Holly gave Kasmira a hearty pat on the back. “You can do a lot to help us…in the morning. You’ve had a long day. Get some rest!”
“I can’t sleep right now!” Kasmira exclaimed, “I’ve got so many questions. What does this group do exactly to fight back?”
Amberline explained, “Lots of things. At the moment, our biggest job is to recruit more people. But we also gather news from the enemy’s front. When we’re not out, we’re inside here training.”
“Training for what?” Kasmira inquired.
Anthony told her, “For the grand battle of our cause! We are not just honing our weapons skills though. We are learning to use the powers we’ve been forbidden from.”
Holly added, “Although not everyone chooses the combat role. There are a lot of other important jobs that need training and are just as important. We need healers, cooks, carpenters, blacksmiths, and just about everything else. Or you can do both combat and non-combat. We give everyone a choice.”
Mac asked Kasmira, “So, which role do you choose?”
“I want to fight!” Kasmira said almost immediately.
“Somehow I thought you might say that,” Mac said with a slight grin.
Holly changed the subject, “Oh look! I think the storm is dying down!”
Amberline commented, “That’s good, but it looks well past nightfall. We should probably go-”
“Nightfall?” Mac turned to Amberline and Anthony. “Then what on earth were you two doing your hair for?”
Anthony answered him, “We need to practice! After all, we’ve got to be prepared for a long day of recruiting. Nobody wants to talk to you if you look like a beggar!” Mac shook his head at him. “What? It’s true!”
Kasmira stated, “Well, then I supposed no one is going to talk to me then.”
Amberline objected, “Nonsense! I am the rebel’s tailor, and I also do hair. Tomorrow, I can get your hair combed, and soon I’ll make you a beautiful dress. You’re going to look so lovely that all the non-rebels girls will join just so they can look as fashionable as you!”
Kasmira didn’t know how to respond at first, so she just looked at Mac, who was laughing, so she followed suit. Anthony said to them, “Laugh all you want, but you don’t see Blood Warriors who look this good! Check out these calves-pure rebel!” He shows off his pants suggestively, and everyone in the cottage had a good laugh.
Holly shushed everyone. “Shh! I think the baby is asleep.”
Mac directed, “That’s usually our cue to go to sleep as well. Kasmira, I know you just got here, so did you want us to stay up with you?”
“No, I’ll sleep,” Kasmira said, “or at least I’ll try.”
“That’s the spirit!” Amberline chimed. “Good night everyone!” Amberline curled up in a cushy chair.
“Good night!” Anthony plopped down on the wooden table and started snoring almost immediately.
“Goodnight!” Holly fell asleep on the couch next to the baby.
Kasmira wasn’t sure where she’d sleep, and then Mac offered, “You can use the other couch.”
“Really” Kasmira responded. “But then where will you sleep?”
“On the floor by my wife.” Kasmira tried to interrupt him but Mac insisted, “You need it more than I do. Just try to get some rest, okay?”
Mac gave her a very fatherly hug. Kasmira felt comforted by this gesture, even though she wasn’t used to receiving affection. When he let go, she laid down on the couch as he requested. When she got settled down, she looked over to the rug that Mac was sleeping on. He was facing away from her, but he looked comfortable. Kasmira looked to the ceiling where she eyed the wooden beams holding up the straw roof. She was surprised that there weren’t any leaks or holes. She felt a little less upset, but she still maintained a sense of fear and doubt. It was easy to instantly like these people, and she really appreciated their support, but all this happened so suddenly. It was hard for her to let go of her fears since she constantly had lost everything that gave her hope. She felt really nervous, but she truly wanted to believe that these people were full of potential for a good future. She eventually closed her eyes and attempted to fall asleep.
Kasmira dreamed that she was down the road by her grandmother’s first home when suddenly the gray atmosphere was replaced by fire and brimstone. She saw Donovan searching for her, so she hid behind a jagged rock. For a while, it seemed to work, but soon Bernadette appeared and pulled her out into the open. Kasmira tried to get away but was thwarted when Bernadette shouted, “Donovan, I got her for you! Have I pleased you yet, master?” As Donovan grew closer and closer, King Davidson’s harsh, drawing voice vociferated from the filthy air, “You cannot hide from the curse!”
Kasmira woke with a start. She looked out the window and saw that dawn was just beginning to crown. Everyone was still asleep. Kasmira felt a little sick, so she ran outside. She nimbly walked across the crunchy snow to a nearby riverbank. She used a tree to brace herself, but there wasn’t enough food in her stomach to actually throw up. She sat by the riverbank with her head resting on her knees. Thinking about all of the strife she had to go through made her mad, and her pessimism enraged her. She picked up a rock and hurled into the babbling river. She then felt a little calmer and put her head back into the original position.
There was some rumbling in the nearby trees, and Kasmira grew startled. Someone was out there! She stood up, ready to run or fight if she needed to. The figure grew closer, and her breath grew quicker. The figure emerged from the trees….