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“So are you going to tell me where we’re going?” Iain asked.
The sun was now high in the sky and the woods where they’d encountered the bandits was far behind them. Ailbhe was driving now and Iain had his head in her lap.
“Quiet, you’re supposed to be sleeping,” she said.
They went over a pothole and the berserker’s head bounced against her leg greaves with a clunk. “And that’s why I’m not,” he said.
“Look, I’m avoiding them as best I can,” she said.
“I know you are,” he said. “Now, where are we going?”
She sighed. “A place I know that might be able to take hellspawn.”
“You might want to call her Seasned if you want them to take her,” Iain suggested. He swore as they went over another bump.
“I am sure the holy sisters I am taking her to will be able to handle one little hellion,” she said.
“You sure?” he asked.
Ailbhe quirked a smile. “They handled me, now didn’t they?”
He sat up and looked her over. “If they can make you holy,” he said, “They can make anything holy.”
The paladin smacked him upside the head.
“Hey!” He tried to smack her back, but they went over another pothole and he found himself clutching at his seat instead. “You did that on purpose.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Paladins can’t lie.”
“That’s actually a misconception. A paladin can lie, but it is usually very hard for them and afterwards will eat away at their soul until they tell the truth,” she nodded sagely.
“What a load of bull shit.”
She grinned. “Shut up and enjoy the ride.”
They bounced along for another hour or so into farmland before the whining started. Ailbhe pounded on the roof of the carriage. “Ciardhe, make her be quiet,” she growled.
“I’m trying,” came the muffled reply, “She won’t drink any more of the tea I made for her.”
“Rape tea,” Ailbhe muttered.
Iain elbowed her. His elbow made a clang and he swore.
The paladin snickered at him. “You know it’s true.”
“While that might have been the seller’s original intent, you know all Ciardhe’s victims are willing,” he said. He was talking a little louder that normal to be heard over the sounds from inside.
“I don’t know if you can count someone as willing when they’re that dead drunk,” Ailbhe said.
“What?” Iain yelled.
A particularly shrill shriek made the horses shy and one tried to bolt. The paladin reined them in and jumped down. As she grabbed the carriage door, the demon child screamed again.
“Quiet!” She clamped her hand over hellspawn’s mouth and pulled her out. “If you will not stop that infernal shrieking, I will take you out of that carriage and paddle your behind so hard it purifies you! Now be quiet!”
The creature glared at her but didn’t make a sound.
“Stop it, she’s just a child!” Ciardhe cried.
After a moment, Ailbhe let go. The demon bit her. The paladin shoved her away before she could break skin.
“Don’t do that!” she said. “My blood will kill you!”
The demon tried to set her on fire. Unfortunately for her, the best she could manage was the air surrounding the paladin.
“Oh, that’s it,” Ailbhe said as the air around her crackled. “I’m sealing you’re power, you little pipsqueak of a demon.” She lunged at Seasned, but as she touched her, there was a bright flash of light.
Iain yelled and the horses screamed. The next thing Ailbhe knew, she was on her back with Iain standing over her. They were alone, the carriage nowhere in sight. She groaned and tried to sit up.
Iain pushed her back down. “Don’t,” he said. “You shouldn’t be moving around. You’ve been unconscious for several hours.”
“I’m fine,” she said. And it was the truth. Somehow she knew there was nothing wrong with her medically. She couldn’t shake the feeling something else wasn’t quite right. “What happened?” she asked, trying to sit up again. For nothing being wrong she felt astoundingly weak.
Iain sighed and moved an arm behind her to help. “You’re not a paladin anymore,” he said.
“What? How do you know?” she asked.
“Because I’m one. You’re a healer, and Ciardhe…” he paused.
“Well if you’re me, and I’m her, then she’s got to be you,” she said.
“Yeah. She’s a berserker now,” he said.
Ailbhe groaned and flopped back against the hard packed path. “We’re screwed.”
“Yeah,” Iain said as he sat beside her. “But at least you can’t be as bad a healer as Ciardhe.”
“I’m going to kill that little brat,” she growled.
He facepalmed. “Ailbhe, you can’t. You’re a healer. You can’t kill anyone.”
“I took no such vows,” she said. “My vows are to defend the weak and the light and righteousness, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.”
“Be serious,” he said.
“I am,” she said. “I’m seriously going to kill that demonic brat. It went too damn far this time.”
He sighed. “Ailbhe, you’re swearing.”
“And it’s perfectly okay. I’m a healer, remember?”
“Does it work that way?” he asked. “I mean, I have no idea what I can and can’t do because you got away with so much sh…” he paused. “Sh-tuff. Blast it all, I can’t swear!”
“It’s an acquired skill,” she said, smirking.
“That is Not something of which a paladin should be proud.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a clatter of hooves as a horse galloped out of the woods and towards them. Iain grabbed Ailbhe and rolled them out of the track just in time to keep from being run over.
The rider reins in his mount and circled around. “Are you two the companions to Ciardhe the Berserker?” he asked.
“I guess we are now,” Iain said. “There was an accident.”
“You can tell me as we ride,” he said. “The two of you need to come with me now.”