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“James!” Wholawski’s voice resonated in the chamber, snapping Sarah from her thoughts. “I think Goodwoman Sarah has seen enough. Escort her back to her room. I wish her to be in good health for this evening’s demonstration.”

“Yes General.” James bowed and gestured for Sarah to follow him.

She went willingly as Wholawski began fingering various devices. James took her through the cellblock on the right, but rather than go up through the tower he led her to the wall opposite. James double-checked that the doors were closed before pressing his back to the wall. A hidden passage opened up and Sarah quickly stepped inside. Touching her gently he stopped them about halfway up.

“You were able to read my message?” James kept his voice to a whisper.

“Yes,” Sarah replied, wishing she could see his face better in the darkness.

“General Wholawski has plans for you, but what they are I don’t know. Whatever you do,” James placed his hands upon her shoulders, “never let on that Phoenix is still alive. The General knows you were betrothed to Phoenix and that he loved you. If he learns he is alive, you will be used to break him. Do you understand?” his grip tightened.

“Yes,” Sarah whispered, images of the torture chamber coming back to mind.

James let go and led them upward, pausing at the top. After a few moments of listening he opened the door, almost knocking over Sharon.

“By the Gods!” The woman glared at James. “Wait,” Sharon turned to look puzzled as Sarah appeared. “Wasn’t she...”

“She’s to rest in her room until the whipping of the Major this evening,” James stated. “Escort her there, if you would. I have other things to attend to.”

“Of course Captain.” Sharon bobbed as he left. “Come on then.”

Turning, she led Sarah across the deserted Great Hall and up to the second floor where the Princess and her maids resided. The woman stopped, her hand on the door latch. After a short moment she turned to Sarah.

“Do you believe in the Gods?” Sharon whispered.

“I’ve met them,” Sarah replied, happy that stating such didn’t cause a headache.

Sharon’s eyes grew wide. “And what of a little boy; by the name of Ryan?”

“Ryan?” Sarah straightened in surprise.

“Yes, he’s a little boy, about yay high,” she put her hand just above her waist, “talks a mile a minute, and pops out of nowhere like a Nigiri Assassin.”

“Ah, yes...”

“He gave me these.” Sharon pulled four vials from her pocket and showed them to Sarah. “And said you’d know what to do with them.”

Sarah took the vials from her and examined them. “I think so...”

She studied them a bit more. They certainly looked like the vials she'd used at Wholwaski’s camp. Sarah looked back at Sharon.

“I think these,” she indicated the three with X marks, “are hallucinogens. Ingesting enough will put a man on edge and he’ll start hearing and seeing things, especially when the weather gets spooky. And I think this one,” Sarah held up the one marked with an O, “is the antidote.”

“So not something that will poison a man and make him suffer until he dies?” Sharon did not hide her disappointment.

“No, just something that can be used to confuse the soldiers when...”

“Pity,” Sharon’s sigh stopped Sarah’s flow of words. “He ought to die painfully you know.” She took the vials back and hid them in her pocket. “Come then, you’re supposed to be resting. Gods’ help us if you’re not fit when my brother wants to see you next.”

Without another word Sharon opened the door, where the Princess and her two maids waited, worried expressions on their faces.

The End

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