As the child slipped out through the tavern door and disappeared into the shadows, Johannes took a deep breath and calmed himself before turning to Pavel.
“Do you always have to be so…..Direct?”, he whispered, trying to be discreet, “you make enemies of all we encounter!”
“Perhaps he WAS an enemy.” Pavel countered, “Will no one but me treat him like one?!?”
Johannes continued with another deep breath, but failed to mask his exasperation.
“Perhaps,” he spoke quietly, driving home his point by staring directly into the monk’s eyes, “he is an enemy- but not the enemy we seek to engage today…not the enemy killing our children.”
He paused to let the idea sink in when he saw Pavel’s glare soften. When initiating conversation or action, this young man almost always started along his familiar path, but Johannes had learned that his young ward was capable of the contemplation of other solutions, if given a moment.
“Pavel, even our enemies can help us achieve our goals, if approached and engaged properly.”
“With untruth or deception?” Pavel hissed, “smoke, mirrors…”
Johannes thought for a moment before replying. After the behavior it displayed, the elf knew Pavel would certainly not accept the child creature as anything but a liar and a thinly-veiled threat. His mind would simply not stretch enough to allow other possibilities. He scaled his response to accommodate Pavel’s closed mind.
“No. Not at all, Pavel. I’m not asking you to pretend that he is your friend,” Johannes urged, “just don’t treat him as an enemy until you know this for fact.”
“Such subtleties are the job of diplomats-” Pavel blurted, before he remembered who he was talking to. Johannes allowed himself a partial smile. He knew there was no need to remind Pavel of his title. Suddenly understanding that his attitude had jeopardized what Johannes was trying to accomplish, Pavel transitioned visibly from righteous justicar to a schoolboy being taught a lesson. His voice lost its smug edginess.
“I am of no use to you here, I have only these two hands to justify my usefulness,” Pavel offered, looking toward the floor and weakly curling his hands into fists.
“Those two fists and your simple, unwavering faith in goodness, justice and protection have served your king well,” Johannes added, the king nodding agreement, “I can think of no better traits for a spiritual protector of Finnland…but as for negotiations and interrogations- perhaps a different skill set is required?”
“Allright. I’ll reserve my gorgon-in-the-trinket-shop methodology for situations where it is more appropriate,” Pavel resigned, begrudgingly accepting his schooling and rising from his chair. He took a few steps toward the door and realized that his private conversation with Johannes was not so private. He could feel all eyes upon him as he strode toward the door. All other conversations had stopped.
“I know that not all problems can be solved with a tightly clenched fist and a decisive strike”, Pavel spoke without looking back, “but I’ll not stop wishing it were so.”
“I know.” Johannes whispered.
Pavel continued out the door and into a complex world that would never be as simple as his perspective of it.