An unholy silence settles upon the ancient rocks around us, as if deafening us to everything familiar, every reality we are able to imagine.
Kay mentions it first. “Something happens on the other side.”
I realise where his thoughts are. “You desire to return, to help them.”
Long minutes pass in our own kind of silence and then he answers. “Truth is, I wish to go in to grab Mirlin and Manuel, and then I wish for the three of us to run until there is no possible way to find us.” He swallows. “The three of us did everything together; we have known each other since childhood.”
I stare starkly up. I do not mean enough to him for him to change his mind about he expected of his life.
He glances down with a half-smile. “But that is wishful thinking. A different future awaits, one with you in it … I hope.”
I am such a girl, for huge smile plasters itself to my face. How obvious can one be? Blushing, I look away.
Kay touches my cheek. “I want to see how you feel. You are the reason I hold onto my sanity right now. Please do not hide from me.”
Goosebumps assail my arms. I blink up at him. “Please talk to me when your burden is too heavy.”
This time he smiles wide. “Deal, Siri Mur.”
Laughing, I clamber onto a boulder in much the way Lyra did earlier. “Listen, everyone. As soon as the sun rises we will make our way down the mountain.”
Murmurs of agreement sound. I notice adults, men and women, move to the gathering of children to collect their young. The ones who are unclaimed gaze around with big eyes wondering where their parents are. Their minders will help them cope, hopefully.
Kay hops up next to me. “Before we go, there is something you need to know.” He launches into an explanation about the Ilfin and Glonu.
The adults’ eyes are soon larger than those of the children.