[Author’s Note: This summarizes a bit of James, and the follows a long a bit with Chapter 55 and 56 (A Willow and a Grotto Part 1 and 2) in Phoenix Triumphant. The conversation doesn’t match perfectly, but you get the gist. We also find out that James has a woman in his life to give him purpose, much like Jason. Only he met her much later in his life than Sarah and Jason, but Katherine came into James’s life when he hadn’t much hope left. Perhaps I’ll tell their tale eventually.]
James hadn’t been sure exactly what the Vervelleans were up to when he’d been taken into their practice group. At first, he’d thought it was some sort of scare tactic. His sparring session with Sarah, certainly had been. Now he found himself part of a scout troop on a mission into Azure.
Azure; it was his homeland, and yet he’d begun to wish he’d never been born into that country. He ought to have snuck off during the fighting and claimed himself a traveler and settled in Verdas. But that wouldn’t help those who still suffered and eventually General Wholawski would find him.
General Wholawski; James’s thoughts veered again. The higher in rank he’d been promoted, the more James wished he wasn’t as good as he was. Unfortunately, as an orphan, he had to be good or he’d be dead. Now he was headed back to Wholawski’s fortress to rescue the Princess. What good would that do? They needed to kill the General and end his rule. Why not do it now?
James looked about the group subtly. If he played his cards right he might be able to accomplish just that. If he played them perfectly General Wholawski would have no idea he had betrayed him. Sarah, once her warrior way was triggered, could over power the General. If she failed, he suspected Sergeant Phoenix would not.
That pair had a strong bond that went beyond James’s understanding. He’d learned that they communed like Pairents, mind to mind. To test his theory, that everything he said was relayed back to Phoenix, he spoke up one evening as they huddled in the tent taking shelter from the rain.
“Least the snow hasn’t come yet. One fall could immobilize us for days.”
Sarah’s eyes went out of focus for a moment before she asked, “Does that happen often?”
“Last winter was the worst,” he told her. “General Wholawski is tired of his stronghold here in the Frezure Mountains.”
The woman snorted. “That’s an apt name.”
James smiled. “He’s also worried that if he doesn’t take over soon, Prince Hermanus,” he nodded his liege, “will gain enough support to overthrow him.”
“Really?” the Prince blinked in surprise at him.
James nodded. “Lord Farquard, whom I mentioned before, has been your loudest supporter. According to him, there are others, and the numbers are growing.”
Sarah’s eyes went out of focus again, but she had no additional questions.
James settled in for the night along with the rest. He wished he’d been able to stop off at his uncles and let him know they were coming. These Vervelleans had earned his utmost respect, and he would rather not see any of them come to harm. They were good people, though wary of him. No one had asked how he was related to Lord Farquad, and that was blessing enough.
The thought of blessings made his mind wander to Katherine. He hoped she was safe. Sharon had promised him she’d keep her safe. James closed his eyes, now resolute. General Wholawski’s fortress was an unsure place and he doubted Sharon could keep Katherine safe for long. Somehow he would get her out of there, Sharon too if he could, and in the process General Wholawski would die, even if he had to kill the man himself.