Sarah felt a gentle touch upon her forehead and she fought to open her eyes.
“Jay?” She could barely hear her own voice.
“Shh,” he whispered as he leaned forward. “Everything is fine; just rest. We will be on the boat and away from all of this soon.”
Unable to stay conscious, her eyes closed once more as he kissed her forehead. Time had no meaning in that darkness, and when Sarah managed to open her eyes fully and found herself still in that back courtyard, she panicked.
Jay! Sarah struggled to get up.
“Let me help you.” Jason smiled at her as he kneeled beside her.
Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. Positioning himself on her right side, Jason helped her stand. Unfortunately her injured shoulder also happened to be on that side and she winced as she tried to put it around him.
“Just hold me at the waist,” he told her as he took hold of her waist.
It wasn’t the best way to move about, but they slowly made their way to the boat. By the time they got there all but the man and boy had boarded. Sarah smiled at them as they helped Jason lift her down into the Viking ship. The two had bandages, but none of their wounds looked to have be as serious as hers.
No sooner had she boarded then Lady Miriam scuttled to her. The girl’s eyes were wide with fear and she huddled against Sarah’s side. Absently Sarah stroked the young woman’s head as Jason helped her to sit. Scanning the crowd hunkered down in the middle of the boat she counted her nine, plus four others.
“Where is Sharon?” she asked quietly as Jason settled down on the bench beside her.
He held up a finger and raised his head. “Cwmfen,” he called and an elderly woman turned to him. “Take us back to the encampment.”
“Preferably as fast as you can,” Lynn stated, “The Gods are about to throw that storm at the castle.”
“Jay!” Sarah suddenly remembered York’s words. “We need to tell James he has to get out of there. York said the Gods are going to bring the Fortress down and everyone should find higher ground when water flows from its gates and a gale buffets its walls.”
Jason looked across Sarah to Mistress Laura. The woman nodded and a faraway look appeared in her eyes. “They are throwing torches into whatever they can, but the front of the keep is flooded with water.”
“Then they need to get out,” Sarah told her.
Laura looked from Sarah to Jason. He nodded. “We’ll meet them back in the encampment. It is time to let The Gods take over.”
Lulled by the rowing chants and the rocking of the boat, Sarah drifted off into sleep. She awoke with a start as the boat bumped against something. Shouts rang out in the Skathain tongue and the elderly woman Jay had spoken to called back.
Soon Jason was up and helping everyone off the boat. Sarah stayed with Lady Miriam in the shelter of the bow till Jason came and retrieved them. Once more he supported Sarah as they followed the group down a fairly wide cleared path. Lady Miriam made walking slightly difficult, given that she clutched at Sarah’s clothing, but it wasn’t long till they arrived at a village in the middle of the forest.
“Is this the town that supported the castle?” Sarah asked, stumbling and shivering.
Now that it was all over, all she wanted to do was eat and sleep. Jason gave her waist a little squeeze.
“No,” he replied to her surprise. “Apparently the Skathains like to bring home with them.”
“Oh,” Sarah looked about her as they made their way to a large building. “Wait,” her brows furrowed at the orderliness of this place. “How long have they been here?”
“No more than a week longer than us.” Jason chuckled. “They are quite the industrious people. They do not seem to mind the cold either.”
Sarah shivered as they entered the large building. It was still chilly in there though the lack of wind was nice. Jason set her at the table. “I imagine you are probably hungry.”
“Famished,” Sarah ginned as her stomach rumbled.
“I will go get you something,” Jason smiled.
His hand squeezed her good shoulder and planted a kiss to her forehead before disappearing down the other end. Lady Miriam huddled next to Sarah and she put her arm around the young woman.
“You trust him?” the girl whispered.
Sarah looked at her surprised, until she remembered her own distrust of all men after her own forcing. “Yes,” she spoke kindly. “He is my fiancée, plus I have known him for a long time.”
“He is also Sergeant Phoenix,” a middle age man took a seat across from them.
“Father!” Lady Miriam squeaked and she buried her head in Sarah’s shoulder and began to cry.