Sarah watched Ryan depart. It wasn’t until they heard a door open and shut downstairs that General Hector spoke.
“I trust when you tell him about the trials you tell him that you were watching them, not taking part in them.”
Sarah looked to the General startled. “Of course,” she assured him, “General. If that is what I must do.”
She didn’t think it would fool Ryan. He was a bright kid with a good memory. A bright flash outside of the window caught their attention. Sarah began to count the seconds. She got to twenty when Sir Merlin spoke.
“So she is Hopeful Smith?”
General Hector nodded as he sighed. “She also spent four months with Phoenix troop and survived two Nigiri Assassinations.”
“Is that so,” Sire Merlin’s eyebrows raised as he studied Sarah. She unconsciously straightened up to her full height. “I’m not sure I can believe you.”
“Oh, trust me...” Sarah paused as thunder rumbled, “I was there.” She pulled off her cap. “There’s no other reason I’d have my hair cut so short.”
A smiled played slightly upon General Hector’s face. Recovering quickly from her revelation, Sir Merlin began to chuckle slightly. The corners of Sarah’s mouth began to turn up when a voice at the door interrupted them.
“By the Gods Graces!” Madam Vivian exclaimed. “Put that cap back on, it is not seemly to be seen with such short hair.” The woman strode into the room and proceeded to help Sarah do just that. “They might think you were a Beard despite your betrothal to Phoenix. Not as if he hasn’t failed a betrothal before.”
“Now love there is no need to worry her,” Sir Merlin chided his wife.
“No reason she shouldn’t be warned.” Madame Vivian twisted the cap up and pinned it back into place. “Did either of you need food? There is some soup still warm downstairs.”
Both men shook their heads but Sarah spoke up as her stomach rumbled. “I could use some.” She stood and began to follow Lady Vivian down to the kitchen.
“Hopeful Smith,” Hector’s voice followed her.
“Yes,” Sarah did an about face, “General.”
“Seeing as you seem to have been pivotal during the trail I need to hear your version of what happened.”
Sarah’s stomach rumbled again. “If you don’t mind, Si... General, I’d like to eat first, seeing as I haven’t eaten anything other than breakfast.”
The General’s eyes narrowed slightly as he studied her. He took a step closer and Sarah suddenly realized she was taller than him. Biting her lip slightly she hoped she hadn’t made a giant faux pas. The man was Jason’s superior and Sarah had already gotten her love into trouble once. Still she wasn’t about to go over what happened at the Trails without food in her stomach. A fact that was emphasized by yet another rumble, echoing the thunder outside.
“Why don’t,” Sir Merlin’s voice broke their staring contest, “I go down and bring the Hopeful some food. I know my mind always works better when my stomach isn’t distracting it.”
“Very well,” General Hector sighed. He turned from Sarah to ensconce himself in a seat and she could have sworn he muttered, “Good luck to Phoenix if he does marry her.” At last, he looked back up at Sarah. “Now, I want to know everything you know, starting with when you first infiltrated General Wholwaski’s camp to when you found his camp during the trials.” His eyes bored into her. “Leave nothing out.”
Sarah took a deep breath and let it out. General Hector’s eyes watched her, waiting for her to begin. It was hard to collect her thoughts with her stomach rumbling about her. She watched another flash of lighting and counted the seconds; only fifteen. The General continued to watch her; waiting.
“Hope the Gods are sending this storm after General Wholawski,” Sir Merlin’s cheerful voice broke the silence. He paused for a moment a hot bowl of soup in his hands and looked from Sarah to General Hector. “Well seat yourself and eat,” he told Sarah setting the soup on a side table.
Sarah didn’t need much encouragement to comply. As she tried to eat with reasonable grace, she occasionally glanced at the two men. Sir Merlin and General Hector talked in very hushed whispers. Just as she finished her stew the Knight Commander clapped Sir Hector’s back.
“When the Gods walk the land we can do naught but follow their lead,” the Knight stated. “Now,” he turned a smile to Sarah, “let’s hear what you have to say about this Wholawski fellow.”
Sarah smiled back. 'Wholawski fellow', made General Wholawski sound as if he was the suitor to some Lady rather than a slime ball from hell. She took another deep breath to center herself. “Start from my first infiltration?” she verified.
“Yes,” General Hector nodded.
Sir Merlin’s eyebrows raised, but he did not say a word. Sarah closed her eyes for a moment before she began.