Dragonheart - Page 6

“There's some salve in a clay pot hidden in that pile of leaves next to you,” I snarled, pointing to the only adornment to the cave I bothered with, a combination sleeping area and hiding place for certain useful items. “It takes time to work, but it should heal the two of you up soon enough, and then you can be on your way.”

“Three,” the man corrected, his eyes sad and knowing. “There are three of us.”

“Not for much longer,” I said with a fine air of indifference despite some huskiness which had crept into my voice. “The child will not live long enough for the salve to work, so don't bother wasting it.”

Before the man could foolishly reiterate his earlier offer, his wife, her face still stained by tears, transfixed me with a stricken look. “No!” she cried. “If the salve will not save her, then you must use your magic!”

I looked away so I couldn't see her tears starting to flow again. “I . . . can't,” I whispered.

“You have to!” she cried out even louder. “God can not be so cruel as to send you to us to save our lives and give us hope, then snatch all hope away and take our daughter with it!”

Something I could only indirectly blame on the monster flared into angry life at those words, and in a fury I whirled to face her. “You know nothing of the cruelty gods are capable of!” I screamed. “NOTHING!”

She flinched, but she didn't look away. Now that she had my eyes, “Please,” was all she said.

“Truly . . . I can't,” I said with a tenderness I had no idea was even still within me. “My magic . . . my very soul, is tainted,” I explained to her in terms she could understand. “I can't heal anymore.” My shoulders slumped underneath the weight of my admission. “I can only destroy.”

“Any price, good sir,” the man reminded me. “Any price.”

“That is yours to give,” I reminded him. “To even make the attempt I'd have to touch her and . . . and I don't know what that might do!” I tasted fear in the breath that shuddered into me at the very thought, then added, “To either of us.”

Page 6

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