“You see now why she sustains such punishments,” Ayla sighed, taking a little water from the washstand and mixing several ground herbs into it.
“I do,” Kira agreed. “You need to wake up and realize what it is you are worshipping,” she informed Liz.
“Ariadne. Mother of witches. She who commands the winds,” Liz said. “I know who I worship.”
Aeron ran her tongue over her teeth as if tasting the last remnants of Liz’s blood. Her gaze was more predatory than the others, but if she wanted to taste more she did not show it. Her posture was restraint itself as Ayla tended Liz’s minor wounds.
“Oh Ariadne,” Liz began. “Deliver me from the clutches of your enemies…”
“You are in the camp of her army,” Kira interrupted. “If you want to be amidst her enemies, go to Clitera City.”
“Deliver me from the clutches of your enemies,” Liz repeated. “And punish those who would sully your name…”
“If you knew Ariadne at all, you would know she does not care for prayers – and she certainly does not answer them.”
“Those who speak ill of you will one day know your wrath,” Liz continued, bowing her head piously. “For you are the goddess of wind and rain, you are the smiling face which lights the way…”
Kira’s snort of amusement interrupted Liz’s prayer once more.
“Excuse me,” Liz said. “Do you have no respect for religious ritual? I am trying to pray.”
Ayla raised a brow at Kira and smiled a little, shaking her head. Kira was too amused to be annoyed at being lectured by the scrap of a spy who was no spy at all, but rather a pilgrim of sorts.
“Dearest Ariadne,” Liz began again. “Hear these, my words as they go unto you from me. May your victories be victorious, may your meats be well salted and may nobody bite you for no reason whatsoever.”
“I had reason,” Aeron interjected. “I mistook you for a threat.”
“You had already caught me,” Liz said. “I was never going to harm you.”
“I had to bite you to be sure.”
“You bit her because you cannot control your impulses,” Kira said, turning to her soldier. “It is the same reason you dared strike me.”
“Enough, please,” Ayla said. “There are a dozen arguments to be made and none of them would solve a single problem. Everybody is talking at cross-purposes.”
“Dearest Ariadne,” Liz started up once more. “Help Ayla to be able to follow the thread of a simple conversation…”
Ayla’s eye twitched. She reached for Liz, but this time Kira stayed her had.
“Careful,” Kira said. “There is nothing to be gained from martyring her. I say we take her to Ariadne, so she might see what it is she worships.”
Ayla vetoed the idea with a curt shake of her head. “I would never be so cruel.”