one who can joke?'
Still feeling foolish, Vance stood. He bowed to the old man, who returned his gesture and returned to the plant. Vance brushed the leaves from his trousers, thinking they would probably now need cleaning, but he was surprised to see they were not stained or dirty at all.
'Why are you embarrassed?' asked Jerklenn.
'I'm not. You just surprised me, that's all.'
'No. I think I am the one that is surprised.' She smiled even wider, and Vance couldn't help but smile himself.
'I heard what happened to you. I think you are brave to face him, even though you know that you have no chance of beating him.'
'It's good to know you have confidence in me.'
'What is the point in giving you false hope? You cannot defeat Merreck. Not through any physical contest anyway.'
Vance walked away, not knowing how to respond to the obvious insult to his martial prowess, but Jerklenn matched his stride. They walked silently for some distance, leaving the square and disappearing into Tuzanor's back-streets. Eventually Vance glanced over at her. 'Well?' he said. 'What is it? Are you going to impart some great piece of ancient Minbari wisdom? Tell me how I can defeat my enemy by being nice to him?'
'No. I was merely going to walk with you while you reflected. But if you wish to be alone-' She turned to leave.
Vance sighed. No matter how much he tried not to, he always seemed to offend Jerklenn, one way or another. 'Wait,' he called after her. 'I would. I mean I do want company.'
She nodded and returned to his side. They walked on and Vance told Jerklenn of what he had discovered, of his father's past and Merreck's vendetta. Jerklenn looked very sombre at hearing the news, almost panicked. 'It seems you indeed have a problem. Merreck is of the Star Rider