Dragonhearts - Page 2

“Oh, hello there!” she says, completely unafraid. She knows wolves don't attack people unless the wolves are sick or starved to the point of madness.

She's right about that.

The pity of it is that she doesn't know that this wolf's brain is swollen, its throat constricted in agony. There is nothing but pain in this wolf now, and everything it sees is a threat that must be attacked because then, maybe then, the pain will finally stop. For the chance of that, everything must be attacked.

Especially fearless little girls.

She doesn't try to run, or even cry out as the wolf lunges at her. She just watches it with sad eyes filling a bit too late with understanding. She brings the basket around as a pathetically ineffective shield because she knows that's the only thing she can do.

She's right about that too.

I make it quick. It's the only thing I can do.


The wolf is dead before it completes its leap. A concentrated tempest of arctic wind hits it like a fist, slamming the wolf with literal bone-shattering force against a towering tree, giving the story the death it required. As the carcass settled and wolf blood dripped down the bark like sap, I found myself hoping the ancient tree would accept the extra nourishment as partial repayment for the battering and the unseasonal chill. All in all though, I thought it was a pretty impressive rescue effort on my part.

The child, however, was . . . less than impressed.

“Oh,” she breathed in disappointment. “I thought you were going to use fire.”

I glanced askance at her. “You wanted me to set the wolf on fire?” I asked.

“No!” she assured me, looking suitably horrified. “But you're going to burn the corpse anyway, and I know how much you hate 'duplication of effort.'” She managed to mimic my intonations of that phrase with a precision which is both uncomfortable and laughable.

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