Only birdsong and horse snuffles speak to the day thereafter. We are wordless; two women caught up in private thoughts … and fears.
As night approaches, I finally speak of what has grown in my mind during the day.
She glances at me. “Do you want to stop? There is light left.”
“I need to ask you to do something for me. For all of us.”
Her lips tighten. She knows me well enough now to understand she will not like what I am going to ask of her.
“Go back,” I say. When her eyes widen, I state, “You must keep the marchers on the rim, Hanna. If the asteroid does not hit, they can go back immediately and none of what awaits here will happen to them.”
“Go back to what, Lyra?” she blurts. “Even if that rock goes on its merry way, we have all burned our bridges.”
“That will be easier to bear than slavery.”
Hanna stares at me. “You had a protected upbringing, girl. If we go back, we will be slaves anyway. There is nothing to return to, do you not understand that yet?”
She is right. I close my eyes as the truth of her words settle into my heart and soul. “Then the best we can hope for is to remain on the outer edges of this trap. Go back and tell them to stay close. To penetrate this place will mean losing their souls.”
I gesture at the peaks we attempt to reach. “I go on.”
Hanna shakes her head. “You will not make it in time without my guidance.”
Bringing Leaf to a halt, I say, “I will get there. You must do this. Keep them there, but send Horin to me. If what I suspect about him is true, he will make it safe for all of us.”