Chapter 36

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Cassia's point of view:

As the sun goes down and night approaches once again, today's work in the healers' tents is finally over. We put every last ounce of energy we had into our doctoring, and we actually managed to get four people well again. When I was a little kid and my mother would come home from her job exhausted and tired, I never understood what could drain someone of energy like that. Now I understand.

I sit down by the campfire now, its warm flames and crackling wood calming me. I try to relax, but the idea of that seems foreign to me now. I have the work of an adult despite the fact that I'm still only seventeen.

I shut my eyes and clear my head of all thoughts, wanting to drift away from reality for a minute. It actually works until I hear someone come up huffing and puffing out of the woods.

I'm on my feet in a second, trying to make out who it is. Then, I see a glint of red hair and realize that it's Adam.

"Adam? Did you run all the way up here?" I ask as I approach him. "Yes," he says, out of breath. "Why?" I question as I help him with the bomb. "Don't worry about it," he says as he regains his composure.

I try to help him over to a nearby tree stump that's by the fire, but he refuses. "This thing can't be anywhere near fire, or else it'll explode. I can't have it being wasted before we use it," he protests. "Alright, well where do you want it?" I ask him. "Help me get it to my tent," he says.

We stagger to his tent, set the bomb in the corner of it, and then head back to the campfire. By this time, the others have noticed Adam was back, so they're already there for us when we get back. "Camp looks good, Peter. Nothing burned, nobody's dead, no one attacked?" Adam asks Peter. "Nope," he answers.

"Well good. Now, my sisters and I built the explosives, but I can't have them exploding before we rescue Julia, so please, keep all forms of fire away from my tent," Adam warns, and we all shake our heads in agreement. "Now, we have a big day tomorrow. Peter and Susan will talk to the dark side, and Cassia, Kyle, and myself will talk to the good side. I expect you all to say something to the people to convince them. We'll need everyone who's willing to help, good or bad," Adam finishes.

"Wait, I thought it was only you and Adam who was going to speak! You want the rest of us to talk to them too?" Susan asks frantically. "Yes, that's what I expect," Adam answers again. "Adam, you know some of us have an issue with public speaking," I warn. Susan and I were never good at participating in debates and other events that required a lot of talking in school.

"Well, you'll have to figure it out. They need to be able to trust all of us," Adam says. "Expecting people from the dark side is a long shot, Adam. They might listen to us, but that doesn't mean they'll trust us," Peter cautions. "No matter. If they're willing to help, that's good enough for me," Adam retorts.

"Guys, you do realize we're basing all of this on a 'what if?' What if we don't get them to listen? What if we do? What if the Council stops us? What if the whole mission is destined to fail?" Kyle interjects. "No one was asking those questions," Susan challenges. Peter just sighs and says, "Come on guys. We were all thinking those questions anyway." And shamefully, we all nod.

"What's happening to us? Why do we keep second-guessing ourselves?" I finally ask. "Because we're only human. We always second-guess ourselves before we do something great. Doubt is something we can't afford right now. If this long-shot of a plan is going to work, we all have to believe," Adam pushes.

After another minute of a silence passes, the only noise being people shuffling around in the background, Susan speaks up. "Alright then. Let's just all get some sleep. The sooner we do, the sooner tomorrow comes, and the sooner tomorrow will be over with."

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