My first denial comes then. Staring at Horin, I tell him, “Sorry, Horin, but I found a kid in Porlese, one terrified of being tested. Yet now you claim you knew what was happening.”
After glancing at Lyra, and marking her silence, he responds, “Most of the time I was that kid, Damin. It is easier to live in the body chosen when the resident mind acts its age and functions as expected.”
“But you claim you knew from birth.” My second denial.
“I did, but they were flashes of an older self. Generally Horin, the boy born in Grenmassin, was the boy everyone expected to have around. After Porlese, when the soldiers came at us, that was when it changed … a permanent change.”
“What about Horin the boy?” Lyra whispers, and my heart goes out to her. Never have I heard her sound this sad. “Have you usurped him? Thrown him away?”
Horin closes his eyes and then moves around the table to Lyra. “Everyone has a soul, my sister. Usually we grow up with it, learn from it, and teach it new emotions and ways of thinking. I am no different there. My soul was simply more aware from the start. Horin still is. Lyra, I am Horin.”
She lays her hand on his cheek. “How do you explain this phenomenal growth, then? I have to look up to you now.”
“Ilfin talent. In times of great stress certain factors are accelerated. Had the asteroid not appeared, I would have grown into this body at a normal pace.”
Lyra nods after some thought. “Sensible.” She suddenly swallows as if she is about to choke. “Go away, all of you,” she says. “I need to think. Go, Horin; just give me a little time.”
As everyone leaves the cottage, Horin included, I hang back. “Lyra?”
“Damin,” she whispers … and hurtles into my arms.