Despite the hopes she had from last nights respite, Jason was back to being a task master in the morning. Only this time, she had an audience. Griffon sat to one side, near the cave entrance. She lost the first fight quickly before she got her mind set right. Her eyes narrowed and she noticed Jason grin slightly. The boy was actually enjoying this. Sarah managed to sheath her dagger before Jason came at her.
Around and around they went, back and forth and to and fro. Sarah was starting to use more footwork, dodging more blows instead of trying to parrying them all. She saw him come in to disarm her. Letting her sword go at the last instant, Sarah grabbed his arm, twisting it behind his back, forcing his own sword out of his hands. They struggled, but Jason was stronger, and he turned to face her, dagger raised. As she grappled his wrist to keep the dagger away from her, she looked in his eyes. They scared her. Her mind moved inward and found strength. Strength to throw him so hard on the ground a loud crack echoed through the cavern.
‘Oh my God!’ Sarah covered her mouth. ‘Jason?’ She looked at Griffon, then back at Jason. She knelt beside him. ‘Jay?’ His eyes blinked once, then twice. ‘Jay, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you, I, I don’t know what happened.’ She helped Jason to slowly sit up.
Griffon laughed, ‘He’s taken much harder knocks than that, of that I can assure you.’ Sarah glared at the man. ‘As to what happened?’ Griffon smiled. ‘Well, it seems to me ye found your warrior way.’
Jason rubbed the back of his head. ‘Tap into that when you fight, Sarah and you will survive.’ Jason stood and blinked twice again.
‘Are you sure you're okay?’
‘Fine, Sarah,’ he smiled at her, ‘I am fine.’
There was a thud and everyone looked toward the entrance. A big bushy man blocked the light. ‘Fight over?’ he asked, picking up the dagger near his feet. Jason strode over and the man handed him the dagger.
Jason sheathed it before greeting the newcomer. ‘Scout Sergeant Bear,’ he said. ‘Good to see you made it.’
‘Yes,’ he rumbled, totally sounding like a bear to Sarah. ‘I see Griffon is early, as usual, and?’ he peered at Sarah.
Jason beckoned Sarah forward. ‘This is Sarah,’ he said, as she got up to them. ‘She is a Friend,’ again he emphasized the word, ‘who has fallen on hard times. She has been quite the asset to my troop.’
‘She can cook,’ Griffon stated.
Scout Sergeant Bear looked Sarah up and down. ‘Can she fight?’
Griffon laughed, stood and joined them. He gave Sarah a slap on the back that nearly knocked her forward. ‘Fight? This girl just found her warrior way and lay Phoenix flat on his back.’ Bear nodded and gave Sarah a second glance.
As they moved into the cave more, Jason whispered to Sarah. ‘How is your herb supply, do you have enough to make a large pot of stew?’
‘Just barely,’ she said thinking of the last time she’d looked into her pouch. ‘I haven’t had much chance to replenish anything lately,’ she gave him an admonishing frown.
Jason grinned. ‘You will get the chance to today. I am expecting Scout Sergeants Wolf and Eagle to show up soon. Once we have eaten you will have to leave the cave until I come find you.’
‘Top Secret Scout business, huh?’ Sarah asked, as she added wood to the fire.
‘You do not mind do you?’ he asked, sounding unsure of himself.
‘Jay, this is your work, you’re the boss, you know best.’ She stood and looked into the pot. ‘Ick,’ she said, wrinkling her nose, ‘no one cleaned this after breakfast.’
When the other two Scout Sergeants arrived, Sarah was busy fixing the stew. Jason introduced her to them then same way he had to Griffon and Bear. She pondered the way he kept emphasizing friend. On the one hand it hurt, because in her world it would be like stating she wasn’t nor ever would be his girlfriend. On the other hand, Griffon had, at first, called her a camp follower, so it could be Jay’s way of making sure they knew she wasn’t. Sarah shrugged and tasted the stew one last time. Good enough she thought, and called them over.
Lunch was silent, occasionally punctuated by the satisfied hum of one of the leaders. Jason stopped Sarah from cleaning up. ‘We will do that,’ he told her quietly. ‘Go get whatever it is you get that makes the food so good.’
‘Is scout food really that bad?’ she asked.
Jason chuckled, ‘Never have a meal at a scout’s house, when the cook is out.’ He handed Sarah her pouch. ‘Go on.’
‘Isn’t it dangerous out there?’ she asked, remembering what he said about being in enemy lands.
‘It should not be right now with all our scouts about.’ Jason said. ‘Just call for Phoenix Troop, and help should arrive.’
‘Okay.’ Sarah looped her pouch over her shoulder and jumped out. She stood outside for a moment, letting her eyes adjust to the light. Since she hadn’t seen much on the way in, Sarah decided to climb her way to the top of the waterfall.