THE SOUL KEEPER
Enris suggests the highest peak there is on Massin for the reversal of souls after consulting with me. As yet I have no idea how he intends to achieve this, for he says little. I catch him glancing frequently in General Coltern’s direction as if to check that man also says as little; less, in real terms. Clearly Coltern knows what Enris is up to.
Mirlin, the westerner from Massin, is known to those gathered in this wrecked space beside an equally damaged shuttle, but Mirlin the Soul Keeper is an unknown. My magic frightens them and they therefore tend not to share. Iniri Makar is particularly wary of me. She has been since our first meeting in Normur, before either of us knew much about the other, and that has continued despite my aid in keeping her in this reality beyond her expected expiration.
Fools. I am able to read them. I may not hear their thoughts, but I read their emotions and most of the time that is enough to tell me what their actions will be also. Kay Laremer, my childhood friend on this world, was ever emotional and that is how I convinced him to lead marchers from the west to Arc. Manuel also, but that is now of a time and place beyond restoration. It is time to focus on the present.
Enris, however, has thrown a shield around his inner being. I cannot read him at all. Coltern, on the other hand, is filled with disquiet … and guilt. Why? Unfortunately, in this instance, none of his emotions clarify the actions to come. All I do know is that Coltern will be with us on that high peak.
I am still amazed that the Delver was able to tell Ilfin from Glonu while my soul abilities revealed absolutely nothing. Ilfin and Glonu, I now understand, are not so different, for the ability to see them will have been mine from the outset.
Now there is a mighty secret in play. Yes, I am agog.
The shuttle summoned from orbit lands in the open terrain beyond our spurious forest covering and King Linus instantly moves in that direction with Gennerin beside him. The soldier Ross brings in the rear. The youth intrigues me; Ross fades into the background without effort and it sometimes requires concerted effort to include him. This soldier possesses a formidable talent, one Enris Makar should hark to and employ when he is king.
We board the shuttle and take to the skies.
Looking down through a porthole, I notice how quiet Massin is now, from Arc, across the plains and into the highlands. Only animals still move around on the ground and flocks of birds’ wing through the air; no people anywhere.
Coltern murmurs something and the shuttle swings to the east. We fly over Normur soon after. The city is much reduced, given the collapse of the plateau after the deluge, and the marshlands have been wiped clean of most signs of habitation. Only the ramshackle building Damin, as the Marsh Devil, lived in still stands upon its lonely outcrop.
There is no sight of even a single man, woman or child. This continent is indeed empty.
Siri remarks that the wet season still holds sway and she is correct. Inside Arc the weather was mostly dry; rain continues to plummet upon the plateau. Mighty rivers froth on their journey from on high to tumble in wild abandon over the edge of the cliffs.
We head due north into dark clouds, sleet and terrible wind, the kind of weather able to kill.
I look away to gaze at Enris. “Prince, this is not the best idea.”
“And yet it must be done. These uniforms will protect us.” Enris leans forward, elbows on knees. “You, me and Coltern. The others will wait in a more protected place and remain in the shuttle.
“What are we going to do?”
“Bring the dead back to life, my friend.”
“The how I will keep to myself,” Enris mutters and turns to the pilot to give instructions.
I am more agog than ever.