Dragonhearts - Page 9

“Perhaps there is none,” she said sounding dubious, I'm happy to say. “But I can not help but doubt that pride such as Rolph's can be cowed so easily. It is far more likely that he shall feel slighted - even insulted - by my act of self-defense, seeing it as a stain upon his non-existent honor.” She chewed her lip in thought. “And if that is the case, then his anger shall only grow over time until it drowns out all other considerations, and then . . .”

“He will come after you again,” I finished for her, my patience exhausted. “Try saying the obvious in fewer words next time!”

“Very well!” she laughed. “Can you direct me toward a mentor I might learn that skill from?” Elfreda shot a wink in my general direction to ensure I fully understood that I was indeed the intended target of her barb.

She was so pleased with herself over her own cleverness, I almost hated to retort.

I did anyway, of course. I shouldn't have, but I did, my ego completely blinding me to the danger. “Gladly,” I sighed. “Perhaps I can direct you to one who can teach you to make your fists as sharp as your wit, then you can bludgeon any foe to death, and have no further need of me.”

Elfreda laughed merrily - a little too merrily - then closed the trap she had set for me.

“Until that day comes,” she said with a dangerous smile young girls sometimes like to use long before they are experienced enough to know why it can be dangerous, “I will be able to count on your help, yes? When Rolph comes after me again, he shall chose a time and manner he deems to be most unfortunate for me, and I may need your help so desperately.”

I doubted that highly, particularly given how expertly she was trying to play me, but I've never been especially immune to that ploy coming from a female, young or otherwise. I answered with a gruff “Of course,” and hoped that would be the end of it.

“Thank you,” she said with a smile that told me that she knew that she'd gotten to me, though I knew she was unclear on the particulars how.

So much for hope.

Page 9

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