Sarah stopped at the entrance of the sunroom and took a deep breath. Lady Abigail beckoned her over to sit between her and Madame Guinevere by the back window. There they faced Lord Robert, who sat beside the fireplace. Sir Arthur and Master Philip had already seated themselves opposite the door. Gregory flopped into the closest chair he could find, while Mathew stood at attention next to the door.

“And why are you here Goodman Mathew?” Lord Robert glared at the scout.

“If Sarah is telling her tale,” he stated, “then the explanation for Lordling Jason’s disappearances will become clear. So, you may either dismiss me now, or have me at least stay to add what I know to her tale.”

“You know?” Lady Abigail asked.

Mathew gave her an apologetic smile. “She was with Phoenix Troop for over three months.”

“What?” Lord Robert stood with the force of his exclamation. “I thought she had only just been found in the Scouting Trials.” His glare ran around the room and stopped upon his wife.

Lady Abigail only flourished her hands.

“Lord Robert.” Sarah looked into the man’s eyes as they flicked to her. “Do you remember, a long time ago, when Jason claimed he had met a pant wearing girl, hanging upside down in a tree?”

It seemed the best place to start with those who’d known Jason for a long time. Glancing about the room Sarah took stock of everyone's expressions. A smiled played upon Sir Arthur’s face as he looked to his father. Master Philip’s eyes had widened, but nothing else showed his surprise. Gregory, however, had his mouth hanging open. Sarah looked back to Lord Robert, who had crossed his arms before him, though he had sat down.

“I know,” she stated, as she stood, “it does not look possible at the moment.” She gestured to the dress that she wore. “But Sir Arthur has seen me in pants, as has Mathew and Lady Abigail.” She nodded to each in turn.

“And why then, have we never met you before?” Lord Robert asked.

“Because it was impossible until,” Sarah plopped down with a sigh, “my world destroyed itself.” She looked up at Robert. “You see...” she began.

Though it made her tale longer, Sarah started with a synopsis of her world’s history. It seemed the best way to explain why she thought nothing of wearing pants. From there she told about meeting Jason in the Grove and how they’d become friends. However, she told them, it wasn’t until her previous fiancée had read her diary and pointed out she loved Jay that she began to wonder if he was real.

Everyone listened to her in various states of acceptance, shock and scepticism. As she concluded with the tale of her world and how she’d woken in this one, Mathew took over.

He began by telling how she had cooked for them, but was then left at his Uncle’s for a short period of time. The Troop, noting their commander’s unease, agreed to let him return to her.

“We figured he was going to propose and send her to you.” Mathew nodded to Lady Abigail. “Instead we came back from our scout to find he’d brought her back to us.”

Sarah glanced at Lord Robert, who who had raised eyebrows.

Mathew half grinned. “Yes my Lord,” he nodded, “it was unconventional but, in the end it was effective.”

He continued by telling how Sarah had saved Jason’s life by tackling a hidden archer. Because she had no weapon the man hadn’t been killed, and had been taken prisoner. Based upon the information that was obtained from the prisoner, Phoenix Troop was sent on an extended mission, Sarah still in tow.

Her curiosity peeked, Sarah watched Mathew as he continued speaking of how she’d accomplished the mission. It seemed odd to be hearing such praises a man who seemed to dislike her. When he mentioned the Nigiri dart that she’d recovered quickly from, Sarah’s hand went to her neck where the wound was.

“So, Lordling Jason proposed to her and sent her to Griffon’s while we escorted our captive to the Knights.” Mathew was clearly winding down. “Then as we were traveling home he got this wild look in his eyes, put me in charge and disappeared underneath a Willow Tree.”

Lady Abigail took up the explanation before Sarah could utter a word. She started with her coming upon Mathew saddling his horse and Lordling Jason’s. She told them how Jason had, at first, denied his love of Sarah, though he explained some of what had transpired, specifically the Nigiri assassination.

“People do not survive Nigiri Assassinations,” Lord Robert huffed. “I don’t care where you come from.”

“I have,” Sarah stated simply, “thrice if you count the dart.”

Everyone turned to her.

“When was the third time?” Mathew asked.

“During the trials,” she spoke quietly. “Marcus took the Nigiri’s first stab at Prince Theodoso before I could get there. I tackled the man and he ran. It was as I was chasing him that he threw a dagger at me.”

“And why, exactly, were you at the Trails as a Hopeful?” Lord Robert demanded to know.

“She was ordered to attend by King Demetrioso himself,” Lady Abigail responded before Sarah could.

“Apparently,” Mathew responded to Lord Robert’s confused look. “Sergeant Phoenix bragged she was better than most First Years when the King brought him to task for having a woman with his Scout Troop.”

“Given what I have heard,” Sir Arthur chuckled, “and what I saw; I don’t think that was bragging.”

The End

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