“I hope you have a good reason for having left your post,” Sparrow turned to Sarah.

“Um, I thought that my post ended with dawn...”

“Wrong.” Sparrow glared. “Dawn is a good time for attack, when your sight is adjusting from the night to the day. You were to stay at your post until called for breakfast.”

“Well seeing as the Great-Grand-Moyther was talking to me...” Sarah stopped short as the Sergeant snorted.

“You’re as bad a Phoenix was when he was a Hopeful. I’m glad Griffon took him into his Troop.”

“You trust him now,” Sarah countered.

“He’s proven himself.” Sparrow’s glare did not abate.

Sarah opened her mouth to retort back.

Save it Sarah, Jason warned. She is the Sergeant and you are the Scout. You left your post. You must take the punishment.

“Fine.” Sarah frowned. “I left my post. I’m sorry.”

“And since the Grand-Moyther seems to have healed you as well,” Sparrow wrinkled her nose in disgust, “you are to shovel the snow from the Pairents house. We will be moving ourselves there so we do not continue to desecrate the Gods’ Cavern.”

Sparrow strode away from Sarah in the direction she’d sent the two men. Heaving a sigh Sarah picked up the shovel and started to work. Clearly Hermanus and James had begun the task, but it was far from complete.

Sarah, Jason’s mental voice interrupted her solitude. Why did you leave your post?

Plopping a handful of snow in her mouth Sarah rested slightly. No one had come to offer her water or food and the sun was approaching its zenith.

Well James went in to wake Charles and Kevin to go scout the path to the road, then when I got to the Dogwood tree, I climbed it and...

You did what? Jason’s exclamation almost made her drop the snow on her shovel.

I climbed the Dogwood.

Climbing a Willow is bad enough, Jason’s voice sounded strained, but the Godwood?

Sarah explained to him, as best she could what had transpired. Each sentence she thought to him was punctuated by her shoveling and dumping of snow. When she was done she stopped. Her shoulder ached and her leg didn’t want to hold her weight anymore. Plopping another bit of snow in her mouth she waited for a response.

Sarah was shoveling again when Jason finally broke the silence.

Promise me you will not climb a Willow or Godwood without my permission.

Ever? Sarah swallowed.

They are the symbols of our religion, sacred trees, he told her. Godwoods are only found inside the Willow Temples. Climbing a single Willow is one thing, but to do so in a Temple...

His voice trailed off and Sarah bowed her head. She stood there for a moment, head bowed, her hands resting upon the shovel. She had forgotten it was a Temple. It was easy for her to do. After all in her world, Gods were worshiped inside buildings. All the religions that had worshiped outside in nature were nearly extinct. Even if they hadn’t been she was raised Christian, so she worshiped inside a church, not a Willow Grove.

“Goodwoman Sarah?”

A voice interrupted her thoughts before she could apologize to Jason. Sarah turned to see Lady Miriam. She smiled at the girl.

“I saved some lunch for you. S, Sergeant Sparrow says you can come in and eat now.”

“Thank you.”

Sarah picked up the shovel and walked with the young woman back to the Temple. At the entrance to the Gods’ Cavern Sarah set her shovel down where the others were. As they started down the spiral stairs Lady Miriam leaned into her.

“Did you really climb the Godwood tree?” She seemed awed.

“Yes,” Sarah sighed.

“And the Gods didn’t strike you down?”

“No,” Sarah sighed again. “I think the Great-Grand-Moyther understands how homesick I am.”

The End

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