Jordan Hampson had worked his way up into being William’s second-in-command. He wasn’t the biggest or the strongest or the best at magic… but that wasn’t what leadership positions were meant for. It was how gevai traditionally did it… but William wanted to win battles more than he wanted to keep to bad tradition. Jordan Hampson had been promoted because that also applied to the troops serving under William. They wanted to win- or more specifically they wanted their commanders to give them good orders.
William knew that individual sparring was an insufficient way to train his troops, so he had separated them into squads to go through combat maneuvers. At first, he had varied the members and gave different people the chance to be leaders. Jordan Hampson first stepped up to be a squad leader during those exercises… and failed. Nobody listened to him. They weren’t used to taking orders yet, and Jordan was small and weak looking. The first exercise was a disaster… but Jordan requested to be given another chance.
The second time… Jordan managed to get a few people to listen to him, but with the rest of the two-dozen man squad unorganized, it didn’t make any difference. That time, they managed to eke out a win only because the other side was even less organized, and had slightly weaker troops overall.
Jordan asked for a third try, and list of all the participating squad members in advance. William had no reason to reject him, as seeing someone actually taking the initiative to try to lead was comforting. During the days before the next combat, Jordan talked to every one of them. William didn’t think much would come of it- many of them were clearly opposed to Jordan leading them. He was glad to be wrong.
Jordan Hampson’s third chance at squad leadership, they merely faced another squad across an open field. It was infantry versus infantry, basically a brawl. There weren’t many tactical decisions to make, but neither side had been training for that long, so they were still disorganized as a base. Jordan still took the opportunity to lead, and he did it very well.
“Friedrich! Lloyd!” Jordan spoke with a commanding voice that didn’t seem to fit his stature. “You’re to hold back here. After we engage the enemy, you’re to take the opportunity to defeat the enemy leader!”
A giant of a man stared down at Jordan, then spoke in a rumbling voice. “That’s stupid! Why not send me? I take the two of them down by myself! I am the strongest, so I should be the leader anyway!”
Jordan firmly stood his ground. “That’s right, Ruskin. You’re the strongest. I bet you can take on half of the enemy squad alone. That’s why you’ll stay here to guard me. They’ll certainly send some of their best troops to take me down, and only you can stop them.”
“That’s right! I’m the strongest!” Ruskin didn’t even seem to realize that he’d been manipulated into doing exactly what Jordan wanted.
The battle after that went strongly in the favor of Jordan’s squad. A majority of the forces clashed immediately, almost like four dozen bulls colliding. A half dozen men pushed through Jordan’s forces to come defeat the commander- the condition for securing victory- but what they didn’t realize is they were let through- one or two at a time. This left the forces at the frontlines at a numerical advantage… and gave Ruskin a steady stream of enemies to defeat. Meanwhile, Friedrich and Lloyd did as they were told and merely walked around the chaotic mess in the middle of the field. In the end, not only did Jordan’s side defeat the enemy commander, they also came out significantly ahead in terms of defeated members.
“Lord Rutten, I have another request.” After his first victory, Jordan came to William again.
“Go ahead and speak it.”
“I would like to know the composition of my enemy’s squad before the battle.”
William paused to consider, then shook his head. “Denied.”
“It would greatly help my tactics against them…”
“Of course it would. However, you won’t even always know who your own troops will be, let alone the enemies. At best, you’ll have an idea of their numbers. I won’t be giving out any of that kind of information.”
Jordan nodded, seemingly disappointed… but still determined to win.
Jordan handily won the next several engagements. At that point, William had to start putting together more permanent squads. It was already time for them to have real structure and start building up bonds. William was having trouble with where to place the lumbering hunk of meat known as Harvie Ruskin. He was dumb as a bag of bricks but wanted to be a leader- and he was strong enough to beat any of the other recruits in a one on one, or one on two in most cases. When Jordan requested him as a squad member, William couldn’t have been more relieved. When some of the other squad leaders came to him to complain that he was showing favoritism to Jordan, he offered to assign Ruskin to their squad… and they quickly stopped complaining.
William thought he probably was showing favoritism to Jordan. That didn’t mean he made it easy on him. Ruskin was still a pain to manage, and William gave him no help there. Jordan memorized the members under each other squad leader, and William stopped letting him know which squad he would be up against next, or in what terrain, and with what equipment. Even so, Jordan kept winning.
At some point, William discovered Jordan had effectively raised spies in each other squad to obtain the information he wanted. William didn’t bring that up at all… because that had all been under his own effort. He still told others when they were going up against Jordan Hampson… and it was their own problem if the information leaked to him.
William made things even more difficult for Jordan. Other squad leaders would basically just give up when faced against him, so he started setting them two squads against one, and eventually bring in another squad late into the battle. Nobody was surprised when he was given a position over several squads, then a whole company, and eventually his orders were only second to William himself. Not everybody liked Jordan, and some envied him as he grew in position… but everyone listened to his orders.