163 ~ Yarrow

Lord Exsil Vis had been very pleased by the information she’d given him.

She’d not told him the details, of course, but she assured him that she’d lead him into the castle herself once he proved himself trustworthy.

“And how do I do that, my dear?” he asked. At least he’s stopped calling me ‘girl’, she thought.

“Call my regiment into camp with your army. If there are no…incidents, then I’ll help you.”

His smile grew sharp. “If there were any…incidents, there’d be naught you could do about it.”

Her gaze didn’t waver from his face. “Never underestimate a cornered bellica, my lord.”

“I never have,” he said, and she remembered with a chill how her mother had died. “Jason!” he barked to one of his officers then, and Yarrow fought the impulse to jump. “Get Bellica Yarrow’s regiment in town. Make sure the men know that they are our allies and not to be harmed.” Lord Exsil Vis’ eyes never left Yarrow’s face. “Does that suit?”

“Yes, my lord. Thank you.” She smiled, trying to calm the wild beating of her heart.

“Good. Now let us discuss timing.”

Yarrow suggested they wait four days, ostensibly to weaken the castle further in the siege, but really she wanted time to prepare herself and to try and get messages to certain people. Exsil Vis wanted to attack right away. She got him to agree to wait until after midnight on the 16th, to give her women a chance to rest from their long time on the road.

Soon after they were finished making plans and Lord Exsil Vis had told her to enjoy the hospitality of his camp, her regiment rode into town. She made eye contact with Jules from across the camp, and his brief glance told her that her women knew what to do.

Thank the Goddesses.

Lord Exsil Vis was shouting at someone to set a table for Yarrow and her officers; she didn’t show it, but the smell of roasting meat nauseated her. Her eyes scanned the camp, and again were drawn back to the large tent at the end, which she was sure was a seraglio. I wonder if anyone useful is in it.

Exsil Vis’ voice and an arm around her shoulders brought her back to herself. “I’ve cleared a tent for you to bunk in, my dear,” and he pointed to a tent smaller than his but larger than the others, not too far away. “Your men will have to bunk down with mine, but their leader should have her own tent, eh?”

“Thank you, my lord,” she said pleasantly even as she was inwardly frowning at the strange turn of phrase. But accurate, I suppose – there truly are no women in his army.

Glancing back to her regiment and the women in it, she saw how Lord Exsil Vis’ men reacted to the female presence. And she thought of the seraglio.

Two days. That’s it.

Two days. And then the real battle begins.

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