Several weeks passed, and things had finally settled into a routine. Thanks to the money Griever had given the hawks, we hadn't needed to raid the sheriff's stores to get the supplies we needed to rebuilt the camp and care for the villagers. There was even enough left over, that I had approached Kate with the idea of setting up a second camp. She'd nodded absently, and moved away. She often was nowhere to be found, but, reports had come in seeing her come from deeper into the forest, not from the keep, where Corin was.
She wasn't meeting Corin in the forest either, because he stayed in the village for the most part, according to the villagers. It was nice to have some help on the other side of the law, and the villagers praised the "Falcons" almost as often as they praised the Hawks.
"...I think we've had a good influence on them." Someone said, Griever, from the sound of his slightly heavier footsteps compared to any hawk, coming up behind me as I calculated how many supplies to send to the second camp. It had a smaller garrison than the main camp, but still the villagers near there needed just as much, if not more, help from us.
"What the soldiers do to help is their own business." I replied. "So long as they aren't causing trouble for us, I dont care what they do, one way or another."
"Come now, Jem." Griever said, taking my hand. "Everything is going to be fine. We have allies now, and thats a good thing. We have enough supplies to take care of everyone, isnt it time you relaxed?"
"Kate left me in charge, I can't relax until she's ready to take control of the Nigh Hawks again." I protested.
"Jem!" Someone called my name. Dreda had come out of the trees, and she was pulling behind her a young man dressed somewhat shabbily in armor. "This soldier wants to join the hawks."
"Join us?" I looked at the young man closely, well aware of Griever standing nearby. "We dont accept many men into our order." I said. "Do you think you have what it takes to serve our cause, fully, and not just because of an alliance? Do you think you can serve under a woman?"
"Jem." I corrected him. "And you don't have what it takes." I stared at him, to intimidate.
"No one has what it takes when they start. And if this is because you're some lovesick puppy, you can get out of my sight."
"I wish to join your cause." The young man said, stolidly. "My loyalty will be to the hawks."
I frowned slightly, mostly to hide a smile. "You're on probation. If there's even one slip-up. If I see you leaving the camp without permission from me or Griever, you will not be allowed under these trees again, do you understand?"
"Jem." I corrected again, letting the smile show through. "Now, go make yourself useful, I dont have time to waste sharing small talk with you." The young man took off at a run, but not before passing Dreda a few coins, which she deftly pocketed. Fae, sneaky sneaky bunch.
"Wow Jem, you're softening." Griever teased. "You actually smiled at that poor fellow."
"A good leader needs to instill trust in those under her care. I was just trying to do that."
"You do make a good leader," Griever said, "and a beautiful one."
I shook my head and left him to check on the other activities in the camp.