So... hi there. It's been a while, huh? So sorry about the weight, just had a lot going on. But I recently re-read all the books in the Ascendence Trilogy (as one does) and knew that I needed to update this. I hope you guys enjoy and I will try to update more frequently!

~Stoney T

(Also, here's a quick guide to all the kids and their ages (in this story) because I know it has been a hot minute. Jaron and Imogen: Quinn 15, Julianna 13 (not mentioned), Asher 8, and Annabella 8 (not mentioned). Tobias and Amarinda: Carter 16, Flynn 13, Loreena 6 (not mentioned). Mott and OC: Jasmyn 19.)

...

"Come on kids this is going to be fun!" Roden said as he marched through the forest, pushing the branches back so they avoided hitting his face and instead sent them flying back into Fink's.

Fink stopped and looked back at the trail of kids behind him. "Which one of you miscreants thought this would be a good idea?"

Carter and Quinn pointed at each other while Flynn and Asher pointed at each of them simultaneously.

"Right," Fink said, turning back to follow Roden.

"Actually it was my idea," A voice called from the back.

Fink looked at Jasmyn. "Oh, that makes sense."

Jasmyn smiled at him. "It was her idea and mine," Roden called from the front. "Well and her dad's."

"Uncle Mott is no fun," Carter called.

"Your Uncle Mott sent us out here to teach you young men," he paused looking at Jasmyn who just shrugged at him," to learn survival skills in the wilderness."

"But why do we need to learn survival skills?" Flynn asked as he trudged on.

"Yeah, Flynn doesn't ever leave the castle anyway," Asher added.

"And why don't Julianna, Annabella, or Loreena have to come."

"The girls are traveling with the Queen and Amarinda," Jasmyn said. "But don't worry, I said I would stay and make sure you guys didn't get into too much trouble."

"What about daddy and Uncle Tobias?" Ashed asked.

" They had royal people duties. Besides, am I not enough for you kids?" Roden asked in mock hurt.

"We just don't need you," Carter said next to Quinn.

"And Carter and I know everything about survival skills from Aunt Amarinda."

"What did Amy teach you guys?" Fink asked confused.

Quinn smiled, "Well she said that if we were ever lost, the best thing to do would be to find the biggest tree and wait for my dad to come find us."

Roden laughed. "Unfortunately boys, Jaron won't always be able to help you."

"Why won't dad come help us?" Asher asked, a quiver in his lip.

"Yeah, Roden why won't Jaron be able to come help?" Fink asked crossing his arms and smiling.

Jasmyn decided she had waited long enough to intervene. "Ash your daddy always will come looking for you but in case you get really far away Uncle Roden wants to teach you what to do while you wait for daddy."

"Oh. Okay." Asher said, now content.

Roden let out a breath of relief.

"Wow, Uncle Roden you're great with little kids," Carter said smugly.

"Spectacular," Quinn added.

Roden bit his tongue. "I mean sure I just command the entire army of the greatest kingdom to ever live but I still get sassed by teenagers."

"I still love you," Flynn added.

"Suck up!" Carter coughed.

Flynn looked back at him. "Hey!"

The whole line stopped as the two brothers started fighting. Roden looked at Fink for advice being as he was the only other adult with him but it looked like Fink was the one cheering them on. He was going to have to talk to him about that later.

It seemed as though the only two kids on his side were Jasmyn and Flynn. While Jasmyn could probably take out more men than him, Flynn was as weak as… well, Tobias.

"Kids! Knock it off!" Roden said as he stood in front of the mass of fighting children.

Carter, Quinn, Flynn, and Asher immediately stopped fighting and Fink and Jasmyn turned to him suddenly.

Roden was amused. "Now that I have your respect,"

"Uhm Uncle Tobias," Quinn interrupted.

"Yes, Quinn?"

"You might want to turn around."

Roden slowly turned around and was immediately met with the pointed ends of two swords centimeters away from his face.

"Oh." He muttered looking at the two swords. He took a quick glance back at the kids and Fink and then turned back towards the two attackers.

He was surprised to see the two figures, both around the same age him and Fink. The girl held the sword closest to him while her brother, he could assume he was based on how similar they looked, held the sword more towards Fink.

"Look, we don't want any trouble." Roden started as he put his hands up in surrender. If it was just him, or even him and Fink, he might have tried something, but there was no way he was going to put the kids in danger.

"What a coincidence, neither do we." The girl said.

"But we do want your money." Her partner added.

"And based on those fancy clothes you fellows have on, we can assume you have plenty."

Roden wasn't going to risk anything. "Look," he waited for her to say her name.

"Kathrine." She said in a thick Avenian accent. "And this here is my brother Joth."

"Look, Katherine," Roden continued, "I can tell from your accent that you're not supposed to be here."

Katherine looked confused. "My accent?"

"It's Avenian obviously."

"I ain't had a loyalty to a country since me and Joth were kids. All I have a loyalty to is my own survival."

"And all I care about is the survival of me and my people."

"Then hand us over your bags."

Roden looked behind him and nodded at Fink and the rest of the kids, each one of them handing over their bags to Roden who raised them out to Katherine and Joth. Joth violently took them from Roden while Katherine kept the sword pointed at the group. She looked over at Joth to see him emptying the bags and he spared a glance at Fink who looked at him and raised his eyebrows.

Roden quickly shook his head, warning him not to say anything. If they just surrendered their bags they would just have a long walk back to the castle but at least all of them would be safe. That couldn't be guaranteed if they decided to try anything.

Unfortunately, it looks like it wasn't going to be that simple.

"Wait a second," Joth said. "This is the seal of the royal family of Carthya. We wouldn't happen to be robbing some royalty would we?"

Roden saw the look in his eyes and instantly didn't like it. "We're a family of nobles from the southern border, visiting the king for dinner. We were out on a walk."

Katherine squinted her eyes. "Out in a walk with all this gear? I don't think so." She raised the sword closer to Roden.

"If I was you I would tell my sister the truth or this whole thing is going to get messy fast."

Roden was racing through different ways to get out of this in his head, but all of them left too much of a chance for injury for not only him, but one of the kids. Normally he could handle this, but there were too many variables now.

Especially when Carter and Quinn were involved. He could only hope they didn't do anything stupid.

But when had Lady Hope ever helped Roden.

"My friend!" Quinn yelled. "He's fainted."

Roden inwardly groaned and turned to see the commotion. Fink held Asher in his arms and stood in front of Jasmyn and Flynn while Quinn stood pointing over Carter on the ground.

Katherine and Joth looked at each other, not sure what to do.

Quinn meanwhile, using the best acting skills Carthya had to offer, bent down next to his unconscious friend and began shaking him. "Oh no! He's fainted." He turned to the thieves. "Do something! You wouldn't let my friend die would you?"

"He won't die, he just fainted," Joth said uncertainly.

By now Flynn and Jasmyn had caught on to the act while Asher just cried in Fink's arms, too young and confused to understand what was happening.

"I think he hit his head," Jasmyn added kneeling down, "he's bleeding!" She yelled.

Katherine rolled her eyes. "Joth, go check on him."

"But-"

"Go!" Katherine yelled.

Roden noticed how impatient she was getting. If they were going to act they had to do something quick.

Joth bent down near Carter. "Hey! He's not even-"

Whatever Joth was about to say was cut short when Carther sprung up and punched him in the gut. Joth doubled over and Jasmyn hit him in the face, causing him to drop his sword. Quinn quickly caught the sword, whistled towards Roden and threw it to him.

In less than five seconds Roden was now standing in front of Katherine with a sword of his own. Fink handed a crying Asher over to Quinn and grabbed rope from their bags to tie up an unconscious Joth. Katherine took in the scene around her with wide eyes as she dropped her sword in surrender.

Carter took his cue to begin tying up Katherine as Fink put his hand on Roden's shoulder. "Great camping trip," he said as he made his way over to go help Carter.

Roden kept the sword trained on Katherine but inwardly wondered how he was ever going to explain to Jaron how his camping trip had turned in to a near theft and kidnapping into Fink instructing his children on how to tie the best knot to make sure that your opponent couldn't escape.

He supposed, in a way, he did end up teaching them survival training after all.

...

Hope you guys enjoyed! Let me know in the comments if you have any requests, thoughts, comments, or kudos. Thanks!