Rudolph sat there in his bed, stunned.
"How...what?"He managed to get out. he felt a lump in the back of his throat. She was safe. He had been so worried and now he could see that she was safe and he wanted to cry with relief.
"When you covered up that section, you left a small gap at the bottom, light from coming through from it. I crouched down to see through that shaft of light and there it was...the free mountainside. It took all morning to dig my way out, and then until now to follow your tracks. You leave quite a mess behind you, did you know that? Broken branches...heavy footsteps...torn cloth from your trousers. I suppose that means I will have to patch them up for you."
"What? No...no thank you, I mean...I can fix them myself..."
"Oh, can you? Well if you can do that why don't you tell me why you thought it was okay to leave me there, alone. With a dragon."
"Oh, knock it off, Rudolph. I thought you cared about me. I mean, why else did you talk to me so much like you did? Oh, I get it. You were just lonely, right? Just needed someone to talk to you and to listen to you until you could get out and find that Isadora girl, right?"
The two men on the floor began to stir, and Alisen, in all her rage, grabbed the wooden tray that had had held Rudolph's soup and bread the previous night, and whacked them both smartly over the heads in one great swoop. Their chins clunked against the hard-wood floor and all movement ceased.
"Snakes, Alisen! I'm sorry, alright? I just..." Rudolph, who had leapt up from his bed upon Alisen's violent act, sank back down into the quilt. "I just assumed that I could get help for you quicker if i went alone. I couldn't...bear for you to be out there with me...in case anything went wrong."
"Idiot! Idiot! You thought leaving me with a fire-breathing dragon in that cave would be safer than taking me out into the fresh air with you? The THERE IS NO DRAGON-FRESH-AIR?!?"
"Please...calm down. I'm so sorry..." Rudolph got up slowly and moved over to put his arm around Alisen, who at this point was quivering with anger. He expected her to slap his hand away in fury, and indeed her shoulders did tighten when he made contact, but surprisingly she let him hug her. She turned into him and started to cry, really cry. And Rudolph buried his head in her hair---her hair that smelled like singed pine needles. He breathed deeply.