Hurst: We can't take you with us.

After running into the commander as he did, I knew that getting Sebastian out would be tricky. I couldn’t take the chance that he get caught going out the window. That would have come back on me, and I was probably under enough suspicion as it was. My plan to get him out had worked so far.

Sebastian had been worried about being questioned by the guards. I assured him that they wouldn’t, but I didn’t have time to tell him why. On the way back to his camp, I told him about the constant activity associated with the garrison.

“Soldiers come and go all the time out of there. It doesn’t hold any particular strategic advantage that I know about,” I said.

“Didn’t it use to be used for defense of the city?”

“Yeah, but that was years ago.”

“So, what about the sympathizers being held in there?” Sebastian’s question was a valid one, a question I had thought about and didn’t have a good answer for.

“I believe they are safe for now, and I don’t think we should try to get them out. It would be nice if we could keep this entire ordeal from escalating further.”

“Agreed,” Sebastian said simply. Stopping and turning to look at me, he continued, “So, what’s the plan?” I smiled, realizing that he didn’t want to ask this in front of his men.

“I will send a message to the queen telling her about your arrival. We will wait for further instructions. There’s a place outside the city’s walls that we use sometimes for this sort of thing. She will know where to find us.”

Sebastian opened his mouth to reply when we heard some commotion behind us coming from the garrison. I closed my eyes and exhaled loudly. What happened now? I thought as I turned around to see a group of people — women and children mostly — coming in our direction.

“Fredrick,” Sebastian said, his breathing heavy like mine, “what have you done?” There was another man at the back of the group. Without giving the first man (Fredrick, I assumed) time to answer, he continued, “Lewis, why did you allow him to do this?”

“I will take full blame, sir,” Fredrick replied. “I knew there was a chance that we were going to leave these people here since our primary targets were not among them. I couldn’t do that and keep a good conscience, sir.”

Sebastian sighed, wiping the spit off his lip. After closing his eyes, he said with another sigh, “I can’t blame you for that.” Looking at me, he asked, “Does this change things?”

I thought for a moment. “Perhaps,” I said finally. “I don’t think we should change our plan, though. I will still send a message to the queen, letting her know about this as well.” Turning my attention to the group, I continued, “But, we can’t take you with us. You won’t be safe.”

“Where will we go?” a woman asked.

“I know that you want to help Ibera. The safest thing for you to do now is stay out of harm’s way. There may come a time when your assistance will once again be invaluable.” I knew my comments did not answer her question directly, but I didn’t want to alienate them,either.

“That’s all fine,” another woman said, “but where shall we go in the meantime?”

“As far away from here as you can get,” I told them. “And, not toward Ibera, either. That direction won’t be safe. I would head toward one of the outlying provinces in the opposite direction of the border with Ibera. The queen has supporters everywhere, so you should be able to find someone to help you. Be careful.” After seeing the expressions on many their faces, I added, “I wish I could come with you, but I can’t.”

The End

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