Dragonhearts - Page 15

Efreda shot me a look mixed with anger and despair. “And just how do you expect me to make that kind of decision?” she demanded to know.

“Wisely,” I answered in utter seriousness.

“I don't know!” she said sounding plaintive. “I just don't want them coming after me again, but Rolph didn't stay scared last time, and I don't want to risk my life or my virginity that he'll stay scared this time, but . . .” Elfreda sighed. “I don't know if they deserve to die over this! How could I ever know something like that?”

I stood in silence, impassively waiting her answer.

Elfreda sighed again. “I just want everyone to get what they deserve, but–”

“No buts,” I intoned, then pronounced, “The decision has been made.” A quick invocation under my breath, and it was done. I released the spell of binding upon Rolph and his brutes so Elfreda could know the results of her decision, and as soon as the binding was off them, Rolph and his goons dropped to the dirt and started screaming as if they were being murdered a thousand times over.

And in a sense, they were.

Elfreda looked at me in abject horror. “What have you done to them?” she whispered.

“Me?” I asked through grim-pressed lips. “Very little, really,” I confessed. “In essence, per your decision that everyone 'get what they deserve,' they are currently experiencing every pain they have ever visited on others, every torment and bruise, every broken bone or what have you, along with every feeling of grief or shame their victims and their loved ones felt afterward and so on, over and over.” I shook my head. “To be brutally honest, I've never liked watching anyone going through what they're currently going through, which is why I usually just kill them.”

“How . . . how long will they be like this?” Elfreda asked.

“Well . . .” I exhaled as I considered how to best answer her. “That depends on them. The pain never really ends until they make amends, one way or the other, for their wrongs . . . all of them.” I shook my head again. “Most people give up and kill themselves long before then, thereby demonstrating a profound lack of understanding of how the afterlife works in the process.”

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