Sarah entered the room to find the younger of the Princess’s maids staring despondently at her returned clothing. They all looked up as she closed the door.
“What happened?” the younger maid asked, concerned. “You’re bloody and...”
Princess Allmarah glared at the young woman and her voice trailed off. Sarah, for the first time that evening, took stock of herself. Her shirt was peppered with cuts, the vest as well. She hadn’t suffered any major wounds, but lots of minor nicks all over. A long strip of her left sleeve was soaked in blood.
Sighing she began to undress. “I had to fight Major Chantey and kill him to keep from spending a night in Wholawski’s room.”
Allmarah nodded ever so slightly and her maids brought over the basin of water and tended to Sarah’s wounds. Sarah returned the Princess’s studious gaze.
“When Sharon delivered our dinner, she mentioned that you had replaced me and that I was to serve you.” Princess Allmarah’s lips pursed with displeasure.
“It was the only thing I could think of to save you from who knows what the General would have done.”
“I am not a servant,” she stated.
“I am well aware of that,” Sarah tried to keep her voice even, “but pretending to be a servant is better than being a Princess in a dungeon cell, dead, or worse.” The Princess’s expression did not change. “Look I managed to save Prince Hermanus by asking Wholawski for his help in the kitchen tent. If he could manage to stoop low enough to chop vegetables, I don’t see why you can’t pretend to be my maid.”
For a moment Princess Allmarah’s lips remained pursed, then a small smile appeared at the corner of her lips. “Did he really chop vegetables? Did you really save him?” She handed Sarah a clean shirt.
“Oh yes. He’s out there now with Phoenix.” Sarah donned the shirt and immediately sensed Jason’s presence. His relief at their reconnection was palpable. Please tell me Prince Hermanus is awake, Sarah spoke to him.
He is standing next to me at the moment, why? Jason sounded surprised at her contact.
I need him to tell me something to let Princess Allmarah know that he really is here to help rescue her. Sarah smiled at the Princess. “Do you want to tell him anything?”
Butterflies, Jason replied puzzled, Prince Hermanus says he promised Princess Allmarah butterflies, and that he will keep that promise or die trying.
Sarah relayed the statement to Princess Allmarah and was rewarded with the most radiant smile she’d ever seen. The girl clapped her hands together.
“I look forward to that day, and the one in which I take him to the Great Sea of Areni.”
Smiling Sarah relayed what the Princess said so Jay could tell Prince Hermanus. There was a moment of silence and Sarah sensed that Hermanus was bombarding Jay with questions.
Sarah? Jay’s voice was more serious. How are you holding up?
Aside from having images burned into my head that I’d rather not have, Sarah stated as she put on the pants proffered to her, I’m fine.
The Wall, Jason sighed, I hoped he wouldn’t show you that yet. But you are with the Princess, not him?
Yes, Sarah nodded deciding not to mention the torture chamber. Oh, and James is on his way out now.
Good. Jason moved into Sergeant mode. I need you in Willow at all times, he commanded. I’ll need quick responses to any question I ask and you need to follow my orders without question. Understood Scout Smith?
Aye, Aye, Sergeant Phoenix. Sensing Jason’s eye roll Sarah smiled. Oh and Phoenix there’s at least five others and an infant that need to be rescued with the Princess.
An infant? Jason sounded dubious.
Yup, James’s son.
No promises Scout Smith, Jason sighed. I give you no promises.
Sarah returned her focus to the Princess and her maids who all leaned towards her. “Plans are being made, so I need to have Willow cloth on me at all times to receive Phoenix’s orders.” Her smiled widened as she got an idea. “Do you think you could make me some anklets?”
“Anklets?” the girls exchanged puzzled glances.
“Bracelets for the ankle,” Sarah explained, “which should be inconspicuous enough that no one will notice.”