Barbarians Have Feelings Too
Balefire walked down the corridor of the castle, marveling at the structure. It truly was a first-rate piece of magic. Solidly constructed, very secure…and quite large. He’d already explored the main hall of the castle and was walking down the hallway leading to the sleeping quarters when a faint sound interrupted his thoughts.
Balefire quickly turned around with his hand raised, half expecting someone behind him before he remembered the castle was practically impenetrable. Then what was….there it was again…a tiny sob, coming from behind the door to his left. Sylina’s door. That was odd. Barbarians didn’t cry. Maybe she was comforting someone else….no, barbarians didn’t do that either.
More muffled sobbing. Hmmm…It was late, she should be asleep….and he should leave her alone…but before he could stop himself, Balefire heard his knuckles rapping on the door.
The noise stopped.
“Um what…” Sylina’s voice started sniffly and unsure. “What?” she repeated louder and gruffer.
Balefire poked his mottled head in.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing, it’s none of your business.”
“Sounds like something is going on.”
“Who asked you? And what are you doing sneaking around in the middle of the night?”
As if he took that for an invitation, Balefire stepped fully into the room and shut the door behind him. Sylina sat on the edge of the bed, staring straight ahead, and ignoring him.
“Tell you what?”
Balefire looked down at Sylina’s little face. Her normally lovely green eyes were red and puffy. “I’m not an idiot. I can tell when something’s wrong.”
Suddenly, Sylina’s lower lip started trembling. She covered her face with her hands.
“I’m so ugly!” she sobbed.
“What?” He hadn’t known what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t that.
“No, I take that back… I’m not ugly…” Sylina poked her index finger into her soft belly. “I’m fat AND ugly!”
Oh….that. Sylina’s magical axe had recently become sentient and along with increased fighting abilities, it had imparted other….attributes….to her. Attributes she apparently did not care for.
Balefire didn’t think it was any big deal, really. She was an amazing fighter, spunky and high spirited. So many good qualities. Why did she care so much what she looked like?
Sylina mistook his lack of response for something else. “You can’t even lie and say I’m not ugly? Thanks alot.”
“You’re not ugly.”
“It’s too late now. I don’t believe you.”
Sylina blew her nose.
“It’s really not that bad,” he said. “Just a few extra pounds…”
“I almost doubled my weight!!!”
“But it’s mostly muscle…”
“And I look like a disgusting dwarf!!!”
“You really don’t look that much different than you did.”
Sylina looked up at him with horror stricken eyes. “You think I already looked like a fat, ugly dwarf before all this?”
“No, no…that’s not what I meant at all.”
Tears spilled down her cheeks.
“At least you didn’t grow a beard,” he pointed out.
“Yes, so grateful for that,” she spat, angrily wiping the tears from her face. She rolled her eyes. “You just don’t understand.”
“I don’t understand?” he said. “Me? The dragonborn with weird patches of different colored scales all over my face? I don’t understand?”
Sylina glanced up at him and begrudgingly smiled. “Well, maybe you do understand a little.”
“Yeah maybe I do.”
Balefire took a seat on the bed. “We certainly are a pair, aren’t we?”
The minutes ticked by as the two sat side by side in a companionable silence. Balefire noticed how close Sylina was. If he moved his hand over a few inches he’d touch her.
Sylina broke the silence.
“What are you doing up this late anyway?”
“Just wandering around.”
“And you happened to hear a damsel in distress crying?”
“Something like that.”
Sylina hugged her pillow to her. “Very noble of you.”
“I like to think so.”
“Guess I’m lucky you weren’t already busy drying someone else’s tears.”
“That wouldn’t happen.”
“What, you think the others don’t cry? You think I’m the only one?” A flicker of anger flared up in her eyes. “You think I’m weak?”
“Calm down. I don’t think you’re weak.” He smiled wryly. “Nobody would ever think you’re weak. What I meant…” Balefire paused and then stood up. “I better go. It’s late.”
Sylina nodded. “I should try to get some sleep now. Thanks.”
Balefire opened the door and stopped, turning around. “What I meant was…if I had heard any of the others crying, I would have kept on walking. Good night.”