A Tentative Truce

When Sarah, Reed and Aaron joined the others at the raft it had too many people on it. Marcus stood in the front, which was raised a foot above the water. The back; however, was a foot underneath the water. And then his pole, Sarah noted, barely reached above his head and he was already trying to cross. Apparently her comment about team work hadn’t gotten through his thick head.

“Four of you off the raft,” she ordered, “and preferably anyone who can’t swim.”

Over half the men jumped down into the water. Marcus didn’t seem to notice as he continued poling for the other shore.

“Marcus that pole’s too short!” Sarah called out to him. He didn’t respond. Sighing Sarah waded out into the water and climbed aboard the raft. “When you hit the original stream bed, that pole is going to go down to below your waist and the current is going to take hold.”

“Shut up Smith,” Marcus growled at her, “I have done this before, and you stated that you have never even made a raft let alone steered one.”

“Suit yourself,” Sarah shrugged and lowered her voice, “but I will help if I feel you’re putting people in danger.”

Marcus ignored her and continued guiding the raft though the trees. It wasn’t long at all before they hit the old bank. Suddenly he leaned way forward as the pole searched for the stream bed. Sarah caught a hold of his collar to keep him from falling in.

“I can swim you know,” he hissed.

Sarah looked at him. “Do you? And how often did you go swimming?”

“Daily," Marcus growled, "in the sea.”

“Good, then you might want to help me guide this raft to the other side before we end up too far down stream.”

Sarah slipped into the water. Grabbing a floating piece of rope she began to swim. It wasn’t the best way to hold onto the raft, but it would work for now. Muttering something under his breath Marcus joined Sarah in the water. She hoped he was as good as his word. Though a royal pain in the butt, she didn’t think he was the type to exaggerate.

The stream bed wasn’t all that wide and soon they could stand and walk. They guided the raft to shore and the two men who had stayed jumped off. Sarah looked at Marcus, she half expected him to disappear to try and beat everyone back. Instead he was staring at the group waiting on the other side.

“Thirty men plus Wolf Troop you said?” Marcus broke the silence.

“Well we just ferried two of Wolf troop across,” Sarah looked back but the men were gone. Marcus did not look at her. “Look Marcus, I know you don’t like me being here and it upsets the order of your world and all, but we need to work together.”

Marcus turned his eyes upon Sarah and glared at her. “What in the name of the Gods do you mean by my world?”

“I mean that I grew up in a place that was nothing like this,” Sarah’s voice became cold as she tried to suppress all emotion. “Where I grew up woman’s work could be done by anyone. My father taught me how to cook. My mother taught me how to read. Now if you just try and forget I’m female for the moment, we can ferry everyone across. They are all looking at us expectantly.”

Indeed they were. Sarah could see that Jason had joined the group and was speaking with Wolf. Both of them kept glancing across the river. Sarah stood there, getting colder and colder as Marcus thought. Finally he shook himself.

“I count thirty-two men.”

Sarah scanned the group, “Should be thirty-three.”

“Where do you see the thirty-third?” Marcus glanced at her.

“I don’t see Phoenix’s charge.”

“Phoenix’s charge?”

“Yes, and he’s an even later addition to the trials than I.” Sarah grinned at Marcus.

Marcus sighed. “Well, let us get the raft back across and get this Trial over with.”

“Let’s.” Sarah agreed with his emphasis on Trial.

Without another word Marcus and Sarah turned their rope ends into loops. Slinging the loops over their shoulders they sloughed out into the water. As they neared the old stream bed, they began to swim and landed downstream from the large group. Class B, Reed, Aaron, Kirk, London, Michael and Bennett, followed their progress and were waiting to help to bring the raft up to where the others were.

The End

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