Woken by Margaret before the sun rose, Sarah yawned and stretched. Rolling out of bed she quickly splashed water upon her face. Chemise discarded, she wound one of her two long strips of fabric crisscross about her body binding her breasts and padding her waist. Over that Sarah threw a simple shirt that hung just below her buttocks. Next she pulled up the pants which made her smile.
Rushing down the stairs, Sarah nearly fell. She wanted to make sure she had time to eat before trekking off to the training barracks with Jay. Margaret clearly understood her need and had already set out some bread, cheese and water for her in the kitchen. Lady Abigail appeared just as Sarah was taking her last swig of water.
“For a serious occasion,” the Lady mused, “you seem very chipper.”
Sarah grinned. There was no way to explain to Lady Abigail just how free she felt in pants. It had been over a month since her legs had felt so unrestricted. But before she could respond there came a knock upon the Kitchen door. Margaret threw it open it to reveal Jason. He stopped in the middle of stepping in, staring at Sarah.
Sarah’s smile only widened. Taking a page from her brothers she pulled herself to full attention and gave him a military salute. “Scout Smith ready to report to the training barracks, Sir!”
“Mother!” Jason’s voice rang out, though his eyes never left Sarah. He stepped inside so Margaret could close the door.
“Did I overdo it?” Lady Abigail brushed past Sarah to stand beside Jason. She studied Sarah.
“No mother.” Jason’s eyes glinted with merriment. “I think you managed it perfectly.”
Lady Abigail heaved a sigh of relief. “Such a shame too, though she makes a pretty lad.”
“Come then, Hopeful Smith, let me guide you to the training barracks.” He opened the door to let her through.
Sarah followed Jason outside. They took the steep path down, passing by Allen and Jess at the first gate. Sarah smothered a laugh as their comments floated to her.
“Are you sure that was her?” Jess muttered
“Who else would Phoenix be escorting at this early hour?” Allen shot back.
Amusement played upon Jason’s face when Sarah glanced at him.
“Do I really look that different?” she asked curiously.
Jason quickly glanced at her. “Your transformation from Lady last night to Hopeful this morning is quite the transition. But,” they passed through the second gate, “there are more important things you need to know.”
“Like?” Sarah prompted as Jason lapsed into silence.
“Scout etiquette,” he grinned slightly at her groan. “First off, your title is Hopeful, until you pass the First Year Trials.”
“Which I have to do,” Sarah muttered, eliciting another smile from Jason.
“I am sure you will.” He continued to lead them through the tavern and inn district. “Once you have passed the test your title is Scout, and for the first year you will be a First Year. Once you have survived five years in service you become a Seasoned Scout.”
“Like a good stew, huh?” Sarah couldn’t help but quip back.
Jason chuckled and continued. “Above the rank of Scout is Sergeant. Always address any Sergeant that you do not report to as such. The next rank above Scout Sergeant is Scout Commander and Scout Coordinator. Above them is the Scout General and above him is the King. You shouldn’t have to worry about the Scout General, but all Hopefuls are over seen by Scout Commander Josiah.”