Cassandra returned to the Amazon encampment feeling triumphant.
Lynn and Rachel were the first to greet her.
“Well?” she asked, expectantly.
“We lured two of their captains,” Rachel reported. “With their units. About a quarter of the soldiers fell to Artura’s ambush. And one of the unit leaders. In short, we did awesome.”
“Very good,” Cassandra stated. “So, who slew the unit leader?”
“I did,” Artura answered. “One arrow through the throat.”
“Then I’ll see to it that you’re properly rewarded,” Cassandra stated.
Artura shook her head. “Just did my duty. No more, no less.”
“I appreciate that you think of it that way,” Cassandra said. “But I am officially offering special rewards to any warrior who slays one of their captains. And that, Dear Artura, includes you.”
“Then I will gratefully accept that,” Artura stated. Her voice was very monotone when she spoke.
“That’s the best I can expect, I suppose,” Cassandra said. “Any word from Caroline yet?”
“None,” Rose answered.
“Well, I’m going to get some rest for now,” Cassandra said. “I trust we have a rotating night watch lined up?”
“We do,” Rose said.
Cassandra yawned. “Then I leave it to you.”
She was on her way to her tent when Courtney approached her.
“Are you all right, Mother? You weren’t hurt fighting Miranda?”
“She’s a strong warrior, but she isn’t that strong,” Cassandra answered.
“Then you beat her?” Courtney tried to stop herself from sounding nervous.
“I would have, but she was fighting alongside a rather strong vulpine feralial,” Cassandra answered. “About the best I could do against the combination was hold my own.”
“Oh, I see,” Courtney allowed herself a slight smile. “Well, good night.”
“Good night, Dear,” Cassandra said. She had to restrain herself. Her daughter was too obvious. She just had to hope that Courtney didn’t encounter Miranda on the battlefield. She would never be able to bring herself to fight back against her.
Miranda sat in her tent, staring at Courtney’s last message. She wanted to reply and let her know she was okay. She wanted to just chat about career aspirations, favourite animals and nothing at all. Like they’d used to.
But she couldn’t very well be exchanging correspondences with “the enemy.” Besides, she just couldn’t think of anything to say to her.
When had it become so difficult? They’d never stopped talking like this. Not even when…
Her thoughts were interrupted by someone entering her tent. She quickly hid the letter and turned.
“You wanted to see me?” Aiko asked.
“Yes, I did,” Miranda said. “I’ve relieved Captain Garnak of his leadership role. For the moment, I want you to take command of the combined forces of him and Captain Ogder.”
“You’re going to get yourself in trouble,” Aiko stated.
“You don’t have to worry about me,” Miranda said. “Besides, I trust you not to make tactical decisions that are that bad.”
Aiko nodded. “All right. Shall I let them know?”
“No,” Miranda said. “At dawn I’ll come with you and we’ll both let them know. While I trust their professionalism…”
“They’ll find it hard to believe?” Aiko interrupted.
“That they will,” Miranda said. She stretched. “Well, I’m going to go take my turn a s part of the night watch. You should try to get some rest.”
Francis couldn’t sleep.
He was still angry. Not just with the Amazons for their sneaky attack, but with Miranda for her soft leadership and for taking his unit from him.
Outliving her alone was not going to balance the scales to make up for this indignity. He needed more. He needed some way to make her suffer.
But he couldn’t do anything directly… No, that would be career suicide.
Maybe if he could find a way to get her captured by the Amazons, they’d properly mistreat her… No, that wouldn’t work. Amazons were too weak to treat their prisoners poorly. Besides, she’d grown up as friends to them. They wouldn’t…
He paused at that. Yes, she’d grown p as friends to them. The Queen’s daughter in particular. He glanced at his axe and smirked. If he could take her head, which he was confident he could, that would cause Miranda a lot of suffering indeed.
The best part was that no one could complain about him slaying an enemy.
He tested the edge of his axe. It was still very sharp. Would the Vice Captain openly weep? What sort of face would she show when he was through?