Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 26
Osric looked like he would object, but seemed to think better of it and snapped his mouth closed before nodding and exiting the room with a passing, “just poke your head out, then.” The chamber door closed with a resounding and solid thud, the iron handle clanking with its release.
Leonard barely had time to react to the man’s sudden departure before Wilhelmina said, “my one condition is that you must swear that you will not tell Osric, or anyone about the shard we found.” Her voice was barely above a whisper, and it was hard, sharp.
She leaned close to him, further than he thought was necessary given their proximity, the volume of her voice, and the thick door behind them. Leonard opened his mouth to ask a question but Wilhelmina held up her hand to silence him, casting a suspicious glance at the door before returning her flaming blue gaze back to him.
“Leonard, you must promise me this,” she reiterated even more vehemently. Leonard’s brow crinkled as he leaned away from Wilhelmina’s conspiratorially proximity.
“But why? I mean, we don’t have to just throw it out there, but if it comes up, why hide it?” Leonard managed to ask in a rushed whisper, ignoring Wilhelmina’s attempt to halt his query. He decided that he didn’t necessarily have a problem with keeping that knowledge between the two of them, but he wanted to understand the reason before entering into any form of possible skullduggery.
“Tell me why it’s worth it to start off an attempt to establish trust with a possible ally, with a secret? A condition of any kind? Don’t you think it negates the equally trusting each other part, just a bit?” Leonard’s insides squirmed as he spoke, but his conscience needed a reason and demanded to be heard, even at a whisper.
The look on Wilhelmina’s face strongly put Leonard in mind of his mother when she would rather reply with ‘because I told you so’ but knew that it would only gain her more instead of less pestering. Finally, whatever inner conflict she seemed to be having, resolved.
Wilhelmina leaned in towards Leonard again, pinning him to the spot with her now trademark stare as she hissed, “I need you to understand and trust me when I say that, if we reveal to the wrong people that we have the last portal shard, and are now in Krosis, we could be putting any number of people in unspeakable danger, not to mention ourselves. We’ll be useless to everyone if we’re killed or captured. We cannot let this shard fall into the wrong hands.”
Wilhelmina’s hand fluttered over the middle of her chest where Leonard was certain the amulet rested while hanging around her slender neck. He considered her words silently, his eyes out of focus and far away even as he continued to stare at Wilhelmina’s hand.
Eventually, Leonard nodded his acquiescence without another word. Wilhelmina glowed at him momentarily before turning to allow Osric back into the room, and the conversation. Leonard tried to relax his jaw when the ache in it signaled that he had been clenching it unawares.
“So, are we now to begin this trust building exercise of inquiry exchange?” Osric asked with a hint of sarcasm as he reentered the chamber, rubbing his hands together as he looked from Leonard to Wilhelmina.
Leonard nodded, smiling reassuringly even though he suddenly felt like a bug under a magnifying glass on a sunny day. He hadn’t meant to make himself an integral part of whatever mission they were trying to accomplish, but he seemed to have stumbled into it anyway. With neither sibling willing to be the first to offer information worthy of an ally to the other, someone needed to be the mediator; he could already feel Wilhelmina waiting to weigh every word he chose to give to Osric against every useful; syllable gained in return.
“How should we start, then?” Wilhelmina asked agreeably, though her smile had a more frozen quality to it than Leonard remembered there being before.
The three of them exchanged silent, thoughtful glances before Leonard spoke up.
“Osric, what’s a burning question you have? If I can, I will answer it. We’ll go back and forth from there, switching off who asks a question and who answers,” he proffered, feeling more stupid by the moment, but trying to retain the veneer of confidence; he was a mail man, not a mediator, and definitely not an actor…
There was a tense moment where it looked like Wilhelmina might object, but she held her tongue and inclined her head to her brother. Osric nodded his approval and resumed his pacing after checking that the door had been properly closed again, tapping one large, slender finger against the tip of his chin with every other step.
Wilhelmina briefly glanced at Leonard before folding her arms in front of her chest and leaning against the nearest wall to await Osric’s first question.
Click here for Part 28!