Chapter 2

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Screams woke Sheba every time she drifted off as another wound was sealed with burning, a limb removed, or infection raged in a young's body. It was hard not to look into their eyes and share their pain, their desperation to be whole again or see their families one last time before everything changed.

It was too much. She kicked off her blankets and cried out in pain, but no one paid any attention. She pulled on her cloak and slipped out into the dense night. Torches lit up the camp and dotted the hillside, each being snuffed out until only the watch guards' remained. Laughing surrounded the small campfires amongst the tents while jugs of whiskey clanged and echoed through the air. Sheba breathed it all in and slowly exhaled, trying to savor the moment.

"Shouldn't you be resting?" James came from behind her and buried his face in her hair.

"Maybe, but what with all the distractions I couldn't possibly sleep tonight." Sheba pulled his hair in front of her eyes to see it better. "I would rather be outside than in there." She shuddered. "It's painful."

"Well then why don't we spend the night under the stars, eh?" He picked her up and gasped under her weight.

"Are you sure you can do this?" Asked Sheba nervously, clinging to his neck.

"Nothing would stop me." A small red patch bloomed on his white shirt.

"James please..."

"No. I can do this. Fix me up when I've finished." He gripped her a little more tightly and started for the woods.

"There could be soldiers out there!" Sheba panicked, but James kissed her cheek.

"We'll only be on the outskirts. I'd never risk your life for anything I didn't have to."

When they had reached the forest line, he sat her against a huge oak tree and painfully leaned on it himself. Sheba laid her head against his shoulder, feeling her cheeks flush when his head fell on hers.

"What do you think is out there?" She asked, watching the stars blink.

"Is it risky to say war?"

"No. It's hard to avoid when it's practically at our doorstep."

"I don't want war. I want to marry you, give you all you could ever ask or hope for, and live happily ever after. War isn't going to help my plan."

"Then let's make a new one. One that will work out if war comes."

"Got any ideas?"

"Hmm. I like the thought of not knowing what's coming. It gives me a sense of adventure."

"So no plan?"

"Why not?"

"If that's what you wish." She wrapped her arms around him and closed her eyes. She breathed in his warm scent and started to doze off. Right before she fell asleep, she heard James mutter, "I like my old plan better."

♢¤♢¤♢¤♢

Flies hummed near Sheba's ear and softly woke her, finding herself

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