Artura carried Courtney over to Susan and her Vixen unit.
“Arrow wound, and she hit her head,” Artura stated.
“We’ll patch her up quick as can be,” Susan said. “We’re just fortunate she wasn’t caught in the fire.”
Artura nodded. “Better get back to it.”
“Artura, did you remove the arrow?” Susan asked.
“No,” Artura answered. “Found her like that beneath a tree. Possible she did it herself.”
“I suppose…” Susan said. “Doesn’t seem likely with that head wound though. No one was with her?”
“She was the only Amazon there,” Artura answered.
“Guess she must’ve done then,” Susan muttered.
Artura quickly made her way back to the front to help combat the blaze, and avoid answering more specific questions.
“Lady Ida… the Amazon,” Caroline could sense the implied question in the guard’s voice.
“I should get down,” Caroline said. “I can walk.”
“Caroline, you don’t need to,” Ida stated. “We may have been waiting to make an official announcement, but it’s clearly out now.” She looked at her guards. “Or were any of you confused?”
“Not at all, Lady Ida,” he said.
“Then continue your duties. We need to treat our wounded and pursue those damned ambushers,” Ida stated.
“Understood.” They hurried to their duties.
“Ida, just tell them you only picked me up to protect me,” Caroline whispered. “They’ll understand.”
Ida shook her head. “You don’t understand our ways. If we both survive this war, I’ll claim that the feelings we shared have flickered out and demand separation. It’ll be humiliating, but we can both move on. Until then, just pretend you’re my betrothed.”
“But I…” Caroline began.
“Please,” Ida entreated. “Promise me. If for no other reason then for the sake of our alliance.”
“All right,” Caroline agreed. “I don’t mind being seen as your lover. Truthfully, it makes me seem a very fortunate woman.”
“Flattery is appreciated,” Ida stated. “Just stay on my back until we reach your encampment. And do try not to look too embarrassed.”
Caroline couldn’t promise anything in that regard.
Bernard and Alicia flanked Ferdinand Beras on his way to the front line. He wasn’t going to stay long. He had to return to the king.
He noted the recently wounded soldiers getting attention from clerics. He found Maximilian taking a tour to check up on the wounded.
“Captain Jhunta, I must thank you for sending these two as my guards.”
“Of course, Sir Beras,” Maximilian answered. “The way you secured the cooperation of the Pyre clan was most helpful. Have you given thought to my request?”
“Well, we must speak about the other matter,” Ferdinand said. “I do have an answer for you.”
Maximilian nodded. “Bernard, Alicia. You two are dismissed. I would speak with Sir Beras in private.”
Bernard and Alicia watched them go.
“Think they’re about to get engaged?” Bernard asked.
“I don’t really care. I’m going to find something to eat,” Alicia stated.
“You’ve worked with the pair of them,” Maximilian stated. “Which one has the greater leadership qualities?”
Ferdinand thought for a moment. “Bernard was very helpful, but it’s only because he idolises the dozen. He struck me as more of a follower than a leader. Alicia showed more initiative. I would suggest that she be granted Sir Pienta’s former position on a temporary basis.”
Maximilian nodded. “Very well. It will be as you suggest.” He thought for a moment. “Will you need an escort back to Torla?”
“Probably not,” Ferdinand said. “But I’ll take a half dozen soldiers for one. Just in case the Amazons are keeping an eye out and manage to sneak a small squad to our rear or some highwaymen have decided to take advantage of the situation.”
“Doesn’t hurt to take precautions,” Maximilian agreed. “I’ll arrange your guard.”
The Pyre clan’s preparations were quick and efficient. They got together outfits that would better disguise them in the forest, split into three units and their soldiers began their trek towards the battlefield.
They reviewed Amazonian tactics and weaknesses as they went. After all, striking their weak points would be the key to ending the war as quickly as possible.
Shauna personally led the troops overall. She granted command rights over each unit to her most skilled warriors. The first unit would be led by her right hand, Izuki. The second unit would be led by her left hand, Reo. The final team would be led by her personally.
Among the three of them, the Amazons and their allies were sure to fall. Of that, they were certain.