38 - The Plan

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Fye found Lady Salvatrice mingling with the other nobles in a section of the stadium that might as well have been marked for "Snobs Only." The guard at the bottom of the section tried to stop Fye from going up, but all it took was a good blow to his gut to make him see matters her way.

Fye wasn't sure how she was going to handle this, but she knew two things for a certainty: She couldn't tell Xander and Reuben about what had happened, and she couldn't participate in the tournament. Telling Reuben and Xander would make them angry, and it might motivate them to do something idiotic—like take care of Fye's enemy for her. Fye did not want to be the one to tell Lady Ayla that Reuben had been executed because he murdered Lady Salvatrice in front of hundreds of people.

And as for Xander... he loved his mother. How could Fye tell him about this? Worse yet, if Fye did tell him, would he even believe her? He might choose his mother over Fye, and then Fye might be the one committing murder in front of hundreds of people—and Xander would be her victim.

She couldn't compete in the tournament because of the lie she had told the bishop about being pregnant. Not even Fye would crazy enough to plunge into unnecessary danger when she had a child growing inside her. Best to let someone else have a chance at taking the championship.

But how was Fye going to take care of this?

Salvatrice's green eyes went wide when Fye sat next to her. "You look horrid!" she exclaimed. "Have you no decency at all! Where are your shoes?"

"I guess it isn't customary to torture people while they have their shoes on," Fye said. "Sir Reuben never mentioned that to me, but I suppose it makes sense. Cold toes are horribly annoying. So are full bladders."

"What are you talking about?"

"You don't know?" Fye asked, putting a hand to her chest for dramatic effect. "The bishop was so eager to please the faithful ones of his flock that he took me aside last night for a private chat—in a dungeon. Where I had to pee. You know pregnant women—always urinating."

Salvatrice glanced at Fye's belly, horror dripping from her expression. One of her hands clamped onto Fye's. "Child, are you saying that the bishop had you tortured?"

"No. He didn't get that far. I guess he was afraid of God's wrath or something. Or the devil. Hard to tell with these clergy folk. But now, my dear mother-in-law, we have to decide what we're going to do. You want me dead, and, well, I don't want to be dead. I also don't want to kill you because Xander has grown on me—like a tumor or a fungus that I've become fond of."

"Dead?" Salvatrice echoed. "That isn't what the bishop and I discussed! Given your lowly station and deplorable manners, I am extremely displeased that my son would attach himself to you, but I wouldn't resort to such wicked means. I imagined he would present you with a discreet offer to make you leave. I thought surely someone from such a classless background would be more than willing to start a new life if given the proper monetary motivation."

Fye didn't even know how to start responding to that. Should she point out how insulted she was that Salvatrice thought she was stupid? Or should she say that there wouldn't be enough money in the universe to convince Fye to not make Salvatrice's life a living hell?

But then Fye examined Salvatrice's face with greater care. The woman seemed genuinely appalled. Maybe the bishop had acted on his own? No. Not even clergymen were dumb enough to do such a thing without the pretense of helping one of the sheep under their care.

"Lady Salvatrice," Fye said, choosing her words with caution, "I think we should—"

Fye was cut off by the blare of trumpets that announced the beginning of the knights' parade. Cheers exploded from the peasants who filled the stands, and Fye knew she wouldn't be able to properly terrify Salvatrice until after the parade was over.

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