Chapter LIII

‘Why did you let Carla and me stay? It would’ve been much more sensible to turn us away.’

Keiran shrugged, a difficult feat considering he had a bag of clanking swords strapped over one shoulder. ‘I suppose I’ve always clung, vainly, I admit, to he belief that good triumphs over evil. I’ve always wanted to be the hero of my own story. I always try to do what’s right. It’s not practical or realistic, and is most likely just to get me killed, but that’s just the way I am. If someone needs my help, I’ll do my very best to help them. It’s my greatest strength, and my greatest weakness.’

Beatrix lowered her eyes to the ground, acutely aware of her own selfish nature. ‘You sound like a hero to me.’

Keiran shook his head with a rather remorseful laugh. ‘No. I’ve done too many things that I can only look back on with shame. Heroes are pure and good. They have no evil in them.’

‘It seems to me that no one is perfect. Everyone has good and bad in them,’ Beatrix murmured, but if Keiran heard he made no reply, and they walked on in silence until they reached the clearing.

Then Keiran turned to her with his characteristicly twinkling eyes, and said: ‘Enough of this. I said I’d teach you to fight, and so I shall. ‘

He slung his bundle to the ground, and it made an ominous clanking noise that made Beatrix feel oddly apprehensive. She’d seen the swords the guardsmen used - big, heavy lumps of metal with wide blades. And there was that book she’d found in the library, full of the weapons of the barbarians of the Outlands: huge war hammers and brutal axes. She knew that the knights of old wielded maces and lances as well.

What kind of weapons would these outlaws use? She shuddered. She had been made to think she could wield such a thing.

But, all the same, it was with a frightened fascination that she watched Keiran reach into the bundle and pull out a sword.

The End

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