“Hey Chester,” she banged on the door. “I used the Chamber pot, but now it’s full. Mind emptying it for us?”
There was a loud groan from beyond the door. Something scraped across the floor and Chester barked an order at someone.
“Stay back from the door,” Chester commanded. Sarah took one step back as the door was unbarred and opened. “I said stay back,” Chester growled at her.
“My, aren’t we testy in the morning.” Sarah smiled at him.
The two watched each other as the servant scuttled in, retrieved the Chamber pot and slowly made his way back out. He turned the corner and Sarah heard another door open. Something splashed and the servant came back with the empty, but still stinky, basin. He placed it down inside the door took one look at the two of them before scuttling away. Chester slammed the door shut and very noisily bolted it closed.
Sarah chuckled to herself. Whatever had happened in the forest had made Senior Captain Chester wary of her. Shame she didn’t know what she’d done. Warrior way perhaps? she wondered as she brought the pot back to its original spot.
“Who are you?” Princess Allmerah sat upon a chair as a Lady brushed her hair.
A gown was draped upon the bed that made Lady Abigail’s look shabby. Sarah stood from placing the pot down and looked at the young woman. She did a flourish of a bow taking a page from Jason’s chivalry book.
“I am Sarah Ann Smith, betrothed to Scout Sergeant Phoenix and,” Sarah stood and smiled, “nothing else really.”
“You must at least be of the Areni Plains, though...” The Princess furrowed her brows as she studied Sarah.
“I’m not. Trust me, Your Highness,” Sarah stated, trying to remember her manners.
As soon as her hair was up the Princess stood and her maids helped her don the gown. Once dressed, she stepped forward to look up at Sarah.
“And you are betrothed to Scout Sergeant Phoenix?”
Sarah held out her left hand and lowered her voice. “We were betrothed about two weeks before your father sent us up here to bring you home.”
Princess Allmarah examined Sarah’s hand, taking them in her own. Sarah too, looked upon her finger where the tattoo had been imprinted. It had faded.
“Impossible.” She let Sarah’s hand go and moved away. Standing before the fire place she looked into the flames. “Phoenix does not have such luck in love. More likely that you killed your betrothed knight, preferring to be in that Man’s company...”
“Your Highness!” Sarah was aghast.
She tried to move to the Princesses side, but her two maids blocked Sarah’s path. They looked frightened, but ready to die for their mistress. Sarah heaved a sigh and tried to regain calm.
“I guarantee I prefer to be in that Man’s company just as much as you do.” The Princess didn’t move. Dread began to wash over Sarah. “He hasn’t forced any of you has he?”
“He would not dare,” Princess Allmarah’s voice trembled. “Just... Just leave us be.”
The younger of the two maids stepped forward and ushered Sarah back through the curtain.
“I am sorry,” she whispered. “We have been here so long and...” she glanced furtively back. “It is the others he sends here that he forces. We make friends with them, and then we hear them scream. Ever since Lady Miriam’s disappearance ten days ago, Her Highness has decided it’s better to keep our distance. I am sorry.” The girl bowed and moved back to where her mistress was waiting.
Sarah stared at the curtain, disbelieving her luck. Her fists clenched as she regarded the information the girl had given her. So the General thought he could force her. Sarah’s nostrils flared at the thought, but before she could call to Jay, she heard Sharon outside.
“Wake up Senior Captain, before I report your snoozing to Lieutenant James!”
Sarah smiled slightly. For a woman who’d advised her to keep her tongue in her head Sharon talked boldly. Stepping closer to the door Sarah’s smile widened at Chester’s reply.
“I wasn’t sleeping. I was resting my eyes.”
“Sure you were Chester,” Sarah laughed.
Noting his wary stance Sarah stepped forward again to help Sharon with her laden tray.
“Breakfast is served, Your Highness,” Sharon called to the curtain. She smiled at Sarah. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“No,” Sarah replied, “thank you.”
Sharon smiled hesitantly back. Shaking her head the woman left and Chester barred the door behind her.