A smile played in the King's eyes as his fingers tapped in thought. He looked from his son to Sarah and back. “She does make a good point.”
The Prince turned to him, a flippant remark clearly on his tongue. The King held up his hand and stood.
“Physical desire and Love are certainly different beasts. But it takes Faith,” he looked pointedly at his son, “to believe in and receive Love. Given the facts of the situation I do not believe Scout Sergeant Phoenix’s judgment has been compromised in any way.” The King faced Jason. “It takes a brave man to send the woman he Loves into the lion’s den, especially given what he knows of the General. As too,” the King turned towards Sarah, “does it take a brave woman to put her own life on the line for the man she Loves.”
Sarah felt a bit abashed. “That’s not exactly why I did it.”
“Oh?” the King stated, looking at her with interest.
Sarah swallowed as she became the center of everyone’s focus. She took a deep breath, knowing that the King should know the whole truth. Her words came out, broken by pauses as she struggled to keep emotions in check. “My world was at war when I came here. I have seen its horror and had my family and home destroyed by it.” She glanced at Jason, “Phoenix presented me with an opportunity to stop a war before it could start. There was no way, in good consciousness, that I could refuse such an opportunity.”
Jason started to speak, but Sarah turned to him and continued. “I know you said what you felt you needed to, to get me to comply. I also know you would not lie to me. But I think even if Scout Sergeant Eagle had used the same words I would have done so. This is my world now.”
Jason’s eyes shone with pride. He might have said something, but the King chuckled, turning their attention back to him.
“A wise woman,” he nodded, “which is, of course, what complicates the matter.” Turning he moved from his desk to the window. “I hear you have combat skills.”
“Some,” Sarah admitted hesitantly.
“Some?” Jason turned her to face him. He looked at her fiercely, “You are better than most First Years!”
“Is she?” The King turned back to them. The Prince snorted. Jason swallowed nervously as the King studied him. “And would you stake your rank on that boast Phoenix?”
Jason took a deep breath and stood tall. “Yes, Your Majesty.” Sarah stared at him wide eyed.
“And Sarah,” the King faced her. “Would you be willing to take the First Year Trials to prove his boast?”
It was Sarah’s turn to swallow nervously. “Um,” she looked at Jason, having no clue what the First Year Trials involved. You can do it, he nodded. Sarah took a deep breath and faced the King. “If that is what I must do, Your Majesty, then that is what I must do.”
“Then that is what you will do,” the King nodded and turned back to the window.
Lady Abigail rose from her seat, and Sarah got the feeling they had been dismissed.
“Um,” Sarah hesitated. The King glanced back at her. “I do get to take them in pants though don’t I? Your Majesty,” she hastily amended before Lady Abigail could remind her.
King Demetrioso bit back laughter. He shook his head and took a deep breath. “I think that is the wisest course of action.” His smile faded and his face became totally serious. “Though I recommend you leave the corsets and jackets behind as well.”
“Of course Your Majesty.” Somehow Sarah wasn’t surprised he was asking her to go the whole nine yards. If only she could talk to Rosaline again. She could use some advice on how to play at being a man.
“Good.” The King waived his hand motioning them to the door.
Dismissed, Lady Abigail curtsied and left. Sarah imitated her as best she could while Jason bowed. The walk down the stairs wasn’t nearly as long as the walk up. Just like a car trip to an unknown destination, Sarah thought. The doors were already open for them and their carriage was waiting. Jason first helped his mother and then Sarah into the carriage. He stopped half way to boarding.
“I ought to see to my men.” He nodded to the driver who moved them forward and out of the gates as he hung off the side. “They have been worried about the outcome of today.” He smiled at Sarah as the carriage stopped. “They have been feeling as if they betrayed you.”
“Can I come?” Sarah asked eagerly. It would be relaxing to see them again. Not to mention she could find out what happened with Brad and Allen. Lady Abigail stopped her from rising.
“Not in a court dress,” Jason's mother declared.
“But?” Sarah looked between Lady Abigail and Jason, utterly confused. “He’s going...”
A hand flourish interrupted her. “He will change at his house, you must change at mine.” There was no bargaining with Lady Abigail’s tone. Sarah sighed and slouched in her seat as much as the corset allowed.
Jason pondered her a moment before turning to his mother. “What if we extended them an invitation to dine at the city house tonight? My men always enjoy your hospitality.” He smiled charmingly at his mother.
“Well they have a tendency to get rowdy, but” she looked to Sarah who had perked up. “It would be a good test of Sarah’s cooking skills. I have not seen her prepare a full meal yet.”
“What?” Sarah sat bolt upright and stared at Lady Abigail.
Jason chuckled. He jumped off the carriage. “Just be sure to make a stew!” he called as the carriage jolted into motion.
“They will be disappointed,” Sarah groaned.
“And why is that?” Lady Abigail regarded her curiously.
Sarah sighed. “Apparently the wild herbs I was using are not the same as the herbs people grow in their gardens around here.”
Lady Abigail patted Sarah’s hand. “I am sure everything will be just fine.”