32. Fear and Devil's Poop

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It took over half an hour to reach Reuben's room. Getting the mountainous knight up the circular castle stairs while neither of his legs was truly working hadn't been easy, and had only been possible because Burchard had finally succumb to Ayla's pleading and lent his strong arms to the task.

When the door was finally bolted behind them, separating them from the rest of the world, Burchard, Ayla and Theoderich toed Reuben to the bed. The two men were just about to let him drop, when Ayla held out her hand.

"Stop! Don't lay him on the back! The way his skin looks their right now, bloody and torn, it may come off when he wants to get up, or the sheet might stick to his back!"

"Does that mean he'll be stuck to the bed and unable to get up?" Burchard growled, a certain hopeful note in his voice.

"No," Reuben grunted. "It just means I'll be horribly disfigured for life."

"Oh well, that's not too bad either."

"Stop it, you two!" Ayla snapped.

"I'll stop when I know that he is no servant of the evil one," Burchard told her. "Until then, I'll be ready to kill him at a moment's notice."

"And I'll stop when the mountains start to dance and the sun turns to water," Reuben informed the steward merrily. "Until then, you can kiss my rosy-cheeked ass, brush-face! And for the record: I am always ready to kill anyone at a moment's notice."

"There!" Still holding Reuben's shoulder with one arm, Burchard pointed down accusatory at the knight with the other. "What does that sound like, if not a servant of Satan?"

"Reuben," Ayla said simply. She could feel a smile twitching on her lips. "It sounds like Reuben."

Burchard glared at her, as if her smile was a personal offence, and muttered something about the might of the devil, and young, foolish girls being easy to bewitch with evil powers.

Still, he let Reuben sink onto the bed front-first. Apparently he wasn't quite sure enough that Ayla had succumb to the evil powers of Reuben the incubus to not follow her orders.

Quickly, Ayla waved her hand, shewing Burchard out of the way. He went reluctantly.

"Are you sure we shouldn't tie him up, first, Milady?"

"Don't be silly, Burchard! This isn't the first time I've taken care of his wounds. I've been alone in a room with him more times than I can remember."

"That's what I'm starting to worry about," he muttered.

Ayla chose to ignore his remark, and looked up at Theoderich. In his wide blue eyes she could see the same fear as in Burchard's, but also a fierce loyalty, and willingness to help. She smiled up at him.

"Please, run and fetch me warm water. A lot of warm water. Also, send someone to find Dilli, and have her fetch the bag with my knives and needles."

Theoderich nodded, and hurried out of the room.

"Are you planning to have me for breakfast, or do you want to practice embroidery on me?" Reuben's muffled voice drifted up from where his face was pressed into the matrass.

Carefully, Ayla lifted the rags that were all that remained of the back of his tunic. "Neither. I'm just going to stitch together what is left of your back."

"How kind of you, Milady. If you wish to inspect my backside as well? I assure you, it is in excellent condition, and well worth a peep."

A growl came out of the corner into which the steward had retreated.

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