Medea - Matthias' younger sister - helps me from the saddle as Matthias effortlessly lifts Lief down. The second we are on solid ground, Lief stumbles from Matthias' grip and grasps my wrist.
"Tell me!" he growls. "Why the hell were you so stupid! You could have died!" His storm-grey eyes are burning with a demanding aura; he might be weak from his imprisonment but still he lacks no fight.
"Because you saved both Matthias and I," I reply calmly. "Besides, I have Matthias, Medea and Pyro with me. We wouldn't have been killed."
"You might have been!" he shoots back. "They were planning a trap, with me as the bait! To capture you and Pyro, and force your army into surrender!"
I turn to him, shaking my head."We wouldn't let her take us. Matthias, Medea, could you set up the camp? I need to talk to Lief."
"Of course," Matthias nods, helping Medea unload the saddlebags and beginning to set up one of the tents. I turn to Lief, meeting his blazing eyes calmly.
"You're an idiot," he tells me, forcefully. Only now do I notice how truly difficult it must be for him to stand: his body trembles violently with the effort. Over the last few days, he must have been deprived of all movement and sunlight, though at least she hasn't wounded him.
"We should sit down," I say, but he grits his teeth, persistently ignoring his fatigue.
"No. Not until you promise me to never do something that stupid again."
"Coming from the one who got himself caught in the first place to protect me," I reply. Lief scowls in reply, his body swaying slightly with the effort of standing. "Just sit down," I tell him, grabbing his arm and pulling him down beside me. "Now tell me: what did that repulsive witch do to you?"
"Nothing," Lief says. "But I heard them talking about using me as bait. And..." He pauses. "Owen was there."
I remember Owen: my sister's childhood friend and now her first in command. And of course - the boy who once was Lief's friend. Then, the traitor befriended Pandora. And now Lief's lost the first friend he ever made.
"Did he hurt you?" I demand. "If he did-"
"They didn't hurt me!" he interrupts. "But they could have hurt you!"
Great. This again. "I'm going to help ready the camp, Lief. Wait there, okay?"
He nods almost sulkily, but, as I turn to walk away, he says it, so quietly I almost can't hear.