Into the FortressMature

James led Sarah, unfettered, south and east from Sparrow’s Nest. The going was slow and so it was nearly noon when they reached the raging river. Standing still James looked both up and down the high bank. Turning right he headed northward.

“You know where you’re going?” Sarah asked as cheerily as she could.

“Course I do,” James muttered.

It wasn’t long before they came across a very rickety looking bridge.

“Ladies first,” he gestured her across.

“Afraid I won’t follow?” Sarah eyed the ropes and unevenly spaced boards with trepidation.

“No,” James glared at her.

Sarah sighed. “Sorry, nerves.”

James gave her the barest of smiles. “I know. And I will have to bind you on the other side.”

Grabbing the side ropes Sarah felt Jason give her a boost of confidence. We will prevail.

She stepped onto the first board and felt the bridge sway. It continually swayed as she made her way across. Some boards were right next to one another, others were spread so far apart she had to reach as far as she could with her arms and then swing her feet to it. The first time she nearly toppled over backwards into the water below. Then she was across at last and turned to watch James. Leaping from one board to the next he barely touched the ropes.

“Show off!” Sarah grinned.

“I’ve had practice,” was all he said before pulling the rope form his pack.

Sarah heaved a sigh as she let him tie her up. Oddly enough he tied her feet together and her hands. She felt like a prisoner. If only she knew James better, she wouldn’t be so nervous.

We will prevail. Jason’s thought rose once more into her mind. She wondered if he was saying it to comfort himself or her.

Walking was a harder now that she’d lost freedom of movement. James stayed behind Sarah, giving verbal directions now and again. When they hit the clearing around the fortress he jerked upon the rope, nearly causing Sarah to fall over.

“Stop.” He checked her ropes and tightened everything up.

“Hey! That hurts.”

James looked at her with stony eyes. “It has to. Now move it!”

Unbidden tears sprung to Sarah’s eyes but before she could remind herself that James was playing a role, five men came barreling out of the trees behind them. They stood swords pointed at the two of them. One was clearly eying her up and down. Sarah would have loved to knock the guy out, or at least give him a black eye. Unfortunately, James had tied her up well and she had to be satisfied with glaring. Another opened his mouth to speak, only to be interrupted.

“Mind your manners, Privates!” James barked. “Can you not read insignias or are you blind to the knots before your eyes.”

The man looked blankly at James. He blinked. “S, s sergeant?” he asked definitely unsure of himself.

“New aren’t you? But they put you in charge I see?” James shook his head. “Lost more in our foray than I thought. Well stand aside!” he glared. “General will be glad one of his Lieutenants made it back given he’s got to train nimbuses like the likes of you now. I should have been stopped two hours ago.”

They quickly stepped aside.

“And get your eyes off her,” James cuffed the one who had been salivating over Sarah. “She’s for the General and he wouldn’t have low lifes like you have a girl like her. Besides, she’d eat you for breakfast, you don’t want to know the kinds of scares she’s given me.” James jerked the rope again.

Sarah turned her glare into a sneer and snapped at the man. James jerked at her rope and she stumbled slightly. She snarled at him too, just for effect. Who knew drama club might have its uses. But her hope that James was on their side was quickly giving way to fear that he wasn’t.

We will prevail. Sarah could feel Jay’s worry for her.

Continuing to be dragged uphill faster than she could walk, Sarah hissed, “James!”

He gave her no response.

The End

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