Chapter Seventeen

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The bowl of bone broth steamed enticingly in the cool night air. Aidan tipped it to their lips and swallowed gratefully.

"Good, drink up, my friend. You will need all your strength to recover further."

Aidan looked at Ibrahim over the rim of the wooden bowl. "Has Ava found her?"

Ibrahim let out a low hum. "Yes."

Aidan shifted their weight and set the broth down. "Where?"

"I do not think it wise to tell you such things. Not yet. You must recover further."

"My wounds are healed," said Aidan impatiently.

"Your external wounds, perhaps, Andraste," chided Ibrahim, "but one does not so quickly return from the brink of death."

"I do not have the luxury of time," Aidan snapped back.

Ibrahim shook their head. "She is being watched and in no immediate danger."

"You think Ava alone would be able to stop Makda?"

Ibrahim looked uneasy, running one dark hand over their face and sighing.

"Where is she?" Aidan demanded again.

"On a farm, not far from here, to the east."

Aidan leaned back and tipped their head up to the sky. "I leave tomorrow."

"You know I will not stand in your way, I only ask you to reconsider."

Aidan looked back down and met Ibrahim's gaze. The Druid was too patient, it never did them any good.

"If Aidan gets killed it willn't be our fault," said Orfeo, breaking into the conversation for the first time.

"I counsel fools and wise men equally," said Ibrahim with a grin.

"I still do not see the importance of protecting her." Orfeo crossed their feet at the ankles and leaned back on their hands.

"The fewer people that know her importance the better," said Aidan evasively.

There was an uncomfortable silence.

"Do you not trust us, Aidan?" Ibrahim's voice was soft.

Aidan felt a pang of guilt. "You know I do."

Another long silence.

"I take it then your sneaking around with Makda has come to an end?" Orfeo cocked their head to one side.

"That much should be obvious." Aidan's eyes narrowed.

"It was bound to happen eventually," Orfeo intoned languidly, "What do you plan to do with this girl?"

Aidan shook their head. "I had not yet decided."

"You cannot keep running like this," Ibrahim pointed out, brandishing the knife in their hand they were using to carve out slices of hard cheese.

"Stunning insight as always," said Orfeo.

"Perhaps..." Ibrahim's voice dropped off as the thought seemed to settle in their mind.

"Perhaps?" Aidan encouraged.

"Perhaps, you should take her to The Isle."

Aidan's stomach dropped to their feet. "No."

"Aidan."

"No."

Orfeo cackled quietly at this exchange.

"I cannot return there, and I trust no one else with her protection," said Aidan.

"I believe this girl is as important as you say, Aidan, but you must decide what path is best, not just for your sake, but hers."

Aidan nodded. Orfeo gave an exaggerated sigh.

"It doesn't matter," they said lazily, "You will do what you will and leave us to clean up the mess."

"As it ever was," said Ibrahim with a wink.

Aidan smiled, and once again picked up the bowl of broth, taking another long gulp.

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