I am aware the last years I have been following the directives of fate. Leaving my betrothed behind in Grenmassin, I chose to delve into ‘the greater good’. It has come to haunt me. Abandoning Lyra was my first mistake, trying to find a path of righteousness was a fool’s hope, for the criminal underworld took me in.
Yes, here we are in Arc, still alive after a massive rock hurtled towards us. The directives of fate led to this. And it may have cost me Lyra, it has certainly changed me, as it has Siri … never mind what will happen to Horin.
For Kay to stand behind me saying we are meant to be here, feels suddenly wrong. It isn’t the man’s words or the man himself; it is that same sense of fate. We are meant to be here. We must do this. We have no choice. This is how it is ordained. What will be will be.
Did I really do right in bringing everyone here? I am no longer as certain as I was when we marched across the plains.
“Damin?” Siri whispers, reading my emotions in my face.
Standing, I glare around. “Sorry, but I have had enough of this fate nonsense. We think we are making choices, that we have free will, but we are being led all the time. Every thought is determined! No more.”
Horin gets to his feet and approaches me. Nose to nose, for he is now tall enough, he studies me, eyes unblinking. Then, smiling, he steps away.
I haul him back before he takes a full step. “Explain yourself.”
The boy lays a gentle hand on my wrist. “You are ready.”
“To listen with your soul.”
I want to shake him until his teeth fall out; instead I release him. “Meaning?”
Blinking, Horin moves his intense scrutiny from me to Kay. After a moment he inclines his head and shifts his study to Hanna and Joseph. He offers them a swift smile, and returns his attention to me. “Siri and Attis are true of heart and I do not question their motives. I have had doubts about you … and others.” He gestures vaguely. “The westerner is a natural revolutionary, but he is on our side …”
Kay splutters behind me, but we ignore him.
“… and Hanna cares for Lyra. She does not care about the grand scheme underway here, for she thinks with her heart, and that is fine. Joseph is a good man; I never doubted him.”
“This is about me,” I snap out.
“Both of us,” Horin responds quietly. He abruptly lowers to squat beside the fire. “So much has changed."
Now I want to soothe him, hold him. He is so young, despite the adult body now growing on him by the hour. Sighing, I hunker beside him. “You are talking about souls, though, not hearts.’
Horin nods, staring into the purple fire. “Their hearts and souls are not at odds. Ours are.’
He smiles again. “My heart tells me to run to Lyra, knock her senseless and get her to safety. My soul tells me to go slowly, to see her for what she now is and to stand at her side as she battles the furies here. Am I not at odds with myself?’
Suddenly nerveless, I sit untidily. “I see. I understand.”
“Yes, for until now your heart has ruled. You were going to fetch Lyra and everything else was the afterthought. Now your soul has stepped in, has it not? Now you seek answers. You will fight for freedom. You are a revolutionary as well.”
I too stare into the fire. “Then there is no hope for Lyra and me.”
Hanna snorts. “You underestimate that woman, Damin Mur.”