I should not have left her. Generally, my kindnesses work out well, but not this time. I thought only to give Aoibheann some privacy, a chance to enjoy her dinner with Damion without interruption. Sadly, that seems not to have been the case.
I had been up to the palace at lunchtime, hoping to achieve a meeting with the king regarding our trading agreement, and setting up the business licence for Lalla. Sadly, the loquacious brothers were unable to locate him. Later, at the inn, I was summoned by one of his servants. As I was leaving the inn, I noticed scratch marks on the floor and ceiling, but thought no more of it than joking to myself that her Aoibheann’s date had turned out more lively than expected.
Alec looked very grave when I finally made it to his study, apologising for something, knowing how much I thought of Aoibheann, and for failing to protect her. I was confused at first, then realisation flooded in, sending ice-cold knives into my very self. I had left her alone in the tavern and the Wild Hunt had taken her. Or, at least, her soul. Though, there is nothing ‘least’ about Aoibheann’s soul. I don’t think I have ever seen Alec so angry, but he had good cause, as I am sure it more than matched my own. Maybe more, since, as king, he is charged with the defence of his subjects.
I asked if the witch that brought Gywn back could be used again, but he said that this was more serious and would require greater than her power, and that he would have to deal with it himself. Of course I offered to do what I could, but he said I would be better off lending my sword and presence to the guards defending the village. I promised that I would do so.
I had gone there on other matters, but with his news, it seemed almost too trivial, however, since I had the paperwork in my hands, I gave it to him and he promised to look at it when other matters had been dealt with. I paid him the licence fee for Lalla, then left.
I went by the infirmary and read to Aiobheann for a while, but she seemed far more insensible that Gwyn had been. I read to her anyway. It was the least I could do for the moment. Then, I felt I would be better employed taking care of the tavern for her. As it turned out, it was quiet, aside from Marida and Seven. They seemed well, but it seemed they had been arguing or something. I gave them something to drink and offered food, but they did not want to eat. That was the extent of custom that evening, so I took myself home, there to ponder on what else I could do for Aoibheann.