The next five days were fairly quiet for Sarah. Jason had warned her not to roam very far. The camp was on one of the contested boarders and it wasn’t unknown to cross paths with a scouting party from the other side. Sarah discovered that Kevin was the most recent addition to Scout Troop Phoenix. He had become a scout because of the pay, which he used to support his mother. He had a sweetheart back home and hoped to start a family someday. Sarah found him interesting, for though he was a quiet man, it was easy to get him to talk about his loved ones. She had just given him the first macramé bracelet she finished when they heard a yell.
Kevin swiftly went to the grotto entrance to look around, his hand holding Sarah back.
‘Stay here,’ he whispered and he vanished outside. Sarah heard another shout and what sounded like a fight coming from below. Ignoring Kevin’s command for her to stay, she snuck out. Carefully she made her way down the slope. There was definitely a fight going on at the base of the hill. The whole Phoenix Troop was there, but they were out numbered by the enemy. Seven to nine, Sarah counted, but Jason’s men were the better fighters and where slowly winning. That’s when she saw the arrow hit Jay, wounding his arm. He was too busy with the man he was fighting to notice where the arrow came from, but Sarah wasn’t. As quickly and quietly as Sarah could, she hunted out the archer. He had let another arrow fly before Sarah found him, hidden from the fight by bushes. Without thinking Sarah tackled him, causing the arrow to wiz by the targets ear. Letting adrenaline and her defense lessons guide her actions they rolled out into the fight. They struggled hitting others now and then. The man was strong, but in an effort to reach a dropped weapon Sarah got the advantage and pinned him. Like Mathew she kept him pinned, unlike Mathew, he didn’t seem to want to stop struggling.
She barely noticed that the fighting was over until Jason spoke to her.
‘Let him up.’ Sarah looked up at him. Matthew and Jess stood at the ready. Sarah let the man up, quickly moving back. Jason studied the man for a moment. ‘We’ll take him with us.’ Matthew and Jess took him away. Jason started after them and stumbled. His hand reached out and Sarah immediately offered her shoulder.
‘Sit,’ Sarah commanded as soon as she saw the second arrow in his leg. Jason complied and she frowned as it was obvious he’d born the brunt of the fight. Thankfully the arrow didn’t seem to have gone in too deep. Sarah let Kevin take them out as she went for boiling water.
Sarah brought back the water and helped dress the wounds. Afterwards she went back up to the camp to pack. One by one, each man came up to claim his pack, till all but Jason’s was left. This one Sarah shouldered and headed down to where the rest were. She looked at the battle scene curiously. The two dying men had been made reasonably comfortable. The dead had been buried in a shallow grave. The prisoner’s hands were tied behind his back. He stood between Matt and Jess, looking at his remaining companions. Jason looked to Sarah questioningly. She nodded.
‘Time to move out boys,’ Jason stated and he started forward, a walking stick to help his wounded leg. Sarah found herself in front with Jason, while the rest of the men fell in behind them. They kept the prisoner surrounded.
Phoenix Troop moved slower than normal, for which Sarah was grateful. The pack she carried was heavy and she didn’t think she could have kept up otherwise. Of course the reason she was carrying it was the reason they were going slow, but she didn’t dwell on that. Jason seemed to be doing fine, and thinking back on the fight made her queasy. They made a quick camp at night. The prisoner hadn’t spoken a word and the men didn’t talk as they used to. Since the prisoner’s hands were always tied, someone had to feed him. Sarah took the duty willingly, as it allowed his evening guard a chance to eat. Though someone was always watching, the Scout Troop would huddle around Jason and very quietly discus things. This continued until the fifth night when the prisoner broke his silence. It took Sarah a moment to decipher his whispered comment.
‘You are female and do not hide it,’ his expression was puzzled. Sarah sat back and shrugged. Sarah looked to Phoenix Troop and nodded, indicating she was done. Maybe she could have said something to him, but there wasn’t anything to say to that. After all, she was female and she wasn’t hiding it. She sat back beside Jason to eat her own dinner.
‘We’ll be reaching town in a few days,’ he told her.
‘Do I get to sleep in a real bed and take a bath?’ she asked, relieved at the fact. Jason studied her. Sarah looked up at him and noticed his troubled expression. ‘No bath then?’
‘No.’ His gaze took her all in. ‘I am," he paused and Sarah raised her eyebrows questioningly. "I am just not sure what to do with you,’ he confessed.
‘What do you normally do when you get to town?’ she asked.
‘Well, I report to the standing commander, while the others go to a tavern, where I join them later.’
‘A tavern sounds fun, I haven’t had a drink in ages,’ she mused, amused by Jason’s look of shock.
‘The,’ Jason looked at his men, ‘the taverns we frequent are not exactly places for a lady,’ he finished sheepishly.
Sarah laughed and set her bowl in the pile. ‘What make’s you think I’m a lady, Jay?’ she asked him, giving his hip a bump before she got up. Jason blinked at her, and for a second she thought about giving him a kiss, but now wouldn’t be appropriate, so she smiled instead. ‘I think I could take care of myself, besides your men could be depended on to help me if I needed it.’ Sarah rose and picked up all the dishes to wash them in a nearby stream.