Sunday, January 3, 2016

The King's Challenge #153 and #154

TKC 153 and 154

Lyra stands. Glancing around, she says, “It is time to leave here. We need to be as close to the rim as possible.”

Kay bursts out, “Do you hear what your brother says? Sacrifice! I will be damned before I accept that!”

“Watch your tone!” I snarl at the westerner.

“Stuff you, Damin. I have a voice also,” Kay snaps back.

“Dead or alive?” Joseph then asks, causing silence to fall.

“What are you asking?” Kay demands after a moment.

The Messenger clambers to his feet. “I mean, does the sacrifice come after death … or does it mean the living stay behind for living to pass through the veil surrounding this place?”

All of us focus on Horin, awaiting his answer.

He stares at the three entities and those three shrug at him. Sighing then, Horin murmurs, “We do not know with certainty. I escaped as a soul. I was therefore dead. Are the living able to pass through? I hope so.”

Lyra curses under her breath. “Pack up. We leave in an hour.” She bows to the three manifestations. “Thank you for this interlude and my thanks also for your guidance.” Giving a final jerky nod, she strides out.

I follow. “Lyra!” She heads to the horses. “Wait, please.” She halts, but does not turn, and I approach slowly to lay my hands on her shoulders from behind. “What is it?” I murmur into her ear.

Turning, she clasps my hands, holds them between us. “Damin, we have already sacrificed. Those we love, friends, many innocents, to come here to what we believed was a sanctuary. While I understand, had we not come, had we not sent the rock onto a different path, many more would now be dead, and yet this proved the greatest trap of all and the biggest lie ever. Being here is also sacrifice. Accepting this is sacrifice.”

“Lyra?’ I whisper.

She shakes the connection of hands. “Damin! We are already dead! We still breathe and think, but it is death to be here.”

“Therefore, dead or alive, it will not be further sacrifice if three remain to save the one,” I state.

She smiles sadly up. “Exactly.”

“And who will choose?” I whisper. “Horin?”

She releases my hands and steps away. “You.”

I feel my skin tighten over my cheeks, how the hairs on my arms spike to attention. “Why me?”

“You are a Delver.”

I glare at her. “And how does that lead to me making choices?”

Lyra steps close and places her hands on my face to draw me closer. “You can tell Glonu from Ilfin – yes, you can, Damin.”

“So use the Glonu among us as the fodder the Ilfin require to escape with?” I pull away from her. “I cannot do that. No one asked for this. No one.”

Horin’s hand then descends heavily on my shoulder from behind me. I nearly leave my skin.

“Damin, the Glonu among us are already assuming their masks. It is in their genetics. I feel sorry for them, for they have no choice in this, and still it is a truth we need to keep in mind. This is the true mission of Arc, to build an army numerous enough, strong enough …”

“To what end?” I snap.

“Annexing Massin is first. They will use it as their base in this time, and then sell it to the highest bidder before moving forward to conquer what was theirs in the past.”

“You are both using me!” I snarl. “Where is my choice in all this?”

“Choice is for the free. We are not free,” Horin states. “Know this; any Glonu that escapes from Arc to Massin in general will be the harbinger of death.”

“You must delve,” Lyra whispers.

I stare at her. “You are my wife, but right now I hate you.” Striding towards the horses, I holler for the others’ benefit, “We leave within the hour!”

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