As Horin speaks those words, three forms materialise in the space around us.
They are ghostly and yet there is the suggestion of armour and ancient weapons, as if they were warriors before death took them. Their faces are indistinct, but they have long hair and each wears a helmet. Cloaks swirl around then.
They bow to Horin.
“I have not seen them like that before,” Lyra whispers.
“Who are you?” I ask. The hairs on my arms have spiked.
Horin stands and bows his head. “They are of those who attempted to end the imprisonment here. Our people.”
One steps forward then, holding an ethereal sword upon open palms. Kneeling on one leg, he lowers his head and presents it to Horin.
Lyra is as astonished as I am.
Horin accepts the offering. As he touches the otherworldly weapon, it solidifies into a real length of shining metal. “Thank you.”
The man rises again, smiling. Although his features are unclear, the smile isn’t. By the stars, this is strange.
The ghost’s attention shifts to me as I formulate that thought. Horin laughs lightly. “Damin, where do you think that saying comes from? By the stars?”
A cold shiver passes through me. Who is the Delver here?
Horin winks at me … and sheaths his sword. Magically, a scabbard is there at his waist to accept as he does so.
“How?” Lyra breathes.
“Leave us,” Horin murmurs, and the three forms dematerialise.
“You are the leader they have been waiting for,” I say.
Horin rejoins us at the table. “Actually, I have been here before and lost my weapon in a battle. They kept it safe until my return. Yes, I led them then and I shall lead them now.”
Lyra is so pale I begin to fear for her, but she demands of her brother, “And when were you so-called here before?”
“A thousand years ago,” Horin says quietly. “That was the last time we fought. Now it begins again.”