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Anyway, that’s how you do it, if you’re ever unlucky enough to meet the Djall. That night, it took us a couple of hours to get rid of all the bastards. It was a close call, let me tell you, even if you factor in the fact that, technically, we were already dead. At the end we were in what you might call a right state: I had lost an eye and, as for Adolf, he was completely blind – not that it let it stop him. I told you : in a fight, the guy was awesome. My right arm was totally useless and, between us, we had lost more fingers than a man can usually count to himself. As for genitals, well… In a fight with the Djall, these are always the first to go…

Now the thing with these is they are nearly mindless. The Djall really are just one big hunger. In the old days, the Others treated them more like tools than as equals and they were usually kept in cages until they were needed. I know I keep insisting on that point but it’s why you have to make sure they are really dead. Otherwise they won’t stop attacking, regardless of how damaged they are, and you don’t want to relax in the middle of the night to suddenly find one of them, half-crushed and limbless, still chewing on your big toe.

We spent the next hour doing just that, walking around and finishing the critters. And another hours after that stitching ourselves up as best we could. We knew we needed at least a few days, maybe weeks, to heal up and get back to normal, but we weren’t too worried: the Djall were already mighty rare in those times and the other kinds of Others were more or less all accounted for.

So we sat down again; we didn’t even bother to move away. What would have been the point, really? And I don’t know if it was the fight or what, or maybe the blindness that perhaps made him feel lonelier than usual, but Adolf that night seemed in the mood to do some talking. How can I put this? He had this expression you sometime see on the face of those who never speak much when they finally have something to say.

“- Gott!” he said and I knew he would start with a joke. “I am sure you cannot wait to be out of these woods! Talk with some other people for once, eh? Instead of boring old Adolf! Maybe get dirty with some women, eh? Show them your mighty organ!” And he was pointing at the place were said mighty organ had been a few hours before.

You don’t find it funny? Yeah, maybe you haven’t been here long enough, after all. But even I have to concede it was a peculiarly German joke, with just that edge of cruelty they like, and the gleeful pointing out of an uncomfortable truth. I didn’t mind too much: Adolf was in the same state as me and anyway we would both be back to normal in a few days. Still, it was better not to let it pass unchallenged so I replied in kind, with an allusion to an old rumour the British were peddling during the war. (And long after the war also, apparently. I don’t know any British – before my time, really – but they didn’t seem like the forgiving type…)

That only made him laugh and he then protested: “Come on, you’ve know me well enough for quite a while. You should know it’s not true. I mean,” with a wink and that gesture again, “not true most of the time!”