Beyond the fort the plateau dips towards the plain. A narrow pass allows for access to the lower regions; this we will now use, although it will take time to move so many people.
During the night we apportioned the supplies. Everyone will carry something. Artur has put himself in charge of stores, where everything is and who carries what, and I leave him to it. My burden of logistics is thus less. Heftier items are loaded onto the donkeys. Most are tools, I note.
Attis is my unsung hero, for he takes the young under his wing, those with no elders to take care of them. With Horin, he keeps them smiling, and another burden lifts.
I notice Alyssa and Emily gathering their kind together. It is not about keeping apart, I realise, but about gifting them the means to go forward with less soul searching. The nobility are out of their depth here.
The Messengers, obvious by their red sashes, organise the horses. They will be led down and then those struggling along the march will take turns on them. I trust the Messengers with our mounts more than I do the nobility, and thus leave it to them.
Mirlin is at the head of the pass, showing the way down, while I remain as rearguard until the last have left.
Standing on the battlements, I watch the line as it snakes to the edge and vanishes into the defile. There is much talk among the walkers; there is also much silence. Both the serene blue flower and the coiling snakes hover above them as they amble away, heading to a different future. I close my eyes to banish the images … and see Lyra laughing in a field of wildflowers.
Smiling, I reopen my eyes. Lyra is safe. We will be too.