Episode 39: Party members: Collect all eight!

Aurora shrugged. "I twisted my ankle jumping out of the window and got caught by your boys here. Don't ask me about the guy in blue; for all I know, he's just monking around."

The apparent monk grinned and flexed. "As a matter of fact—"

"As a matter of fact, I didn't ask you a question," Arthur shot back. "Aurora, what the heck is a woman of your caliber doing in charge of a logging camp? I can understand keeping a Class-A away from physical combat, and a Class-C might not have enough magic skills to bother employing, but a balanced Class-B like yourself is wasted out here."

Another shrug. "Don't look at me. Maybe they knew that you were out here."

"I doubt it. Next question: What's a girl like you doing in an invasion like this? You usually have better judgement than that."

"Hey! I'm just trying to help liberate some of slave-states that you call 'republics.'" She glared at Max. "Would the 'Governor' to explain the political realities to you, or will you take my word for it?"

"At this point you're 'liberating' trees from a forest inside the border of one of the original kingdoms of the Empire; the king here enjoys about as much power as the head of your native city-state and considerably more protection."

"That doesn't make it okay for Imperial forces to invade peaceful border territories like Sark!"

"Wait a minute, that war started when Free City forces attacked us from Sarkian territory."

"Err . . . it did?"

"Yes! And last time I checked, Black Jong was spending that time learning how to meet new friends and influence people by helping the sponsor governments cover it up."

"Oh. Well, that doesn't justify your military dictatorship."

"An Black Jong's press gangs are any better?"

"He's using press-gangs?"

"I see why he wanted you away from the main army."

"Alright, how's this: I don't like you, and I'm not sure that I like Black Jong either, but right now I want some answers from him; I'll join you for as long as that takes." She paused and glanced at her ankle. "Besides, I'm injured, and you've got the numerical advantage. One-on-one and healed I'd only be your equal."

"Your offer is accepted; we can work out specifics later." Arthur turned to the blue-robed monk. "And what's your story?"

The monk grinned and held out his hand to shake. Arthur ignored it. "I'm just passing through; the guards here picked me up when I wandered by looking for somewhere to spend the night. When I heard the ruckus outside, I broke the stocks, beat the guards with my chains, and came on out to see what was going on."

Arthur looked to Aurora; Aurora nodded.

Arthur: "What's your name, kid?"


"Where're you heading?"

"Nowhere. I'm just traveling about, seeing what I can see."

"Martial-arts training?"

"Of course!"

"Feel like wandering our way?"

He shrugged. "Don't see why not."

"Great; consider yourself a camp follower."

"Uh . . . okay."

Arthur glanced around at the rest of the group. "Well, boys and girls, it looks like we've got ourselves a party."

They all grabbed their equipment and slipped out into the night.

End of Season 2.0