“Well it started with the Scout Sergeants determining that I was the most suited to infiltrating General Wholwaski’s camp...” Sarah began.
“That I am well aware of,” General Hector interrupted her with a wave of his hand. “Tell me exactly how you became cook and what went on in the camp.” He glanced slightly at Sir Merlin before finishing, “Spare us no details.”
“Right,” Sarah nodded and collected her thoughts once more.
A lot of her memories of her stay at the camp had been pushed to the back of her mind. Sarah didn’t like to dwell upon the unpleasant but she never forgot it either. Taking a deep breath she began with her meeting of Wholawski’s Scouts.
It had been nighttime when they had come upon her and if it wasn’t for her food she would have probably been skewered, or worse. Thankfully, they had liked the food and thought to better themselves in their commander’s eyes by bringing her back to him. When they arrived at the camp, Sarah admitted to wanting to abort the mission right then, given the way the soldiers were looking at her. However, she knew that running would only make the situation worse so she stuck it out. Feeling more at ease once she’d struck a bargain with Wholawski she began her work as cook for the camp.
Working alone to feed the numerous men was hard, so when she served dinner she asked for help, suggesting in an offhand manner that the boy, who was sporting a palm print to the cheek, would be a good option. Amazingly enough, the General had sent the boy over, along with guards. Of course, Sarah hadn’t know who he was until after she’d left the camp. She was just glad to have some help, grudging as it was, especially from someone who didn’t look at her as if she should be served with the next meal.
Figuring General Hector was looking for more information about the camp she told him as much as she could remember of the layout and the number of men. The only thing she could speak about with the most authority was the differing and varying number of the men she'd served the meals too.
“You did not get a good look at anything on General Wholawski’s desk when you served him?” General Hector sighed.
Sarah shook her head. “It was a map, but having never seen a map of these lands I couldn’t tell you anything else.”
“If you saw a map of these lands,” Sir Merlin suggested, “would you be able to pin point anything of interest you had seen on his map?”
“I’d be able to tell you if it was the same map.” Sarah shook her head again. “But, that’s probably it, he always swiped whatever was on it off when I came in with food.”
General Hector heaved a sigh. “When you were taking the Trials, what made you think that the camp remains you came across also belonged to General Wholawski?”
Sarah found herself explaining the logic she and Adam had used to come to that conclusion. First off the land had been cleared, something Scouts were taught not to do. Secondly, Adam had stated it wasn’t a Vervellean noble’s camp, she presumed for a similar reason. But it was the mutilated squirrels and the layout, specifically the walk from the largest dead patch to the cook fire that made her think it was the same people whose camp she’d been at before. When she’d called to Adam to get his thoughts, she noticed he stood in front of a Willow that had been hacked and burnt. Underneath it they found the body of a girl who had also been burned. Sarah swallowed at the memory, shivering as the image came to her, unbidden.
“And you are absolutely sure it was the same people?” General Hector demanded as he leaned towards Sarah.
“Jason confirmed it,” she defended herself. “It sure as hell felt like it and I wouldn’t have put it past those men to burn a girl, likely after...” Sarah let her voice trail off as her hands balled into fists.
“Sergeant Phoenix was there?” Sir Merlin mused. “I thought he had been in the barracks...”
“Unless more is being covered up that I thought,” General Hector responded. “But the King would have no reason...”
“No he would not,” Sir Merlin agreed.
“Well Sergeant Phoenix wasn’t physically there,” Sarah said lamely. Both men raised their eyebrows so Sarah stumbled through an explanation of her connection with Jay.
“Being under a Willow allows you to speak mind to mind?” Sir Merlin leaned forward while General Hector leaned back.
“See mind to mind too, I guess. I know Jason saw the girl’s body and the burnt Willow,” Sarah stated.
Lightning flashed and thunder rattled the windows as General Hector began to speak. When the rumbling had passed he stood. “I think I have heard enough,” he told them.
Sarah and Sir Merlin stood as General Hector moved towards the door. He paused as he passed Sarah and gave her a slight inclination of his head to her.
“It has been,” his lips pursed slightly, “interesting meeting you.”
Sarah had no response to that and so she watched as he continued out the door. A gentle hand upon her shoulder startled Sarah and she turned her face to Sir Merlin.
“He’s a good Commander,” the Knight smiled. “He is just not used to Areni women. But that connection...” Sir Merlin mused as he left the room. “That connection is quite intriguing.”
Sarah stepped forward to the door, but the Knight Commander had disappeared before she could say anything. Sighing, she turned around to pick up her bowl. Sarah washed it in the dark kitchen before making her way up stairs to her bed. The rain pounding on the roof lulled her to sleep.