Joseph is our leader. Light is barely visible in the eastern sky when we are on the move. It will take time to get this host over the mountain; we need every minute of light.
He finds the pass easily, for the way is somewhat trampled. Lyra and Hanna have left clear sign.
I glance up. Are those flames I see licking at the orb in the sky? Am I imagining it? Abruptly fear assails me. Until this moment I have been calm and logical, and the approaching event was something academic, something to watch, to study, to discuss. But the object is now close, we are almost out of time, and I feel the threat into the marrow of my bones.
Jerking my head down, I breathe with difficulty.
“It’s real now,” Horin murmurs from beside me.
I did not see the lad take up position there, but he is right. Now it is real. I glance at him to find only serenity. The boy is taller again, stronger. “Will we get over in time?”
He shrugs as he watches the first climbers. “Maybe.”
“Can you build a bridge, Horin, to speed this?”
His eyes lift to the summit and he is quiet for some time. Eventually he says, “To enter requires of the penitent will, courage and a true heart.” He lowered his gaze to the orb in his hand. “Magic negates that. I am not permitted to help now.”
I stare at him. “Try!”
He smiles sadly at me. “No.” Turning then, he walks away.
I double over, breathing hard. By the sands, many will not reach the summit. Many will die. I see the truth of it in Horin’s eyes.
“Stars, Horin!” I hear Damin snap. “Can you not do something?”
I straighten to see Damin stare after the boy. His expression mirrors my feelings. Our eyes meet, and we begin shouting at people to MOVE!