[Author's note: This takes place durring Phoenix Rising, It Begins. I've been doing some rearangement of the ending, taking a page from Spook's Exile, of sorts. In order to help facilitate that I've gotten into the head of Prince Theodoso to see how he's taking this turn of events.]
The Prince had had his suspicion about this Smith and Phoenix. He’d seen Pairents communicate via Willow before, so he knew that look. The look that Smith had had on her face when she’d randomly come over to sit by the tent. The tent, which was held up by Willow poles.
That’s why he’d had them strapped to her pack, all of them. Then someone had mistaken his pack for a common scout’s and placed one of the tent canvases in it. Then she had to go and say something. She treated him like he was one of the other Hopefuls. He was the crown Prince after all she ought to respect him like she did the Scout Sergeants. Why did she give them respect and not him anyway.
At least they were with Fox Troop now and Lordling Marcus was around. He at least accorded Prince Theodoso the respect he deserved. He didn’t question nor make any snide remarks toward his person. No Lordling Marcus knew what the Prince wanted and did it, like filling his canteen.
Thankfully Smith’s attitude had not been adopted by her friends. Theo never bothered with knowing their names. He still wasn’t sure he believed the fact that General Wholawski was in these woods. That was impossible. There was no way he could have entered Vervell with the size troop She claimed he had without anyone being aware. And to have set up camp in the Kings Forest, during the Scout Trials? It was utterly preposterous!
The worst part was the Scout Sergeants believed her and that Scout she’d been with. But a burning Willow? It was claimed that the Azurian General had turned from the Gods, but to burn a Willow? Prince Theo shook his head. It seemed to farfetched to believe. And yet, deep down, in his gut, he did believe it and it scared him.
It scared him that his sister, his innocent little sister, the sweetest young woman he knew, had been taken captive by a Godless Nigiri. The godless Phoenix claimed to have killed, cutting off just one more way for him to have found his sister. And now, now Prince Hermanos, the only remaining child of the Azurian King, was claiming that the Nigiri had been working for General Wholawski. And if Theo’s beloved sister was truly imprisoned by this man, he fear what she had endured. Everyone had heard the stories of what the man was capable of. He’d heard Phoenix’s report. A report he’d only given to the King and Scout General.
The Prince was drawn from his thought by a gasp. He glanced back at Smith. She was touching her poles, he smiled to himself. She was connected, she had to be. When they at last stopped in the dark of the night, Theo gave his whispered order to Marcus.
“Watch Smith and her friends, tell me anything useful you might hear.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Marcus bowed his head before following Smith’s group into the woods.
He didn’t have to wait long before Marcus came back with disturbing news. Smith had claimed the barracks were under attack. Scooping up the poles she’d discarded from her pack, Theo marched to where she sat by the fire. Marcus followed.
He touched the poles to her, watching for her reaction. She turned angry eyes upon them all.
““What do you want?”
“Well,” Reed started but Prince Theo cut him off with a wave of his hand.
“Are you are connected to Phoenix?” he demanded to know in a hushed whisper.
He pushed the poles so they touched Smith watching her still. She kicked them away, looking more annoyed. He was almost positive she was indeed connected. He pushed the poles to her again and repeated the question. She ignored him two more time before she yanked the poles from his hand and flung them away.
“Fine, so what if I am your Highness,” she hissed, “Are you going to accuse the both of us for treason when at this instance he is defending your Father with his life?
Marcus sent a questioning look and Prince Theo nodded, sending the man to pick up the poles for him.
“What?” he leaned closer as color drained from Smith’s face.
“The King is under direct attack.” Her voice was wrought with unexpressed emotions. “Phoenix Troop is defending him along with others.” She stood and started to leave, but before the Prince could grab hold of her and ask for more information chaos broke out.