Sylvie observed. Matthew was busy setting up good, heavy sticks with bits of cloth and bells attached to them all around the wall and barracks.
“What’s he doing?” Serena asked.
Sylvie shrugged. “No clue but I’m going to find out.”
She was about to move when Inés strolled over.
Yo,” Inés greeted. “What’s all this junk for?”
“They’re tools,” Matthew answered. “They’ll help me see through the plans of Echidna’s children.”
“How will they do that?” Sylvie asked. She and Serena moved close.
“You’ll see, Boss,” Matthew said. “Trust me. Lady Lyn did not leave you in bad hands.”
“You know,” Inés said. “That’s been bugging me. The way you call Lynde ‘Lady Lyn.’ It’s like, super familiar but also respectful. Do you two have a history or something?”
Matthew smiled. “We do, actually. I fought her once back when I was just a regular thief. Well, as regular a thief as a son of Hermes can be. I figured I could do what I bloody well liked since the authorities were all too slow to stop me. That was when Lady Lyn and her entourage showed up. They needed some information from a scroll I’d stolen. At first, I figured I’d just run. Always avoid a brawl if possible, I say, but they managed to trap me. Lady Lyn fought me for the scroll, one on one. I didn’t know she was a half blood too and I lost handily. After that I joined her little group. During that journey I learned a lot, and gained a deep admiration for her.”
“I bet it was nice getting to see her again,” Serena said.
“I’ll bet it was some journey with two children of the Gods involved,” Sylvie stated.
“Four, actually,” Matthew corrected. “And it was a great adventure. Great and terrible at the same time.” A pained look crept across his face for a brief instant, quickly getting replaced by his usual smile. “But that’s enough about me. I’m sure it’s gotten boring.” He finished setting up his last stick. “Don’t mess with these, okay? I need them intact.”
“No problem,” Inés said.
“I’ll let Lilac and Gail know,” Sylvie said. “Matthew, you’re taking first watch tonight along with Lilac. Inés and I will take the second. Gail and Serena will have the third.”
Matthew gave a mock salute. “Roger, Boss.”
Sylvie and Inés kept careful watch over the walls when t was their turn at watch.
“Sorry, for separating you and Serena,” Sylvie said.
“No big deal,” Inés said. “I know you’re worried that we’ll distract one another.”
“We really can’t afford that,” Sylvie said. “Not in this kind of battle.”
“I know,” Inés said. “I know you think of me as being cocky and blithe all the time, but I’m not stupid. I know what my own capabilities and limits are and I know when I’m actually in a troublesome spot.” She looked into the distance and smiled. “I’m just too stubborn to give up when things are troublesome and I refuse to let my enemies see any uncertainty.”
Sylvie stared at her for a moment. “I know that,” she admitted. “At least, I do now. I’ve learned a lot about you during this journey. You aren’t the air-headed girl I thought you were. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve gained a certain respect for you.”
Inés laughed. “Funny. Truth be told, I’ve also started to respect you. I used to think you were uptight and just the type who always thinks she knows best. But I’ve come to realise that even though you ca be overly serious, you’re also really brave and compassionate and I’m glad you’re the one who took the pilgrimage with me.”
“Likewise,” Sylvie said. “It’s been difficult, but I think if I can get through all this I can do anything. And I think the extra trials have made me better as a person.”
“Now that’s a surprise,” Inés said. “I never thought I’d be having a moment with you. Are we actually becoming friends? Is that what’s happening?”
Sylvie shrugged. “It may very well be. Although I certainly wouldn’t have thought it possible when we started out.”
“Me neither,” Inés said. She held her hand out. “Friends?”
Sylvie clasped her hand and shook it. “Just don’t let it go to your head, Mermaid.”
“I’m gonna start taking that as a term of endearment,” Inés stated.
“Which is how it was meant, that time,” Sylvie said.
Some bells lightly rang on the ground. Matthew quickly emerged from the barracks. He moved over to the sticks that were ringing, examining the cloth attached to them. Then he put an ear to the ground.
“They’re trying to tunnel beneath us!” He cried. “We need reinforcements!”