Sarah and Marcus followed the sound of happy voices. As they reached the tables that had been set outside they split. Sarah immediately joined Reed and the others while Marcus went to, where ever it was his cronies had sat. No sooner had she taken her place than food began to be set upon the tables. Two solid thuds were herd and everyone turned to where the King had rapped his goblet upon a table. Silence settled over the crowd.
“Well it seems the Gods threw an extra challenge at you today.”
Many heads nodded in agreement with the King.
“But I see all Hopefuls, Scouts and Sergeants have made it back safe and sound.”
Mutters of agreement and more nods ran along the tables.
“And I hear,” the King looked directly at Marcus and then to Sarah, “we owe it to Hopefuls Marcus and Smith.”
She felt her face heating up and she desperately wanted to disappear into the ground as eyes swiveled from Marcus to her. “I just had the idea,” she stated, “it was Marcus who got it put together with all the other Hopefuls helping.”
“Is that so?” Sarah wasn’t sure if the King was annoyed or amused.
“Yes, Your Majesty.” She wasn’t going to back down though. If she was going to be put in the spotlight, she was dragging everyone with her.
“Well,” his face broke into a smile as he looked over the Hopefuls, “In that case I toast to you all!”
“Huzzah!” everyone lifted their cups and cheered.
“My Life for my Country,” the King began.
“For all that it’s worth,” everyone chimed in. “My King and Commander rule this berth." The volume rose. "My faith in the Gods till I am dust." Pride swelled through the ranks. "My Sergeant who leads me, in him I trust.”
The King beamed at them all as he took his seat. No sooner had the King begun serving himself, then everyone sat to do the same. Jason slipped into a seat next to Sarah as they began to pass the food around. she raised an eyebrow at him and he just grinned, so she glanced to the King’s table. The Prince had changed and was now sitting next to his father.
“I heard,” Reed said through a mouthful of food, “that they’re opening up the baths tonight.”
“Really?” Sarah looked up. A nice warm bath sounded heavenly right about now.
“A reward for making it back despite the conditions.” Jason stated, after swallowing his bite.
“We ought to get there as soon as we can to get the good water.” Aaron joined the conversation.
Sarah inwardly groaned. It wasn’t as if she could go anyway, for she knew they wouldn’t be private. And if they were talking about good bath water that meant they didn’t change it between people. “I think I’ll pass,” she stated.
“Pass?” Kirk, Reed and London looked at her incredulously. “Surely you can’t continue to claim modesty?” Reed continued, “They never give Hopefuls warm baths.”
“All that swimming got me clean enough. Besides we’ll be trekking through the mud again tomorrow anyway,” Sarah sighed, wishing she really could join them.
They all smiled and shrugged and fell back to eating, until Jason chuckled. Sarah glared at him, which only made him laugh harder. She swatted at his shoulder. He easily dodged.
I am sorry. It is just, Jason tried to regained some of his composure, you not wanting a bath because you will only get dirty tomorrow. He nearly lost it again.
Oh go sod off, Sarah thought back at him, her glare losing none of its intensity. At least not until she realized that everyone at the table was staring at her and Jason.
“Sorry,” Sarah mumbled as she looked down at her plate. “Just something that happened while I was with Troop Phoenix.”
“Do not bother asking,” Jason stated to their curious looks. “Smith cannot tell you as it happened while on a special assignment.” Jay gave her a good thump to the back as he stood. “Now I am afraid I must excuse myself.”
Thanks, Sarah thought sarcastically after him.
Your welcome, was his reply. He was still inwardly chuckling about the whole thing.
Sarah sighed. A good hot soak would do wonders for her. But she highly doubted the water would be hot enough, and she knew there would not be privacy enough. She’d heard stories from her brothers. It had taken them a bit to get used to the communal showers where men and women washed themselves at the same time. So when everyone headed to the baths Sarah went to Class B’s room. There she stretched and massaged her muscles as best she could. By the time the other’s filed back in, Sarah was fast asleep.