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The Brothers Lionheart

Just as he was saying it, something happened. In the narrow crevice where we were sitting, a few bushes were growing at the far end by the mountain wall, and out of those bushes a terrified fox suddenly appeared, slunk past us, and was gone almost before we had time to see him.

“Where on earth did that fox come from?” said Jonathan. “I must find out.”

He vanished behind the bushes. I stayed where I was, waiting, but he was so long and so quiet, I grew uneasy in the end.

“Where are you, Jonathan?” I cried.

And then I really got an answer. He sounded quite wild.

“Do you know where that fox came from? From inside the mountain! Do you see, Rusky, from inside Katla Mountain! There’s a big cave in there.”

Perhaps everything had already been decided in the ancient days of the sagas. Perhaps Jonathan had been named as Orvar’s savior even then, for the sake of Wild Rose Valley. And perhaps there were even some secret saga-beings who guided our footsteps without knowing it. Otherwise how could Jonathan have found a way into Katla Cavern precisely where we had happened to put our horses? It was just as strange as when among all the houses in Wild Rose Valley, I happened to find Mathias’s and none either.

Katla’s exit from Katla Cavern; that must be what Jonathan had found; we could not believe otherwise. It was a passage straight into the mountainside, not at all large, but large enough for a starving female dragon to make her way along, said Jonathan, if she had awakened after thousands of years and found her usual path closed by a copper gate.

And large enough for us. I stared into the dark hole. How many sleeping dragons would there be in there, who would wake if you went in and happened to step on them? That was what I wondered.

Then I felt Jonathan’s arm around my shoulders.

“Rusky,” he said. “I don’t know what’s waiting in there in the dark, but I’m going in there now.”

Jonathan stroked my cheek with his forefinger, as he used to do sometimes.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer to wait here with the horses?

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