“We need the Gray Sword,” Tanith said to me one day when we were strawberry picking.
“What?” I said, looking down at her.
She was kneeling on the ground, picking the strawberries, while I followed her with the baskets.
“The Gray Sword.”
“Never heard of it. Why do we need it?”
“It’s the only sword that can protect us, silly. And you need it since you’re our protector. It’s the only way you can protect us,” she said insistently.
“And how do I get this Gray Sword?” I asked dubiously, obediently following her from plant to plant.
“By combining the Black Sword with the White Sword, of course.”
“Right,” I drawled. “And how do I do that?”
“Well, we have the Black Sword and Father has the White Sword. We get them both together and then they’re supposed to combine on their own.”
I didn’t know what to say to that. There was a lot I didn’t know what to say to. I kept quiet. A lot. Like now.
“It’s really not that hard,” Tanith said cheerfully, dropping a nice ripe strawberry into one of the baskets.
“I’m sure you could do it.”
“I didn’t say you said I couldn’t.”
“Honestly, Shane, you’re impossible.”
“And here I was thinking you were impossible.”
“Of course. You refuse to return to the Bottlecreek castle, just to let your father know you’re still alive and well.”
“That’s different. Father’s altogether too annoying. He’ll have some prince lined up to meet me within a minute of my arrival back at the castle and I’ll never be let out again.”
“That’s true,” I admitted, though not happily. “So how do I get this White Sword?”
“You ask Father for it.”
“Are you sending me back to the castle?”
“And yet you won’t go.”
She laughed and stood. “That’s all. Ferguson couldn’t possibly eat three basketfuls of strawberries.”
“Want to bet?”
She tilted her head. “Not really.”
“I thought so. Back to picking, my lady.”
She glared at me and I couldn’t help but laugh.
In the end, we both picked another basketful of strawberries. One was given to Eva and the other three went to Ferguson, who finished them in three hours.