Now where is that confounded barbarian thought James as he leapt sideways through the air, barely dodging a firebolt that the man had shot from a piece of wood that he had snatched up. I do wish that girl would shut up, he thought, as Gertrude screamed again.
Apparently the runere thought the same because he turned to her and shouted, “Shut up,” then he whirled back and shot another firebolt at James, who dodged in turn. He couldn’t get close enough to the man to use his sword because of the constant barrage of firebolts. There was smoke steadily rising from several parts of the underbrush but he didn’t have time to see if they could be put out. He jumped again, dodging another bolt of flame.
He was so busy dodging that he kept on doing so, even though he saw the arrow that pierced through the man’s heart. Even though he saw the wooden wand fall from lifeless fingertips. Then, suddenly embarrassed to be seen hopping and rolling about like a fool, he performed several karate kicks to the forest fires and put them out. He turned to see Gertrude gazing adoringly at Wain.
“My hero,” she cried, “I was in grave danger and you braved the perilous battle to rescue me.”
Wain just scuffed his feet and turned bright red as she gave him and enormous hug and a quick kiss on the cheek.
“But aren’t you a little short for a barbarian?” she asked, pulling back, “And why are you so wet? How old are you?”
James watched as Wain’s embarrassed red face turned to an angry red face, before he swooped in and pulled her away.
“You must forgive my companion,” he said softly, “He was enchanted at birth by an evil runere to always be short and he is rather sensitive about it. Now, where is the Halo?”
“Oh,” cried Gertrude, “Woe is me for I have lost it!”
“What?” hollered James.
“The evil troll stole it from me,” she explained.
“Well I stole it back from him,” growled Wain, tossing the gold circlet at her as he pushed past, “I’m going to the boat James. I’m leaving as soon as I cast off the lines!”
“He wouldn’t leave us here,” said Gertrude positively, then a little hesitantly she asked, “Would he?”
“We’d better hurry, just to be safe,” James replied, and he hurried her out to the boat, arriving just in time to hop aboard as the boat pulled away from the pier.
They had a calm return journey to the Holy Isle and Sir James Flickerflame delivered the maiden Gertrude the Lovely safely to the Bishop, Dref Cefel. The Bishop was pleased, except to see ‘the barbarian’ again. He commended James on how well he had completed the assignment, even with ‘the barbarian’ slowing him down and ordered him to await his next assignment. They walked out of the palace gates and down the street. Wain’s head snapped around.
“There’s a bar. Can we stop?”
James checked a nearby sundial, “I have time for a beer before vespers,” he smiled.
“Say,” said Wain, “I must be rubbing off on you. I noticed that you lied to Gertrude about the curse of shortness, too. I thought paladin’s didn’t lie.”
“How do you know I was lying,” James grinned at Wain, “Do you remember what happened when you where born?
Wain shook his head thoughtfully, “No but how could you. You weren’t there.”
“Wain,” James paused for effect, “I AM YOUR FATHER!!”