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The Brothers Lionheart

The terror grew in me.

“I’m so afraid, Jonathan. Katla will kill us.”

He tried to calm me again.

“But she is tethered. She can move no farther than the length of her chain, no further than that cliff where you saw her. She stands there nearly all the time and stares down into Karma Falls.”

“Why does she do that?” I said.

“I don’t know,” said Jonathan. “Perhaps she’s looking for Karm.”

“Who is Karm?”

“Oh, that’s just Elfrida’s talk,” said Jonathan. “No one has ever seen Karm. He doesn’t exist. But Elfrida says that once in ancient times he lived in Karma Falls and that Katla hated him then and cannot forget it. That’s why she stands there staring.”

“Who was he that he could live in such a terrible waterfall?” I said.

“He was a monster too,” said Jonathan. “A sea serpent as long as the river is ride, Elfrida says. But that’s probably only one of those old sagas.”

“Perhaps he’s no more a saga than Katla?” I said.

He didn’t reply to that, but said:

“Do you know what Elfrida told me while you were in the forest picking wild strawberries? She said that when she was small, they used to frighten children with Karm and Katla. The saga of the dragon in Katla Cavern and the sea serpent in Karma Falls she’d heard many a time in her childhood, and she liked it very much just because it was so terrible. It was one of those ancient sagas that people have frightened children with in all times, Elfrida said.”

“Couldn’t Katla have stayed in her cavern, then,” I said, “and gone on being a saga?”

“Yes, that’s just what Elfrida thought, too,” said Jonathan.

I shivered and wondered if Karmanyaka was a country full of monsters; I didn’t want to go there. But I had to now. We fortified ourselves with the food sack first, saving some food for Orvar because Jonathan said that starvation reigned in Katla Cavern.

Grim and Fyalar drank the rainwater that had collected in the crevices. There was no good grazing for them up here in the mountains, but a little grass was growing by the bridge, so I think they had had just about enough when we set off.

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