Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 38
“Do you know how to use these?” Wolfhart gruffly asked, holding up the sword then using it to point to the weaponry. He continued to rotate the grip in his hand, occasionally swiping the air with lazy strokes.
Leonard kept his eye on the sword’s tip, but his heart relaxed enough that he could take in air again, perhaps even let out some words.
“I uh- well I’m not exactly skilled, but I learned some basics. Haven’t had much time to practice, though,” Leonard admitted, unsure if he was being wise but feeling it would be useless to lie to someone with Wolfhart’s expertise; Leonard’s inexperience would be evident in seconds if Wolfhart asked him to spar…or decided to test Leonard by surprise, which he feared was more of Wolfhart’s style.
“You’re honest. I can appreciate that,” Wolfhart’s deep voice rumbled, his head nodded once. “And you’re under no illusions about your skill. Good.” Something chilly crept into Wolfhart’s voice.
Leonard was painfully aware that Wolfhart still had the sword, now holding the blade against the palm of his open hand, peering closely at it from different angles. He took another swipe at the open space between him and Leonard before replacing the sword in it sheath with a swift snap and leaning it against the wall again; Leonard tried not to sigh audibly in relief.
“What do you think you are doing here?” the burly man asked as he turned away from the weapons.
“What do you mea”- Leonard began in polite confusion before being cut off.
“What use will you be to anyone?” the man gruffly questioned. He took a menacing step towards Leonard, who couldn’t resist backing up until he met the wall. Wolfhart moved closer until he was essentially towering over Leonard, blocking his view of everything in the room except the intimidating figure only a breath away.
“Well?” Wolfhart demanded.
Leonard felt like a goldfish, opening and closing his mouth dumbly; words were impossibly hard to find and form.
“As I thought,” Wolfhart said cruelly, crossing his arms and shifting so that he wasn’t as close to Leonard, no longer looming over him like a nightmare. “You are a liability. Osric will say all we need is to train you up, assign someone to look out for you, but it will make us vulnerable. If someone is too occupied making sure your neck isn’t snapped, they’ll miss something.
“Lettermans serve two basic, essential, purposes,” Wolfhart continued, holding up a finger for each point. “To travel between worlds, and inform. You can do one. But an ignorant Letterman is nigh useless. One that can’t even fight, well….”
Leonard felt Wolfhart’s words like a whip’s stinging lick. He wanted to protest, defend himself, say something, but the harsh words sounded too much like Leonard’s own fears to merit rebuttal. He settled for trying to keep his heartbeat steady and doing his best to swallow his hurt.
More than anything at that moment, Leonard wanted to be alone.
Whether he sensed Leonard’s desire, accomplished what he’d set out to do, or he’d merely finished his ruthless say, Wolfhart’s beard twitched in what might have been a smirk, and he turned towards the door. The hinges groaned as it opened.
Standing in the entryway, Wolfhart waved mockingly and said, “Thanks for the pleasant chat,” before exiting and pulling the door closed with a resounding thud.
Leonard’s knees shook and he collapsed to the floor. His stretched his legs out in front of him as he miserably recounted Wolfhart’s words. At each repetition, Leonard tried to insert a string of replies regarding his usefulness, that he could learn to fight, that he wouldn’t be a liability, but each sounded flimsier than a straw man.
He leaned his head against the wall, shut his eyes, and tried to suppress the urge to scream.
Click here for part 40!