An Invitation to Dine (Part 1)Mature

Another day began in utter boredom for Sarah. She paced, she danced, she practiced her martial arts and then paced some more. The only interruption was from Sharon bringing in breakfast. Sarah tried once more, about mid afternoon, to talk to the Princess. Yet, the Princess continued to disbelieve her.

What about Hermanus, Sarah pleaded with Jason, feeling him awake. Surely he knows something I could tell the Princess to make her believe.

And he is fast asleep, Jason told her. He’s working twice as hard as everyone else to get things ready. I’d hate to disturb him.

Sarah chewed her lip and looked back to Princess Allmarah who was staring pointedly away from her. “Prince Hermanus is with them, Your Highness. He wants nothing more than to rescue you and is doing more than his...”

Her words stopped as a familiar voice spoke in the halls.

“Chester, go and guard the Major and see that he doesn’t shirk his punishment this evening. I’ll take over the care of our newest guest.”

Sarah strode away from the Princess to look out of the window as nonchalantly as she could. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted the two maids move closer to their mistress. The door was unbolted and General Wholawski strode in. He stopped and surveyed the scene as Sarah watched him with guarded eyes. His dapper appearance was surprising. Given his wet hair Sarah wondered if he had bathed. Then again it could be the way he always looked when coming to see the Princess.

“You are still in pants,” he directed his comment at Sarah.

“I like pants,” she stated, both grateful and scared that his attention was on her and not the others.

“Do you like women too?” A slight smile played upon his face.

“Not in that way,” Sarah responded.

“Good.” His smile actually increased, making him look all the more devilish. “Then I have a proposition you might be interested in.”

“Oh?” Sarah raised her eyebrows.

One more day and the siege should be ready, Jason’s voice echoed in her mind.

“I think you will find it the most generous of offers.” General Wholawski smiled.

“Will I?” she asked, doubting that anything he would offer her would be generous enough. When will you be able to break us out? her thought turned to Jason in worry as she watched the General’s smile grow.

“Dine with me today,” he replied, “in a dress.” He glanced meaningfully at the Princess. “And I shall show you the power in which you might share.”

He swept from the room, barring the door once more.

“Oh Gods.”

Sarah’s stomache churned at the thought. She turned back to the window once more, placing her forehead on the cold window pane. Far across the water storm clouds were brewing.

“Jay?” She spoke her thoughts to him unconsciously, “Can’t you get us out now?”

If James could get us in there and we could convince the Princess and her ladies to wear pants... he began.

“I barely see James, let alone talk to him.” Sarah turned her body so that it was the back of her head against the glass. She looked to the ceiling her eyes closed. “I don’t know if I can stomach dining with that man, let alone feigning interest. Just the thought of it makes me want to vomit.” Tears leaked from her eyes as emotions began to get the better of her.

You can do it Sarah, Jason encouraged her gently. It is but a role the Gods are asking you to play. It is our Tri-Luna challenge.

“Tri-Luna challenge indeed!” Sarah snorted as she pushed herself away from the window, “I thought Tri-Luna was...” Her voice trail off as she noticed the three young women all staring at her.

Sarah? Jason asked concerned.

“I’ve been talking out loud, haven’t I?” Sarah grimaced and sighed.

The maids were clustered about their mistress and Sarah could see there was a tinge of fear in their eyes. She moved towards them and bowed her head. Taking a deep breath, and hoping that no one else had heard her outburst, she looked into Princess Allmarah’s eyes.

“I do not know if there is anything that I can say that would make you believe me,” she began, “but I swear upon; upon all the Willows of Vervell, that I am here upon your father’s orders to rescue you.”

Princess Allmarah blinked slowly, and Sarah could see the young woman was thinking.

“I really am betrothed to Phoenix, though our Tri-Luna is apparently about being separate and me playing mistress to Wholawski.” Sarah’s body shuddered involuntarily as she scrubbed her arms.

The Princess looked as though she was about to respond when the bolt scraped across the door once more.

The End

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