[Author’s Note: I just had to see what sort of information James would feed his ‘illustrious’ leader before Wholawski goes and dines with Sarah in Chapter 75, Supper Conversations, in Phoenix Triumphant. You’ll notice the perspective changes between James and Wholawski and back to James at the squiggles (~)]
A lieutenant came scuttling for James, stating that Wholawski wanted to speak with him once more. James turned from his path, which was taking him once more towards Sharon’s domain, and followed the messenger back into the Great Hall where Wholawski sat upon his throne.
“Come here James,” the man beckoned him forward.
It was easy to see the General had made an effort on his appearance tonight. The question was; who was he entertaining as a guest. The guise of that had been dropped for the Princess shortly after her arrival. James hardly suspected anyone else had come through the perimeter he suspected Phoenix had erected, though Gods only knew how.
“Come on up a step,” Wholawski beckoned and James obeyed. “It occurs to me that we have not talked much about that woman you brought in.”
James became wary. “What would you like to know?”
“How is it you managed to capture her and return here, as well as where she is from and any other information I’m sure you gained about her on your journey northward.”
James looked down as he smiled to himself. He was surprised these questions had not been asked earlier. But then the General had been occupied with reforming his elite force and disciplining everyone for all the minor infractions that had occurred during his absence.
“Well?” Wholawski drummed his fingers upon the table before him.
Looking back up, James spoke. “I captured her by taking her unaware and being sure the knots were always tight. Once she realized there was no other choice, she accepted her fate, as you see she has done here.”
“That’s a bit contrary to Chester’s tale,” Wholawski remarked.
“Chester only desires to hide his incompetence and the fact that he was trying to force her,” James responded, happy to get Chester in trouble.
“Is that so?” The General smiled ever so slightly. “Pity York hasn’t returned.”
“It is,” James agreed.
“I don’t suppose she might know what happened to him?” Wholawski leaned forward.
“I do not know. I didn’t think to ask as it was Chester you sent to capture her after she took the Prince.”
“Hm... we’ll see how conversation goes tonight.” The General leaned back in his chair. “So what is her name and what is her connection to Phoenix?”
“Her name is Sarah, but she took the guise of a man to attend the Scout Trials and went by Smith there.”
“Intriguing,” The General drummed his fingers on the table, but this time in a more thoughtful manner. “And her connection to Phoenix?”
“That I never fully understood. I heard it whispered that they were engaged, but she never talked of him much since Phoenix died underneath a Willow tree,” James smirked.
“Good,” the Wholawski chuckled. “Does she know I am responsible?”
“That I don’t know.” James shook his head. “She herself was wounded and under the same Willow.”
Wholawski tapped his finger tips together. This tidbit of information was most defiantly welcome from the bad news he’d been receiving. There were questions he’d need to ask her and tasks he’d need to set her. If she knew he’d killed Phoenix and hated him for it, all the better. What was life without the fear of being killed by the woman you slept with?
Sadly, not one had survived long enough to hate him enough to even try. Even Sharon had never raised so much as her hand to him. She was probably deluded with some sort of family ties and a disgusting sense of love.
James’s polite cough brought Wholawski’s attention back to him. “Check and see that supper is ready and then go fetch this Sarah Smith. I’d like to show her about the fortress after supper and have her attend the whipping tonight.”
“Yes, General,” James bowed and left for the West Kitchen.
Wholawski was making it extremely easy to continue with his plan. He would even have a chance to tell Sarah that he’d informed The General that Phoenix was dead. How she took that information and portrayed her reaction to it was up to her.