5 - A Delicate Condition

Start from the beginning

Fye blinked, her smile diminishing. "Oh. That's... You're much better off with Sir Reuben."

"I don't know. I think the guards at Luntberg are taking bets on how long I'll last."

"How long until you turn twenty-one?"

"Four months."

"That's not too long. You can probably do it."

Probably? What an insufferable little— "Ow!" He breathed a curse as pain exploded from his broken ribs while he bent over to tie his left boot.

"Do you need help?" Fye asked. Without waiting for an answer, she knelt in front of him and began to tie his boot. Her position gave him a lovely view of her chest. "I think Sir Reuben likes you," she said.

"I don't know. He seemed to enjoy it when I was being tortured."

"I think he enjoys torture in general. But he did demand that Lord Reynolds gets on his knees and begs you for forgiveness the next time he sees you. Or maybe he did that to humiliate Reynolds. Yeah. Probably to humiliate Reynolds. It doesn't seem likely that he likes you."

"He... spoke to Reynolds?" This is what I miss when I'm sleeping. Reuben is going to say I failed at my job because I wasn't at his side when he went to confront the enemy.

"Oh, yes. Reynolds is going to host a tournament. It'll be his men against his brother's. The winner gets Winterhaven and its lands. Reuben is going to fight in behalf Reynolds, but he had a few demands. Reynolds is going to become Lady Ayla's vassal, he is going to apologize to you, and..." Fye trailed off, and her smile changed, going from pure glee to something else. Pride, maybe? She finished tying his boot.

"And what?" he asked.

She shrugged and giggled. "You'll see." With that, she skipped out of the room.

Xander hobbled into the courtyard.

Under normal circumstances, Xander could hop onto his horse without a problem. It was as easy as walking. But today, walking was a challenge. Mounting his horse? Impossible. Sir Reuben already sat atop Demon, ready to make the trek back to Luntberg. Fye sat atop Titan, a bundle swung over her back that had at least one sword-shaped object in it. A breeze ruffled that wild hair of hers. Strange girl.

Steeling himself, Xander put one foot in the stirrup.

He had only seconds before Reuben finished his conversation with Sir Gregor and they would depart.

He tried to lift himself up—and failed. He put his foot on the ground again, desperate for breath. Reuben turned to him. "Problem, squire?"

"No problem, sir. Not like I'm seriously injured or anything." He put his foot in the stirrup again. Reuben watched him, not bothering to hide his amusement.

Why am I doing this again? Xander asked himself. There were countless knights under whom he could have trained, and he had chosen the devil incarnate. Yes, Sir Reuben was a legend. Yes, Sir Reuben could do anything on the battlefield. Yes, Xander had other, more personal reasons for doing this. He didn't know if it was worth it.

One of Sir Gregor's men finally stepped forward and helped him into the saddle, and Xander met Reuben's gaze again. He almost fell off the saddle when Reuben gave him a nod. What did that mean? A nod that said, "I told you you're going to quit," or a nod that said, "I'm impressed that you didn't decide to stay in bed"?

Whatever. Xander wouldn't quit. He would win Sir Reuben's approval. After that, he might tell Sir Reuben the real reason he had come to train under him.

The Robber Knight's ProtegeRead this story for FREE!