[Author’s Note: This is from Jason’s perspective and his reactions to what happens in chapters 72 and 73, An Invitation to Dine (Part 1 and Part 2), of Phoenix Triumphant. Sarah’s involvement is rough on him, especially as he knows what General Wholawski is capable of.]
Wholwaski’s invitation to dine with Sarah held no good in it, of that Jason was sure. It made his heart ache to know that she must be close to the one who had tried to break his spirit those many years ago. Her outburst, hopefully gained her the trust of the Princess, which would be critical.
Jason opened his eyes to see the other leader, Griffon, Sparrow, Lord Farquad, Gwythryn and Alara, looking at him expectantly.
“She is in danger?” Griffon asked.
“Potentially,” Jason sighed, “but there is nothing we can do now and the Princess stays unharmed.”
“Odd considering his reputation,” Sparrow mused.
“True, but let us just be thankful it is so.” Jason took a deep breath. “We ought to focus on the completion of our siege and how to get the Princess, Lord Farquad’s daughter and Sarah out of the fortress.”
Of course, that was easier said than done; especially without communication from James. It seemed hopeless until Sarah’s voice interrupted them once more.
As Jason listed to her message a smile spread upon his face.
“It looks like,” he said as Sarah read the note from James to him, “that our Skathain friends have been successful in spooking the patrols.”
They looked at him expectantly as Jason listened to the whole of the note. He thought for a moment. Read it again, he commanded and Sarah did so. Again his thoughts searched the message. Read it once more, he stated. When at last she had read its entirety he told her to burn it. Do not let Wholawski know James is on our side. Do not once mention my name, in any form to him. Other than that, play as you feel fit to keep yourself and the other ladies safe. I love you and with the Gods help, we shall be sleeping in the same bed on the morrow.
Jason looked up to those around him, his decisions made. “Lord Farquad, James stated that you would know who the men are that he leads. Take them one at the time as you have the others,” he spoke to Gwythryn and Alara. “I do not wish to break the ruse we have set. Do not kill those that Lord Farquad indicates are with James. We especially, do not wish to harm James, for I think he will be our key to entering the fortress. I expect your two groups to work out how that is to be done.” Turning to his fellow Sergeants, he spoke again. “Sparrow and Griffon, see to it that everything is ready to be set into place at dawn. I must talk with Weather Mage Lynn.”
He knew that Lynn could only keep the winter storms at bay for so long. She’d already had to let one storm through to blanket the fortress in snow so that things would not seem amiss. For this night and the next day he wanted to make sure the weather would hold for them, preferably without the need for her interference.
I’m bathing Jay, Sarah’s voice interrupted his thoughts, and then I must dress, so I’ll talk to you again when I have my shirt on.
No need, he informed her. It will be better for us to be distant so that we can do what it is we have to do without worrying the other.
Jay? Her unease was easy to feel.
Do not worry, he stated, as much for her as for himself. We should soon be close enough that Willow cloth will not be needed.
Right, she sighed. I love you.
As I love you. Jason put as much emotion into his though as he could as he neared Lynn’s Arenian tent.
Mathew immediately rose from his guard post. “I can’t believe I got roped into this,” he stated.
“You seem born to the bodyguard position,” Jason nodded at his former second. “She is the weakest fighter, especially when concentrating on the weather. Not to mention,” a smile crept onto his face, “I suspect you might actually die for her.”
“Not as if that makes a difference to her.” Mathew snorted as he stood aside. “How’s your Lady love fairing?”
Jason didn’t comment as his thoughts were suddenly drawn back to what Sarah had to face today. He quickly ducked into the tent, in the center of which a fire burned. Lynn stared into it, not seeming to notice how warm it was inside. For a moment, Jason wondered if it was the conical design or oiled Willow cloth that formed its walls, which retained the heat.