Dragonheart - Page 8

Enraged beyond words, all I could safely do was glower at him. Meanwhile, I could feel his eyes searching out what they could see of mine beneath the hood of my robe.

Whatever he saw there, it was something I knew I couldn't see, and it brought a small, sad smile to his lips.

“Good sir,” he continued. “I know not what you have suffered, and in truth I pray that I never do, but whatever has happened in the past, here you stand now, full of madness and wroth, prepared and capable of killing me for my presumptions . . . yet you stay your hand. I am merely an ignorant peasant, but you are clearly learned and wise, so tell me, good sir. Would a man truly beyond redemption show such restraint?”

I had to admit that he had me there. He was overdoing it on the “good sirs,” but he had me . . . and he knew it. What might this man have been, I wondered, if only his sire had seen him as more than an unfortunate byproduct of meaningless dalliance?

“Give her to me!” I snapped.

Now he looked afraid, my sudden change of heart accomplishing what my rage could not. “Give her to me,” I repeated in softer tones, before assuring them, “It will be alright.”

I hoped I wasn't lying.

Awkwardly I took the child from her mother, not from lack of proficiency in the art of holding a child, but in a vain attempt to find sufficient unburnt skin upon her to hold without adding to her discomfort. Now up close, I marveled at the extent of the damage, and realized the bandits must have poured oil upon her before setting her alight.

I gave them more mercy than they deserved, I thought bitterly, then turned my attention back to the matter at hand.

Holding her in my arms, I could no longer delude myself that no being's suffering could ever be greater than my own. Even unconscious, her pain was a blinding light to my feeble spark, made all the worse because she was incapable of understanding what was happening, and I could feel everything that she felt . . . everything.

“Overwhelming” doesn't even come close to describing it.

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