Morn asked Marra about the jewellery. She simply nodded in the direction of the returned XO, “Because he recognises it.”
The XO made his way over slowly. “The captain apologises, but he cannot be here to talk with you. He is very busy.”
Morn motioned to a seat by Marra. The XO looked ready to panic, but with no other options, he had to take it. Marra hid her smile. “The captain is busy.” the XO repeated to fill the silence, “He is always busy nowadays. I suspect he is planning something.”
Morn nodded. Marra tried to get the XO to look her in the eyes. “We have radio aerials strung up in the trees. They can bounce short-wave signals off the upper atmosphere and we can pick them up. We still have an old clockwork coder, and I do not think the Southerners have cracked that yet. Besides which, I think all the instructions are cryptic anyhow.”
“What is your name?” Marra asked gently.
“Dack, your maj…..”
Morn extrapolated the cut off word. He glanced at Marra, who nodded ever so slightly. “Dack. I believe we share the same nation. The last I heard, our homeland was not sending its young men to fight for the North or the South.”
“You have not been there since you were a child. The families do not rule any more. You were exiled for very little gain. The army took control when it was obvious they were due to be rolled over by the South and opened the capital to them. Those of us still loyal to heredity left the country and took up with any armed force opposing the South.”
“Would you consider returning?”
“If you commanded me to.”
“I am the deposed queen of a conquered land. I am hardly in a position to order anything of you. I have also promised Morn I shall accompany him on his quest.”
“Perhaps I could also help. If my services are no longer required here. Would you accept another companion?”
“Gladly.” Morn smiled. “We should be leaving in the morning.”
“Then I had best consult with my captain.” Dack stood and left.