Keeping an eye on the Prince, Sarah took as few breaks as she could. It wouldn’t do to run him ragged before they made it to base camp. He slowed them some, but he was in better shape than Sarah had expected. So she kept them moving until light became scarce.
Puzzled the Prince watched as Sarah lit a small fire for dinner. It wasn’t much, but she hadn’t had one last night, and she figured the Prince would appreciate it. Not that he gave any indication he did. Sighing as she banked the fire Sarah prepared to return the sod and cover it with litter from the forest floor.
“We ought to sleep in the trees tonight,” she glanced around noticing no other shelter in sight.
“Aye,” Adam agreed.
“Why?” the Prince asked his mistrust apparent in his voice.
“Because it’ll make us a harder target in case General Wholowski or his men stumble upon us.” Sarah couldn’t believe she had to answer that. “Your Highness,” she added.
There was a large sigh from the Prince in the silence that followed. For a moment no one moved, then a wolf howled off in the night. It was a haunting lonely howl and the Prince began to climb.
Once he was up Sarah went and started setting herself up. It took only one glance to see that the Prince had no clue how to use his blanket as a nest. Knowing that he’d be more likely to listen to a Scout than her, she asked Adam to help him. Her theory was proved correct when she heard soft snores emitting from his hammock before she’d gotten comfortable.
Sleep came in bits and pieces through the night. Between the Prince’s snores and the night sounds Sarah wasn’t sure how much sleep she actually got. The sky was just beginning to lighten when a Wolf Troop howl echoed form the base of the tree.
Sarah peered down as Adam responded with a howl of his own. The wolf that had been sniffing at her disguised fire pit looked up and called back. Looking to Adam she saw he was beginning to pack up his stuff.
“We should get going right after I talk with Scout Trent.” Adam sated as he began his descent.
“Scout Trent?” Sarah questioned wondering how a wolf could be a Scout, but when she looked down there was no wolf only a man. “Right,” Sarah shook her head.
Old fashioned technology was one thing, but human transformation was a bit mind boggling. Active imagination maybe, Sarah tried to center herself as she packed up her things. Moving to where the Prince was still snoring, she filed magic away to a place where she could deal with it later. She wrapped her legs and one tight around the branches, preparing herself for a violent reaction from the Prince.
“Good Morning Your Highness!” Sarah gave him a good shake.
His arm shot out. Sarah pulled herself back, his fist missing her by less than an inch. Thank goodness for the practice of waking up military trained brothers during the holidays. Sarah smiled to his glare as his hammock swayed dangerously.
“Time to get up Your Highness. One of Wolf troop is here, which means the word will be getting out. We need to get you back to the barracks to join your father.”
“Wolf Troop?” the Prince Asked glancing down. “Are you sure?”
As if on cue the man below howled and they both looked down. Sarah felt nauseous as she watched the man transform from standing on two legs to running on all fours. She did not want to think about exactly how that happened.
“Never seen an Animal Mage transform before?” the Prince asked, a slight sneer in his voice. Sarah shot him a look as she began her descent.
Sarah shot him a murderous look before proceeded down the tree. Her feet had just hit the ground when the first exclamation of frustration reached her ears. Looking up she had to smoother laughter. The Prince was struggling to right himself from hanging upside down. His blanket still attached to the tree in three places.
Adam was soon clambering up to help him. “Here, let me Your Highness,” she heard him say.
Glancing up again Sarah noticed Adam was doing all the work while the Prince was making for the ground. “Some Hopeful you are,” she muttered as he landed beside her.
“I ought to have you,” Sarah cut off his threat with a hand over his mouth.
“Look, I’m sorry Your Highness, but I come from a world where respect is earned, not a birthright.” She took her hand away. “Let’s just get through this and get you back to the barracks. We finish the trials, and then hopefully,” Sarah cracked a slight smile, “I can just be Jason’s wife and you can forget about me. Kapeesh?”
The Prince looked at her blankly and Sarah sighed. She held out her arm to the Prince in the manner of Scout greeting.
“Truce, Your Highness?” she asked. “I’ll try to treat you like royalty if you try to not annoy me?”