From the Previous Chapter:
Rebekka nodded her understanding to Yorin and he patted her shoulders.
“Let’s continue, aye?” he said, “We’ll be late if we stay here any longer.”
Rebekka sighed but solidified her will. “Alright let’s get out of here.”
Yorin grinned. “Think you can beat me to the garrisons?”
Rebekka cut a glance his way. She was about to ask if he was too old for it but studying his physique (he happened to be wearing light armor rather than his usual suit), she decided he may be quite a challenge.
Rebekka returned his grin. “You win, I’ll bake you a whole cake,” His brows raised at this, “I win, you tell me more about Bastōn.”
“One, that’s Commander Bastōn to you, and two, challenge accepted.”
At Yorin’s last word, Rebekka readied to sprint, but suddenly Yorin kicked a leg from under her. She fell to one knee as he skipped ahead.
“And three Lieutenant,” he called back after her, “Never underestimate your opponent!”
Laughing, Rebekka got to her feet and bolted after him.
To say that Rebekka lost the race would have been a complete understatement. She lost pitifully, hands down, and absolutely. And though Yorin won by a few feet, it looked like he could run another mile or two!
As she leaned against a lamppost of the square to catch her breath, Rebekka realized she had no chance of winning since the first step. Yorin knew the way back to the garrisons and she didn’t. Simple as that. The moment she gained the advantage, she wouldn’t know what turn to take and Yorin passed her every time. As they neared the garrisons, however, Rebekka began to gain on the crafty old man, but it was no use. Now she had a cake to bake.
“How- *pant* how old are you anyway?” Rebekka asked between breaths.
“Forty-two,” Yorin replied and quite smugly.
“Why you’re hardly old at all!”
“Hm, hm, hmm,” he laughed, “Perception is everything isn’t it?”
“Perception and lies.”
“Lies?” He seemed offended by the word. “I never lied about anything. I have only said statements and let those around me believe what they wanted.”
Yorin let her catch her breath for the next few minutes.
“Soooo…. What cake are you baking me?”
Rebekka chuckled some before replying, “Matina was right about your sweet tooth. Have any raspberries?”
“Raspberries? Hmm… well, I’d have to check with the cook… Why?”
“How does a double-layered Raspberry and Lemon cake sound?”
“Oh ho! Why that sound most delicious!” His excitement deflated some. “Only problem, and I’m quite unhappy to say this, is that Matina is bound to find out about the cake, so instead of it being solely for me, we’ll share it. It can be a dessert for dinner. If you can invite your friends, it’ll be most splendid.”
“Why Yorin, that’s a wonderful idea! I think it’ll be perfect to get everyone’s mind off the Axon for a moment.”
Yorin did a short bow. “Glad to share these wonderful old ideas.” He winked as Rebekka laughed. “Now let’s go and get those cadets up and ready.”
“Oh, I have to get Mason and the others. They said they’d be by the fountain.”
“Right! You go on and fetch them, then. There should still be enough time for me to show you how everything goes.”
The two departed, Yorin whistling jovially as he went.
Rebekka walked to the fountain in thought. Yorin was right about one thing for certain. She had a responsibility now. She didn’t like it, but it was there, nonetheless. But how would she become a lieutenant? She was given the title sure, but if she were to command the rest of the cadets, she would have to have an authoritative figure. She knew that there would be a few that will put her newly begotten authority to the test…
Rebekka’s thoughts drifted to thinking on what new doors would open for her since she was now lieutenant. If there were more places she was permitted to go, it would allow her to study the integrity of the Axon’s gates and walls. It was even possible she could get her hands on an accurate map of the entire place. And if that was a possibility, so was planning an escape. The odds were certainly against her, but she had to try.
In her thinking, Rebekka had allowed her feet to take her where they wanted, and she ended up stopping near the fountain. Its crystal waters bubbled softly as a spring, adding a strange calm peace to the gloomy late morning. Perhaps several days ago, Rebekka would have thought it a sad little fountain, but now she thought of it as a nice addition to the place. It was actually possible that the fountain was the best place of the Sect.
Rebekka suddenly realized she had forgotten what she came for and grinned some. Idle thinking would get her into trouble if she indulged in its mystical fruits too often. She sighed away her thinking and began her return to the garrisons. Yorin said he would be waiting for her and she had a feeling that if she took too long, the old man would not have a problem giving her a verbal reprimand about her tardiness.
“Ah, Rebekka, there you are,” Yorin called and waved her over. At the moment, he had gathered the entire group of cadets in the outer court of the garrison. They were lined up smartly in nine rows of six.
“I was wondering what was keeping you,” Yorin continued, “Were the guards giving you a hard time. That is a notoriously bad habit of theirs.”
“No, there weren’t any guards,” Rebekka replied, “I had simply lost track of the time for a moment or two.”
Yorin straightened himself and held up a lecturing finger. “To be late is unacceptable. The earlier one is, the earlier they retire.”
“I guess there is no such a saying as; better late than never eh?”
“Absolutely not! Especially when you have a new duty. Oh, but did you happen to see Matina or Commander Bastōn on their way here?”
“No, I didn’t.”
‘Hmm… they’ll be here soon.”
“Who will be here?” someone asked. It had been Matina. She was following Commander Bastōn through the garrison’s entrance which happened to be just a few feet away. The two wizards in blue made their appearance just after.
“Ah, there you are,” Yorin said cheerfully. “See Rebekka, I told you they wouldn’t be far. You may want to stand over here. The commander would want you to be on her right side. Ah, there you go. Perfect.”
As Rebekka stood in the place Yorin had directed her, she felt miserable. Each fifty-four pairs of eyes she now stood in front of were on her. Hopefully, she could escape any more attention being drawn to her.
“Today, I have an announcement to make,” Commander Bastōn stated loudly and clearly. “The lot of you have a new ranking commander.”
Rebekka’s silent hopes suddenly plummeted, and she had to use every ounce of her will to resist the urge to take off running for the garrison’s entrance gate.
“This is Lieutenant Taalak…”
Yorin gave Rebekka a nudge and cleared his throat. Taking the hint, Rebekka stepped forward.
“As I hope many of you know, the general leading our northern army is General Rath Taalak. This is his daughter.”
A small murmur went through the crowd. Commander Bastōn lifted a hand for silence. When the chatter died down, she continued, “I expect each of you to follow her commands as you would my own, as she answers directly to me.”
The commander scanned over her small group of cadets with a piercing gaze.
“Now that I am understood—”
She nodded to Yorin to continue. He stepped forward and Rebekka stepped back.
“Today,” Yorin began. “the many of you will undergo the challenge of battle. This of course is a simulation, but it follows the events of a real battle and has the same consequence. If you honor your life, you will treat this simulation as if it were real. Once Wizard Eric finishes the portal, further orders will be given.”
Rebekka carefully looked over the group of cadets. Some of them looked battle-hardened, but many did not. But that was judging the book by its cover, so perhaps it was different. However, Rebekka didn’t believe so.
“As for now, a battle plan will be discussed and the lot of you will be outfitted accordingly.”
As Rebekka listened to the battle plan, she began to see the scenario play in her mind. It was simple enough and wouldn’t involve many casualties, if any, but that was only if all went well. This being reality, she knew hardly anything went according to plan… Once the strategy was explained the younger wizard in blue said an incantation and a set of tables appeared. Each table either contained weapons and other accessories or stacks of leather armor.
“Rebekka, I trust you will ensure the cadets will properly outfit themselves,” Commander Bastōn said without looking at her.
“Yes ma’am,” Rebekka replied and looked over at Yorin. He motioned for her to go on. Rebekka frowned but went on to complete her given task. Of course, many of the cadets gave her a cautious or evil eye and turned the cold shoulder to her words of advice. She was the daughter of probably the most feared general in all the Mainlinds. Then there were a few who showed fear in their eyes. But none gave her a problem… not yet at least. They all were under the eye of the Commander, which meant any show of guff would be noticed and reprimanded harshly. In the future, Rebekka knew all would certainly be different.
Then came the time she reached Mason and the others. They were all strangely quiet. The silence continued even as Rebekka helped Mason into a suit of armor. She quickly figured out that the suits came in three sizes. They each were made of dark leather, which was lightweight in nature. How were these considered fit for battle? Rebekka didn’t know, but they would have to make it work, didn’t they?
When one of her friends did decide to speak, it was Tweedy.
“Why didn’t you tell us who you were?” he asked tightening a few buckles of his own upper armor.
“Tweedy—” Swish began, but Rebekka stopped her from continuing.
“It is okay,” she said beginning to braid Mason’s hair to keep it from her face. “I’ll answer ‘is question. If you really want to know Tweedy, no one has known my identity since I became a nurse of a small hospital in the upper Mainlinds. My father had a future he saw for me. He wanted me at his side as he went to conquer the very place I lived. The place I call home. The place I loved and the people I cherished. But I ran away from my father’s house and from that dream he wanted for me.”
Rebekka finished the braid and looked square into Tweedy’s eyes which were stony with mistrust. “Believe me when I say, I’d rather die than raise a sword against any person of my homeland.”
“And yet you are here,” he nearly spat.
“Against my will, just as you are.”
Tweedy’s stony face softened, but only some.
“But you’re now a Lieutenant. How can we trust you?”
To Rebekka’s surprise, Mason rounded on him wearing a scowl.
“You trusted her before didn’t you? What makes now any different? Just because you learn who her father is? Shame on you Tweedy. She came to this god-forsaken place just as the rest of us. She’s treated no better. And I can bet my life that if her lineage weren’t what it was, she wouldn’t have the title she has.”
By the time Mason had finished her rant, Tweedy was a slight shade of pink (it was hard to tell because of his tan skin) and he looked abashed.
“Well… it just took me for a shock that’s all,” he said rubbing his nape out of embarrassment. “It would’ve been better to know from her if anything.”
“One has a right to withhold the secrets they do not wish others to know.”
“Sounds like something Jude would say,” Rebekka commented.
“What do you mean? He did.”
And that was the end of that.
(to be continued…)
A Note From the Author:
I just want to apologize for prolonging this release as long as I did. I finally had some time to continue my beloved web novel. This time I hope can release on a more regular schedule. If it has been too long and you feel lost, I highly recommend reading over the last chapter. Once again, I apologize for the wait.
Thanks for hanging in there,
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