinning rush. “Yep, here we are.”
“Don’t worry. If you take half as good of care of the general as you did of us he’ll be a happy man.”
“I hope so.”
Everyone dismounted. Briar wrapped a hand around Meck’s elbow so he didn’t lose him in the crowd. Meck smiled at the familiarity. They’d become fast friends during the trip. Meck’s introverted nature appreciated Briar’s friendlier manner.
Briar led him to the largest tent in the camp. Dark blue, the king’s color, showed everywhere in camp. Meck knew from experience that weavers spent weeks dying the canvas to match the king’s flag.
A soldier stood on either side of the tent flap guarding the general’s quarters.
Briar didn’t hesitate. “I’ve brought the general’s new companion.”
The soldiers examined Meck with cold assessing gazes.
“Go ahead inside,”Briar said.
Briar moved them forward but the soldiers blocked his way. “Only him. You don’t need to be in the general’s tent.”
“I’ll be fine,” Meck assured Briar when he tensed beside him.
“If you’re sure.”’
“I’ll be fine,” he repeated, hoping it would be true. The men had regaled him with stories of the general while on their trip. Most of them involved blood and gore. None of them mentioned a softer side to Anders. Meck hoped he hadn’t accepted a harder task than anticipated.
The soldiers held open the tent flaps and allowed Meck inside. He gasped at the chaos. Armor piled in one corner. No fire, no rug, no sense of home. Maps spilled off a crowded table and onto the floor and clothes were strewn across the tent floor as if the general had dropped them where he stood, too tired to put them even in a tidy pile.
Meck definitely had his work cut out for him. Even as exhausted as he was he couldn’t leave this mess. His need to create a comfortable environment prohibited him from letting things lie.