The next morning Sarah did indeed return to the castle under the same ruse. She followed the same messenger to the King’s kitchen. Then she followed the little man with the clipboard to the small room. There she, Lynn and Laura changed into their scout clothing. It was the same thing, the next day and the next, and the next.
In the mornings the women practiced sword fighting and hand-to-hand combat. At lunch the Sergeants would move away to discuss things. In the afternoons the women visited the Grand-Moyther learning the way of healing both physical and mental wounds.
Once the sun began to set, Sarah would drag her tired body back home and prepare a quick dinner. Sometimes Jason was home for it. Sometimes he wasn’t. But, even when he was home, he seemed far away to Sarah that one evening she resorted to mental communication.
Jay, she softly called to him from across the table where he was looking harshly into his stew. Relax love.
Jason looked up towards her. Sarah leaned her elbows on the table and set her chin upon her hands to study him.
How do I relax when the fate of Vervell rests upon my shoulders? he responded.
But, it’s not just upon your shoulders. You are sharing the responsibility with me, and Sparrow and Lynn and...
Jason sighed heavily. “But they all look to me for the answers.”
“Well glaring at your soup isn’t going to change that, but if you eat you’ll have the strength to live up to it.”
A slight smile emerged on his face. “Now you sound like my mother.”
Sarah thought for a moment. “She’d probably add in something about praying to the Gods though.”
Jason laughed. “True, though some days I wonder if they cursed us rather than blessed us.”
Sarah shrugged and started eating. “My mom had faith in God. She felt that he had let the war happen to teach us something. What I have no idea.” Sarah shook her head.
“War,” Jason said as he too began eating the soup that had become Sarah’s regular meal of the evening. “It seems such a short word to describe something so large.”
“And horrible, but at least your Gods are trying to stop it.”
“Or are they trying to start it?” Jason wondered. “If you hadn’t arrived, would we have captured that scout? Without his information would we then have taken the Prince of Azure captive? And if we had not taken the Prince captive would we have been attacked by General Wholawski during the First Year Trials?”
“You don’t think that the General was planning that all along?”
Jason sighed. “See, you just did what they keep doing to me, asking my opinion on what General Wholawski was planning. I do not know the man’s mind. I spent four weeks in his dungeon, not studying his nature. All I know is the man loves to watch people suffer and break their spirits.” Jason stood and started pacing. “The worst part is I must bring you with me. They expect you to be able to enter the castle, unmolested, find the Princess and bring her out.”
He continued to pace and rant. Sarah watched him, aware that today the tables were turned, maybe that’s part of why she was here, to repay him for all the times he’d listened to her. When he seemed to have run out of words to say, Sarah stood.
“Isn’t that part of why James is practicing with us?”
“James was part of General Whoalwski’s elite force. His trustworthiness is suspect.”
“I don’t know,” Sarah thought. “James was the most decent of the men there, baring Prince Hermanus.”
“Given the caliber of General Wholawski’s men...” Jason shook his head.
“I know, but,” Sarah scrunched her nose. “I think he might actually be on our side.”
“Only because you nearly killed him,” Jason chuckled. He pulled her into an embrace before she could respond. “Pitting him against you was the only way to be sure he wasn’t out to kill one of us. I am sorry love.”
“Me too,” Sarah sighed. She kissed him and pushed away. “I’m going to bed.”
“Good plan,” Jason remarked, but rather than following her, he began to clean up.