Decisions are made and consqueicnes begin to appear.
Auriel handed me a stack of papers and I took them. I couldn’t feel the edges of the paper through the gloves she made me wear and I ran the tips of my hand along the fine edge.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get used to them.” She flipped through some more papers in her hand,” Cara has taken all of your things from your barracks and there here now. You’ll use this tent as your living quarters and planning base.”
She lifted her head,” It’s important that you don’t show your face outside of these walls. If someone figures out who you are Beckah I need you to take Riot and get out of camp as quickly as possible. The other two can fend for themselves here. Once outside you’’ await further instructions.”
“It’s not going to get that far,” I assured her, but I could tell he was still nervous.
“If you receive any injuries I want the only Riot to examine you, is that clear?”
“Yes, look I understand. We’ve been over all of this already.”
Auriel laid the papers onto the large oak table. She had it moved in yesterday as we began to plan our strategy to find the mole. We never got very far before we had to prepare for Auriel’s departure.
“It’s time to go. Are you ready?” She asked.
“Yes. Let’s go.” I flipped my hood over my head and Auriel did the same.
She had given me some of her clothes, but they hung awkwardly on my body. The cloth rubbed against my skin and raw spots appeared on my arms. Cara said we would fix them, but hasn’t gotten around it just yet.
I followed Auriel outside and I walked in her shadow as she led me through camp. As she walked through I could hear people whispering and murmuring to each other. I knew they must have been talking about me. I slid my hood farther over my face as Auriel had shown me and kept my head towards the ground.
I shivered underneath my long cloak although it was a warm day. I still felt cold to the bone as people walked me and tried to catch a glimpse at my face.
We came to the clearing and I raised my head to see a small crowd waiting to see Auriel off. A hooded figure was mixed in with the strangers, but it was a familiar face. I felt myself relax. Just a little bit longer and I would hurry back inside of my tent and away from prying eyes.
Beside the crowd, Auriel’s waiting brown horse and people moved aside to let us stepped through. I searched the crowd to find the hooded figure, but they had disappeared.
“Attention!” Auriel yelled and a hush fell over the crowd.
She began to speak to the crowd in front of her, but I turned my head and stared off at the tents. Auriel’s voice became a muffled tone behind me as I dozed off. The camp seemed dead today. Nothing moved.
I felt a hand rest on my shoulder and my head shot up to face Auriel’s hooded face. All I could see through the dark was her smile.
“You will respect her as you do me and if you don’t Huntress Cara and Spymaster Dayton will make those subordinates are punished.”
“But who is she?” A voice cried.
“I’ve never seen her before.” Another screamed.
Auriel climbed on top of her horse and I heard her laugh,” She is pathfinder from camp Beta! This is Commander Serilda!” Auriel roared and there was an uproar from the crowd.
Auriel grabbed the collar of my tunic and pulled me close to her and whispered down into my ear,” Don’t be reckless now Beckah. I’ll be back and I don’t want my army vanquished.”
I nodded and she dropped me back onto the ground and rocketed away. Everything was eerily quiet and I turned back to face everyone before me. They were waiting for me to say something, anything to them.
“As you were.”
Everyone hustled away and within moments the paths were bustling with busy people.
“Classy.” A voice said from behind me and out of the corner of my eye I saw the hooded figure come up to me.
I held my arms behind my back,” Thanks. I think they like me already.”
“Where’s your tent?” The figure asked and I pointed to the large tent.
“Keep your head down.” They ordered and softly pushed my head towards the ground.
They grabbed my hand and I wrapped my hand around their fingerless silk gloves. I lead them towards the tent and I heard people whispering to each other, but no one said anything to me or my companion.
We approached the tent and a soldier stood outside, nodding to us as we entered. When we were both inside and the flap was closed I threw my hood off and let the cool air rush against my face. I stumbled over to the oak table and threw myself down into one of the chairs.
“Oh don’t be overdramatic.” The figure mocked.
I smiled and spun around in the chair and faced the man in front of me. Troy slid his hood off two and his curly dark hair fell over his eyes before he brushed it away.
“Here I have a question for you, Commander,” He laughed, leaning close to me and sitting down at the head of the table,” Of all of the names you could have chosen, why choose Serilda? You don’t know anyone of that name.”
I smiled at him,” The Commander recommended it to me, she said it’s the name of the armed maiden of war. It stuck with me.”
Auriel hadn’t allowed me to tell Troy who she really was. Only Huntress Cara knew.
He let out a short laugh and picked up the humming sword on the table. He was entranced by it too and couldn’t take his eyes off of it’s beating heart.
“Well, what are you going to do Beckah, the camp is now yours.” He swung the sword around and pretended he was fighting someone.
I kicked my feet up onto the tabletop,” I’m going to continue where the Commander left off. I’m going to keep preparing for another siege against the Academy and find the mole within the camp.”
“Whoever it was could have died that day on the battlefield.” He suggested, now jousting with the sword.
“If they knew about the attack they wouldn’t have gone with them. No, I think whoever it was must have stayed behind.”
“Well, it’s gonna be harder to find who it is. You’re gonna be noticed everywhere you go. You’ve just become their queen.”
I turned to face Troy and he was punching back and forth to attack an imaginary enemy.
“That’s what you’re going to be doing for me Troy,” I smiled devilishly,” You’ve just been promoted.”
His face filled with excitement and he swung the sword wildly around.
The flap to the tent opened and a figure entered.
“I said we were not to be interrupted, Troy told at the guard outside, but when he saw it was Huntress who entered he quickly bowed in apology.
“It’s alright Becken.”
Troy quickly dropped the sword onto the table and came to stand beside m.
“Huntress, it’s a pleasure to see you again,” I said and bowed my head in respect.
“Please, call me Cara.” She smiled and walked towards us before taking a seat at the table.
In her hands, we held a small box filled with discolored pages and maps and she placed the box on the table in front of us. She took out stack after stack and laid them down on the table.
“This is all the Commander and I had on the mole.”
I took the papers and quickly flipped through them. They were profiles on suspicious soldiers, intercepted messages from the Academy and pages on pages of hand-drawn photos of different men and women. As I flipped through the pages a familiar face stuck out at me. I took it out of the stack and slammed it onto the table. I stabbed it with my finger and Cara picked the page up.
“Dayton, why is he in the stack?”
“Dayton,” Troy repeated,” He’s my pathfinder. What could he have to do with all of this?”
Cara sighed,” He’s had some trouble in the past and has made it clear of his issues with Beckah,” She laid the picture down on the table,” I mean he was the skills needed to sneak to and from the Academy at a whim. The Commander wanted to check him out, but nothing panned out.
Cara searched through another stack of photos and pulled out one of another younger man,” This here is Colton. He’s Dayton's son. We don’t know much about him except that he’s Dayton’s son and still lives inside the Academy.”
I took the paper and studied the drawing further.
“The Commander believes he is supplying his father with information and Dayton, in turn, supplies information back.”
Troy stood beside me and leaned on hand against my chair. He was puzzled about something.
“What’s bothering you?” I asked.
He scratched his head and his black curls brushed against his face,” Dayton may seem rude and impolite, I know that from experience, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would betray what he believes in like this.”
“I understand that, but what you must understand is that the Commander and I have been looking into this for a while and I can confidently say that he has been up to something. I’ve personally seen him sneak off into the woods during the night. He has no loyalty to this war, but only to his son.”
“Then why don’t we use that against him. Try to use his son to tell us something?”
“We’ve thought about that too, but we haven’t been able to infiltrate the Academy to gain access to him and if Dayton is the mole he’ll have a direct access to the knowledge that his son isn’t in any danger. From us at least.”
Just as Cara finished explaining I heard a commotion outside and someone was slammed into the ground. A muffled voice yelled something from outside and our guard was again thrown to the ground.
Troy, who still stood behind me, grabbed the edges of my hood and pulled it over my head just as the attacker entered the tent. Cara stood up and Troy rushed around to stand in front of me to make sure my hood was on entirely. I grabbed the hood and pulled it so my face was darkened and Troy turned to stare at the intruder.
“I demand to see the Commander.” The intruder demanded.”
“I’m sorry, but Commander Serilda is busy right now.”
“No! No the real Commander!” He hissed.
I lifted my head around Troy and there stood Caine. His breaths were quick and light and he held a sword in his hands. Troy moved to my side and placed his hand on my shoulder, silently telling me to stay seated.
“The Commander left this morning,” Cara explained, stepping forward to calm him down.
“What did she do with Beckah?” He screamed and lunged forward at me, his sword drawn and ready to strike.
I didn’t flinch as he rushed at me. I heard my blade lifted from the table as Troy snatched it and clashed with Caine as he did his best to push him back. Troy was older and much stronger than Caine and threw him back. He stumbled onto the ground and I tapped my foot impatiently.
“Caine, I’ve told you this many times. Beckah was given the chance to leave and she took it. “
Caine opened his mouth to reply, but he didn’t speak. Cara was right. He knew I had a meeting with Auriel and it wasn’t a stretch to say that I left. He lowered his head and dropped his sword. Troy grabbed it off the ground and held it in his hand, ready to strike if needed.
“I remember when she returned to the bonfire that first day, all covered in blood,” He said through heavy breaths,” She wouldn’t just run away.”
“Caine, please leave before you do something else to embarrass yourself.”
“Can I,” He paused,” Can I speak to Commander?” He sounded sorrowful, broken.
Troy and Cara both turned to me and awaited my response. Without a second thought, I nodded and whispered into Troy’s ear,” Alone.”
Troy nodded in approval and motioned for Cara to follow him out. Confused, she stepped outside of the tent with him.
Once they had both left there was a moment of complete silence. He stared right through me almost like he could see right through the darkness and glared at me underneath.
I tried to act like Auriel. I tried to sit as tall as I could and kicked my legs out in front of me to seem threatening. However, I didn’t feel dangerous at all.
Caine stood up and came close to me, but I didn’t move. I needed to get through this without saying a word. Caine would recognize my voice.
“Please,” I know-” He paused,” I know Beckah is here somewhere, sh-she just went to sleep and when I woke up she was gone. I-I had something I wanted to give to her.” He whimpered.
I looked down at his hands and saw the small notebook he had given me. I reached out to take it, but he would never give it to me, but I held my hand out anyway and to my surprise, he placed it in my palm. I flipped through the pages and I saw strange, clean handwriting sprawled along the pages with crude drawings beside them. This must have been Caine’s handwriting.
“I-I thought I could give it to her,” He grumbled,” But I couldn’t. She’s gone because I was foolish.” He clenched his hands into fists. He was angry he couldn’t keep me here.
But I was here. I was sitting right there in front of him, but it was like my lips had been sewed shut and I couldn’t speak.
I pushed myself off of my chair and sat down on the ground in front of him. Caine tried to see past the dark of my hood, but he couldn’t I wanted to tell him, but I couldn’t. He was just too close.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, but he couldn’t hear me.
He stood up and left me alone on the ground, holding the small notebook. I tried to hand it back to him, but he refused to take it back.
“Keep it. I have no use for it now.”
I felt my hood fall back and my green eyes shined through the dark of my hood.
“Goodbye Commander.” He mocked and stepped outside into the hot sun.
I sat on the ground and stared at the booklet in my hands and Troy and Cara came back inside. Troy approached and knelt down in front of me before pulling off my hood. I looked up at him and he saw the tears streaming down my face. They dropped onto the ground and splashed around my legs.
“Beckah, I’m so sorry,” he whispered.
I wiped away my tears and pulled myself back up into the chair behind me. Troy came and sat down in the chair next to me and pulled it closer to him so I could lean against him. Cara pushed a plate of the food towards me.
I stared down at the plate of bread and fruit and picked pieces off. I offered some to Troy and he too took food from the plate. Cara sighed as she sat back down and gathered her papers into a small pile.
“I’ll deal with all of the political aspects that the Commander did for a time, but I'll leave you in charge of finding the mole. We can’t set our attack in motion until that mole is found!”
I nodded and pulled my hood further over my face. I didn’t want them to see my eyes.
Cara leaned over the table,” You can do this Beckah, you just have to start putting the pieces together.”
Troy rubbed the top of my head and stood up,” I’m going to leave for a little while. I’ll be back soon.”
I ran my fingers along the Auriel’s blade and listened to the humming of the sword. Right next to it was Caine’s sword and I picked it up carefully. It was my sword. Cara would want that back.
I exited the tent with the sword in hand. I walked down to my old barracks tent and stepped inside, but it was empty. I went over to the weapons rack and slid the sword back into place. When I was empty-handed, I turned back to stare at the empty tent. My bunk had been emptied like Auriel said it would be and all of my belongings had been moved into the Commander’s tent. I pushed my hands into my pockets and turned to leave as Olin wandered into the tent.
We stared at each other for a moment and I waited for him to launch himself at me as Caine did. He just stepped aside so I could pass by and his mouth turned into a wicked grin.
“Commander.” His voice slithered.
I stepped past him and back outside. I stood there for a moment and something popped into my head.
I raced back to the Commander’s tent as fast as I could and grabbed handfuls of papers I threw my hood off and created a stack of papers including information and drawings of Dayton.
He had been disappearing into the woods during the night. Something had to be back there and I needed to figure out what it was. I set the papers down and kept searching, grabbing more papers about Dayton. I read through it quickly, throwing it down and picked up another one.
This was it! This was what I needed and now all I needed to do was have him slip up. I had just the plan too.