I do not move. Hanna will know to do the same, merely by looking at me. I do not open my eyes. I concentrate on the host I see behind my eyelids.
They are ghostly in appearance. The silence is unnerving, as is their motionless state. But they are watching … and waiting. For what? They have weight in the tangible world, for ghosts cannot mark paths as these have. Do they wait for us to leave, in order to assume form once more and continue walking? To where? Forest or river, ceaselessly? None of this has logic, and I am at a loss.
A part of me thinks they wait for the Healer in me to send them onwards. To release them from this eternal wandering. Yet it is true Hanna and I would have continued on our way without stopping, had not the trampled crossroads garnered our attention. I would thus not have known to close my eyes to see them.
We did stop, however. We did notice the crossroads. I have seen them.
This is about the crossroads.
This is about choice.
The moment I make the connection, the horde of pale apparitions wafts upwards as smoke, and they vanish.
I open my eyes.
“I get the feeling we were in the company of many until a moment ago,” Hanna says.
“A host, yes.” I step into the very centre of the crossroads. “We have a choice before us, Hanna.”
She pinches her chin. “A hard one, I assume?”
“Maybe not,” I respond absently. I hunker, but gaze towards the peaks instead of the ground. “They were warning me about the Spire, I think. To continue may be to the downfall of all.”
“Now you are not making sense, Lyra. Surely the goal is to deflect that rock in the sky? How else, but with the help of the old ones’.”
I shift my gaze to the Messenger. “The old ones cannot be trusted.”