Chapter 4

I take a deep breath and open the big, wooden, foreboding door. It resounds with a squeak of protest.

"...and I think we should attack from the North gate—" He pauses, looking at me. He glares. "Captain Eelyak, who is this intruder?" His eyes suddenly widen as he looks me up and down, I suppose realizing how similar Eelyak and I look.

I toss a glance at Yel, who is sitting at the end of the rectangular table. He sends me a warning look. I ignore it. I smile—my brightest smile ever—at the man who was speaking. Holding out my hand, I say, "Hello. How do you do? My name is Kaylee. Kaylee Anderson." Eyes still wide, he stiffly holds reaches out and shakes my hand.

Eelyak, surprisingly, is completely calm. "Yes, everybody. I would like you to meet Kaylee, my alternate. She arrived here earlier today." She looks towards me. "Here Kaylee. Have a seat. We were just discussing battle plans. Maybe you could be of service?"

"Well, I'm not really into that stuff," I admit, "but I'll see what I can do." So I take a seat by Yelnats, who doesn't seem to know what to say.

"As I was saying," the man said, "I think we should attack from the North gate."

"But," Yel interrupted, "that is probably the most likely place that they would think that we would attack. Shouldn't we attack from a less obvious gate?"

"Yeah," I agree, hoping I sound intelligent. "If that is really obvious, and that's where they expect you to attack, then you should attack in the place that they least expect it. As I see it, it's like shopping. You head towards everybody else, as though you are trying to get the same thing that they are, but right before you get there, you take a detour towards the front desk. That way you can ask the sales clerk if they have extras in the back. You see what I am saying? Do what people least expect you to do."

"Very good point, Kaylee," Eelyak praises me. "I could not have said it better myself. Does everyone agree with what Kaylee is saying?"

The room sounds a chorus of yeses, and soon the meeting was adjourned.

Eelyak approaches me. "That was not a smart idea, coming into the meeting like that. Most people are not like me. They do not take well to interruptions. You must learn to be more careful."

"Yeah, yeah. But hey, do you not, like, ever use conjunctions?" I ask.

"What are conjunctions?"

"Word that are put together to make smaller words. Like I'm. I'm is I and am put together. I'm.

"So, instead of saying 'I am going to the woods', you say 'I'm going to the woods'?"

"Exactly!" I say. "I'll tell you some more later. It makes speaking a lot easier."

"You just said another one!" she exclaimed. "Now what was it? I'll? What does 'I'll' mean?"

"I will. Now, before I get into more conjunctions, is there anything to here? You know, for fun?"

She grins. "Yeah. Come with me." She walks towards a door, grabbing two sheaths on the way. We exit the Hideout—as I will now refer to it as—and walk up a narrow tunnel of dirt into a vast, open field.

"Woah!" I spread out my arms, spin around, and then fall onto my back, making grass angels. "Ahhhhh... this grass is so soft!" Indeed, the grass is softer fleece.

"Really? I think that it is a bit scratchy today, myself. But, whatever you say." She picks a blue sheath and tosses it to me. I catch it, fumbling with the thing for a few seconds.

"What am I supposed to do with this?" I ask. "I've never fought with a sword before in my life!"

"Well, you will learn now, will you not?"

"Wait! You've gotta at least show me some basics!"

"Fine. Okay, so, this is called a sword." She points to the sword.

"I know what a sword is!" I exclaim.

"I know. I am... I'm just messing with you," she laughs. She then proceeds to tell me the basics of sword combat. Then we begin to spar. She slows down, knowing I am a beginner, and doesn't ever actually hit me. However, she gets fairly close, so I imagine that she has had a lot of practice and has to have a lot of control. I know that I will never be able to be near as good as her. The main reason being because I have very little control.

After about two hours of intense training—it could have been ten minutes—I am panting and fall to the ground, sweating. "Okay!" I cry. "You win!" I hold up my hands in mock surrender. "Spare me, oh Great One!" I laugh.

Eelyak, who has hardly broken a sweat, laughs as well. "You are spared, civilian. Now, get out of my sight!" She falls down next to me, resting her hands behind her head. "You know..." she says. "I feel as though you and I have been best friends for years. I wonder why that is..."

"I have nooooo idea. Although, I do feel the same way about you." I sigh. "Hey," I say suddenly, surprised to hear my own voice. "Do you think you could teach me how to handle a weapon?"

"I do not see why I could not, although from watching you today, I will say that you will need a lot of practice." We laughed. "What weapon are you interested in?"

"I honestly have no idea. I guess we'll just have to keep trying different ones until I find one that works for me. That's not too hard for the great Captain Eelyak, is it?" I chuckle, as she gives me a sly grin. "I'll take that as a no."

She suddenly perks up, her eyes narrowed, and says, "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what?" I ask. Then I hear what she means. A rustling noise coming from the line of trees not ten feet away. "Oh, not again!" I wail, hoping that it isn't another attack from those weird people in the suits. Eelyak cautiously stands up and, sword in hand, creeps toward the rows of trees. I pick up my sword, although I can't say that if I need to use it that I'll be much of a threat.

I sigh with relief as a bunny (or what looks like a bunny), hops out of the bush and bounds to the other side of the clearing. "Ha!" I say. "You were worked up over a bunny!"

"That wasn't a bunny," she says. "It was a jackalope."

"Really?" I ask, amazed and bewildered at the same time.

"No!" she laughs. "I was just kidding. It was a rabbit."

I approach her and playfully punch her on the shoulder. "Let it never be said that Eelyak Nosredna didn't have a sense of humor."

"HA!" I hear someone yell. "So this is Eelyak!" I see a boy who looks uncannily like Johnathan walk out from the tree next to the one we were by. "And this must be her duplicate that I have heard about, Kaylee Anderson. You let your guard down, Eelyak. I thought you knew better." He chuckled. "But enough of that." He whistled. From behind many other trees in the clearing the people in suits emerged.

"Suits," muttered Eelyak. I glance at her and see the underground fortresses entrance behind her, about thirty feet away. Yels head pokes out, and, eyes wide, he dashes into the fort, probably going to get help.

All doubt is erased from my mind about who this person is as he says triumphantly, "Emperor Notlek will be quite pleased when he finds out that Captain Nahtanoj found this rat. And if that were not terrific enough, I also have her double. I can see it now, the procession that leads to your hanging."

"We will see about that," Eelyak says, taking her battle stance. She dashes toward him. She slashes with her blade and it arcs through the air for a brief moment before resting on his shield. The duel has begun.