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The Brothers Lionheart

“Come on, Karl,” she repeated obstinately.

But then I remembered something.

“Jossi,” I said. “Open your shirt and show them what you’ve got on your chest.”

Jossi turned so deathly pale that even Sofia and Hubert noticed it, and he put his hand on his chest as if wishing to protect something.

There was a brief silence, but then Hubert said in a harsh voice:

“Jossi, do as the boy says,”

“We must hurry,” he said, moving toward his horse.

Sofia’s eyes hardened.

“Not so much hurry,” she said. “I’m your leader, Jossi. Show me your chest.”

It was terrible to see Jossi then, standing there panting, paralyzed and afraid, not knowing whether to flee or stay. Sofia went up to him, but he thrust her aside with his elbow. He shouldn’t have done that. She caught hold of him and tore open his shirt.

And there on his chest was the Katla mark: a dragon’s head, glistening like blood.

Sofia turned even paler than Jossi.

“Traitor!” she said. “Curses on your head for what you have done to Nangiyala’s valleys.”

At last Jossi sprang into life. He swore and rushed over toward his hors, but Hubert was there before him. So he turned and looked around wildly for another escape route and caught site of the rowing boat. With one single leap, he was into it and before Sofia or Hubert could even get to the bank, the current had carried him out of their reach.

Then he laughed, and it was a horrible laugh.

“I’ll punish you, Sofia!” he cried. “When I come as chieftain of Cherry Valley, then I’ll punish you.”

You poor fool, you’ll never get to Cherry Valley, I thought. You’ll get to Karma Falls and nowhere else.

He tried to row, but raging waves and whirlpools caught the boat and tossed it between them, trying to crush it, tearing the oars from his hands, and then a hissing wave came and tipped him into the water. I wept then, wanting to save him, even though he was a traitor, but I knew there was no means of saving Jossi.

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