Tough Decisions

[Author’s note:  This is the last of the ‘James in the woods’ chapters and we take it from Jason’s perspective. I think you’ll all love the translation of the message they sent James ‘home’ with. It’s in here, as well as some of the beginning bit from Phoenix Triumphant, chapter 87 (The Siege Begins)]


The discussion of what to do went almost to dawn. Lord Farquad, upon hearing what happened to his daughter, nearly skewered James for letting it happen. He wanted to march straight into the castle. It took all of Jason’s courtier skills to persuade the man that was a foolish plan. After all, they were still outnumbered by the fortress guards. Besides the siege was already being set up. A Skathain had arrived stating that the pits and stakes had been laid and Archers posted.

“Better get you back inside with your remaining company,” Jason informed James. “Take out as many as you can on the inside. We’ll need the back as unguarded as possible.”

“You’ll want to bang me and my men up, or Wholawski will wonder how I got through the barricade unscathed.” James sighed.

“True,” Jason looked to the Alithana, “Alara, you be sure that James and his three companions don’t have an easy time out. But don’t kill him!”

“Should we send one of us wi’ ‘im?” Griffon mused. “I could pass as tha’ older guy they handled a bit too roughly.”

Jason looked to James who pondered Griffon. He shook his head. “Too risky,” he stated at last. “Even the newest arrivals know what the routine is. And Jett was one of the oldest. It would look too suspicious and someone would figure it out.”

“Ye couldn’t assign me to be a body guard fo’ Sarah?” Griffon asked.

Jason smiled ever so slightly. Griffon obviously knew how worried he was.

James shook his head again. “Suspicious again, especially after the way she fought Major Chantey.”

Silence settled about the group as Jason thought about their discussion. While he would like to send one of them inside, James was right. Too many suspicions might be raised if someone who came back didn’t know the way things worked. No, he would have to trust James. After all, James had as much, if not more, to lose if the plan went sour than he did.

“Alara, you and your company give James and his two unharmed men a bit of a bruising and send them back to Wholawski as messengers.”

“What’s the message?” James asked.

Jason pondered this for a moment before smiling. “I do not know. Gwythryn, why don’t you give him a few choice phrases in Skathain.”

The red headed Thane grinned. ~Ir narnavae khail dragha vaiir, aba~

James had to repeat that a couple times before he got it to the big Skathain’s satisfaction. Afterwards he went out with Alara to gather his three able men and return to the fortress.

“So what did ye tell him to tell Wholawski?” Griffon asked for them all.

Thane Gwythryn smiled even broader, “I look forward to viewing your entrails, friend.”

His grin was infections and soon only Jason had not started laughing.

Jay! Sarah’s mental shout was faint. Jay can you hear me?

Jason stood and walked away, his smile slowly fading. You are very faint. Are you in danger?

No, not yet, she told him, but something’s going on outside and it seemed a good moment to test my anklets, was her response.

Your what?

Bracelets for my ankles, she explained, we made them from Willow cloth last night, but it’s the only bit of Willow I’m wearing right now. I figured that would be the easiest way to keep Willow cloth on me at all times.

Jason smiled before quickly focusing on the task at hand.  I need you to get Lady Miriam out of the dungeon.

Me? Sarah queried. How?

I don’t know, Jason stated, but James seems to think you can.

Right, she sighed. I don’t suppose you know why I’m hearing craziness going on outside.

 “How is she?” Griffon asked quietly and Jason turned to face the man who’d been his mentor.

“She fares well, for now.” His sigh turned into a smile. “But I think the General’s men have discovered the Skathain perimeter.”

The End

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