Sarah picked at her dinner in silence. Thankfully, General Wholawski was content with that. Her stomach still churned from the fight. Forcing down the bile that kept rising in her throat Sarah managed to eat. At last the General stood.
“The evening is yours to spend as you see fit,” he told her. “Though I recommend you speak with my sister,” his voice grew bitter, “about what your duties will entail. Threaten and beat her if you need to.” His voice brightened. “I think she likes it that way.”
Standing the man strode off to the left, leaving Sarah with one more reason to puke. She waited until he was gone and then exited the hall herself. She moved to the right, not really sure if she wanted to go back to the Princess or to find Sharon first.
Sarah made her decision as James passed by her and into the kitchen; she followed him. Sharon was there, by herself, fifteen small cloth sacks laid out in front of her. She was placing travel cakes inside them. Stepping past James and Sarah began helping.
“We’ll start starving within a month, if a supply wagon doesn’t get here soon.” Sharon kept her voice low.
James stepped forward to gather the filled pouches. “Help will be here soon.”
Sharon banged a fist upon the table making the pouches near her jump. “You’ve been saying that ever since you returned and have I ever seen help?” James gestured to Sarah and Sharon looked at her. “Not the kind of help I was looking for.”
“I know, but tonight I find out,” James took the last filled pouch from Sarah, “if the rest of the help is ready.”
Sharon watched stony eyed as James walked out.
“Good luck,” Sarah whispered, wishing for Willow cloth to let Jason know James was on his way. For a moment she was caught in thought until Sharon’s burning eyes made her look back at the woman.
“Some help you are,” Sharon snorted and began fussing about the kitchen. “You haven’t been able to prepare a decent meal. You can’t sew a seam. But you’ve killed a man,” Sharon brandished her knife as her eyes bored into Sarah’s, “and gotten yourself promoted to my position.”
“I did not ...” Sarah feared what the woman would do.
“I just hope you are ready to use your position to kill the man who deserves it most,” Sharon jabbed her knife into the table, “my brother.”
The woman spun on her heel and stormed out of the kitchen. Sarah followed her.
“Look it wasn’t my intention to...”
“Then what was your intention?” Sharon swung back around to face Sarah again.
Sarah opened he mouth to speak and then closed it. She heaved a sigh and hung her head to the woman’s fury. “Rescue the Princess,” she whispered, “before the war begins.”
“And what of the others here who are just as innocent? Have you thought of them?” Sharon hissed.
“I wasn’t told of them.” Sarah looked back up and met the woman’s eyes.
“Well since you are out here you might as well see the bake house.” Sharon spoke louder and Sarah glanced up to see two watchmen on the wall looking at them.
“The garden I presume has been fully harvested,” Sarah managed to sound business like.
“Of course,” Sharon nodded as she unlocked and opened the door to the Bake House. “And the potatoes all ground to flour.” Sarah stepped inside and Sharon bolted the door. “Some girls can handle the men around here,” she hissed. “Those who can’t and who are not passed saving, I” she jabbed a finger to her chest, “protect.”
“Any woman can recover,” Sarah insisted.
Sharon glared. “This is not Vervell or the Areni Plains where the perpetrator can be castrated. Do you even know,” she asked as she moved to the back, “what it’s like to be forced?”
Her hand rested on a ladder rung and Sharon turned to look deep into Sarah’s eyes.
“Yes.” Sarah gazed steadily at the woman. “I was attacked by five men at once and left for dead.”
Sharon’s eyes widened. “Maybe you are the help I’ve prayed for,” she whispered, turning to climb the ladder, “though the Gods sure as hell took their time answering it.”