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  •  Mine (13+ / 0-)

    Jasper's flaws

    Callow
    Tries too hard
    Irritating thoughts
    Lack of planning
    Hopes for the best when he should be working
    Daydreams at the wrong times
    Wants Hitch to do the hard stuff
    Not very physically fit
    Tells bad jokes
    Not practical

    Malford's virtues

    Always tells the truth
    Plans ahead
    Keeps an eye out for trouble
    Doesn't trust wizards
    Rarely sleeps
    Practices and trains to fight
    Knows when to keep his mouth shut
    Does his own work
    Pays his servants well
    Values trolls

    The smallest moon was full and the red moon was a ladyslipper when Jasper and Hitch reached the last road sign on the main highway.

    The arrow to the right pointed to Togwogmagog.  Jasper hitched his backpack higher and sighed.  Nearly home.  A hero's welcome waited them. Then Hitch put his finger to his lips and pointed.

    High in the sky the shadow of giant wings slid across the small moon and blotted out the red moon entirely.

    "Malford on patrol!" Jasper said.

    "I heard you little one," said Malford and the force of his wings nearly knocked Hitch down as Malford landed on the cliff side.  Jasper was already crouching on the second limb of an oak tree and shaking realistically like leaves in a wind.  His teeth chattered.  

    Little whiffs of sulfur leaked from the dragon's mouth.  "You forgot to sign the contract when you ran off with my eye," Malford said.  He snuffled at the foot of the tree and ignored Hitch who sat down on a log and crossed his legs and whistled 'Jammy's in the kitchen, now.'

    Jasper knew the song was code for something, but he couldn't remember what.  Was it dump the jewel and run, leap over the cliff, or kick Malford in the snout?

    "Sign here," Malford said and he handed a pen up to Jasper.

    "Not my first born!" Jasper said.  

    "Then what do you have of value?" Malford asked.  "I will not lie to you.  If you have nothing as ransom I will just take my eye home with me."

    "I only have my good name and my noble profession as the Chosen One.  Trust me," Jasper said.

    Malford laughed.  It sounded like an avalanche.  

    "You give me troll if eye is not returned in seven years?"

    "Give you Hitch?"  

    "Yes, he good troll.  Very useful."

    "No.  He's my friend.  Take your eye back then.  I will build a fire in the harbor tower every night rather than put Hitch into danger," Jasper said.

    Malford clapped with his wings which made the tree shake and Jasper fell out and rolled under the long tail.

    He stood up and handed Malford the back pack.  "Here."

    "Little weasel has changed," Malford said.  "Last month he would have traded his mother rather than do any work for the town.  Now, he gives up quest to save a troll.  I am impressed."

    Jasper shrugged.   Malford gave him back the pack.

    "I keep my word always.  I loan eye for seven years and when I come for it, you return it with no arguing.  You find another light for the harbor.  Maybe not as good as my eye, but you find something.  I trust your word on this without asking any ransom because you didn't try to betray your friend."

    Hitch snickered.  Malford ignored him.  

    Jasper signed the contract and watched Malford fly away.  "Why did you laugh?"

    "I know you not change that big.  You just try plan B in hero book and it work.  Malford not read that story."

    "I am crushed," Jasper said.  "You still don't trust me?"

    "I be sure to guard me back no matter what," Hitch said.  "Always be best plan."

    "So what would you have done if I had signed your future away?" Jasper asked.

    "Not pretty to tell," Hitch said and stood up and stretched baring his teeth as he yawned.  "We go home, now."  

    Jasper wondered, Is that a threat or a promise?

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    by cfk on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 06:55:46 PM PDT

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