TKC 177 and 178
Kay and Mirlin enter the clearing, both fixated on the holographic image. They are as wordless as Damin and Lyra have become.
“We have been skirting around this issue since the beginning of the march, have we not?” I state, watching them. “Back on the plateau you shared the Glonu/Ilfin tale, did you not, Mirlin?”
The older man lifts his head. “You were not yet with us for that.”
“I am aware, but young Horin dreamed it.” I inhale deeply. “My point is this; the markers were there for us from the start. The walk across the plains should have deterred us from ever entering here, a final obstacle, and yet we ignored everything shown us, such as talents suddenly springing forth, and everything shared via old legends. We came anyway.”
“We did not know what Arc is,” Lyra frowns.
“So we entered blind and ignorant?” I demand. “I think not.”
“We would have died out there, Horin,” Damin rasps. “That rock in the sky was about to annihilate us. We needed this haven and therefore we marched. All else was unimportant.”
“You suggest it was fate that brought us,” Kay sighs.
“Destiny,” I say. “The asteroid was but a prompt; it got us moving. Maybe it would have killed us, but perhaps that would have been a kinder fate. On the other hand, we have something in our favour. The asteroid got us moving, yes, but it shoved us into action before Arc was ready for us. We, in fact, still have the element of surprise.”
Damin frowns as he wraps his mind around the nuances. He points at the shifting image before us. “They were coming anyway.” He lifts his gaze from the ethereal fleet to me. “This is why the talents sprang forth. Although it is in answer to a threat from space, the asteroid was not the real threat.”
“On the mark,” I murmur, impressed with his deductive powers.
“Thus our talents would have prompted a march on Arc anyway,” Lyra says. “Destiny.”
“Indeed, but now we have the issue of innocents and that is a problem for us. We brought too few soldiers and too many famers and trades people. It divides our attention.”
“Wait,” Kay mutters, stepping closer to the image to peer in. “The fiery threat brought us from both west and east, which I assume will have happened whatever the prompting device. What about the two kinds?” He inserts a finger into the image and yelps when it sparks, swiftly withdrawing.
Smiling wryly over our ever-present curiousness, I respond, “Both were summoned. We have not forced this current dilemma upon ourselves.”
“How many?” Lyra demands, gesturing at the ships.
“Many. I have no number.”
“And where are the Ilfin?” she continues.
I gesture at the orb and the image clouds briefly. Another shivers into our presence. More spaceships, but of a different design. “They are coming also.”
Mirlin releases a pent-up breath. “All-out war for Massin.”
“Therefore death by asteroid would have been kinder,” Damin mutters.
“How far behind are the Ilfin?” Lyra asks, delving into the practical issues rather than her fear … our fears.
“Too far to prevent the Glonu from landing.” I anticipate her next question. “The Glonu fleet will be here in less than ten days.”
Damin smacks his palms together. “Then we need to get moving. First we release all Ilfin from Arc …”
“That means sacrifice, Damin!” Lyra snaps out.
“I no longer see it that way. The Glonu here will join the Glonu on approach, for they are called to this battle as we are called to defend. The more we weed out now, the less we will have to fight later.”
“Damin is right,” I affirm. “We use the Glonu here to free the Ilfin from Arc, whatever our conscience tells us. And then we take the Spire down.”