We were in luck: there was a large hare in one of my traps. This was found, I might note, only after seeing two other ones completely untouched, so you can imagine my relief when we saw the plump body covered in brown fur. I knelt down beside it, whispered diwn close to the animal, then let my dagger do its job quickly.
“What’s that you said, young lady?” The old man asked as I pulled the hare out of the trap to wrap it in burlap before placing it in my pack.
“What?” I blinked at him. It was another moment before I realized that I had almost given away too much. I shook my head. “Oh, I was just saying that this looks like enough food for the evening.”
The old man looked around. “You don’t have any more traps set out here?”
I shrugged. “There are a couple that we’ll pass on our way back, but we shouldn’t waste too much time.”
“Okay, young lady,” the old man said, in a tone like he was giving in, although I didn’t think that there was anything to give in to. I had heard that the elderly didn’t always make sense, so I shrugged it off. “Leaf the way, then.”
“It’s Claire, by the way,” I told him.
“My name is Claire,” I repeated. “So you don’t have to just call me ‘young lady.'”
“It’s that so?” he asked. “I had expected it to be something… longee. Oh, well. Now then, since we’re exchanging names, mine is Zimfazzle Calonius.”
“Zimfazzle?” I repeated, feeling my brow arch far more than I had intended it to.”
“That’s it exactly, ” he nodded. “It may sound unusual to you, young lady, but it’s very well-respected where I come from. Besides, it makes about as much sense as your name be in Claire.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
He gave me a wry smile and shook his head. “Just a little something that I say to anyone who questions my name. Now, young Claire, lead on!”