Over the course of the next few days Sarah tried to make small talk with the boy. It was pointless though, since he stayed quiet, and aloof. Probably some noble’s son not used to doing anything for himself, let alone helping with woman’s work, she thought. So she kept her requests for help polite, simple and generally having to do with requiring ‘extra’ strength. He always favored his right arm, and Sarah could see something wasn’t right. Unfortunately cooking for this camp kept her busy all day and when he wasn’t helping he was in a corner sulking.
What annoyed Sarah the most, were the guards. Though they changed, they were a continuous presence. It made Sarah feel like she was a prisoner, and wonder why the boy was being treated as such. Not to mention it made it hard for her to keep up communication with Griffon. Sarah checked the moon each night, praying that all would be ready soon. It was waxing and would be full by the end of her first week in camp.
Sarah just wanted out of this camp. The men gave her the creeps. They were lewd and crude, and she was thankful for what little protection the General’s threat gave. She’d glimpsed a couple of them torturing a squirrel for fun and had to suppress a shudder. The boy didn’t approve either, disgust clearly showing on his face. He didn’t belong here, of that Sarah was sure. Sarah was beginning to wonder if she should have asked for more information about their mission.
The night the moon rose full, a wolf howled into the night. Sarah paused in her vegetable chopping to listen. The boy, who was crouched in a corner holding his arm, as usual when she hadn’t asked him to do something, looked at her. Sarah sighed and went back to work. Two more nights and she’d be free of this place. She spared a thought to wonder how Jason and the rest of Phoenix troop were doing. She stopped her chopping when she noticed the boy standing beside her.
‘Was that a signal?’ he asked in a hushed whisper, it was the first time he’d spoken to her. Sarah raised her eyebrows at him questioningly, trying to keep her face as blank as possible. She went back to chopping, deciding not to say anything. ‘Are you from Vervell?’ he asked stepping closer, his face hopeful. Sarah shook her head and he stepped back disappointedly.
The wolves howled again the next night, and as before Sarah had to stop what she was doing to listen. The boy was helping her that night and he too stopped, cocking his head as if it would help him hear better.
‘It is a signal,’ he said in an excited whisper. Sarah frowned at him and went back to work. Some of the excitement in his eyes died and he went back to his task. He was still awake when Sarah came back from her nightly foraging. She could feel him watching her as she put away the herbs she’d collected. He reached out and touched her after she’d lain down to get some sleep. Sarah turned her face toward him.
‘Please,’ he whispered, ‘if it is about rescuing Princess Allmerah, I can help.’ He looked at her pleadingly, hopefully. Sarah looked into his eyes, wondering what she could say to him. He looked away.
‘Why do you want to help her?’ Sarah asked, after pondering him for a while.
The boy looked back up at her,.‘Because my father is going about this the wrong way, all because HE wants a war.’
‘And what would be the right way?’ she asked curious.
‘Messages, and if her father did not respond, hire someone to capture her and then let me rescue her.’ The boy paused rolled onto his back to look at the tent roof. His voice became very quiet. But that did nothing to hide his emotions. ‘HE caught me planning to rescue her and convinced my father to let him teach me how to be a General. I hate HIM.’ The boy said the last sentence with such vehemence, that Sarah reached out and touched his shoulder.
‘Go to sleep,’ she said gently, ‘we’ll see what the morning brings.’ At least she could offer him a way out of the General’s camp.