Finally, Saben turns to leave, and the woman shouts "Help theif" which sends the armed guys running in her direction. Paks breaks the tree line and clashes with the guys with swords, Canna gets herself a hidden bowman, they all take care of the problem and set to interrogating the woman who set up this half-assed ambush.
They get a "DON'T search my house!" that sounds a bit too much like "DON'T throw me in the briar patch!" so they figure there's more in the house and go up for a looksie. Paks and Canna take care of the trio they find, get food, and come back out, tie up the woman and then head out. Eventually they find a road they recognize.
They missed the armed band until they were face to face. Eight heavily armed brigands in scale and chain mail, with good swords at their sides, seemed to spring from the trees to surround them. Two had shields.
They fight until Paks takes a tumble down a riverbank, and Saben tells her to run for it. She's lost her sword, but she's clear of the fight, so that's exactly what she does. Eventually she makes it up the banks and takes off into the woods. She makes it to the road and then, FINALLY, makes it to the duke's company.
And immediately gets called out by somebody who doesn't know her for being a fucking mess. Because when you survive, you're not usually shining like a daisy. Eventually they make it to somebody who knows Paks--Barri, the abrasive female recruit from way back with the shitty attitude about rape. Paks insists she has to see the duke--NOW.
Nobody goes along with it--they figure she broke her parole--until she mentions the Honeycat. She's not too coherant--she's exhausted and she's been running for several days by now, not to mention she is absolutely, in every sense of the word, filthy. The Duke gets the handful of coherant fragments Paks can put together, realizes the Honeycat is on his way, and starts moving.
She also tells him that Sabin and Canna were attacked somewhere up the road, and feels like an ass for not saying anything earlier. By this time they got some kind of stimulant into her and she is a little--VERY little--more coherant. She collapses for good not too long after sending help for Sabin and Canna.
When she wakes up, she hears a squire criticizing her and the Duke defending her. That doesn't sound so good. She goes out and they pump her for more information, including how the Honeycat is marching on the Duke's position. The commander of the guys who took the fort the first time around is listening in on the conversation. It sounds like the Honeycat killed a lot of his people too, and he looks pissed.
The Duke marches out, but he leaves Paks behind because she needs rest, and because the scribe can get all the information she has to offer, which is really more valuable than her sword right now.
The Duke gets back. He saved some of the prisoners, but not all of them. Paks doesn't ask who survived, as that's a touchy subject and she can probably pry it out of somebody less scary. She gets permission to head out with him the second time around, though she is to rest whenever she needs to.
Chapter eighteen ends with the Duke making revenge plans, but not before he tells Paks that she has done a very, very good job.