10 - The Brilliant Idea

1.8K 169 30

Xander removed his breastplate and sat by the river while Fye unpacked their midday meal, which consisted of salt pork, bread, and strawberries. The morning had gone well, he felt. They had done some sword practice—this time, Xander almost won. Then, they returned to jousting. The afternoon would hold archery. Xander wanted to see how she did with shooting from horseback.

"There is something I'm dying to ask you," he said.

"Don't die. Sir Reuben has a hard time finding anyone brave enough to be his squire."

His chest puffed up. "You're saying I'm brave?"

"Brave, or stupid." She smiled and handed him his share of the food. "What are you dying to ask me?"

"How did you become... you?"

"One night, a long time ago, my mother and my father took off their clothes and—"

"Stop!" he said through the laughter that racked him. "Let me rephrase the question. Why do you want to be a knight?"

Her answer came without a hint of hesitation. "Sir Reuben."

He sighed. What would it take to get this girl to engage in a real conversation with him? The last time they had had a real exchange was when she came to make sure she hadn't accidentally killed him while they had been sparring. At least she had cared enough to check.

"What was it about him?"

A little smile played on those sumptuous lips of hers. "Everyone thought he was scary, but I didn't. He was...amazing. During the battle against Sir Luca de Lombardi, Sir Luca had a knife against Lady Ayla's throat. Even back then, Sir Reuben was madly in love with her. But he couldn't do anything without risking Lady Ayla's life, and he wouldn't do that. It looked like everything was lost. I wanted to see some of the battle action, so I had sneaked up on the wall. I had a stick. I came up behind Sir Luca and jabbed him with it!"

She made a thrusting gesture, delight sparkling on her features. "It wasn't much, but it was enough. I won that battle for us. Not long after that, Sir Reuben started teaching me. It took him a few months before he remembered my name, but eventually, we became..." She shrugged. "Everyone else was telling me that I was a fragile child. They told me I was traumatized, that I should go play with my dolls and try to forget the war. But not Sir Reuben. He told me to give the world the indecent finger and do whatever I wanted, and I wanted to become a knight."

Leaning back on the rocks of the river bank, she smiled even wider, her eyes on nothing but the past. "My mother hates it. But I want to travel the world. I want to rescue those in need and punish the cruel souls who oppress and abuse others. Plus, it's fun to swing a sword around and scream curses at people."

"I don't think most knights scream curses."

"Most knights aren't me."

"True." Xander popped a strawberry into his mouth and continued to watch her. The sunlight caught her hair, brightening it but making it darker at the same time. If only he could go over there and—no! "So... do you know much about Sir Reuben before he came to Luntberg?"

"Nah. I know he robbed people. That's how he met Lady Ayla. He robbed her. She was carrying my favorite doll, Agnes. Reuben killed Agnes." Fye frowned. "I loved that ugly doll. But I don't care what he did before. He saved all of us."

"Do you have any advice for me? On how I can get him to like me?"

She laughed. "As far as I know, the only people he really likes are women—his wife and his daughters."

The Robber Knight's ProtegeRead this story for FREE!