46 - Lady Ayla to the Rescue

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"Oh, hello," Fye said when Reuben charged her and wrapped her in an embrace. As nice as the hug was, she was more interested in greeting Lady Ayla, whose blue eyes sparkled with familiar delight as they looked at Fye.

"You're alive," Reuben said.

"Yes. How very observant of you, sir. Excuse me." She wriggled out of his grasp and wrapped her arms around Lady Ayla. "I didn't expect to see you. How was your journey?"

"It was pleasant. I was looking forward to seeing all of you compete. Are you all right? Do you need to sit down?"

"I'm fine, milady." Even as Fye said it, she had to pause to take in a deep breath. Yes, she felt like she might pass out any second, and her extremities still felt a bit numb, but it was better than being stuck in bed by herself all day.

"Sit down. Sit." Ayla steered her to the nearest bench, where Fye barely avoided not falling as she lowered herself down.

"Where's Xander?" Fye asked.

"Who cares?" Reuben countered. "What are you doing here?"

"Escaping. That healer has horrible breath."

"Ayla is going to take you to the healers' tent. I'm going to go finish my business with the duke."

"Reuben, stop."

Ayla was the only person who could get Sir Reuben von Rachwild to resemble a chastened child. He didn't go off to 'finish his business with the duke.' He stood there, waiting. Fye wondered if she could train Xander to act like that. It was certainly worth a try.

"Tell me exactly what is going on," Ayla demanded.

Reuben shuffled his feet. "Well, you see—"

"I see nothing but a knight who seems to have lost some of his mental faculties. You were going to kill the duke two minutes ago! What... Explain everything to me. Now."

"Did you bring Thomas and Alys?" Reuben asked. "Where are they? I've missed Alys. I think when she gets old enough, I might ask Fye to teach her a few—"

"Reuben."

He cleared his throat. As he explained how the situation had escalated, Fye interjected a few times, but mostly she listened because she was too tired to talk. The healer's bad breath was becoming more appealing by the second, and as amusing as it was to watch Ayla try to reduce Reuben to ashes with her scrutiny, it wasn't making her feel any less ill.

But she started paying attention again when she learned about the goat. A clever idea, to be sure, but Fye wasn't sure if it had helped or hurt things. Well, at least it had probably taught Salvatrice a valuable lesson. Fye found the energy to laugh when she heard that Xander's stuck-up mother was temporarily staying at the home of a former prostitute.

"... and that's what you've missed," Reuben finished.

Ayla rubbed her temples. "This is ridiculous. It started because Fye was rude to the duke and a bishop?"

"Well, when you put it like that, it does seem a little like the situation got out of hand," Reuben admitted. "But, really, he started it. Who tortures a woman just because she knows how to throw around a few good insults?"

"Apparently, the duke does," Ayla said. She planted her hands on her hips and directed her scathing gaze at Fye.

How was it possible that Ayla made Fye feel like she was the one at fault? She had almost died, for crying out loud! Twice!

"Duke Augustus is clearly not a good person," Ayla said, "but it seems that you've been intentionally provoking him. This is... sometimes, knights give me a headache. You two, stay put. I'm going to go fix this."

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